Bout of Books 4.0 Wrap Up

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon
 

Last week I participated in Bout of Books 4.0. This was my third (second?) attempt at a read-a-thon, and once again life didn’t give me much help in my efforts. My sister’s baby decided she was good and ready to get out into the world, so mid-week I rushed to Nebraska to meet my new niece. (I tweeted a pic in case you missed it.) Then I had to rush back to Chicago to work all weekend protecting civil liberties during the NATO summit. 

So, you know, pretty quiet week. 😉

Despite these hiccups, I actually managed to finish two books and start a third, which is a pretty impressive week for me all things considered. I’ve been reading soooo slooooowly this year, and this read-a-thon jump started my reading life a bit. Big thanks to Amanda at On a Book Bender, Kelly at Reading the Paranormal, Shirley at Creative Deeds, and Hannah at Once Upon a Time for running the event and keeping me entertained on Twitter!

My goals were to:
  • Read four books
  • Finish at least one physical book I already own
  • Catch up on my backlog of comics

Well, I read pages out of three different books, and that’s something. Although I didn’t finish a physical book, I at least started one (A Clash of Kings). I did not get to my comics – I brought a stack to work with me over the weekend hoping to tackle some during downtime, but there was no downtime to be had!

Books I finished:

  • Bourne by Lisa T. Bergren
  • Lover Avenged by J. R. Ward

Books I started but in no way came close to finishing:

  • A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin

The Game of Thrones books require lots of concentration from me. Martin has this way of writing that seems full of hidden puzzles that I must read carefully in order to ferret out. During one day’s roundtrip commute I can generally fly through 80-100 pages of a book. Martin’s book? Try 30 pages, if I’m lucky. I find myself re-reading the same passages over and over. Is it just me? Maybe this is why I don’t read more fantasy. I’m always terrified I’m missing things.

You can see a more detailed break-down of my reading week in my Bout of Books 4.0 update post. I know I may not have read anything close to what other people did, but the beauty of these read-a-thons is that they are to challenge yourself. I set pretty high goals (which frankly I didn’t think I’d meet anyway), but given the craziness of the last week I’m REALLY proud of myself. I got farther than I thought I would, and it got me excited about reading again. 

And that’s always a good thing. 

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Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge (2)

Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge is where Tara @ 25 Hour Books and Amanda @ On a Book Bender recap and share blog events from the week, and talk about what they’re reading. Now they’re letting the rest of us join in the fun! Head over to Amanda’s blog if you’d like to participate and link up.

WEEKLY RECAP
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND UPDATES
  • Yesterday was the annual national event Free Comic Book Day. I dragged my husband to my local comic book store to pick up free books, and tried out a new store as well. I even got a book signed by the author, which was fun.
  • I sat through almost 8 hours of theater this weekend (The Iceman Cometh and CATS), plus saw The Avengers. I’m exhausted about watching stuff and paying attention.
  • I’m nearing the end of my migration to WordPress, thanks to Cialina at Paper Wings Design Studio.
  • Look for my Spring Blog Carnival game and giveaway tomorrow!
  • I continue to slog through two different manuscripts and waste many, many hours getting myself familiar with WP.org.
AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE
ODD SEARCH TERMS
  • design for game of thrones – not much help here, I’m afraid
  • fire stoning – Don’t mess with me!
BOOKS RECEIVED

Bought:

Cindy at Princess Bookie clears her personal bookshelves every so often, and puts the books up for sale. She posts a list and asks people to choose what they want and you name your own price. I rarely can resist her sales because she always has books I want. So I picked up 7 books on the cheap!

Rampant and Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund
(Vicious unicorns for the win!) 

Rivals (The Ivy #3) by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur
The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

I own the first two books in the Ivy series (not that I’ve read them yet), so I wanted to complete my set. The Ghost and the Goth was highly reviewed by Small Review, and I trust her opinion.

Funny aside – My husband saw The Ghost and the Goth cover and immediately began making fun of me. Him: “You know, that cover makes it really hard for me to tell what the book is about. I think it must be something dark and serious. What’s it about anyway?”  Me: “It’s a really complicated metaphor. You wouldn’t understand.”

