January & February 2017, Part 1

Okay, so… You may be wondering where I’ve been and why this blog sat unused for a year. Since there’s neither an easy nor a legitimate one, I’ll spare us the word count. What I will say is this:

I’m back!

Time, once again, to blow off the dust and crack those knuckles. This is year three of participating in the PopSugar Reading Challenge. Suffice it to say, I’ve successfully completed last year’s challenge too. (I’ll fill in those posts later.)

So far, I’d say I’m pretty ahead of the game.  Three under my belt in January, and so far another five in February. (I know, it’s oddly disproportionate…)

Let me throw these up there and get back to blogging!

JANUARY

1
A Bestseller from 2016: The Nix, by Nathan Hill

This cover intrigued me, and after reading Eliot Schrefer’s positive review, I decided I could justify picking it up. Really quite funny, and oddly appropriate timing due to today’s political climate…

2
A book with a cat on the cover: Culdesac, by Robert Repino

In preparation for the sequel to Mort(e), which was surprise news, I found this novella to hold me over! While you don’t have to have read Mort(e), it does help flesh out another quite memorable character, Culdesac. This had less to do with the ants, and more to do with the happenings in a small town during the war. D’Arc, the conclusion of the series, is out in May.

3
A book that is a story within a story: Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfeld

One that’s been on my TBR list for a while — Also a fun motivator for participating in NaNoWriMo (which is, again, very tempting). Diverse, LGBT love story, mixed with supernatural romance. This book almost was a choice for last year but I used a different one instead. Still glad to have picked this one up.

FEBRUARY, Part 1

4
A book about a difficult topic: My Heart and Other Black Holes, by Jasmine Warga

This one had been recommended by Cara Bertrand when it first came out, and though I would comfortably set this with many other “typical” YA realistic fiction books, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it! Flawed and damaged characters are always so interesting to read, and Warga did a nice job of describing what it feels like to be dispassionate with the angst of teen years. One of my cousins is really interested in reading this one, so I’m sending it along to her! (Any chance I have to spread the love of reading, I’ll take it!)

5
A book with multiple authors: Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List, by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

I like to read at least one of David’s books each year, and I knew when I saw this prompt, that I would use one of David’s many collaborations as the one to read. Naomi & Ely has also been turned into a movie (which you can now watch on Netflix). While I often have a difficult time relating to mostly-well-off NYC teens, the feelings of friendship and love still resonate through the work.

6
A book from a nonhuman perspective: The Diabolic, by S.J. Kincaid

When I saw my old book club choose this title, I thought: but you only choose paperback books… As this is a new release, it must be REALLY good if everyone voted to read it! I was not disappointed! I certainly hope there’s another book after this one! Another book where timely political messages come through. I thought a great deal about The Capitol from The Hunger Games, and a touch of Red Rising. Admittedly, I cheated a bit by using this book for this prompt. The main character, while genetically created to resemble humans, is not quite human, but rather human in appearance (and some temperaments). Certainly recommended!

7
A book you loved as a child: My Dinosaur Adventure: a personalized storybook, by Karen M. Hefty & Valarie Webb

This is one you won’t find anywhere else, it was a “Create-a-Book” given to me on my 6th birthday. I was amazed when I read the book and saw that it was about me! My name, and those in my family, were written in as characters. The story is about me waking up to find a unicorn named Ariel at my bedroom window. I’m whisked away to the Land of Dinosaurs to find my birthday cake. Since dinosaurs have such small brains, they forgot where they put it! With the help of many new dinosaur friends, the cake was found and a grand party was had! (I also had a dinosaur cake for my birthday that year.)

8
A book that’s a character’s name: The Death and Life and Zebulon Finch

Just look at that cover! It begs to be read, and that’s precisely why I wanted it. This happens to be a signed copy, thanks to my fellow librarian friend’s last trip to Book Expo. Zebulon Finch was exactly as I thought it would be: an historic tour of America, with a bit of creepiness. While by no means a full tour, this volume covers about 50-60 years. A young gangster is gunned down, and mysteriously comes back to life… not as a flesh-eating zombie, but as an animated corpse. Yet another instance I’m pleased to move on to the sequel.

