Prequel & Sequel Challenge - April Wrap-Up!

I can't BELIEVE that it's the end of April already!  I'm pretty proud of the progress that I've made so far, but also feeling a little frustrated by how many series I want to read, but just don't have the time to get through as many books as I'd like.  I'm trying to focus on just enjoying each book as I go, but it's hard sometimes when I continually look at my shelves and just want to gobble up all the books all at once.

Since my last update, I've caught up in the Lunar Chronicles, the Chemical Garden trilogy and the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy and I also finished the Article 5 series.  I read the first book in the Arclight series and liked, but didn't love it, so I don't think I'm going to read any further.  Part of the challenge with series reading for me is knowing when to quit on a series before I force myself to read on too far!

How about you?  How are you doing with your series challenge so far?  Link up your reviews below and, just as before, make sure to include the number of points that your review qualifies for!

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Tease - Amanda Maciel [DNF Review]

After deciding to give up on this book at the 53% mark last month, I shared some thoughts on whether or not I should write a review for a book that I didn't finish.  I've spent the last few weeks sitting on the fence, but ultimately decided that I have enough thoughts on this book that I just can't keep them to myself.

First of all, a disclaimer: I did not finish this book.  It's very possible that the main character might have completely redeemed herself by the end of the book, but I just couldn't stick it out any longer in order to find out if that would happen.

Tease is a book about bullying, but it's told from the perspective of the bully, rather than the bullied.  I've read a couple of books where this has been done really well (Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall being the best example), but Tease really fell flat for me.  The main character, Sara, has absolutely ZERO sense of remorse or shame for her actions, despite the fact that the girl she bullied, Emma, committed suicide.  The focus of the book is the preparation for trial as Sara and her friends are going to be tried in a court of law in conjunction with Emma's death.  Throughout the entire first half of the novel, Sara just doesn't seem to get it -- she keeps blaming Emma for "starting it all" and creating the situation that basically forced Sara and her best friend Brielle to start bullying her in the first place.  Now that Emma is dead, Sara blames both her death, and Emma's parents for starting this court trial, for ruining her life.

When the book started, I thought that the focus of the book would be Sara coming to understand the ramifications of her actions, to feel remorse for the devastating effect that her actions had on another girl's life.  There is so much pain in so many girls' lives and novels like this one could really make a difference and show a bully what their actions can do to another human being.  By the time I decided to DNF the book, I was so heartbroken and upset with the fact that the author could have created a truly powerful story, a book that would reach out to both bullied teens and bullies and show them how to change and be better.  Instead, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth, and feeling like this book will do more harm than good if placed in the wrong hands.

I was really surprised to see that there are quite a few five star ratings on Goodreads, so clearly this story has positively impacted quite a few readers.  Perhaps you may be one of them, but I most definitely am not -- this book was a complete and utter disappointment.

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Edelweiss.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my opinion of this book in any way.
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Things Look a Little Different...

You might have noticed that things look a little different here at Writer Grrl Reads.  I logged in the other day and found that all of my images (header, background, etc.) were gone.  I'm not sure what happened, and I'm trying to get in touch with my designer so that I can get my blog back to its formerly pretty self!

Hopefully things will be back to normal soon!
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On Planning What I Read

I've had this discussion post rattling around in my head for a while now and am excited to see what you guys think.

I have this love/hate relationship with the Top Ten Tuesday posts for seasonal TBR lists.  On the one hand, I absolutely ADORE putting together the post and scouring my shelves for books that I really hope to read soon.  But then, the list starts to feel overwhelming and I get distracted.

I have an almost 15 month old, and I work full time.  When Marko and I arrive home around 6 p.m., my husband and I usually take him for a walk and then to the park to play.  Then, it's home for dinner, bath and bedtime.  After he's in bed, we quickly tidy up the house and make lunches for the next day.  Afterwards, I usually have enough energy to read for half an hour or so before heading to bed.  So I don't read as much or as quickly as I used to!  So getting through 10 books in four months isn't completely unrealistic, but I find this list overwhelming sometimes because I just want to read ALL THE BOOKS RIGHT NOW.  Sometimes I look at my TBR and just feel overwhelmed by all the books that I want to read, but I just don't have the time (or the brain power!) to dedicate to reading.  At the same time, I wouldn't trade my little family for all the books and the reading time in the world -- it's just such a shift in hobbies and something that used to be a big part of my life is shifting and taking a back seat.

