Tag Archives: reading

Molly & her Raven Boys

kingおう + 王 + ou + KING
Make way for the Raven King!

In the summer for 2013 I read The Raven Boys. I’d been told over and over again by a very good friend that I HAD to read it. I… put it off. I was told to read The Scorpio Races (also by Maggie Stiefvater) and I put it off. Then I ended up getting an eARC of The Dream Thieves and a copy of The Raven Boys for .99 on my kindle so… I read it.

And hated myself for not having read it sooner.

trcThree years later and I have read ALL of Maggie’s books. And I love them all, but The Raven Cycle is just something more for me. It’s something special. I religiously re-read The Raven Boys on January first EVERY year. I have never re-read an entire series of books the way I have with these books. I have never COLLECTED books like this before. I mean, I thought I was a pretty big Harry Potter fan… but The Raven Cycle is my lifesblood.

I was thinking about it the other day, trying to figure out WHY I love this series so much, why I love these characters so much. And I think it’s because it feels like home to me. There are bits and pieces of these stories and characters and settings that speak to me because they were parts of my life. And each one of the boys, Gansey, Ronan, Adam and Noah, have parts of people that I have known and loved in them. I’ve had a grand total of ONE friendship like Blue has with these boys. And I can see my mother and my mother’s friends in Blue’s mother and extended family. I grew up around boys who loved fast cars with big engines and boys who swore too much and boys who were assholes and boys who grew up in the dirt and boys who were princes among men. I grew up with a magical forest (okay, not ~magical~ magical) in my back yard and cows across the street. I grew up with mythology and history and free thinking.

I also love these books because Maggie’s way with words is fucking witchcraft and I love it. I will read ANYTHING she writes and I’m 98% guaranteed to love it by default because of her writing alone.

I finished The Raven King last weekend (I was lucky to get an early copy thanks to my bookstore selling it early, shame on them!). I cried, I laughed, I handed the book to my husband at the end of it all and he tried to put it in the trash because I looked so. damn. lost. I sat on my bed and just SAT there and he came in and asked if I was okay and I just looked at him and said “It’s over. It’s really over.”

Guys, I don’t even know if I was THIS far gone when I finished the last Harry Potter book. The feelings I had after finishing The Raven King… I’m not even sure what to compare them to.

I just fucking love these books. And now I can’t believe that it’s over. But I still have work to do. I love to underline my favorite bits in the paperbacks (I don’t mark up my hard covers or ARCs) so now I have to wait until the paperback comes out so I can re-read and underline EVERY SINGLE RONAN LINE ugh he was perfection in this book.

ANNNND I get to see Maggie in May. I am kinda in shock over this. I thought that I’d never get to meet her and forever be vicariously living through my friends as they meet her and I force them to tell her that I’m their friend! She’s gonna meet me and be like “what a weird-o!” but AH! I can’t wait. I’ll blog about that FOR SURE!

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HI GUYS! If you have made it this far into the post then I will now transition into a less Raven Boys post and into a more personal post. As you all saw, my coblogger, my love, Sammy, recently lost her mother. She just wrote a pot about it (points to post below) and I’d appreciate it if you could all leave her some love and support in the comments!

I do not have much to report on the personal front. I’ve been reading a lot, working at my job, and just hanging out. Husband is busy, as always, being a crazy mad scientist, so that leaves me with a lot of free time to READ. I’ve recently been cooking a lot of Japanese food (you can see it on my instagram @safeaslife) and watching a few anime here and there.

Actually here’s a thing that I’ve been dealing with lately. I’ve really been missing Japan. For those of you that are new, I used to live in Japan, and moved to Boston in 2014 with my husband so he could go to MIT. I lived in Japan for roughly 7 years and I LOVED it. The last year I was there I tried REALLY hard to convince myself that I was ready to leave Japan and part of me was. There WAS a part of me that wasn’t (and probably never will be) ready to leave and I just kinda… shoved that part down really deep. And then I proceeded to ignore that part for the past year and a half. My husband and I were DETERMINED to enjoy our US life and not miss Japan. We were going to eat American food and watch American TV and NEVER touch Japanese anything.

