Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Read-a-Thon Wrap Up

This past week, Darian and I both participated in the High Summer Read-a-Thon hosted by Michelle over at Seasons of Reading. It was the first time I've been able to read for fun in quite a while and I really enjoyed it. I'd forgotten how nice it could be.

I spent the first part of the week doing nothing but academic reading. I busted my can to get ahead in my courses so I could free up most of the weekend for the fun stuff. The good news is that I racked up about two hours a day on Monday through Thursday. The bad news is that it was all linguistics and early American non-fiction. Not the most riveting of materials.

On Thursday afternoon, we really got started. Collin picked up Darian from his mom's and I set up the always anticipated snack table.

It was a pretty darned good spread if I do say so myself. We picked on it throughout the weekend. It always works out pretty well for us and I think it was probably the one factor enticing the teenager to actually join in.

Later Thursday night, I got a wild hair while reading out on the patio and hauled the tent out of the shed. Darian helped me (I use that term very loosely) to set it up in the backyard. We used it off and on throughout the weekend for a little change of scenery. I set up shop there for almost all of Saturday evening and a good chunk of Sunday afternoon. Darian wasn't as enthralled, especially since he was spending a good portion of his time vacillating between a book and YouTube videos on his tablet. Teenagers...

It all ended far too soon. I took down the tent this evening and dismantled the snack table. It was a sad event. The good news is that I'll have the opportunity to bust it all back out next month for Bout of Books 14.

It was a great weekend full of fun reading and I look forward to doing it again soon. I managed to finish off three books and get about half way through a fourth. I'm pretty pleased with that and even happier that I'm now less than 20 books behind on my Goodreads goal...ouch.

Darian didn't track his statistics, stating that he found it "more fun" to just read. He finished one book, so I'm just glad it got him to accomplish something beyond watching Minecraft videos and Pewdiepie.

I didn't track my pages, but I did track my time. Here are my final stats:

Academic Reading Time : ~ 8 hours
Relaxation Reading Time : 12 hours, 10 minutes
Total Reading Time : ~20 hours

Currently Reading:

Books Completed : 3

The books I finished were really useful in checking off a few squares on my Books on the Nightstand Bingo card. 

Thanks to this read-a-thon, I've also realized that I really need to make some time for fun reading during my week or weekends. Pulling myself away from my iPad should free up a few hours each week, so that's now the plan. I get sucked into that thing far too easily.

With any luck, I'll be able to keep working steadily at my Goodreads goal. Hey...just imagine...at some point I could be less than 10 books behind.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

High Summer Read-a-thon

Have you been participating in the High Summer Read-a-Thon? It's hosted by Michelle over at Season's Reading.

Believe it or not, I am actually getting some serious FUN reading in this week. Amazing, right? I worked my tail off to get a ton of homework done in advance so that I freed up some of Thursday and Friday, most of Saturday, and all of Sunday for some relaxation reading. It's been lovely.

I'm still putting in a bit more reading this evening, but figured I'd avoided the blog for too long and should probably be giving some kind of update about how this read-a-thon has been going.

Darian has been participating here and there with me. It's a miracle! (I think he was mostly swayed by the potential eats on the read-a-thon table.) He's been able to pry himself away from YouTube videos long enough to finish one book so far: Will Grayson, Will Grayson. He struggled with it at first, but it was a good diversifying read for him and he ended up really liking it.

As for me, I've finished three books so far. I'm totally in shock over that fact and -- I'm not going to lie -- mildly impressed with myself. I set up the tent in the backyard (yup...the backyard) to give myself a nice outdoor reading spot and it's been awesome. I even took a little portable lantern out last night and read in the dark for a couple of hours. A change of scenery has been a good thing. I've completed one book for my Classics Spin and two ARCs. Honestly, it's just nice to read something that isn't academic.

I'll be doing full reviews on Nothing Like Looking and The Hand That Feeds You soon.

These three have allowed me to fill in a few more squares on my summer bingo card, so I'm stoked about that. It's also helping me to whittle down the TBR stack that's been taking up residency in my nightstand. Only a couple of books left there and then it's time to take on the TBR jar.

