Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Tag Project...Part I - Shaina Reads

This past week, a few blog buddies of mine decided to post some award tags on their blogs. Both of them were kind enough to nominate me in their midst. I'm not going to go forth with the whole passing the award thing, but I am going to answer the questions they posed. Since there's a lot there...I'm going to split this up into a few different posts.

Oh...and just because I'm not nominating anyone doesn't mean you can't jump on the bandwagon. If you think taking part in the tag extravaganza sounds like fun, go for it! I always like learning more about the bloggers I share this awesome blogosphere with.

Today's questions come from the amazing Shaina over at Shaina Reads. This lady has taken the book blogger world by storm. She's a fantastic blogger. If you haven't visited her blog yet, get over there! I'll wait...

See...told you so. Add her to your reader. You won't be sorry.

Shaina did a slew of tags at once over at her blog and then posed her own questions for us who were nominated. But...I'm never one to conform. So, I'm answering her questions here today and then I'll be backtracking to answer some of the questions she got from other bloggers in a later post. (Keep your eyes out for Part III of this project.)

Now...let's get down to business. 

1. What is the first book you can vividly remember reading?


This one is a tie, simply because I can't remember which one came first. I learned to read by age 4, so my memories are stretched a little thin on the subject. My first reading memory is of either Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard or Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. I loved both of these books very much and read them several times as a child.


2. If you only had time to read one more book in your life, would you want it to be an old favorite or a new one? Why?

I would pick a new one. Why? Because I know exactly which one I would pick. I have been a lover of all things Alice for a very long time, but I have never actually read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I know, travesty, right? I am sworn to one day rectify this awful omission.


3. How do you feel about footnotes in books?

Footnotes used to annoy the bejeezus out of me. I hated being distracted from the story. But...I've learned to embrace them. This came as the result of reading the Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart. She uses footnotes so well in the telling of Ruby's story that I couldn't help but start to love them.


4. Say someone offered to write you an awesome non-fiction book of your choosing. What would the topic be?

I would want a family history. There are a couple of branches of my family tree that drift off into the unknown. That's always bothered me. I'd like to clarify where a few specific ancestors came from.


5. Besides reading, what's your favorite/most time-consuming hobby?

That's a tough one. There are a lot of things I like to do when I'm just goofing around the house. I'd say right now, my favorite one is sewing. It takes up a ton of time, but I love the projects that come out of it.


6. Which book was most uncomfortable for you to read? Did you finish it?

The answer to this question probably depends on how you use the word uncomfortable. If it's uncomfortable as in bored out of my mind and totally not liking it, then that would be Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson and no, I didn't finish it.

If it's uncomfortable as in the content is making me squirm in my chair a little and I'm not sure I want people knowing I'm reading this, that would be Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James and not only did I finish it, but I finished the whole series. It was some pretty awful writing, but I did enjoy the Twilight parallels since it was originally written as Twilight fan fiction.

If it's uncomfortable as in I'm totally going to have nightmares about this, then pick a Stephen King novel, any Stephen King novel. And yes, if I've started it, I've finished it. His work is totally horrifying, but awesome.


7. Can you read in a language besides English? If not, which language would you pick?

I feel like Bill Clinton in this interview. It depends on the definition of "read". I understand some Spanish. Right now, I'm in the middle of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and it has piles of Spanish mixed in. Can I read every word? No. Can I understand the gist? Yes. Does that count? I have no freaking idea. Let's go ahead and say it does.


8. Is there a genre you've changed your mind about? (Disliking to liking, or vice versa.)

Over the years, I've gotten more accepting in my reading. I didn't used to like to read fantasy novels, but I'm getting more into them, especially things like Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. Same goes with memoirs. They really weren't my cup of tea. Now I've read a small handful of them that I adore, including Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson and Now I See You by Nicole C. Kear. I don't think I've turned my back on any genres though.


