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Book Chat – Buying Less Books & Reading My Own Crap

One of the biggest problems I had as a book nerd in my teenage and college years was that I loved to buy books. I mean to the point of hoarding. Now, there’s nothing wrong with having a lot of books, but as I’ve joked about my “Shelf of Shame” it really is one of those things where I get super frustrated with myself. So I decided to make a conscious effort the last few years: cut back on the book buying. It just started to make sense, but then a new problem arose.

The Dilemma: 

I work at a public library. When I get to process the new books I am like a kid at Christmas with excitement. I was already a heavy user of my library even before getting the job, but I found myself getting this rut where I kept taking out books, reading them, and then not reading my own stuff. “It’s for the circulation stats!” I would tell myself, but it didn’t help my massive pile of personal books. In March I devoted myself to reading all the books I’ve had out from the library (and at the time of this post I am down to two left) because in April I am putting myself on a ban for a little while. The only thing I won’t ban myself from is new comics and manga since I read and return it fast enough. But book books? Yeah, I need to control myself.

The other issue is ARCs. I love my ARCs, I love reviewing books for you guys, I love sharing stuff I am enjoying as well. I admit, this one likely won’t stop, but I do need to work on balancing the ARCs and my own reads better. What I am going to try to do again is do one ARC, one personal read and try to keep the back and forth going. Sometimes an ARC is not what I am craving, so I may just slip into reading what I want.

Trying to Find a Solution:

If I am being honest, I would say 2016 was the year I really did start to reduce my book buying and stick with it. I still buy books from authors I love to support and one of my goals is to donate ARCs I’ve kept and replace them with a legit copy. Because money can be a real tight thing, sometimes you have to get crafty. One thing I love doing is book trades, which I have a select group of people I trade with and that has been a wonderful thing. It’s allowed me to give away books I know I won’t read again and in exchange get something I want to read. However, it also adds to the pile.

One thing in 2017 I am doing different is giving myself specific reading challenges for the year and each month. In my goals journal I’ve given myself a few broader goals for the year:

  • Read 200 books
  • Read ten Non-Fiction books
  • Read five 500+ page books
  • Complete/Catch-up on 10 Series

I find recording what I read base on my challenges has been very helpful. It allowed me to visualize what I have on my shelves that need to be tackled. It also just helps is planning some of my reading for the month. I have managed to complete my reading goals for the first two months without trouble, but we will see how things go throughout the year. I always try to keep my goals every month even though sometimes it’s very difficult. Still, I try to stay positive!

Where To Go From Here?

Frankly, this is the larger question I ask myself. One of my goals is to read my own stuff and down-size my books. I have ideas on what I plan to do with the books I don’t want to keep, and I’ve weeded and pruned my collection down to stuff I still want to read. If I can continue to use my library less (which I love so hard) and keep reading my own stuff, I’d like to think that once my husband and I are ready to downsize that my collection will be much more manageable.

Here’s hoping I can stick to this plan. It’s going to be tough, but I really need to keep at my Shelf of Shame and focus on reading what I have. I hate not being able to support authors financially, and I do try when I can (or instead encourage my library to buy it so others can enjoy). Cutting back on things you love to spend money on is hard, and given the amount of money I have spent in the past? I feel like I have a lot of work to do.

Book Chat – Falling Back In Love With Manga

Growing up I used to be a huge anime and manga fan. I used to consume it like it was candy. Then somewhere in the land of getting older and crustier, I stopped enjoying and perusing both mediums. My husband still religiously (and to this day) follows anime and manga, but somehow I fell super out of love with it.

In 2016 when I got my new job at the library, I gained a work!wife who reintroduced me back in manga. She constantly recommends new titles to me stuff she’s enjoyed, as well as stuff the teens at our local branch have been devouring as well. We also bonded over old anime classics like Saiyuki, and newer  shows like Yuri On Ice!!! My friend and co-worker did this amazing job of accidentally rekindling my love for manga and anime. Now, I struggle to stop.

Admittedly, I borrow a lot of manga from my work and that’s just because there is so much of it out there that it’s hard to keep up. It also gets insanely expensive as well. But I am finding that I am getting more and more into it. Especially when I see the kinds of manga that I am trapping for holds, or just what the teens come and talk to me about. It’s AWESOME. I now find myself completely down the rabbit hole for Haikyu, which is my friend’s favourite at the moment. I recently devoured Steins;Gate, which made me so happy considering I got a different ending in the video game than the one the manga implies is canon. I feel like anime and manga is back to those golden years where I was super in love with it. She also recommended Food Wars, and I am currently keeping up with Danganronpa as it releases in English.

