31DaysofBlogmas, monthly wrap up, Reading

November Wrap-Up!!

So…it’s actually December. Which is funny because on one hand I’m already starting to plan my January TBR and my 2018 bookish goals, but at the same time is slightly scary because Oh MY WORD THE YEAR IS ALMOST OVER AND I HAVE SO MUCH LEFT TO DO!!

And yet the universe is not listening to my cries of despair or my pleas for a TARDIS, so I guess the next best thing is to talk about the books that I read this past month. Yes, good plan! (kinda.)

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Somehow I managed to read 15 books this month, which considering my goal was 10, I am glad I read more then I thought. (Never mind the fact that I completely failed NaNoWriMo, I read more than I thought! Gold star for me!)

~Stats~

New (to me) : fourteen

Reread: one

From my personal library: four (three new, one reread)

Ones from the library I might buy: two, possibility three.

~The Great~ (4.25 stars and above)

I have been kinda strict about handing out 5 star ratings lately. And yet somehow this month I managed to read THREE 5 star books! I feel like the balance has been restored somehow in the universe! The 5 star books I read were: Dance, Stand, Run; Every bitter thing is sweet; and the Last Namsara.

Mr. Darcy’s Diary and Harry Potter both got a 4.25 star rating from me.

All these good books were spread out through out the whole month, which was kinda nice so I wasn’t thrown from one awesome book to another, but it was also kinda hard because I felt like my reading switched sides so many times- from really incredible books to books that were just…meh… and that’s hard to have those ranges in emotions so quickly.

 

~ The Really Good ~ (3 to 4 stars)

The Disappearances and  Real Artists Don’t Starve both got a solid 4 star rating, very well done.

Out of the Silent Planet and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies both got a 3.5 star rating. I thought they were both well written and highly creative *(side note: I finally saw P&P&Z movie and it was absolutely hilarious, just saying)*

Wild Bird and The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole were both a solid 3 star. Wild bird was actually sitting at about a 2 star but the character arc that happened towards the end pushed it up a full star. And the Black Hole was a really good book about grief and how to grieve for kids (it was a mg), highly recommend if a kid you know is going through a rough patch.

 

~ The Meh~ (Below a 3 star rating)

 

Man…I had such high hopes for all these books. But sadly, not a single one of them lived up to my expectations. On the bright side, I didn’t buy any of these, so I didn’t waste my money at all, just time and driving from the library. 🙂

I had heard so many good things about the Sculptor, but I felt like it was just boring, bleh and pretty narcissistic. I felt like it might have done better if maybe it was written more coherently or maybe from a different angle? The art was…pretty good…I guess? (It was a graphic novel.)

Refrigerator Monologues was one I had heard was like “anti” super heroes and about the girls saving the day…which was so not true it’s not even funny. It’s actually a collection of short stories all woven together, and they were without a doubt- boring, repetitive and depressing. I was prepared for a “strong girls kick butt” story, not several monologues about how the men were disappointing or didn’t save them or whatever. I really wasn’t paying attention towards the end, and I was mainly disappointed because I love this author’s previous works.

