Prequel & Sequel Challenge - May Wrap-Up!

Hey guys!  Can someone seriously tell me where the month of May went?  I can't believe that summer is almost here!  Our wrap-up schedule is a little wonky (our apologies!) so the May wrap-up is on my blog.

In all honesty, I'm burning out a little on my series reading so far -- I'm craving a good standalone book, so I'm planning to dive into some good summery reads over the coming months!  I still have a few series that I'd like to check off my list this year, as well as some new ones that I'd like to start.  BUT, my focus for the summer is definitely going to be on the standalones, with a return to series binging in the fall!

Same rules as last month -- add your links below, and please make sure to indicate the number of points that you earned!  Comments are welcome -- tell me, are you getting series-weary too?  Or are you even more series-driven than you were in January?

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Life of a Blogger - Siblings

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 siblings!  I only have one sibling -- a sister who is five years younger than me.  When we were younger, our age difference didn't seem like much, as we'd play Barbies and invent stories with our stuffed animals or build forts in our bedroom closet.  As we grew up, it seemed like five years was more like a generation gap: I graduated from high school when she finished elementary school and then she graduated from high school when I was finishing university.  Now that I've been living away from home for a while, the physical difference has definitely taken its toll on our relationship and we've had our ups and downs.  We're slowly growing a bit closer as the years pass and her life starts to head in its own direction, and I often wonder about whether we'll grow closer as time passes or drift further apart.  Only time will tell, I suppose!

How about you?  Do you have any siblings?  Are you close or distant?  Leave me a comment below!
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Top Ten Bookish Confessions

Happy Tuesday!  It's been a long time since I've participated in Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) and, since today is choose your own topic, I thought it might be a good time to jump back in!  I saw this topic done a long, long time ago and I thought it looked like fun, so here goes!

1. I can't mark up my books (dog-ear, highlighter, etc.) but I'm also not super concerned if my books aren't pristine.  For example, I haul my books around in my purse, so they often end up a little banged-up by the time that I finish reading them, but that doesn't bother me.  But you will NEVER find me dog-earing a page or writing in my books.  Nuh-uh, no way.

2. It bothers me when my series don't match, but I'm too cheap to actually DO anything about it.  For example, I have the original cover of Delirium (the teal one), so it doesn't match the next two books in the series.  I've contemplated giving the first book to my sister-in-law, but I just can't justify buying myself a second copy of a book that I already own.  I'd rather buy a different book -- so the series sits on my shelves, where it honestly does bug me a little, yet I know I'll never do anything about it.

3. Further to the confession above, the only series that I actually WILL fix one day is my Harry Potter books.  I have the first two in soft cover (the children's editions), books three to five in softcover (the adult mass market covers) and the last two in hardcover (the children's editions).  This is the one series of which I would like to have a perfectly matching set on my shelves!

4. I wish my husband culled his books.  He's terrible for going into a used bookstore and asking the staff for recommendations.  He'll often buy books that have come highly recommended, but then he later decides the book's just not for him but he won't get rid of it!  He's even read some books that he just loathed, yet they still sit on our shelves!

5. I worry that Marko won't be an avid reader.  He's only 15 months and loves sitting and flipping through his books but, in our technology-saavy era, I worry that the lure of technology will overwhelm his generation and reading may not be on the forefront of his list of hobbies as he grows up.  Silly, I know, but I just really, really hope that he grows to love reading as much as I do.

6. I carry a book EVERYWHERE with me.  Seriously, my husband laughs at this one, but I can't count how many times that we ended up stuck waiting somewhere and I pulled out my book to read a couple of pages while we wait!  I even joked at work that I'd be fine if the elevator broke down (which, apparently, had happened to one of my co-workers) because I always have a book with me.

7. When my husband and I first me, he was having a hard time finding a teaching job in the area where we live.  We heard that teachers were being recruited to move up north (WAY up north) and were being paid quite well to do so.  We briefly toyed with the idea (I was totally on board, him not so much) since I loved the idea of living in a little log cabin with nothing to do but read because we were snowed in!  Alas, he did end up finding work and taking that idea off the table, but I still dream of considering it one day.