Then there's the distraction side of things, which is mainly caused by my library books.  I put books on hold when the library orders them, but this means that it often takes a long, long time for a hold to come in.  So, although I plan my TBR lists with the best of intentions, my TBR books often take a backseat to my library books, especially those with the short loans.  Sometimes my library reading will propel me in a whole different direction, which also distracts me from my reading goals.  For example, my spring TBR is completely series focused but, as of today, I'm only on my third book.  BUT, I've recently finished THREE standalones that I borrowed from the library!  Once I read a couple of standalones, I started to lose my series motivation and lean towards planning my summer TBR list that is comprised entirely of standalones (seriously -- that post is already written and scheduled!)

What about you?  Do you plan what you're going to read?  Or read books as the mood strikes?  Do you have any suggestions for how to plan what I read without feeling overwhelmed or getting distracted?  Leave me a comment below!
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Life of a Blogger - Music Albums

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat has just started this awesome new feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is music albums.  I stared at this topic for a long, long time, wondering how I could possibly choose just a few favourite albums to share.  It's like asking me to list my all-time favourite books... umm, do you have a few hours?  It's a long list.

BUT, then I remember that I shared a post a while back on my favourite genres of music, so I thought I'd just use that list as inspiration, and pick a few albums to highlight under each genre.

  • Grrrly angst music: This is definitely going to be the longest list!  This is my all-time favourite type of music, and includes: Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill and So-Called Chaos, Holly McNarland's Home is Where my Feet Are and Stuff, Christina Aguilera's Stripped, Florence + the Machine's Ceremonials and Lungs, Fiona Apple's Title and Auf der Maur's self-titled album.
  • Anything with violins: I absolutely adore violin music.  I love Creed's Human Clay and Weathered for rock music featuring violins and Priyo's Gypsy Moon for pure instrumental violin.
  • Really chill music: This is another favourite type of music for me and I have a very long list that is constantly on shuffle in the background.  The list includes full albums by Damien Rice (9 and O), David Usher's The Mile End Sessions, Sade's Soldier of Love and the soundtrack to Once.
  • Good rock music:  I love U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, Kings of Leon's Only By the Night and City and Colour's Bring Me Your Love
  • Music from my teens:  Savage Garden's self-titled album and Affirmation, the Spice Girls' debut album and, again, Alanis Morrissette's Jagged Little Pill.
 What about you?  What are your favourite albums?  Leave me a comment below!
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Prisoner of Night and Fog - Anne Blankman

I read, and was not blown away by, Code Name Verity last year.  I know, I know -- it was THE BOOK of last year, and how could I not have loved it?  I think it was a victim of the dreaded book hype and it just didn't live up to my expectations.  And I love WWII stories; I really, really do.

So I decided to take a chance on Prisoner of Night and Fog, since I had access to an e-galley from Edelweiss and could experience this book with no expectations from other bloggers' opinions.  When I read the first chapter, I was immediately intrigued and drawn into the story.  The narrative is told from Gretchen's perspective, a family friend of Adolph Hitler.  The story begins as she is on her way to visit "Uncle Dolf" with some friends and witnesses her friends attacking a Jewish man on the street.  She has an internal struggle as she wonders how to react.  On the one hand, she's been told that Jews are awful people, but on the other hand, "Uncle Dolf" is trying to maintain the respectable image of his political party and doesn't want his colleagues to be engaging in street brawls.  Finally, she decides to intervene in the attack and the story takes off from there.

I liked, but I didn't love, Prisoner of Night and Fog.  As mentioned above, I really love stories set during WWII, but I'm starting to wonder if no other book will really live up to The Book Thief.  It's unfair of me to compare everything else against that book, but I've read a few other WWII-esque stories since that one, all of which have fallen a bit flat.

With that being said, Prisoner of Night and Fog is definitely still a unique spin by virtue of its narrator.  While reading it, I compared it in my mind to All Quiet on the Western Front, which I read in high school.  It's always interesting to read history from a different perspective, especially since history is usually recounted from the perspective of the "winners."  So, if you're looking for a unique historical tale, be sure to check this one out!

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Edelweiss.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my opinion of this book in any way.

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Life of a Blogger - Actors/Actresses

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat has just started this awesome new feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is actors and actresses.  I'm just going to jump right in and hope that my hubby doesn't see this post!  Here are my three celebrity crushes:

Leonardo DiCaprio
I had posters of him ALL OVER my bedroom wall.  My love began when he played Romeo and then grew out of control after Titanic.  I've loved almost every movie of his so far, although I'm a bit behind on his latest work.

Ryan Gosling
Most people might say that their love of Ryan Gosling began with The Notebook, but mine goes back even further than that, and started when he played the goofy Sean on the TV show Breaker High.  Remember that show, where the kids went to high school on a cruise ship?  Yup!  But The Notebook definitely sealed the deal -- goofy Sean all grown up!

