Reading Wrap-Up: September 2015

UGH. Slacker. It’s October 15. But you know what? Let’s talk about what I read in September anyway, because it was a great reading month for me!

I’m gonna try something a little different with this post, so let me know how you like it in the comments!

Click the photos to see the Goodreads page for each book

Reading Wrap-Up

Reading Wrap-Up (1)

Reading Wrap-Up (2)

Reading Wrap-Up (3)

Reading Wrap-Up (4)

Reading Wrap-Up (5)

Reading Wrap-Up (6)

The Design/ The Duet Review    //   Original Heir of Fire Reivew

I can’t believe I actually read this many books in a month. I mean, technically The Martian started at the very end of August, but even then – I think this is my highest volume reading month ever. Feels kinda awesome, you guys.

Until Next Time ❤

Books, Revisited: Why I Re-Read Books

find a waynot an excuse (4)

HAPPY OCTOBER, EVERYONE! Ok, so I’m not sure if you’d figured this out yet, but holy crap I love October. I’m so excited it’s here & cannot wait for Halloween (except that whole “I really need to start working on my costume” thing). Anyway, I’m feeling refreshed and totally energized by the prospect of a new month and a new season, and my trip to the salon a couple weeks ago definitely helped things, as well! Clearly, I’m feeling like rambling because of all the excitement. I haven’t had that much caffeine yet today, I swear!

Today I wanted to talk about revisiting/re-reading books. I’ve only read a handful of books more than once (children’s books excluded), and I was thinking this morning –  since I just finished re-reading Heir of Fire & have moved on to re-read Queen of Shadows – about which books I have chosen to devote more of my time to than others, and why.

Untitled design (1)

Similarly to re-watching movies over and over again, re-reading a book gives you new insight to the story. You pick up on things you didn’t notice the first time around and you put the pieces together in the way the author intended, rather than the way your brain decides to piece it all together before the author comes out & explains it (did that even make sense?). Let me try again: I love using an author’s foreshadowing & tiny clues to try and figure out the twists and secrets before they are revealed later in the story. At the same time, by doing that, I miss out on just experiencing the story and taking time to really connect with the characters. On a second (or third, or fourth) read-through, you know where the story is going & you can just marvel at the way the author brings the narrative together.

The obvious difference between re-watching a film and re-reading a book, though, is time commitment. I’m not a very fast reader, so reading a book multiple times really is a commitment & takes away from the time I could spend reading new books (and putting the tiniest of dents into my To Be Read list, you feel?). So, what makes a book re-readable for me, personally?

  1. FEELS. This is the primary reason I will re-read a book. If it makes me feel strongly – any emotion, really, but just resonates on an emotional level? It’s definitely worth reading again. This is basically the first criteria for whether or not I’ll take the time to revisit a book. If I didn’t feel anything for it, why bother, right?
  2. BEAUTY. I am a sucker for poignant books with beautiful language or beautiful settings. I have read The Great Gatsby more times than any other book (I think I’m sitting around 5 or 6) because it is just so beautiful to me. Tragic, of course. But beautiful. I’m certain that as my experience with classic novels grows, there will be a few more that I add to this list. I’ve also re-read the book The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant three times since the first time I read it. That book is like soul food for anyone obsessed with Renaissance-era art history.
  3. SEQUELS. So series are a huge thing right now, obviously. Seems like every book you pick up these days is part of some series or another, and finding stand-alone novels can really be a daunting task. What about that feeling when you finish a book that you didn’t KNOW was in a series and then you have to wait a year (or more) for the next installment? That might be one of the worst feelings. By the time that next book is released, you’ve likely forgotten some of the key points of its predecessor, and a re-read would help pull you back into the world and better understand what is happening in your new book.
  4. ADAPTATIONS. This is one I haven’t really experienced yet, but would definitely qualify as a reason to re-read something. In a time when Film/TV adaptations of best-selling books seem to be the norm, it’s likely that one of your favorite book series is going to be adapted at some point. Now, my previous exprience has just been to read books once the adaptation is already nearing completion, so it’s not a re-read scenario, obviously. But The Selection and Throne of Glass series have both been optioned recently for adaptations, and you can rest assured I will be re-reading if/when those projects reach completion.
  5. NOSTALGIA. There are always those books you read when you are young that stick with you because they resonate on some level or are really integral to developing the person you choose to become.  I started a Harry Potter re-read this year for that very reason. It’s a series I love desperately, that had a huge impact on me as a teenager (obviously I’m not alone in this), but I haven’t read the books since Deathly Hallows was released.  Another great example of this for me is Ella Enchated by Gail Carson Levine. I adored that book the first time I read it & it may have been the book that really cemented a love of reading in me. I have re-read it a few times over the years, but I’m actually probably due for a another read-through soon.