9. Do you give or take more book recommendations?

This one is a mixed bag. I give a lot of recommendations. I take them too, but then I don't necessarily read the books. This isn't because I don't think they're good recommendations. It's because my TBR list is a freaking Matterhorn. Typically, I have a handful of friends I totally trust for book reviews. If one of them recommends a book, I'll most likely bump it up my TBR and I'll probably enjoy it. Except for One Day by David Nicholls. I still hold a grudge against Erin for that one...and she knows it. How dare you Mr. Nicholls.


10. In the vein of #8, have you ever changed your mind about a specific book?

You know, I don't think I've very often given books a second chance. If I don't like it on the first run, it's out. I have too many books on my stack to waste my time. I'm hard-hearted like that. The only book I've considered giving another chance to is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I originally gave it 3 stars and I've had a pile of friends say that I need to give it a chance at redemption.


11. Do you use your public library? Why or why not?

I do! I love my library. I haven't been there in a month or so, but when I go I like that I can just grab random books off the shelf and take them for a spin. I'm totally a cover judger. If I see a pretty cover, I'll try it. It's a little ridiculous. It's also burnt me a few times. Number one lesson of book cover judging: if it has a butterfly on the front, run away. Books I've chosen based on covers that have had butterflies have nearly universally been awful. Exception: Still Alice by Lisa Genova.


And there you have it...a pile of information all about me and my reading habits, thanks to Shaina over at Shaina Reads. Seriously...if you haven't yet...go check her out! Next time, tags from Karsyn over at KaKiJoKoJa.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (on a Saturday): Top Ten Favorite Book Heroines


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.

Yes...this is a Top Ten Tuesday post. Yes...I'm aware that today is Saturday. No...I don't care. :)

I actually did mean to participate in this week's Top Ten Tuesday, but I kind of had a combination of getting overwhelmed with other stuff and forgetting what day of the week it was. Obviously, I'm a mess.

This week, the topic was heroines. I've read a lot of books over the years, spanning many genres, so some of my choices are a little unique. They certainly don't all flow together, but they're all powerful characters that I loved. These lovely ladies are my top ten literature faves...


10. Rowan Mayfair. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice.

I read this book (and the others in the series) many years ago, but loved them just the same. I've been contemplating doing a reread lately. As far as powerful...umm...hello? She's a freaking telekinetic witch. I love reading the progression of her story as she learns how to properly wield her gift. She gets more and more confident and amazing as the book goes on.


9. Clare Abshire. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

If your husband kept disappearing and reappearing, you'd have to be a pretty tough chick. The fact that Clare loves Henry as much as she does and manages to keep her cool through many years of this is pretty fantastic. She's both strong and gentle at the same time.


8. Meg Murry O'Keefe. A Wrinkle in Time quintet by Madeleine L'Engle. 

Again, a read from long ago, but I remember wanting desperately to be Meg when I was younger. I thought she lived the most amazing life.


7. Clary Fray. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare.

She starts out pretty weak and more or less a disaster, but Clary grows throughout the series, becoming more sure of herself. She's pretty much a badass, let's just admit it. She faces up to vampires and demons and manages to hold her own.


6. Charlotte. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

For a spider, Charlotte is pretty amazing. Forget that...for any character she's pretty amazing. She's able to keep that darned pig in check and keeps him from totally losing his crap on several occasions. Charlotte is a freaking rock star. She's even able to keep her cool when she's dying and has to mellow out high-strung Wilbur.


5. Ruby Oliver. Ruby Oliver series by E. Lockhart.

Ruby is independent and hilarious. She's a bit of a mental case, but I love her just the same. For all the mess that is her life, she's still pretty grounded through all of it and she's not afraid to have her own opinions.


4. Katniss Everdeen. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.

When I think of Katniss, I have to focus on Katniss of the books, not Katniss of the movies. The movie version is weaker in my mind. Book Katniss though, she's a pretty tough cookie considering the crap she has to face. I would've melted at the seams, but she just keeps muscling through.