See what I have done was portrayed to me as a grisly account of what Lizzie Borden did to her dad and stepdad (Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her father forty whacks, and when she saw what she had done, she gave her mother 41) but in truth, it was told confusingly, had extremely graphic portrayals of vomit and rotting meat (so. much. disgusting. awful. descriptions of this) and was so very boring. How you can manage to make a narrative of a case that was never actually solved, where Lizzie not only went to prison but then was allowed to go free in a case where people still aren’t sure if she did it or not; and turn it into one of the most boring and disgusting books ever, I’m not sure. But seriously, don’t read this while eating. In fact, just don’t eat while reading this book, you’ll thank me if you decide to read this.

~~~~~~

Anyways, how was your month of reading? Did y’all get to any that you wanted to or any that were high on your list? What books were some disappointments for you? Let me know below!

~Remember, life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

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31DaysofBlogmas, Reading

5 books I still haven’t finished…

I have a bad habit of buying books, setting them on the shelves that are in my room and telling them I will get to them soon.

Then completely 100 % forgetting about them and buying new books. And repeat.

The only thing that breaks up this cycle is that I will start some books, and get about half-way through and then set them down, fully intending to finish them soon, but I get distracted and start reading something else. And then you can press repeat on this situation. (seriously)

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So I thought I would talk about some of the books that I’ve half-started but actually haven’t finished yet. These are in no particular order just how I grabbed them off my “partially read” shelf.

1-The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I don’t know why I haven’t finished this one yet. I started it in September I think, and I fell so deep in love with her writing style and the story being told, and it was fantastic. But I just set it down, hoping to get back to it, but I still haven’t gotten back to it. It actually sits on my nightstand, shaming me to wondering how I haven’t finished it yet.

2-I believe in a thing called love by Maureen Goo. I know why I stopped reading this, it was because of the horrid second-hand embarrassment that I felt about the MC and what she was going through, so I’ve heard that it was really cute but I was so embarrassed for her I couldn’t complete it 🙂

3- Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco.                                                                            This is simply because I haven’t had the time toIMG_1519 keep going after this one. I love the writing and the characters of them, but this sequel seems to be a bit harder for me to get into, but I do want to get this one finished

 

4- Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter. Granted this is a reread and I do slightly remember it, but I like to reread books before I complete series. And since the Dire King, which I preordered, and got, back in August….and still haven’t read.

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5-That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston. Being honest, the reason I set this one down is because I am not really excited about how the writing style/plot/characters are. I was really excited about this because…cover….let’s be real. But it is slightly….boring? I’m hoping it will actually get better as I finish but I just haven’t yet.

 

What are some of the books you want to read before the end of the year? Which ones should I push higher up on the priority? Let me know down below!

Remember, life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

 

 

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31DaysofBlogmas, Books

10 ways my reading habits have changed this year

Hello friends and welcome to my journey of blogging every day for December! Today I’m going to be talking about how my reading really has changed this year. (I was completely inspired by PaperFury’s blog post about how her writing style has changed, check it out here)

I used to be the person who would not only finish every. single. book I would start, but also give super high ratings to every single book that make me laugh. (Kid you not, when I have been going back and rereading some of these books, I shake my head and have to take down a star or two because past Stephanie threw those stars around like it was nothing!) And that made me think how much I have changed in the past year or so with my reading habits, I mean if ratings can change over the years, so have other things.

So in no particular order, these are some of the ways that my reading has changed over the past year.

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1- I have given myself full and absolute permission to DNF (do not finish) a book if I hate it. Or if I’m bored. Or if I just really don’t care. I have basically allowed myself to make reading fun again, because when I’m struggling through a book, it’s not fun. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite of fun.

2- I have become much stricter on how I rate books. So instead of squeeing with delight at finding “A NEW ABSOLUTE MUST READ, THIS BOOK IS SO FANTASTIC ALL THE STARS”  like past Stephanie wrote on many Goodreads posts, (like girl just chill a bit) instead I try to read them critically. (Sometimes this process works, sometimes I still squee and flail) But for the most part I question, “Is this book really worth a full 5 star rating? Was there any parts that really irritated you or annoyed you or didn’t flow? Should it be more a 4 or 4.5?” and I go from there. Sometimes even the things that annoy me are still part of the strongest book, and other times they are the reason that it drops.

3- I have utilized my library SO MUCH more than I have in previous years. Pretty much every single Monday I have trounced over to the library, picked up my holds, dropped off books and happily made my way home where I have found either new favorites or a thankful heart (and wallet) that I haven’t spent money on this book because meh.

