Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Wrap-Up

January was an excellent month of reading for me, especially since the ending of 2014 was so pitiful.  This is mostly because Bout of Books motivated me so much, so I'm really really grateful for that readathon.

 Completed Reads


I read eight books and nine single issues of a comic in January.  Two of my books were classics, as well, so I'm really happy with that because one of my goals for the year was to read more classics.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Anti-Heroes

Top 5 Wednesday was created by BookTuber Lainey, at gingerreadslainey.  If you want to join in, please check out the Goodreads group.

This week's topic is favorite anti-heroes, which is an excellent one.  I really like anti-heroes because they are so complex.  In real life, most people have their moments of weak morality.  We can be righteous cowards or brave thieves.  But many characters in literature are written with a lack of moral duality, so I love it when I find a protagonist I'm not sure if I quite cheer for.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Reader Ramble: Do we read for the sake of reading?

For the first time that I can recall, the young adult genre is hands down the most popular.  These are the books that are getting the movie deals and all of the buzz.  This isn't true just among the targeted age demographic, but among older readers, as well.

Some of this attention is absolutely deserved.  The Hunger Games trilogy is fantastic.  I love that Eleanor and Park features two atypical protagonists.  Some classics are receiving new attention, as well, such as The Giver, which is a phenomenal novel.

However, for every well-written book with intriguing, well-developed characters, a captivating plot, and relevant themes that will make the reader think, there are another ten that turn character tropes into clich├ęs and wear down the same plot points that made every other book popular.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Authors I Would Like to Meet

Top 5 Wednesday was created by booktuber gingerreadslainey.  If you want to join in on the fun, check out the Goodreads group.

Today's topic is the Top 5 Authors I Would Like to Meet.

I found this a difficult list to make.  While I certainly have my favorite authors, I'm not one to celebratize them.  Also, I've found that some authors whose books I love have less than lovely personalities.  Likewise, there are some writers I think I would enjoy having a good chat with whose books consistently fail to rank above 3 stars.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

These covers are gorgeous!

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
The Grisha Trilogy #1
St. Martin's Press; 5 July 2013
358 Pages
YA Fantasy
3 Stars
Barnes and Noble; Book Depository, Goodreads


Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life--a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Series I Want to Start

There are many well-loved series out there that I haven't started.  This is mostly because I am very picky with the ones that I start.

Series require much more commitment than stand-alones.  One I've read the first book, I feel obligated to read the rest.  Even if I didn't particularly like the first one, I always have this hope that the next one will be better and make up for it.  I have a very difficult time giving up on a series, especially if it's only a trilogy.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Wrap-Up

Bout of Books 12 is officially over, and though I am very sad to see it end, I am very happy with my progress throughout the week.  Though my reading tapered off towards the weekend, I was able to more than make up for it in the beginning of the week, when my schedule was less hectic.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Challenge - #insixwords

Brevity seems to be what the Twitter age is all about, and Falling Down the Book Hole's challenge is taking it a step further by asking readers to summarize their thoughts about a book in only six words.

Bout of Books 12: Progress - Day 6

My reading is really waning as the week comes to a close.  I didn't read at all on day 5, and only fared slightly better on day 6.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Progress - Day 5

So, this is going to be the shortest update post ever because I didn't read at all yesterday.  Yea...

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Progress - Day 4

I can't believe that Bout of Books 12 is already almost over!  Day 5 already.

Thursday gave me more time than Wednesday for reading, so I was able to finish City of Glass and do a full review on it. However, I did most of my reading late at night, so I was too tired to dig into Dracula, and I'm falling behind on reading it.

Bout of Books 12: Progress - Day 3

I was doing so well the first two days, but things just slowed down on day three.  I had other demands upon my attention, so I wasn't able to finish any books.

Review: City of Glass (The Mortal Instrumets Series #3) by Cassandra Clare

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
The Mortal Instruments Series #3
Simon and Schuster, 24 March 2009
541 Pages
Young Adult Paranormal
3 Stars
Barnes and Noble; Book Depository; Goodreads


To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters--never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight. As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City--whatever the cost? Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the third installment of bestselling series the Mortal Instruments.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Challenge - Character Coupling

Oh, I really like today's challenge, hosted by Writing My Own  Fairytale.  It's the Character Coupling challenge.  Or, as I'd like to think of it, the Make Your Own OTP (or BroTP) challenge.

