2015 Reading Challenge: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
Series: The Magicians (#1)
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publication: Penguin Audio
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Mark Bramhall
Awards: ALA Alex Award (2010), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Fiction & Fantasy (2009), The Kitschies Nominee for Red Tentacle (Novel) (2009)
Fulfills: A Trilogy (1/3), A book with magic, A book by an author I’ve never read before
Finished Reading: March 19, 2015

About: “Quentin Coldwater’s life is changed forever by an apparently chance encounter: when he turns up for his entrance interview to Princeton he finds his interviewer dead – but a strange envelop bearing Quentin’s name leads him down a very different path than any he’d ever imagined.
The envelope, and the mysterious manuscript it contains, leads to a secret world of obsession and privilege, a world of freedom and power and, for a while, it’s a world that seems to answer all of Quentin’s desires. But the idyll cannot last – and when it’s finally shattered, Quentin is drawn into something darker and far more dangerous than anything he could ever have expected…”

Before we get too involved in the book. Shout out to Bramhall. An amazing voice actor. Each character got a distinct voice and their personality was easily deciphered. Enjoyable listening experience with him behind the mic.

I love magic.

I can’t believe I haven’t read this book sooner. It’s right up my alley. Magic. Magic. Magic. I love magic.

I really liked Grossman’s take on how his version of magic is different than the typical magic that we think of. There are no wands. There are insanely intricate hand and finger movements with hard to pronounce incantations. These students need to be at the top of their class and still have that child-like wonder. I love how there’s different disciplines within the overall umbrella of magic. The physical kids are able to control physical things (duh), like fire or light spectrum.

So. I know I’m not the only person fangirling about the fact that these magicians were all fans of a book that focused on magic and a whole magical world. Does this mean that there’s hope to still get my letter to Hogwarts or a comparable school? I’m thinking yes.

The characters Grossman creates are all so beautifully flawed. They have the same worries, hopes, dreams, and inner demons that we do. The relationships between each of them is more than two-dimension. They’re so complicated and built on so many different threads of awesome. If you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll know I get all weak in the knees for flawed characters and intricate relationships. *Swoon*

Throwing this out there: I love how Julia develops as a character. Since we’re focusing on Quentin, we don’t really get to see anything of Julia and how she’s progressing. We’re getting an outsiders’ view and it’s amazing. Each time we meet her in this book, I get more and more excited. She’s definitely the most interesting character and, for sure, my favorite.

I won’t lie, I was a little worried about the pacing of the book. They’re out of school before we’re even a quarter of the way through! There’s so much that could have been glanced over that I missed or should have been fleshed out. Never you mind, fellow reader. It all makes sense. The whole “we’re in school” section is just the basis for the actual story at hand.

HERMAHGERD.

I do have one small problem, though. Since I got this at the library, and as an audio, there were times when the disc skipped. There were several sections that I had to skip completely. Whole tracks! There was a point when I got out of the scratched up woods and all of a sudden there’s characters I don’t know. Like, who or what is Dint? Who’s Henry and Anais? I HAVE NO IDEA!

My rating and why: I gave this book four stars! I read it and super enjoyed it. At the time of writing this, I already have the second book on hold. (EEEEEEE!) Grossman’s writing is amazing. He throws in one-liners that grab at pop culture and make the read all that much more accessible as a reader. I believe this would to be real… and I’m waiting to take the test to get into Brakbills, the school (apparently that wasn’t mentioned before).

Your turn! Have you read this book and what did you think? What’s your favorite book or series with magic? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophile beasties!

2015 Reading Challenge: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Author: Phillip K. Dick
Series: N/A
Release Date: First published in 1968
Publication: Del Rey
Medium: Paperback
Awards: Nebula Award Nominee for Best Novel (1969)
Fulfills: A book that became a movie, A book with nonhuman characters, A book set in the future, A book by an author I’ve never read before
Finished Reading: March 10, 2015

About: “A final, apocalyptic, world war has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending the majority of mankind off-planet. Those who remain, venerate all remaining examples of life, and owning an animal of your own is both a symbol of status and a necessity. For those who can’t afford an authentic animal, companies build incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep . . . even humans.”