Off to a good start, and nothing I would speak all that negatively about. I’ve been very pleased in my selections thus far. I’m hoping to finish another two or three before this month is out. While I’d tell you to stay tuned here, if you want to really keep up with my book reading, follow me on Instagram: @gcpinder.

Ta-ta for now!

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New Year, new list

Last year’s Reading Challenge was completed well before the end of the year. 2016’s Reading Challenge is a much shorter list (only 41) so I anticipate some free-wielding posts scattered about towards the end of the year. Let’s see how I fare this go-round!

20e491b890bb19b9_ps15_love_2016readingchallenge_pin_list

Edit:
This post, and many of the following posts, had been drafted and never published. Due to some significant life changes, I’ve held off from publishing these entries. This 6-month hiatus wasn’t exactly planned, and though I may have put my writing on hold, my reading has never stopped. I feel as though I’m finally at a point where I can pick up where I left off, and I hope, dear Reader, that you’re still out there… and that you bear with me while I roll the following entries out.

xx

December 2015

With my reading challenge over, I feel like Super Mario, super-star blasting through bonus books like crazy! While I didn’t document each and every one that I read this month, I did happen upon a lovely little gem that I’ll share soon… But first:

Highs & Lows! — Where I name my Top 5 favs and not-so-favs from this past year. Rather than rank in the traditional sense, (because I can’t make up my mind) I’ll state the book and a brief ‘why.’ Obviously, go read my favs. 🙂

Favs:
Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan. — Inspirational, in the non-preachy sense. Timely. Also: it’s David Levithan. Gold.

The Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black. — 
Beautiful characters and imagery. Also (spoiler): The gay boy gets his prince. It’s about time!

Mort(e), by Robert Repino. — 
Insert picture of a crazy badass cats wielding machine guns. Also: Friendship is love too.

Anything Could Happen, by Will Walton. — 
Debut author with a voice as brilliant as a sparkler. Also: An updated coming-of-age/coming-out story.

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. — 
Courageous, sorrowful, yet completely necessary. Also: We need to feel the feels.

Not-So-Favs:
The Tempest, by William Shakespeare. — It’s Shakespeare, and I have flashbacks of english classes. Also: Don’t even bother watching the movie. (I didn’t.)

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. — Saw the twist from a mile away. Popular for the sake of being popular. Also: Don’t drink.

Killing Lincoln, by Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard. — Historically inaccurate. Also: Seriously? The Oval Office wasn’t even build yet!

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. — Drilled into the ground because of racial topics. Also: Skeptical of sequel.

The Night Angel Trilogy, by Brent Weeks. — The story ended right as things were getting good. Also: Writing thousands of pages doesn’t make an Epic Fantasy.

BONUS:
I’ll Give You The Sun, by Jandy Nelson. — Hidden gem of the year! I’ve heard many talk about this book in the past, and I’m not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading it… but holy moly! (Winner of the Stonewall Book Award.)

Fraternal twins Noah and Jude tell the story, in alternating chapters at two different periods of time, of their parents divorce and their mother’s death… but it’s SO much more than that. The twins are both a creative but face troubles of their own, such as romantic interests and grief. Also: Noah is adorable in his admiration of a boy…

I’m getting a metal taste in my mouth. Brian’s reading the titles of the spines of books on the shelves like he’s going to be tested on it.
“I love you,” I say to him, only it comes out, “Hey.”
“So damn much,” he says back, only it comes out, “Dude.”
He still won’t meet my eyes.

Never before have I taken pictures of passages of text and shared them with friends as often as I did with this book. This was made exponentially more special when I received a signed copy for Christmas. *Beaming like the sun*

A must-read, for sure.

