WWW - September 26

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

W...W...W...Wednesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.  To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions...

What are you currently reading?
I started The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer last weekend, and I am LOVING it so far.  I won't have a review up on here until mid-October, as I will be reviewing this book (and giving a copy away!) next month as part of Something Wicked Comes.

What did you recently finish reading?
Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door (see my review here).  In case you can't tell from the review, I LOVED this book.

What do you think you'll read next?
My boss has been raving and raving about Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.  It's an epically long read, and will likely be consuming the next few weeks, but I'm excited to read a "big kid book."  I will take a break from this one when J.K. Rowling's novel comes in at the library though -- so freakin' excited to see what HER big kid books are like!

What are YOU reading this week?  Let me know in the comments below!
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Top Ten Series I Haven't Finished Yet

It's Tuesday, and time for another Top Ten Tuesday post, hosted by the wonderful people over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is a great one, because I have many, many series that I've started and just not found the time to finish yet.

1. The Iron Fey Series by Julie Kagawa
I read the first book, liked it, but borrowed the next book in amidst a HUGE stack of library books, so had to return it to the library unread.

2. Nightshade Series by Andrea Cremer
I listened to the first book on audio, and have the second two books on my shelves ... but haven't found the time to finish this trilogy just yet.  The only reason that I didn't love the first book was because of the audiobook narrator, which I know won't be a factor in books 2 and 3 ... but yet I haven't gotten around to reading these just yet.

3. Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning
Again, I listened to the first two books on audio and haven't progressed much further.  But they're good!

4. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
I read the first book, and thought it was okay, so I'm undecided on whether or not to keep reading.  I've heard some reviewers gush over the series, and some said that it gets really good in books two or three ... so maybe I'll give it a shot?

5. Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth
I know, I know ... Insurgent is STILL sitting on my bookshelf, where it has been since May!

6. Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
My husband bought me Clockwork Prince for CHRISTMAS, and I haven't read it yet.

7. The Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen
I love the covers on these books, and would love to spend a day in this era just so that I can wear a dress like that.  I read the first two (or maybe three?) books in the series, and I think I only have one or two books left to read, but I got distracted with other books.

8. Dark Hunter Series by Sherrilyn Kenyon
I started reading this series based on a Goodreads friend's recommendation -- liked book one but, again, just haven't bothered to pick up the next book in the series just yet.

9. Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris
I've read the first two books, and I have heard that the books are even better than the TV show, which is good because I'm a bit bored of the television show.  Maybe it's time to head back to the series?

10. Inkheart Series by Cornelia Funke
I read Inkheart YEARS ago, and absolutely loved it.  I have Inkspell sitting on my shelf, but I think that I'm almost afraid that I'll have to read Inkheart again before I read Inkspell (and it's a long book!) so I haven't read on just yet.

There are also several series that I've given up on based on their length (i.e. Pretty Little Liars) because the series just goes on and on and on with no definite end.  The perfect series, in my opinion, is a trilogy.  I find it easier to keep going through a trilogy than a series with no definite end, which is probably why a few of these series (especially the long ones like Sherrilyn Kenyon's books) have sat unread for so long.  With so many good books out there, I'm afraid to devote so much time to just one writer and one storyline.

I also find it challenging when I've read one book in the series ages ago, but haven't read on.  I almost feel like I'd need to reread the previous book before continuing on in the series (this is probably another reason why both Insurgent and Clockwork Prince are sitting unread on my shelves -- I don't remember what happened in the first book!!)

What about you?  What series have you started, but not finished?  Leave me a link to your post and I'll stop by to visit!
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Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins

I loved Anna and the French Kiss.  Loved, loved, loved.  (If you missed the previous gushing of love, my review is here).  After finishing the book, I immediately put Lola on hold at the library.  I have to admit, I had extremely high expectations for this book, which usually isn't a good thing, since I get disappointed easily when a book doesn't live up to my expectations.  But Lola did, and blew my expectations out of the water.

I loved that, even though this is a unique standalone novel, Stephanie Perkins still wove in Anna and St. Clair.  If you haven't read Anna and the French Kiss, I would recommend reading the books in order.  It would spoil the ending to Anna a little if they're read out of order, but I also found that I enjoyed the random moments with these characters specifically because I've read a whole book about these two characters.

I adored Lola's characterization.  She loves to dress up, and approaches each day with a different fashion outlook and costumes herself.  She's such a vibrant, vivacious character that I couldn't help falling in love with her, laughing and crying along with her as the story progressed.

As with Anna, it's hard to really describe the storyline without giving anything away.  And I have so much love for this book that it's hard to even find the words to say what I want to say.  So let me say simply this: GO READ THIS BOOK.  Or, if you haven't read Anna and the French Kiss, GO READ THAT BOOK FIRST, THEN READ THIS ONE.  Seriously.  These are two of the best books that I've read this year -- warm, fuzzy, uplifting, romantic and a perfect story in all the right ways.
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Bloggiesta - Olé!

