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Feature and Follow: Book Buying Before Blogging

Before book blogging, how would you find out about new books, or did you?

bookfair

Scholastic Book Fair: the day you especially did not want to stay home sick

When I was a youngin’, I learned about new books through the Scholastic Book Fair! As soon as the book catalog was sent home with students, I became antsy with anticipation. I’d spend the evening circling the books I wanted to purchase, and my mom would send me to school with a check to cover the cost. I think this was the only time I ever “discovered” new books. You see, as a kid, I was a bit of a habitual reader. I would discover an author or series, and I would stick with it.

The Time Warp Trio books were some of my faves.

The Time Warp Trio books were some of my faves.

My go-to authors were:

  • Jon Scieszka– the Time Warp TrioThe True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Math Curse
  • Louis Sachar– Sideways Stories from Wayside School and of course, Holes
  • Jack Prelutsky– all his poetry books, but especially A. Nonnymouse Writes Again! and The Dragons are Singing Tonight
  • Robert Munsh– Again everything that came out during my childhood, Paper Bag Princess, Pigs!, Love You Forever, Purple Green and Yellow
  • R. L. Stine– Goosebumps, Give Yourself Goosebumps (which were the choose your own adventure series), and oh gosh, FEAR STREET!!!
  • Shel Silverstein– EVERYTHING! I also had his poems on tape, and I listened to them on repeat, repeat, repeat.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks (series) by Nancy McArthur
  • The Magic Treehouse (series) by Mary Pope Osborne
  • The Boxcar Children (series) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • The Bailey School Kids (series) by Marcia T. Jones, Debbie Dadey, and John Steven Gurney

Do you see a theme here? Almost everything I read was a series. I wonder if I burned myself out on them, and this is why I cannot finish a series now.

Angusthongsandfullfrontalsnogging

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging made me laugh until tears streamed down my face

In high school, I was on my own to discover new books. And this is actually pretty strange to me. All of my friends were book nerds too, but we rarely talked about books unless that book was Harry Potter. There was one exception– I turned a friend onto The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson books. These books were hilarious! But…I never finished the series.

Most of the time, I would walk in to Barnes and Noble, armed with $70 of allowance money, and I would spend then entire day roaming the bookshelves. I would pace in front of the young adult section for covers and titles that caught my eye and summaries that kept my attention. People weren’t as avid readers of young adult books back then, so I don’t recall the selection changing too often. Still, I felt like I re-read those summaries and stared critically at those covers every time I went to buy books. Despite the lack of reviews or book chatter, I always seemed to love the books I picked out.

Feature and Follow is a weekly feature hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

aboutaseries

I Finally Finished Another Series: Twilight

I’ve done it! I’ve really done it! I have officially completed two entire series in my 26 years of existence. I spent the afternoon of Labor Day power reading the last 200 pages of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. And this GIF of Kristen Stewart sums up my feelings over losing several hours of my life to the book:

I avoided the Twilight saga for as long as possible. I had heard too much about the bland characters, the poor writing, and the sketchy romantic relationship to know that this was one book hype I should probably avoid. And! When Twilight hit the shelves, people compared its popularity to Harry Potter. As if it were even in the same league! But somehow, I got talked into reading it. I went in totally prepared to hate everything about the series, but if I’m honest, I don’t actually hate the series. Not all of it, anyway.

 

When I read Twilight, I was surprised. Surprised by how much I didn’t dislike Bella and Edward and Jacob. Surprised by how easily I was swept up in the fantasy of Bella’s budding romance with a sparkling vampire. Surprised by how I did not want to put the book down– not even for Fallout 3, which I had just purchased that weekend, and this is kind of big deal. I ended up reading it in two days even though I’m a pretty slow reader. I was just…hooked! I mean, obviously I could tell the quality of story telling and character development wasn’t the greatest, but for some reason that didn’t even matter. Twilight has this junk food quality about it. I compare it to cookie dough, which is unhealthy, but I cannot help gobbling down spoonful after spoonful of it anyway.

New Moon made me even weaker in the knees. In Twilight, I got to read about Bella and Edward’s relationship, but in New Moon, I got to read about Bella and Jacob’s friendship, and I adored that. I freaking loved Jacob Black in New Moon– in all the books. And I finished this up just as quickly as the first book. I had to because the second movie was hitting theaters, and I ended up dragging both my parents along to see the film.

Then, my love for the series ended abruptly. Eclipse happened, and I fell out of love with the series. Eclipse was so boring. I actually skipped about an entire chapter of this book because it was not holding my attention– the one where Bella is sitting about a campfire with Jacob and his family/friends, learning about shape shifters. I consider myself Team Jacob, but not even he could keep my attention during the info dump. To make matters worse, Bella turns into a jerk toward Jacob– like she was over compensating her faithfulness to Edward because she finally realized she had feelings for Jacob too.

