Tag Archives: ya fiction

Recent Bookish Adventures

Hello! Look at me update! And not take six months to do it! So last month (June) and this month (July) have been rather bookish! In July I read something like 18 books and I’m now 28 books ahead on my goodreads challenge (to read 100 books). Holy crazy wow. Also last month I attended two book events here in Boston.

The first event was a children’s lit trivia night. I went with the lovely Mackenzi Lee and some other authors and book friends and while we did not win, we did exceptionally well (and I think we got like 4th place). I knew like two answers but hey, it was fun to go out and meet some new people.

After that Mackenzi and I set up the first Boston Book Swap (okay I’m sure it’s not THE FIRST but whatever, it’s the first of more that we plan to have!) we got the idea from the popular #booksfortrade on twitter and first it was just going to be the two of us swapping books but then we thought hey! let’s invite more people! So we (she) contacted all the book people we know in Boston (I know like, five, but more now!) and set up the party. Everyone was allowed to bring 10 books to trade. Sadly the day of the party was very stormy and rainy and not that many people wanted to trek out to Mackenzi’s place, so we only ended up with six people. But it was a TON of fun and there were A LOT of books!

IMG_1265All the books that were brought!

How it worked was like this: we each drew a number and then went around in a circle. You were allowed to choose one book from the floor OR you could steal a book from another person. Each book was allowed to be stolen three times. It took awhile and there were some hilarious steals but we all went home with lots of books!

IMG_1270All the books I ended up with! (Two were BEA gifts from Nicole and a few were extra’s given to me by Mackenzi)

I feel like the book swap was a success and I hope that more people will go next time!

This month I’ve been reading a lot as well, probably not as much as in June, but I DID get a huge ARC package from HarperCollins so I have A LOT of stuff to read…

IMG_1484IMG_1487I’m still in shock at how generous Harper was to me this month. This is my third time getting ARCs from them and this is the most I’ve gotten so far. I’m SO excited to read all of these, and a few are books that I have been DYING to read one of them being…

IMG_1486We are not surprised at all, now are we?

Again I cannot say how happy I am to be back in the USA where I can have the chance to participate in book events and make book friends and get physical ARCs. My bookish heart is filled and my bookish dreams are slowly being fulfilled.

Cultural Accuracy in YA

Lately there has been a big push for more diversity in YA. Non-white main characters, non-American (non-Western) settings, LGBQTI characters, and so on. With that comes the challenge of writing not only diversely, but accurately. Often non gay or non POC authors get flack for not writing their gay or POC characters stereotypical and cliche. And I’m glad that this stuff is being addressed. It’s important that diversity isn’t used as a gimmick.

I take issue with books set in Asia that are not accurate. I’ve run across a few ‘white girl goes to ::insertAsiancountryHERE::’ novels that have thrown me into a rage. It’s a topic that I feel very close to, and I’ve decided to write about it here. I polled twitter and facebook and people are interested, so here we go.

179542_10100696192142385_2114367399_nBefore we get too far I want to say that while I am addressing accuracy in books set in Asia, Japan specifically, I am not an expert on Japan and Asia. I do feel that I am qualified to speak about this topic though because I lived in Japan for seven years. I did one year of study abroad in Tokyo while living with two host families and then after graduation I worked in Japan for another six years. I lived in Tokyo, Saitama, and Ibaraki. I worked for three different English teaching companies. I did my taxes in Japanese. I went to the hospital in Japanese. I got married to a Japanese man and have an extended family still in Japan. I might not still be living in Japan, but I have life experience there (I almost died twice!) Oh, and I have a minor in East Asian Studies. So that’s as far as my “authority” goes.

Japan is a beautiful country, Japanese is a difficult language, and the culture is very different 268770_10100219200966525_3845584_nfrom Western culture. One of the biggest issues I have with some of the YA books set in Japan is that the MC usually acclimates way too quickly. She (so far I’ve only read one book with a male MC) picks up the language in no time and never suffers from culture shock. In Ink, by Amanda Sun, our MC, Katie, moves to Japan to live with her aunt after her mother’s death. Not only is Katie dealing with grieving, she’s suddenly dumped in a new country. And yet she does FINE. We’re lead to believe that the dialogues are all in Japanese (which just was so confusing because it’s all written in English, hence it is a translation of the Japanese being spoken) and there is no way that Katie has mastered Japanese that quickly. In the book she often comments on her poor Kanji skills, but then she’s seen writing emails to her friends in Japanese. And with little trouble. There are a few times when we see her struggling, but her language skills (while not shown in actual Japanese) are pretty flawless. From my own experiences learning Japanese in class and learning Japanese on the street are two different things. When I moved to Japan for study abroad I had studied Japanese for three years in college. When I got there I thought I was the shit and would be able to communicate no problem. Instead I had a horrible time. I struggled so much. I even gave up after awhile. I did have friends that flourished and became very good at Japanese in a short period of time, but even then they weren’t fluent quiet yet. So unless Katie had some amazing secret language genius that the author didn’t let us in on, that was just totally unbelievable to me.