I'll give you the sun, jandy nelson
I’ll Give You The Sun, by Jandy Nelson

November 2015

Sound the trumpets! The finish line has been crossed! (Early, might I add.) What a title to wrap up the year with, too. So here we go!

a monster calls patrick ness
A book a friend recommends: A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness
Thank you to everyone on Facebook who submitted recommendations — I’ve made a list of those that I’ll work through eventually. This recommendation comes from a coworker. I admire her strength, her positivity, and joie de vive. Knowing how close-to-home this book is for her, I knew I had to pick this one.

Despite being a beautifully illustrated book, by the truly amazing Jim Kay (most now recognize his name from the new illustrated editions of Harry Potter), the audiobook was the format specifically recommended — and it did not disappoint! Though, I did still page through the book at times, I was grossly immersed in the story, thanks to the narration of Jason Isaacs.

“The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.”

Ness weaves a beautiful and tragic story of a 10 year-old boy losing his mother to cancer. The methods in which the boy deals with his grief, and the stories that are told, feel both nostalgic and heart-wrenching. Applicable to so many things and completely quotable. I don’t often cry at books, but this one had me blubbering a bit in the car before going in to work.

“Stories don’t always have happy endings.”  This stopped him. Because they didn’t, did they? That’s one thing the monster had definitely taught him. Stories were wild, wild animals and went off in directions you couldn’t expect.”

If you speak the truth, the monster whispered in his ear, you will be able to face whatever comes.

This profound book demonstrates such courage and strength… just like my dear friend that suggested it. Read it, listen to it. Watch the movie when it comes out in 2016. Please bring tissues and friend to drive you home.

June 2015

June, June, June… Yet another month to fly by all too quickly this year. This month was all about trying to catch up with life — to fall back in step with the day-to-day. While I made some progress in the Reading Challenge, I was able to squeeze in a few non-challenge books, too. But first… A whoops from last month:

Last month I had reported only reading one book. Well, I forgot that I read this one… Probably because I didn’t find it memorable.

A mystery or thriller: The Girl on The Train, by Paula Hawkins
A mystery or thriller: The Girl on The Train, by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train has been one of those wildly popular bestsellers that we can’t keep on the shelves in the library. I had this on hold for months… everyone raving about it… That should have been a clue. For anyone that is interested in reading it… just read a Wikipedia or Goodreads summary. That’s all you need.

Challenge Books:

A nonfiction book: The Real Wizard of Oz, by Rebecca Loncraine
A nonfiction book: The Real Wizard of Oz, by Rebecca Loncraine
A book at the bottom of your to-read list: City of Ashes, by Cassandra Clare
A book at the bottom of your to-read list: City of Ashes, by Cassandra Clare

A quick love & hate story…
Loved the Baum biography! I may actually read it again some time! Since the history classes I took in school never covered a whole lot of American history, I felt like I stumbled upon this little treasure trove of information — who knew most children barely survived infancy?? I didn’t! This is one that I’ll be passing around to a few people for sure.

The City of Ashes on the other hand… So, I was never too keen on the first book… though I was really excited to read the series! In fact I bought the first three books all at once. Then I read the first one… and it took me a really long time… then the movie came out… and that was atrocious… then I met the author… and after I was finished being star struck, I settled on accepting that the books were popular, and that I found them to be ‘okay.’ Not bad. But… okay. I think I dislike the series because it IS so popular and I’m still trying to chase down the bandwagon to hop on. And I’m no good at running. So I’m a bit spiteful, for no good reason other than me being a little pouty brat. Still, got another one crossed off my list!

A few extras:

George, by Alex Gino
George, by Alex Gino
better nate than ever
Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, by Tim Federle

Both of these books made me tear up. Between the nostalgia I have for Charlotte’s Web and remembering what it was like to be a 13/14-year-old boy — these two books hit me in the soft underbelly. Nice job, authors. 🙂

Next up:
Anything Could Happen by Will Walton ❤ It should have made this month, but I got distracted… But more on that later!