The theme for March book club was “leftovers”, so we nominated a good portion of books that had already been nominated, but didn’t win. Among the group was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick. I voted for this book, one of a couple, only on the knowledge that it was the inspiration for the movie Blade Runner and that it was set in the future. My guess is that there was something to do with androids. (This guess turned out to be correct.) I had not previously watched Blade Runner or know anything about it. I was basically going at this one blind.

This book was beautifully written. Going from Ready Player One last month to this one was a huge difference in the use of language, and linguistic (hmmm… I don’t want to say “tricks”) tricks. (Dammit, I said it anyway.) There was one member that admitted the book was too well written, and he couldn’t handle it. He opted for the Sparknotes.

Dick definitely had a Vonnegut-feel to it, and upon further investigation about this, I discovered that Dick was a huge fan of Player Piano by Vonnegut. It really shows the influence Vonnegut had on Dick, through the way characters were portrayed. They’re all beautifully flawed.

There were themes on themes on themes. This is one of those books that you could spend your whole life reading and find new things to talk about or new themes each time you read. I’m sure I didn’t catch anything close to how much is going on in this book. There’s just an insane amount. It also depends on the mindset you’re in for which themes or tones you pick up on.

Our book club had a solid hour discussion. A good portion consisted of the character Rachel. In how she develops and changes in the story. We had several theories bobbing around the circle, but I won’t tell because spoilers. We also talked about the name differences in book and movie. It’s not a far stretch to see that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? might not be the ideal choice of a movie title, but where, oh where, did Blade Runner come from?

My rating and why: I gave this book four stars! I read it and really enjoyed it. It’s not one of those books that you can read when you’re looking for something light-hearted. This is not the book to turn to if you’re looking for a book that won’t make you think. This is the book that makes you think and makes you take a look at society and wonder just how far off this could be from reality. Excellent writing, again, by Dick. Applause all around.

Your turn! Have you seen the movie Blade Runner or read this book? Do you know why the movie is called Blade Runner? Have you read anything else by Phillip K. Dick? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophile beasties!

2015 Reading Challenge: The Day We Met by Rowan Coleman

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: The Day We Met
Author: Rowan Coleman
Series: N/A
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Ballatine Books
Medium: eARC
Fulfills: A book published this year, A book by a female author, A book set in a different country, A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit, A book by an author you’ve never read before,
Finished Reading: March 5, 2015

About: “A gorgeous husband, two beautiful children, a job she loves—Claire’s got it all. And then some. But lately, her mother hovers more than a helicopter, her husband Greg seems like a stranger, and her kids are like characters in a movie. Three-year-old Esther’s growing up in the blink of an eye, and twenty-year-old Caitlin, with her jet-black hair and clothes to match, looks like she’s about to join a punk band—and seems to be hiding something. Most concerning, however, is the fact that Claire is losing her memory, including that of the day she met Greg.
When Claire meets a handsome stranger on a rainy day, she starts to wonder if Greg still belongs in her life. She knows she should love him, but she can’t always remember why. When Greg gives her a blank book, Claire fills its pages with private memories and keepsakes, jotting down beginnings and endings and everything in between. The book becomes the story of Claire—her passions, her sorrows, her joys, her adventures in a life that refuses to surrender to a fate worse than dying: disappearing.”

Before diving into this review, shout out to Net Galley for giving me an advanced copy. (Woot! Woot!)

And now we dive.

This is such a hard topic to talk about. The mind is a crazy thing that we have yet to fully understand (and maybe we never will). I was interested in reading this one because I have personal experience with Alzheimer Disease, while it’s not early on-set. My grandma has it, and it’s definitely hard to be around sometimes. Sometimes I’m a different person that she knows (her sister), sometimes I’m just a young girl, and sometimes I’m her granddaughter. So, when I read the synopsis I was ready to jump on in.

