Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favorite Reads of the Year So Far!

I have not gotten as much reading done as I hoped I would this year, school has been keeping me so busy, but I have really loved what I have read this year. I have a lot of good things to say about what I have read so far, so here are my top ten favorites read of the year so far! 
Book Tittles Link to Reviews

1. The Cure for Dreaming, Cat Winters
I loved the historical fiction setting, the supernatural elements, and the black and white photos in this novel!  I really need to check out Cat Winters' other novel, and I'm excited for her newest release later this year.

2. I'll Give You the Sun, Jandy Nelson 
I have been raving about this book since I finished it. Nelson's writing is out of this world, and Noah is one of my favorite literary characters of all-time. 

3. Emma, Jane Austen
It's no secret I love Austen, so I'm not surprised I loved this one. It was funny and heartfelt, and Mr. Knightly has taken the cake for my favorite Austen love interest.

4. Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut 
This was my first Vonnegut and I loved his humor and commentary on human existence. If you like satire, dark humor, or made up religions, this is a must read.   

5. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli
This book was so sweet! I was smiling and swooning uncontrollably while reading this one! I have had great luck with the young adult contemporaries so far this year!  

6. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie 
Christie is the Queen of Mystery for a reason people! Her mysteries are so clever and impossible to put down.

7. Ms. Marvel vol 1 and vol 2, Willow Wilson 
I have been reading lots of graphic novels this year, and this series is by far my favorite. I love Kamala, the humor, the girl power, and the art. This series is a great place to start if you are a newbie to comics, but it's also great for comic pros! 

8. The Sky is Everywhere, Jandy Nelson
Nelson's debut was just as lovely as her second novel. I loved the writing in this one, and I love how amazing Nelson is at creating real, complex, and quirky family dynamics. I will buy and read anything Nelson writes for the rest of her career. 

9. Howard's End, E.M. Forster
This classic had the perfect British classic atmosphere that I find so comforting and entertaining. As this novel ended, I found myself with a large amount of respect for the main female character, and many thoughts on the theme of connection that is present throughout the novel.  

10. Just One Day, Gayle Forman
This book reminded me how beautiful it is to find an emotional connection to a book and character. I related to Allyson so much in this novel that it was a little jarring, and her journey of self-discovery was beautiful and something that will stick with me for quite a while.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Recently Read: Just One Day (Everything You Have Heard is True!)

Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Status: First in dualology
Publication Date: 2013
Page Count: 369
Rating: 5/5

Also by Gayle Forman: 
If I Stay

Allyson has always followed all the rules; she never lets anyone down; and she goes anywhere without a plan. While on a teen tour of Europe, she meets a boy that makes her take a chance. They spend one day in Paris together, and Allyson and her view of the world are never the same. 

Before reading this book, I had heard a lot about it. Lots of people used huge and heavy words such as "life-changing" to describe this book. Well, I'm here to say that everything you have heard about this book is true. It is beautiful, emotional, and even a little bit life-changing.

While there is a romance in this novel, and the romance is the spark of Allyson's journey of self-discovery, this book is so much more than the romance. This book is powerful. 

I related to Allyson so much that it made me a little bit emotional. After returning from her one day in Paris, Allyson finds herself at college and on a path that her parents have picked out for her. She's not happy with herself, or her life. My emotion and frustration built up right alongside of Allyson's emotion and frustration because I recognized how she felt. Last semester of school was very rough for me. I was taking a lot of classes because my degree requires more classes than the average bachelor's Degree. I had no time for myself, and when I did, I didn't have the energy to do anything I would usually enjoy doing. I was stressed and discouraged about up-coming tests and other events needed to get my degree, and I was just tired of it all. Last semester really dampened my passion and my confidence that I was in the right program. I was frustrated that all of these requirements and hoops I have to jump through were dwindling my excitement, enthusiasm, and passion for my future career before I even had the chance to enter the field. Early this summer (and maybe even to this day still) I was really considering a major change out of fear that all of the schooling ahead of me would kill any passion for teaching that I had left in me. 