You have to choose two characters from different books, put them into any type of relationship, and explain why you did it.  The characters have to come from different books and series, but the same author is fine.

 Because I am in the middle of The Mortal Instruments Series, by Cassandra Clare, I wanted to choose a character from it.  Even though Jace is my favorite character, I think that Alec is turning into someone interesting, so...I choose YOU, Alec Lightwood!

When I think of him, I think of how he has always stood in Jace's shadow even though he's the more mature, thoughtful one.  And that immediately makes me think of Ron Weasley from The Harry Potter Series.  Ron is a lot different than Alec in that he's not as mature or solid, but he's still a very loyal best friend who is often looked over.

I would put them in a friendship because I think that they would really be able to connect.  Whenever Ron gets flashes of envy, Alec could settle him down.  They could lament over how brash their friends are or share stories of how stupid Jace and Harry were to think they could do anything without them.  I think that Alec would ground Ron while Ron would loosen him up a little, as well.

What do you think?  Would they get along?  Let me know in the comments below.  Share your character coupling, too!  I'd love to see who you put together.

Happy reading!

Review: City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments Series #2) by Cassandra Clare

City of Ashes by Cassandra ClareThe Mortal Instruments Series #2
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1 April 2008
453 Pages
Young Adult Paranormal
2.5 Stars
Barnes and Noble; Book Depository; Goodreads


Clary Fray just wishes that her life would go back to normal. But what's normal when you're a demon-slaying Shadowhunter, your mother is in a magically induced coma, and you can suddenly see Downworlders like werewolves, vampires, and faeries? If Clary left the world of the Shadowhunters behind, it would mean more time with her best friend, Simon, who's becoming more than a friend. But the Shadowhunting world isn't ready to let her go — especially her handsome, infuriating, newfound brother, Jace. And Clary's only chance to help her mother is to track down rogue Shadowhunter Valentine, who is probably insane, certainly evil — and also her father.


To complicate matters, someone in New York City is murdering Downworlder children. Is Valentine behind the killings — and if he is, what is he trying to do? When the second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is stolen, the terrifying Inquisitor arrives to investigate and zooms right in on Jace. How can Clary stop Valentine if Jace is willing to betray everything he believes in to help their father?

Bout of Books 12: Progress - Day 2

Can I just say that figuring out the timing of these blog posts is kind of confusing?  Most people are just starting their day 3 while I am ending mine.  Confusing!

Anyway, let's talk about my progress for Tuesday, day 2 of Bout of Books.

On Monday I finished the first book in The Mortal Instruments series (you can check out the review here), so yesterday I went straight into City of Ashes, the second in the series by Cassandra Clare.  Even though I liked it less than the first one, I still managed to finish it, making it the second book finished this week.  Woot woot!

I also continued reading Bram Stoker's Dracula since my goal is to finish it.  It's difficult to just sit and read through for hours at a time, so I'm trying to be disciplined in mixing it in with the easier books I'm reading.

There was only one challenge, which I completed.  It was hosted by Trees of Reverie, and it was the Top 10 Recommendations challenge.  I really enjoyed putting my list together, and I tried to pull from different genres and age ranges.  Be sure to check my list out!

I also found a blog that I like.  It's by Laura over at Laura Plus Books.  She doesn't read the same types of books that I normally read, but her blog is so well put together, and she has a lot of YA reviews.  So, if you like to read YA, you should definitely check out her blog.

Ok, let's break down the numbers:

Pages read: 485 (1003 so far)
Books finished: 1 (2 so far)
Hours spent reading: 6.5 (14 total)
Challenges completed: 1
Blogs/Channels Subscribed to: 1

I am totally good with these numbers, especially since I anticipate them slowing down as I am going to be spending time with my niece and nephew for the next couple of days.

How was your second day?  Tell me all about it in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bout of Books 12 Challenge: Top 10 Recommendations

Today's challenge is hosted over at Trees of Reverie, and it's the Top 10 Recommendations challenge.

The idea is that I work at a library or book store, and I have to put together a list of my go-to recommendations for patrons or customers.

For fun I can go into a little more detail about why I chose it, how I would talk it up, or my honorable mentions that didn't quite make the top 10.

