Monday, May 14, 2018

Bout of Books 22: May 14-20

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week-long read-a-thon that begins 12:01 am Monday May 14th and runs through Sunday, May 20th 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 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. --From the Bout of Books team

No TBR for me this time. Between a crazy work schedule and a horde of library holds coming in, I'll play it by ear this time around. My goal is to read for a minimum of one hour every day of the read-a-thon.

May 14
Currently reading:
Vicious by V.E. Schwab 182-368 ☆☆☆☆
Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds 70-160
Ghost by Jason Reynolds 1-208 ☆☆☆☆
Patina by Jason Reynolds 1-240 ☆☆☆☆

Challenge: Introduce yourself #insixwords
It's not hoarding if it's books. 

May 15
Currently reading:
Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds 160-270
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds 1-80
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali 1-68

Challenge: Year of You - A book published the year you were born #yearofyou 
The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood: Though not my favorite book, she is one of my favorite authors.

May 16
Currently reading:
Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds 270-416 ☆☆☆☆
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds 80-320 ☆☆☆☆
Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali 68-336 ☆☆☆
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy 1-15

Challenge: #showmeyourprecious

Choose a favorite book?!? Who has just one? I chose two books that influenced my life as a reader and changed the way I look at the world. The Hobbit introduced me to fantasy and showed me that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. The Mists of Avalon taught me to listen to alternate voices and perspectives.
May 17
currently reading:
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy 15-
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante 1-331 ☆☆☆

Challenge: #readalikes

If you enjoyed Adelina Amouteru in Marie Lu's Young Elites trilogy, try Vicious by V.E. Schwab. Victor Vale is an anti-hero you'll hate to love (or love to hate).


If you enjoy Margaret Atwood, try Carmen Maria Machado for more surreal stories in which women's bodies are battlegrounds.


May 18
currently reading:
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy 15-105
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante 1-255

Challenge: #spacescavengerhunt

Mercury - Favorite short story/novella
"The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson
"The Husband Stitch" by Carmen Maria Machado
"The Resplendent Quetzal" by Margaret Atwood

Venus - Favorite book with a female protagonist
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
¡Yo! by Julia Alvarez
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen
The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Earth - Favorite book about nature
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

Mars - Favorite book with a red cover
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Holding Out by Anne O. Faulk
Push by Sapphire
Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Jupiter - Favorite tome over 500 pages
The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Diviners by Libba Bray
Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Saturn - Favorite book with circle/ring on cover/in title
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

Uranus - Favorite book set in winter
The Shining by Stephen King
A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Neptune - Favorite book set at sea, on a boat, or under water
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf

Pluto - Favorite book featuring a dog
Laika by Nick Abadzis
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
Marley & Me by John Grogan
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
A Dog's Life by Ann M. Martin
Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Moon - Favorite book set anywhere other than Earth
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Sun - Favorite book set in summer
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Space - Favorite book set in space
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Cinder by Melissa Meyer

May 19
currently reading:
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy 105-200
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante 255-480 ☆☆☆
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater 1-320 ☆☆☆
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle 1-61

Challenge: Share your favorite Bout of Books Moment

My favorite moments are connecting with other people whose idea of fun is to read more and chat about books. 

May 20
currently reading:

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy 200-432 ☆☆☆☆☆
Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle 61-272 ☆☆☆

Challenge: Stretch Goal
I purposefully set an easily achievable goal to read at least an hour every day. Thanks to audiobooks during my commute and chore time, I was able to read much more than the minimum I set myself. Plus, my husband watches a lot of baseball, so I read while his attention is there. My stretch for today is to finally finish Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy. I'm enjoying it, but I borrowed it through the Libby app and am reading it on my phone, which I don't love to do. 

I did finish Ramona Blue and I loved it so much that I'll have to buy a print copy for my library now. Ramona's confusion about her sexual identity was portrayed with sensitivity and authenticity. I can see this being a great pick for a teen who's not quite sure which label to pick.

Totals (Updated May 20):
Books started: 8
Books finished: 10
Pages read: 3,462

Going to read a bit more. Bye!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon, April 2018

I'm still reading, really. (Me around hour 17.)

Time for Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon! Sign up here to join the fun. Check here for the start time in your time zone. 

I'll be posting mostly on Twitter using #readathon, but will also post stats here (probably not every hour). 