8. I wrote a book.  I finished it a few years ago, and even sent it into a few publishers!  I received some form letters, and one really nice rejection letter.  I haven't touched it in years, but do hope to revisit it one of these days and see if I could turn it into something big.

9. I recently made the decision to take my blog roll down.  Although I tried to keep it up to date with blog and bloggers that I read and love, I found that not all of my favourite blogs have buttons and simply having a list of my favourite blogs was hard to keep updated.  I often wonder how regularly other blogs keep these updated?

10. I have developed a habit of reading multiple books at once.  At the moment, I'm reading one on my Kobo, one on my iPad (both e-galleys), listening to Game of Thrones as well as reading the paper copy (I flip back and forth) and then another hard copy book (just to break up the daunting task of reading GoT.  I seriously marvel sometimes at how I manage to keep so many storylines straight in my head!

What about you?  What are your bookish confessions?  Leave me a comment below!
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Marko Monday [10]

It's been a long, long time since I've done one of these posts!  Over the Easter weekend, we went back to my hometown, Victoria, to visit with my parents.  One of our favourite things to do in Victoria is to visit Russell Books, a HUGE used bookstore!  Since Marko has been super into books lately, we were excited to find some new books to add to his collection.  We stumbled across Gallop, as well as two other books by the same author, and snatched them up.  Marko's little buddy has a couple of these books, and was absolutely fascinated with how the pictures move when you open and close the book.  Unfortunately, Marko was a little TOO fascinated and tore one of the pages, trying to find out exactly HOW the pictures move -- I'm going to have to try to repair it, and then we may tuck these books away until he's a little bit older.  But the images are really cool and well worth checking out.

Here's Marko reading another of his Russell Books purchases!  I absolutely LOVE how much he enjoys reading -- he'll quite often ignore his toy box, and contently pull out each and every one of his books, reading aloud to himself all the while!  It fills my heart with joy =)

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On Bookish Guilt

This has been on my mind for a while -- and it's time to share.  We all have this, and I'm wondering where it comes from ... bookish guilt.

Here's my definition of bookish guilt:
  • We feel badly about buying so many books that sit on our shelves unread.  We put ourselves on book buying bans because we need to read the books we own.  Although I've never put myself on a book buying ban, I have frequently lamented the fact that I need to stop borrowing from the library and focus on the books that I own.
  • We feel badly about the size of our TBR piles (whether physical or the list on Goodreads) and lament our inability to read all of the books.  I'm especially guilty of this when it comes to series -- the guilt is overwhelming at times because I just want to read ALL OF THE SERIES.
  • We feel badly for not posting enough on our blogs, responding to comments, being active enough on Twitter.  This is one that I struggle with A LOT.  I feel like my blog stays small and less-known because I'm not as active in the blogging community as others.
  • We feel guilty about not reading all our ARCs in a timely fashion, or by publication date.  This is also a tough one for me, especially when it comes to DNFing an ARC or taking on more books that I can review.
I know that I have felt many of these symptoms and I know that other bloggers share this experience, since I've read many posts on some of these topics.  What I'm wondering about, is where does all this guilt come from?  Why is it that I feel these things -- especially when I really stop to think about the fact that reading (and blogging) are hobbies that are supposed to make me happy.

So, here's my resolution to end bookish guilt.  I hereby resolve to:
  • Read and enjoy each and every book to the fullest.
  • Not feel guilty for buying books, even if they sit on my shelves for a while.  As my husband so eloquently explained a little while ago, at least I'm not spending my hard-earned money on drugs, alcohol or gambling -- it could be a LOT worse!  Plus, it is nice to look at my shelves and dream about all the hours of enjoyment and fantastic stories that await me.
  • Stop stressing about finishing ARCs and just enjoy the fact that I have been given the opportunity to read and review a book before prior to the general public having access to this book.
  • Stop worrying about whether people will care or read my blog if I'm not super active on Twitter or in the blogging community.  At the end of the day, I blog for myself and if one person reads my blog (yes YOU!  I'm so happy you're here!), then that's just an added bonus!
What about you?  Do you suffer from bookish guilt?  How do you cope with these feelings?  Leave me a comment below -- I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!
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Life of a Blogger - 10 (or 7) Things I Strongly Dislike

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 101 things I hate, but I've changed it to 10 (because 101 is just WAY too hard) and changed it to "things I strongly dislike" because "hate" is a pretty strong word that I don't use too often.  So, here goes!