3. Lisbeth Salander. Millennium series by Stieg Larsson.

This is one chick I would't want to meet up with in a dark alley. First of all, just the looks of her would probably terrify me. She is not for the faint of heart. Lisbeth is smart and ruthless. She gets what she wants and damn those who stand in her way. Don't even think of trying to overpower or intimidate her...you'll end up with some pretty traumatic memories of your own.


2. Hermione Granger. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

Come on. If you're not nodding your head at this one, then you need to go reread the books. Harry Potter wouldn't have survived out of book one if it wasn't for this girl. She's brilliant and amazing. Criminy, it should have been the Hermione Granger series for all the mysteries she solves and the number of times she saves Harry and Ron's lives. Not to mention her ability to show Malfoy who's boss. This girl can handle herself.


1. Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

My all-time favorite of favorites. Jane is the absolute best. She's smart and strong. She lives through a horrid childhood, wherein she still manages to stay fairly civil to her awful aunt and cousins. I'm pretty sure I would've lost it. She's not afraid to state her opinions and she's pretty darned independent for a woman in the 1800's. She's pretty much The Woman.


What about you? Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Have a number one pick of your own?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Book Related Problems I Have



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.


Source: River City Reading

This week's topic is book related problems. I thought this one could be quite entertaining, so I made sure to put a note in my draft folder to get a post done for it regardless of how schizo my schedule was being at the time.

Half the fun of this is going to be seeing what everyone else comes up with. As for me...here's was gives me fits when it comes to reading...


1. Reading too Fast

Sometimes I get so caught up in a book's plot that I want to find out what's going to happen. Then I get antsy and start skipping over words more quickly than I should. This results in me finishing the book faster, but missing out on the subtle things that can really make a book amazing. It also has the pathetic result of having me confuse one book for another or forgetting what happens during the story line. I've tried to minimize this issue by keeping a reading journal to track my thoughts while reading a book.


2. Traditional vs. e-Book

I face an internal (and eternal) conflict with this one. I love my Nook. I also love that I have the Kindle app and now the WattPad app on my iPad. The easy access is great. But I also love having a book in my hands. I like owning the real deal, not just an electronic copy. I just want the easy of the e-book and the tangibility of the traditional book. Can't I have it all? The struggle is real.


3. Keeping a Charge on the Nook

The extension cord behind my nightstand is perpetually full. I have to rotate devices in the third slot. It's pathetic. I'm typically pretty good at switching between my phone and my iPad, but the Nook sometimes gets neglected. It never fails that it's when I'm in the middle of a book and finally have more than a few minutes to rub together that I find the battery has died. Gah!


4. Not Enough $$$

When I bought this house, I turned the bonus room into a library. I bought enough bookshelves to line it the way I'd always wanted. I love the look of a wall lined with pretty book spines. But...now I find that I don't have enough money to purchase all of the books I want to own. It's probably a good thing really, since I'd fill up the remaining bookshelf space in just a few months if I could purchase every book I love. Still...I just want to hug them all. Books need homes too!


5. Too Short Checkout Times

I am a pretty responsible person. I like to follow the rules and have everything just so. But I have become a terrible library patron. Thank goodness for the ability to process one renewal per book online through my library's website. I've kept books over their due date quite a few times in the last couple of years. Apparently, I need more than four weeks. Of course, that may be due to the fact that I'm a book hoarder and I check out between six and ten at a time...but who's counting?


6. Too Many Challenges

I am a total sucker for a reading challenge. I just love having lists to check off. I'm such a total nerd in that way. The problem is that I have to try and balance them all. I'm never happy just doing one at a time, so I wind up over-committing and then getting frustrated when I fall behind. I just can't help myself.


7. Missing out on Read-a-Thons

My schedule is pretty crazy. I work full-time in addition to going to school full-time, having a family, and running this blog. Because of that, I don't always have the time I want to dedicate to read-a-thons. This totally frustrates me because I love read-a-thons. I like reading with others and I like the social interaction that comes with it -- even though I'm totally an introvert. Plus...uninterrupted reading for hours on end? Are you kidding me? It's pretty much the best time ever.