The first thing that really grabbed my attention, or didn’t, was how light it was written. Coleman talks about someone’s life and memories deteriorating and I felt nothing. It wasn’t dark. It wasn’t super emotional. It just was words that I read. I think if it was told more from Claire’s perspective and not given so much reprieve from her thoughts and her mental travels, that it would have been more compelling.

That being said, I didn’t think the book was horrible. It was a light read I could unwind with right before bed. It wasn’t a dark, scary book that would keep me up at night. It wasn’t a book where I needed to be on-point to understand the interweaving themes and symbolism. A great combination to just clear my head, relax, and drift off to dream land.

I could see where Coleman was going with her ethos, but I just didn’t feel anything. I didn’t cry, smile, or laugh. I could tell places when she wanted me to feel those things, but that’s about it. I think I would have liked it more if it was darker, if it pushed the boundaries a bit more than it did. Coleman may have played it safe with this one.

I really liked the whole idea that Coleman had writing about something so personal. I didn’t read about Coleman after the book. (I kind of just wanted to be done with this one.) But I did see that she had personal experience with Alzheimer Disease as well, which makes this book a tiny bit more touching. Just a bit.

My rating and why: I gave this book three stars! I read it, but it wasn’t really for me. I could see the appeal for others. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it, or maybe this just isn’t my genre. I’m not sure. Meh.

Your turn! Is this book on your to-read list? This book is supposed to be compared to Jo Jo Moyes – Have you read anything by Moyes that’s super awesome? Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

My Year In Books Recap

At the beginning of the year I set out to read a total of 50 books. For some people this isn’t very many at all. I see that on Goodreads, a ton of people set out to read 100 or more. For me, this is huge. That’s about a book a week. Holy crap. Half-way through the year I decided to blog about all 50 books I read.

I finished the year off by surpassing my goal and reading 64 books and writing reviews for all of them! I’m insanely proud of myself and extremely thankful to all my readers.

Here’s a recap of all the books I read for the year 2014:

  1. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
  2. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
  3. Feed by MT Anderson
  4. Bossypants by Tina Fey
  5. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
  6. This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Grace Earl
  7. Wonder by RJ Palacio
  8. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  9. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  10. The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
  11. Cress by Marissa Meyer
  12. State of Fear by Michael Crichton
  13. Bongwater by Michael Hornburg
  14. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  15. High Voltage Tattoo by Kat VonD
  16. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
  17. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  18. Saga Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
  19. American Vampire Volume 2 by Scott Snyder
  20. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
  21. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
  22. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez
  23. The Playdate by Louise Millar
  24. Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
  25. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  26. Invisible City by Julia Dahl
  27. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
  28. Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley
  29. The Ten Minute Activist by The Collective Mission
  30. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
  31. Kill Shakespeare Volume 1 by Conor McCreery
  32. Messenger by Lois Lowry
  33. Son by Lois Lowry
  34. Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  35. Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  36. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  37. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  38. Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou
  39. What it Means to be Libertarian by Charles Murray
  40. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  41. A Time to Kill by John Grisham
  42. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  43. Maus Volume 1 by Art Spiegelman
  44. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
  45. Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
  46. Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut
  47. The Human Body by Paolo Giordano
  48. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  49. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  50. Legend by Marie Lu
  51. Watchmen by Alan Moore
  52. Room by Emma Donoghue
  53. Saga Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
  54. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis
  55. Prodigy by Marie Lu
  56. The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by Matt Inman
  57. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  58. >We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
  59. We Should Hang Out Some Time by Josh Sundquist
  60. You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
  61. Champion by Marie Lu
  62. Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  63. Squirrel Seeks Chimpunk by David Sedaris
  64. Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

Enough with looking back. Next post I’ll be talking about a new challenge and other series to come!

Until next time my bibliophile beasties!

Going Clubbin’ Tonight: My Take On Book Clubs

Until lately I have never been part of a book club. I highly enjoy talking about something I’ve just read. I geek out over all different types of books and wait for others to read it, so we can geek out together, but it’s never been an official book club. I’ve never even gone to a book discussion, like through the library. The only book talks I’ve ever been to have been mandated by college, high school, middle school, and elementary school. Other than that, it was all me, myself, and I.

