Posted in Life, Reading

Reading On Vacation

I prefer physical books over e-books. I like turning the pages, I like the crinkle of the spine, I love the smell of the ink on the paper. Reading physical books just has an overall good feeling to it.

But I do like e-books as well. I enjoy that I can carry multiple books with me anywhere and I also like that they’re typically cheaper than the standard paperback or hardcover.

I’ve been on vacation all week and I tend to read a book a day when I’m here.

Two years ago I read five books and last year I think I read eight books. I think it’d be cool if I read at least eight books again if not more, to try to beat my own personal record.

No, it’s not a race. I’d rather enjoy the book than zipping through it. Still, it’s fun to see how much I can read in a week.

I’ve been on vacation for four full days now and I still have today and tomorrow to read.

So far, I’ve read four books, each in one sitting. It’s been great!

Do you typically spend your vacations reading a lot? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in Reading

6 Ways To Pick Out Your Next Best Read

Reading books is hard.

I typically read one book a week and usually plan on which books I’m going to read for each month. The books sometimes change, but I at least have a plan to start off with.

No matter how much you read, no matter how often, you’re always going to end up in a reading slump. There will be books that you don’t particularly care for (and for some reason, those books come in clumps). Then a reading slump is upon you and it’s hard to get out of it.

It’s not easy getting back into the swing of reading, but there are a few ways to at least pick out your next book.

When you’re in a slump, none of the books you have look appealing. So, what can you do?

1. Close your eyes and point

Seriously, take a look at your bookshelf, close your eyes, spin around a few times, and then point to something. Whatever book you land on, read that next. Even if it’s something you’ve already read. (Unless you didn’t enjoy it, then try spinning again).

2. Pick a number out of a hat

Write a bunch of random numbers down and put them in a hat. No, you don’t have to count every single book you have. Just write something random (3, 13, 23, 33, etc.). Whatever number you pull out, count the books on your shelves and read that book. So, if you pull out 33, take the 33rd book off your shelf.

3. Check out your siblings’ or friends’ bookshelves

Whether you’re into the same stuff or not, check out books you wouldn’t normally try. Ask what their favorite book is and give it a try yourself.

4. Ask for a recommendation from the library

Check out books you wouldn’t normally think to pick up. Tell a librarian your favorite book or author and ask them to find books similar to that that you may like. Whatever they come up with, take and give it a shot.

5. Play book bingo or do some sort of book challenge

Giving yourself a fun challenge is always a good idea. You’ll have a goal in mind if you’re looking for a book with a red cover or a book with a one-word title. Ask your friends to play along, too. The more, the merrier.

6. Reread a book you love

Let’s be real, you can never read too much Harry Potter… Right?

How do you pick out your next read? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in Book Reviews, Reading, Uncategorized

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Title: Pretty Little Liars
Author: Sara Shepard

Published: October 2006 by HarperTeen

Genre: Young Adult

How I got the book: I bought it 

Summary:

Three years ago, Alison disappeared after a slumber party, not to be seen since. Her friends at the elite Pennsylvania school mourned her, but they also breathed secret sighs of relief. Each of them guarded a secret that only Alison had known. Now they have other dirty little secrets, secrets that could sink them in their gossip-hungry world. When each of them begins receiving anonymous emails and text messages, panic sets in. Are they being betrayed by some one in their circle? Worse yet: Is Alison back?

My Review:

FIRST THOUGHTS

I have read this book before. According to my Goodreads account, it was way back in 2012. I’ve been getting into the show again now that it’s ended. I’ve decided to finally get around to reading the books since I have most of the series sitting on my bookshelves.

PLOT

We get to know five high school girls: Alison, Aria, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna. They’re the best of friends, each with their own dirty secret(s). They are the most popular girls in school, Alison being the ring leader of the group.

On the summer before high school begins, they have a slumber party. When the girls wake up, Alison is gone. She was never found. This book takes place three years later. Aria, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna have moved on and aren’t really friends anymore. But once they start receiving odd messages that not only sound like Alison, but are also threatening, that they come together to figure out who is doing this to them.

That’s about it. Even though this is just book one nothing really happened. I felt as though this was more of an introduction to the series. We learned a lot about the main characters, but that was about it. Nothing really happened until there was about 20-30 pages left in the novel. Because of that, it was a bit boring.