1. Misuse of the word "literally." 
"My headache was so bad that my head literally exploded."  Really?  Brain bits all over the wall and everything?  That's some headache.

2. Road rage.
I commute a fair distance (about 45 minutes each way) and I feel like I've seen it all on the roads.  It just irks me when people use their vehicles as a dangerous weapon -- I realize that you're late and the traffic is heavy, but we'll all get to work safer if you just CHILL OUT.

3. Girls who bring high school with them.
I've worked with these girls, who think that the workplace is an extension of high school and try to form their own cliques and then shut others out.  Seriously, we're grown ups so GROW UP.

4. Liver and onions.
There aren't many foods that I don't like, but this one is at the very top of the list.  This stems from my mother making my sister and I stay at the dinner table until our plates were clean.  Let me tell you, cold liver doesn't go down any easier.

5. The smell of Indian curry.
Although this also isn't one of my favourite foods to eat, I also really dislike the smell.  In fact, when my hubby and I were looking for our first place to rent, we walked into a place that had a distinct curry smell.  I turned and walked right back out the door.  No thank you.

6. When people on the bus try to talk to me, even though I'm clearly reading.
I used to ride the bus all the time when I was in university, and this was a huge problem.  I'm sitting there, with my nose buried in the complete works of William Shakespeare, clearly cramming for that upcoming midterm.  Does it LOOK like I want to discuss my thoughts on Shakespearean tragedy?

7. Body odour.
Need I say more?  Gag.

I've seriously been racking my brain trying to think of three more things ... but I just can't!

How about you?  What are some things that you just don't like?  Leave me a comment below!
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Series Enders - Mini-Reviews!

So, it's really hard to review final books in a series without being all spoilery, so here are some mini-reviews!

Sever - Lauren DeStefano

I bought this one for my birthday last year, and it sat on my shelf for a YEAR.  I heard some mixed reviews about the ending, and this swayed me away from reading it.  But then I found out that Hollie @ Music Books and Tea really liked it and, since we seem to have fairly similar reading tastes, I knew that I would have to give it a try.  I was actually quite happy with the way the series wrapped up and being able to savour some more of Lauren's beautiful prose.  Highly recommend this series!

Article 5, Breaking Point and Three - Kristen Simmons

I read Article 5 exactly two years ago on a bus trip to visit one of my best friends.  After re-reading my original review, I was excited to dive back into this series as it was on my list of ones that I wanted to finish this year.  With my return to commuting, I decided to tackle the series on audio, starting with a re-read of Article 5.  I loved the first almost as much as the first time I read it, but book two was disappointing.  By the time I finished book three, I was happy to learn how the series wrapped up, but ultimately not wowed by the entire series.  I'd still recommend book one though; it's a great read.
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We Were Liars - E. Lockhart

I've been procrastinating about writing my review for this book for over a month.  Honestly, I'm still not sure what I'm going to say -- so here goes nothing.

I read E. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver series last year and LOVED them.  We Were Liars is NOTHING like those books.  In fact, I honestly wouldn't even know they were written by the same author except, well, they are.

I was intrigued about this book after Jaime @ The Perpetual Page-Turner gushed about her love for the story.  Then, when my review request was approved, I immediately dove in, excited for a five-star read.  I was immediately intrigued by the letter from the publisher, which basically asks all ARC readers to not spoil the story for others and not say much about what the book is about.

I won't spoil anything and I won't say anything about the storyline of the book.  Let me just say that this is a weird little book with a storyline that was really not what I was expecting.  Perhaps I was expecting a storyline that was a little more Ruby Oliver-esque, and that's why I was a bit disappointed.  Or perhaps I expected to be blown away, and I just wasn't.