I am just so happy with the amount of diversity in manga now. I was starting to worry for the longest time that it was mainly going to be moe and nothing but, and yet it’s so great to see the variety of titles that exist in English, as well as the popularity a lot of these series, old and new, still have. I admit, Haikyu for example is bringing me back to that dangerous fangirl territory I was in back when I loved Prince of Tennis. Reading Danganronpa reminds me how much I love the video games, and reading JUDGE instilled fear in me in a way which I didn’t think was entirely possible.

So dear readers of this blog who are manga fans: what are some manga out there that you can recommend for someone who is slowly getting back into the hobby? I’d be curious to know what some of the favourites are!

#TBRTakedown 5.0 Results

Sooooooo…. #TBRTakedown 5.0 happened back at the beginning of February and I never did share my results with you guys on how I did. It ran from Feb 6-12 and was hosted by Shannon @ Leaning Lights, who if you’ve never watched her booktube channel, you should, she is a treasure. I was hoping to complete all five books and challenges, and sadly only completed three (though I read the other two books I missed this month as well). Here’s a picture of my TBR:

c3yabjkxuaa9zts The Challenges! (* indicates it was completed during that week)

1) TBR Shelf for Over a Year – The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
by E. Lockhart (3.5/5 Stars)

2) Most Recent Book Haul – The Crossover by Kwame Alexander* (4/5 Stars)

3) First Book in a Series – A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee* (3/5 Stars)

4) Sequel in a Series – Windwitch (The Witchlands #2) by Susan Dennard (3.5/5 Stars)

5) Out of Your Comfort Zone – The Season of You & Me by Robin Constantine (romance)* (1/5 Stars)

So the only two book I didn’t get to were The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and Windwitch. However, I did make time this month to finish them and I am glad that I did. If you ever have the chance to participate in this readathon, you absolutely should make the time. It’s a ton of fun to do the challenges and come up with a workable TBR for the event. Hopefully Shannon runs another one soon!

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – February Reads

With February having just recently ended, it’s time to check in on the Book Riot Read Harder 2017 Challenge. This month I only managed to complete two challenges, which isn’t as much as January, but I am still happy with the results all the same.

Let’s see what was read, shall we?


30102870History is All You left Me by Adam Silvera

Completes Challenge #15Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.

Thoughts: I read History is All You Left Me in the course of a day. When I wasn’t reading it, I was constantly thinking about it. This is a beautifully written book about a boy who loses his first love at a young age and it alternates between present time and the past. Griffin and Theo’s friendship-turned-relationship is organic, it’s vibrant, and you see how they bring the best out of each other. Silvera has this knack for making you laugh on one page, and then gut punching you on the next. This is a great LGBT romance novel, and I highly recommend it.


17296690He Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander

Completes Challenge #24Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.

Thoughts: Okay, so I am really heartbroken about this. I have been loving the hell out of Kwame Alexander’s books, but this one I am sad to say fell short for me. Which sucks because this is his first novel that I’ve read that isn’t in verse. The romance in this book was grating, corny, and I struggled so much with Omar’s character. On the opposite, I adored Claudia to pieces and I loved how important the cause in the story was to her. I think Alexander does a great job handling topics like abortion, teen pregnancy, but the characters and writing in this book fall short of what I feel he is better capable of. I found the side characters to be very flat (also I hated the way Fast Freddie was written). But yeah, there’s great ideas and the political side of this book is great. It’s just too bad it’s the smaller part of this novel.

Still love ya, Kwame Alexander. I still think you’re prose is beautiful.

Book Riot’s Read Harder 2017 Challenge – January Reads

I wasn’t fond of the challenge list for last year’s Book Riot’s “Read Harder Challenge.” I adored and completed the 2015, which I chronicled on the blog two years ago now, and realized how much I missed doing this year long event. Here is the full list of challenges. Every month I am going to share with you all some progress I’ve made on the challenges, as well as some thoughts on each read.

Let’s get to it!

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The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot and Score in This Game Called Life by Kwame Alexander

Completes Challenge #1Read a book about sports.

Thoughts: I actually participated in a blog tour for this book, which you can read my full thoughts here. If I am being honest, I am not that big on sports (unless you count, like, figure skating and bowling), so this challenge was going to be tough for me. Then I read this gem, which is a book about sports and it’s also about being inspiration and using sports metaphors to explain how life can work sometimes. Kwame Alexander is an amazing writer whom I am glad I have discovered at the beginning of this year, and I already plan to make time to read the rest of his current published works as I get my hands on them. Seriously, a small book with a big impact.


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Midnight Without A Moon by Linda Williams Jackson

Completes Challenge #2: Read a debut novel.

Thoughts: Another book I reviewed, and you can read my thoughts on here. This book is a stunning debut that looks at racism in 1955, during the time in which Emmett Till, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Beautifully written, it’s one of those books that you have a hard time believing is a debut as you read it. Rose Lee Carter is definitely a heroine you can cheer for. Loved this book to pieces. ❤


26892070Secret of the Time Tablets (Cleopatra in Space #3)
by Mike Maihack

Completes Challenge #6: Read an all-ages comic.