January 2015

With the 2015 Reading Challenge constantly on my mind, I shot out of the gate last month, taking things head-on. I read 14 (and halves of two) books, accounting for just over a quarter of the entire challenge list. Knowing that my final semester of grad school is now underway, I wanted to make a dent in this list before I got too wrapped up in other things. These 14 books have (mostly) been great — I’ve enjoyed titles I never thought I would. Others… Well, I read them, and that’s that. Below is a compilation of these first 14 titles and which challenge requirement they satisfy.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard jk rowling
A book of short stories: Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J.K. Rowling
the land of the pink pearl
A book that takes place in your hometown: The Land of the Pink Pearl, by L.D. Powles
The Walking Dead
A graphic novel: The Walking Dead, volume 1, by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore
The Little Prince
A book originally written in a different language: The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
the house on mango street
A book you can finish in a day: The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
the tempest
A play: The Tempest, by William Shakespeare
A Separate Peace
A book you were supposed to read in school but never did: A Separate Peace by John Knowles
the scarlet letter
A book with a color in the title: The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Hobbit
A popular author’s first book: The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Swimming-Pool Library
A book that came out the year you were born: The Swimming-Pool Library, by Alan Hollinghurst
I Am Not Myself These Days
A memoir: I Am Not Myself These Days, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Black & White
A book with antonyms in the title: Black & White, by Dani Shapiro
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
A book that made you cry: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce
mortal heart his fair assassin
A book set in a different country: Mortal Heart, by Robin LaFevers

Top Two:
Mortal Heart — This title is the last book in the His Fair Assassin’s Trilogy, and I have absolutely loved the two previous entries. This one had several little moments that were great surprises and revelations that I greatly appreciated. Though, this was not as action-packed as the previous entries, I was rather satisfied with how things ended. AND, there was quite an extensive amount of research done for historical accuracy! I wouldn’t quite call this a fantasy, but there are fantasy bits to it. Though… Paganism/Religious/Magic… don’t all the lines blur after a while?

I Am Not Myself These Days — I’ve had this book on my shelves for years and years and years. Honestly, I think I bought it at a Barnes & Noble as a buy-two-get-one-free deal. I only really bought it for the cover back then. I had no idea who Josh was, and that was way before The Amazing Race or The Fabulous Beekman Boys. In 2013 I was able to meet Josh and his partner Brent when they came to a local bookshop for their cookbook tour. So, of course, I brought my copy of his CRAZY memoir along and he enthusiastically signed it. Several friends have mentioned that they’ve read it and loved it, and I’ll say that this is definitely up there with all the other books I really enjoyed. This book is filled with drag queens, drugs, and generally inappropriate things — which was a little cringe-worthy at times, but absolutely hilarious.

Bottom Two:
The Scarlet Letter — This was torture to read. Complete torture. I can’t believe kids had to read this in school. They still do, don’t they? I tried on this one, guys… I really did. I know people out there love Hester, but I’d rather just watch Easy A with Emma Stone. The 19th century writing style was verbose and unnecessary. The Land of the Pink Pearl, another book I completed in this month, was also written during the same time period, and was so, so much better. Sorry, I’m gonna boot this one.

The Tempest — It’s Shakespeare. That’s enough.

Reading Challenge 2015

Right as I began thinking about my annual book bracket, I stumbled upon this reading challenge that seems to be making its way around the net. The list by POPSUGAR contains 50 items (52 when you include the trilogy) meaning approximately one book a week. This may be tough. Outside of that one YA lit class in grad school, I’ve never really taken on such a huge volume of books before, and in that class, I really was reading a book or two a week thanks to the power of increased playback speed through Overdrive and Audible.

After reviewing the items, I’ve decided I’m going to take on this challenge, drawing primarily from titles I already own. Hey, if I’m able to knock out 52 books from my own list, I think that will merit some sort of reward. Like chocolate or something. (Maybe booze.) I’ve already drawn up some preliminary items that will satisfy the requirements for the list, and I’m trying to find as many of them in audio format as possible… which may be difficult for some more obscure titles. Luckily, thanks to the power of the library, I should be able to find many other titles in audio as fill-ins.

I know a lot of titles could satisfy multiple items from the list, but my goal is to find 52 unique titles – no cheating!

The countdown begins. I challenge all you readers, too!
You have ten days to prepare. GO!