Tobey Maguire
I can't remember if I saw Cider House Rules or Spiderman first, but there's something about Tobey's dorky, slightly awkward good looks that made him an instant favourite.  When my husband pretends to be jealous of my celebrity crushes, I always remind him that he's just as dorky as Tobey, and that's why I love him so much ;-P

What about you?  Who are your celebrity crushes?  Leave me a comment below!
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Book Haul [10]

Happy Saturday everyone!  I wasn't going to do a book haul post this month, because I honestly didn't think there were many new titles on my shelves, but I actually do have quite a few new books to share!

For my birthday (which was last month), I pre-ordered Dreams of Gods & Monsters.  Oh, was it worth the wait!  I didn't realize that Chapters was doing an "Indigo Exclusive" so my copy came with a signed drawing of Karou in the back!  And I needed to add another $8 or so to my order to get free shipping, so I added the paperback release of Dark Triumph, even though I haven't yet read Grave Mercy.  I just have a feeling that I'm going to like the series!

I signed up for Epic Recs a while back and, even though I haven't posted about it on the blog, I've been paired with a fellow new mom who's an avid reader!  We've bonded over Goodreads messages, but she doesn't have a blog.  Last summer, I had a major case of the blogging blahs and one of the things that's helped is allowing myself to read and enjoy books without forcing myself to review them.  My Epic Recs books have been just that.  I've only read one book so far, and it was a hit, but I just picked up Tamara's lastest recommendation, The Husband's Secret, from the library.  I'm not sure that I'll have time to get to Roomies and The Sea of Tranquility before they're due back (all three are short loans -- grrr!) but I'll try!

I have no new e-galleys in the last month!  I'm getting caught up on what I already have for review and trying to read all my summer books so that I can see if there are any fall releases that I'm interested in reading!  I'm hopelessly behind on watching Epic Reads' Tea Time since I had to focus all my attention on getting my schoolwork finished, but I'm hoping to get caught up on the missed episodes in the next week or so.  It's through Tea Time that I find out which e-galleys I might be interested in downloading!

BUT, Random House sent me a list of their April releases and I chose The Here and Now (which I've heard mixed reviews about already, but at least it's short!) and All My Puny Sorrows (I LOVED A Complicated Kindness when I read it years ago).  I can't wait to read both of these!

What about you?  What's new on your shelves lately?  Leave me a comment below!
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If We Were Having Coffee... [2]

Last year, I shared my first "If We Were Having Coffee" post, inspired by Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner's post of the same name.  I've been itching to do another one ever since.  So grab your coffee, or other beverage of choice, and let's chat!

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you that I'm absolutely loving my new job!  Although there has already been a tiny bit of office drama (seriously, are there ANY drama-free offices out there?), I really like that my office has a great support system in place to deal with any conflicts.  The office that I left, in retrospect, is quite dysfunctional in that aspect....things are just swept under the rug and not dealt with by management, which creates a cesspool of negativity for the rest of the office to work in.  It's not healthy, and I'm happier than ever that I'm no longer in that environment.

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you that, despite what I wrote above, I'm also a little sad that a few of my favourite co-workers (and my former boss) seem to have no desire to stay in touch with me.  I've sent a few e-mails, stating that I'd really like to stay in contact, only to receive rather chilly responses or, in my former boss' case, no response at all.  Although I know in my heart that these were colleagues, and not really friends, it's still hurtful that I've just been shut out of their lives.  I'm certain that it has to do with the fact that I didn't go back to work, but it's also a bit frustrating that they didn't care to ask for my side of the story as to WHY I didn't go back.

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you that I still have moments where I feel my blogging blahs from last summer coming back.  I'm trying to focus on the positive and make sure that blogging stays fun for me, but there are moments where I sometimes wonder WHY I'm spending all this time and energy working on the blog.  For every moment that I feel this way, there are usually more positive moments, like the thoughtful and super sweet comments that show up or a message on Twitter.  A big heartfelt thank you to those of you who do read my blog -- it means a lot to me!

If we were having coffee...I'd tell you that I'm so happy to be done with school for the summer!  I wrote my exam this week and am now looking forward to four blissful months with no homework!  I can't wait to spend some of this time reading!

