August Wrap-Up!

I know that I say this every month, but where is 2015 going?  I feel like summer just started, and now it's over...although, I can't say that I'll miss the heat.  We've had one of the hottest summers ever (so hot that we actually caved and bought an A/C!) and I can't wait for the sunny days and crisp cold nights that come with fall.  Plus, I've been craving some more fall-ish reads (i.e. darker plots, paranormal, thrillers, mysteries, that kind of thing!)

The Books

Books Read: 8 (The War That Saved My Life, Every Last Word, After I Do, Leaving Time, Onyx, Yes Please, I Am Malala, Fallen Too Far)
Two of these were books off my own shelves, both of which were purchased this year, and the rest were library books.

Books Acquired: None!
I have acquired a total of 23 books so far this year, and have already read 15 of them, so only 8 acquired and unread books -- pretty proud of myself for that one!  I pre-ordered Queen of Shadows and had to add a second book to my order in order to get free shipping, so stay tuned for a book haul!

The Challenges

Prequel & Sequel Challenge: +2 for reading Onyx, the second book in the Lux series.
Flights of Fantasy: None again this month, but I'm counting down the minutes until I have Queen of Shadows in my hands!
TBR Challenge: Most of my books were library books this month, plus a couple that I acquired this year, so I'm holding strong at 14 books this year.  I would definitely like to work on reading more of the books that I own, especially those acquired this year, for the rest of this year.  

The Blog

I started the month off with my August TBR, which was ambitious, but I actually managed to read three books off that stack, as well as half of a fourth one.  Although I didn't read all of the books that I had tentatively picked for the challenges, I did manage to fulfill six of the seven challenges (I came close to reading a book without putting it down, but still had 23% left to read when Marko woke up from his nap).

I shared the Reading Habits Tag, as well as my top ten auto-buy authors and books that I'd put on the syllabus for Bullying 101.

I also started a new series of posts about my reading journey, starting in elementary school where it all began.

The Other Stuff

Work has been crazy crazy busy these past few months, but is finally starting to calm down a bit.  I've worked a lot of overtime in the past few months, but have banked the extra hours and am taking a couple of days off to make this coming weekend extra long!

We had an insanely hot summer with very little rain, to the point where there were Stage 3 water restrictions imposed (no sprinklers, only hand watering, no car washing) in an effort to conserve our water.  Finally, last week, the weather turned and we had some much needed rainfall.  Then, we had a huge windstorm on Saturday morning, which knocked our power out for almost 24 hours!  I'm loving the cooler weather, and am already planning out which fall reads to pair with this chilly weather.  A good book + rain pattering on the window + a big mug of tea + a cozy blanket = perfection and bliss.

I was going to get a Marko Monday post together at the end of August, but just didn't have a moment.  We've had family in town on and off for the entire month of August, plus we've spent the past couple of weeks potty training!  My husband has been home with Marko and decided that he would take on the daunting task of potty training.  I was honestly not sure if Marko was even ready, nor did I think that he could train in three weeks -- but he surpassed my expectations and rocked it in less than two weeks!  I might be a little biased, but I think my son is crazy, crazy smart =P

What's happened in your life this past month?  Do you love fall like I do?  Do your reading tastes change when the weather turns colder?  Have you read anything interesting lately?  Let's chat in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!

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Top Ten Authors That I've Read The Most Books From

Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Today's topic is a freebie, and I was bummed that I missed out on posting this a few weeks ago, so better late than never!  I'm going to exclude the obvious ones from my childhood (Francine Pascal, Ann M. Martin, Carolyn Keene, etc.) and focus on authors that I have read in the last 20ish years.

This list took an incredibly long time to piece together, as I scrolled through all of

1. James Patterson - 41 Books
I'm not surprised that this is my #1 read author, but I am surprised at this super high number!  I don't read his books at all anymore (as I shared last year) but these are definitely some of the defining reads of my 20s.

2. Cecily von Ziegesar - 26 Books
Although I didn't finish the It Girl series (my library didn't have any more at the time), I've read almost everything she's written!

3. Margaret Atwood & Jodi Picoult - 14 Books Each
I have some of Margaret's Atwoods books left on my TBR, but I feel like she requires a lot of time and mental commitment, neither of which I have right now =P  I have loved almost everything of hers that I've read so far.  Jodi's latest books have been a bit disappointing, but I have a couple of her older titles on my shelf.

4. Sophie Kinsella & Francesca Lia Block - 12 Books Each
Two very different authors!  I've read most of Sophie's books, and love them especially when I feel like a funny chick lit book with heart.  I haven't read any Francesca Lia Block books in years, but I devoured her beautiful writing in my late teens/early 20s.

5. Sarah Dessen & Stephen King - 10 Books Each
Again, two very different authors!  I've read all but one of Sarah's books, but only a few of King's vast collection.

6. Sara Shepard - 11 Books
I almost didn't include Sara on this list because I don't like her books anymore, but the reality of the situation is that I read a lot of her books prior to coming to that decision.

