Bout of Books 17.0 | Day 4

Thursday turned out to be a miserable day for me. I woke up after only about 5 hours of sleep with a head ache, but I had to get going because I’ve just found that it’s easiest to get where I need to go as early as feasible. Knowing I’d be on campus all afternoon, I wanted to gas up my car for the trip back to Conroe on Saturday. It ended up being a horrible mistake, though, as I literally had to drive around campus for over 30 minutes looking for parking, only to find I needed to accept a back lot spot.

And it was a super hot, disgusting day so walking outside made me melt.

I had my final first day of class on Thursday which was Introduction to Film Studies. I was happy to have at least one person I knew it that class, but things quickly took a turn for the worse for me as the teacher was introducing herself and the talking through the syllabus. I honestly felt like I was either going to faint or throw up, and I didn’t want to be rude and walk out on the class. Luckily neither happened, but I regret not being able to fully enjoy learning about what to expect this semester.

Reading Progress

Salt-To-The-SeaI did not manage to get much of any writing done on-campus Thursday, as I had the previous days. I didn’t even begin to read right when I got back to my room. I was only able to read after a much needed three-hour nap. First thing I did was I finish the last hundred or so pages left in The Rose and the Dagger.

Having finally read the whole thing through, I stand by my assertion that this story should have either been one book or a trilogy. This sequel, while enjoyable because Renee Ahdieh is a very good writer, felt very rushed to me. There were new characters introduced (that I talked about yesterday) that ended up playing very little role in the story by the end. And every major plot point in the story felt…anti-climactic. Overall, I think I would still give it 3.5 stars.

Next I picked up Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. I managed to read 50 pages and they’re been very enjoyable and fast-paced. This book alternates in its characters’ first-person perspectives very rapidly, but it hasn’t been hard to keep them straight as most of these characters are interacting with each other. Because of the short chapters, this format style has not been intimidating. And it’s actually probably helped me to read more than I would have being as I was so tired. I hope this will become a very quick read as soon as I have more time to dive into it.

End Note

I’m happy to be finishing this blog post up early Friday morning, as I have another TA orientation today spanning from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. So I doubt I’d be able to finish it during the lunch break as last Friday I ended up talking to people a lot more than I thought I would have to. Not that I minded! Anyway, I’m sorry if it’s a little on the short side. Tomorrow is Saturday and I barely contain my excitement! If you want to catch up on past days of this read-a-thon, I’ve provided a list of the blog posts below.

Bout of Books 17.0 Day 1 | 2 | 3

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Bout of Books 17.0 | Day 3

backpackI apologize for the fact that this post is coming a little later than usual. It’s been a fairly busy week and it’s finally catching up with me! Wednesday was not a great day for reading as I was on-campus most of the day once again and had a bunch of mini-tasks to complete, most of them in the shopping department!

I had to visit Off Campus Books to find some of the books I will be needing sooner rather than later for classes, including The Feminist Reader, All Quiet on the Western Front, and A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888–1889.

I also wanted to go to Target again, specifically to buy a new backpack as the one I’ve had for almost two years now has a mesh back and has ruined the backs of numerous articles of clothing. Also it’s a heavy backpack, even when there’s not much in it. Great for heavy duty tasks, but just not what I need right now. I need something light weight and I love what I found.

It’s green with white polka dots and has camel-colored suede flatslining the bottom, which is kind of reminiscent of classic Jansport backpacks which I love. I also ended up buying a pair of black jeggings, because I needed something that wasn’t blue jeans, and a new pair of plum-colored ballet flats to replace my old ones that I’ve had since 2013 and finally decided to donate this summer.

After a short nap, I had to return to campus for my Wednesday night class: Social Science Perspectives of Emerging Media and Communication. This has been the class I’ve been most excited about because I’d get to see all the people I meet last year! And the class did not disappoint. I was able to catch up a little with most of them. I can tell it’s going to be a very relaxing environment in which to learn, and the instructor seems fantastic. I actually met her the Friday before for my first TA orientation so I knew she would be awesome. This could easily be my favorite class this semester.