If we were having coffee...I'd take a moment to ask you what's new in YOUR life?  Have you read anything sensational lately?  Please leave me a comment below!
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Life of a Blogger - Food

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat has just started this awesome new feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

Today's topic is going to make me hungry ... it's food!  I'm a pretty easygoing eater and I eat mostly everything, with just a few exceptions:

  • Indian curry.  Blech.  Even the smell makes me gag.  I don't mind Thai curry though (red or green), it's just the yellow curry that I can't stand.
  • Liver.  This stems from my mother not letting my sister and I leave the dinner table until we'd cleared our plates.  The longer we sat, the colder that liver got.  It doesn't go down any easier when it's cold, let me tell ya.
  • Mixing sweet and savoury, like sweet 'n' sour.  If something's sweet, it should be sweet, and the same goes for savoury.  Mixing the two is a strange taste to me.  With the exception of Hawaiian pizza -- yum!
  • Cilantro.  I'm just not a fan of the taste, and I find it overpowers whatever it's in, so all I can taste is the cilantro.
  • Raw onions.  I used to be fine with raw onions, but I couldn't stand the smell or the taste when I was pregnant and, although I don't mind the smell now, I still haven't been able to eat them.  I'm fine when they're cooked though -- we put onions in everything!
Yup, there's not too much that I won't eat!  In terms of what I do like, I love to try new things, but I'm a bit fan of flavourful food.  I don't like things insanely hot, but a little spice goes a long way for me.  I love soul foods, like stews and pasta, good soups, sushi, donairs and we've recently been addicted to pho (Vietnamese food).  It's almost cheaper than cooking at home!

What about you?  What are some of your favourite foods?  Or least favourite foods?  Leave me a comment below!
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WWW - April 9

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 have far too many books on the go!  I'm reading Josin L. McQuien's Arclight, which is good, but a little confusing, and I've just jumped back into Anne Blankman's Prisoner of Night and Fog after setting it aside for a bit.  Finally, I'm listening to Rick Riordan's The Lost Hero on audio.

What did you recently finish reading?
On audio, Jojo Moyes' The Girl You Left Behind and in physical format Trish Doller's Where the Stars Still Shine.  For review, I just finished Chris Bohjalian's Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands.

What do you think you'll read next?
For review books, I'm not too sure.  I'm trying to read them in publication order, but somehow keep jumping into the July releases -- oops!  I will also be picking up Julianna Baggott's Burn very, very soon -- hopefully this weekend!

What are YOU reading this week?  Please leave me a comment below!
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The Girl You Left Behind - Jojo Moyes

Last year, I read and fell head over heels in love with Me Before You.  The story was heart-wrenching and beautifully written, which was mainly due to Jojo Moyes' incredible storytelling skills but also due to my deeply personal connection to the story.  I knew that I had to try another of Jojo's books, so when I saw that The Girl You Left Behind was available on audio at the library, I jumped right in.

Jojo Moyes has now secured a spot on my list of favourite authors of all time.  Seriously, this woman can do no wrong.  From the opening sentences of the book, I was drawn into an absolutely captivating story.  Told in alternating viewpoints between Sophie in WWI German-occupied France and Liv in present day London, England, the story is a whirlwind adventure of love, life, strength, friendship and sacrifice.  My experience with the story might have been a touch more special, since I also got to benefit from alternating narrators: Sophie was narrated by a woman with a beautiful French accent, and Liv by another narrator with a perfect English accent. 

Honestly, I don't want to spoil the storyline for you, so I won't say much more.  I would listen on my drive to and from work and, if I arrived a bit early, I'd sit in my car and listen for a little bit longer.  At work, I volunteered to take on a really grubby task of sorting through archived storage boxes, mainly since I could pop in headphones and listen to some more of this story.  It's heartwarming, rich in complexity and is pretty much literary perfection.  I will be checking out more of Jojo's work FOR SURE!
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Life of a Blogger - Handwriting

My good friend, Jessi, over at Novel Heartbeat has just started this awesome new feature as a way for her followers to get to know her better!  Check out the list of upcoming topics here.

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Series Spotlight - April Edition

Welcome to the April edition of the Series Spotlight!  This is a monthly feature where we'll highlight some of our anticipated series books that are releasing this month, as well as which series are on our TBR piles for this month!


Laini Taylor's Dreams of Gods & Monsters (release date: April 8)
I re-read Daughter of Smoke & Bone in February, and then finally read Days of Blood & Starlight last month ... I am SO EXCITED for this book.  I've already pre-ordered a copy, and will be eagerly waiting for the mailman to deliver it!  Plus, this series is going to look so beautiful on my shelves!


I know I've highlighted Requiem already, but didn't actually read it in February like I thought I would.  BUT it will happen this month!  (I hope).  I have already borrowed Burn from the library (and renewed it once), so this will also happen this month!  After reading these three series enders, I think I'm going to reward myself by choosing a NEW series to start -- I'm thinking Arclight, since the sequel releases this month?

What about you?  What's on your TBR pile this month?  Let me know in the comments below!
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