I also take issue with the lack of culture shock most MCs face. In both Ink and Katie M. Stout’s Hello, I Love You! (which was set in South Korea, so I can’t comment much on the Korean culture in this one) the MCs seem to have no trouble leaving their troubled pasts behind and flourishing in these new, unfamiliar places. Katie almost seems to forget about her mother and the most “culture shock” I saw her have was when she couldn’t eat karage (a type of fried chicken using sesame oil) for lunch and had to eat PB&J. Later on this is used to show Katie’s “growth” as she leaves her American-ness behind to embrace her Japanese self or something. It really bothered me that she never had any true culture shock. And not ‘oh this is a weird thing in Japan’ (that is not real culture shock), but the debilitating anxiety that comes before having to go use the ATM or send a package at the post office or get your hair cut. The feeling that it’s probably safer to stay inside where you don’t have to face something in a foreign language. Culture shock that myself and many of my friends faced when first living in Japan. Hello, I Love You‘s MC, Grace,  never even had jet lag, let alone culture shock. This is such a real thing and should be explored! I know that it probably takes away from what the author wanted the story to be about (romance in a foreign land) but it’s just not accurate at all.

574635_10100599906679225_1114244541_nMy number on biggest rage inducing trope in these books is the ‘white girl can’t use chopsticks’ stereotype. But Molly!, you cry, I’m a white girl and I can’t use chopsticks! I’ve tried! Well guess what, you weren’t taught properly. And if you were taught properly, you could do it. It’s NOT hard. And it makes me so mad that people think it is. And it makes me RAGEFULL when this is used to show growth. It’s not growth. When you learn how to use a fork does that show that you’ve really made strides as a person and have really come to accept the land around you? No. (Guess what, Japanese people can use forks! And spoons! And knives!) Also, being judgmental about food. I get that in a lot of these books the MC doesn’t want to go to whatever country they’re going to. They didn’t choose, and I did. But they should still try. I don’t understand the judgement. I recently read Holly Smale’s Geek Girl: Model Misfit. This book takes place in Japan, and it’s probably one of the best YA books set in Japan that I’ve read to date. The MC wants to go to Japan, has some interest, but she’s there as a tourist. She’s not expected to act like someone who’s living there, trying to assimilate. And I loved how fun it was to see Japan the way I saw it when I first went there. And that first time EVERYTHING IS AWESOME feeling isn’t in either Ink or Hello, I Love You! You might think it shouldn’t be in either of those books because both of the MCs are in Japan and Korea following some heavy issues, but I do feel like they should have experience some of that initial I’M HERE euphoria. That’s NATURAL of traveling anywhere (and, also, a stage of real culture shock!). I loved Geek Girl’s wide eyed fun view of Japan. And I loved how freaking accurate all of it was! (some of the Japanese romanizations weren’t 100%, but other than that, so good). I also loved that there was no judging of the food (or anything really).

The best book I’ve read that was set in Asia has to be Listen,
22477286Slowly, by Thaniha Lai. I don’t know much about Vietnam, but this book is about a young girl who’s, I believe, 3rd generation Vietnamese. She has no connection to the country other than it’s where her parents and grandmother are from. She knows maybe five words of Vietnamese, and has no interest in her heritage. She then has to go spend the summer there with her grandmother and the MC suffers culture shock, acceptance, and immersion. She also reconnects with her grandmother and starts to accept and show interest in her heritage. Now, this book doesn’t have a white MC (she is very American/ Western tho), so maybe that’s part of it, but also I believe the author has real experience in Vietnam or with Vietnamese culture. And I feel that therein lies the problem with a lot of these books. While they are researched, they aren’t lived. When I find out that an author didn’t truly LIVE (not stay, not visit, LIVE) in the country they’re writing about (and they claim they did) I can see how it falls into stereotypes and inaccuracies. With Ink I felt like I was reading a manga. With Hello, I Love You I felt like I was reading a Kdrama. When your source material is already fiction it’s difficult to construct your own accurate fiction.