Thoughts: I LOVE the Cleopatra in Space series, and this is the third volume. I think Mike Maihack is really talented at making characters that children and adults can relate to while also creating a very addictive plotline. Cleopatra is a heroine who is easy to root for, once in awhile follows her namesake to a tee, and often gets into a lot of trouble. She also has a fabulous supporting cast as well. This is a fantastic middle grade adventure series that definitely will get even reluctant readers asking for the next volume.


29775583Ms. Marvel, Vol. 6: Civil War II (Ms. Marvel, Volume III & IV #6)
by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Adrian Alphona 

Completes Challenge #18: Read a superhero comic with a female lead.

Thoughts: I LOVE Ms. Marvel, though I admit I haven’t really been keeping up with Civil War II (frankly, I’m not that interested in it either). But I do love Kamala, and I always want to see what my girl is up to. This installment starts off with a hilarious short story that pits Miles and Kamala against each other. It is pretty genius. The rest of the comic focuses on her newfound frustrations with Captain Marvel, and a nasty disagreement. There’s some witty writing here, art is still fabulous and this adds another darker layer to Kamala’s story. Good stuff.

I think I am off to a good start. Here’s hoping for more great reads next month!

2017 Releases That Are On My Radar

The new year is coming and I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface with all of the releases that 2016 has had to offer. It’s the same old song and dance, there’s never enough time to read everything, but darn it you’re going to give it a college try!

I thought today I would focus on a few releases in 2017 that are coming and I have on my radar. These are books I am super curious to get my hands on and read just to see if they live up to the expectation that may be forming in my head. Also for the purposes of this post I am avoiding books I actually have ARCs for, mainly to spotlight stuff that I am interested in reading at some point.

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Once And For All by Sarah Dessen (June 6th 2017 by Viking Books for Young Readers)

I am so jazzed for a new Sarah Dessen book. She is one contemporary YA author who I have religiously be reading for over five years. I always find I have such a deep connection to her characters and there is always something in her writing style that just clicks with me. Also this book has a cynical main character who has a dislike for weddings. I may be married and have had a wedding, but man weddings are draining things. I think I am going to like this one!

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Blueberry Pancakes Forever (Tuesday McGillycuddy #3) by Angelica Banks (February 7th 2017 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

This is a reminder to all middle grade fans out there that you should be reading the Tuesday McGillycuddy series. Creative, delightful, and just plain fun this series has been one of my go tos when I am doing middle grade Reader’s Advisory. I think it’s just such a fantastic and imagaintive series for all ages. This is the third adventure for Tuesday and I am dying to see what her and Baxterr’s next adventure is going to be. Have I mentioned this series has the best covers ever? Because they do.

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When Dimple Met Rishi
by Sandhya Menon (May 30th 2017 by Simon Pulse)

THIS BOOK SOUNDS ADORKABLE. I am not always the biggest on romance, but I don’t mind it in YA if the plot is really well fleshed out and it isn’t just a love-at-first-sight-thing. This book gives an inside look to Indian culture and practices, but it also looks like it shows taking charge of oneself and becoming who one wants to be. It just sounds like a great little romance, and I love reading about other cultures, especially ones vastly different from my own.

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee (June 20th 2017 by Katherine Tegen Books)

Confession time: I still haven’t read Mackenzi Lee’s debut and I know I need to. In fact, my bestfriend lent me her copy of the book to ensure I would make time to read it. GGtVV sounds like it’s going to be a crazy fun historical romp, and this is a romp I wanted to read and have fun with.  Yeah, I just want it. I want it now.

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Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2)
by Seanan McGuire (June 13th 2017 by Tor)

I absolutely adored Every Heart, A Doorway, and Seanan McGuire is a favourite author of mine. Colour me crazy surprised that there is going to be a sequel! And I couldn’t be more excited. I won’t say too much about the plot, but definitely read the first book if for the portrayal of an asexual heroine. Seanan McGuire is such an amazing writer and her worlds are always so vivid and it’s always why I keep coming back.

What are your five must-have reads for 2017? Let me know in the comments.

Ten Books to Read Before 2017

Last year I made a list of ten books I wanted to read about the year was out — I decided that list in December, got distracted by shinies and did not complete my challenge. I got through most of them, but I still feel like I failed somewhat. I decided this time around that I would start in November, and hopefully I can knock these ten reads off my TBR. I’ve been dying to read all of these books and for whatever reason I just haven’t grabbed them yet! Let’s look at the ten books I’d like to read before the new year hits (can you believe we only have two months left? Time flies!)