A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Stink bugs are temporary. Love is forever.”
40 pages / 10 minutes

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Made me want to go outside and hug a tree.
288 pages / 3 hours, 37 minutes

Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Being an angry feminist can be extremely tiring. I needed this gentle reminder that feminism isn't a radical idea.
96 pages / 1 hour, 1 minute

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera ⭐⭐⭐
Two teen boys who find out they will die in the following 24 hours meet through an app and spend their final hours falling in love and learning to be the kind of people they always wished to be.
384 pages / 4 hours, 28 minutes

Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Powerful graphic memoir about recovering from eating disorders.
516 pages / 1 hour, 14 minutes

Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone ⭐⭐⭐⭐
A collection of biographical essays about girls in developing nations who are fighting for education. Equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring.
208 pages / 1 hour, 42 minutes

Saving Red by Sonya Sones ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Molly, dealing with the trauma that destroyed her once-happy family, sets out to reunite a homeless girl with her family for Christmas.
448 pages / 2 hours, 14 minutes

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby
Partially read: 105 pages / 1 hour, 20 minutes

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen
Partially read: 127 pages / 3 hours, 48 minutes

Books Started: 9
Books Finished: 7
Pages Read: 2212
Time Read: 19 hours, 37 minutes 

Until we meet again!

Friday, March 9, 2018


Even though I'm no longer teaching, the YALSA Hub Reading Challenge is still one of my favorites. I read more adult literature these days, but I will always hold a special place in my heart for YA. 

Here's the lowdown: 
Pick 25 (or more if you're like me) award-winning 2017 YA reads from this sortable list
Add a comment here to sign up.
Share your progress on the monthly check-in posts. 
Use #hubchallenge on your social media posts.
Once you've read 25 titles, fill out the wrap-up form to be entered into a drawing for a bag of YA books. (I've never won, but there's always this year!)

My process for this challenge is to read whatever I can get my hands on, preferably without buying, as I am no longer curating a classroom library. While I still buy YA books books because I still love them, I tend to borrow them first and then only buy the ones that I want to keep on my shelves.

So my starting entries are rereads that are already on my shelves or in my Audible library. I've been using the shit out of the Libby app to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from my local library, but hold times are LOOOOONG. I may have to break down and buy a few of the ones I'd really like to read before the challenge ends (Jason Reynolds, for example).

1. The First Part Last by Angela Johnson ★★★★
In a twist on the single teen mother scenario, Bobby is a teen father raising his daughter, Feather, on his own.  He struggles to care for her while also meeting his other responsibilities.  Alternating chapters describe Bobby's life Then (before Feather) and Now (after Feather).

Beautifully written and poetic; even the soap opera-ish ending doesn't detract too much from this lovely little book.

2. We Are Okay by Nina LaCour ★★★★
Marin, a college freshman, is spending winter break alone in an empty dorm. No one from home has heard a word from her since she left at the end of summer. Now her best friend/former girlfriend is flying from California to New York to visit her and Marin knows they will have to talk about what happened the day her grandfather died.

The writing is gorgeous and evocative. Marin’s grief and loneliness is palpable and reflected in the cold New York winter and her bare dorm room.

3. Scythe by Neal Shusterman ★★★★★
In a utopian world where humans have conquered death and disease and people can "turn the corner" as many times as they please, what keeps population from overwhelming the planet's resources? Scythes live on the fringes of society and mete out death as they choose (though they do have quotas to meet and are disciplined if their "gleanings" show bias or laziness).

Scythe Faraday does something out of the ordinary and takes on two apprentices--Citra and Rowan. Neither actually want the job, but take the apprenticeships, party out of curiosity and partly because their families will be immune from gleaning as long as they are scythes.

While I tagged this as a dystopian novel, it really isn't one. The world is actually pretty great, if a bit boring. Citra and Rowan are in the center of plenty of action and adventure as they learn the art of taking a life, but what I found more interesting were the ethical questions they grappled with.

Thunderhead, the sequel, is sneaking it's way to the top of my TBR.

4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas ★★★★
After seeing her friend die in a drive-by shooting when she was only ten years old, Starr's parents decide to transfer her and her brothers to a predominantly white school in the suburbs. Though her family still lives in the neighborhood, Starr has lost touch with most of her old friends. She gets talked into going to a party where she sees Khalil, once her best friend. He ends up driving her home after a fight breaks out at the party and they get stopped by police on the way home, even though they are doing nothing wrong.