And now...well now I'm going to go get some more fun reading in. Final post for the High Summer Read-a-Thon will be tomorrow and this week's "Currently" post will be sometime between this evening and Tuesday dependent on schedule.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 19, 2015


This week, I'm trying out something new. I used to do weekly Summary Sunday posts, but the format just became less appealing over the past year. I felt like I still needed something to wrap up/begin the week. Seeing Jenni Elyse's Currently posts made me feel inspired. It was just what I had been looking for.

There are a few versions of this meme floating around the blogosphere. Now I'm taking it on and making it my own. I have a list of "currently" categories that I'll be using. Some weeks, I'll have things to fill them all. Some weeks I won't. We'll see how I like it. We'll see how you like it. You'll have to let me know.

Watching :

I've become addicted to YouTube. I have a list of regulars that I follow, but every once in a while, I come upon something that is special and new. This week, it was the result of an assignment for one of my summer classes, Morgan M. Morgansen's Date with Destiny. It's cute, witty, and funny. I quite enjoyed it.

Reading :

Sadly, at this particular moment, the majority of my reading is purely academic. I'm reading a lot of early American literature in the form of primarily letters and articles written by Americans in the 17th and 18th centuries. I'm not going to lie...most of it is pretty boring.

I'm 20 (yes, TWENTY) books behind on my Goodreads goal for the year, so I'm hoping I can kick that in the butt a little bit with some upcoming read-a-thons. I at very least need to complete 32 books this year so that I have enough to fill my bracket for the 2015 Book of the Year Challenge in January.

Listening :

I have run into a bit of a road block. I purchased a new monitor for my office so that I could replace a broken one in another location. It's a long story, but basically the one I needed to replace had to be a specific size and it was easier to just give that location my old monitor and buy myself a new one. I got a great deal on the new one, but it sadly has no speakers. That has meant no Spotify for the past couple of weeks. I'm hoping to rectify that in the next few days.

In the meantime, I've been making due with getting my music fix on my commute. At this particular moment, I'm really enjoying:

Young and Unafraid by The Moth & The Flame

Tear in my Heart by Twenty-One Pilots

Learning :

I'm smack dab in the middle of a 7-week condensed summer schedule. I'm taking two fully online courses: Early American Literature and Introduction to Linguistics. They're both very intense courses and they're taking up a ton of time. I would guess that, on average, I do about thirty hours of work on them each week. Basically, if I'm not at work, I'm doing homework. It's insane.

Making :

I've found myself in the midst of a creative slump. Part of it is a complete lack of time and energy. Part of it is the fact that our air conditioning isn't working and my upstairs sewing/crafting room is hot as Hades. If I'm not up there working and finished before 9am, there's no surviving it. It's a sweltering pit. So...crafting has taken a back seat for the moment. I'm sure the craft bug will bite again soon, but in the meantime, nada is happening on the fabrication front.

Thinking :

Honestly...I've been thinking that I'm completely crazy for going back to school. There's been a few times where I've questioned whether I really want to keep going with it. It's easy to try and tell myself "Well, you wanted to take some college courses again and you finished out a full semester. That's good enough." But really it's not good enough. I need to keep pushing myself and make this happen. I hate being a quitter.

Feeling :

The balance of the schedule between work, home, school, and fun has totally got me feeling overwhelmed...and exhausted. I'm pretty frustrated with the fact that I spent my summer vacation sick in bed and I'm totally bummed that I didn't get to go out of town...because that was my one chance this summer. Basically, I'm just feeling a little sorry for myself at the moment. Luckily, I might have the chance to go out of town for a few days in September, so I'm just trying to keep optimistic that my time will come.

Wanting / Needing :

There's not a lot of wants on my list these days. I'm pretty content with most of what I have. It doesn't hurt that I went ahead and bought myself a couple of things on Amazon last week to curb some frustration.

I desperately needed a new Nook cord (mine was held together with electrical tape, hopes, and dreams). It showed up yesterday. I'm super excited about that.

I also got myself a surge protector to plug into the outlet by my bedside table. I now have enough outlets to plug in my iPhone/iPad charger, my lamp, my laptop, and my Nook all at the same time, with room to spare. It's such luxury.

Loving :

Right now, I'm loving that Collin is back home. He was gone for the week on a business trip, so having him home this weekend has been great. It's been nice to spend some time relaxing together. Plus, it's always nice to have someone to share the day-to-day chores with. I like being able to be a little bit lazy.

