What Are You Reading This March?

March has been an absolutely crazy hectic month for me. As such the amount of time I’ve been able to dedicate to reading has been quite short. It’s the 22nd of the month and I’ve only read 5 books!! I guess I should be happy that my total is 5 and not 0. With such a small amount of books completed this month, I’m being realistic with what else I plan to complete this month. On my list is Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare.

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Attachments was Rowell’s first novel and is a true gem. After reading Eleanor & Park and Fangirl I was dying to read more. I’m literally on pins and needles awaiting her next novel Landline due out this July. City of Bones got bumped up my list after I saw The Mortal Instruments movie. I found the premise of the movie unique and found myself drawn to the characters (especially the heroine Clary.) Knowing I had the first book already in my bookshelves, I quickly grabbed it. The series is currently five books long, with the sixth and final installment due out May (I think I can catch up before then!)

Well readers, over to you. What are you all reading this month?

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2013 – A Year In Review

fireworksIt’s totally cliché, but where the hell has this year gone? With today being the very last day of 2013 I figured I’d do a quick “Year in Review” post to talk about my progress with reading challenges and also to discuss my favorite books of the year!

Quick rundown on how I did with my reading challenges: I successfully read 120 books this year. In fact, as of the time of writing this post I am at 199 books for the year! (WOOT!) You can see all the books I’ve read with links to their reviews here. Now, a bit of bad news. I utterly failed (for the second year in a row) the audio book challenge. I didn’t listen to 1 audio book this year (read: pathetic.) I also didn’t do so great with the Book to Movie challenge either, with only 2 out of 12 read. Now, to the good news: I completed 78% of the Color Coded Challenge, or 7 out of 9 reads. I actually had a blast doing this challenge. You don’t realize how many books use colors in their titles until you do a challenge like this! Additionally, I unsurprisingly completed the Historical Fiction Challenge as well as the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary challenge with no trouble at all.

And now for the difficult part: Picking my favorite reads of 2013.

  1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  2. The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley (look for my review next week!!!)
  3. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  4. The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers/Making It Last by Ruthie Knox
  5. Beauty and the Billionaire by Jessica Clare
  6. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
  7. Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander/Easy by Tammara Webber
  8. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
  9. Twice Tempted by Jeaniene Frost
  10. The Secret of Ella and Micha/The Forever of Ella and Micha by Jessica Sorensen

Having read almost 200 books this year, choosing 10 (really 12) of my favorites almost killed me. So, in the effort of easing my conscience I’m giving you some of my runners-up (in no particular order)!

  1. Pride, Prejudice, and the Perfect Match by Marilyn Brant
  2. The Edelstein Trilogie by Kersin Gier (Book one, two, & three)
  3. The Westfield Wolves/Regency Vampyre Series by Lydia Dare
  4. Return to Longbourn by Shannon Winslow
  5. The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
  6. Losing It by Cora Carmack
  7. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  8. Bittersweet by Noelle Adams

This was hands down the hardest year yet to pick my favorite books. When you read almost 200 books in a year I guess that should be expected, no?

Ok, the burden is being passed to you. What did you love reading this year?!? Please let us know below. And finally, enjoy the rest of your New Year’s Day, hopefully with a great book. See you in 2014!

Kim’s Review of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

e&prrIt’s true what they say, you never forget your first love.  No matter how old we get the joy and pure innocence of our first love remains with us.  I saw so many of my blogging friends discussing first loves and realized it was all due to a book by Rainbow Rowell entitled Eleanor & Park.  Wishing to re-live my first love and ALL THE FEELINGS I got myself a copy of this read and jumped in.

Taking place over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor and Park begins by introducing us to some atypical high school students.  Eleanor is a transplant who is new to the area, having lived with family friends for a year after being kicked out by her mother’s abusive husband.  Now back with her mother and step-father, she begrudgingly begins attending a new school, surrounded by strangers.  Park, on the other hand, is the son of a Vietnam veteran father and Korean mother.  He is awkward and quiet and is a huge music fan, carrying his Walkman and headphones with him constantly.  Eleanor and Park first meet on the bus, as Eleanor is refused a seat and must take the only other open one, next to Park.  They eventually become regular seat-partners on the bus, and Park eventually begins to make Eleanor mix tapes, after letting her borrow his Walkman and noting her interest in music.  However, there is much more than music that begins to connect the two, as they try to fight a mutual attraction that begins to pull them together ever so slowly.  What will become of these new-found feelings?