A Breath of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen 

Havoc by Jeff Sampson

For review:

  • Ashen Winter by Mike Mullin – Thank you NetGalley and Tanglewood!
  • Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier – Thank you NetGalley and Random House!
  • Dark Companion by Marta Acosta – Thank you NetGalley and Tor Teen!

That’s it for now. Have a great week!

Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge (1)

Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge is where Tara @ 25 Hour Books and Amanda @ On a Book Bender recap and share blog events from the week, and talk about what they’re reading. Now they’re letting the rest of us join in the fun! Head over to Amanda’s blog if you’d like to participate and link up.

WEEKLY RECAP
ANNOUNCEMENTS AND UPDATES
  • I got assigned a spot on the Ruby’s Reads debate team!
  • I’m starting the process of migrating this blog to WordPress, with help from Cialina at Paper Wings Design Studio.
  • I bullied my way into a mini-NaNoWriMo for this week with fellow writer/bloggers Amanda, Kelly, and Hannah. We each set our own writing goals for the week, and now we’re going to try to meet them.
AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE
  • By far the biggest news this week was the plagiarism scandal involving The Story Siren. I watched the embarrassing horror show all week and have decided to no longer follow Kristi via blog or Twitter. I will continue to participate in the Debut Author Challenge because I care deeply about supporting new authors, but I will not be linking back to Kristi’s DAC page. I’ll also no longer be participating in IMM, but you can find bookish updates on this meme in the future.
  • Alexis at Reflections of a Bookaholic discussed a Favorite Childhood Character – Laura Ingalls. It brought back lots of fond memories for me.
  • Midnyte Reader gave an amazing day-by-day recap of the World Horror Convention!
  • In continuing efforts to torture me, Aylee at Recovering Potter Addict posted another Waiting on Wednesday from a Big Six publisher’s catalog.
  • The hilarious team at Forever Young Adult started a new series highlighting Dolly Parton’s greatest hits, and OF COURSE opened with one of their signature recaps – of Steel Magnolias!
ODD SEARCH TERMS
  • steampunk boston terrier – I’m sure this person was incredibly disappointed, but now I feel the need to turn my Boston into a steampunk mascot for the blog!
  • skottie young comic book brave – How this person wound up here, I have no idea.
  • talk bubble – Good luck with that.
BOOKS RECEIVED

Ebooks from the library:

Ebooks purchased:

For review:

That’s it for now. Have a great week!

Vacation Recap – French Edition

My vacation is officially over. Today marks my first day back in the office in over two weeks. Though I’m sad to no longer be in my beloved France, it does feel good to be getting back to normal. There’s only so much laissez-faire one can take, after all.

We took over 5,000 pictures during our 12 day trip. I promise to never share all of them – that would be cruel and unusual. Instead, I picked a few gems from among our many stops to share with you all. Click on the pictures to view larger versions.

Our first stop was Nice, one of many cities littering the French Riviera along the Mediterranean. We lunched on the beach, ate fresh pasta and gelato, and watched the end of the Paris-Nice cycling race.

View from the Nice boardwalk:

Though my favorite cyclist, Andy Schleck, had to bow out of the race early due to illness (yes, I watch enough cycling to have a favorite – we’re huge fans), I happily cheered on his equally awesome brother and teammate, Frank Schleck. Check out the steepness of this hill, which they flew up with ease:

We also took a day trip to neighboring Monaco, and stopped in the famous Monte Carlo Casino (we even won 4 Euros on the slot machines):

After Nice, we picked up a rental car and spent the next few days driving through the French Alps. We visited the Grand canyon du Verdon, the largest canyon in Europe, as well as Mont Ventoux. It was a harrowing drive with many twists and turns looking out over sheer drops. Needless to say, it was breathtakingly gorgeous. This is a pic from lunch at the top of the famous cycling mountain, Alpe d’Huez:

We made a pit stop in Grenoble to ride the cable cars up to La Bastille, which gave a gorgeous panoramic view of the Alps:

Then it was on to Lyon, where we splurged on a hotel with a phenomenal view:

One of my favorite sites we visited of the whole trip was the jaw-dropping St. Jean Cathedral. Built from the 12th through the 15th centuries, it is astonishing in its size and beauty, especially considering its age. I dare anyone to visit this breathtaking church and not feel the hand of God:

From Lyon it was on to my favorite city in the world, Paris. One of our first stops was the Opera Garnier:

