Bookish Roundup — January, 2018

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Oh. Em. Gee. January was a gangbusters month in reading for me, y’all, and I am here to tell you all about it! Not only did I manage to read 23 books last month, but I found soooo many amazing reads that I couldn’t believe my luck…

Books I read in January:

As I mentioned above, so many of the books I read in January were just spectacular. I also happened to read a LOT of YA titles – 17 of the 23 books I read were of the YA variety, in fact. Whew! And to think that this time last year, I wouldn’t touch the stuff! How times change…

Some of my fave titles from January included The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory, Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, and When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. A special shout-out goes to Girls Like Us by Gail Giles. While it was a short read (221 pages), Girls Like Us was so sweet and real and heartbreakingly beautiful. I read it in one evening and did not want it to end. It’s definitely a must read for everyone.

Based on my raging reading success in January, I am super excited to get started on my February reading list. I already have several titles waiting for me on my Kindle Paperwhite (both owned and borrowed), as well as those sent to me from NetGalley and those I’ve checked out from my local library. Don’t know if I can beat the record I set last month of reading 23 books since we only have a 28-day month, but I’m sure going to give it everything I’ve got. Happy Reading in February, y’all!!

What was your fave read of January?

Bookish Roundup – September, 2017

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It’s Fall, y’all!! My favorite season is finally here, and I’m so excited! While I haven’t exactly seen my favorite things about Fall yet (apart from the Pumpkin Caramelicious at Scooter’s Coffeehouse!!), the air is fraught with anticipation and it won’t be long before temperatures drop and that crisp, cool air blows through my hair as I read on my porch on a sunny Fall afternoon… I can feel it now. Oh, yes – Fall is here, y’all!!

Unfortunately, my pre-Fall reading habits have taken quite the hit this year. I was moving along at quite a pace the last few months, hitting between at least 15 to 20 books per month. And then… The Boy bought a new puppy with his earnings from his summer job. Was this Pathologically Literate Momma happy about that? Well, it is what it is, and there ain’t no turning back now. One thing is for sure, a brand new 6-week-old puppy in the house is almost like having a new baby in the house at times – especially when it comes to trying to get things done. Granted, she is now 11 weeks old and we’ve adjusted a little bit, but she’s still taking up a looooot of time and even though The Boy is pulling his weight, a lot of that time seems to be my own which has made reading a lot harder than it used to be. Where it used to take me 1 1/2 to 2 days to read a book, it’s been taking me more like 3 or 4. Yikes! But how can you be mad at this cute little face…?

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Meet Tootsie, y’all!! Tootsie is a Min-Pin (Miniature Pinscher) and would not have been my own first choice in a dog. We already have an eight-year-old Sheltie (Ruby) and my hope had been to get another Sheltie puppy at some point. Well, that’s all gone up in smoke now! Not that I’m bitter or anything, right? Seriously, though, even though a Min-Pin was not my first choice in a dog, she’s a pretty darn cute – if energetic – puppy. She’s definitely taking some getting used to – and will for a while – but I have faith that she will eventually grow on me. Please, God, let her grow on me…

And now, without further ado, let us take a look at my September Reading List:

Ten of the fourteen books I read in September were YA titles. Both of the Meg Medina titles were amazeballs. The Sea of Tranquility was as wonderful as everyone had promised it would be, as was The Girl of Fire and Thorns Trilogy. Words in Deep Blue was a testament to book lovers everywhere, and I adored it. All four of the adult fiction titles I read in September were winners, too. Celeste Ng’s sophomore novel, Little Fires Everywhere, was on point and even better than her first. I really lucked out last month – I may have read less, but at least they were worth my limited time!

October is already shaping up to be a better month, methinks. I believe I’m beginning to get back into my reading groove (please, God!). I recently checked out some awesome titles for my Kindle and from the local library, and have some exciting ARCs to read as well. All that reading time I’m planning for my front porch this Fall is going to be put to goooood use, my friends. Can’t wait! Hope you have a Happy Fall full of Happy Reading, y’all!!

Where is your fave place to read in the Fall?

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Bookish Roundup – May, 2017

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Can you believe it is June, already? I won’t go on and on about how this year has gone sooo fast, but: it totally has, y’all. Just sayin’.

My reading speed wasn’t the best this month, but I think that may have been because I was reading some biiiig books. So, go easy on me, y’all. I can’t hit the 27 book mark every single month, much as I would like to. It’s all good, though, because did I read some doozies or what last month?! Oh, you will never know the joy I felt when I discovered Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series… Addicted. I am addicted to that series, I will tell you what. And had you ever asked me if I would be a YA Fantasy fan in the past, I would have laughed you right out of my life, let me tell you. It just goes to show… never say never.

Speaking of YA, I really hit the YA groove in May as well. Ten out of the 17 books I read were YA novels – and most of those were along the lines of the Fantasy genre. Wha-What???? What is happening to me?? I don’t know, y’all, but… I like it! I like it a lot! And I cannot get enough. Wait until you see my line-up for June’s Roundup – you’re gonna lose your minds!!

Anyhoo, let’s take a look at exactly what I did read in May:

So many of the books I read in May were simply amazing, I don’t even know where to begin. Books I could have done without in May – as in, book I wish I’d not read after all – might be easier to go over. I didn’t find a lot entertaining in The Paper Magician series; I found it to be kind of just filler reading – you know, entertaining enough to keep my mind busy, but not inventive enough to actually inspire interest or loyalty to the series or author. The First Husband and Lola fall under this category as well, however, Lola did have the possibility of becoming something really amazing – alas, the author just didn’t go that extra mile. Too bad, so sad. Everything else was aces, y’all, just aces. Can’t wait to get started with my June TBR and report back to you on that one – I have sooooo many good feelings about those books, y’all! With that thought, I am outta here and on my way to get my Summer read on – Happy Reading to all of you as well!!

