books, e-books, audio books, oh my!

32320750It’s safe to say I have resisted the audio book trend. I am mostly a “traditional” reader. I love actually holding a book in my hands and turning the pages. I love that new book smell. I love being able to see the books on my shelves and watch my collection grow. I love how when new people visit my home, they glance through my shelves. I feel like it’s a great representation of who I am.

However, toward the end of my junior year of high school (read: six years ago, yikes!) I became a pretty big fan of e-books. While I still prefer physical books, (and think they are superior to alternative forms of reading in almost every way…) I think e-books have several benefits.

Junior year, I was saving up for college and money was pretty (very) tight. E-books are cheaper and in some cases, significantly cheaper. It became easier financially for me to buy e-books because I could sometimes get 2-3 e-books for the price of one hardback book. For a book worm, sometimes reading the extra stories are worth not actually having them on your shelves.

This happened with the Lunar Chronicles series. I have the series as e-books. However, it turned out I loved the series so much that I want to get the physical copies. I currently have Cress and am hoping to get the others. So, you can see I still prefer to have my favorites in physical copies.

But, another reason I jumped on the e-book trend was because of how much easier it is when you travel. I am the type of person who goes on vacation and brings 5 books. Or the type to lug boxes and boxes of my books to my college dorm so I can have them around me. While this is doable, it does make life difficult. Trying to pack five books in a suitcase is sometimes just impossible. It’s much easier to bring an e-reader and have twenty books available at your disposal. Similarly, throughout college I would often visit my hometown on weekends and during holidays. Lugging my books back home for the summer or trying to bring home twenty books for winter break was beyond annoying. E-books just make traveling with books much easier.

Now that I am post-grad and in law school, I travel much, much less. I would say my life is currently 80% physical books and 20% e-books. But that brings me to my final point…audio books! Law school is busy, stressful, and filled with a lot of reading and writing. While I’m no stranger to an excessive amount of read/write, the material is dense and not necessarily “fun.” And because I have such a heavy load of reading material every night, by the time I’m done…I just want to relax and give my eyes a break.

This means I’ve headed into a reading slump. I’m sure those who have been in law school or currently attend can understand me. There just isn’t much free time. And when you do have free time, your eyes need a break. However, I’ve missed reading terribly. I miss the stories, and I miss writing and talking about books!

So, I’ve looked into audio books for the first time. I signed up for audible and I used my first credit towards Little Monsters. I also bought The Memory Watcher by Minka Kent because it was significantly discounted (~$3.00). I’ve been in the mood for thrillers lately. I have about an 1hr and 15 minute commute (including going to and from school with traffic) five days a week. I’ve been using the time I am commuting for “reading” by listening to audio books. I started with Little Monsters by Kara Thomas and I am about 75% of the way through the book.

Stay tuned for a post about my thoughts on that book and my final thoughts on audio books after I’ve listened to both books. I want to listen to two books on audible so I can make sure my opinion is better reflective of my reading experience. So far, I’m thinking this is going to be a good option for me with the stage of life I’m in.

We will see if I’m able to be converted into an audio-book reader!

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Top 10: Beach Reads

It’s that time of the year where the sweet sunshine has all bookworms searching for good “beach reads.” For me, “beach reads” are books I would read at the beach, poolside, or any summery day. When I think of beach reads, the first thing that came to mind, similar to so many others, are contemporary reads and while they are great beach reads, I wanted to include other genres as well. For me, beach reads are books that are fast paced, relatively light, and overall just good page turners. So for those of you who aren’t keen on contemporary, I’ve included fantasy, sci-fi, and thrillers as well. Without further ado…

Contemporary

1. Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols

Honestly this EndlessSummerW307is without a doubt the first book I think of when I think of a beach read. In fact, my copy has been to the beach many times and probably still has small sand remnants stuck in the pages. You can easily judge by the cover (and the title) that the book takes place in the summer months. It’s about a girl named Lori who is always seen as “one of the guys” by her neighbors, The Vader brothers. They are all great friends, which Lori loves, except this summer she wants more. She’s determined to show one brother that she’s more than just the girl next door. Also, think: another hot brother, wake boarding, swimming, boating, and a whole lot of summer. One of my favorites about this one is the slow burn romance and Lori’s growth as a person. It’s relatively light but there are emotional moments. Definitely a perfect beach read. (This is considered YA rating in terms of steaminess).