I related to Allyson's desire to see the world, explore new things, break away from her parents, and break out of other people's expectations. I related to how she felt out-of-place with her friends and her life, and I knew that the pinnacle moment of emotion for her would be hard for me too. I was rooting for Allyson and so proud of her when she began to come into her own. I have not related to a character as much as I have related to Allyson in quite a long time. Her struggle was real, it was important, and it's something that I am still dealing with. 

In addition to all the emotion packed in this story, it also explores one of the greatest elements of the universe, which is also one of my favorite elements to ponder over: fate. I am fascinated by the idea of fate and the human tendency to love and this novel explored both of those ideas beautifully. This is one of those stories that (even though it is fictional) leaves you a little in awe of the universe and its workings. Everything comes together beautifully and naturally in this novel. I loved the Shakespeare connections that Forman worked into the novel, and how this novel's themes overlapped with the common themes of Shakespeare's plays. If you are familiar with his plays, you know that many of them deal with the idea of identity, appearance vs. reality, and fate, just as this novel did. 

This novel reminded me that I'm not alone in feeling out-of-place every once in a while. It reminded me not to settle, and it reminded me to be a little impractical and spontaneous every once and a while, because who knows where it could lead? This novel will stay with me for quite a long time, it has left me feeling inspired, connected, and hopeful.      

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up: Check out my Newest Blog Series!

What's New:
I started a new series here on the blog! I have titled it Tale as Old as Time and it will showcase some of my favorite (and beautiful) old books I own. I'm still playing around with format and what-not, but please check it out (linked below for Wednesday) and let me know what you think!

What I Read:
Since my last wrap-up, I have finished the audiobook of Howard's End by E.M. Forster (review can be found below) and Just One Day by Gayle Forman (review to come next week.)

Next I will be picking up Nimona by Noelle Stevenson and after that, I'm not sure- we will see what I'm in the mood for!

What I Bought:
Just one new book this week. I need to get this one read before taking my teacher certification tests, and it makes me feel a little less anxious just knowing I own a copy of it to read and annotate.

What I Posted:
Monday- I posted a double review for the second volumes of Ms. Marvel and Wonder Woman
Tuesday- I joined the five year anniversary celebration for Top Ten Tuesday by sharing my Top Ten Top Ten Tuesdays
Wednesday- was the start of my new series- Tale as Old as Time. Let me know what you think!
Thursday- I posted a review for my first Forster novel, Howard's End.

Last Week's Wrap-Up

What's Next:
Next week I will be reviewing Just One Day (that's going to be an emotional and lengthy review so prepare yourselves), posting a TTT, and the rest of the week is completely unplanned as usual!

Leave me your links below so I can stop by and say hi!

Stacking the Shelves hosted by; Tynga's Reviews
The Sunday Post Hosted by: The Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Recently Read: Howards End

Author: E.M. Forster
Genre: Classic
Publication Date: 1910
Page Count: 359
Rating: 4/5

Howard's End is the second read off of my 2015 Classics and Rereads List.

Howard's End is the story of the house, aptly named Howard's End, and the effect the house has on the lives of the Schlegel sisters, the Wilcox family, and an a poor bank clerk named Leonard Bast. 

This was my first Forster novel, and before starting it, I had no idea what it was about or the themes it would touch on. I listened to one of my favorite free audiobook readers read the novel, and I really enjoyed the novel and the audiobook. 

The Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, were great characters; they were exactly the female characters I love to see in classic novels. They were unconventional for their time, and unmarried. The character development of Margaret and  Mr. Wilcox was quite involved, and I grew to quite like and respect Margaret. 

