February Wrap-Up

Hey all!  I am starting a new thing here on the blog: the monthly wrap-up!  I will probably mess with the formatting a bit as I figure out the way that works best for me, but here we go!  The format for this first one was totally inspired by the awesome Rachel over at Tiger Lily Rachel (though hers, as usual, looks way prettier) – you should definitely check her February wrap-up out as well!

Overall Stats

This month overall was really strong, reading-wise.  I was able to complete 19 books, bringing my total up to 50 books for the year.  This is insane to me; the highest reading year I have EVER had before now was 132 books (still strong), but I am on pace to pretty much crush that.

My 19 books included two novellas and two graphic novels, and all together included a grand total of 6,041 pages.  Insane!  As usual, my most-read genre was YA (9/19 books), but actually some of my very favorite reads this month were adult novels.  If you want to see everything I read, and read at least a short review, you can check out my Read This Month shelf on Goodreads by clicking here.  I tend to leave this up for “last month” for at least a week or so.

Five-Star Reads

This month, I actually had three five-star reads (and a crap-ton of four star reads).  My five-star reads were:

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Spinning Heart   vicious   never sky

I actually think that order is even the order I would internally rank those 5-star reads.  I actually gave Under the Never Sky four stars at first, until about a week later when I STILL hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it.  It was one of my favorite YA dystopians in awhile, and that is saying something.  Don’t know what took me so long, but I’m glad to be on-board that train now!

February Book Reviews, Features and Favorite Posts

I was able to write four book reviews this month (and honestly, I thought it was more!).  I will definitely focus on increasing this number for next month.  If you are interested in checking those out, here they are again!

A Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan (5/5 stars)
The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson (3/5 stars)
Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott (4/5 stars)
Unwind by Neil Shusterman (4/5 stars)

That last review was done as a part of Epic Recs, which is a really fun feature where book bloggers pair off together and make book recommendations to each other.  I had SO much fun doing it, and I highly suggest you check out that post to learn more!

I also participated in the Book Blogger LoveAThon this month and had the opportunity to meet so many more bloggers and add a TON of great blogs to my reading lists. I really need to update my blog roll and that is definitely on my to-do list.  To see what the LoveAThon was all about you can check out my LoveAThon 2014 category here! If you’ve never participated before, I HIGHLY recommend it next time it comes around! It was hands down the most fun I’ve had blogging!

My personal favorite post was actually made on January 30, but with the Academy Awards coming up, I want to give it a little more love and that was the Bookish Academy Awards tag that I filched from BookTube.  I had SO much fun putting this post together!  Check it out here!

I had SUCH a fun month blogging and reading.  I can’t wait to see what March brings!!

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Epic Recs Book Review (1): Unwind by Neil Shusterman

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Hey everyone!  Remember back on February 12 when I told you I was participating in Epic Recs? This a really fun online book club idea hosted by Judith at Paper Riot and Amber from Books of Amber.  If you’re interested in more info and the rules and whatnot, check out Judith’s post here.

This month I was paired up with the AWESOME Kim from The Avid Reader.  She recommended that I read Unwind by Neil Shusterman.  I have read it and now I am here to review it! Let me just say up front, though, that I am really grateful to have been paired with Kim.  She was really fun to start catching up with on Twitter and her blog is great.  Plus she had such a great recommendation for me this month!  Thanks, Kim!

Unwind by Neil Shusterman

 unwind

Book Summary

From Goodreads: The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Review: 4 out of 5 stars

I was very glad that Kim suggested this read to me, because it’s really not one I probably would have picked up and prioritized on my own.  I don’t personally choose to mix my politics with, well, anything, so the summary of this book had always kind of turned me off a little.  Basically, in this book there was a huge War fought over the right to have abortions.  The “compromise” that they came up with outlaws abortions, but permits a child to basically be killed — oh, sorry, “unwound” — at the request of their parents anytime between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, and their organs to be repurposed in others through organ donation.  As a result, there is almost no ailment or physical deformity that cannot be cured — assuming you make it past the age of eighteen, of course.  If you make it past the age of eighteen without your parents requesting that you be unwound, you are home free, but if your parents make the request, it cannot be taken back and there is basically no escape.  No one really understands the unwinding process or how it works, but there are starting to be hints and rumors that not all is what it seems.