8. Committing to a Series

I have a very rough time abandoning books. When I start a series, I have to finish it. I can't leave it alone. If the first book in the series is good enough for me to want to read the second or if it leaves off in any kind of cliffhanger (even if I really didn't love it that much), then I'm pretty much committed. I have to read the rest of the books in the series or I go nuts. That would be all well and good if I didn't have the problem that I have with issue #9...


9. A Mountainous TBR

This seems to be a pretty common issue among us bibliophiles. There is always another good book coming out and I just have to add it to my To-Be-Read pile. At this point, I'm adding at least 3-5 books to the list each month (and this is after slowing down substantially in the last 3-4 months). I cannot turn a potentially amazing book away. Right now, there are so many on my list that I could never read them all...ever. That's kind of depressing really. So much good literature out there. I want to read it all! Authors need to stop writing such darned good books. I just can't choose!


10. Never Enough Time

The biggest problem of them all. That crazy schedule I mentioned up in #7 results in not enough time to read. I'm ashamed to admit that it's already the middle of February and I have yet to finish a book this year. I've been doing too much reading for school and haven't been able to focus on any of the crazy good novels sitting in my nightstand. By the time I get everything done that I need to, I'm often exhausted. This means that picking up a book could very well lead to me falling asleep in said book after only a few pages, regardless of how awesome and amazing it is. Remember that "Eight Days a Week" The Beatles sang about? Ya...where's my eighth day? I totally need it just so I have more time to read.


What about you? What issues do you find yourself faced with when reading?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Checking In...Still Alive!

Hi there. Remember me? I used to blog here on occasion.

The last month has gone by in a gigantic blur. I started back to school on the 12th of January and I'm pretty sure this is the first chance I've had to rub 2 minutes together. I'm exhausted!

I've been asked about a thousand times already why I'm taking college courses again since I already have a couple of degrees and a full-time job. Well...the simple answer is...because I wanted to. I know, I'm nuts, but I just love to learn. I'm currently pursuing additional degrees in English and Accounting.

I'm taking 13 credits this semester in addition to working full-time and balancing family life. It's a lot, but I'm still not regretting my decision. It's hard some days and I've broken down a couple of times due to the stress, but I'm still loving school. It's the other stuff that's making it all hard.

While I'm staying crazy busy, I will still be making time to blog here and there. There won't be as much of me here, but I'm still planning on posting at least a few times a month. (I'd like to say once a week, but it just depends on the homework load.)

I will be here very frequently in April. In fact, I'll be blogging nearly every day since I'll be taking part in the A to Z Challenge once again this year. And now you're asking...how? You can't even manage to get on here for nearly four weeks, but you think you can handle a project every day for a month?

Well..there has been some pre-planning. I knew I was going back to school, so I started somewhat getting this ready back in November. I did a lot of projects for Christmas presents that will fill a good portion of the slots. I have all of the pictures taken, they just need edited. I do have about six letters that still need projects, but I have a niece and nephew with birthdays between now and the end of April that will fill a couple of those.

As far as writing my posts, that will be my spring break project. I'll have a week off from both school and work that I can use to get everything ready and the majority of the posts scheduled. That will mean that I'll mostly get to visit other blogs during my free time in April.

Let's hope the plan holds up.

In the meantime, I hope you'll stick around as readers...I'm not bailing on all of you yet. I have a few projects to work on in the next couple of weeks, so maybe one of them will make it up here instead of being hoarded for the A to Z. If not, well...then I'm sure I'll come up with something to blab about. I always seem to manage...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

2014 Book of the Year Bracket Challenge: Finals


The big day has arrived! Today is the day I reveal my Book of the Year for 2014. Yay!

A lot of great books have been eliminated along the way. I said goodbye to some books that made me sad to have to let go.