I will leave on this note: this is a book that most readers will probably love or hate and there probably won't be too many people who are left sitting on the fence, as I am.  A month later, I'm still thinking that I liked it -- I think I liked it.  But it was weird ... just a weird, odd little book. 

Note: I received an e-galley of this book from Netgalley.  The fact that I received this book for review did not influence my opinion of this book in any way.
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On Growing Up and Reading Tastes

I'm in the middle of a really dreary project at work -- going through rolls and rolls of old, dusty, archived drawings, but the perk of this project is that I can listen to an audiobook while I work.  So, yay!  After gobbling up Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (cute, but not as funny as Tina Fey's Bossypants), I spent my lunch break looking for another book to borrow from the library.  I stumbled across some James Patterson novels and, as I used to read a LOT of books by him, I grabbed a title that I hadn't read and hit download, then headed back into the storage room to continue my dusty project.

Well, I made it ten minutes into the story before I yanked out my earbuds, exclaimed "Yuck!" and set about finding another book to download.  Within the first opening pages of the book, there was some guy carving out some other guy's eyeballs, and I just couldn't handle it.  The funny thing is that, when I think back, I'm sure that all of the other books that I've read by James Patterson were just as equally gory, but it just didn't faze me at the time.  I found his books thrilling and would often stay up late reading just ONE MORE chapter, especially because his chapters were so perfectly short.

So what happened?  Why is one of my formerly go-to authors no longer palatable for my reading tastes?  Honestly, I think it's because my tastes change as time goes along and there are certain things that I used to read that I just don't (or, in this case, can't) read anymore.

Many years ago, I remember reading a book in the staff lunch room and my co-worker asked what the book was about.  I passed her the book so that she could read the back synopsis and, after she saw that the story centered around a child that went missing, she passed the book right back and said that, as a mom, she couldn't read stories like that.  At the time, it seemed like an odd comment because stories were a way, for me, of "experiencing" things that I knew I would never (or hoped I would never) have to experience in real life.  The best stories are the ones that could tear my heart out, stomp all over it, and leave me a breathless at the end of the journey.

Now, as a mom, I completely understand that former co-worker's statements.  My sister-in-law recommended a movie to me a few weeks ago that centered around a child abduction and she said that the acting and the story was incredible.  I told her that there was no way I could watch a movie like that and immediately flashed back to that conversation in the lunch room so many years ago.  Now that I know what it's like to love my little son with all my heart and soul, I just know that there are certain types of stories that I just won't read again.

How about you?  Have you found that your reading tastes have changed as time has gone by and there are certain things that you just can't read anymore?  Or maybe certain things that you couldn't read before and now you can't stop reading?  Leave me a comment below!
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A Backwards Book Haul -- What I'm NOT Reading

A few months back, I shared a discussion post about saying no to review copies and realizing that, just because I've been given the privilege of reading and reviewing a book prior to its release date, I'm not obligated to finish a book that I'm not enjoying.  While that was liberating for me at the time, I've also discovered that I have another problem: I lose interest in a review copy once it's sat on my e-reader for a while.  Here's how this works:

I receive the approval e-mail from Edelweiss or Netgalley, do a happy dance and eagerly download the e-galley.  Then, I make a note of the release date in my blogging calendar.  I've been reading my e-galleys in order of release date, so sometimes it'll be three or four months by the time I actually get around to reading the book.  When it's time for that particular book to reach the top of my TBR pile, I'll open the e-galley, read a few pages and find myself getting bored and it takes me a lot longer to get through the book.  Does this happen to anyone else?  I suppose the same thing happens with books that I buy, but sit on my shelf untouched.  There's something shiny and exciting about a brand-new book but, once it's sat on the shelf for a while, it loses its luster and lure.

SO, here's what I'm trying to do.  At the moment, I'm working on getting entirely caught up with my review books.  Like reading EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM.  And, in the meantime, I haven't downloaded ANYTHING.  I'm showing serious restraint y'all.  I have two June releases and one July release left, after which time I will go back to Netgalley and Edelweiss and see if there's anything new and interesting available.  Once I download a book, I'm going to read it right away, regardless of release date!  I'm hoping that this will result in some e-galley excitement for me because I'm reading a book that I'm excited to read.