I didn’t think it were possible, but I started to like Bella even less in Breaking Dawn. Edward too. Because they were just so, so mean. It was off-putting enough that I ended up putting the book down for two years. I regret doing that because the last 200 pages of the book were such a doozy that attempting to finish the book became a real challenge. I ended up skim-reading to the end, but nothing really happened anyway. I thought it was going to be this battle royale– Cullens and Co. vs. the Volturi. I thought that’s what New Moon and Eclipse were building up to, but they just talked through their differences and everyone lived happily ever after. It was anti-climactic. [Note: I actually saw Breaking Dawn part II in theaters before finishing the book, which was also a mistake because while I liked the movie's ending a little better than the book's ending, it was still a "cop-out", and this affected my attitude towards the book.]

I of course dragged my mom to see all the movies, and I think I preferred them to the books despite Kristen Stewart’s emotionless acting and all of the cheesy fight scenes. I liked the scenery and I loved the music. Also, I liked this guy and his abs:

Taylor Lautner, you are so dreamy.

 

Have you ever read the Twilight saga? Did you love it or did you hate it? Or, do you fall somewhere in the middle like myself?

confess

Book Buying Woes

I am uncertain how this is even possible, but I am terrible at buying books. I spend months, even years pining over books and organizing them on my Goodreads shelves according to which books I want to read the most. Yet, when I receive my Barnes & Noble gift cards for my birthday or Christmas, I almost never purchase the books that take the top rank. I celebrated my 26th birthday at the end of July, and I ended up filling my shelves with the following:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple ♥ Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell ♥ The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan ♥ Life After Life by Kate Atkinson ♥ I Wrote This For You: Just the Words. by pleasefindthis

Most of these I want to read. Eventually. People have raved about these books (with the exception of I Wrote This For You, which I bought on a total whim late at night), but they are hardly the books that make me feel giddy when I think about finally having the opportunity to read them. I think the only reason they ended up in my Barnes & Noble cart is because of indecision. Being apart of the book blogosphere puts so many different books on my radar that sometimes it’s overwhelming; sometimes I forget how to prioritize. Do I go for the book that I’ve had my eye on for months, or do I go for this shiny new book that everyone has been talking about? I spent so long flipping between tabs of potential purchases in my browser that I eventually became fed up and just picked something. Anything.

If I had a time turner, I’d probably go back and fill my cart with these books:

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer: Who hasn’t read this book? *raises hand sheepishly* Considering I loved Cinder so much, I’m really surprised I still haven’t read the second installment in this sci-fi fairy tale adaptation.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan: This book was immensely popular when I was first introduced to the book blogging world. I read so many positive things about this book that I knew I had to read it. I also knew that I needed to take a step back from all the hype. It’s been about five years since this book was first put on my radar… that should be a sufficient amount time for that hype to fizzle, right?

Y is for Yorick: A Slightly Irreverent Shakespearean ABC for Grown-Ups by Jennifer Adams: The summary says it’s the perfect gift for Shakespeare fans, and I really, really like Shakespeare. (Digression: one of my co-workers put a plastic, Halloween skull in my office, and I’ve named him Yorick. A lot of my co-workers seem put-off by Yorick.)

Spook by Mary Roach: I was introduced to Mary Roach in 11th grade. We read and analyzed an excerpt from one of her books, Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers. She tackled such a morbid subject in a fascinating and sometimes humorous way, and I’ve wanted more ever since.

The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way by Bill Bryson: I also just really, really, really like Bill Bryson, and I probably won’t be satisfied until I read all his books.

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson: It was a toss-up between this book and Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. I’m a sucker for non-fiction, and lately I’ve been fascinated by these micro-histories.

Alas, I do not have a time turner. And to be honest, this Christmas, when I get my second bout of gift cards, I’ll probably end up with another cart filled with books I only kind of want to read because they’re titles that are fresh on my mind.


What was the last book you purchased that left you with buyer’s remorse? How do you prioritize what books to purchase when you’re perusing bookshelves in the store (or online)?

aboutabook

Waiting on Wednesday: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

scarlet

From Goodreads:
Cinder, the cyborg mechanic, returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother or the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she is loath to trust this stranger, but is inexplicably drawn to him, and he to her. As Scarlet and Wolf unravel one mystery, they encounter another when they meet Cinder. Now, all of them must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen Levana, who will do anything for the handsome Prince Kai to become her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Is there a rule about only showcasing new and upcoming releases for Waiting on Wednesday? Because I’m breaking it.