It has all been leading to this. Two challengers remain. Only one will get the title. 

Here's where the bracket currently stands:



And the challengers are:


Representing the left side of the bracket:

Amy & Roger's Epic Detour
Morgan Matson


I swooned over this book relatively early in the year. I built myself a Spotify playlist based on the songs listed in Roger's playlist as they made their way. I even posted this glowing review on the blog. In the review, I stated that "I was hooked right from the beginning and I was sad when it was done. This was one of those books that I just wanted to go on forever." I also said that it would be a strong contender for 2014 BOTY. I wasn't wrong in that early assessment.


Representing the right side of the bracket:

Just One Day
Gayle Forman


Gayle Forman had a rough go of it in this year's bracket. She originally had three books in the running. Just One Year, the sequel to Just One Day, lost out in round two to Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. An even harder loss came later on when Just One Day managed to take out Gayle's other book, Where She Went. Nothing like having to go up against yourself!

Just One Day was lovely. It was romantic and sad at the same time. I loved the Shakespearean theme. I fell in love with the characters. In my Goodreads review, I said "my heart was in my throat most of the time and it very nearly made me cry, but the potential pain was totally worth it. This is one of those books that goes to the top of the list to read over and over again."

Obviously we have a very good match up.


The Faceoff:

I will admit that when I first started working on the bracket, I kind of had an idea how things would all play out. However, there were a few surprises as the randomized bracket knocked out some pretty strong challengers early on. My final four were not the same books I expected. However, I will say that the final two were the ones I did have in the back of my mind.

Since I somewhat envisioned who would be pairing off in this round, I had a little time to think it over as we went through the other eliminations. No matter how I spun it, I always came out with the same winner. My heart just belongs to this book. I couldn't let it go, no matter how good the book going up against it managed to be. This book was nearly perfect. The characters were gorgeous and written appropriately for their age. The narrative was easy and flowing.

What set this book above the rest for me were the little extra touches: the ephemera used in the chapter heading pages and...yes...the playlists.



So...if you've been paying attention, it should come as no surprise that 2014's Book of the Year is:



Amy & Roger's Epic Detour
Morgan Matson


I recommended this book for my sister-in-law when my brother asked what to get her for her birthday. She texted me the other day to ask if I thought she should read Amy & Roger or Fallen by Lauren Kate first (one of my other recommendations). Obviously, I recommended Amy & Roger. Of course, I may have now ruined all other books for her. This one will remain not only my favorite of the reads from 2014, but one of my favorite books ever read.


Congratulations to Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, the Erratic Project Junkie 2014 Book of the Year!


Want to look at how other past winners claimed their crowns?



How did your books stack up? Did you get the winner you were expecting?

To all of you who participated, THANK YOU! I have enjoyed watching your brackets develop and I will be poaching from your winners to add to my TBR list. I will be doing a bracket for myself again this year and hosting the challenge again next January. I hope you'll all be able to join me again.

Link up to your 2014 Book of the Year Winner in the comments below!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014 Book of the Year Bracket Challenge: Semifinals


First of all, I am SO sorry to have taken so long to reply to all of your comments this week. Thank you so much for participating! It's been a crazy week (I could really stand for tomorrow to be Saturday) and I haven't had much time to sit down at a computer unless I was working on something for school.

Today is a pretty big day. We're narrowing it down to the final two today. Two really great books are going to go by the wayside.

Here's where we start:


Two very difficult choices. One was easier than the other, but still all great books.

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor vs. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson


The left side of the bracket was the tough one this time. These two books were both excellent reads.

I really liked the world created by Laini Taylor. I'm not usually super into the fantasy type books, but this one was great. I'm really looking forward to the sequel.

Amy & Roger...what to say. I loved the plot, loved the method of building the chapters by segments of the trip, loved the playlists and the ephemera. It was just fun and cute. It's a good read for when you're feeling somewhat sappy.

Even though this was a tough pairing, I really knew from the start how this was going to go down. It just had to be that way.



