Tag: 2019

Best Books of 2019

What a wild year. I discovered so many great books this year! Some of them were rather old, but some of them were brand spanking new. All of them were first reads (I could gush about some rereads too!). I had a lot of five star reads. I’ve only recently begun using star ratings on GoodReads. I wanted to see how it would work and I think I like it. Half of the fun of doing this list was going back and reading my original reviews/notes on GoodReads. So much gushing!

These books inspired me (one even gave me a huge breakthrough on my own novel!), they broadened my horizons, they made me laugh and they made me cry. I started the year saying I wanted to read more classics, and boy, I sure did. Now I think I want to dial that back a bit, but there are still several classics on my list. I’m already planning for 2020. But for now, here is (in no particular order) what rocked my world in 2019. Continue reading

Halloween Reads 2019

It’s time for another installment of spooky reads, folks! If you are looking to get some chills and thrills from your reading, look no further. However, note that I don’t do horror, so you probably won’t get any jump scares out of these selections.

If you’re counting, this is the ninth annual Halloween Reads list. I’ve been on the hunt since 2011. Since before this blog, when I posted on Examiner.com. Check the links at the bottom for the posts for previous years. This year, there seems to be a bumper crop of spooky reads! So without further ado, here is my list for your spoopy reading pleasure!

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Book Review: Last Things by Jacqueline West

Last Things is the newest YA from New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline West. Her award-winning The Books of Elsewhere is one of my favorite MG series. I was excited to hear that she was writing another YA, especially after reading her most recent book, The Collectors, last fall.

This story simply hummed! This story kept me turning pages well past midnight. *cough 2am cough* Not that reading this in the dead of night is the best idea. Because no. It is creepy, it is heebie jeebie, it is deliciously spooky. It might make you rethink the wisdom of reading alone at night next to an uncovered window. Just me? Oh, okay.

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The Boy Who Steals Houses Book Blitz!

And now for something completely different! I am participating in the Book Blitz for the newest novel from one of my favorite bloggers and authors, C.G. Drews, aka Paper Fury. This is being put on by a group called the Aussie YA Bloggers, and I am so chuffed to be a part of it! Read on! And there’s a giveaway too!

But why, do you ask? Linda, you don’t even know Paper Fury. Why do you want to support an author halfway around the world? Well, man, let me tell you. I don’t know when I first began to follow C.G., but it was a few years ago. It started on Book Twitter (RIP Book Twitter, for the most part – this was Twitter before the 2016 election and other things crept in to spoil it). I followed her there, and she was just so NICE. And FUNNY. She was also kind of creepy how all her posts put into words how I felt. Then I found out she was writing a book. She shared so much! And I loved her blog, which sounded just like her tweets. Amazing.

Then three years ago I joined Bookstagram (yay, Bookstagram!), and followed her there. And so many chats! She answered all my DMs! I was in for a ride. I got to celebrate her first book with her, and I even created a swap photo for it (one of those where you sort of emulate someone else’s style as an homage). I mean, it wasn’t even close, but. Her pics are gorgeous!

Her books are not available in the US (what? I mean, come on!) but I was able to order her first book, A Thousand Perfect Notes, from Book Depository. And let me tell you – I cried! In public! Gah. But it was totally worth it. It was everything I was hoping for. Soft romance, awkward girl, damaged boy, lovely just lovely. I mean, I don’t usually read romance, and I hardly read any contemporary. But this was amazing.

Fast forward to The Boy Who Steals Houses! This is a genderbent Goldilocks retelling, and let me tell you, I am here for this! I don’t have a copy yet, but that lovely blogger group set this up, so I can participate in all the flailing anyway. Read on for more info. And go, follow Paper Fury on all the platforms you can find. Her content is STELLAR and she is a 100% awesome human bean.

The Boys Who Steals Houses is about…

Can two broken boys find their perfect home?

Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he’s ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing – each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie.

But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him.

About The Author

C.G. Drews lives in Australia with her dog, a piano, and the goal of reading every book in existence. Consequently, her brain has overflowed with words and she spends her days writing novel after novel. She blogs at Paper Fury, never sleeps and believes in cake for breakfast.

She believes in lots of cake. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @PaperFury and add this book on GoodReads!

You can buy The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews on the following sites:
Australia and New Zealand:
Angus and Robinson, Booktopia, Amazon Australia, Fishpond
International:
Amazon US, Waterstones, Book Depository, Wordery

And if you see a copy in the wild, on a library or bookstore shelf, post it and tag her on social media, because she lives in a tiny town and hardly gets to see her book on shelves at all.