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4- I have found myself gravitating more towards annotating books and highlighting passages in them again. I try not to do this with books I’m unsure about, but the books I know I’m going to love and going to read, over and over again, I completely mark up. I figure honestly, if like 90 years down the road and I haven’t discovered the cure for mortality and someone is going through my books, I want them to find things out about me, like what my favorite passages were or what quotes stuck with me.

5- I have employed the “try the first chapter” method to a lot of these books that I’ve checked out from the library, simply because in deference to the first part, I am allowing myself to DNF (without feeling guilty) and I know what I like. If a character’s tone or the way things unfold are things I don’t like, I now don’t feel guilty for just tossing it in the reject pile. There are some rare times when I just keep going on in the book, hoping that it will change, but sadly it usually doesn’t.

6- I also have stopped reading a lot of the books that people have recommended to me. Or that I have seen on Booktube. Like I still might think about them, and probably get them from the library, but on a whole, I don’t rush out and get them right away because I have found that over hyped books tend to be ones that I dislike (or at least wish I had checked out from the library). So I either wait for the hype to go down, or I read books that are less hyped. This helps me in 2 ways, the first that I can actually read without so much emotion attached to the book and that the book is available easier from the library when you wait a bit. 🙂

7- While I am still a bookdragon who would prefer going into books blind (without knowing much about them at all) because the synopsis usually spoils me for the book, there is something to looking up the reviews on Goodreads. If I’m struggling to get into a book or trying to finish something and just not really feeling it, I’ll check my fellow readers reviews of this book to see if it’s just me or if there are others who feel the same way. If it’s getting only high reviews, I know it’s just me, but if it’s not, then I know it’s actually the book. Sometimes that will actually help me finish the book.

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8- With a few exceptions, I have decided that if I was only mediocre about liking an author’s work, I will not purchase it until I have tried it first from the library. That way I’m not set up for a huge disappointment when I start reading it and it’s just not great. I’ll still give them a chance but I decided that it’s really wasting my money to buy a book that I’m not sure I’ll like or not (especially since I probably wasn’t full on board with their last book I read) This isn’t an isolated incident: I can literally point to 6 different authors that I was “meh” about their previous works and still ended up buying their newest works…and regretting it deeply.

9- Every 6 or so months I have been looking through my shelves. What are some books I haven’t read yet/lost all enthusiasm for/probably will not get to this year (or ever)? I sort out those books and then set them off to the side for one month. When that month is done, if I haven’t read them, they get donated. But if I have read them, they get to stay on my shelf. (Unless it was like a 2.5 star rating or under and then they go). I used to never do this, and my shelves and TBR were pretty much out of control. I just don’t want to waste shelf space on books I know I won’t reread or read for the first time.

10- I have made it more of a goal to reread a set amount of books per year. I love rereading old favorites or falling back into slightly new worlds, discovering why they might just make my list of new favorite books. There’s just something about rereading that I love. In the past I would just try and reread certain books and that’s it. But this year I decided that I wanted to reread at least a third of all the books I read this year. This has helped me so much, and as an added bonus because I have put this into my goals list, I don’t feel guilty by rereading books, even when I have a TBR pile that is massive. It’s like because it’s a goal, my brain relaxes and even comments that I should reread more books.

 

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So that’s 10 different ways my reading habits have changed this year. Do you do any of these? Or has your reading changed in the past couple of years? Let me know below!

Happy reading Dragons, and remember, life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

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31DaysofBlogmas, Books

The Start of my #31DaysofBlogmas journey (And why I’m doing this)

Hello friends!

So if you have been following me for a while, you know I’m not the best at keeping up with my blog, and I have lapses in which I write for a few times and then forget about writing for like a month.

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I was reading ‘Real Artist’s don’t Starve’ and one of the chapters talked about how you should practice your art in public, which went on to explain that what it meant by that is that if you wait till the perfect time and place for you to showcase your art or passion, you will end up without anything. *Side note, this book is one I’m highly recommending now to everyone even if you aren’t creative because it was so good!*

And I started thinking about that. About how I call myself a writer but the only real writing that y’all might see me do is on here every now and then, while I keep all my passion and words of my novels I’m working on locked deep inside and away from any sort of public criticism. Which honestly makes me laugh now that I’m thinking of it.

I mean, I want to enter in one of the professions where people make it a job to tell you precisely why they hated your book or why they thought this was horrid, and yet I can barely stand to show my work off?

Which pushed me to my decision.

For the 31 days of December, which I’m tagging as #31DaysofBlogmas I will be writing in here, every single day.

Will I fail? Oh most likely.

Will I have some posts that will be all pictures and barely any words? Yes.

But will I try to do this? Yep.