Anyways, these are just a few thoughts I have on this topic (I have more!) and in no way is this post intended to attack the books and authors mentioned. I believe that the authors tried their best, but at the same time could have done better to keep things more accurate. I am not critiquing the stories or the writing, only the inaccurate portrayals of what it’s like to be a foreigner (specifically a western female) living abroad in an Asian country.

295113_10100599907248085_553024258_nFeel free to leave me your thoughts in the comments and let’s have a dissuasion! Also, I’m interested in hearing about if you have any experience with books set in countries that you have experience in! For example, I’ve had a few British friends have trouble with Anna and the French Kiss! I’d love to know more about the inaccuracies that take place in books set in other countries as well!

A Bookish Update of Sorts

IMG_1240Look at all my babies! I mean um Hi! I know I haven’t posted in a million years (Sammy is the best! I’d make the hands up emoji on here if I could). I’m TRYING. I know, I say that every time. But life has just been so busy! And now it’s summer and I’m really enjoying my new job and Husband is in Super Research Mode, so I’ve been Reading All the Time. And not blogging enough. So this is my attempt to update y’all on my bookish endeavors as of late!

If you follow me on twitter you know that I’ve been really into book trading the past few months! I’m one of those people who wants to have ALL the copies of her favorites, even the ARCs. Those are just so hard to get sometimes and they just feel so special to me when it’s a fav. So I’ve been collecting my favs from the past two years and I’ve gotten SO many amazing things! It’s also a little addicting… so I think I need to stop after this next trade…  (which is what I say every time…)

BUT the trading did lead to something good… The First Boston Book Swap! Hosted by myself and The Mackenzi Lee (Author of This Monstrous Thing, out in September) (that was a shameless plug) (It was a shitty choice!) (no it wasn’t!) (somebody get me an ARC!!!) basically we’re getting a bunch of Boston Book People together and we’re going to swap all our books for newer cooler ones! I’ll make sure to take some photos and post about it because I’m sure it will prove to be the Best Party Ever. And will hopefully happen again in the near-future!

IMG_1242

As I mentioned, Husband is in Serious Research Mode so I’ve been reading a lot. Sometimes he doesn’t come home until really late, other times he leaves for his lab really early, and when we do spend time together it’s usually in silence while I basically eat books and he scribbled math stuff on a paper. It’s fun, it works, we’re some type of weird power couple (maybe). But I’ve read like fifteen books so far this month and I STILL HAVE ONE WEEK TO GO! So far my fav book of the month has been Devoted… which opened up lots of issues and gave me all kinds of panic attacks and just made me think SO MUCH.

IMG_1241

I also got this beauty from Sammy for my birthday (yes I’m still accepting presents!) and I read it over the weekend (in two sittings) and now I’m on some weird fantasy kick (maybe too much contemporary?) and I really want a kick-ass sci-fi but alas I don’t have one on my shelf.

And finally today I had an epiphany while I was filing confidential documents at work. I was thinking about my (someday) novel and I finally have a pitch for it! It’s ALL THE RAGE meets Anna & the French Kiss… in Japan! No White Girls Allowed! I’m THISCLOSE to working on it but not quite sure if I’m at A Place where I can do so. We will see!

 

Summer of Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride

tumblr_nod1geFpx21r0yglfo1_500

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.

9780142415566_AlongForTheR_CV.indd

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.

Finished Copy Review — Duplicity by N.K. Traver

IMG_0859

Title: Duplicity

Author: N.K. Traver

Rating: ★★★

Synopsis: In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he’s gone.

River’s review:

Huge thank you to Thomas Dunne Books for letting me review a finished copy of this book!

I had a love-hate relationship with this book. I HATED the first half and LOVED the middle and was okay with the end. Brandon is NOT a likable character an I’m fine with that. But he falls too neatly into the stereotypical pierced, tattooed, black-wearing “bad boy” role for me. I wanted more depth. More than just ‘my parents are always busy boo hoo I’m going to be an ass for basically no reason’. Because yes his parents ignored him, but they were also too stereotypical for me as well. So the first half of the book where we meet Brandon and his family I was just wanted more.