The story follows three protagonists who have all been selected to be unwound — Connor, Risa and Lev.  All have been selected for unwinding for different reasons: Connor because of behavioral issues, Risa because she is an orphan and hasn’t proven to be of any particular special worth and Lev because he was the tenth child in his family and was conceived for the specific purpose of unwinding as a religious tithe.  Connor is horrified at the prospect of being unwound and goes on the run.  While he is in the process of running from the police, he causes a car accident that allows the paths of all of our protagonists to cross, and they all start traveling together.  Both Connor and Risa are horrified at the prospect of being unwound, but Lev is devastated to have been swept up in this escape process.  All of his life he has been taught that being unwound as a tithe is an honor and a good thing to do, so finding himself in the company of two deviants is pretty much more than he can handle.

The rest of the book follows the paths of Connor, Risa and Lev as they continue to try to escape their unwinding fates, get to know more about each other and develop their own feelings about and opinions on the society they live in.

So what did you think?

Overall, I really “enjoyed” this book.  I thought the character development that each of our protagonists go through was totally believable and well-thought out.  Shusterman writes each of these teens so well and so believably that it is very easy to put yourself in their shoes.   Overall, while Lev wasn’t my FAVORITE character, I personally connected to his character development arc the most.  Connor was also very interesting, but I guess I wanted a bit more from his background to understand WHY he was being unwound in the first place.  Risa was probably the least-well explored and developed, for me.

I also really loved the side characters we came across.  At one point, for example, Lev parts ways from Connor and Risa and ends up traveling with a boy named Cyrus Finch, or CyFi.  He was probably my favorite part of the entire book and I thought that the side plot and exploration of organ memory was so freaking well-done.

Ok, Emily, why the quotes around “enjoyed” then?

This book was absolutely freaking horrifying.  It was just so difficult to read.  The society, though in some ways so totally UNbelievably terrible, is so clearly drawn that it seems more possible than you would like to admit.  There is one chapter in particular (and if you’ve read this book I guarantee you know what I mean) that was just gut-wrenchingly awful — I still find myself thinking about it, and it was one of the more difficult things I’ve ever read.  Since Shusterman’s writing is so clear and detailed, you get drawn totally into this terrible world, and that was actually really tough.

I did have a few small issues with this novel — there were a few expansive tangents on the background of the War and the politics underlying everything that I thought drifted a bit into preaching.  I skimmed them, mostly, and didn’t think they added a lot to the novel.  In fact, they often took me out of the storyline.  I thought there were parts of this book that could make people even more squeamish about organ donation than some people already are.  I don’t know that Shusterman meant to do it that way (in fact, there was one line where he basically says “if more people donated organs, this [dystopian society] never would have happened”), but some parts surrounding organ donation and unwinding were so terrible and graphic, I do fear it could be taken the wrong way.

Bottom Line

Overall, I really thought this novel was worth a read, but it is TOUGH to read.  Shusterman’s writing is really beautiful and the novel is well done and makes you think.  I think this would be the perfect novel to read with a group, because there is just so much to talk about, much of which is hard to cover in a spoiler-free review.  I am not in a hurry to move on in the series just because I think I need to recover first.  That being said, I will finish out this series at some point because Shusterman is a master and I need to see what happens in this world.

Top Ten Tuesday (5): Top Ten Rewind!!

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we are all doing a Top Ten Rewind, which is basically picking a theme that you missed in the past.  I am going to go with Top Ten Books I’d Hand to Someone Who Says They Don’t Like to Read. This one was originally done February 7, 2012 and you can see the original post here.

Top 10 Books for “Non Readers”

Finding the perfect book for someone who says they don’t like to read is basically my personal mission in life. I think that there are so many reasons that people THINK they don’t like to read — forced to read material in high school that they couldn’t connect with, buying into the feeling of there being things you “should” read, not reading genre fiction widely enough, and so forth.

I am a really firm believer that there is a book out there for ANYONE but that there is no perfect first book for EVERYONE.  So much depends on the person and what he or she likes or is interested in.  So I hope that this list is a great starting off point, but I know it’s not the end of the discussion! Anyone else have some must reads? Let me know – I’d love to hear them!