Planning :

This week, the High Summer Read-a-Thon (hosted by Seasons of Reading) is on the agenda. I work Monday - Thursday afternoon, so my participation won't really start until then, but I'm going to try and get some real (non-Academic) reading in this week. I'm extremely excited. Of course, that all hinges on me getting my schoolwork done before then, so I'd better hop to it.

Darian is at his mom's house for a few days, but he's having me pick him up on Thursday afternoon so that he can join in. I'm really looking forward to being able to hang out with him and read for a few days. I'm glad that he's still into doing this kind of thing with me once in a while.

And now...it's back to homework. I have some reading to get in before I head to bed. Let me know what you think about having a weekly "Currently" post around here. I'm also open to any suggestions. Have a great week!

Friday, July 17, 2015

#Blumealong: Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

This month, I participated in the #Blumealong hosted by Entomology of a Bookworm. Though I have read Judy Blume in the past (and loved her), for some reason Summer Sisters sat on my bookshelf for several years, just gathering dust.

I don't really know why I avoided the book. I think maybe I had a fear of not liking Judy Blume now that I'm older. Or maybe it was knowing that this was a more adult aimed read, not her usual tween style...maybe there was something holding me back there. Whatever the reason, I just couldn't pull the trigger. On more than one occasion, the book traveled down to my nightstand just to eventually find it's way back to the bookshelf unread.

And so I resolved to finally move it from my TBR pile to my "read" shelf. And no sooner than I make that decision than my copy of the book completely and utterly disappeared. Seriously. I have no idea where it went. I turned several rooms in our house upside down looking for it. I texted my best friend and my sister-in-law to see if I had lent it out to one of them. Summer Sisters remained elusive. I finally broke down and got myself an e-copy. Inevitably, now it will show back up sometime in the next few weeks. I can almost promise it.

Last weekend, I sat down for the #24in48 and picked up my Nook to get started. I remained tethered to the wall since I'd managed to let the battery die, but Summer Sisters read like a blur. I stayed up until 3 am on Saturday reading away and then finished the rest of it the next afternoon.

So...how did it go?

Well...how about I give you a little background on what the book is about first?

In the summer of 1977, Victoria Leonard's world changed forever--when Caitlin Somers chose her as a friend. Dazzling, reckless Caitlin welcomed Vix into the heart of her sprawling, eccentric family, opening doors to a world of unimaginable privilege, sweeping her way to vacations on Martha's Vineyard, a magical wind-blown island where two friends became summer sisters...

Now, years later, Vix is working in New York City. Caitlin is getting married on the Vineyard. And the early magic of their long, complicated friendship has faded. But Caitlin has begged Vix to come to her wedding, to be her maid of honor. And Vix knows that she will go--for the friend whose casual betrayals she remembers all too well. Because Vix wants to understand what happened during that last shattering summer. And, after all these years, she needs to know why her best friend--her summer sister--still has the power to break her heart...

Let me just tell you...I really liked this book. I was very pleasantly surprised. The poor thing had gone neglected for so long for absolutely no good reason.

The very first thing I noticed about this book is that right way it feels like a slightly more grown up Judy Blume book. And right now you're thinking, duh...that's because it is. Well, I know that silly. But it just really feels right. It's a nostalgia thing. I forgot how much I liked her writing, but within the first chapter or two, I was right back in that happy place, cuddling up with a good one of her books. Judy just has a way with words.

As I have with most of her characters, I began to feel a connection to Vix fairly early on. She's a smart girl with an unfortunate backstory and I felt for her. I just wanted her to be okay. Her family is poor, her mother is distant and odd, I just wanted her to have a better life.

Vix leaves her life behind very easily over a series of summers after being asked out of the blue to spend the summer with Caitlin. They haven't been friends before. Vix really wasn't even sure Caitlin knew who she was. But Caitlin seems to think that Vix will be a girl who just "gets it". Vix isn't sure what that means, but she knows that she wants to be that girl.

Caitlin's life is an upheaval as well, but in a different way than Vix's. She lives primarily with her mother, who seems to have little need or want for a child, she acts too much like a child herself. But during the summers, Caitlin heads to the Vineyard to live with her father, Lamb, and brother, Sharkey. There's a sense of tainted affluence there.