 

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All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr

I got this book via #BooksforTrade over Twitter because everyone and their grandmother told me this book was fantastic. I tend to be wary of people stating when something is the best book ever, but I do love historical fiction (I just have to be in the right mood for it) and this novel’s premise sounds like it will be both interesting and heartbreaking. I love the idea of fated meetings, though I’m not always huge on books set during WWII. I cannot wait to give this read a try!

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Midnight Without a Moon
by Linda Williams Jackson (Release Date: January 3rd 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers)

One of my quests doing RA work is to work on reading more diversely (though as my husband has pointed out, I predominately read novels written by women). I want to work on reading more novels that feature Own Voices and also People of Colour because I think that is such an important issue. I also want to read more novels where the protagonists are not White. What stuck me about Midnight Without A Moon is that it is another piece of historical fiction, written for middle grade audiences, focusing on an event in 1955 when Emmett Till, a young Africian-American boy, is killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. That story is so famous and haunting, and I am interested to see what Linda Williams Jackson shares with that as the backdrop for this debut novel.

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The Monster on the Road Is Me by J.P. Romey

My co-blogger Molly shared this particular novel in her favourite books set in Japan and this one stuck out for me because of what she said and its beautiful cover. I LOVE Japanese folklore and I love books set in Japan, and through the synopsis it just sounds like this book is quite the wild ride. Definitely check out what Molly thought of this book, and I bet you it will sell you on this novel. As for me? I need to make time for it because it sounds like my jam.

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The Burning Chaos (Smoke and Mirrors, #2) by Melissa Giorgio

I LOVED The Fading Dusk last year, and I thought Melissa created a really delightful fantasy world in that story. The sequel released, and of course somehow I haven’t read it yet (I am a crappy friend!). But seriously, the ending of the first book was a fantastic cliffhanger that left me wanting this sequel, and I just can’t believe I didn’t read it right away. I plan to remedy this, and you all should check out the first book because it is AWESOMESAUCE. You can purchase it here if you are interested!

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Black Apple
by Joan Crate

I have actually had an ARC for Black Apple since January of this year and somehow I haven’t read it yet. I’ve heard so many mixed things about this book that it has left me somewhat wary of what I am going to find here. This book is written by a Canadian author and is focusing on Native issues, and I am always a bit hesitant on books like this when they aren’t written by a Native author. I know there is an insanely important message regarding Natives in Canada and the Residential School system, which I do think is an under-discussed issue. I am looking forward to seeing what I think of this one.

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Stars Above (The Lunar Chronicles #4.5)
by Marissa Meyer

I only finally got to Winter this year, and gah, I loved that book so much. Of course this being a short story collection, you would have thought I would have ripped through this after I finished Winter, no? Well, I took a break, and now I want to make sure I read this before the Iko graphic novel Nerve & Wires comes out next year. I also promised my bestie she could borrow this, and should probably make good on that promise.

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The Pants Project
by Cat Clarke (March 1st 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire)

This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2017 and I already have an ARC of it. Part of me knows once I read it, I won’t be able to stop myself. Following the coat-tails of the delightful George by Alex Gino, Cat Clake brings up the tale of a transgendered middle grader who is in transition. I LOVE stories like this, and I will always continue to support books that focus on the transgendered experience. I feel like The Pants Project is going to give me some knowledge and perhaps some bigger feels.

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Love and First Sight
by Josh Sundquist (January 3rd 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

I loved Josh Sundquist’s non-fiction novel We Should Hang Out Sometime, mostly because I loved the honesty and over-the-topness of some of his dating escapades. He’s also just a great speaker in general, and I love how he reminds people that living with a disability doesn’t mean he is any less of a person. This is his first fictional YA novel, and I am looking forward to see if his signature voice and humour may translate over. We shall see, but I am stoked to read this book!

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Caraval (Untitled #1)
by Stephanie Garber (January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books)

This is THE BOOK I keep hearing about in all of the YA bloggosphere, and I am so excited but so nervous to read this book, omg. I am trying to think of coherent thoughts about this book, but all of my lady friends who have read this book have told me nothing but amazing things. AMAZING THINGS PEOPLE. I need to read this, like, now. NOW NOW NOW. *faints*

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American Girls
by Alison Umminger

This is another book a lot of my friends have been raving about and Molly was kind enough to send me a copy of it. Molly and I have this trend in YA that we love and have dubbed “pretty-ugly girls,” which are, pretty, mean and yet we can’t look away from them. I am kinda hoping this fulfills that for me because I haven’t really read any books this year that really fits that trope, and it makes me kinda sad. I definitely need to read this one before the year is out.

 And there you have it! If you have read any of these books I’d love to know your thoughts on them — which are worth reading, passing on, which are OMGAMAZEBALLS and which ones are just ‘okay’. What are some books you want to get to before the year is out? Let me know in the comments!