If you like ANIME or DISNEY MOVIES, then try…

Lots of people who do not like reading are actually really visual people.  Reading, for some, is not quite visual enough, at least at first.  I think that part of what can help this is reading the right kind of book. I’d suggest one or two of the following:

1.  Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones.  This book actually inspired a 2004 anime of the same name by well-known Studio Ghibli and director Hiyao Miyazaki.  It is a super visual book, with beautiful writing and a fun story about a girl who (no shocker) discovers a floating castle. There are witches and wizards and magic and a tiny hint of love.  Plus, as an added bonus, you could watch the movie (before or after) you read the book!

howl

2 (and 3 and 4).  Read a graphic novel!  I think a graphic novel is a really excellent entry point into reading, especially for people who are more visual than text based.  There are so many, and I am no expert, so I’d hate to leave anything amazing out.  But I personally have enjoyed Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, an autobiographical retelling of a girl’s life growing up in Tehran; Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff, a swashbuckling adventure tale; and the series Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya, a manga series about a girl and her very interesting new friends that (I think) serves as many people’s formal introduction to reading manga.

persepolis  delilah dirk fruits basket

If you like spending lots of time ONLINE, then try…

5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  If you are a fan of Internet culture, you cannot help but love Fangirl. This awesome book sits right on the cusp of YA, exploring a girl’s first year at college.  It turns out this girl has a really amazing online presence, but when it comes to so-called “real life,” she is not as invested. Fangirl is the perfect book for anyone, but particularly someone born in the Internet era.

fangirl

6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This book is basically a must-read manifesto for anyone who grew up in the 1980s. There are so many amazing pop-culture references and some super-cool worldbuilding for an evolved society that spends more time online as they do in the “real world.”  This entire story is basically told through a video game and if you grew up in the 1980s, enjoyed Wreck-It Ralph or love gaming, I promise you will love this book.

ready player one

7. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. I think this is a great entry-level science fiction trilogy about a world that is literally spend entirely plugged in — all members of this society are issued a patch to go over their eye that helps them stay in these involved virtual-reality realms at all times. It’s not real, it’s Better Than Real! This isn’t so science-y that it will turn off non-science loving readers, and there is a healthy dose of romance, but there’s a super-strong heroine, a gorgeously rendered world, and some fun science stuff along the way that will keep even the most disengaged reader wondering what is going to happen next.

never sky

If you like BLOCKBUSTER MOVIES like The Hobbit or Spiderman, then try…

8. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.  This book begins an amazing adventure series wherein a young girl trades places with her twin brothers and goes off to school to learn to become a knight. She has lots of adventures on the road to knighthood and these books just read like an adventure movie.  Even better, the books introduce you to the realm of Tortall, and if you end up loving them, there are many more series in this land waiting for you.

alanna

9. Vicious by Victoria Schwab. This book just reads like a superhero movie.  In this novel, there are people with special powers called EOs (Extra-Ordinaries).  Two of these EOs used to be college roommates and best friends.  But if you know anything about origin stories, that is a perfect recipe for future mortal enemies.  So how did it go so wrong? And who’s the good guy here?! Vicious raises as many questions as it answers about what it means to be good and evil, and whether anything like that even exists.  This is a fun, action-packed read for fans of blockbuster superhero movies.

vicious

10. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson.  Another super-visual book about superheroes gone totally wrong.  In this novel, superheroes, here called Epics, are real and they are using their powers for evil.  They have taken over cities, terrorize “normal” people, and are basically just a force to be seriously reckoned with.  Enter The Reckoners, a band of non-super people who are trying to take back their world and destroy the Epics.  This book is action packed and a must-read for any fan of superhero movies, especially as it turns the superhero ethos on its head – does great responsibility REALLY come with great power?  As a sidenote, I’ve tried to keep most of these recommendations relatively short, since people who don’t like to read can often be turned off by large books. But if that’s not the case, I would definitely also recommend the slightly longer (but slightly better) Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson here.

steelheart

Ok! Those are my recommendations – how about you?  Any go-to books that you push on people who claim not to enjoy reading?  Have you had any successes?  I’d love to know!