Starr's terror as Khalil is hauled out of the car is palpable. Though he's unarmed, the officer shoots him in the back. Not only does Starr have to watch another friend bleed to death by the side of the road, but she also has to keep her hands up with the gun trained on her. This scene was especially eye-opening for me. As a white woman, I might be annoyed or inconvenienced by being pulled over, but it would never have occurred to me to fear that I wouldn't survive the encounter. That right there is what white privilege looks like.

As we've seen happen over and over in real life, rumors start being reported about Khalil--he was a drug-dealing thug who just maybe got what he deserved. In the court of public opinion, he is on trial for his own murder.

Starr wants justice for her friend, but what she says about Khalil could put her entire family in danger.

The characters in this book are fantastic and their relationships are well-developed. Even though this is a serious topic, there are many light moments, especially between Starr and her parents. She also has a close relationship with her uncle, a police officer, which was a nice touch.

This would be an excellent choice for a book club discussion, especially one with white people who still don't understand that #BlackLivesMatter doesn't mean that other lives don't matter.

5. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon ★★★★
I'm not a believer in love at first sight (lust, certainly) but I enjoyed watching a relationship develop between Natasha (an undocumented immigrant from Jamaica) and Daniel (American, but part of a traditional Korean family).

Natasha goes to the immigration office in a last-ditch effort to keep her family from being deported. Several coincidences later, she's on the way to an appointment with a lawyer who specializes in immigration issues. She meets Daniel as he is on his way to his favorite barber and a meeting that will set him on the path to a life that he doesn't really want.

Daniel is instantly smitten, but Natasha is just not having it. Thanks to a few more coincidences, though, she gives him a chance to prove that he can use science to get her to fall in love with him. As their day progresses, toward its inevitable conclusion, they share more and more about themselves and their lives.

What I actually liked even more than the insta-love that strained credibility on more than one occasion were the snippets of random facts and the behind-the-scenes peeks into the lives of random strangers who influenced the main story in large and small ways.

Update #1: 2018 Hub Reading Challenge April Check-In: Five complete, one in progress.

6. Flying Lessons and Other Stories by Ellen Oh (ed.) ★★★★⭑
I loved this collection of short stories about diverse characters. I would highly recommend it for every middle grade reader. I’m not exactly the target audience, but I still found something to love in every story. 

Although I enjoyed all of the stories, these were stand-outs:

The Difficult Path by Grace Lin (A Chinese servant girl is allowed an education that takes her to some very surprising places.)
Sol Painting by Meg Medina (A first-generation immigrant gets a glimpse of the racism her father faces as he tries to make a better life for his children.)
The Beans and Rice Chronicles of Isaiah Dunn by Kelly J. Baptist (Both sad and hopeful, a boy dealing with grief and loss finds solace in his father’s stories.)
Choctaw Bigfoot, Midnight in the Mountains by Tim Tingle (I loved the story-within-story and the interplay between the children and the storyteller. I laughed out loud.)

7. One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus ★★★★
Excellent YA murder mystery with echoes of The Breakfast Club. Five high school students gather for an after school detention, but only four will walk out alive. Simon, author of a gossip blog, has dirt on brainy Bronwyn, popular Addy, athletic Cooper, and bad boy Nate and plans to release their secrets. When Simon dies under suspicious circumstances, all four become suspects in a murder investigation. 

Kept me turning pages. I think this would translate very well to film or TV series.

8. I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina ★★★★
Alfonso Jones is a gifted student looking forward to playing Hamlet in his school play and crushing on his best friend, Danetta. But while shopping for his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a hanger for a gun and kills him. Alfonso wakes up on a ghost-train filled with other victims of police brutality who are doomed to ride the train until justice is served. 

No justice, no peace. 

A broad overview of why #blacklivesmatter is important that belongs in every classroom library.

9. Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman ★★★★★
Excuse me while I feel all the feelings. *sobs

Kiko is a talented artist who has pinned all of her hopes for a better a life on her admission to art school. She dreams of escaping her narcissistic, emotionally abusive mother, her memories of childhood trauma, and her crippling social anxiety. 

The descriptions of her inner monologues (WHAT I WANTED TO SAY vs. WHAT I ACTUALLY SAID) rang so true. Anyone who has struggled with anxiety will be able to relate. 

“I want to be brave, but I don’t know how.”

And then she is rejected by the school. A chance encounter with an old friend leads her to California, where she finds an art mentor and discovers a pride in her biracial heritage and an inner strength she had no idea was there. There is also a sweet love story. 