 Reading Progress

rosedaggerI did actually get a lot more reading done yesterday than I had thought I would and most it is because I read while I was at the library waiting for my class to start. And the story got really good pretty quickly! Shahrzad was reunited with Khalid about a third of the way into the book, and there have been two new characters introduced into the story that I’m really loving so far.

First, there’s Shahrzad’s sister who I didn’t remember from the first book. She is almost nothing like her sister, as she’s very timid and dutiful. In this novel, she’s discovering her first love and coming out of her shell, which is a pleasure to watch. She’s such a fun contrast to Shahrzad, who I also love. Then, there’s the mysterious and unruly Artan whose aunt might be the only one who can help Shahrzad break Khalid’s curse so they can live happily ever after and bring peace to Khorasan.

I don’t want to get into potentially spoiler-y details, so the last thing I will say is that I’m really happy with how the novel’s turned out. I really didn’t like the cliffhanger the first book was left on as it was clearly a set-up for a sequel, which I still think was unnecessary. It could have been one big book, if there was less focus on characters from Shahrzad’s previous life (which is what this book does). I’m now 71% done with the novel and expect to finish it on Thursday.

End Note

It is almost noon on Thursday as I wrap this up and I’m about to try and read a bit more of The Rose and the Dagger before I need to go to the class I will be observing this semester (which runs T/R from 1–2:15 p.m.). Then I will have my final class of the week, Introduction to Film Studies.

I’ve been doing a lot of blog post drafting and have quite a lot planned to go up after Bout of Books 17.0 is over, specifically writing posts! And there’s another read-a-thon happening in September which I fully plan to participate in centered on mystery novels. I hope you’re enjoying these posts! I’m quite enjoying writing them as they’re a nice change of pace for me a blogger. See you tomorrow with another one.

Thank you for reading!
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Bout of Books 17.0 | Day 2

Tuesday was another fairly long day spent primarily on campus until about 3:00 p.m. I’ve been coming to the library to take advantage of the WiFi and to thrive in the productive atmosphere. After spilling some of my lunch on myself an hour before I was to begin my “TA duties”, I had a mad dash to Target to find something else to wear. All I ended up getting was a new cardigan, which I’ve desperately needed anyway.

While I did not have any new classes start yesterday, I did get together with my TA faculty supervisor and have my first TA observation. I’ve learned that while I will not have my own classroom this semester, I am being trained in pedagogical observations that will help prepare me for having my own classroom, perhaps as early as next semester. So I will be observing my supervisor during her 4000-level Networked Identities class, have some outside reading, and observe a few others additionally.

I also have some workshops throughout the semester which I will need attend, but that should be the extent of my workload this semester. Sounds completely manageable.

Reading Progress

rosedaggerMonday night I was not sure what I wanted to read more: The Rose and the Dagger or And Then There Were None. So I opened the question up to Twitter and The Rose and the Dagger won! After my Monday night class, I was too tired to read more than 14 pages though.

Tuesday I had all evening to read, but I only managed to get to page 128! I was having trouble fully submerging into the story. Partially because I could not fully remember the intricacies of why Shahrzad was in her current predicament, and I’m not liking the position she finds herself in anyway. At the end of The Wrath and the Dawn, she is forced to leave Khalid when a major storm decimates the city. So I figure this book is going to be all about her trying to find her way back to him.

I like the direction in which it was going when I finally had to put the book down and submit to my drowsiness. I suspect I will be able to finish the book on Wednesday before my night class, as it will become a quick read as soon as I become invested in the story. Right now, though, I’m just excited to finish it so I can tick another book off my TBR. Also my Goodreads Challenge now tells me I’m only three books behind! So if I can read two more books after this, I’ll be caught up! So that’s the plan!