And now, for the international giveaway! Win a SIGNED and ANNOTATED copy of The Boy Who Steals Houses plus an official art print inspired by the book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews
Paper, 347p, ISBN 9781408349922
Orchard Books, 2019

The Reading Life: Year-long Challenges: Readalongs

I enjoyed some wonderful readalongs in 2018. I found it helps to keep me on track, and it is more rewarding than reading a book by myself, especially if it is a complex or very long book. I haven’t been making it to book club much over the past two years, and the books they’ve chosen do not appeal to me very often. With readalongs, I can join or not join. And this way I get to read some books I might have always wanted to read. Don’t get me wrong – I have joined readalongs for books that are not typically in my stack, too. I’m not against reading outside my zone. That is one thing that I really enjoyed about my IRL book club. But the meetings weren’t working for me.

So this year, I have committed to three multi-month readalongs, one of which I am co-hosting! Imagine that. I am very excited about it. It is no mean feat to keep the momentum and enthusiasm up on something over the course of a year. So we shall see how it goes.

The Austen Readalong

The first one is called #ArdentlyAustenBookclub and is being hosted by @paperbackbones and @alchemyandink. We are reading one Jane Austen novel each month. This should be fun, because it will include a watchalong. I have only ever read Pride & Prejudice! I know. I am not sure how this happened. But this will give me a chance to read and discuss all of her novels at a reasonable pace. So I am very much looking forward to that. This only goes through July, of course, because then we run out of novels. I don’t own many of her novels, but I do have lots of books about her, that I have read. So this will give me a chance to look at those again too. I will also be watching some of the adaptations. I have never watched a Jane Austen adaptation. After this challenge, I will be able to hold up my head as an English major, I think.

A Year with Agatha Christie

I am also doing two Agatha Christie readalongs. I know. I just really love Agatha. And I haven’t read her in years. So when one popped up that looked good, I decided to try that. And then an online friend said she wanted to try reading some other Agatha, so she and I are reading the Miss Marple books. I read a lot of those when I was younger, but it has been years. So I’m really looking forward to diving back into Agatha again.

The first one is called #AYearwithChristie2019 and that one is a mix of the novels. I have already read The Mysterious Affair at Styles, his first appearance, and that was very good. Then I read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and now I get why it is mentioned in every breath with Agatha. I am looking forward to seeing how the characterization progresses throughout the books. The second is with my co-host, Alicia at @aliciaandherbooks and we are calling it #AYearwithMissMarple. We started with The Murder at the Vicarage, which was surprisingly funny! We are holding discussions on our accounts on the last day of every month. I’ll be hosting it later this week for The Body in the Library. Several people have already joined in! This is my first time co-hosting a readalong so I am excited to see how it goes. It was also very interesting with these first few to see the contrast between the two characters.

Classics

And finally, I’m going to be reading some classics. I read some good ones last year so I want to keep going. There is a challenge I found that looks good.  It is very loose, and has some good titles in it. But I’m going to swap out some of them for others I would rather read. I won’t reread Frankenstein again, but I do want to read The Stones of Venice by John Ruskin (which is one unread book sitting on my shelf! I remember starting it years ago but I never finished it). Another title that I particularly wanted to read this year is Moby Dick. Wish me luck! I am happy to say that I found someone to read it with me, because that is too much book to read not to talk about it.

The person who posted the starter list is Sarah @she.gets.lit.erary and she has agreed to read Moby Dick with me in March! So we’ll be doing a little readalong of that. I don’t know if we will be using a hashtag yet, other than the #getclassicallylit tag that she had already posted, but at this point I will just be happy if I can get through the book. We have set up a chat group, so if you want to join, you can send a DM to Sarah. I think the chats will be weekly checkins.

Of course, all of these are voluntary. I am not so mean to myself that I am going to worry if I fall short. But I think these are all different enough that I won’t get bored. And I am motivated enough to keep going. Would you like to see a progress report, maybe halfway through the year?

Some of you may not be familiar with some of the terms I’m using, so I’m going to drop these here.
Readalong – when a group of people decide to all read the same book at the same time. Usually capped by a discussion. Sort of like an online book club. Usually done with a series or a single author.

Reading challenges – usually defined as a set amount of time to read books that match certain prompts. Sometimes a readalong includes challenge prompts. People may use whatever books they like to match the prompts. Usually no discussion is scheduled.

Hashtags – this is a way for someone to find a group or challenge or topic on Instagram. If it for a discussion, like a readalong, sometimes the discussions are being held in private group chats, so you have to let the organizer know you want to take part so they can add you to the chat. Other times, you can simply follow the hashtag and chat with folks who use it. Or sometimes they have the discussion on the organizer’s posts, so you can just go there and take part. It varies and I’ve seen the discussions done a number of ways, but the hashtags are key. Use them to find or define anything!