To me, the biggest theme and idea presented in this novel was the idea of connection (there was also comments on England's future and current standings, which can be a little difficult for me to pick up on sometimes as I am not from England and don't posses a very detailed knowledge of the country's history and politics.) The most well known line from this novel is "Only connect" and the idea of connection in all forms is mentioned numerous times in the novel. The differences in how men and women connect to the world around them is also discussed quite frequently, along with how this impacts society as a whole. 

The different forms of connection explored in this novel were interesting. Mrs. Wilcox is so connected with Howard's End that she seems to become part of the house. The house (and therefore Mrs. Wilcox) connect the unlikely cast of characters together, where they continue to form new connections between each other. Margret finds it infuriating that the men around her cannot connect the "prose and the passion"  in their lives together , and therefore the men in the novel struggle to connect to the women. 

This is one of those classics where not much happens action wise, but the narration and themes are rich and entertaining and you don't mind the lack of action. This novel posses that calming and comfortable atmosphere of a British classic and I highly recommend it. I am eager to read more of Forster's works, and will probably be picking them up in the near future.  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tale as Old as Time (1): Small Paperbacks

Hey guys! I'm really excited to start this new series. Like many book lovers, I love collecting books. Over the past three years or so, I have been picking up quite a few old books from second hand shops, garage sales, and used book stores. I love looking at these old and beautiful books so I thought I would start a series where I showcase some of them. I have quite a few books I want to show off, so look for these posts every-so-often! I would love to hear about your favorite old books you own (or see them on your blog) so tell me about them below or link me to a post where you discuss them!

Side note: I's still experimenting with the layout of these posts and the pictures, so bare with me, and leave me any suggestions you might have.

The Pelican Shakespeare

First up, we have two small Pelican Shakespeare editions. I do love old leather bound books, but lately old and small paper backs have found a special place in my heart, and I love how they look together on the shelf. 

Antony and Cleopatra is from 1974 and The Tempest is from 1968 . Both of them are published by Pelican which is an imprint of Penguin Books. The Tempest is marked at 65 cents and Antony and Cleopatra at $1.25. I would love to pick up more of these editions! I have not read either of these plays yet, but I do hope to read them some day soon. 

Next is this little Dell edition of some Dickinson poems. This one was published in 1966 and originally cost  35 cents! How cute is this little book? It contains 173 poems and an introduction. One thing I love about these paperbacks is that they are still readable. Sometimes older leather bound books are more fragile (and quite frankly they usually smell and give me horrible allergies) and so they are impractical to actually read. But I have dipped in and out of this little collection many times.

The Shakespeare books and Dickinson came from a local huge used bookstore that charges one dollar for paperbacks and two dollars for hardcovers. They allow you to trade in books for store credit, and their gigantic store is packed floor-to-ceiling with books. I love spending an hour or two in there just looking at all the books. You never know what you are going to find, and they always seem to have a great selection of old classics. 

Lastly, we have this Airmont edition of Daisy Miller and Other Stories by Henry James from 1969 that originally cost 95 cents. I have read Daisy Miller and really enjoyed it, so I was really excited to see this one at my local second hand shop for a quarter. 

What are some of your favorite old books you own? Any suggestions to make these posts better? Let me know! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Blast from the Past

I have participated in seventy-one Top Ten Tuesdays! I loved looking back at my old lists and seeing how my blog and reading tastes have changed and grown since my first TTT post over a year ago. Here are some of my favorite topics/lists I have made.

1. Top Ten Books About Friendship (my first TTT) May 20, 2014 

2. Top Ten Classics July 1, 2015 

3. Top Ten Movies and T.V. Shows July 15, 2014 

4. Top Ten Halloween Reads October 28, 2014

5. Top Ten Books of 2014 December 16, 2014

7. Top Ten Heroines February 24, 2015 

8. Top Ten Quotes April 14, 2015 

9. Top Ten Classic Movies May 19, 2015 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Recently Read: Wonder Woman and Ms. Marvel vol 2

Read the reviews for vol 1 of both these graphic novels here.