Well, unfortunately for him there’s a thing called culture shock and homesickness. And he did succumb to them. I… did as well. Yes, I am homesick for my second home. And I am FINALLY accepting this. He is too. He used to be so anit-Japanese stuff (minus food) and now we watch a lot of anime and he watched a lot of Japanese TV shows that he misses and we listen to Japanese music and I cook Japanese food and even have started to buy his favorite food (natto) on a weekly basis. I’ve been telling myself that it’s okay to miss Japan and to enjoy the stuff that I loved about Japan. We might move back in the future, we might not. But I need to be okay with this. I mean, I DO love being back in the USA, there’s a ton of stuff that I love/appreciate that I couldn’t get in Japan. But damn, there are times when I am just bowled over with nostalgia and homesickness.

So yeah. There’s that. Oh and I’m thinking about going by my real name on the blog again. I don’t really need to hide behind a pseudonym anymore (and I’ve been using my real name on twitter for awhile now).

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Too much?

I wrote this blog post (below) at like 3am on my phone last night because I couldn’t sleep (hello insomnia!). And even thought I’ve already posted it, I want to add some things now that I’m rested and it’s daylight.

Lately I’ve been revisiting things that I used to love… possibly for ~nostalgia’s sake~ but maybe also just because I really fucking miss who I used to be. And I’m not saying that the person I am now isn’t who I want to be, but I do miss some of the things that I used to really love that have kinda fallen to the wayside…

Music, for one, is something that I used to be OBSESSED with. I lost a lot of my music when my MacBook crashed and I have a very small amount on my iPhone. I do listen to Pandora when I’m at work, but I don’t want it to burn my data (and I don’t have wifi at home) so I tend not to listen to it as much as I used to. When I discovered Halsey over the summer last year it was like a part of me that  was missing had returned.

I do feel like I’ve ditched a lot of things that I used to be very in love with to spend more time reading. I LOVE TO READ. I have always loved to read. But lately I’ve been feeling like a slave to my TBR. Whenever I finish one book I IMMEDIATELY start another. It’s like I just can’t slow down because I feel this NEED to KEEP GOING. And I am neglecting things to read. Myself included.

I spent the past year really getting my foot in the door with publishers and I’ve overwhelmed myself with review books. I feel like I’m constantly getting stuff and while I WANT to read it, at the same time I feel like I HAVE to read it and that can take the joy out of actually reading it.

Reading is not my purpose, but I feel like it has become my purpose. I want to write but then I think about how much reading I wont get done. And then I don’t write. And I want to fucking write my book! I want to go to the gym but I’d rather sit on my butt at home and read. I’ve gained weight since moving back to the USA and I don’t like it I don’t like being unhappy with myself. Yes I am all for being happy with whatever body you have, but at the same time, if you aren’t happy with it then find a way to be. And sitting around eating crap food and feeling like shit isn’t the way that I’m going to find a way to be happy with these extra pounds (and the fact that my favorite shorts don’t fit anymore and that I couldn’t wear them AT ALL last summer).

I guess I just feel like I’m out of balance and that reading has become this thing that I do to avoid my adult problems and that really it just makes things worse for me in the end. Where is this coming from? I put off something important and avoided my stress about not doing said important thing by burying myself in a book and not looking up for a whole month. And guess what, the important thing didn’t go away, and now I am the most stressed out I’ve been in a long, long time. And I hate it. And I did it to myself. Because I don’t have balance.

So this doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop reading or blogging. It doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop requesting or reviewing. It does mean that I’m going to slow down. That reading is going to not be the thing that I strive to do day in and day out. That it’s something that I will do when I have time, when I’m done doing other things that I ALSO want to do.

 

How much is too much of anything? I’ve always been told that there are worse things to be addicted to in life than books. But when your (my) reading obsession (habit) becomes something that is more tangible than anything else where do I stop and realize that this might not be the best?