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Yeah, so this is my plan, and I’m hoping that I can at least finish 20 out of the 31 days, which would make me happy, if I finish all of them, well maybe I’ll reward myself with more books 🙂

Happy reading Dragons, and remember, life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

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Books, Reading

September wrap up/book haul

Whoops, late again for another wrap up post. But it’s been a crazy and weird start to fall. Basically what happened in September (besides me totally not reading as much as I wanted to) was I got a second job, at Barnes and Noble. (I’m there all the time anyway and when the manager asked if I would be interested in getting a part-time job there, I had to bite my tongue to not scream out “YES PLEASE!” because I love working in a bookstore.)

So that happened, and with my weekends filled up thanks to that, and most of my evenings as well, this month I only read 19 books. Now that might not seem like a bad thing to most people, but my goal was 28 books; which was set before the job but still, failure here.

I did #SequelSeptember last month as well, and even though I didn’t get to any of the NEW sequels, which was actually kind of the point, I did manage to reread 6 books (5 that had sequels). The rest were new, but also were library books. So last month I didn’t make a dent in any of my TBR monster named Steve.

This month I also tried to take a pic of every single book I read, which was actually pretty fun and I’ll be continuing that this next month! (Plus it makes my post all pretty with pictures! (I’m not sure if I’ll show every pic for this month, or just a few highlights)

 

 

~Best: (4-5 star rating)~

 

Of my 4-5 star reads this month, only 2 were brand new to me: Around the world in 80 Days (which is actually now a new favorite) and the Attributes of God (again, a new favorite). The rest were rereads: Mere Christianity was the only reread that I read this month that was a stand-alone, everything else was a sequel/first of a series.

 

 

~Okayish(2.75-3.75 star rating)~

 

All of these were interesting, but not fully worth the full 4 stars (the road back to you I think I gave a 4 star, but it was more like a 3.75) There were some problems with all of them. Mostly it was the characters that got me in the end, in a Darkness Strange and lovely the main character swapped what character growth she had made in the first one, which made me not very happy. The weight of ink didn’t really know what tone it wanted to take with this historical fiction. And the Thief Lord was an interesting read but I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something missing because it seemed to read like 2 different plot ideas, and was rather loose on what should be happening/too many characters to really care about.

(not pictured: what Jesus demands from the world. It was a good book but it seemed to drag on for a long period)

 

~Skip! (1-2 star rating)~

All of these had major problems mostly with the plot and the characters. Book of speculation tried too hard to be magical realism; Beastkeeper had absolutely NO CLUE what the story was or what they really wanted to do with the “plot” (of which there was none); spellbook of the lost and found also tried too hard to be magical realism but just pretty much lost all of it when the author tried to tie it together. And honestly, I don’t like Shel Silverstein’s writing style at all.

(Not pictured: welcome to nightvale and words in deep blue. WTNV was super boring and not at all like the podcast. Words in deep blue was a huge disappointment by not having deep characters, a good plot or any sort of conflict.)

~Book Haul this month~

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Look at all these pretties!! Ok, so this month I ended up purchasing/receiving 10 books.

Hunting Prince Dracula, WonderWoman:Warbringer and Enchantment of Ravens were all pre-orders (we aren’t going to talk if I’ve read those yet or not), I bought Americanah and Station Eleven because I’ve heard really good things about them. I found the Goldfinch in our bargain section at work for $6, with my discount came down to $3 (and I couldn’t beat that) and I got Language of the Thorns because it was autographed and a total impulse buy.

The Color Project is actually the replacement copy because there were some issues in the production and those of us who preordered got an ARC, so this was a replacement copy. And Gypsy Moth Summer and the Lost Letter were books I won in a giveaway in May, and finally received at the start of summer.

So that was my month of September. I’m hoping for October to do more reading of my TBR but I’m not sure if that will happen or not.

How was y’all’s month of reading? What was your best book you read? What was the worst? Let me know below!

Happy reading Dragons and remember, life is too short to read mediocre books!

~Stephanie

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Books, Reading

You probably won’t like this…

I have been known to destroy books.

Not like ripping out pages or burning them or using them for modge-podge crafts or whatever.

Nope. I, a well known booknerd, someone who doesn’t like people borrowing her books, have done such evils as:

*Cracking the spines on paperbacks or hardcovers

*Dog-earring because I couldn’t find something to shove in it to save my place

*Splaying open the book also because I couldn’t find something to mark it

*highlighting several passages (so many all the time)

*making notes/writing in a book

*doodling on a page or two because I was on the phone and couldn’t get to a notebook

*accidentally dropping it in the ocean (I found it and it was saved but it did happen)

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The reason I’m telling you this? A couple of days ago someone posted a link to an article titled “11 things that will make bookworms angry” and every single one of them was about messing up the pages or writing in the books or cracking the spines. None of them were about the price, or the fact that some of the books are printed so cheaply that we cannot even shut them hard because the main cover falls off or about the stickers on books which are horrid to remove.

Nope, apparently what makes us angry as booknerds, is seeing someone mistreat their own property.