End Note

It is Wednesday as I write this post and I’m at the library about to start trying to work on my story a little bit. I’ve been posting daily over the past few days as I go through the Bout of Books 17.0 Read-a-Thon, so here’s a list of my most recent posts you might have missed:

Bout of Books 17.0 | Day 1
News After a Long Drought | #AmWriting
Bout of Books 17.0 Read-A-Thon TBR

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Bout of Books 17.0 Read-A-Thon TBR

YKdCOt4Bout of Books 17.0 starts tomorrow and will run until the next Sunday. As promised in my Bout of Books 17.0 Read-A-Thon Announcement post, I now have a list of books from which I will choose what books I read this week. The first thing I did when I returned to Dallas is visit the on-campus library, so my little “haul” will feature in this post along with the few books I ended up bringing with me to Dallas.

I have a pretty good idea of the order in that I will start with, but I like to have some flexibility just in case which is exactly why I have so many books to share! In the comments, let me know if you’ve read any of these books!

From the Library

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Stars Above by Marissa Meyer. I didn’t want to buy this book, because I really disliked Fairest which is a kind of short story. But I still miss having stories to read about Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter so I thought this would be an excellent read for a read-a-thon! I’m able to zoom through Meyer’s work so I figure it’s a smart selection as well to start of the week right.

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh. I think this will be my second read during the read-a-thon! I read The Wrath and the Dawn in spring (and wrote a rare review) and wasn’t too happy with the cliffhanger ending, so I wasn’t sure if I’d pick this one up. I think I remember the first book well enough that I can jump right back into this world and story without much confusion. I’m expecting great things, so hopefully this isn’t a disappointment!

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. I’m in a little bit of a mood to read WWII literature right now so I’m expecting this will be just the right book to read this month. It also does not look like it will take much time to finish either.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. I feel like everyone reviewed this book when it came out and it sounded to me like it would be worth seeing what all the hype was about. As I’m trying to write my first book, I like to read books like this, even if I’m not sure if I’ll like them or not, just to see what can be learned.

Books I Brought With Me

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Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud. This is the final book in the Bartimaeus trilogy. I’ve been reading this series all year and I’ve decided once and for all to complete it. I thought it would be a breeze, but I found it difficult to stay emerged in the story with all the changes in perspective. I actually finished it already and cannot lie: I’m a little disappointed.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. I brought this and its sequel Rebel Springs with me hoping that this series would be captivating enough to propel me through the read-a-thon. I don’t really know what to expect, so I’ll be going into this series blind. I’m really excited to see if it’s worth buying the next two books in the series, as I currently have a shopping cart I’m trying to fill so I can get free shipping!

Consent of the Networked by Rebecca MacKinnon. This is a non-fiction book that I had hoped to read before coming to Dallas. I think it’d be a good backup read for the read-a-thon if I get a book hangover from all the fantasy I’ll be reading.

End Note

I think I’m most definitely going to start with the books from my library haul, specifically Stars Above and The Rose and the Dagger, but I don’t know what I’ll be in the mood to read most immediately after, probably Salt to the Sea or Falling Kingdoms.

And as I mentioned in my previous post, I am planing to do daily blog posts with read-a-thon updates. I think they will go up the day after, however, as I do not have internet in my Airbnb place and “the end of the day” for me usually comes after midnight anyway. So you can expect my first update on Tuesday! Good luck to fellow participants!

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Bout of Books 17.0 Read-A-Thon Announcement

Hello, my lovelies.

After watching Little Book Owl‘s Bout of Books 17.0 TBR video, I have also decided to participate in this read-a-thon as my reading has slowed down quite a bit with the turn of this new month and I’m still playing a game of cat-and-mouse with my Goodreads Reading Challenge. Bout of Books 17.0 takes place from August 22–28th, which just so happens to be my first week back to school and first proper week learning about my new job. So it’s going to be craziness! But I’m sure I’ll manage to learn and read a lot of great new stuff and have fun to boot.