So, here are my top 10 go-to recommendations in no particular order.


The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Most people my age will have read this already, but there is a whole new generation of kids growing up outside of the Harry Potter phenomena that may not know about it.  If parents came into the store looking for something to ignite their child's love for reading, this is definitely what I'd recommend.  Not only is it amazingly written, but the characters will grow up with the child just as they grew up with me.


Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

If someone came in and wanted to check out some science fiction but didn't know where to start, I'd point them to this favorite of mine.  It's an easy read that doesn't get too technical, but it's also a great story with an interesting protagonist.


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

Anyone coming in and wanting to explore fantasy for the first time would get this recommended to them.  It's a classic that incorporates a lot of common elements of the fantasy genre, as well as giving an excellent plot and compelling characters.  


My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult

I am not usually one for weepy chick books, but every now and then I get in a mood where I want a book that will make me cry a lot and a box of chocolate.  Lovers of this type of book would get this recommended to them.  Partly because I haven't read too many books that fit into this category but also because it's just a good story.


The Shining by Stephen King

If you're looking to break into the horror genre, this is the book I would recommend.  Obviously Stephen King is a dominant face for this genre, and this is one of his best.  I think someone would be able to tell if horror is for them after reading this pick.


Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This is kind of obvious, isn't it?  This is just a must-read.  People looking for a classic that isn't difficult to read with characters you can invest in would get this handed to them.  As long as they don't mind the romance.  If the person doesn't like romance...


The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This classic is darker and wittier, and I would recommend this to those who like appalling characters and gritty tones.


Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Murakami is a must-read for anyone interested in Japanese literature.  This is my favorite out of all of the ones I've read so far.


Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

A lot of people will have already read this, but if a kid came in who was into comics and superheros or was interested in checking them out, I would give them Watchmen, one of the giants in the genre.  The art, characters, plot, and writing all come together to make it an excellent read and a loved classic.


The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer

Many young Christians are veering away from the weighty spiritual classics that generations before them benefited from.  So, if someone came in looking for a Christian book that would challenge them and help them grow, this is what I would name first.  Tozer's classic work goes through all of the attributes of God, breaking them down in a way that is clear but also convicting.  It's one of my favorite Christian reads, and I can't recommend it enough.

So, those are my top 10 recommendations!  Thank you to Trees of Reverie for this fantastic challenge!

What books would you recommend?  Share them in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Review: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments Series #1) by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
The Mortal Instruments Series #1
Simon and Schuster, 21 April 2007
485 Pages
Young Adult Paranormal
3.5 Stars
Barnes & Noble; Book Depository; Goodreads


When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It's hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?


This is Clary's first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It's also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace's world with a vengeance, when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know...

Bout of Books 12: Progress - Day 1

Day one of Bout of Books was an excellent reading day for me.  I was still awake when midnight hit on Guam, so I immediately started reading and ended up not going to sleep until dawn.  I got in about 5 hours of uninterrupted reading, and the rest of the time I was tweeting with other readers who live on my side of the globe.

After I woke up in the afternoon, I picked up where I left off and was able to finish my first book, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

I didn't do any of the challenges, but that is fine since my goal is only to participate in three of them.  

As far as finding new bloggers, I talked to a lot of people that I really liked chatting with, but I have yet to find a blogger who reads the type of books that would most interest me, so I haven't subscribed to anyone new yet.  The search is on, though!

So, here are my day one stats:
  • Pages read: 518
  • Books finished: 1
  • Hours spent reading: over 7
  • Challenges completed: 0
  • Blogs/Channels subscribe to: 0
I am really happy with the progress I have made so far, and I hope that the rest of this week will continue in similar fashion.

How did your first day go?  Link me to your progress post in the comments below.  

Happy reading!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Goals & Tracking Spreadsheet

Bout of Books 12 starts tomorrow, and I am so thankful for it.  I ended 2014 in a bit of a reading rut, so I'm hoping that this read-a-thon will kickstart this year of reading.

As always, I'm setting very loose goals for myself, but I think I'll be able to get quite a bit of reading done during the week because I'll still be on holiday.  I just need to be disciplined.