It's Bloggiesta time again, hosted by It's All About Books and There's a Book!  I had so much fun last time I participated, and even made a new friend who helped me with adding my blog roll.  Since this event, I had my blog redesigned by the wonderfully talented Jenny at Inside the Kaleidoscope.  You should check out her site; she does amazing work.

This Bloggiesta weekend just happens to coincide with a weekend that my husband will be away playing chess, which means more blogging time for me!  Here are the things that I hope to accomplish this weekend:
  • Update my review index (which is MONTHS behind)
  • Update my blog roll to include some of my favourite new blog finds
  • Schedule my posts for the upcoming Something Wicked Comes blog hop / giveaway tour, including my very first giveaway (which includes learning how to use Rafflecopter -- eek!)
Looking forward to this weekend of productivity and blogging!

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WWW - September 12

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

W...W...W...Wednesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.  To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions...

What are you currently reading?
After reading, and loving, Anna and the French Kiss (see my review here), I just had to pick up Lola and the Boy Next Door.  So far, so GOOD.  Really, really good.  I'm also reading Stephen Leacock's Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town for a book club meeting next Sunday.  It's good, but definitely not light and fluffy by any means.

What did you recently finish reading?
Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss.  So MUCH LOVE.

What do you think you'll read next?
Probably The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, since I'm starting to feel the pressure for getting my posts scheduled for Something Wicked Comes.  And, to think, I signed up for this event earlier this year and it felt SO FAR AWAY.  Does anyone know where 2012 is disappearing to?!?

That's where my reading is at this week folks.  Are you reading anything wonderful?  Please leave me a comment below -- I still feel like I'm in a bit of a reading slump, but perhaps that's just because I'm so focused on my belly lately ... should be able to feel the baby move for the first time any day now and I'm SO, SO, SO excited for that milestone!!
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Top Ten Books that Make You Think

It's Tuesday -- and time for another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the wonderful people over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's theme is a fun one - books that make you think.  I had to think (ha ha -- no pun intended!) about this one for a while, since it's been a while since I read a book that truly made me think.  This also reminded me that I need to be a little more diverse about the types of books that I choose in my reading repertoire.  It is perhaps for this reason that I've been in a little bit of a slump lately -- too much YA with not much variety in my reading choices. 

So, with no futher ado, here are my top ten books that made me go HMMMM.....

1. The Poisonwood Bible - Barbara Kingsolver
This book makes it onto many of my top ten posts, but it's probably the book that I've read the most times over.  It takes place in the Congo, and taught me a lot about the history of Congo, as well as what a missionary family might have experienced during this time of political upheaval.  What I particularly like about this book is that I read it for the first time in Grade 11, and completely identified with Rachel, because I felt that I would view Africa the same way she did.  When I reread the book in university, Rachel annoyed me to no end, which just illustrated how much I'd grown up since reading the book for the first time.

2. White Oleander - Janet Fitch
This is another book that makes my top ten lists all of the time, but the writing is so exquisite that it tugs at the heartstrings and the story stayed embedded in my mind long after I'd savoured the final words.  In fact, the first time I read this book, I immediately flipped back to the beginning and started to read through Astrid's story all over again, because I couldn't bear for the book to be over.

3.  The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
Love that transcends the caste system and one of the most powerful endings I've EVER read.  Need I say more?

4. The Life of Pi - Yann Martel
I read this one for a book club meeting and, even after a two hour discussion, I'm STILL not sure of exactly what happened in the book ... in a good way.  It's a book that can mean different things to different people, which just makes it the perfect book to make you think and it's an excellent conversation starter.

5. Fall on Your Knees - Ann-Marie MacDonald
I read this one for a Women's Studies course and my group had to do a class presentation on the book.  We spent dozens of hours discussing, dissecting and deconstructing the book, and still felt that we'd barely scratched the surface of the story.

6. The Gargoyle - Andrew Davidson
There are no words for how much I love this book.  If you haven't read it, please do so.  You'll thank me later.  It's one of the most powerful love stories I have ever read, but so, SO intense.  AND he's a Canadian writer -- yeah!

7. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
I think I'm the only person in my book club who loved this book; everyone else couldn't even bring themselves to finish it.  It's the story of a girl who believes that she should have been born as a boy, and her subsequent struggle to make her body match who she is inside.  It's such a powerful story, and raises such profound issues of gender identify and what it means to "be" male or female.

8. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
I read this book after dropping out of my teaching practicum, when I wondered what I was going to do with my life now that teaching had been removed from my list of options.  The search for a "personal legend" really resonated with me, and it's a story that's stuck with me since then.

9. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
I don't think it's possible to read this book and NOT think about it.  Such an amazing dystopian, because everything that happens in the book really happened at some point in history.

10. The Five People You Meet in Heaven - Mitch Albom
I read the last half of this book on the ferry, and sobbed through the last chapter (earning an offer of Kleenex from a couple of complete strangers).  After finishing the book, I spent the last part of the ferry ride just staring out the window into the darkness, reflecting on what I'd read.