I read Cinder by Marissa Meyer last year, and the author’s creativity blew me away. Scarlet has been on my wishlist ever since, but I never got around to gifting myself with the book. I like to pretend that it’s because I have excellent self-control, but really I’m just broke. I need to re-re-re-setup my Nook so I can download library books again. I digress! Now that the third installment of the Lunar Chronicles is hitting shelves early 2014, my desire to read Scarlet has turned into a need. I’m so neurotic about this book that every time I cross a review for Cress, the third book, I immediately close the window. I won’t even let myself finish reading the description because I don’t want to spoil anything in book two.

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
Published: February 2013
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.

aboutaseries

When did book series become so complicated?

Figuring out book series these days is difficult. It’s not like the good ol’ days of Harry Potter where there were seven books in the series and you could tell easily in what order to read them because of the nice numbers on the spine of the book.

Harry Potter

These days there are supplemental novellas popping up all over the place, like Julie Kagawa’s Iron’s Prophecy or Winter’s Passage or Summer’s Crossing. I actually purchased two of these back before I was familiar with Julie Kagawa, so I didn’t realize they weren’t stand alone stories. These new novellas have really throw me for a loop the past year and a half. I have about a half a dozen of these supplemental novellas on my Nook. For books I don’t even own. I don’t know how I keep missing that key bit of information.

I don’t know if these novellas are entirely relevant to the story line, but I do understand that they may flesh out the story since they provide different points a view and perceptions. I haven’t actually ready one of these novellas though. I guess I’d rather spend my time and money on full length novels, though sometimes I feel like I’m missing out even if it is only 70 pages.

Cassandra Clare the Mortal Instruments the Infernal Devices

And there is series within series—like Cassandra Clare’s books. Mortal Instruments came first. Then she wrote the Infernal Devices to delve deeper into the history of the world and characters she created or something. I read sometime last year that she is (potentially) writing a third series revolving around the Downworld and the Shadowhunters. I’m not really one of her die-hard fans, so I don’t know if that was just hearsay or if the information was legit. Anyway, I honestly started freaking out half way through the Clockwork Angel because I thought I was reading Clare’s series out of order and thus missing out on a lot of really cool things. I thought I was supposed to read the Mortal Instruments first. After talking to one of my co-workers who thinks Clare is the bee’s knees, I learned that’s not necessarily the case. I mean, her series are all related, but you don’t have to read her original series in order to understand what’s going on in the spin off.

Fast forward a bit to now. A week or so ago, I received a lovely box of books I won from a giveaway hosted by Bitching, Books, and Baking. It was filled with all sorts of enticing books, but the one I decided to read first was a book from the Vampire Diaries series. Only, I didn’t realize that the Vampire Diaries was one of those series that had series within the series (possibly within a series). I guess it’s more like…the Vampire Diaries Franchise. And unlike Cassandra Clare’s books, it appears you actually have to have read the original series to understand what’s going on in this new one. This is what I picked up to read first:

the Vampires Diaries: the Hunters

It says “Vol. 1″ right on the cover, so the error I made is understandable. I don’t know why they don’t call it “Book 8″. Nonetheless, I feel pretty foolish. I know the Vampire Diaries is a pretty popular series, so you’d think I’d know which book to start with. It would appear though that my research abilities have become null ever since I graduated college. Anyway, I read 46 pages into my book and decided to put it down. The first few chapters are recapping what happened in previous books…and holy crap, I feel like I’m missing out! I mean…why didn’t anyone tell me sooner that exciting things actually happened in this book? Maybe they did but I stuck my nose up at them because the book is about vampires, and my track record with the mythological beasts is not a positive one (which in turn begs the question, why do I keep picking up books about vampires?). You may be pleased to know that I’ll be borrowing the Vampire Diaries: the Awakening from the library this weekend.

This all makes me very curious about what other readers think of these series based on previous series. Or, maybe it’s more accurate if I consider them multiple series that take place within the same world. Do you like them because it allows you to revel in one of your favorite worlds? I mean, I guess I’d feel that way if there was more about Hogwarts from J.K. Rowling. I’m sure even if the proceeding works were mediocre (as if that were possible) I’d still gobble them up (because Hogwarts is my home!) Or, are you tired of them popping up all over the place now? Do you think authors are clinging on to something that made them popular? Or do you think that’s the only story they have to tell? Or maybe you’re more benign about it—do you think maybe authors just like the world they’ve created and want nothing more than to just escape into writing about all of the lives that inhabit it? (Note: The Vampire Diaries might be a little different considering the later books were written by a ghostwriter instead of L.J. Smith.)

aboutabook

Bite Sized Book Reports

I read these two books back in 2012, but I never got around to writing a review for them. Now, so much time has passed that anything I could come up with wouldn’t do the books justice. I did want to highlight these books though because I think they are still worth sharing.

Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
Released: January 2012
Publisher: Feiwell and Friends
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Pages: 390
Won from a giveaway hosted by Fiktshun.
Goodreads

My Thoughts:
Most of the books I purchase end up donated to the library after I’ve read them. But, I do have a selection of books that I’ve held on to for my hypothetical, future children. Cinder by Marissa Meyer is now a part of that selection. It is such an imaginative fairy tale re-telling. I mean, Cinderella is a cyborg. What’s not to like? Plus, the world and characters Meyer creates are rich and vivid. Cinder is the type of book that makes me truly excited to read, which seems more and more like a feat these days. If you’ve not already read the book, go out and buy it now, and read it as soon as you get home. Better yet, see if your mom/dad/sibling/significant other/neighbor/pastor will give you a ride to the store so you can start reading it during the ride home.

The next book in the series, is Scarlet, and the book introduces us to another fairytale inspired character. With a name like Scarlet, I bet you can guess who it is. Needless to say, I’m very excited for the new release, and I want it to be in my possession. Like now, please.

The MockingbirdsThe Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Released: November 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 332
Purchased for my Nook
Goodreads

My Thoughts
I think I didn’t write a review for The Mockingbirds because I couldn’t find the right words for it. The Mockingbirds deals with rape and sexual assault, and it made me feel discomfort in a way that Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen did not. Not that the book was distasteful– it just seemed all so real the way protagonist Alex Patrick re-lived that night and the way she avoided confronting people following the attack. And what makes matters worse, her attacker’s “boys will be boys” attitude just makes me taste bile.

I only have two concerns with the Mockingbirds. First is Whitney’s execution. I felt like some aspects were redundant. The author seemed to explain how the Mockingbirds worked and the purpose of the vigilante group frequently, like it was a concern that the reader would forget from two chapter prior. I’m also a little weary of the resolution. SPOILER ALERT! I appreciate the idea behind the Mockingbirds, especially since the school’s faculty seems to turn the other cheek to the horrific incidents described in the book. But, I felt like the punishment delivered was the equivalent to a slap on the wrist. Yet Alex was okay with it. It made me angry because I didn’t feel like any justice had been served.

I know the story of the Mockingbirds continues, but I don’t know if I will read on or not. I’m not sure how it could possibly measure up to book one. Then again, maybe Alex will realize she didn’t get the justice she deserved, and maybe she’ll seek out a better resolution. Like with actual legal implications.

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Books I Missed in 2012

2012 was not a year of many reads for me. Frankly, I was a slacker, and I used my preoccupation with my Intermediate Accounting class as a scapegoat. [Digression]I earned a 100% on my accounting final. Oh yeah![/Digression]. There are loads of books on my TBR list that I never got around to reading.

Life Eternal, The Marked, Dearly Beloved

Of all the books that hit shelves in 2012, Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon, The Marked by Inara Scott, and Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel were the three books I’m most disappointed I didn’t pick up. These were the books I anticipated most this year because their predecessors made it onto my list of favorites from 2011. But, before I knew it 2013 was a few days away, and I never got around to snagging myself copies!

 

This is Not a Test, The Other LifeI’m a sucker for Zombies, and This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers seemed like a fresh approach to the somewhat saturated zombie market. Perhaps I’d be a sucker for Weepers too. I wouldn’t know because I never got around to reading The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker either. Oh woe!

 

Scarlet, Kill Me SoftlyFairytale and folklore re-tellings are abundant, and I’ve not been disappointed by any of the adaptations I’ve picked up so far. I’m happy to say that I read and LOVED Cinder by Marissa Meyer, but I’m disappointed that I missed out on Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen and Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross.

 

article 5I’ll admit it. My interest in this book was superficial at first. The cover reminded me of one of my favorite video games– Fallout 3. I wasn’t even disappointed when I found out this book had nothing to do with nuclear fallout, but rather it dealt with the abolishment of the Bill of Rights. Say it isn’t so! I lick my chops hungrily when I see this book. The sadness I feel for not having read Article 5 by Kristen Simmons is similar to the sadness I felt when I couldn’t eat chicken noodle soup for the two years I was a vegetarian in high school. (Note: Chicken noodle soup is pretty much my favorite food group.)

There you have it, folks. Of the myriad of books that were released in 2012, these eight were the ones I regret not reading with the rest of you. Which books do you feel you missed out on in 2012?