Ms. Marvel vol 2: Generation Why 
Author: Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Jacob Wyatt
Genre: Comic/ Graphic Novel
Publication Date: 2014
Rating: 5/5

I really loved the first volume of this series, and I am pleased to say I loved this one just as much. This volume was action packed! The same humor and realness that I loved so much about the first volume was again present, and I'm really excited to see where this series will go!

This volume was extra fun because there was a couple of special guests, and I thought their cameos were such a fun addition to the series. I'm looking forward to volume three, which comes out June 23rd, because Loki will make an appearance.

I really enjoy how this comic focuses on Kamala's real-life and her super hero life, and I love the inclusion of pop-culture terms as a device to make Kamala a real-life, twenty- first century teenager. I also loved the 'empowering the youth' theme that this volume presented. I highly recommend this series; the art is great, the characters and story-line are great, and I think they are only going to get better,

Wonder Woman vol 2: Guts
Author: Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins
Genre: Comic/ Graphic Novel
Publication Date: 2012
Rating: 4/5

As I mentioned in my review for volume one, before picking this series up, I had very little knowledge about Wonder Woman. The fact that I was not a die-hard Wonder Woman fan means I am probably easier to please when it comes to comics featuring her, but with that being said, I really like this series.

I love the inclusion of Greek mythology in the story-line, and I love seeing Wonder Woman kick some butt. The story-line is easy to follow, and just like the first volume in this series, the transitions between settings and scenes were flawlessly smooth.

I love that this series is so full of action and is such a quick read. I enjoy the art and the dialogue, and I find myself eager to pick up vol 3 when it is released.

I would recommend checking this series out regardless of your experience with Wonder Woman, or comics in general.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up: Too Much Rain

What's New:
It has been raining in Michigan like crazy! We have had one day without rain in the past two weeks. I'm so ready for some summer sun, but I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon. I forgot to mention that I have been watching Arrow on Netflix lately, and I am obsessed! I'm half-way through season two, and I'm already dreading tracking down season three because it's not on Netflix. I spend way too much time swooning over Oliver Queen while watching the show.

What I Read:
This week I finished The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson (review linked below), Ms. Marvel vol 2: Generation Why by Willow Wilson (review coming next week) and continued listening to Howard's End by E.M. Forster. I really enjoyed everything I read this week!


What I'm Currently Reading:
I'm still working on Howard's End and I just started Gayle Forman's Just One Day. I wasn't a massive fan of If I Stay, but I have heard lots of great things about this dualology, and I think it will be a perfect summer read.

What I Bought:
I did a little bit of book shopping this week, and I had way too much fun. It has been so long since I took a trip to the bookstore and made a large purchase!


The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill
This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner


Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
A Gun For Sale, Graham Greene
The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene 

From the Library: 

Niomona, Noelle Stevenson 
Ms. Marvel vol 2: Generation Why, Willow Wilson 

What I Posted:
Monday- I did another Just Added post, this one on Adult Fiction
TuesdayMy Summer TBR
Wednesday- I reviewed The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Thursday- I listed a few Authors I Need to Read for the First Time

Last Week's Wrap-Up

What's new with you guys? What's your favorite read of the summer so far? 

Stacking the Shelves hosted by: Tynga's Reviews
The Sunday Post Hosted by: The Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Authors I Need to Read for the First Time

There are quite a few authors that I am ashamed to say I have not read. I have heard nothing by great things about the authors below, and I'm really excited to dive into their works.

Sarah Waters
I'm planning to start with...

But I'm also interested in...

Daphne du Maurier
I'm planning to start with...

But I'm also interested in...

George Orwell 
I'm planning to start with...

But I'm also interested in...

Gail Carriger 
I'm planning to start with...

But I'm also interested in... 