Here’s the blurb provided by the ladies hosting the read-a-thon:

YKdCOt4

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 22nd and runs through Sunday, August 28th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 17 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. 

– From the Bout of Books team

Personally I’m just going to try and be reading as much as possible. I’m not really a slow reader, but I do find it necessary to take time in between reading books to digest, particularly if I’ve been really moved by my last read. So if I can read four books, that would be great for me.

Read-A-Thon TBR

I actually do not yet know what I’ll be reading yet! I’m returning to Dallas tomorrow (Thursday, August 18th) so I’ll be reunited with my on-campus library which is decently stocked with new popular releases. So I have a few books in mind that I’m hoping I’ll be able to find, but I can’t set my TBR officially just yet.

Most likely I will pull a selection of books tomorrow that I’m most eager to read and then just see what I get to next week. I think I will do an “official” Bout of Books 17.0 TBR on Sunday most likely, which will essentially double as a library book haul.

Also Next Week

What I would like to do next week (Monday–Friday) is some daily blogging. In addition to my daily progress through this read-a-thon, I imagine there will be some other things going on in my life that I’ll also want to record. So hopefully I’ll come up with a fun format with which to do that so you can easily cherry-pick what you want to read. Also let me know if you have any suggestions or recommendations on how to do that!

Hopefully after this read-a-thon, I’ll begin to do more #AmWriting posts! My mind is still on my story, but I’m still struggling a little bit. I think once I’m settled back in Dallas, I will be able to work more diligently on writing and share once again. Reading is just a little more of a priority for me at the moment! (And I like to think it’s helping me become a better writer anyway.)

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August ’16 TBR (Summer’s End is Near…)

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Once again, I feel a tad blindsided by the beginning of a new month. How can it already be August? And how can the shops already putting up Halloween decorations?! Fall is my favorite time of the year, but it feels a little premature! All I can say is I hope I’m up north by this time next year, because fall in Texas never feels truly fall-like anyway.

I do not always do monthly TBRs, but this month I do have a list of books I’d like to get to before I return to school at Dallas. I do not intend to take even the fraction of bookshelves I took last year because I know I won’t have much time to read and the UT Dallas library is sufficient at providing new releases. I will only be taking my absolute favorites, particularly the ones which have sequels coming out this season. So I want to read all the books I don’t want to regret not taking with me this month!

August TBR

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How to Do Media and Cultural Studies by Jane Stokes | I started this book in May (or June) and I’ve only managed about a chapter per month! As such, I’m hoping to make this book one of the first finish this month. This book is important for information on how to do good research, and I’ll be doing that this semester for sure.

Consent of the Networked by Rebecca MacKinnon | This is one of the books I had to buy last fall and never quite finished. So I’m hoping to read it before the beginning of this fall’s classes, especially as I get back into the swing of reading academic literature in my field of study.

Status Update by Alice E. Marwick | I only had to read a few chapters of this book for the class for which I bought it, but I was really captivated by those chapters and have since referenced this book twice in my academic writing. So I want to finish this book!

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken | I bought this book in February as a random birthday present to myself. The cover was gorgeous as the summary just sounded like something I would love (if properly executed) so I splurged and got it! My blogger pal Ely just recently read it and liked it, which makes me hopeful because she has such an exquisite taste in what she reads and recommends. ^_^

The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud | I reread The Amulet of Samarkand earlier this year and have wanted to finally finish this series that so inspired my own writing throughout the years. I don’t know really what to expect, but hopefully since this is a middle grade book and I’ve been on a such a good reading streak I will be able to finish this book quickly. If I like it enough, I might even start the next, and final, book in this series, Ptolemy’s Gate which I also own.