I mean it when I say I don’t have many books on my re-read shelf. It really takes a hugely emotional connection to a book before I’ll consider spending extra hours on it. Because, why would I when a new favorite could be next on my TBR pile?

Here’s a look at every book I can remember reading more than once. Again, excluding children’s books & beginning at about mid-grade level:

Untitled design (4)

Fun fact: Twilight should technically also be on this list, but I didn’t include it because the only reason I’ve read it more than once is that I completely forgot I had read it the first time. I don’t know if that’s on me or Stephanie Meyer, but apparently it really didn’t resonate that much the first time through.

So, how about you? Do you tend to read books once and move on, or do you re-visit old favorites? How do you choose? I’d love to hear from you!

Until Next Time ❤

7 Happy Days – Just What I Need

Oh man. I’ve been in a bit of a funk this past week, and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. I can’t tell if I’m being overly sensitive or if some of my friends are distancing themselves from me & I don’t want them to feel like I’m attacking them about it, by bringing it up, but it’s really been eating at me. Among other things. That’s all a story for another day, though. Maybe. Sigh…

Anyway, I started the 100HappyDays challenge a week ago, and it’s actually been helping my perspective stay on the right side of that drop-off into depression-land. Essentially, if I get home from work & don’t have any ideas for a post for that day, then I know I need to take some time and DO something that makes me happy. I don’t need to just sit around & wait for good things to happen. I can make good things happen for myself.

SO, I thought it would be good for me to reflect on my first week of the challenge, in order to gain a little perspective today, which has been a teensy bit rougher than previous days.

Day 1 – Rereading favorite passages from Queen of Shadows while drinking my new Aelin Ashryver Galathynius blend of tea from Adagio. Cozy & happy.

Day 2 – SPIDER GWEN HOODIE! I’ve been waiting for this thing since February & it finally arrived. I may have worn it for like 4 days in a row & the only reason the streak ended was because I was wearing it when Hubby & I watched the series finale of Friends and, well, there’s mascara all over it that I have to scrub out, now.

Day 3 – Kate Spade mug! Kate Spade + Coffee + Watercolor + Books… yeah, I don’t know how this wouldn’t make me happy.

Day 4 – I decided that since I wasn’t ready to move on from Queen of Shadows yet that I would re-read Heir of Fire AND Queen of Shadows before diving into my October TBR. I’m just not ready to spend a year waiting for the next installment of this series. It’s quickly weaseling its way into my top favorite series slot (*gasp* even higher than Harry Potter?!…perhaps)

Day 5 – A side of me that rarely pops up on the blog, the sportsfan side. I really only care about one team & they are killing it this season (so far). We’ve been getting kind of a bad rap for the past few seasons, so it’s nice to be back on an upswing.

Day 6 – Working on collecting this entire set of classics with edgy, modern covers. Drac & Frank look so great together. I can’t wait to complete my set! Also included are: Wuthering Heights, Hamlet, Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, and The Fall of the House of Usher.

Day 7 – Yesterday was rough. Not as rough as today has been, but rough enough that I recognized my need for a break. So, I headed off to the Library right after work and spent 4 hours reading Heir of Fire on their living roof. If I had to pick one place in the world that is my oasis, it’s that. I only just discovered it a few months ago & I’m obsessed. Yesterday’s weather was perfect for outdoor reading, too, which made it so much more perfect. I was in a great mood by the time I came home (right after sunset).