In the past few years, since I started book blogging, I have proudly read over 100 books a year. This year I wanted nothing less. And I have been reading like a crazy person. I am well on my way to being over my goals (some 20 books ahead) and I’ve found myself spending entire days binge reading a single book in one sitting.

Tomight I ran two miles. I haven’t done that in months. Why? Because I’d rather spend my free time after work and before bed reading. I honestly will rush home to sit there and read and then rush through whatever I have to do before staying up way later than I should to read. And then my entire day is spent in sleepy anticipation of doing it all over again.

I think I have a problem. Reading makes me feel productive. But it’s also something that I can get so easily sucked into. I often have to tell myself to do the laundry, chores, etc before I get sucked into a book or else I might not do it. Sometimes I don’t eat when I’m reading because I don’t realize or just cant be bothered.

I think my reading habits have become unbalanced. And I need to slow down. I need to run two miles more often. I need to spend actual time cleaning my house. I need to enjoy other things and spend time out with friends.

This is me saying that I need to find balance. That I am not going anywhere just that I need to slow down and find balance.

Honesty

Let’s be real friends, I hardly ever blog anymore. Sure I write reviews and Sammy (the best coblogger in the world) posts them but my actual presence over here is lacking. And here’s the thing, I want to blog. It’s just such a hassle because I have to think of a topic, get some images, take some photos and then put it all together. And I just don’t always have the energy for that.

So I’m not gonna do it. Ya’ll like to read books, so you can read my blog text and take it or leave it. I figure the only way I’m going to blog is if I do it the way I want to. Maybe I’m old school (more like just old) but when I started blogging it wasn’t about gifs and being as witty as possible. It was about writing down your thoughts and feelings. And that’s what I’m going to do.

Guys, I can’t believe that it’s 2016. I just renewed my lease on the apartment that I feel like I JUST moved into. My one year anniversary for my “new job” is in three months. My husband just finished his masters thesis (and got all A+s in his classes, boom!) I wrote 2000 words of my Japan Novel for the first time in two years. Time, what are you.

January was an odd month. A lot of famous people died and everyone was sad. It snowed once here in Mass and then it was 40 the next day and all the snow melted. I went to ALAMW and it was AH-MAY-ZING. Yesterday I went to the launch party of my friend Emily’s book, THE YEAR WE FELL APART. I’ve hung out with friends and eaten a lot of good food. I went to Chinatown with husband. We ate sushi and watched a shit ton of anime.

And I’ve read 15 books so far. And while reading I started to think about my reading habits and my likes/dislikes when it comes to YA and how I rate stuff. I came to realize that last year I was reading and rating emotionally. Now that I have more writer friends and we talk about books in a different way I’ve noticed that I’ve started to read more critically. And my ratings are reflecting that… so I think this year I’m going to rate more honestly and read more critically. Sure I’ll let myself get swept up in feels (I just finished The Serpent King and the writing was awful but holy shit the story and characters were amazing and I gave it an honest 5-star rating) and read emotionally, but I think that I’ve grown as a reader and I like that.

I also think that it’s important because I would really like to get back into writing my Japan Novel. I put it aside while moving to the USA and then just kept putting it aside and making up excuses. I’m not going to hold myself to any set standards or goals, but I just would like to finish a first draft by the end of the year. I’m having fun thinking about it again, and I’ve even come up with some fun new things that I want to do with it. I’ve also decided that I’m going to re-write it from the very start. I know that my writing has to have matured in the past two years. And I’ve changed as a person. So I think a fresh start will be good for me, my characters and the story I want to tell.

And that’s about it I guess. I just wanted to write something for the blog and I did. I apologize for being such a bad blogger friend too, I know that I suck at responding to comments and visiting other blogs… but I guess that’s what social media is for… hehe.

Love.

 

Summer of Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride

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I was so shocked when Penguin Teen contacted me and asked if I wanted to participate in the Summer of Sarah Dessen read-along! I was asked to review Along for the Ride for week four, so here I am! I want to thank Penguin Teen SO MUCH for sending me a copy of the book and for asking me to participate. Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors and one that I’ve had the longest “relationship” with.