The Opera Garnier is known for its opulence, which as you can see, could put Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors to shame:

I have a special place in my heart for stained glass, so we made sure to visit the famous Sainte-Chapelle:

No trip to Paris can be complete without a visit to the Eiffel Tower:

Last year, my sister and her fiance visited Paris and attached a love padlock to the Passerelle Solferino, and I promised to look for it during our trip. I was beyond excited when I managed to find it (theirs is “F & M 2011” in the middle):

I also insisted on a visit to the famed English-language bookstore, Shakespeare & Company:

Though I didn’t buy anything, Mike snapped this awesome shot of Notre Dame reflected in the shop’s window, with a young worker stocking books in the background:

We managed to see and do much more than this, but these were some of the highlights. I’m very happy to be back and filled with memories from the trip of a lifetime. I haven’t read a single book in over three weeks and I’m itching to get back into the swing of real life, as well as catch up with all of you!

TGIF at GReads! (16) & Weekly Recap

This Friday blog hop is run by Ginger at GReads! (who also created this beautiful button). Every Friday you can answer a new question and recap your week. Click the button to join in!

This week’s question is:

Book Blogger Pride:
What do you take pride in when it comes to blogging?

I take pride in the quality of my reviews. I try not to slap something together just to get it up on the blog. I like taking time to reflect on what I’m reading, then putting my thoughts into a format that hopefully gives people an idea of what to expect from a book. I review so that people will want to check out the books that I’m reading, and enjoy them as much as I do!

*EDIT* Okay, everyone is writing such nice things that now I feel like the asshat who didn’t get the assignment. I’m the girl in Drop Dead Gorgeous who wore the Biggest Ball of Twine costume. So here’s my postscript:

I also take pride in the fact that my blog paved the way for me to meet some pretty amazing people and learn SO MUCH about YA fiction. Without this blog, I wouldn’t know half the stuff I do about the types of stories I like, who is publishing what books when, which authors go the extra mile, the generosity of readers, and how fawesomely individual we all can be while hanging out together in this cool little niche in the corner of the blogosphere.

That’s pretty damn amazing.


My weekly recap is inspired by the phenomenally talented, kind and generous Small Review. If you are not already following her, you are really missing out. Also, have I mentioned how much I love Cool Text? They’re the folks that allow me to make these cool (and simple) text buttons – for FREE!

If you’re a first time visitor, or just didn’t get the chance to stop by this week, here’s what you missed:

Reviews
INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows
3/5 stars
Debut Author Challenge

HOUNDED by Kevin Hearne
4/5 stars
First in a Series Challenge

SCARLET by A. C. Gaughen
5/5 stars
Debut Author Challenge
YA Historical Fiction Challenge

Enjoy your weekend everybody!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (2)

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme run by Sheila at Book Journey, where we share the books we read and/or reviewed last week and what’s on deck for this week. Now Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts have started an offshoot for kidlit fans: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA. I just had to check it out!

Last week:

  • I finished Jodi Meadows’ Incarnate. I hate to admit it, but it didn’t live up to the hype for me.
  • I started, and abandoned, Joe Abercrombie’s The Heroes. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good book. I just don’t have time to read such a long book right now.
  • I started Kate Klimo’s Daughter of the Centaurs. I’m not loving it.

Plans for this week:

  • Read Hounded by Kevin Hearne.

    Atticus Oâ??Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years oldâ??when in actuality, heâ??s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

  • Start Airborn by Kenneth Oppel.

    In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

Yes, these are the same as last week. I didn’t have as much time to read as I thought! I did start Hounded today, and so far it’s amazing.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (1)

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme run by Sheila at Book Journey, where we share the books we read and/or reviewed last week and what’s on deck for this week. Now Jen and Kellee at Teach Mentor Texts have started an offshoot for kidlit fans: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA. I just had to check it out!

Last week:

  • I finally finished the second book in the Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series, When Gods Die. I was only able to read in brief spurts, late at night, and the heavy details in this historical novel made it tough to keep my eyes open.
  • I finished my first NetGalley book of the year, Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
  • I started Incarnate by Jodi Meadows.
  • I absolutely devoured Ann Aguirre’s Enclave. I read it in two sittings this weekend.

Plans for this week:

  • Read Hounded by Kevin Hearne.