What was your favorite May read? Do you have a special book on your summer tbr?

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Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

salt-to-the-sea“Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.” – Goodreads

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is a woeful and fictional depiction of the true story of the world’s most disastrous maritime tragedy known to man.

In 1945, near the end of World War II, four youth from different war-torn countries and of different backgrounds converge on a frozen path, intent on traveling to board a ship – the ill-fated Wilhelm Gustloff – bound for Kiel, Germany, where they are purported to be safe from Stalin and his army, who are pursuing them. What follows is the largest maritime disaster and loss of life in recorded history

Joana is a compassionate and knowledgeable nurse from Lithuania who brands herself a murderer as she grieves for her lost cousin and family. Emilia has been fleeing the Russian troops since she left Poland and is harboring a precious secret under her coat. Florian is a Prussian art restorer who is enacting his vengeance upon the Reich as he travels undercover. Alfred is an SS officer and sailor who maniacally worships Hitler and fantasizes about proving his heroism to the world at large.

Through the voices of these four young narrators, Salt to the Sea reveals to readers the calamitous tale of the Wilhelm Gustloff – which, despite the loss of over 9,000 lives when it sank at the hands of Russian torpedoes, is to this day a much overlooked tragedy in maritime history. This enormous pit of loss, horror, and despair is where Salt to the Sea is at its best. The fear and hopelessness of these characters is palpable, as is their will to survive and continue on toward salvation and a better life. It is easy to feel their grief and guilt for those they were forced to leave behind, and for those who died along the way during the long, hard trek.

It is quite clear that Sepetys was meticulous and exhaustive when it came to her research. The content of this novel meant much to her – one need only to read her touching Author’s Note at the end of the novel for proof. Unfortunately, I found that I was unable to forge an emotional connection with the novel, nor did I form any sort of attachment to one or more of the characters. The structure of the book was short and choppy, with each chapter only a few pages or less – this isn’t always a problem for me, however, with four separate narrators it cut short the time spent with each character and put me at a disadvantage when it came to forging a relationship with anyone.

Salt to the Sea is definitely a novel worth reading, if not for any other reason than this is a haunting tale that needs to be told to the masses.  The horror and tragedy of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the enormity of the impact on the people who were kicked out of their homes and forced to trek so many miles through vicious snow and low temperatures, and the fate of so many who were a part of Operation Hannibal as they attempted to escape the Eastern Front press of the Russian army are things that must not fall by the wayside of our awareness.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – Read it today!

3 stars

Source: Lincoln City Libraries

Review: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

close-your-eyes-hold-hands“A heartbreaking, wildly inventive, and moving novel narrated by a teenage runaway, from the bestselling author of Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls.
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless teen living in an igloo made of ice and trash bags filled with frozen leaves. Half a year earlier, a nuclear plant in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom had experienced a cataclysmic meltdown, and both of Emily’s parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault. Was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to flee their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer’s apartment, and inventing a new identity for herself — an identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. When Emily befriends a young homeless boy named Cameron, she protects him with a ferocity she didn’t know she had. But she still can’t outrun her past, can’t escape her grief, can’t hide forever—and so she comes up with the only plan that she can.
A story of loss, adventure, and the search for friendship in the wake of catastrophe, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is one of Chris Bohjalian’s finest novels to date—breathtaking, wise, and utterly transporting.” – Publisher Summary

I love Chris Bohjalian. I’ve read most of his novels, and most of those have blown me away. So it is no surprise that Bohjalian’s first YA novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is yet another page-turning example of his talent. Sixteen-year-old Emily Shepard is living a good life in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, until the day that the nuclear power plant that her father controls Melts. Down. Yes, y’all. We’re talking nuclear meltdown here.

Both of Emily’s parents are killed in the tragedy, and both are being blamed for it as well. Ashamed and afraid, Emily runs from helping hands and finds herself homeless in Burlington, Vermont, running with a parade of homeless or near-homeless cohorts as she tries to make sense of her new world. When she comes across a nine-year-old fellow runaway named Cameron, she takes him under her wing and the two become a team until disaster tears them apart and Emily departs back to familiar and tragic territory.

There is such a sense of loss in this novel; you feel it in your stomach throughout the entire book. You want to feel hope for Emily, but she has no hope for herself, and she has no plans to help herself, really, so it’s hard to feel optimistic that she’s going to make it to the other side. Bohjalian’s writing style in this novel is unusual – Emily goes back and forth and in-between as she weaves her tale for us. It didn’t really work for me; I found it to be much too erratic and disjointed.

My favorite part of the novel by far is when Emily is living alone within the Exclusion Zone – I can see her wandering the empty streets, roaming through her neighbors’ homes, curling up in her own bed once again. Most of us know the relief of returning home after being away for a period of time, and I can just feel the sweet comfort flowing through her body as she melts once again into her sheets.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is not a feel-good read, so if you’re looking for a pick-me-up, don’t look in this direction. If you are looking for a deeply moving and birds-eye view of tragedy, homelessness, innocent love, and redemption, this is where you want to be. Don’t pass this one up, folks.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian – on sale July 8, 2014.                 Buy it, read it, love it.

4 stars

Source: Doubleday Books {via NetGalley}

 

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