With Caitlin, I had mixed feelings. She is likable in the sense that she is not afraid to be herself. She is strong and resolute in who she is. For as narcissistic as she is, she can still be a good friend. As their lives go on, Caitlin might become more and more of a mess, but she remains true to who she is--who she has always been. I admired her for that. Beyond being independent, she was a train wreck that you just can't look away from.

As for Vix, I felt that things didn't go the way they should have. I expected better of her. Without providing any spoilers, the best I can say is that I felt like she began to lose herself, becoming someone else, someone who forgot where she came from. I was disappointed in her for that. I thought she had the fortitude to take what she wanted. Instead, I think she played it a little too safe and maybe missed out on some life because of it.

The story was really quite good. The book read fast and I was hooked. I shouldn't have been scared of reading Judy Blume again. She's just as good as she ever was. I will admit that I'm not a big fan of the ending. It seemed too placating, allowing the reader too much freedom in deciding what they want the reality to be. I understand why she did it, but it almost just felt like the easy way out.

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

Sunday, July 12, 2015

24 in 48: And In the End...

The #24in48 Readathon is officially over. I did actually participate. I'm mildly proud of myself for pulling it out of the ditch. I didn't make it to 24 hours. I am neither surprised nor disappointed by this since I didn't even remember it was happening until it was almost half way over. Oops.

So how much did this sad sack actually accomplish?

Well...I got a total of 8 hours and change. That includes some reading for class along with some actual relaxing reading, which was lovely. I could have probably got in about another 4-6 hours, but I crapped out, played on my iPad, and watched some TV with the family. I don't do as well on read-a-thons that I'm not fully prepared for...that's the lesson here. No treat bucket or other prepared reading provisions, not as many hours or pages read. Sad, but true.

I did manage to finish a book though! I finished Summer Sisters by Judy Blume for the #Blumeathon. I'll be posting my review on the 17th along with all of the other participants.

I will say this about it. I stayed up until 3:30 in the morning reading it and I finished it today without giving a thought for another book. That should say something.

Overall, not my best readathon stats, but it was nice to just sit down and read something other than a textbook for a while. For being as unprepared as I was, I'm still glad I grabbed a few hours with a good novel.

How did your #24in48 go?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

24 in 48: A Little Late Start

I'm still recovering from the plague, but things are getting better...at least in terms of how I'm feeling. The ability to find time for blogging and bloggy type things continues to be at a seasonal low. I made the crazy decision to take two online classes this summer and they're both in full swing. They're condensed 7-week courses, one in literature, one in linguistics, and I am crazy busy trying to keep up with them.

In fact, I got so swallowed up by homework that I nearly forgot that this weekend is the #24in48! It's a 48 hour read-a-thon where you try to read for 24 of those hours.

The bad news is that I won't be making the full 24 hours this time around. The good news is that I do already have some reading under my belt. I spent a chunk of today reading some pieces for my Early American Literature course. It was a bit boring, so I'm excited to read something for fun.

I'm also participating in the #BlumeAlong hosted by Entomology of a Bookworm. We're reading Summer Sisters and the finish date is coming right up: July 17th. I had a brief panic moment last week when I couldn't find my copy. It has disappeared from my bookshelf despite being there for the last too many years. I have no idea where it has absconded to, but I finally just went out and got myself a digital copy. So I'm all set!

If I manage to finish that, I have a small stack of books awaiting me on the nightstand. We'll see what happens...it's kind of been nothing but flying by the seat of my pants the last few times. Life is chaotic these days.

I'll be back some time tomorrow with an update, but the goal is just to get some reading done for fun!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Top Ten Books I've Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, created due to a fondness for lists. Each week they post a new Top Ten topic. After that, it's bloggers UNITE! Participate with your own Top Ten post, have fun, and get to know your fellow bloggers.

So I've been absent from the blog for a few days. Because I have apparently caught the plague. It managed to wheedle it's way in and slap me in the face with a 102 degree fever within TWO HOURS of being officially on vacation. I'm not going to lie. My "vacation" thus far has sucked. We cancelled our planned trip out of town (Collin was also sick through the weekend) and spent 4th of July holed up in the house.