2. The Hating Game by Sally Thorneimages

The Hating Game is one of my favorite contemporary reads of all time so of course it had to make this list. While it isn’t exactly about summer (at all) it is an amazing contemporary and a very quick read. The story is light and funny and perfect when I think about what book I’d want to have poolside. I have an entire review written about it here if you’d like to know more. (This is definitely NA rating in terms of steaminess).

3. The Deal by Elle Kennedy

imagesThe Deal was one of the best novels I have read in terms of NA. On the surface it’s about a girl named Hannah teaming up with a hockey player named Garrett so they both get what they want. Garrett needs help in a philosophy class and Hannah needs help making her crush notice her. But it’s so much more than that. It has serious themes throughout the book that help ground it. Sure, it’s sexy and funny and your typical college romance. But it’s also about deep, complex characters with a lot of emotional baggage. However, this book made me swoon like no other. Garrett is another #bookboyfriend I love. Plus, the side characters are awesome and get their own books later in the series (it’s a standalone series but the characters all come from the same friend group) so everyone feels very developed. Definitely try out this contemporary this summer! (or any of Elle Kennedy’s other books).

4. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

index.jpegThis one was an unexpected favorite of mine. When it was recommended to me, I took one look at the cover (sorry Simone) and thought yeah, absolutely not. Seriously the cover is atrocious. However, one day I was desperate to find a new contemporary book so I decided to give it a try. It turned out to be an amazing book. You get your typical guy meets girl scenario, but you also get a hard, real look at gangs and racism and special needs and friendship and family. You get a well rounded, well developed story that made my heart break for the characters more than once. But above all, you get an amazing love story. Don’t be freaked out by the cover like I was. Give this one a chance, you won’t regret it. (This is definitely NA).

Science Fiction

5. The Martian by Andy Weir

The_Martian_2014.jpegThe Martian is a great, quick paced, science fiction pick. Also, it’s hilarious. It’s laugh out loud funny, which is a bit strange, considering the main character thinks he’s going to die for most of the book. I can’t speak to the “sciency” stuff in the book (in terms of how ‘true’ it is or ‘realistic’) however, I can say that it was epic to read. There was a lot of science involved, but to the common person, it wasn’t confusing to me and it didn’t bog the story down. It’s just a great read and the pacing goes so quickly, I finished it incredibly fast. Definitely a good beach read in terms of humor and pacing.

6. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

cinderThe Lunar Chronicles definitely is one of my favorite series of all time. Think of sci fi, fairytale re-telling, and a bit of contemporary – The Lunar Chronicles has it all. I quickly fell in love with Cinder, the first novel of the series and quickly binged all the books. It has great pacing and the mystery surrounding the characters keeps you hooked for each book and throughout the series. Each hero/heroine paring changes for each book and are based on different fairytales. I have to say though, Cress is my favorite. Cress and Thorne… *swoon* I couldn’t recommend this series enough.

7. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ready-player-one-book-coverI know Ready Player One made it’s rounds on the book community when it first came out and for good reason. It’s a novel where the main character lives in a virtual reality and tries to play to find the “Easter egg” hidden in a virtual treasure hunt. It’s a nod to the 80s, packed full of nostalgia and gamer references. I don’t particularly love the 80s but I still loved the references and were entertained by them. You definitely don’t need to be a gamer or in love with the 80s to love this book. The pacing is quick and the plot hooks you in to keep you reading until the end. If you’ve already read Ready Player One, then check out Ernest Cline’s newer novel, Armada.

Fantasy

8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

TheNightCircusI actually was able to read The Night Circus as an ARC, which was pretty cool. This book is DEFINITELY different. It was not a book I typically read, but I was captivated by the very beginning. I dabble in fantasy and wouldn’t say it’s the genre I read the most; however, this book definitely was a great fantasy read for me. It’s about a circus that is only available to the public during nighttime shows and two dueling magicians. Did I mention that only one of them can live? They are also kind of in love with each other. You should definitely pick this one up if you’re looking for a fantasy book that’s off the beaten path a little. The pacing is a bit slower but the mystery surrounding the plot pulls you through.