Well, that's my books that made me go HMMM... what about you?  What books have you read that stayed with you long after you finished the last page?  I think I need something more substantial to dive into, so I welcome any and all suggestions!  Leave me a link to your post in your comment and I'll stop by to visit!
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Top Five Books on my Fall TBR List

I don't think I've done a top ten Tuesday all summer -- and I miss it!  I know that it's Saturday, but I honestly thought that the fall TBR list would be later in September.  And, with the fact that our weather has been summery and gorgeous this last week (not to mention HOT!), fall just seems so very, very far away.

Yet, at the same time, I've done all of the seasonal TBR posts since I first started my blog, and couldn't pass up the chance to do this list, even though I'm a little late!  But better late than never, right?  So here goes...

1. Lola & the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins
This one will be read before the official start of fall, since I just picked it up from the library, but I'm super excited to read it, after reading, and loving, Anna and the French Kiss.  Plus, I generally suck at reading all of the books on these TBR posts anyways, so I figure this ups my chances of checking books off the list.  (Yes, I'm one of those people who writes "make list" at the beginning of a to-do list so that I can always check one thing off once I've finished making the list).

2. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - Michelle Hodkin
I've had this book sitting on my shelf for months and months, and then my blogger buddy Heidi (over at Rainy Day Ramblings) sent me an e-mail and invited me to participate in her Hallowe'en blog tour and giveaway hop, Something Wicked Comes.  I'll be posting a review of this one on October 16, as well as doing a giveaway for the book (my very first giveaway -- so excited!)  There's a lot of other amazing bloggers participating in this event, so be sure to check it out.  And who doesn't love adding some creeptastically good books to the TBR list?  I know I sure do.

3. Shantaram - Gregory David Roberts
My boss has been raving and raving about this book for months and, since I'll be leaving work in January to go on mat leave, I figure I should read it before I leave.  It's a hefty read (944 pages!) but he's assured me that it's almost impossible to put down once you begin.  I haven't read many big books this year, so this will be a good one.

4. The Constant Princess - Philippa Gregory
This also might be cheating, just a little bit, since I've already started reading this one.  I borrowed it from a friend this summer, who told me that I should read it before The Other Boleyn Girl (which, I think, was on my summer TBR list -- whoops!).  I read the first 100 pages or so, but then had to put it aside in favour of some library books and haven't been back yet.  I was enjoying it, and have been meaning to read more historical fiction lately.

5. The Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling
I'm sure that I'm not the only one who's SUPER EXCITED to see what Ms. Rowling comes up with in her first book for adults.  I'm so hoping that it's awesome, because if not I'm going to be supremely disappointed.

I definitely plan to read more than five books this fall, but I have quite a few books on hold at the library that are still "on order."  Not sure which ones will come in this fall, or possibly not 'til the wintertime, but maybe this will increase my chances of actually FINISHING a TBR list, since it's only half of my usual attempt!  What are you all planning to read this fall?  Leave me a comment and I'll stop by your blog too!
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TGIF [16] - September 7

Happy Friday Everyone!

TGIF is hosted, as always, by Greads. This week's question is: Recommend a Genre: Pick a book from contemporary, fantasy, paranormal and/or dystopia to recommend to your blog followers!

I didn't used to be much of a dystopian reader, until I read The Hunger Games.  Then, it seemed like I ended up on a bit of a dystopian binge, so much so that I've had to force myself to read something different in between dystopians, just so that the books don't blend into one another and lose their appeal.

I read Julianna Baggot's Pure earlier this year and LOVED IT.  I was a little apprehensive, based on the extremely mixed reviews on Goodreads, but this book absolutely blew me away (my full review is here).  Basically this book has elements of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, but written in a style that reminded me of Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone.  The events of the book are loosely based on a fictional recreation of the bombing of Hiroshima, and what the aftermath would have been like if people were fused to whatever they'd been holding or standing close to when the bomb detonated.  The Pures are those who were "lucky" enough to be moved into the Dome before the bomb went off.  While there are certain parts of the book that totally made me squirm (especially the descriptions of inanimate objects fused to people), it was a good squirm that kept me reading.  And the lyrical quality of the writing is so captivating that the almost 500 pages just flew by.  I'm looking forward to seeing what the next book, Fuse, will entail.
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Anna and the French Kiss - Stephanie Perkins

This is one of those books that's been sitting on my TBR list for AGES.  I'd see other people's rave reviews, or see this book included on top ten favourite lists, and think that I really, really should read this book SOON.  In my defense, I put the book on hold at the library in January, and it finally just came in.  So it's not for lack of trying.

There isn't much to say about this one, except this: I FREAKIN' LOVED THIS BOOK.  From the opening paragraph, I was sucked into the story.  I loved Stephanie Perkins' writing, I loved seeing the world through Anna's eyes and I adored all of the characters in the story.  I just can't believe that I waited so long before experiencing this book.  If you, like me, have someone had this book sitting on your shelf, or your TBR list, for an extended period of time, please read this book.  It is as good as everyone says it is, trust me.

I've already put her second book on hold, and hoping to be equally captivated by Lola.  And, to think, I was in a total reading slump before I picked this book up.  Seriously, NOTHING was grabbing my attention -- I must have DNFed half a dozen books in a week!  This book is magic.  Pure story magic.
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