7. Jennifer Weiner & P.C. Cast - 9 Books Each
I still love Jennifer's books, but have given up on the House of Night series.

8. Janet Evanovich, Nicholas Sparks, Colleen Hoover - 8 Books Each
I binge read the first 7 books in Janet's Stephanie Plum series before burning out and not liking the next book of hers that I picked up.  I'm not the biggest Nicholas Sparks fan, but I'm surprised that I've read so many!  And Colleen Hoover -- need I say more?  I wish she'd written more.

9 J.R. Ward, J.K. Rowling, Lauren Oliver, Stephanie Meyer, Ann Brashares, Laurie Halse Anderson and Cassandra Clare - 7 Books Each
I still have to finish the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, so J.R. Ward's numbers will go higher.  I'm not sure if I'll ever pick up more books by Stephanie Meyer, but I still have unread books by Lauren Oliver and Cassandra Clare that I want to read ASAP.  I have such fond memories of Ann Brashare and Laurie Halse Anderson's works that I know I'll read anything that these ladies write.

10. Julie Kagawa & Maureen Johnson - 6 Books Each
It's funny that both these ladies finish off the list, as I've basically decided that neither of them are on my favourites list, but it took me six books each to reach that understanding =P

And the runners up, with 5 books each...Sarah J. Maas, E. Lockhart, John Green, Emily Giffin and
Paulo Coehlo.

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Bullying 101: Ten Books on My Syllabus

Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Today's topic is ten books that would be on the syllabus if I was teaching a course on a particular topic.  Bullying is a sensitive topic for me, and therefore I have decided to make a list of books that I would teach if I had a course on bullying.  The goal of this course would be for the students to learn about how bullying impacts the bullied and to hopefully inspire them to be better people.

1. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Since this book is told from the bully's perspective, this sounds counter-productive, but this is an amazing book and one that would really resonate with a reader who was bullying another.  Often, we can't see the bad things in ourselves until we see them reflected in a piece of literature, and this book could do that for others.

2. Tease by Amanda Maciel
This is another book told through the bully's eyes, and one that I couldn't even finish, but I think it would be great for discussion.  The main character shows no signs of understanding that her bullying pushed a girl to commit suicide, and it inspired me to write my first every DNF review.

3. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Ever since I finished this book, I have believed that bullying would cease to exist if this book was mandatory reading in every school.  This course could allow me to make one more step towards that goal.

4. Dear Bully by Various Authors
I had such a strong emotional reaction to this book that I could only read it in small pieces.  There are such powerful pieces in this book, that I couldn't omit it from this syllabus.

5. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
This book was INTENSE and tells the story of just how mean girls can be to one another.

7. The Beckoners by Carrie Mac
I found this book to be gut-wrenching and very similar to Some Girls Are.

8. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Although being bullied is no excuse for resorting to school shootings, this book opened my eyes to what those boys went through and how they felt that they had no choice but to take the wrong type of action.  I bawled so much on a ferry that a kind little old lady offered me Kleenex and chocolate.

9. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I read this recently, and it still resonates in my heart.  This syllabus is very girl book heavy, and adding this book helps to round out the topic of bullying to include boys as well.

10. Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
I haven't read this one yet, but I loved the movie and it's another boy book.  Plus, what course is complete with out a book to movie adaptation?

Have you read any other books that deal with bullying?  Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!

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My Reading Journey [1] - Elementary School

I've had this post sitting in my drafts since March, but have finally decided to write it.  I've been doing a lot of thinking about how my reading tastes have changed since I started blogging, but also how they have changed since I was a child!  I haven't decided how many parts this series will be, but I'd like to take you all on a journey, my reading journey.

I have always been a reader.  Whether it was reading the coloured comics on the weekend (pictured above) or taking weekly trips at the library to borrow stacks of books, my nose was constantly buried in some type of reading material.

I loved unending series, from Sweet Valley to Babysitter's Club to the Thoroughbred series.  I loved the predictability of coming back to the same characters over and over again, as they faced new challenges and adversity.  Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield were my all-time favourites, as I identified so profoundly with Elizabeth, but secretly wished that I was a little bit more like Jessica.

Although my mother was happy that I was such a devoted bookworm, she definitely wasn't quite as happy about my reading choices.  She picked up a Sweet Valley High book one summer, and then made it her mission to have me read better quality books.  I appeased her by gobbling up Black Beauty, the Black Stallion series, Little Women and anything else that she recommended, while also covertly borrowing stacks of my favourites as well.  At the time, I wished that she would simply let me read what I wanted to read, but now I'm glad that I can say that I've read all of those classics.  Fortunately, we agreed on Nancy Drew and I had her blessing to read as many mysteries as I wanted.

In Grade 7, amidst being bullied by my former best friend, a girl in my Pathfinder group introduced me to Piers Anthony and I fell head over heels.  I'd always liked books featuring unicorns as a little girl, but this was adult fantasy and I devoured the entire Xanth series, as well as the Adept series.  At 13, this was my first foray into adult literature, and it wouldn't be my last.