Eldest by Christopher Paolini | I only recently bought the final book in this series and would like to be able to marathon this series this month, but I’m realistic enough to realize it probably won’t happen with so many other, and more important, books I must read. I might save this book for the end of the month, once I have more of these books out of the way so that I may move on to the next book, Brisingr if I really feel like I neeeeeeed to.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling | It’s less important that I finish this book this month, but since it’s so short and it’s non-fiction, I figure it’d be great to squeeze it in if I’m feeling a lull in my reading spree.

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes | This is the final fantasy book I hope to try this month before I return to Dallas because I’ve now owned it for a whole year and there are so many other installments to the series that would be great to bundle into my pre-order purchases to get free shipping! (Silly rationale, I realize!) I really don’t know what much to expect, but I’m really hopeful I’ll love these because I have so few new series at my disposal that I can jump into with abandon.

End Note

I’m hoping to read at least 10 books total by the end of the month, which is a tall order I admit! I’m not someone who can easily read one book after another. I need time to digest and think about what I’ve just read, particularly if I love it. Luckily I’ve been on such a good reading streak, even preferring to pick up a book as opposed to starting a new Netflix series (of which there are several on my list). I’m hoping since I have such a mixed bag, it won’t be so difficult to read through everything on this list.

I do also hope to do a substantial amount of writing this month as well, so I will be pretty busy. But I like excitement. I’ll probably be assigning myself deadlines in order to help keep me on task and remembering what I need to do. And I’m hoping to prioritize blogging as well. There was a lot more I hoped to do on this blog before school starts up, so we’ll see what happens in the next couple of weeks! See you soon!

Thank you for reading!
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July ’16 Wrap Up + Book Haul!

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This has been a most excellent month in reading for me! I read a grand total of NINE books this past month, which is probably the most I’ve read since spring of LAST YEAR. It definitely has had something to do with picking up the Lunar Chronicles this month starting with the #MakeMeRead read-a-thon, in which Cinder won first place in the poll which I created to create my TBR! I’m so glad I decided to participate again and can’t wait to do so next year! I can’t even imagine what I might discover then. (Last year was Throne of Glass, and it’s been a long, strange (and fun) trip through Sarah J. Maas’ work since then!)

As I’m at a loss for what to do about book reviews right now, I’m really happy to finally share my thoughts on all the books I read this month in a cumulative wrap up post. I also ended up acquiring a few books over the past couple of weeks and thought I’d throw in a cheeky book haul as well! (It will probably be my last until Christmas anyway.)

What I Read

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Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo | In June I started my reread of this series with my friend Sara who was reading the Grisha trilogy for the first time. Siege and Storm ended up being my first read of July. I liked it just as much as I did the first time! (★★★½)

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo | I ended up loving this book so much more upon my second reading! The first time around, I was seriously disappointed by the plot’s twists and turns. This time I appreciated Bardugo’s decisions more and enjoyed reading it. (★★★★★)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer | The was the first place book on my #MakeMeRead It TBR poll and the only book I finished by the end of the read-a-thon, because I wanted to finish rereading the Grisha trilogy before I started a new series. I really, really enjoyed the fast-paced, (soft) science fiction adventure that’s inspired by (Disney’s) Cinderella. It was so different from everything I’ve been reading lately and much appreciated. It did end a little flat for me though, which brought down my rating. (★★★)

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer | I started this book immediately after finishing Cinder, but I had trouble getting into it. I didn’t really like how stereotypical Scarlet was as a fiery redhead with a temper who cared about nothing else than rescuing her grandmother, even when it put her in harm’s way when it was clear that was the last thing her grandmother would have wanted. I did like that this book didn’t completely abandon Cinder’s storyline and when hers and Scarlet’s finally merged.  (★★★)

Cress by Marissa Meyer | Cress is probably my favorite protagonist of the four girls of the Lunar Chronicles! Her book was the first in the series that was really exciting and didn’t lag or disappoint for me by the end. I loved all the traveling and how the characters were separated and brought back together again. I think this book even made me tear up at points, making me feel quite silly. (★★★★)