In March, my friend and I decided to grab a bunch of our reader friends and make the love for reading official. We decided to have a book club. The first book club meeting was to be at 11:00 am, some day in April, at a coffee shop (cliche), and our first book was to be The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to go into detail about this book here. This post is solely about my first experience in a book club.

This book was one I hadn’t heard of previously, but after I started reading it, I saw it everywhere. It was in stores, people were talking about it, it was in libraries. It just exploded like uncovered soup in the microwave. I got this book as an audio from the library. It was a mistake. I read it super early because I wanted to make sure I would have time to finish. It was a mistake.

The mistakes I made and why they’re mistakes: 1. Audiobook. This is a mistake because when I do audiobooks I do them in the car. This means I’m not 100% focused at all times as to what is going on. This also means that I’m not taking notes or remembering key points and/or questions I want to ask. 2. Reading too early. I read this as soon it was decided to be the book for the month. It was a mistake because I couldn’t remember a lot of details. I was good on the major points of the book, but little things were fuzzy. Since I didn’t take any notes, it wasn’t helpful.

So I stroll into the coffee shop early because I want to get some blogging done. (At the time, I was working on Kicking Ass and Taking Names.) I went up to the counter, ordered my medium iced soy vanilla latte and got to blogging. After awhile people trickled in and we got down to business. I wasn’t really sure how this meeting would go. Is it going to be like college where I need to ask really deep questions, link other books I’ve read, and go into detail about how it’s against the feminist movement? Is it going to be simply saying whether I liked or disliked the book and then we go our separate ways? It was both.

We each said whether or not we liked the book and stated why. We talked about the fluffier subjects first, but somehow managed to sneak in talks about the changing healthcare system. I was worried that I would be left out, having not taken any notes. I wasn’t. Two of the four of us took notes, but they weren’t really used. We didn’t get into details like On page 48, when she mentions her anxiety of the cat, what do you think she was really saying? (This is a completely made up example. You can quote me on that.) It was a cool vibe going on. I’m not sure if it was the latte or the company, or the fact that we’re talking about books, but I was definitely digging the book club.

After talking about the material, we moved on to talk and plan when the next one would be. We made a facebook event and invited more people to this one. The book of choice was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. The next discussion would be over brunch. We also have the idea of doing a “Young at Heart” month featuring a YA book. We’re going to do a graphic novel month. The ideas kept pouring out and I kept growing in excitement.

Book Clubs are my thing.

While I won’t be able to make the newest one, (Elegance of the Hedgehog) I will definitely continue to read this book and keep accepting those book club events. I’m pumped. The reading community is a great one to be a part of!

So what about you? Are you part of a book club or are you a hermit (not necessarily a bad thing)? Do you want to be in/start a book club and are unsure on how to go about it? What has been your favorite book discussion and why? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time!

My Year In Books: Bossypants by Tina Fey – Book #4

Photo Cred: goodreads
Title: Bossypants
Author: Tina Fey
Series: N/A
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Tina Fey
Awards: Goodreads Choice for Best Humor (2011)
Finished Reading: January 25, 2014

This book, unlike a lot of the books I read, was not a recommendation. I found this one all by my lonesome! I picked up this book because I have an affinity for Ms. Fey. She’s awesome. I first fell in love with her while she was doing Weekend Update with Jimmy Fallon on Saturday Night Live. Her thick glasses, quick wit, and subtle beauty hooked me. I also just love the title and cover. (Yes, I very much judged this book by its cover.)

So, what can an autobiography of Tina Fey be about? Well, it’s about Tina Fey! Before she became Liz Lemon on her show 30 Rock, before her explosion of popularity being Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live, Fey starts out in a small town theater with big dreams and tenacity to make it all come true. Fey takes us on her journey, and what a journey it is! I don’t want to get too much into it, just because I don’t want to tell Fey’s story for her when she does such a superb job herself. She does a great job showing woman empowerment in a male dominated world and I love her for that.