There are so many things to say about this book, yet I find myself without any words adequate enough to even describe how I feel.  I don’t know how Rowell did it, but her work is a perfect description of first love.  It’s a reflection of the feeling that you would do anything and everything to remain with this person for the rest of your life.  This book is like a time capsule, a specimen of nostalgia that has been perfectly preserved over the years.  From the copious references to 80’s culture, Eleanor and Park is like a slice of the past, with the imagery of mix-tapes and The Watchmen comic books sprinkled throughout.  Rowell’s character development is on point, as both Eleanor and Park evolve according to the situations that they are thrust into.  They are forced to be more mature than typical high school students, as they both feel the effects of Eleanor’s abusive and negligent household.  These excellent characterizations added a depth to the story that definitely filled it out.  Coupled with the wonderful nostalgia, these elements made this book irresistible and hard to dislike.  If you’re in the mood for an intriguing read with a soft spot for the 80’s, Eleanor and Park is a perfect fit.

4 out of 5 Stars

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin’s Press (2013)
eBook: 336 pages
ISBN: 9781250031211

The April Roundup!

I can’t believe it!  At the end of April I had 70 books under my belt; this is the fastest reading pace I’ve done yet!  That’s 30 books ahead of schedule!  You can see a list of all the books I’ve read so far here.  With all of the reading I’ve done recently, you’d think I didn’t have enough time for anything else.  Well, that was not the case.  We had a month packed with all sorts of family/friend events that kept me running around!

Beautiful RuinsTo start the month off right, Todd, Jess, and I attended a book signing by Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins.  What an amazing author!  Jess was full of energy and a great all around guy.  I was fortunate enough to get my book signed by him and chat with him afterwards.  Overall, it was yet another wonderful event put on by R.J. Julia.  If you haven’t been there yet, get to it!  The following weekend, we attended a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in our town put on by the local Knights of Columbus.  It is a huge beer and food festival, with tons of local and regional breweries on hand with plenty of samples and a ton of food too.  Delicious!

Next, it was on to watch the Quinnipiac Men’s Ice Hockey team as they played in the national championship games!  We originally went to New Haven to get together with fellow alums to watch Quinnipiac take on St. Cloud in the Frozen Four semifinal game.  After winning that game, the Bobcats stayed in Pittsburgh to play Yale in the national championship.  We attended a game watch at a local bar and cheered on the Bobcats, but sadly they lost.  There’s always next year though!

IMG_20130509_085129Finally, I have to end this roundup on a slightly sad note.  Recently we had been noting that Sebastian (one of our two cats) had been coughing a lot.  Todd was able to take a day off of work and took him to the vet, where he had an x-ray (he had to be sedated as he can be slightly grumpy at times).  It turns out that he may have slight asthma, and the pills we got are doing the trick, so he is feeling much better!  Look at this cute face!

So on the reading front, the 27 books I read in April were primarily all new adult books.  This is seriously my new favorite genre.  I’ve already posted reviews on two of my favorites: Easy by Tammara Webber and Losing It by Cora Carmack.  AHH this genre is the bomb. I have many more recommendations for this genre, so keep an eye on my upcoming reviews.

Speaking of reviews, here is what’s on the schedule for the rest of May.  Sam’s going to be reviewing a new YA novel entitled The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison.  Todd’s working on Resurrection Express by Stephen Romano and A Year in Beer and Food by Emily Baime and Darin Michaels.  Christine will be reviewing Over the Rainbow by Paul Pickering and I’m working on Eyes Wide Open by Raine Miller, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Stranded with a Billionaire by Jessica Clare, and The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen among others.  It promises to be a full month as always.

I hope your April was as fun-filled and bookish as ours was!

Until next time, happy reading!