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Book Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

fire & flood

Book Summary

From Goodreads: A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother’s life—and her own.

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can’t determine what’s wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she’s helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It’s an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother’s illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there’s no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can’t trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?

Review: 4 out of 5 Stars

I received a copy of this from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The US publication date is February 25, 2014, from Scholastic Press.

Ok, first things first – let’s get this out of the way. Everyone is going to compare this to The Hunger Games. In this novel, a girl named Tella chooses to participate in the Brimstone Bleed in order to win a cure for her dying brother. The Brimstone Bleed is an Amazing Race-esque competition lasting three months and taking place in a variety of settings. In this book, for example, they compete in both the jungle and the desert. Over 100 people participate in this race, all fighting to earn a cure for a loved one. Even better, each participant is given an egg that eventually hatches into an amazing animal-like creature called Pandoras.  These Pandoras each have unique special powers that help the Competitors throughout the competition.

Personally, while I certainly see the HG comparisons in the broad design of the plot, I thought this one easily distinguished itself. It wasn’t truly a dystopian – the world is otherwise fairly normal aside from this race. There was no love triangle (thank goodness). Not everyone has to die – though some do, of course. And Tella is no Katniss. Where Katniss was scheming and distrustful (rightfully), Tella is open and in many ways guileless. Another main difference is that Tella doesn’t seem to have a huge number of innate talents that will help her in this competition, aside from her awesome Pandora, a black fox named Madox, and the skills of the various friends she makes along the way. Granted, she is referred to as a good runner and she apparently throws an awesome right hook, but really her open heart is her main tool and it serves her well through this book.

This book had many strong points for me. I loved the concept of the Pandoras, each with their own personalities and gifts. Madox especially was a treat and I want one right now, please and thank you.  I know the animal companion thing has been seen in other places, but I don’t remember it in any recent YA and I thought it was a fun addition. The Pandoras did serve as a bit of a deus ex but I think that was the point, to be honest, so it didn’t bother me.

I also thought the dialogue was well done here. I actually believed Tella was 17 and enjoyed the way her internal monologue changed and grew as the book progressed. And Harper. Harper is another competitor who teams up with Tella and basically serves as a catalyst for bringing our group of protagonists together. Parts of me wish Harper was the main character of this novel. She was a serious BAMF and I want to know more about her and be her best friend immediately.  I think there will also be many who get swoony for the love interest.  He was a bit too “protect my woman” for me, but it is always fun seeing the mysterious male character reveal his various layers.  I want to know a LOT more about his back story and how he got to be the way he is. I’m hoping that comes in later books.

There were also some things I didn’t totally love. Tella was actually not my favorite character. I wanted her to be stronger for herself, not through others. She had a bit of a relying-on-boys thing that annoyed me at times. I also wanted a bit more background on her and her family before jumping into the action to help me care more about the conflict in the story. She is doing all of this for her brother, who we really know nothing about.  I think a few additional chapters at the front would have helped us be more invested in her race.

There was also one twist related to the Pandoras at the end that struck me as false-feeling and in some conflict with the development of the plot and boundaries of the game as they had been introduced up to that point. I realize it was likely done to prove to the reader that there are no rules in this game, but it was so jarring that I couldn’t reconcile it. And I didn’t love how much of a cliffhanger this book was – I don’t mind a series, but I prefer them to be a bit more able to stand on their own in terms of a fully finished plot.

Bottom Line

Overall, I really enjoyed this read. I powered through it in a few hours and legitimately cared what happened to Tella and her friends. I will absolutely be checking out the rest of this series. If you like dystopian feeling novels with a touch of romance and a thrilling plot, pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.

Book Review: The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson

tyrants daughter

Book Summary

From Goodreads: From a former CIA officer comes the riveting account of a royal Middle Eastern family exiled to the American suburbs.

When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

J.C. Carleson delivers a fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics.

Review: 3 out of 5 Stars

I received a copy of this from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was published February 11, 2014, by Knopf Books for Young Readers.

I struggled with whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. It had many strong points, but ultimately a few weak spots that took me outside of the story.