“Artwork isn’t finished just because you’ve colored up to every corner on the page. Artwork is finished when you get to the end of your sentence.”

Art plays a huge part in Kiko’s growth and the descriptions of her sketches at the end of each chapter were absolutely perfect.

10. Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani ★★★
Priyanka Das has been raised by her mother in California and knows little about her Indian heritage. Her mother came to the US, alone, before Pri was born and refuses to talk about India, or anyone she knew there, including Pri’s father. 

When Priyanka finds a mysterious pashmina and wraps it around herself, she is transported to India. The black and white illustrations become vividly colored (like when Dorothy steps out her front door into Oz) as Pri explores a new world and tries to discover the identity of a shadow lurking at the edge of her visions.

11. Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash ★★
Memoir about falling in love at a Christian summer camp and the struggle about whether or not to come out to friends and family. There are some funny and poignant moments, but I simply didn’t connect with the artwork. And that ending?!?  I realize memoirs don’t necessarily have neat and tidy endings, but still. 

Could be helpful for a young person coming to terms with their sexuality, but not my cup of tea.

12. Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar ★★★★
A sweet story about hope and healing based on the author’s childhood. Fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile might enjoy this middle grade memoir. 

Ruthie and her parents, Cuban-Jewish immigrants, are involved in a serious accident, leaving Ruthie in a full-body cast for a year. While she lies in bed, isolated and terrified that she’ll never walk again, her friends and family do their best to keep her spirits up. I loved the diverse cast of characters and the sensory details of language and culture that weave through the narrative.

13. Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green ★★★★
A powerful graphic memoir about the author/illustrator’s struggle with perfectionism, eating disorders, and sexual abuse. 

She says in the forward, “You are holding the book I wish had been there for me. It exists because I wanted nobody else to feel as lost, confused and alone as I felt. I wanted to be honest about how hard recovery is, and how long it takes, at the same time proving that it is possible.”

14. Girl Rising: Changing the World One Girl at a Time by Tanya Lee Stone ★★★★
This collection of biographical essays about girls from developing nations who are fighting for their right to education is equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring. 

And for a change of pace, the book is based on a documentary of the same name, but with more stories included. 

There is an excellent chapter encouraging young people to get involved in activism to make the world a better place. I’m not young, but I’ll be looking for more information about a nonprofit called Room to Read.

15. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera ★★
In a world that seems contemporary, except for the Death-Cast company that notifies you on the day of your death, Mateo and Emeterio both get the call. They find each other through an app called Last Friend, and decide to spend their last day together. 

Though I was intrigued by the premise and loved the end, the middle seemed to drag in places. I finally got invested in the characters, but not until pretty close to the end. I liked it, but didn’t love it.

16. Brave by Svetlana Chmakova ★★
Jensen loves to draw and dreams of being an astronaut, despite the fact that he sucks at math. He gets through his day in middle school by treating it like a video game with levels and bosses to beat. He mostly manages to avoid his two biggest tormentors, but it takes him a while to realize that he’s also being bullied by people who he considers friends. 

His quest to be seen and included is very sweet. Middle grade readers will connect with his story.

17. Bird by Angela Johnson ★★★★
When thirteen year old Bird’s stepdad leaves, she follows him to his sister’s home in Alabama, determined to convince him to come home. She can’t decide how to approach him, so she hides in a shed and observes the family, hoping she can figure out the secret to their happiness. While she’s in town, she becomes enmeshed in the lives of three lonely and grieving people. Jay, Ethan, and Mrs. Pritchard show kindness to Bird and heal themselves in the process. 

Such a beautiful, uplifting little book. I loved it.

18. Patina by Jason Reynolds ★★
In book two of the Track series, we learn more about Ghost’s teammate, Patina. Her dad died suddenly in his sleep when her mom was pregnant with her younger sister, Maddy. And after her mom lost her legs to diabetes, the girls were adopted by her aunt and uncle. At the ritzy new school she attends, Patina struggles to fit in, but at least she has track, where she can shut everyone out and depend on herself alone. Until, that is, the coach makes her the anchor of the relay race and she has to learn to depend on her teammates. Excellent middle grade fiction.

19. Miles Morales: Spider-Man by Jason Reynolds ★★
Miles Morales brings a new perspective to the Spider-Man story and I am so here for it. Half-black, half Puerto Rican and living in a tough neighborhood, Miles watches his parents struggle to pay the bills. They’ve sacrificed a lot to send him to a private school, and when he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit, Miles starts to wonder what is really going on at his school. 