I don't really do TBR's, so instead I put together a "pull-from pile" - a stack of books I am interested in and can pull from during the week.  The books that made the pile are:


  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (ebook)
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
  • Christ Indwelling and Enthroned by J. Oswald Sanders
  • Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker (already started)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (reread)
Reading Goals
  • Read at least 2 hours every day.
  • Read at least 1000 pages.
  • Finish Dracula.
Over the past few months I've been letting other things (ie. the internet) distract me from reading, and then it's 2 am, and I'm too tired.  So, I installed an app on my phone that completely shuts down all data, wi-fi, apps, messaging, and phone calls (save for a few choice contacts); this way, I can stop wasting my time with lesser things.  I'll set it to run for two hours every day this next week so I can be sure I get my reading time in.

Blogging Goals
  • Do a mid-way post and a wrap-up post.
  • Participate in at least 3 challenges.
  • Find at least 3 new bloggers/booktubers that I enjoy, and subscribe to their content.
The main reason I love Bout of Books so much is because of how the reading community comes together.  It's an excellent opportunity to meet new people who are passionate about the same things as I am and start dialoguing with them, so I definitely want to do some discovering as the week goes on.

In order to keep track of my reading progress, I made a spreadsheet, which I started using for Bout of Books 11.  If you are interested in using it to track your own progress, you can download it from my Dropbox.


Those are my goals for this next week.  Are you participating in Bout of Books 12?  If you've made goals, please share them in the comments below or link me to your blog post or video.

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Book Goals

I do not really believe in making resolutions.  I know that they work for other people, but I feel like they set me up for failure and guilt.  And I don't want to start my year that way.  Plus, I am not a great planner, so I find that my mind, mood, or life often changes too dramatically to stick with any decisions I made at the beginning of the year.

I do, however, set goals.  They aren't strict at all but act more like faint guidelines and hopes for the year.  If I accomplish them, wonderful!  If I don't, it's ok.

I operate this same way when it comes to setting book goals for the year.  I don't do TBRs or anything rigid, but I put together a general "wishlist" or sorts - number of books I wish to read, specific titles I wish to finish, certain genres I wish to explore.

After figuring out my reading statistics for 2014, I put together a list of goals I'd like to guide my reading throughout the next year.

Read more books with deeper content.

Last year my original goal was to read 50 books, but I quickly surpassed that and was able to read more than 100 books this year.  However, a lot of those books were junk food reads.  I definitely got a few good meals in, but I did a lot of junk food reading this year.

Don't get me wrong; sometimes light reading is necessary, and the entertainment aspect is completely valid.  However, I want to make sure that I'm reading books that will challenge and grow me, as well.

So, instead of shooting for a high number, I just want to be able to look over the books I've read this time next year and feel a sense of accomplishment.

Finish rereading the Harry Potter series.

It's been a few years since I read it, so I started rereading it toward the end of this year.  I'm almost done with Order of the Phoenix so this should be an easy goal to meet.

Explore new genres.

I tend to stick to adult contemporary, but I read a few sci-fi this year that I really enjoyed, so I want to find more.  Plus, I really want to get in some more fantasy.

One genre I want to read less of is YA.  Or, more specifically, I want to be pickier about which YA I read.  They are really easy to fly through and add to my book count, but I find that few of them offer me any type of challenge or real stimulation.  There are definitely good ones out there, but I need to make sure I'm reading them instead.

Continue reading comics/graphic novels/manga/manhwa.

I read a lot of image driven content this year, and I really loved the experience.  I want to continue exploring this new world and finding out which titles/authors I love, as well as what styles I'm the most drawn to.

I've found that these are also really good for when I'm in reading slumps, but that doesn't always mean that the story is subpar or shallow.  The stories can be beautiful and deep, and I'm still able to focus on them during those times when reading a novel just isn't happening.

Read more classics.

I am part of a classics book club, so this shouldn't be difficult, but they don't always pick titles I'm interested in, so I often find myself sitting out for a whole month.

For the upcoming year, I want to participate more in that book club.  And when I don't, I want to choose my own classic to read.  There are always more classics waiting for me.

Read more Asian literature.

In past years, I've read a lot of Asian literature, but 2014 was really lacking, and I am not accepting of that.  All of the Asian lit I read this past year was in comic form, so I absolutely must start reading novels again.