In this novel, Laila is a teenage girl who, along with her mother and young brother, has just emigrated from her country in the Middle East to the United Stares following the assassination of her father. Her father was a dictator in this unnamed Middle Eastern country and her uncle has since taken over. Her brother is considered by many to be the rightful leader. Her mother is a schemer and manipulator who is working almost every side of the political spectrum to get her son back into his country and back into power. And this leaves Laila unsure of her spot in the world, either in her home country or here in the United States. At her new school in the US, she makes friends, meets some boys, and gets a taste of what it is like to be a teenager in the United States. She also befriends Amir, a boy from her own home country.  This book follows her journey in the United States, as well as toward learning more about her own history.

A good deal of this book is about Laila coming to terms with her new life in the US. Seeing our country through her eyes was definitely eye-opening. I most enjoyed the parts of this book that explored her time at school and difficulty making friends and adjusting to the differences between her life in the U.S. and in her previous home.  Also, the parts of this book where she discovers that her father was not truly known as “king,” but as dictator absolutely wrecked me. In that way, I thought the author did an excellent job of humanizing a conflict that can sometimes seem more than a world away.

I also liked Laila as a character, though thought she wasn’t always a believable teenager. But I thought most of the rest of the characters (possibly with Amir aside) were pretty one-dimensional. You had a preppy friend, a teenage boy, other high school characters – they just weren’t given full color to me, and I didn’t care about them that much as a result.  I also felt like the end was very rushed and wanted more time to deal with the fall-out of the ending.  Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that I felt a lack of closure at the end and was left unsatisfied.

Bottom Line

Despite some one-sided characters and the feeling of needing more resolution from this novel, I am glad to have read this novel. It definitely provided a new and different voice in the YA market and helps to give a voice to a very under-represented group in YA literature.  If nothing else, I think reading this helped me walk in someone else’s shoes for a time, and in many ways that alone makes it worth reading.

Book Review: The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

Spinning Heart

Book Summary

From Goodreads: In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.

The Spinning Heart speaks for contemporary Ireland like no other novel. Wry, vulnerable, all-too human, it captures the language and spirit of rural Ireland and with uncanny perception articulates the words and thoughts of a generation. Technically daring and evocative of Patrick McCabe and J.M. Synge, this novel of small-town life is witty, dark and sweetly poignant.

Review: 5 out of 5 Stars

I received a copy of this from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It was the 2010 winner of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book of the Year award and the US publication date is February 25, 2014, from Steerforth Press.

I am still at a loss on how best to review this gorgeous piece of writing. It is the easiest 5-star rating I have given this year.

I’ll start with the facts, then. 160 pages, 21 chapters. Each chapter is narrated by a different character who is somehow linked to a small town outside of Dublin following the economic crash. The chapters are all written using dialect, but never so much that it is difficult to read or comprehend. The chapters weave together with references overlapping and tying everything together into one cohesive story. I started reading this around 11:30pm and was not able to stop until I had finished it a few hours later. I kept telling myself I would read “just one more chapter'” but then there was a new character to meet and a new mystery to unravel and a new voice to explore.

One of the greatest strengths in this novel is the dialect. The dialect is written so brilliantly that it legitimately feels as though 21 different people narrate the story. I never got lost or confused between the characters because somehow the voices were so distinctly crafted – with little turns of phrase here and there that let you know this is a new person with his own story to tell.  There was one chapter, for example, written from the perspective of someone who is not natively from Ireland.  Within a few sentences I knew this fact about our new narrator, despite the fact that the actual disclosure of this didn’t come for a few more pages.

The story itself is also deeply compelling. Although the larger story is tied to Dell leaving the Dublin area, the immediate plot is more closely linked to the collapse of a construction company in a small, unnamed town outside of Dublin. The manager of the company had illegally not been reporting his employees, making it impossible for them to collect unemployment or a legally required pension. The manager skips town, leaving the men who worked for him lost and drifting, but still trying to keep up the picture of machismo and aura of not caring that seems to be the picture of the Irish man (at least in literature). The novel opens with a chapter from the perspective of the company’s foreman, Bobby, and the rest of the novel is basically spent unraveling everything we learn in this first chapter.