If you want to follow along with me for the rest of this challenge, you can follow me on Twitter or Tumblr. Also, check out posts from the entire SqugSquad by searching the tag #HappySqugs.

Until Next Time ❤

Christa

5 Fandom Friday! 5 Fictional Pets I Wanna Adopt

My goodness, I miss 5 Fandom Fridays! What is wrong with me? Why do I think I’ll be fine skipping a week? It makes me so sad when I don’t get to hang out with everyone for 5FF!

This week’s prompt is hella cute: 5 Fictional Pets I Want to Adopt, and I’ve put a lot of thought into this. This list is, for once, in order of want.

5. Marcel (FRIENDS)

Sure, he’s kind of a little shit, but he’s so cute & smart & loyal. I’d snuggle him for sure.

4.  FalKor

Not TECHNICALLY a pet, but I want a Luckdragon!! Adventures abound!

3.  Abraxos

Loyalty and ferocity. Perfect for a badass pet.

2.  Lying Cat

Heh. The cake is a lie, you guys. Don’t even pretend you don’t want a Lying Cat.

1. Hedwig

Because duh.

 

So, yay for 5FF! Created by Kristin & Megan! Check out #5FF or #Fandom5 to see more!

 

Until Next Time ❤

[Book Review] Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3)

I did it. I finished Heir of Fire. I have a lot of thoughts here, so I’m going to try & organize them as best I can. I’ve tried my best to avoid spoilers for the other 2 books in the series, but if you haven’t read those & don’t want to risk it, I suggest you go back to one of my earlier reviews: [Throne of Glass] or [Crown of Midnight]!

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

First of all, this book took me a LONG time to read (I guess some people don’t consider 3 weeks that long for a book, but I definitely do). I just couldn’t binge-read it the way I did with the first two books. Now, this could easily be attributed to book burnout after the aforementioned binge sessions, OR it could be because the storytelling in this book changed so significantly & felt really disjointed compared to the rest of the series. My guess is it was the latter, but the whole burnout thing is maybe a contributing factor.

The thing about this book compared to the first two is that we’re following multiple concurrent story lines. This I have no problem with – I mean,  our favorite characters get separated & we start following each of them independently – duh. There was just something about the way it was executed in this book that felt…choppy? Every time I started getting invested in one of the story lines, the narrative would switch over to a different one & I’d lose my momentum. And then put the book down and not feel that burning desire to pick it back up.

The book is divided into two “Parts”, which are directly related to a decision Celaena has to make. I’ll say that Part 2 was MUCH more consistent than Part 1 & only took me a few days to read. Once I hit the 70% mark in the book, I got that fire back for the series. It was just one of those instances where the book in the middle of the series is spending so much time building up to what’s to come that nothing REALLY happens. Except for that one thing that happens in the last 100 pages. Because Damn. That HAPPENED.

Celaena’s character development is basically stunted for the first 2/3 of the book. She’s her same stubborn self, still reeling from the events of Crown of Midnight.  It takes a long time for her to start climbing out of the abyss of despair she was dropped in, but once she takes that first step, things really start to pick up.

We’re also introduced to quite a few new characters – dare I say too many? I think maybe. Perhaps not too many for the entire book, but too many in close succession, for sure. Things got kind of chaotic for a little bit during Part 1 & it was hard to keep track of the pieces that were flying in every direction and in no way coming together.

All-in-all, I did really love this book once I had finished it. I gave it 4/5 stars on Goodreads because I think it’s setting us up for something absolutely, undeniably epic in the next two installments. It just suffered a little bit from what I call “The Two Towers” syndrome – where the middle of the story is just the middle of the story & has no beginning or end of its own. Can’t fault a series book for that, but it does make it EXTRA frustrating to have to wait around for the next installment!

4 star

Have you finished Heir of Fire? What did you think?! I need to know! I need someone to talk about this book with, please tell me!

Until Next Time ❤