    Atticus Oâ??Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years oldâ??when in actuality, heâ??s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

  • Finish Incarnate.

    Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why. Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone elseâ??s life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

  • Start Airborn by Kenneth Oppel.

    In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

I’ll get some good alone time this weekend to read, so I’m hoping to make up some ground on my reading. It’s been a slow start in 2012, and some of these are library books due back at the end of the month. Read, Logan, read!

2011 Challenge Wrap Up

Reading Challenge Addict

As 2011 comes to a close and I reflect on my many reading challenges attempted this year, I’ve learned some valuable lessons for 2012. I was most successful reading books in categories I already read a lot (duh), and where I found the easiest access to the books (double duh). Although there were some surprises, for the most part it’s not hard to see why I failed at a lot of these.

Debut Author Challenge – 12/12 books read, and then some

Lesson learned: This one was the most surprising – I was on track for most of the year and found I was more excited to read some of the debut books than I was for books by known and beloved authors. I discovered this year that I love supporting debut authors and reading books with fresh voices. Because I don’t know the authors, I don’t really know what to expect, which made reading fun and exciting.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Already signed up.

YA Historical Fiction Challenge – 11/15 books read

Lesson learned: I love historical fiction, but not all of it is YA. I had a lot of books I wanted to count, until I realized they were adult fiction. Still, I love the genre regardless of age group and wish I could have completed this one.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Definitely signing up, but at a lower level.

Shifter Challenge – 11/20 books read

Lesson learned: Really? With one of the easiest lists to put together, I still couldn’t make this happen? I think I just got distracted by other reads, and had some disappointing experiences on some new series that prevented me from filling up the list with their sequels. I think I prefer my shifters in moderation.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Slim.

Show Me the Free Challenge – 4/12 books read

Lesson learned: I may get them for free, but that doesn’t make them any more appealing, particularly if the ONLY reason I got it was because it was free. I had a hard time making myself read these.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Definitely giving it another go, because 1) Missie is awesome; and 2) if I don’t sign up, I’ll NEVER read these darned free books!

Paranormal YA Reading Challenge – 12/12 books read

Lesson learned: Very easy to complete, but the blogger hosting this one disappeared, then changed her blog name a bunch of times, and I gave up trying to find her again.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Zero.

Get Steampunked! Challenge – 4/5 books read

Lesson learned: SO CLOSE! I have steampunk galore sitting on my shelves, and having started Soulless there’s still a chance I can finish this challenge. I did learn, however, that I love this genre hardcore and can’t wait to read more.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Guaranteed!

Morbid Romantica Challenge – 11/12 books read

Lesson learned: I loved that this one featured a different category each month. The variety kept the challenge fresh every month.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Good.

YA Series Challenge – 19/30 books read

Lesson learned: I read a lot more new series books than old ones, and didn’t feel the need to finish a lot of series I started. Still, it’s so satisfying marking off series books so I’m definitely doing this one again.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Guaranteed!

Mystery & Suspense Reading Challenge – 9/12 books read

Lesson learned: I may love reading these, but I don’t like reviewing them. I think I’ll keep this category as a pleasure read and not a blog read.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Very slim.

Black Dagger Brotherhood Challenge – 6/9 books read

Lesson learned: I got a bit BDB-ed out midway through this challenge. The stories got less interesting, and I wish more people had participated in Bookaholic Does Blogging’s book club discussions of the series. So interesting, but where was everyone?

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: I don’t plan to re-read any of these, so no challenge for me.

Take a Chance Challenge 3 – 3/10 books read

Lesson learned: The categories were not as fun as I had hoped, and didn’t drum up very many books I actually wanted to read. HUGE FAIL.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Very slim.

Fantasy Reading Challenge – 6/6 books read

Lesson learned: Wow, I read more fantasy than I thought I would. I’m not sure I need a challenge to keep me reading in this genre.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Slim.

Gothic Reading Challenge – 3/5 books read

Lesson learned: There’s not a lot of gothic fiction out there, and with such a small genre I had a hard time finding books I wanted to read that fit in. I do like gothic fiction a lot, though, but haven’t decided if I want to do another challenge.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: 50/50.

Vacation Reads Challenge – 6/6 books read, but not in dedicated time frame

Lesson learned: Short term challenges are even harder for me. I think I’ll stick to year-long ones.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Not good.