9.Dorthy Must Die by Danielle Paige

51TkjbEt4EL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Dorthy Must Die is a book I initially picked up just solely based on the cover. I mean, it definitely caught my attention. When I discovered that it was based on a different take on the classic Oz, I was hooked. Think of an Oz where Dorthy, Tin Man, The Lion, The Scarecrow, and Glinda are all evil and the “wicked” witches are now the ones trying to save the land. Insert Amy Gumm, a regular girl from the trailer park just trying to avoid another suspension and now she’s trying to save an entire land from extinction and evil. What I loved most about this book is that evil and good are such fluid concepts, you never really know where anyone or anything stands. The pacing is fast and the characters are enthralling. This will definitely keep you turning the page!

Thriller

10. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

41LG0hcWrzL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Sorry, only one thriller read in this post! I tried to go off the beaten path (at least, a little) and recommend one of Gillian Flynn’s lesser known novels, Sharp Objects. It’s about a reporter who recently got out of a stay in a psychiatric hospital. She’s given an assignment to go back to her hometown where two little girls have been murdered. She’s forced to confront her hypochondriac mother and quite honestly, creepy half-sister and a town who’s completely immersed in the deaths and everyone is wondering whodunnit? This book has enough turns to keep me guessing, and I truly felt weirded out by the end. Definitely give this one a go!

So there ya have it! There are definitely my beach reads this summer. What are yours?

Book Review: Foul Matter

foulAuthor: Martha Grimes

Genre: Fiction/Satire

Published: 2004

Series: Standalone

Description: Author Paul Giverney is between publishers. Despite stratospheric sales of his books and frenzied competition to sign him up, he lives modestly in New York’s East Village and nurses a secret ambition of a very different sort. In fact, he has a byzantine plan for accomplishing it: the number-one condition of his proposed contract with the literary giant Mackenzie-Haack. They must drop a brilliant but far less successful author and assign his equally gifted editor to Paul. In the hornets’ next of preening egos and cutthroat career moves this stirs up, ambitious editor Clive Esterhaus covets the glossy megastar Paul for himself. Is the book contract unbreakable? Clive never dreams how a very different kind of contract will force him – and his ambition – into a very foul matter, indeed.

Overall thoughts: I went into Foul Matter thinking it was going to be about murder. (Note: I have no idea how I got this impression. It certainly wasn’t from the description I found online, and the back of my book didn’t have a description. I guess my imagination just went a bit wild?) While the book does involve something to this degree (no spoilers, I swear) the book is mostly about how wild the publishing industry is.

Grimes provides a satirical, crazy, look into the inner workings of publishing and just how far some will go to come out ahead, or how far others will go just to see  how much power they wield. I didn’t know much about publishing before going into this book, so it was an amazing read for me. I couldn’t help but think does this really happen? could this happen? all throughout the book. It’s amazing to see just how much one person can influence the “best seller” list among so many others that Grimes highlights.

However, don’t think you need to be intrigued by publishing to enjoy this book. Grimes has a lot of interesting characters here with hidden motivations that will keep you turning the page. While the book does focus on publishing, it’s about a lot more. Think: human motivation in general. What drives us. What motivates us. What we can control.

The book switches POV, a lot. Like a lot, a lot. Sometimes it switches by chapter and sometimes it switches several times within the chapter. It’s written in third, but who the book focuses on changes. I found this necessary for the book to be successful; however, sometimes I found the switching to be a bit much. Especially when I wanted more from a certain character, but knew I wouldn’t be going back to them for quite some time.

I’ve read other reviews on this book and most of them seem to think this book is “laugh out loud” funny. While, I definitely think this book on the whole was funny, it wasn’t laugh out loud funny, at least to me. It was more humorous or dry humor (for me). I definitely still think you’ll get a laugh out of it, but it wasn’t your expected, traditional humor. Just something to keep in mind.

I felt the pacing was overall good in the novel. It was quicker in the beginning and the end and slower through the middle. While sometimes I thought the middle was a little slow, it overall felt ok for me.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Foul Matter. There was some incredible writing throughout, and great characters. The insight look into the publishing industry was great and incredulous. While there were some things I wasn’t completely crazy about (the middle was a little slow and the POV changes a little too frequent) I would definitely recommend you check out Foul Matter.

Rating: 3/5
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Links: Find it on Amazon | Author Website

Book Review: Station Eleven

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Author:
Emily St. John Mandel

Genre: Science Fiction/ Post-Apocalyptic fiction

Published: September 2014

Series: Standalone

Description: Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.

Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.

Overall thoughts: I went into Station Eleven knowing nothing about it. I had never heard of the book or the author before and I received the book as a birthday gift. I read the back synopsis and was anticipating a typical “dystopian” book. What I found was so much more.