To be honest, I don’t even know how to review books of authors I love. Because I just LOVE their words too much to even know what to say other than a bunch of adjectives and OMGs. So I thought that along with an attempt to a review I would talk about what Sarah Dessen’s books mean to me.

Years ago, when I was in high school, I did not get along with my younger sister. We were too different. She was super girly and into boys and clothes and make up. I was into vampire books, horseback riding and Japanese culture. I could not connect with my sister at all. We eventually became obsessed with Harry Potter together and slowly became friends. I started to grow into myself and became interested in more feminine things. She gave magic and wizards a try.

When my sister and I would go to the bookstore we would head to different sections. I would get things with paranormal demons in it and she was grabbing books like Gossip Girl. I thought those kinds of books were stupid. I had no interest in ‘chick lit’. I didn’t care about girls and parties and romance.

In one pile of books my sister had a book by Sarah Dessen. I remember to this day that it was Dreamland. For some reason my sister left it in my room and in between vampire and demon books I picked it up. Read it in secret.

And loved it.

Along with Harry Potter my sister and I began to share a love for Sarah Dessen’s books. We’d go to the bookstore and grab the newest one and share it. Even years later, after graduating high school and college we still were sharing Sarah Dessen books. I’d get the newest one and pass it on to her. She’d dig up an old copy and we’d share our memories over it. Now I read about 85% contemporary. I have long let go of my vampire and demon loves. I still enjoy a good paranormal romance here and there, but my love is YA contemporary. There’s just something about it.

But there is nothing like a book by Sarah Dessen. And re-reading Along for the Ride felt like coming home. I just felt so happy and safe and warm while reading it. I haven’t had a chance to grab Saint Anything yet, but I have a copy coming soon and I will dig in as soon as I can.

Sarah Dessen and Harry Potter are the reason that my sister and I are best friends now when we were once sworn enemies. And that is something amazing. Books can save lives.

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Title: Along for the Ride
Author: Sarah Dessen
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect.

Review: Sarah Dessen does two things well: complex family issues and friendships. She does romance perfectly, but there’s just something about the family dynamics in her stories that really makes me think. In this book Auden’s comes from a very academically affluent family. Her mother is a popular professor with many books and awards under her belt and Auden’s father is an acclaimed writer. Both of her parents are selfish people who, while they do love their children, have aspirations for them that might not be their own.

Auden has only known academics. She’s god at them, and never felt the need for a social life. Her brother is the opposite, he’s wild and charming and runs off into the world to do whatever he wants. And his charisma lets him get away with it. Auden, on the other hand, cannot seem to get the attention of both her parents. She works hard, studies, but it’s just not something that either of them really see because it’s what is expected.

So during the summer before her first year of college, Auden decides to go stay with her father, who is living with his new wife and newborn baby, in a small ocean side town. Auden dislikes her super-girly-annoying stepmother and isn’t necessarily looking forward to spending time with her. Auden instead imagines spending time with her literate father who is working on his new best seller.

Only when Auden arrives she finds her stepmother, Heidi, stressed out to the max while trying to care for the new baby, and her father hiding away in his office working on his book. The father made me SO MAD in this because he is just THAT selfish. While the mother was also incredibly selfish, at least her actions didn’t directly impact anyone the way that the father’s did. There were SO many times I wanted to scream at him, and when Auden finally let go and told him how she felt I cheered for her.

Along with spending time with her family, Auden takes a job at Heidi’s clothing shop where she’s surrounded by girls and girly things. Things that Auden doesn’t like, understand, or respect. Slowly over the summer though she becomes friends with the girls who work there and is even surprised when she finds out that the girls aren’t as shallow as originally perceived. I loved that Auden slowly learned that her judgements were off and that she actually had a lot more in common with the girls than expected.

And finally the romance between her and Eli was perfection. I loved the way that he slowly opened up to her and how he shifted her view on life. How they were having fun spending time together and that the ultimate goal wasn’t getting into bed together. I loved the slow burn and how he helped Auden discover things about herself that she didn’t even know she wanted or needed.