I would have liked a bit more spidey action and a bit less teen angst, but I still enjoyed getting to know Miles. Can’t wait for the movie.

May Check-In Total: 19
20. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds ★★
When Will’s brother Shawn is murdered, he knows just what to do: Follow the rules—No crying. No snitching. Revenge. He picks up his brother’s gun and takes the elevator from the seventh floor to the lobby. As the elevator reaches each floor, someone steps in who can fill in another piece of Shawn’s story. Will has to follow the rules, right? Right?

Told in free verse, Will’s descent will keep readers riveted.
21. Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali ★★
Janna is a teenaged hijabi girl struggling to figure out who she wants to be in the world. Being a good Muslim is very important to her, but so is drawing, photography, Flannery O’Connor, and a non-Muslim boy she is crushing on. 

She starts to doubt herself after a friend’s supposedly pious cousin attempts to rape her. He is highly respected and she doesn’t think anyone will believe her if she tells.

Spoiler alert: There are no terrorists here. Just ordinary people living their daily lives.

22. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy ★★★★
Ramona, 6’3” and blue-haired, lives in a dilapidated FEMA trailer in Eulogy, Mississippi with her dad and sister. Her mother deserted the family after Hurricane Katrina destroyed their home. When Harriet gets pregnant, her immature boyfriend moves in as well, making the already crowded space even worse. 

Ramona feels trapped, in the too-small trailer, as the one forever responsible for cleaning up her sister’s messes, in her small town. She is trying to maintain a long-distance romance with Grace, when Freddie (her best friend from childhood) comes back to town.  They start swimming together and gradually realize that there is more than friendship between them. 

There is a great cast of characters and Ramona’s exploration of her sexuality is sensitive and realistic. Her journey is utterly believable and I loved every step of it. 

This book shows why I still do the YALSA Hub Reading Challenge every year. I wouldn’t have picked it up without a nudge, but it’s one of my favorite reads of the year so far.

23. The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater ★★
YA narrative nonfiction about a horrifying incident on a bus in Oakland in 2013. Sasha, an agender (meaning they don’t identify as any gender) teen, was napping when Richard, another teen, set their skirt on fire. Sasha was rushed to the emergency room with third degree burns and Richard was arrested. 

I didn’t love the writing style, but I appreciated the way Slater showed both Sasha’s and Richard’s humanity.

24. You're Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner ★★★★
Julia is a Deaf Indian teenager and I kind of loved that she was so prickly and could be quite a jerk at times. She felt like a real person, warts and all. 

When someone graffitis a rude comment about her friend on school property, she covers it with graffiti of her own. Unfortunately, her friend snitches and Julia gets expelled from Kingston School for the Deaf. At her new public school, she struggles to connect with teachers and students who know little about deaf culture.

Even though her moms and the translator who accompanies her to classes watch her every move, Julia finds a way to continue creating street art. But she’s soon drawn into a turf war with another street artist who adds details to her tags almost as soon as she puts them up. Julia doesn’t want to admit it, but her rival’s additions actually make her art better. 

I loved both the art and the portrayal of Deaf culture.

25. Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Octavia Butler and Damian Duffy ★★★★

A graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s novel about a young black woman who travels back and forth in time. Every time her ancestor, Rufus Weylin, risks his life, she is pulled back in time to pre-Civil War Maryland. Not only does she save his life, but she also tries to help the slaves on the Weylin plantation and teach Rufus to be a better human.

26. The Stars Beneath Our Feet by David Barclay Moore ★★
A middle grade title about a tween boy grieving the death of his brother. He’s also facing pressure in the neighborhood to join a gang, but he just wants to hang out with his friends and build legos. I loved that his mom is a lesbian, but that’s just his life, rather than a source of conflict. The after school program where he meets Rose felt very realistic and I thoroughly enjoyed their weird friendship and the way it developed. 

Lolly is dealing with some tough choices and really trying to find his way in the world. There are plenty of life lessons, but they never feel preachy or unrealistic. An excellent book for middle grade readers.

27. Vincent and Theo by Deborah Heiligman ★★
A moving biography focused on the deep love between Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo. Vincent—driven, mercurial, artistic—struggled with mental illness all his life. Though not an artist himself, Theo was instrumental in nurturing his brother’s creative fire—supporting him financially, challenging him to refine his style, and including Vincent’s paintings in gallery exhibitions.

28. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling/Newt Scamander ★★★★
Honestly, I’ve had the physical book for years and never read it because it’s not a story. It’s more of a glossary detailing all of the magical creatures in the Harry Potter universe. But listening to Eddie Redmayne read it was utterly charming. And I was reminded once again of how blown away I was the first time I encountered J.K. Rowling’s wonderful wizarding world.

29. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee ★★★★
“There’s really nothing to do but pretend I’m fully clothed and in control of the situation.”

That’s Henry Montague, a reckless young nobleman who is anything but a gentleman. He gambles, drinks too much, and sleeps with anyone (man or woman) he can charm into bed. Utterly frustrated with him, his father sends him on a tour of Europe, a last hurrah before he returns to run the family estate.

He is accompanied on the trip by his best friend and his sister. Percy will attend law school in Holland after the trip. Only after he learns that they will soon be separated does Henry realize that he feels more than friendship for Percy. 

Henry’s sister Felicity is a badass, kind of the Hermione of the trio. During one crisis she says, “Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood,” and then goes on to save Henry’s stupid ass, for the umpteenth time. 

Henry’s bad decisions set the stage for a rollicking adventure punctuated by both laugh-out-loud and surprisingly touching moments. The romance between Percy and Henry is super sweet and the book’s ending is lovely. 

“We are not broken things, neither of us. We are cracked pottery mended with lacquer and flakes of gold, whole as we are, complete unto each other. Complete and worthy and so very loved.”

30. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor ★★★★
Strange the Dreamer, book 1.

Lazlo Strange is an orphan taken in and raised by monks. Fueled by the monks’ stories, he is obsessed with the the lost city now known as Weep. As a junior librarian, he’s resigned to spending his life helping great men do great things. And then the Godslayer comes to town, looking to assemble a team to solve a mysterious problem. Lazlo is determined to join the expedition, even if it means staying in the background while others get to be the heroes. 

If you are looking for gorgeous, lush writing, a love story that evokes Romeo & Juliet, and magical gods/monsters, this is the book for you. 

Pro tip: Don’t pick this up until you can also get your hands on book two, Muse of Nightmares. Because cliffhanger.


Friday, January 26, 2018

24 in 48 Readathon - January 2018

Oh, hey. Hi there. It's me again. Just dropping another itsy, bitsy readathon right here.

This isn't my first 24 in 48 Readathon. I don't generally bother too much with the challenges or prizes because it interferes with the reading. 

The community is great, though. I enjoy tracking my reading time and challenging myself to squeeze in a few more pages, even if I don't post much. I'll be reading along with the official Eastern Time Zone schedule (midnight on Friday, January 26 - midnight on Sunday, January 28). 

Here's my little gray cat giving our tiny TBR her approval. 

I also just started using Libby, an app that makes it super easy to connect to your local library and download ebooks and audiobooks. I may dive into one of my holds if I get the urge. 

I didn't think I'd enjoy reading books on my phone, but it's actually quite convenient. Check out the free app here.

Ready, set, 

Saturday, January 27
Hour 6 Challenge: Oldest book on your shelves
The oldest book I have is Lad, A Dog by Albert Payson Terhune. Published in 1919. It's one of many books that have been passed down in my family. It's been in my collection since I was about ten years old.

Hour 12 Challenge: Best first line from your stack
"Eva Nine was dying." --from The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerrlizzi

Hour 18 Challenge: Favorite book-to-screen adaptation
This was hard to narrow down, so I did my top three.
1. The Princess Bride
2. Stardust
3. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

Books started:
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 406 pages/9 hours, 38 minutes
The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerrlizzi 204 pages/1 hour, 55 minutes
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 84 pages/59 minutes
Pages read: 694
Time read:12 hours, 32 minutes

Sunday, January 28
 Hour 30 Challenge: Longest owned, but not read
Saving the World by Amy Tan

Hour 36 Challenge: Literal Bookends
Since I'm an alphabetical organizer, the first book on my fiction shelves is Laika by Nick Abadzis and the last is I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak

Books started: 
The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman 125 pages/2 hours, 25 minutes
Books finished:
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty 74 pages/1 hour, 27 minutes
The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi 308 pages/5 hours, 5 minutes
Pages Read: 507
Time Read: 8 hours, 57 minutes

Total books started: 4
Total books finished: 2
Total Pages: 1301
Total time: 21 hours, 29 minutes

Oh, well, maybe next time I'll get there.