This is the one goal that I want to be very intentional with, and I may even make a list of books to pull from throughout the year in order to accomplish it.

Read my shelves.

I, like many book addicts, have a slight problem with buying books faster than I read them.  Therefore, I have quite a few unread books on my shelves.  I want to dwindle this number down this year.

I say this as I have three book orders on their way, but it's not 2015 yet, so it's ok.

The 2015 Reading Challenge

This is a little thing that has been going around Tumblr, and I just want to keep it in the back of my mind as a fun thing to do to shake things up, especially when I'm not sure what I want to read next.


And those are all my reading goals for 2015. 

What are your goals for the coming year?  Do you make a TBR list for the whole year, set a number of books you'd like to finish, or just wing it?  Are you very strict?  Let me know in the comments down below.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!



Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Reading Statistics

I have never gone over a year of reading and crunched the numbers to see all of my different statistics.  However, after seeing other book bloggers' statistics, it's inspired me to find out my own.

This is such a good thing to do before going into a new year of reading because it makes you aware of the areas where your reading has been lacking.  If your goal is to read diversely, which mine is, it's important to know what you are neglecting.  Maybe you lean too heavily on a certain author gender or show favoritism to a specific genre, or maybe you aren't reading enough world literature.  One can only see these gaps after figuring out the stats.  

Therefore, I went through all 129 books I read in 2014 and divided them by author gender, intended audience age, genre, author nationality, and language because these are the areas in which I want to read widely.

Author Gender


57 of the books I read last year were written by men while 72 had female authors.  This is pretty even, so I'm happy with that.  

Author Nationality

American: 36
British: 15
German: 2
French: 1
Russian: 1
Australian: 2
Indian: 1
Japanese: 54
Korean: 14
Brazilian: 1
South African: 1

This is one of the more important statistics when it comes to my personal reading goals.  I really want to read works from all around the world, particularly from Asia.  

I am pleased with how big of a percentage of my reading choices were by Asian authors, but almost all of those works were manga/manhwa.  I was definitely neglecting Asian literary fiction this year.

Language


A large percentage of the translated works I read were comics, but not all of them.

Author nationality is more important to me than the original language of the work, but I was curious about the numbers.

Audience Age

Adult: 99
Young Adult: 14
Children's/Middlegrade: 16

The fact that adult literature dominates this chart is not surprising to me.  I'm almost 30-years old, so this is the right age range for me.  

I read a lot more YA, children's, and middlegrade than I usually do, so I am happy that it accounts for almost 25% of my reading.

Genres

Literary Fiction: 16
Classics: 8
Fantasy: 13
Science Fiction: 2
Horror: 3
Graphic Novels/Comics: 71
Historical Fiction: 1
Nonfiction: 11 
Plays: 1
Poetry: 3

And now we get to the numbers that most people find the most important: genre.

This was the year I really got into graphic novels and comics, which is obvious from this chart.  I read 71, including completing 4 manga/manhwa series.  While it may seem like I favored this genre far too much, I still read 58 non-graphic driven works, which is average for me.  Because they are so easy to get through quickly, I don't have have an issue with this genre taking up such a large percentage of my reading because they don't take up as much time.

Let's look at my genre percentages without graphic novels or comics factored in.

Literary fiction is my favorite genre, so it's not surprising that it gets 2nd place out of all the genres.  I did expect it to account for more of my reading, however, so I'm pleased that I didn't swerve so heavily in that direction.  

I ended up reading 8 classic works last year, which I am pleased with.  Since being out of school, I've found that I have to be very intentional about reading classics since no one is forcing me to anymore.  Most of the works I read were book club picks.

I am truly surprised at the amount of fantasy I got in this year.  I do, however, wish that I had explored more science fiction and horror.

As I get older, I want to read more and more nonfiction, so I'm glad that I was able to read 11 nonfiction books this year.  Out of those, 6 were Christian works.  I hope to read more next year, and I intend to stick predominantly with Christian writing.

Wrap-Up

So, those are my reading statistics for 2014.  I am pretty happy with those number, especially since I wasn't at all intentional in my choices.  There are a few things I would like to see change by this time next year, but I will go over those in my 2015 reading goals.

Did you crunch your reading numbers?  What were your statistics?  Tell me in the comments below or on Twitter.

Happy reading!