As I’ve said before, Sarah Dessen’s books make me feel so warm and happy and I just love them so much.

For you to notice

omg.

I am so sorry I disappeared.

Sammy, you are the best coblogger in the history of cobloggers and I am so sorry that I am the worst. sobs.

Sooooooooooo hey guys. What happened? Well, my husband and I were EXTREMELY unhappy with our housing situation and one thing lead to another and then things snowballed and People with Power were consulted with and fees were waived and documents signed and now we live in a new apartment closer to both our workplaces and the T and just… stuff. And it’s quite and the problems we were having are gone and we are HAPPY.

But it was a lot of work and I couldn’t do anything for a good long while because I was so busy. Things like reading, reviewing and blogging. I was able to tweet so some of you were privy to those crazy weeks.

Things do seem to be calming down and I’m able to read more (albeit not as much as I used to, but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen again) and I even wrote my first review in a long time! I’m…. not even going to look at my bookish resolutions because I’m going to just cry at how optimistic and hopeful I was.

I am going to talk about how I basically threw my reading schedule out the window of a speeding bus and watched it get run over by a semi-truck. Because I am dubbin this READWHATIWANT2015 (at least that’s my goodreads shelf). Yes, I am going to give ARCs priority (esp if they’re physical) but I’m not going to forced myself to read EVERY SINGLE ARC that I can get. I did this for the past two years and I read A LOT of crap. So I’m going to read what I want! And if I don’t want to read an ARC then I’m not going to. And I’m going to tackle my physical TBR shelf because it’s full and I have SO many books that I want to read!

i have also sadly made the decision to leave my bookstore job for lots of personal reasons and I’m happy to say that I AM going to start working at MIT soon! I am BEYOND excited with my new position and so excited to join MIT as a staff member.

That said my new job is going to take some time to learn and adjust to and while I’m hoping to get back to reviewing I’m still not sure where I am with actual blogging. I’ve been doing a little more personal blogging over at Safe As Life but not a ton. I am on twitter so you can always chat with me there. But hopefully this summer (I feel like I ALWAYS say this) I can get back into things. WAIT FOR ME SAMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Until then keep loving Gansey’s fancy face and be nice to Sammy! ❤

#TBTBSANTA

SecretSanta55This year I participated in The Broke & The Bookish Secret Santa. This was a first for me and I was really excited to try something new and to hopefully make some new friends in the book blogging world.

My Santa was Heidi from YA Bibliophile and OMFG SHE WAS THE BEST SANTA EVER!!!!!!!! Look at the amazing that she sent me!

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5Sorry (not sorry!) to brag but omggggggggg she hit it all on the nose! I got swag from some of my fav authors and some of my fav books and then she COMPLETED MY MAGGIE COLLECTION!!! (With SIGNED books!)

Major thank you to Heidi for being so awesome and Jamie from The Broke and The Bookish for pairing us up!!!

Also, Sammy McSamSam the BEST COBLOGGER IN THE UNIVERSE made this happen when she met Maggie last month.

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Best. Present. In. History.

Anyways, just wanted to blog about SOMETHING because I’ve been awful about updating over here and I’m going to make a real effort starting in the new year to update and blog more. I really want to get more serious about reviewing and just making this blog more interesting. I want to get more into the book blogging world now that I’m back in the USA and can attend events and just do MORE. So stay tuned for MORE, I guess!

River’s Reading Habits

I feel like I used to read A LOT more when I was in Japan. Now that I have some free time I’m reading about the same amount, but I think that my reading habits have changed a lot and this is leading to the feeling of ‘omggggggggggg I never get to read anymore!’

So I thought it would be fun to share my reading habits! in Japan I used to work 2pm-9:30pm. I had a 15 minute train ride, and a half hour wait FOR the train after work. So I used to read in the morning (usually from 8:30am – noon while doing housework and eating lunch) and then I’d read on the train, on my hour lunch break at work, and then while waiting for the train. I 100% read on my kindle on my commute and at work. At home I would sometimes read physical books, but it wasn’t very common since I didn’t have a lot with me (due to space and access to a bookstore with a decent English section). I also read a lot when I got home because my husband was either not home or busy doing stuff for work/ prepping for grad school. I also had zero friends during the last two years of Japan (where I lived, all of my friends were in Tokyo, which was two hours away from where were living).