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On My Nightstand - August 20

Although I'm not really writing reviews these days, On My Nightstand is a weekly-ish feature that allows me to share what I'm currently reading, some thoughts on what I just finished reading and what's coming up next from my TBR pile!

Recently shelved as read:

I finished Onyx, the second book in Jennifer L. Armentrout's Lux series, and I really enjoyed it!  I'll definitely carry on with the series, and I really enjoy the fact that the main character is a blogger.  Such a fun addition to the story!

I also finished Amy Poehler's Yes Please on audio, which was super fun!  There were funny moments and lots of heartwarming moments (especially the mommy ones) and I enjoyed almost all of it.  There were a few name-dropping sections of the book which, as I haven't watched Parks and Recreation, I didn't really understand.  But on the whole, a very enjoyable read.

On my nightstand:

I've decided to dive head first into George R.R. Martin's A Feast of Crows, alternating between the audio and the print versions.  I have the audiobook for three weeks, and figure that I can finish this beast of a book if I read 37 pages per day (thanks to Debby @ Snuggly Oranges for inspiring me to tackle this series in this manner!)

Since this hefty fantasy can be a bit daunting, I also picked up Sophie Kinsella's Finding Audrey from the library.

Just to keep things interesting, I also started another memoir, I Am Malala on audio during my commute.  It's my book club's September pick, and I wanted to read it now to leave time for Queen of Shadows next month!

Calling my name from the shelf:

I haven't touched my review books this month, as I had hoped to, but I may tackle one or two in between chapters of A Feast For Crows.  I'd still like to read one more book from my very ambitious August TBR before the end of the month -- suggestions anyone?

How about you?  What are you reading this week!  Let's chat in the comments below and thanks for stopping by!

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Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  I haven't had much blogging time in the past week (hence nothing but On My Nightstand posts), but today's topic was so much fun that I had to draft up a quick post (even though I can scarcely keep my eyes open and would rather be reading in bed...big yawn!)

1. Sarah J. Maas
This girl is going to be atop everyone's lists.  And she deserves it.

2. Sarah Dessen
Sarah can do no wrong, and her books define summer for me.

3. Emery Lord
My new queen of summer!

4. Morgan Matson
So much contemporary goodness from this lady!

5. Leigh Bardugo
A new discovery for me this year, but I already cannot WAIT for the release of Six of Crows.

6. Marie Lu
Although I haven't yet read The Young Elites, I bought a copy based on how much I adored the Legend series.

7. Laini Taylor
The Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy is so beautifully written that I will snatch up everything that she writes, ever.

8. Cassandra Clare
I own almost all of her books in hardcover, which just goes to show that I don't wait for the paperback releases.  Which reminds me that I really need to hurry up and finish the Infernal Devices...

9. Taylor Jenkins Reid
Another new discovery for me this year, but I've loved both of her books and can't wait to pick up a copy of her latest release!

10. Lauren Oliver
I debated putting Lauren Oliver on this list, since there's a few of her titles that I don't own and a recent title that I was not head over heels for.  BUT, I love her writing so, so, so much that I will at least pick up all of her books, even if I don't love each and every one.

Do we have any of the same auto-buy authors?  Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!

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On My Nightstand - August 16

Although I'm not really writing reviews these days, On My Nightstand is a weekly-ish feature that allows me to share what I'm currently reading, some thoughts on what I just finished reading and what's coming up next from my TBR pile!

Recently shelved as read:

I read Tamara Ireland Stone's Every Last Word in about two days.  HOLY SMOKES that was an amazing book!  I feel like it had a bit of buzz around the blogosphere, but everyone needs to read it, like NOW.  It's the story of a girl who has OCD (but more obsessive, less compulsive) and I absolutely LOVED her story.  Absolutely beyond five stars -- it's beautifully written, tugs at the heart strings big time, and one that I will definitely be buying and re-reading.

After that, I picked up Taylor Jenkins Reid's After I Do, which I also loved.  At first, I was worried that I wouldn't really connect with the main character, who's going through a rough patch in her marriage.  The book is about so much more than that, and touches on all kinds of love and themes.  I loved it even more than Forever, Interrupted and will definitely be picking up a copy of her latest release soon!

On my nightstand:

I let my husband pick my next read off my August TBR pile and he chose the next book in the Lux series because he's "tired of looking at this book."  That cracked me up.  I usually like to pick a pile of books that I feel like reading and let him choose when I'm having a hard time making up my mind, and I guess he got tired of constantly seeing the bind-up on the pile, since I read the first book, but had yet to read the second book.  I'm almost done, and I'm liking it better than the first book so I'll definitely finish the series.

Calling my name from the shelf:

I'm still planning to knock a couple of review books off my TBR this month, but I've also been working my way through my very ambitious August TBR and I'm doing pretty well so far!  Any suggestions on where I should begin?  I'm definitely craving a new series, but I still can't quite decide which one to read...

How about you?  What are you reading this week!  Let's chat in the comments below and thanks for stopping by!

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