I was so intrigued with the hacker aspect of this book (the whole reason I requested it) and I would have liked to have seen where Brandon had learned some of his skills. A little more history. Because not just everybody can pick that up. I also would have liked to have seen MORE hacking in the beginning. The story jumps right into things and I wish there would have been more build. I also would have liked to have seen more time with Jax and his shady business.

I also really had a problem with the way Brandon treated women in this book. The only girls I really remember were Ginger (portrayed as kinda a trashy goth slut), Beretta (who actually was pretty cool), Alice (? The girl who kept trying to get his attention after he drove the BMW to school. She was portrayed as a trashy preppy slut) and Emma (a pure, delicate snowflake with a perfect body and perfect everything). Hell I didn’t like the way the girls in this book were portrayed period. And I don’t buy that it’s because it’s from a male POV. If that’s how we’re going to write males… well then. I wont get into it. But yeah.

So what I DID like was after Brandon and his duplicate “Obran” (worst. name. ever.) were traded and Brandon was taken into a super computer. That part was SO COOL. I loved the world inside the computer, how Brandon reacted to it, and his new friend Seb. I did roll my eyes a little at how obviously similar it was to Resident Evil (holographic glowing child? Zombie dogs?) but those were good additions (and would have been better if slightly more original). I liked the explanations behind the tech (even if some of it really probably wouldn’t work in real life, or now at least) and the situations that Brandon was facing. The middle portion was gripping and I flew through it.

Brandon’s “solution” to saving himself and Emma was a little confusing, but I liked that his heart was in the right place. I felt so bad for Seb and kept hoping that it was all a joke or a trick. And then the very end… left me hanging. Is there going to be another book? Should there? I’m not sure. Will I read it? Maybe!

So overall this could have been better if it had been fleshed out and a bit more genuine. If all of it had been as gripping as the middle that would have upped it a star and made for an excellent book. If you do like books with hacking and computers then this will be the right book for you!

Physical review copies

Some of you might remember that one of the things about being in the USA that I was most looking forward to was being able to contact publishers for physical review copies of books. I sent out a few requests last summer and got no replies. So I sat on it for a little and then did some research, asked around on twitter, and composed my ‘Dear Publisher’ letter. I think I sent out about 5-6 requests and got one reply. So I tried again and got a few more. Sadly most of them were saying that they didn’t have anymore copies of the book/ I was requesting too early/ to try NetGalley. I DID get put on a blogger list for one publisher and got a response from another. I sent in a few more requests to those two publishers and… nothing. So I was ready to give up, to stick with my eARCs, and to just remain jealous of people who were getting unsolicited copies of books that I’d requested. (I know, I know, I’m not that well known, I don’t have over a thousand followers, I did have a few periods of time where I wasn’t able to review, I KNOW that some of my jealousy is unfounded. But still sometimes it really stings.)

IMG_0859Last week I received this!!!!! I was so shocked and excited! I had requested this from the publisher that has me on their blogger list and I couldn’t believe that they sent me a finished copy! I’m almost done with the book and I can’t wait to review it.

So after that happened I was like ‘yes! I finally made some progress!’ and was feeling pretty good about myself (and hoping that the other book I’d requested from them would show up soon :fingers crossed:) when this happened:

IMG_0892 IMG_0896I almost cried when I opened these two packages. Out of the eight I had requested four and was so happy that Harper sent me all the extras. A lot o them were already on my schedule and I am BEYOND excited that I have ‘A Good Girl’ because I downloaded the eARC last year and never read it and now I have a VERY good reason to!

IMG_0893Receiving Emmy & Oliver though… that made my day, week, month!!!! Robin Benway is one of my favorite authors and I have been so excited for this book. I love having it on my shelf and it’s going to be my next read once I’ve finished the two books I’m currently in the middle of.

I’m just so happy that I was able to connect with the publishers and finally receive some physical ARCs. I was really, really ready to give up. But now I have confidence and hope that I’ll be able to build a good reviewer relationship with them! Ahhhhhhh, I can’t wait to read these!!!!

In other news… I STARTED MY NEW JOB! And so far it’s been amazing. This whole week has been amazing. And it’s only Tuesday!

River’s 2015 Bookish resolutons

GUYS IT IS ALMOST 2015 WHAT THE WHAT.