Which got me into a rabbit hole of thinking because when I was first becoming a lovely reader, I would frequent garage sales and thrift stores and library sales. I would scour the bookstore for the wonderful signs stating “Buy one get one free” because score, I get two books! Even when I started venturing into Borders (Oh I miss that place) I would still go for the massmarket paperbacks because they were under $6.00, so I could get about three of them at a time.

And to me, it didn’t matter if they became marked up and slammed back and forth in my bag, those marks were marks showing that I loved them and they were also recipients of my love.

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However, ever since I started doing my Bookstagram, I have noticed that pristine pictures of books have gotten better likes (well, as many as they can with that algorithm) and for some reason this has made me want to make sure that my books are perfect. That no visible scratch or dent or mark is showing and that the cover is gorgeous.

But does it really matter? I mean, the main reason I started falling in love with the cardboard and paste and glue and paper and ink was because of the stories that were inside it, not because they were “aesthetically pleasing” or “looked nice on my shelves” (though I won’t lie, it does make me happy when they look nice on there).

I actually like the look of used books better. I feel like there’s a connection between me and the person who read it last, a thin thread that we like the same book or the same author and for a brief moment in time and space were on the same page. That makes me happy.

I have friends on both ends of the spectrum. Friends who bend their covers of the books and all their books look second-hand (even if they were just bought that morning) and friends who have libraries that look like they were just unwrapped from the publishing. And that’s okay.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to want to keep your books pristine, if that’s what you want.

Or crack those spines if you want.

What I am saying is that maybe we could stop judging other booknerds for how they read books. People have different ways of showing love, and we need to be okay with that. You might not think that someone is a “real” bookish person because of how they do or don’t handle their books, but in reality, if we are reading, they we are all booknerds. We all love the same thing, words that transport us to a different time and space.

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~To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books (Carlos Maria Dominguez)

Happy reading and remember, life is too short for mediocre books!

~Stephanie

 

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Books, Reading

So….it’s September….huh…

I don’t know about many of you, but I absolutely love fall and all the things fall brings.

Sweaters.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes (yep, as long as those are available I’m getting one, or Pumpkin Spice Creamer because…yum!)

Crisp cool weather.

Rain.

Lovely scented candles that smell like caramel and apples and just make me very happy.

And perhaps most importantly, new books.

 

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(Literally in the first 4 days of September I bought these…I might have a bit of a problem)

While there are some books that come out in the summer months, I’ve noticed that during September is when the majority of new releases come out, and when my wallet starts whimpering and my shelves start groaning because OF COURSE I’m going to buy some books.

But this September I’m actually participating in a month-long readathon called SequelSeptember. In which we (the participants) try to read all the sequels that we have purchased for series but…haven’t quite…got around to them yet?

I am personally a master at this.

I find out that a book I really enjoy is coming out with a sequel, or the last book in the series is coming out.

I wait with anticipation, preordering it and constantly checking my mail. Then the glorious day arrives, IT’S HERE!! All celebration and happiness, until I go to read it and realize that I actually don’t remember anything of the previous books. And then I set my newest conquest on the groaning whinging TBR shelf and tell myself “One day I shall reread all these again”. (Which, spoiler: really hasn’t happened much at all this year. I have so many books I need to reread, see photo below!)

 

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So this readathon is something that I’ve been needing to do for a while. Not that it’s helping matters at all because I’ve been getting a TON of library books lately and all of them have been over 400 pages long (why must good stories take FOREVER and a day to write decent characters?)

There are about 7 series that I need to finish before the end of the year (I would say month but we both know how that will end…in failure) although most are duologys so that’s a small good thing. I’m hoping I can finish the Jackaby series, Into the Dim duology and the Blackhearts duology by the end of this month (I’ve already finished the reread of Into the Dim, so yay!)

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And I know that a lot of people would say “Just find a review and read that, so that way you don’t have to reread a lot of books” but see for me, that’s kinda the whole point. Also sometimes what I catch and what others point out in reviews are two totally different things…and I like rereading books.

It’s like coming home, knowing all the characters and the plot (basically) and knowing what is going to happen with them, it’s nice. And also it helps my goodreads goal so there’s that.

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(a ginormous stack of part of the library books that I have checked out…these do not really help my own personal TBR get down at all)

Anyways, hope y’all are having a great day!

Are you joining up for any readathons this month? Any books high on your radar for this month? What is something you are currently reading? Let me know below!

Happy Reading Dragons!

~Stephanie

(follow me on all my social media accounts: Goodreads- dreams_in_blue

twitter- dreams_in_blue

instagram- dreams_in_blue)

 

 

 

 

 

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