CHARACTERS

I enjoy all the characters in the book. Aria comes home from living abroad with her family in Iceland for two years and winds up crushing on her new English teacher. Hanna had transformed her chubby self over the summer before high school along with Mona, who was a “loser” when Ali ran the school. Hanna and Mona are the new “It” girls. Spencer is just as overachieving as ever while she tries to hook up with her sister’s boyfriend. Emily is the star swimmer for their school’s team. And when new girl Maya moves into Ali’s old house, Emily begins to question her sexuality.

Ali was most certainly the alpha dog and practically ran the whole school. A lot of people are glad she’s gone and they feel safe again. Still, even though she’s a total mean girl, I think Ali is one of my favorite characters. She seems to have it all together, even though I don’t agree with her tactics on how to get people to do the right thing.

WRITING STYLE

This book is written like any other general novel. It’s a typical young adult “high school drama” type story. Still, nothing was really special about the writing style. I didn’t fall in love with the author’s words and some of the characters just felt like supporting cast (that includes the main girls in some parts). It’s not bad and certainly easy to read, but I’m not excited about it.

OVERALL

When I first read this in 2012, I had given it a five-star rating. I changed it to three. One, I think I’ve martured a lot in five years and this whole high school drama is a bit overrated to me. Two, because nothing really happened in this book. This is book one in a long suspense series, but we got more background than anything else, which is a pretty slow start in my opinion.

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard gets…

3 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“They felt kind of like dolls, with Ali arraigning their every move.” -Sara Shepard, Pretty Little Liars

Posted in Life, Reading

On Vacation We Go!

I’m going on a much needed getaway and the most stressful thing about it has stemmed from one question:

What books do I bring?

Of course, I’m bringing my Kindle, which has loads of books that I have yet to read. But I do prefer paperback so I wanted to bring up a few of those as well.


I decided to bring…

  • Firebug by Lish McBride
  • Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
  • Flawless (PLL 2) by Sara Shepard
  • Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Before any of you ask… No, I have yet to read the two Harry Potter screenplays.

I wanted to bring up only three or four books since I’m bringing up my Kindle, but I knew the two screenplays would be quick reads. I could leave them behind, but I don’t want to.

So I picked up the first two books of the Pretty Little Liars series. What if I get into the first one and wanna read the second one?

That’s four books.

But what if I want to read more than Harry Potter and Pretty Little Liars? I decided to bring one more book.

So, naturally, I picked out two more. Firebug and Wink Poppy Midnight are two books I bought fairly recently and have been wanting to pick up since I got them.

I’m off to go read a lot by a lake. And I couldn’t be more excited.

Happy Reading!

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Posted in Reading

Getting Out Of A Reading Slump

Graphic novels aren’t the typical books I read. I used to read a fair amount of comics when I was younger, mostly because Kris was really into them.

I’ve always wanted to read more graphic novels, but I rarely do because they’re more on the expensive side and they never take me too long to read. So, I always end up getting novels than graphic novels.

But I love a good one every now and then and, as you all know, I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately.

The other day Kris and I went to the bookstore and she was in the mood to buy. And when I say buy, I mean buy a lot. Then again, I also had $50 in gift cards so we went a little nuts.

There are always a lot of graphic novels I want to buy whenever we go to the bookstore. There are a ton of series I want to read, most being superheroes that I don’t know where to start since there are so many different versions.

So, what exactly did we buy?

We ended up buying four manga books and two graphic novels. We bought the third volume of Archie, the first volume of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the first and second volumes of the original Pokemon manga, volume one of Ninja Turtles Universe, and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords (which is technically the fifth volume).

I also wanted to get the first volume of Ouran High School Host Club and Fruits Basket, but we figured we’d stop at $100. We could have gone on and on and on… We could have gotten Batman, Wonder Woman, Justice League, etc. The list goes on.

I think reading these will help me get out of a slump and get me back into reading great stories again. I can’t wait to give them a shot and buy the next volumes in all the series.

Do you typically read graphic novels? How do you get out of a reading slump? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted in Book Reviews, Reading

Archie, Vol. 2: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid

Title: Archie, Vol. 2: The New Riverdale
Author: Mark Waid, Veronica Fish (illustrator), Thomas Pitilli (illustrator), Ryan Jampole (illustrator)
Published: 
December 2016 by Archie Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel
How I got the book: I borrowed it from my sister

Summary:

The all-new ARCHIE adventure continues! Superstar writer Mark Waid teams up with the best and brightest artists in comics to bring a modern take to the legendary Riverdale cast of characters. The book will captures the bite and hilarious edge of Archie’s original tales in a modern, forward-looking manner, while still retaining the character’s all-ages appeal. If classic Archie is a Saturday morning cartoon, this new series is prime time!