Left side bracket finalist...






2. Divergent by Veronica Roth vs. Just One Day by Gayle Forman


Now the right side of the bracket. This one was a little easier. Those of you who have been following my comments in earlier BOTY posts probably already know the answer here.

Divergent was a good book. Really good. I loved it and loved the sequel. But the last book in the trilogy took something away from it for me. It's hard now to be okay with that. It somewhat ruined the first book for me. I still like it (and got over my Allegiant issues a little by watching the movie version of Divergent), but I still struggled.

Just One Day was beautiful. I loved the Shakespeare aspect and I really just loved the characters. Gayle Forman writes a seriously great book. The ending was a little upsetting for some readers, but I was totally fine with it because I knew there was a sequel. 

So again, probably super obvious now...



Winner of the right side of the bracket and second finalist for 2014's Book of the Year...




Only one more round to go! Will you make it without caving to the temptation to call it a tie?

Link up to your Semifinal Bracket in the comments below!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2014 Book of the Year Bracket Challenge: Final Four (Jan 13)


It's going really fast! We're already to the finding of the Final Four. Are you finding that your decisions are getting harder to make? I am. There have been a few books that I've found it hard to part with. 

Here's where I start this time with my Elite Eight...



The only easy bracket for me this time was Amy & Roger's Epic Detour vs. What Alice Forgot. Somehow, even with only 4 stars, Alice managed to make it all the way to the Elite Eight. Not bad. However, there wasn't even a question. Amy & Roger make it to the Final Four without a struggle.

The other three brackets weren't so simple...

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor vs. How to Love by Katie Cotugno


This pairing gave me quite the headache. Two very different books from very different genres. I loved them both, but only one could move on.

I struggled hard making this decision. I changed the bracket back and forth a few times. I don't know how I made the final decision really. Catch me on a different day and maybe I would have reversed my decision. Really I guess it came down to the fact that I am totally psyched to read the sequel for Daughter of Smoke and Bone whereas I don't as strongly want to reread How to Love. Not the most fair of circumstances, but it is what it is.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor takes the second slot in the final four and rounds out the right side of the bracket.


2. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson vs. Divergent by Veronica Roth


Once again, two very strong competitors. Tiger Lily is probably the best retold fairy tale I've read. It was amazing and I loved it. Divergent was riveting and powerful; it held my heart in my throat for a good portion of the book. 

Honestly, the fact that Allegiant exists probably resulted in some damage to Divergent's chances here. I'm still just irked by that whole thing. I get it, but still... Argh.

I nearly swayed myself the other way for my decision while writing this post...even after the final decision had already been made. That's how tough this was.

Eventually, I had to evaluate each book by it's own merit (only fair). Pitted directly against each other (and ignoring the fact that Allegiant makes me angry), Divergent takes the win for this section of the bracket.


3. Landline by Rainbow Rowell vs. Just One Day by Gayle Forman


And here it is. The toughest match up of the round. What is it with these two authors? They have been my biggest struggles during this challenge. I love them both so much. And yet they just keep facing off with the books I seem to love the most. Landline particularly enjoyed knocking nearly all of E. Lockhart's books out of the running. Merciless. Gayle Forman's novels just seem to have it out for one another.

Getting rid of either one of these just breaks my heart. But, it had to be done. I started to waffle on this one as well. I wanted to use the Fangirl standard to help me make my decision (I liked Fangirl more than Landline), but that really wouldn't be fair. The whole point of this bracket system is to only pit each book up against the book that lands in the opposing bracket slot. No cheating.

Ultimately, I let my emotions decide. The more swoon-worthy book would have to win. The book I would choose to read again first. So... Just One Day takes the win.


And there you have it...only 4 challengers remain.


 vs.


 vs.





Next time, only TWO will survive.

How's your favorite fairing in my bracket?

Link up to your Final Four Bracket in the comments below! Don't forget to go visit the brackets of other participants...you just might find some new books to love!

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