Every single narrator is somewhat self-absorbed and unreliable, but we still get these beautiful, painful depictions of what they truly think of themselves. There are points where the reader starts to know more than our narrators and you just want to jump into the book and mediate some communication, or give someone a hug, or stop that person from making a terrible decision based on half-truths. You start to feel like you know these people and this town, and it is impossible to walk away.

Bottom Line

The story was in turns beautiful, hilarious, heartbreaking and unforgettable. I think this will be a work I revisit time and time again, getting something new from it each time. It’s cliche to say that it brought to mind Joyce, but what it brought to mind was my discovery of Joyce and the way that beautiful language can be used to communicate painful things.

I highly recommend this work.

#LoveAThon – Mini-Challenge #4 – Mash-Up

book-blogger-love-a-thon-2014

Hey all! I signed up to participate in the Book Blogger Love-A-Thon, hosted by Katelyn from Tales of Books and Bands and Alexa from Alexa Loves Books.  Basically this is an entire event surrounded around giving love to book bloggers out there and helping share the love.  What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend, am I right?  I am so excited to take some time this weekend to poke around the blogosphere giving love to the bloggers that really inspire me and finding new ones to follow!  To see all the details, check out either one of their blogs or follow the hashtag #LoveAThon on Twitter.  There are chats and giveaways and lots of fun to be had.  Join us!

This mini-challenge focuses around creating a mash-up between reading and other things we really love to do.  Technically, we are supposed to mash it up with a non-bookish pursuit, but let’s be honest – so far this year I have read 45 books.  I really don’t DO much else except hang out with the family and I didn’t think the normal readers of this blog would love a top 10 children’s books or something. Of course, I have some other hobbies like cooking and music and whatnot, but nothing really rises to the level of my love for reading. So! I decided to mash-up books with books!

I love a good book that is about books.  I’ve listed some of my favorites below, but I would also really love to know if you have read any other book-based fiction.

Top 5 Books About Books

1. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

penumbra

This book is like a cross between the National Treasure movies or the Da Vinci Code and an afternoon spent in your favorite bookstore. It explores the differences between e-books and physical books, and at the end of the day is basically just a love-letter to books themselves. Anyone who loves books will end up being charmed by this one.

2. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

fikry

If Penumbra is a love-story about books, this one is a love-story about booksellers. Full disclosure, this one isn’t released until April 2014, and I’ll do a full review of it before that time. But suffice to say that if you’ve ever fallen in love with an independant bookstore or spent hours upon hours in a library, you cannot help but love this book. I guarantee that book bloggers will be highlighting the crap out of this one and I will be highly recommending it as it comes out.

3. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (and the entire Thursday Next series)

eyre affair

The Eyre Affair is the start of an excellent series by Jasper Fforde, written in his usual irreverant, fantastical style. The books are set in mid-1980s London, and there is a part of the police force that is required to jump in and out of books to deal with things that may go wrong inside the pages.  There are scads of inside jokes for readers and book lovers and it’s just a really fun take on the importance and static-nature of literature.

4. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (and the entire Mary Russell series)

beekeeper

This one is a little different because it’s not exactly a study on books themselves, but it is a different take on a beloved character – Sherlock Holmes. This series is set sometime after the Conan Doyle writings on Holmes have been published, but as though Holmes was a real person all along. He takes on a new apprentice, one more his equal in many respects than the Doyle version of Watson (spoiler: he’s not actually as helpful as Martin Freeman) — a young, American woman. They go about solving crimes and foiling plots together in the usual Sherlock-ian manner, and it’s just a joy to see this different side of that character.

5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

guernsey

This is an epistolary novel set in World War II made up of letters between an author looking for an idea for her next book and members of a book club on the island of Guernsey.  It’s been awhile since I read this one, so it’s less fresh in my mind, but I remember it being a really feel-good tale with some dark underpinnings related to the WWII setting. I’ll let this quote from the Goodreads summary speak for itself: “Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.”

Enter The Giveaway

My Love-A-Thon partner Rachel just posted an awesome review of Cress and Marissa Meyer just came here to Dallas for a book signing, so we thought we would take the opportunity to offer you guys a signed copy of the book!  Just follow the handy dandy steps in the Rafflecopter below anytime between now and Monday.  We will contact the winner by February 19!

Just click here to enter – a Rafflecopter giveaway!!!

cress