I did this as an audiobook and, boy, am I glad I did! Fey caters to the medium, which is just excellent. There’s even a part where she says “…coming to the end of this audiobook…” Awesome. There’s an audio clip from SNL included as well. I just cannot get enough. The fact that she is the voice actor for her own book just adds all that much more. She performs it exactly as it should be. Instead of someone taking on Fey’s voice, you hear it straight from Fey’s mouth. She is just hilarious. Telling jokes, adding flair to serious moments, and adding the stresses and excitement when needed.

So what did I rate this book and why? I rated it four stars! I finished it and I thought it was great! I’m not super into non-fiction, but this book may have changed my whole outlook. If you have just an inkling of interest in Fey, read this. Do it as an audiobook, for sure. It’ll definitely enhance your experience.

Is this book on your “to-read” list? Have you already read it? What do you think of Fey or her autobiography? Let me know below. Like, comment, and follow! I will release a new book review every Monday.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

My Year In Books: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith – Book #2

Photo Cred: goodreads
Title: The Cuckoo’s Calling
Author: Robert Galbraith
Series: Cormoran Strike Series – First in the series
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Release Date: May 16, 2013
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Robert Glenister
Awards: Goodreads Choice for Mystery & Thriller Nominee (2013)
Date Finished Reading: January 13, 2014

Apparently I was in a J.K. Rowling mood back in January. For those who do not know, Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for Rowling. Again, this is another book you cannot expect to be anything like Harry Potter. She’s writing under a different name and everything! I did know this going into the book, but it’s so far removed from her other, more well-known works, that I thought of Galbraith as a different author (as should you).

When you do anything as an audiobook, it can be a gamble. What if the voice actor just doesn’t fit the character? What if the reading is dull and dry? What if the pauses in between chapters are so long you think it’s the end of the disk, and then feel silly when you go to eject it just to find out there’s more. (This may or may not have happened to me several times with other audiobooks.) Rest assured. Audio is the way to go. First of all, the voice actor, Robert Glenister, has the perfect voice. It’s English. Helps me remember that this story is taking place in England. His voice is raspy and definitely helped me visualize Cormoran Strike, our main character. So, do as an audiobook, if that’s your cat’s meow. If not, consider trying them out. (I did a write up about audiobooks right here!)

So, basic plot. We are following around a down-and-out detective, Cormoran Strike, who lives in his office, was wounded in Afghanistan, and has just been dumped by an on-and-off partner. Pretty noir, right? To top it off, he even owes money to a guy you do not want to owe money to. Definitely up my alley. While things are looking gloomy, Strike has a temp assigned to help him with office work. Robin. Robin is awesome. She’s basically the glue that keeps Strike together. She amazes him with her love for mysteries and her ability for searching out information. She’s pretty kick-ass, and I’d be friends with her.

Lo and behold! One day, in walks John Bristow with a highly sensitive case. A supermodel has been found dead not too long ago. Lula Landry. The sister of Bristow. Bristow is distraught, as he should be and is on his last leg of hope coming to Strike. Strike agrees to take on the case and from there we are taken on a wild ride. We dive into Landry’s not-so-perfect life and uncover all of her secrets. Everything from a druggie boyfriend to the need to connect with her biological family.

What did I think? I enjoyed it. I love the lowly detective and the whole noir genre. This book is noir without being overly or predictably noir. (If that makes sense?) There are so many turns and twists. I had no idea who was responsible for the death of Lula until the very end, when it’s revealed for all. There is debate about the book’s ending, I won’t get into it here (I hate spoilers), but it makes sense to me. I think this is a great intro book for mystery and I thought it was adequately (lookit me and my big words) portrayed.

What did I rate this book and what does it mean? I gave it three stars! I read it and liked it. I’m super curious to see where this series is going to go. (The second in the series, The Silkworm is expected to come out later in 2014.) I definitely enjoyed the characters. It only got three because I would recommend it, but it’s not at the top of my list for mystery fans.

So, what did you think? Have you read this book yet? Is it on your list of books to read? Think my review is totally barbaric and absurd? Just want to say hi? Like, comment, and follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!