Next challenge for me will be to do just that with the books I buy.  Ha ha ha -- I can dream, can't I?

My question for you is this: since I have no fall releases on the horizon just yet, is there anything out there that I should jump into once I'm all caught up?  Have you downloaded any fall releases that you're dying to read?  I feel a little out of the loop right now, but I think this new plan of mine is really going to work well. 
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A Game of Thrones -- I Can DO THIS!!!!

It's been a little quiet around here and, honestly, I've been in a little bit of a blogging slump.  I think was just so tired at the end of the day, between work and school and being a mom, that blogging was definitely taking a backseat.

BUT, summer holidays is now here!  Yay!  And, to kick off the fun, I've decided to take on an epically chunky novel from my TBR list: George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones.  I posted last week about feeling overwhelmed by my TBR lists and just by the sheer number of books that I want to read.  With the little reading time that I do have available, I prefer a lighter read so that I can read more books.  Tackling such a dauntingly hefty read was just too much for me to contemplate.  Then, I saw that Debby @ Snuggly Oranges had the perfect plan for tackling just such a read: in only 26 pages per day, she managed to read through the entire book!

At work, we're working on a project that involves archiving an entire room full of stored drawings, which is a tedious and dusty job.  The best part of this project is that I can listen to an audiobook while I'm working, which is the perfect way to make sure that I can make my quota each day!  The man who narrates the book has this deep, rich British accent so I am LOVING the story so far -- even only three chapters in!
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Series Spotlight - May Edition

Welcome to the May 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!


Cassandra Clare's City of Heavenly Fire (release date: May 27)
As much as I'm looking forward to this book, I also have a feeling it'll sit on my shelves for a while.  I think I need to read The Infernal Devices first, and try to rediscover my love of the Shadowhunter world, because I was starting to lose the motivation to continue this series by the fifth book.  BUT, I will read it this year.  I hope.

Amy Tintera's Rebel (release date: May 13)
I just started reading Reboot and -- whoa -- it's really good so far!  I've had it sitting on my shelves since last year, but lost the motivation to read it once I found out that it was the beginning of a series.  But then I found out that it's actually just a duology -- I kind of like the idea of a shorter series!


I did better with reading the books that I planned to last month (still not perfect, but better), so I'm rewarding myself this month by finishing the Shatter Me series.  Super excited since I've peeked at a few reviews and have seen five stars all 'round!

What about you?  What's on your TBR pile this month?  Let me know in the comments below!
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Life of a Blogger - Bucket List

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 my bucket list.  This was actually a top ten Tuesday topic a few weeks ago, and I didn't get my act together in time to write up a post, so this bucket list has a bit of a bookish slant.

1. Meet Lauren Oliver.
There are a lot of authors that I would love to read, but I think that Lauren Oliver is pretty much the #1 author that I am dying to meet.

2. Go to BEA.
I briefly toyed with the idea of trying to make it this year, but between starting a new job and Marko still being a bit too young, I ultimately decided that it's just not the right time.  I have my fingers crossed for next year.

3. Read Les Miserables.
I think everyone has a chunky book on their TBR list that is one that just MUST be read one day.  I adore the musical and the story and will definitely check this off one day!

4. Binge read a lengthy series.
I'm thinking of the Black Dagger Brotherhood or Outlander.  I would love to get lost in a world that goes on for books and books and books.

5. Visit the Harry Potter theme park in Florida.
This bucket list wish will be waiting a few more years, but I know that one day we'll take a family trip to Florida to explore Disney World and then the Harry Potter theme park.  I just can't wait to see this magical world come alive!

6. Read all the books that I own.
I'm laughing to myself as I type this, because I have a feeling I'll never quite get there, as it's quite a lofty goal!  But it would be nice to have shelves filled with books that I've read and loved, rather than books that I just haven't found the time to read just yet.

7. Rediscover a favourite bookish world with Marko.
This is another bookish goal that will have to wait for a while, but I absolutely cannot wait to read a beloved childhood favourite with Marko and rediscover the world through his eyes.

What's on YOUR bucket list?  Leave me a comment below!
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