Have you read any of these? What authors are you excited to read for the first time? 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Recently Read: The Sky is Everywhere

Author: Jandy Nelson
Genre: Young Adult- Contemporary
Status: Stand-Alone
Publication Date: 2011
Page Count: 275
Rating: 5/5

Also by Jandy Nelson: 
I'll Give You the Sun

Lennie has always felt safest living in her older sister's shadow, but when her sister dies unexpectedly one day. she leaves her whole family staggering through life. It is then that Lennie finds a very strong connection with her sister's boyfriend, while she finds herself falling for the new guy in town. 

I loved Nelson's second novel I'll Give You the Sun, which I actually read first, an unbelievable amount. So I was really excited to read Nelson's debut. Nelson's writing is beyond description, and I loved that Lennie's poems were weaved into the narrative. Nelson's writing is so great, I would read text books written by her. I recently learned that Nelson has a MFA in poetry, and that makes so much sense to me! Her prose reads just like poetry. 

I loved the quirky characters and setting in this novel; each character felt alive to me, even if they were only a small part of the story. Nelson does such a great job of building and presenting real families in her novels, and I loved the family dynamic that Lennie had even though it was a little unconventional. Nelson also excels at creating a deep and true sibling relationship and connection in both of her novels.  

This novel is about so much more than a romance. There is so much grief inside of Lennie after her sister's death, and it takes control of everything in her life. Thankfully, I have never experienced a grief like this, but I loved the way that Nelson presented it and made it feel real and raw. But I also loved the way that falling in love for the first time was presented in this novel, and the way that these two items in Lennie's life contrasted each other and connected. It really showcased the beauty of love and fate, and the mysterious workings of the Universe. 

I will say I preferred I'll Give You the Sun to this novel, but I loved this one too. I highly recommend picking up one of Nelson's novels. They would be perfect for a book club as they are both so thought provoking and meaningful, The paper back edition of this novel has a great discussion guide at the end as well.  

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top (Eleven) Books on my Summer TBR

It would be easier to make a list of books that aren't on my summer TBR, as I want to read EVERYTHING over the next two and a half months. I had a really hard time finding time to read last semester, and I fear that next semester will be the same, so I want to get lots of reading done while I can. Here are a few of the books I want to pick up soon. 

1. The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater
This has been on my TBR for way too long!! I need to pick this one up soon, I hear it's great. 

2. Just One Day, Gayle Forman
This will be a perfect self-discovery and travel summer read. I have heard amazing things about this one too. 

3. Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
Again, why have I not read this yet? I know I will love it.

4. The Wrath and the Dawn, Renne Ahdieh  
I just bought this one, and the concept sounds really interesting. I think this one will be a really fun and action packed read.  

5. The Ghosts of Heaven, Marcus Sedgewick
It's no secret that I LOVE Sedgewick, and I have kind of been saving his newest release for a rainy day even though I bought it quite soon after it came out, but I don't know how much longer I can save it. I'm planning on picking it up on a day where I have nothing to do except read.

6. Etiquette & Espionage, Gail Carigner
This series looks so smart and sassy! You know I'm all about that girl power, and I think there will be plenty of that to go around in this one.

7.  Ask the Passengers, A.S. King
I really enjoyed my first King novel, so it's time to read another.

8. Only Ever Yours,  Louise O' Neill 
I have been so interested in this one ever since I first heard about it. I love all the feminism that is happening in YA right now, and I think this one is going to be just as impact-full as The Handmaid's Tale .

9. Tess of the D'ubervilles, Thomas Hardy
I need to get cracking on my Classics and Rereads for this year, and my huge list of unread classics in general, and this is one that I'm really eager to read (and then watch the BBC mini-series, of course.)

10. 1984, George Orwell

Another classic I probably should have read years ago!

11.  Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams, Sylvia Plath 
The Bell Jar  is one of my all-time favorite novels and I worship Plath for her poetry abilities so of  course I want to read this collection of her prose. But I also want to savior it.

As always, please leave me a link to your list below, I would love to visit your list- and add to my ever-growing TBR.