The novel is post-apocalyptic so in that sense it fits the “dystopian” genre. A flu pandemic has ravaged the world as we know it and life looks much, much different for Kirsten and The Traveling Symphony (and everyone else.) However, it’s the way that the author describes this post-apocalyptic life that felt refreshing and eerie at the same time. There were sections in the novel that force the reader to introspectively look at their lives. Imagine a world where children are born into a life and have never known electricity, running water, airplanes, e-mail, or refrigerators. A world were there are no doctors, firemen, policemen. No government. No books, newspapers, authors, painters, musicals, movies. (You get the point.) While this is scary, Mandel takes it a step further. Now imagine you’ve known all of it and it gets ripped away from you. You constantly yearn for normalcy, to “go home” yet home no longer exists and never will.

This isn’t your normal dystopian novel. There isn’t an uprising against a corrupt government. There is no “cure” for the Georgia flu. No one sweeps in to save the day.

What you do have though is an amazingly well-written science fiction/dystopian fiction novel. The characters are complex and flawed. Their stories are sad and heavy, while also being light and hopeful. There is a connection between almost everyone and the interwoven relationships are an amazing tether as the book is written in both past and present and focus on different characters.

My favorite aspect of this book is the actual “Station Eleven” within the novel and how it plays out for so many characters and connects them together. Can’t say much more without spoiling it, just trust me on this one.

This book definitely doesn’t spell everything out to the reader, which I praise it for. There are aspects of the novel’s plot and the characters that the reader must interpret and figure out for themselves. Mandel does it in a beautiful way that puts the building blocks in place, but doesn’t over-explain anything. It’s just great.

Overall, if you’re looking for a great post-apocalyptic novel, check out Station Eleven. 

Rating: 4/5
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*(The only reason it isn’t a full 5/5 is because I just wanted more about the Georgia flu. I felt like it was never really explained what it was or what happened. I fully understand this explanation was not necessary for the plot and it wasn’t what the novel was about. However, you know what they say, curiosity killed the cat. I just felt like I was so intrigued, I wanted more. I understand the characters didn’t really have the answers, but I just felt like this piece was just missing a little for me. Still can’t recommend this book enough though!!)

Links: Find it on Amazon | Author Website|
Nathan Burton, illustrator of featured comic

Book Review: The Hating Game

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Author:
Sally Thorne

Genre: Contemporary Romance / New Adult

Published: August 9, 2016

Series: Standalone

Description: Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

Overall thoughts: I really enjoyed The Hating Game. I tried to read it a few months ago but couldn’t get past the first few pages. The beginning was a lot of background information and I was more interested in other books at the time so I put it down. But I am so, beyond happy that I picked it back up because I loved it. The Hating Game has easily become one of my favorite contemporary novels of all time. (And snaps to Sally Thorne because it’s her debut novel!!!!)

Although, The Hating Game clearly plays into the enemies-to-lovers trope, it doesn’t feel cliche. At all. They “hate” each other but it feels real. I didn’t think the “hate” was irrational and annoying like in similar books that I’ve read. Their banter and communication made the dislike feel natural and understandable to the reader. Plus, who didn’t love the hilarious banter?

Actually, probably the best aspect (in my opinion) about this book is the humor. It was full of witty banter that made me easily fall in love with both the main characters. The dialogue was just so fun to read. This is a book that will definitely make you laugh out loud and has amazing one liners and quotes.

Lucy is an amazing main character. She feels real and I really related with her anxiety and “freaking out” that she deals with throughout the book. I loved how she was driven, ambitious, and confident. However, she was also insecure, lonely, and anxious. She felt like a fully developed character — like someone you truly could meet in real life. Not to mention Lucy’s clothes and smurf collection were just great to read. She was kinda nerdy but in the best way.

Of course, Josh was a great, complex character as well. I loved learning about him as Lucy did, layer by layer. He was flawed but that made me like him more. He was a great balance to Lucy and easily become one of my top #bookboyfriends.

If you’re considering purchasing The Hating Game or are in the market for a great contemporary read… what are you waiting for?! You won’t regret it. It’s a book filled with complex characters, witty banter, and a few plot twists along the way.

Rating: 5/5
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Links: Find it on Amazon || Author Facebook Page ||
Look out for Sally Thorne’s new novel, The Comfort Zone