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

After reading volume one, I immediately picked up volume two. I didn’t realize how much I missed these characters.

rp-plot

In these next six issues, the plot focuses on Archie’s relationship with Veronica and her father while he and Betty awkwardly try to reconfigure their friendship while they both see other people.

Veronica’s father and Betty’s uncle go against each other for mayor and Archie gets caught in the middle of the feud. Archie, Veronica, and Jughead start a band, so Betty and her friends start a band and they go head to head.

Each issue has its own mini-plot as it continues the overall plot of Archie’s life in general, especially his love life.

rp-characters

The characters, like in the first volume, are just as good. Archie is a wonderful protagonist. Each and every character has their own purpose and background. I enjoy seeing all their stories together.

rp-writing-style

The writing style is just as humorous as the last and the pictures, even though two of the illustrators are different, are beautiful. I really enjoy how they used the pictures and the words as a team to tell the story.

rp-overall

You can’t go wrong with this series. I love Archie and I’m looking forward to reading the next volume.

Archie, Vol. 2: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Crushing people is the truth’s hobby.” –Mark Waid, Archie, Vol. 2: The New Riverdale

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Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid

Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale | Book Review

Title: Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale
Author: Mark Waid, Fiona Staples (illustrations), Annie Wu (illustrator), Veronica Fish (illustrator)
Published: 
March 2016 by Archie Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel
How I got the book: I borrowed it from my sister

Summary:

America’s Favorite Teenager, Archie Andrews, is reborn in the pages of this must-have graphic novel collecting the first six issues of the comic book series that everyone is talking about. Meet Riverdale High teen Archie, his oddball, food-loving best friend Jughead, girl-next-door Betty and well-to-do snob Veronica Lodge as they embark on a modern reimagining of the beloved Archie world. It’s all here: the love triangle, friendship, humor, charm and lots of fun – but with a decidedly modern twist.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

Kris used to have a subscription to the Archie comics for as long as I can remember. She’d get Archie, Betty & Veronica, Jughead, pretty much all of them. There are two drawers in my bedroom filled with all the Archie comics (mixed in with some superheroes and Looney Toons, I believe). She used to read them to me when I was still learning how to read and with this new artwork and storyline, we were both intrigued.

rp-plot

Volume 1 has six issues inside that all continue the same overall plot. Archie and Betty have broken up due to some “lipstick incident” after being together for practically their entire lives. Then rich girl Veronica moves to Riverdale and Archie falls head over heels in love.

It’s not until issue four when we find out what exactly broke Archie and Betty up. Still, the premise is that they miss each other, they miss being friends even though Betty moves on and Archie follows Veronica around like a puppy.

Most of the kids at their school scheme to get them back together, but Betty and Archie want nothing to do with it. Archie is more concerned about not being clumsy so he can keep a job all the while trying to impress Veronica’s father.

But then at the end, Reggie, the school bully, steps in to impress Veronica’s father even more.

rp-characters

Personality and characteristics wise, all the characters have pretty much stayed true to themselves. I’ve missed reading the Archie comics and reading these updated characters brought me right back to the olden days when I used to read them with my sister.

Archie, being the main character, is also the narrator. He talks to the reader knowing he’s telling a story. He’s an overall good guy, gives just enough back ground information, and is too clumsy for his own good. I absolutely love his character and he is ridiculously funny.

Betty is her tomboy self and Veronica is her rich-girl self. In this first volume they never actually met one another and Betty would watch Archie with her from afar.

Reggie is his normal bully-like self and then there’s Jughead. Jughead is one of my favorite characters. He witnesses all and as Archie’s best friend, he helps him out no matter what. Still, he acts as though he’s on nobody’s side but his own.

rp-writing-style

Volume 1 is made up of six comic issues, each one being broken up into three short “chapters.” At about 200 pages and being a graphic novel, this is a fairly quick read.

The script is funny and engaging the whole time and the illustrations are beautiful and incredibly detailed.

rp-overall

I love a good graphic novel every now and then and reading Archie brought me back to my childhood. If you were a fan of the Archie comics back then, you won’t be disappointed by this newest version.

Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“You are who you are. Not what people think you are. Be straight. Be weird. Be whatever. Just be what you wanna be.” –Mark Waid, Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale

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The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando | Book Review, Young Adult Mystery

Title: The Leaving
Author: Tara Altebrando
Published: 
June 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Genre: Young adult mystery
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back–with no idea of where they’ve been.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They’re sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn’t come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max’s sister Avery, who needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story.

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

This was sort of an impulse buy. If you know me, I love a good suspense story. The cover was what originally caught my eye. I read the summary on the back and I thought I’d give it a try. Then I thumbed through the pages, saw the fancy writing style on the inside, and decided that I definitely had to give it a try.

rp-plot

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing. They went to school on the first day and the busy never took them home. The own searched high and low, but no traces of them were found. Eleven years later, five return home not remembering where they had been, what happened, or for how long they were gone. Still, they remember basic skills they learned throughout the years, such as driving a car. One even knowing how to load a gun. Everyone is shaken up by their return and when they ask about Max, the sixth child, the other five have no idea who they’re talking about. Now the question is, are they lying?

This novel is written in the third person limited, but we follow three POV characters. Lucas and Scarlett, two of the stolen children, and Avery, Max’s little sister. Between the three of them, they start piecing together what might have happened and where Max could be.

It was an interesting tale of amnesia and a race against the clock as they try to find Max. The ending was certainly something I didn’t see coming. I even had a prediction and was completely wrong. It was certainly a cool twist on the “missing persons” plotline. However, with all the twists and turns and with two out of the three main POV characters, there wasn’t much room to try to figure things out for myself.

The person who was behind “The Leaving” was an interesting twist. I never would have guessed that person. It made sense, but the way they figured it out was out of left field. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t say any more on it, but I felt as though them figuring it out was kind of a cop-out.

rp-characters

Six went missing: Lucas, Scarlett, Max, Kristen, Sarah, and Adam. Max never came home and we follow Lucas and Scarlett. They talk to Kristen, Sarah, and Adam every once in a while, but for the most part, we don’t really see them.

Lucas and Scarlett were great POV characters. They had a lot of depth even though they couldn’t remember eleven years of their lives. Still, they slowly pieced everything together and it was fun to go through the motions with them. Plus, I liked both characters.

Then there’s Avery. I’m not entirely sure her story was needed. As Max’s little sister, she wanted answers. Great concept, great plot, but as the story went on she seemed to be more focused on wanting a relationship with Lucas and being jealous of Scarlett. I also didn’t think her story was complete. She breaks up with her boyfriend and then the chapter ends. Then we never see Sam again and never talk about that he ever existed again. She didn’t even care, she just wanted Lucas.

Avery had a little depth because while she wanted to find Max, a part of her wanted to find him dead. She thought it would be weird if he came home, her whole life would change. It’s sad and I totally understand her feelings on that. Still, since they were so young, we didn’t know anything about Max. And, as stated, Avery was more focused on her love life so I couldn’t sympathize her confliction about finding Max.

rp-writing-style

This was a thick book being at 421 pages. Each chapter alternated between the three POVs and the book was broken up into parts labeling the days. The book takes place in just 15 days total. The chapters were short and quick reads, especially with the way it was written.

Avery’s chapters were written as a typical novel. Scarlett’s were written almost poetically, the words sometimes literally flying off the page or making shapes. Lucas’s chapters were written as a regular novel, but a lot of his thoughts and memories were highlighted in black and written in white ink.

Despite its length, it made it for a quick and easy read. It was interesting and fun. And, even though the chapters were labeled with the POV character, I really didn’t need that confirmation. I was able to tell each voice just by reading and that was great.

rp-overall

This was a great read. I definitely think it would have been better without Avery’s story, or maybe less of her story. I think I would have enjoyed it more if the third POV was from Kristen. As the story goes on, we learn she and Scarlett have a history, but, since I didn’t know anything about Kristen I didn’t really care about it. And I would have liked to.

If you’re looking for a quick, fancy-written mystery, consider checking out this book. I think I’ll pick up Altebrando’s next book.