Fairest by Marissa Meyer | Fortunately this was a very quick read, because I did not enjoy it in the slightest. It serves as a decent bridge book between Cress and Winter because it helps explain Levana’s confusing relationship to Winter and shows what Levana and Cinder have in common. But it didn’t help me empathize with her. And it was distracting to me as I read how badly it was written. (★★)

The Kitchen Boy: A Novel of the Last Tsar by Robert Alexander | While I was waiting for Winter to arrive, I decided to read something short and non-fantasy that would not pull me out of the series. This was quite perfect. I think it was a very well researched book that taught me more about the real Romanovs than I knew before, especially about their lives in captivity. But it was a tad heavy-handed on the foreshadowing, and there’s a twist at the end that didn’t do anything for me in the slightest. Except annoy. (★★½)

Winter by Marissa Meyer | This book was a rollercoaster of emotion for me! I read it all day and night once I got it, with breaks in between to breathe and assess. There were two major events in the story that were torturous for me involving Kai and Wolf respectively, that I still don’t want to talk about (and not just for the sake of not spoiling anything)! The climactic ending was predictable, but I could not help but reread the resolution chapters a few more times even after I’d finished the book. The series was ended satisfactorily enough for me. I would love to read more about the lives of these characters in the future! (★★★★★)

The Quick by Lauren Owen | I had trouble leaving the world of the Lunar Chronicles after Winter, so I needed to read something that wasn’t going to be fluffy YA fantasy. After watching Crimson Peak (2015) one night, I decided I’d love to read a gothic romance. I have a handful of books that fit that bill, but the most enticing to me at the time was The Quick. It started off well-enough, and I enjoyed the characters and how their storylines ultimately converged, but I hated the ending. There was a lot of unresolved questions left for me. Overall, I’m just glad I can scratch this one off my TBR. (★★½)

July Book Haul

I had unofficially been on a self-imposed book-buying ban this summer on account of there being zero books I neeeeeeeded and lack of spare money. But I ended up acquiring six books in the second half of July, some to complete my series set and others due to…impulsiveness.

The first two books I bought at a Target whilst on vacation. I had just finished Cress, the third book in the Lunar Chronicles series, and needed to have the last book. Unfortunately Target did not offer Winter at a great price, so I settled for Fairest, the bridge book between the third and fourth book. I also picked up The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry which I learned of from Kristina Horner who I follow on Goodreads, which was a Target Book Club pick that seemed like would be a pleasant read.

The next two books I bought, I ordered from Amazon after realizing I wouldn’t find Winter in a physical bookstore at a price I liked. And so that I would get free shipping, I decided to also finally get Inheritance which is the final book in the Eragon series (actually it’s called the Inheritance series, but I call it the Eragon series so people know what I’m talking about!). I hope to finally finish reading that series before I return to Dallas at the end of August.

The final two books I ended up purchasing were new paperback editions of These Broken Stars and This Shattered World, the first two books in the Starbound trilogy which I borrowed from the Ames Public Library during my last semester of my undergrad at Iowa State University and absolutely loved. I was able to get them a slightly discounted priced at a Hastings, which is shutting down. It’s kind of sad because it was the only bookstore in this town, but it wasn’t even a real bookstore. I’m hoping they begin to have better deals soon so I can scour the store for more goodies!

End Note

I am now only five books behind on my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge, so if I can read another nine books by the end of August I will be in really good shape for the last four months of 2016. This was actually one of my summer goals, to catch up on my reading challenge. So it will be great to be able to tick that off my list! I’ll be needing to reconsult that list and see what else I might still accomplish by the end of August.

My next post will be either writing-related (as I am still trying to write) or an August TBR (because I do hope to read a lot this month before I must return to Dallas). Until then, I hope you enjoyed this long post and have maybe decided to pick up one of these books for yourself!