Readathons – a set timeframe in which to read books. Sometimes the readathons involve prompts to help you decide what to read. Popular ones are Bout of Books (a week-long readathon), #24in28, #TBRKnockdown and many more.

 

Let me know what your plans are for this year! I know there are a lot of other challenges that are aimed at helping you read books you already owned. One I did before was Beat the Backlist. She is doing that again this year. That one is great if you want to engage across platforms and chat a lot. I will also be doing some readathons to help me along, because my GoodReads Reading Goal this year is 100 books. I am sure I can do it but I love the readathons. Did you set a Reading Goal on GoodReads? If so, what are you doing to keep yourself on track?

The Reading Life: Year-long Challenges: The Unread Shelf

I have been paying very close attention to my reading life lately. Perhaps more so than in past years. Most of the time I would just request books from the library, and then read them as they came in (or not, you know. Sometimes those piles come in all at once!). But this year, I am doing some challenges that will cover areas that I have been meaning to get to.

The first one is something on Instagram called The Unread Shelf Project. Imagine! Reading the books you already own! Waving your arm across an entire bookcase of books that you have actually read! What a concept. It has been a long time since I could do that. I’ve tried a couple “Read Your Own Books” challenges before, but I fell flat with them after only a month or two. I know that #BeattheBacklist is going on again this year, but I like Instagram so much that it made sense to find one there.

It is run by a lady named Whitney, and she is just so pleasant and non-judgy and kind. I know she did this last year but for some reason I didn’t join in. But this year, I was on top of it. Her first task was to Count. Your. Unread. Books. Because you have to know where you are starting from.

Friends. I counted 500 books. And those were just the books I could see. That doesn’t count the books in boxes or the books that were in the bookshelf behind the Christmas tree or books behind other books on the shelf. Yes, I have subscribed to the notion It’s Not Hoarding If It’s Books. But honestly, things are getting a little out of control. Last year, I ended up buying a lot of books from shops on Instagram. A good many of them were vintage books or subjects that were hard to find, and a lot of them were titles I thought would be helpful for my research for my book. Well. That only goes so far.

Now none of those new books have homes. They were in piles and stacks all over. And what I need to do is to look at the books on the shelves and decide what I want to keep and what I don’t. Because I’ve acquired two new short bookcases in the past two years, and they are both full too. Yikes. So I’ll be taking a long hard look at the old bookshelves, and digging into the boxes and bags in the basement, and choosing which books I want to read, and those that I don’t want to read will have to leave.

So already this project has helped me. But she also has little mini-challenges and each month there is a basic challenge. For January it was a No Buy No Borrow month. But this was hard because I had already requested books for readalongs and other challenges. I needed a little more of a heads up on this. So I did borrow, and I did buy an eagerly awaited title that released at the end of the month (King of Scars, natch). But I didn’t make any random trips to Half Price Books. So there’s that.

I’m looking forward to enjoying the books I have, and finding new homes for the books that I no longer want, or maybe never wanted in the first place. I am not going to beat myself up about it, because working in publishing for twenty years means you are bound to acquire some books. Now, like Whitney says, I just want to be more intentional about the library I am building. And to feel comfortable surrounded by the books I love, instead of feeling frustrated about having stacks all over the floor.

 

As part of the mini-challenges Whitney did little weekly challenges too. The first one was just read a book you already own. For my choice I read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, which is the first Flavia de Luce mystery. I got it at a bookswap last November (so maybe it wins a prize for being read closest to acquisition date!), when we had a MN Bookstagrammer meetup. I also got three other books but we won’t talk about those yet. The person who brought this had raved about the series, and I have since joined the fanclub (I mean, not literally, but yes, I will continue with the series). It has a very sweet and clever protagonist who gets into all kinds of scrapes.

The February monthly challenge is to read a book gifted to you. I am choosing the last book I was given, Upstream by Mary Oliver, which I got for Christmas of 2017 from my Book Aunt. I started it but didn’t get very far, and with the recent passing of Oliver I feel like it is a good time to read it. I remember that what I read was lovely. I don’t know if Whitney is doing the weekly challenges again this month, but I am ready to make some headway, so give me whatever you’ve got!

All in all, I can see where this is going to be a good exercise. I want to treat my books better, read more widely (I’ve really been deep in YA fantasy the past couple years), and try to sort out my book organization. Looking forward to what this challenge brings! If you are on Instagram, you can follow Whitney at @theundreadshelf and you can join the challenge at #theundreadbookshelf2019.

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