NOW… I work from either 9-5 or 11-7. I don’t have time to read in the morning. I ride my bike to work so I don’t get to read during my commute. At work I have two 15 minutes breaks and a 30 minute lunch, which I do use to read, but it’s not like I can really get into anything. When I get home I cook dinner (husband and I used to eat separate due to our schedules), make our lunches for the next day, do the dishes (I feel like I do this 90% more than I did in Japan), take a shower and get ready for bed. This usually leaves me with 1-2 hours of reading time depending on if husband wants to hang out or play pool/ ping pong. He’s also home A LOT more which leads to us talking and generally hanging out more than we used to at home.  On weekends I’m usually at home but I have to do things like laundry and shopping (in Japan I would do that on my days off and spread it out over two days, now I do it all in one day), and husband and I try to get out and do stuff sometimes. I still have zero friends buuuuut I just moved here, so I’m giving myself a break.

So mainly my daily schedules and routines have changed A LOT which means that my old ‘reading time’ has shifted and become super broken up. The only time I can really get into a book and read for hours now is if husband is super into his work at night and stays up really late (I stay up with him) or on the weekend.

Also I’ve noticed HOW I read has changed a lot too. As I said, in Japan I read on my kindle almost exclusively. The only time I ever had physical books was when I either: won something and had my mom send it to me, made a trip to Tokyo and picked up a couple of things at Kinokuniya, or a friend sent me something. I LOVE my kindle and I’m pretty addicted to eARCs and kindle edeals, so there’s a lot of selection on my kindle. But now that I’m in the states, WORK AT A FREAKING BOOKSTORE (hellooooo discount!), and have space for books I’m reading A LOT more physical books.

Physical books:

photo 1I am giddy beyond belief that I can do this. I am not a book snob and I am not going to disown you for having an ereader. I’m not going to preach about the feel/smell/texture/whathaveyou merits about physical books. But I do love books, I love to collect my favorites, and it makes me so happy that I can basically get whatever I want now (and not break my wallet).

So far I’ve been reading physical books at home. I don’t really want to haul them around with me because I have limited space in my bag (which is a small backpack now because it’s too much hassle to deal with a purse in a bike basket). I usually rotate between reading a physical book and then something on my kindle.

Kindle
photo 2Oh my old keyboard kindle. You have served me well. I love this thing and will cry when it finally dies on me and I have to switch to a touch screen. I love the side buttons! I used to read both ARCS and finished books on here, but now I mainly read eARCs. I do have a pile of finished books that I got through amazon eDeals on here, so I really should work on those someday too… hahaha. I used to keep this in my purse, but there’s no good way to keep this in my current bag without putting the screen in danger, so I’ve stopped carrying it around with me. I tried to read it at work, but it was too much hassle to go down to my locker, get it out, take it to the break room, read, and then return it all in my 15 minute break. So I leave it at home and read on it when I’m not reading a physical copy.

iPhone
photo (2)This is the biggest change to the way I read. Yes, I read on my iPhone. I didn’t want to, but as I said, getting my kindle out at work was just too much trouble and wasted my break (and lead to no reading time) so I decided to start reading on this (I keep it with me while I’m working, so I don’t have to waste time going and getting it/ putting it away). I 99% read eARCs on this (and 1% novellas). I generally try to read short things on here because I hate how it feels like it takes me FOREVER to get through something. I also read on it in short doses, so it doesn’t bother my eyes too much. (It’s also nice to grab and read on for a bit when I’m laying in bed waiting for husband and don’t want to get up and get my kindle). I know a lot of people could never imagine reading on their phone (and I’ve had a few coworkers ask me about it) but for me I’d rather READ than anything, and using this allows me to do just that.

So what do you think? Are my reading habits super weird? Are yours similar? I’d love to hear how YOU read (and I hope that Sam will post her own reading habits on here soon!)