Thank you for reading!
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#MakeMeRead It Wrap Up + #AmReading Update

In this post, I will be doing my #MakeMeRead Wrap Up and a general reading update. Since I don’t do many read-a-thons anymore, I rarely spend time reflecting on the books I read beyond monthly wrap ups (or as I’ve been calling them notes) or book reviews (which are probably the least read posts I spend time making). So I thought I’d squeeze a reading update into this post, as I’ve been thinking about my reading progress on my Goodreads Reading Challenge a lot lately and figure it is about time I assess my progress.

#MakeMeRead Wrap Up

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Today marks the end of the #MakeMeRead read-a-thon and I am happy to announce that I finished the first place book on my poll, Cinder! And two other books before that which were not on my poll…

At the start of the read-a-thon, I was still currently rereading Siege and Storm, the second book in the Grisha trilogy, and after finishing it I felt I needed to also reread the last book Ruin and Rising. Because of those delays, I didn’t manage to pick up Cinder until Thursday night, and that was a challenge because I did not want to leave the Grisha universe so soon again and was seriously considering moving right on to Six of Crows, which I read earlier this year.

Luckily I made myself a deal to read the first chapter of Cinder before officially deciding what book I would read next, because the first chapter definitely wooed me into the book. I found it a pretty fast, easy, and fun read. I did think the characters were pretty flat and wooden though. Not sure when you can expect a book review; possibly the week after next.

Reading Update

Because my reading goal is 60, I’ve needed to be reading at least 5 books per month. So by my calculations, to be on track by the end of July would mean I’d need to read 12 books by July 30th. Which isn’t going to happen! (Although, maybe by the end of August…)

GR Reading Challenge

I have consistently been about 9 books behind on the challenge all summer, which is kind of funny! Obviously progress is being made, but not at the rate needed to get me back on schedule. I would really like to be caught up with it by the end of August when I go back to Dallas for my final year of grad school. Which is why I’ve decided to prioritize more light, easy books, while also attacking my TBR pile of owned books.

So I’ve been thinking about what I could read over the rest of July. Starting the Lunar Chronicles was the best thing that could have happened to me at this point in the summer! I’m pretty sure I’ll plow through the rest of this series over the rest of month, if not over the rest of next week while I’m on vacation. I’ve already started to read Scarlet and can move right on to Cress from there, but I do need to buy Winter and probably Fairest too. And after consulting my Intimidating TBR Pile (which was supposed to double as my summer TBR which I kind of forgot), I’ve decided I could also probably finish The Graveyard Book pretty easily this month.

End Note

Tomorrow I will be posting writing update as well as forecast for the next week as I will be going on vacation but still plan to be doing stuff and being active online! I hope you enjoyed this post, if you managed to get to the end and still be interested. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read the Lunar Chronicles and what you thought. (No spoilers, please!)

I still need to read, write, and pack, so before I get too rambling I’ll say goodbye and see you tomorrow with another post! ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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Shadow and Bone | Book Review

I bought this book for myself. This is an honest and spoiler-free review.

shadow-and-bone1

Released: June 5, 2012
Pages: 558 pages (paperback)
Theme(s): Magic, power, good vs. evil, loyalty
Genre(s): YA / Fantasy
Age Group: 13+

★★

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.

Shadow and Bone is the first installment in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy.

My Thoughts

Shadow and Bone was one of my favorite fantasy reads of 2015. I first heard of the Grisha trilogy from an older cousin who teaches English in South Korea. Then I heard talk of it, and Leigh Bardugo, again as the book blogging community began raving about the stunning debut Six of Crows last fall. After committing to a buddy read with Blaise @ The Book Boulevard, I unwittingly managed to marathon this entire trilogy in less than a week last October.