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando gets…
4 stars book review4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“People aren’t shaped by conscious memories so much as they are by their overall life experience and bonds.” –Tara Altebrando, The Leaving

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The Dark And Deadly Pool by Joan Lowery Nixon

The Dark and Deadly Pool by Joan Lowery Nixon | Book Review

Title: The Dark and Deadly Pool
Author: Joan Lowery Nixon
Published: 
May 1989 by Laurel Leaf
Genre: Young adult mystery
How I got the book: I bought it

Summary:

Liz enjoys her summer pool job at the glamorous Ridley Hotel.  Until the night, a dark and lonely night, a ghasty shadow surges up from the pool.  A face — eyes wide, mouth gaping — stares at Liz.  A hand clutches at her sneaker.  Then it, whatever it is, is gone.

But danger isn’t.  Strange things are happening at the hotel, and a shaken Liz wants to know why.  But whoever is behind the trouble will stop at nothing — even murder — to get what he wants…

My Review:

rp-first-thoughts

I used to love Joan Lowery Nixon’s books when I was younger. I’ve read this one before, but of course, I couldn’t remember anything about it. So I thought I’d give it another read.

rp-plot

Mary Elizabeth takes a summer job at a luxury hotel. She works in the pool area scrubbing tiles, collecting towels, and making sure the locker rooms are tidy. She’s also in charge of closing up the pool at the end of the night.

She’s afraid of the dark and being at a large empty resort alone in the dark scares her all the more. One night she stays a little later to calm her nerves and get over her fears. That’s when she sees a mysterious figure swimming in the pool. They scare each and he disappears. It’s later still that a body turns up in the pool. With the help of her co-workers, specifically Fran, Liz investigates and solves the various crimes and murders.

This mystery plot is like most where the non-detective protagonist attempts to solve crimes on her own. Whereas she didn’t have a suspect list, she was more interested in the why and the how. Of course, she wanted the criminal to be caught, but she was mostly curious as to how they were getting in and out of the hotel undetected.

The ending was unexpected as well as you try to figure it out along with Liz. The culprit is the least person you would suspect and, in the end, Liz didn’t really save the day. The law enforcement did.

rp-characters

I found all the characters to be enjoyable. I liked having Liz as the protagonist, even though her character development at the end was a bit out of the blue. She wanted a tall man for a boyfriend and Fran was much shorter than her. She was against being with him because of that, but at the end she randomly overlooked it.

Fran was a fun character as well. He was the comic relief, but he was also Liz’s rock throughout the whole endeavor. Tina, another employee, was like Liz’s best friend and she helped out a lot as well.

Then, of course, there were Liz’s bosses and the various guests at the hotel. It was a fun, well-rounded cast of characters.

rp-writing-style

Nixon did a wonderful job at portraying the mystery. Liz didn’t find or figure out any clues or evidence right away or too easily and each crime was spaced out just enough.

The words on the page flow well and are easy to read. This is another quick read being shy of 200 pages.

rp-overall

I enjoyed re-reading this story even though I didn’t remember much of it. I look forward to reading her other books, some I’ve already read before. I also look forward to re-reading this again in a few years. Nixon certainly has a way with words and all her books are great.

The Dark and Deadly Pool by Joan Lowery Nixon gets…
4 stars book review4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Take good care of yourself.”
“I will until you get home, Mom, and then I’ll give up and let you do it.” –Joan Lowery Nixon, The Dark And Deadly Pool

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Posted in Author/Site Information, Blogging, Reading, Writing

July 2017 Goals

Goals for July 2017 | Reading, Writing, Blogging

Reading

It’s summer! Which means there will be two book reviews a week. For July, that means a total of nine reviews. I still have a few books left over from Mystery Month that I want to read, but I’m still not sure which books I want to read.

I have a lot of books on my list and I know that if I pick out nine, I’m just going to change my mind. So, for this month, I’m not going to list what I want to read. I’m just going to pick at random. Just expect nine reviews this month.

Writing

It’s another month of Camp NaNoWriMo! I’ll be working on two projects:

1. Brave – Write 50,000 words of this novel
2. Short Story Sunday 2018 – Write 50,000 words of next year’s short stories

If I have the time, I’d love to continue editing my mystery novel, but that won’t be a priority.

Blogging

I’ll have much more time to read and comment on new blogs as well get ahead with my own posts. I also plan on adding more to this blog as well.

I also plan on continuing my work on Double Jump as well as a new blog.

Overall

July is going to be a busy month. But now that work is over my writing and blogging will get my undivided attention. It’ll be a good month!

What are your goals for July? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

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