The fever has since abated, but I now have some super fun lung congestion that is alternating between trying to suffocate me and causing me to hack my innards out onto the floor. It's a pretty picture, isn't it? Basically I'm just a whole lot of fun right now.

So let's distract me from my misery by talking about something we all love...books. Today's Top Ten Tuesday (which I am posting admittedly late to the party) is a popular one. It's the top ten hyped books that I have yet to read.

Now, I'll just get this out of the way right now and let you know that you won't find 50 Shades of Gray on this list. Why? Because I read it. I read all three. Yep. That's right. Were they stellar? No. Did I enjoy them? Obviously enough to read all three. There. That's settled. Let's move on to the good stuff.

My brain is still not firing on all cylinders, so in an attempt to make this easier on myself I've restricted this list to books that were/are very highly hyped and that I do in fact intend on reading at some juncture...I just haven't made it around to them yet. I also selected only YA books. Why? Well 1 - Because I can. 2 - Because I seem to read a lot of YA these days. 3 - Because that narrowed down the list of choices substantially and I need all the help I can get in my current foggy-headed state.

In no particular order... Okay, well alphabetical by title because I needed some kind of organization here...

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I'll admit...when I first saw this book come out, it sounded too cheesy for me. I believe I scoffed. Yes...scoffed. But over time, I have heard nothing but good things about it and it's successors from Stephanie Perkins. It's been on my TBR for a while now. One of these days I'll pick it up.

2. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

This is the last remaining Rainbow Rowell until Carry On gets released in October. I've read all of the others. Why hasn't this one made it out of the TBR? I. Don't. Know. I'm a terrible person. You'll see that with a handful of the other books on this list. You may need to avert your eyes.

3. I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

Pretty cover? Check. Interesting premise? Check. Totally hyped by every book blogger, book tuber I know? Yes. Have I read it? No.

4. Legend by Marie Lu

Sometimes my desire to read a book and my availability of time to read books don't quite work together and I resort to desperate situations. Such is the story with Legend. I've wanted to read it for a while, but other books kept somehow knocking it out of the running for the Right Now. So instead, I got sneaky. I tried to convince Darian to check it out from the library and read it instead. That way I could live vicariously through him and, when he was done, I surmised that I would find the motivation to just go for it. It didn't work. He checked out too many books and never got to it. Son of a... Plan failed. And I STILL haven't read it.

5. Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

I love a good road trip book. Who doesn't? Immediately after reading Amy & Roger's Epic Detour, this one popped up as an obvious choice for my next read. But I decided I didn't want to overwhelm myself with road trip books. I'm an idiot.

6. Paper Towns by John Green

I love John Green. Seriously. I like him as a person and an author. And yet...both Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines (bonus book for today's list) remain unread. And yes...I'm aware that the movie is coming out. Aaargh. Also...see #5. I'm growing disgusted with myself.

7. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

You know what you should do when you just overwhelmingly love an author's book SO MUCH that you rank it your favorite read of the year and you just can't stop swooning over it? Ignore the rest of her books for the unforeseeable future. No? That's not what you do? Well, apparently that is what has happened with this one. I LOVED Amy & Roger's Epic Detour. Seriously. LOVED. Should I caps lock more words? And yet Since You've Been Gone has sat there...unread...for a YEAR. I'm so sorry Morgan. 

8. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Every time I turn my head someone is spouting the praises of Sarah J. Maas. And I just nod my head as if I have a clue. Why? Because I haven't read a single. one. of. her. books. I know. Travesty. Totally excusable. I'm sorry.

9. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

You might as well just reread #8 and insert Jenny Han for Sarah J. Maas on this one. Seriously. What is wrong with me? I realize that there are a lot of good books out there, but I'm totally feeling flogged by my own bad book behavior here.

10. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Well...at least the public humiliation is almost over. We Were Liars. Yup. Probably the most hyped of E. Lockhart's books and yet it's the one book by her that I haven't read. I loved the Ruby Oliver series. I devoured those books within just a couple of weeks last year. I had an equally good time with Frankie Landau-Banks. I've had plenty of time to get my hands on this one. And yet, I just keep letting it slip down the TBR, quietly. So sad.

And there you go. That's how pathetic I am. Gah. Help me feel a little bit better by telling me that at least a small handful of these still sit on your TBR as well. Please? I'm not above begging...

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