E-book Challenge – 48/75 books read

Lesson learned: I really overestimated how many ebooks I’d be reading this year. Because of all the tours I joined, I read a lot more physical books than I thought. This easily accounted for my deficit in this challenge.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Not good.

Writer Musings Reading Challenge – 119/100 books read, and counting

Lesson learned: I’m bad at remembering to link up my reviews, but Tabitha gives away great prizes so if she does this again, I think I’ll sign up. I was SHOCKED at how many books I was able to read this year, even if some of them are graphic novels. I used the Goodreads challenge to track my numbers this year, so I hope they do it again in 2012!

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Good.

Reading Challenge Addict – 5/17 challenges complete

Lesson learned: Too many challenges, too little time. I need to read more crossover books and be more judicious in my challenge selections next year. I also want to try out some new ones, so I doubt the total volume will decrease much.

Likelihood I’ll sign up next year: Almost guaranteed.


I’ll start posting my sign-up posts for 2012 in the next few weeks, so consider this a pre-emptive apology for glutting up your feeds. 🙂

TGIF at GReads! (15) & Weekly Recap

This Friday blog hop is run by Ginger at GReads! (who also created this beautiful button). Each week she posts a new question for us to ponder. Click the button to join in!

This week’s question is:

Show & Tell: Where do you grab a book and get lost in it? Show us your favorite spot you like to read at.


Photo credit: Carolyn Surh/MEDILL

As weird as it may seem, I actually love reading on the train. My commute is one of the few times during my day that I can spend time alone and uninterrupted. I find it much harder to concentrate on my reading when I’m at home with the husband and the dog. Plus, the train noise and rocking is kind of soothing.


 

My weekly recap is inspired by the phenomenally talented, kind and generous Small Review. If you are not already following her, you are really missing out. Also, have I mentioned how much I love Cool Text? They’re the folks that allow me to make these cool (and simple) text buttons – for FREE!

If you’re a first time visitor, or just didn’t get the chance to stop by this week, here’s what you missed:

Reviews
LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins
4/5 stars

13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES by Maureen Johnson
3/5 stars
Vacation Reading Challenge

Features
Trailer Tuesday – Anonymous
Writing Wednesday – The Struggle to Revise

Enjoy your weekend everybody!

TGIF at GReads! (14) & Weekly Recap

This Friday blog hop is run by Ginger at GReads! (who also created this beautiful button). Each week she posts a new question for us to ponder. Click the button to join in!

This week’s question is:

Banned Books: How do you feel about the censorship of the freedom to read? Do you think the education system needs to be more strict on what children are exposed to in books?
I strongly believe that the regulation of reading material among kids is the duty of parents. If parents have objections to material available to kids, it is their job to communicate that to their kids and teachers. Parents have the right to remove their kids from educational programming that they don’t agree with, but just because some parents may find material objectionable doesn’t mean that nobody gets to read it.

The right to free speech is one of our greatest liberties and is not something to be taken lightly. Self-expression is so important to public discourse on societal wrongs and to the further development of society in general. Ideas, in any form, can and should be expressed, and not one person should ever feel afraid to speak their mind. People take offense to a wide variety of materials, words, and concepts, and it is because of that subjectivity that limits on expression are so dangerous. The moment we start to homogenize our thinking is the moment our society starts to crumble. Progress is born on a foundation of daring, bold thoughts. We have to take risks and listen to the very things that frighten or abhor us in order to better understand the world around us.

Help me celebrate novel and bold ideas as part of Banned Books Week, and support authors who dare to be different. The Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop ends tomorrow, so click the link at the top of the page to enter!


My weekly recap is inspired by the phenomenally talented, kind and generous Small Review. If you are not already following her, you are really missing out. Also, have I mentioned how much I love Cool Text? They’re the folks that allow me to make these cool (and simple) text buttons – for FREE!

If you’re a first time visitor, or just didn’t get the chance to stop by this week, here’s what you missed:

Reviews
GLOW by Amy Kathleen Ryan
2/5 stars

WISDOM’S KISS by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
3/5 stars

Features
Let’s Talk About…Virginity in YA Fiction

Events
Waterfall Wednesday

Enjoy your weekend everybody!