I decided to pick this trilogy up for the second time because my best friend Sara has started reading it for the first time and I wanted to be able to talk about it with her. I was also hoping to be as enthralled as I was the first time I read it and glean inspiration for my own writing, which recently has been suffering. Unfortunately, I found myself enjoying this book significantly less than the first time, even as I was able to appreciate more this time around.

I’m sorry it took me so long to see you, Alina. But I see you now.

The biggest disappointment for me the second time around with this book is that this book feels entirely like a set-up for the next book. This book is introduces the protagonist, establishes the villain, sets up the central “love triangle”, protagonist’s task to save the world. But other than that, very little real action happens in this book. Most of the pages are spent on building romantic tension and watching Alina waver as she learns to master her power. As result you can whiz through Shadow and Bone very quickly.

The main things Shadow and Bone has going for it is an incredibly unique world, considering the dominance of Western Europe-inspired fantasy, and a differentiated magic system. Also, there’s some really nice romantic tension between Alina and the Darkling, if you like that kind of thing.

End Note

Shadow and Bone while set in the same Grisha universe is no Six of Crows. Six of Crows is nothing short of amazing, delivering on EVERYTHING a reader could ask for in a novel: romance, adventure, danger, character development, plot, comedic relief, etc. Shadow and Bone meanwhile is a modest introduction to a complex world and a fairly standard YA fantasy fare.

In case you are wondering, it is entirely possible to read Six of Crows before you read the Grisha trilogy. I think Six of Crows actually helped me understand the broader scope of the world better than I did having just read the Grisha trilogy, as this trilogy is simply set in the one country of Ravka with several mentions of the other lands but no great examples with which to associate them. The only thing you will really miss is the small allusions to what happens in this trilogy between Alina and the Darkling.

 Thank you for reading!
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#MakeMeRead Read-A-Thon 2016!

makemeread

I’ve decided to once again participate in the #MakeMeRead read-a-thon hosted by Val @ The Innocent Smiley and Ely @ Tea & Titles! This year it runs from July 9–16th, which happens to be the week before my family beach holiday begins, so it’s perfect! I’ve gotten so behind on my Goodreads Challenge that I’m really hoping to get a lot of books read during this week!

This read-a-thon is also special for me for a weird reason. Last year during this read-a-thon I discovered Throne of Glass and, oh boy, what a strange trip I’ve been on since then with reading ALL the books by Sarah J. Maas, most recently A Court of Mist and Fury. So once again I find myself hoping to finally be motivated to read some of the more popular books that have been on my shelves for a while now.

How It Works

In case you’ve never heard of the #MakeMeRead it read-a-thon, I recommend you see Val’s official introductory post because this read-a-thon is a little different from your average one! In this read-a-thon, you create a list and/or poll of your preferred options ask your followers and other participants to vote to decide which books you read for the read-a-thon. So it’s great to choose books that most people will be familiar with that you’ve just needed a little extra push to finally read!

The Options

The books I’ve selected I also own and have never read before. I’m not sure how many books I’ll manage to read, but personally I’d love to read at least four! None of these books look too big, so hopefully it’s manageable. Especially as some of these books belong to series, and it’s easier to marathon series!

Which Books Should I Read?

Cinder, Cress, Scarlet, etc.
Passenger
Snow Like Ashes
A Thousand Pieces of You
Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring, etc.

Do Quizzes

End Note

Let me know in the comments if you are participating and link to your blog if you also have a your poll there so I can go vote on yours (and maybe discover a lovely new blog to follow ^_^)! Also let me know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought! Of all the books I selected, I literally have no special preference for which “win” so I’m really excited about the randomness of the read-a-thon this year!

As for what to expect next here on IK&OT, I have quite a few posts that should be going up this week including a book review, a writing update, and my June 2016 Notes! I’m also hoping to get a new blog banner up by the end of the week so stay tuned for that! I’m thinking it’ll be a mixture of hand-drawn and online art. I might even end up doing a “How To” post on the process. 🙂

 Thank you for reading!
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