No for real. I was like writing the wrong date at work all week and I just can’t believe that 2014 is almost OVER. 2014 was a HUGE CRAZY year for me. It was a very difficult, trying year, and not always the best, but damn. A lot happened. As y’all know I moved back to the USA and that was HUGE. My husband started his PhD at MIT and I got a job at a bookstore (dream job!). We’ve adjusted to the move and our new lives and settled quite a bit. There are still some bumps here and there, but aren’t there always? 2014 was also the year of my First Book Event.

So what do I want to accomplish in 2015?

1) Read 100 books or more (or less). So at the beginning of 2014 I set my goodreads goal to 200 books. I AM SO HAPPY THAT I MOVED IT TO 150. And even that was too much. Yes I did accomplish it, but man, there were times when I was like ‘wtf self’. I’m the type of person that I has to see things through (as much as I can) and that goal was SUPER important to me. I knew that if I didn’t finish it I’d be really upset. But that meant that I was just FLYING through books and while I WAS enjoying them (most of them!) I always felt like I had to hurry up and get on with it to get onto the next one and then I wouldn’t even PAUSE between books. If they were ARCs I gave them short reviews. So I want to read less (that sounds so awful!) and take more time and not feel rushed (by myself, hahaha). So this year I’m going to set my goal to 100 and if I go over, yay. But I know that 100 is manageable.

2) Review better. I read a lot of ARCs. I love them! But I have too many. I’m the one who downloads ALLLLL the Harper titles when they’re up on EW. I request anything with a shiny cover. This needs to stop (and it’s slowly stopping). So I’ve told myself that I don’t HAVE to read them all. And that I need to be okay with it. I need to stop requesting ARCs that are popular that I have no interest in. I need to stop worrying about ARCs by authors that I’m not even that into. So I cut a lot of them off my schedule and I’m just not going to worry if I miss a few. I’ll read the ones that I’m DYING for (and of course my paper ARCs will take the utmost priority to everything else) and then write proper reviews for them. As I said, I was reading so fast that I wasn’t pausing between books and I even skipped a few reviews. I hate looking back and seeing such a half-heart-ed attempt at a review. I used to write long reviews that actually talked about what I loved/hated and I really need to get back to doing that. The books, authors and publishers deserve that.

3) Read my own books. Again, too many reviews, too many books sitting on my shelves. Especially now that i have space/ access to English books (and a kickin employee discount!) I can buy books! Which I’ve been doing. And while I love my Kindle and eBooks, I really want to read my physical TBR books. So I need to balance out the ARCs and ME books.

4) Get a library card. I said I was going to do this, I went to the library (for an event) and I didn’t get a card. So I need to do this. AGAIN, I have access to a library finally and I need to take advantage of this (probably in the spring tho, it’s way too cold to bike there right now).

5) Buy less. Okay buying a lot of books actually hasn’t been that big of a problem for me in the past (not like Sammy! Oh her shelf of shame…) but now that I have access to them (on a daily basis! Working at a bookstore is dangerous!) I’ve bought A TON. Yes I get a discount, yes I buy them on sale… but yeah. You should see me ‘re-arranging’ my books while I’m trying to sneak them into the existing bunch so my husband doesn’t notice (he does, oh he does). I just bought a bunch of books from Book Outlet (OH THE SAVINGS!) and now I need to go on a bookban… I’ll be updating about that after I buy my paperback of The Dream Thieves…

6) Blog more! A given. I have been so absent from this pace (and I hug and cry and thank Sammy for all her hard work and being the best coblogger EVER) and now that I again, have more time, I really want to participate more. I’d like to grow this blog and make connections with publishers and all that.

7) Book events! There are a lot of awesome book events here in Boston and I really want to go to the more! Part of my problem is that the buses scare me (I haaaaate the bus) and I don’t know my way around that well (yeah, lived in Tokyo no prob, move to a smaller big city and get lost what) but I really need to get over that and just brave the system and go! I’ve already missed out on so many events! I also want to go to BEA (if even for just a day!).

8) Purge the shelves. I love collecting books. I cannot say no to a good deal on books. I bought 4 books at a used booksale because they were YA and they were $1 a piece. I am now donating them because wtf self you are NOT going to read them. I do this a lot. I see a book I MIGHT read and see it on sale and buy it. And then I look at my books and THEY ARE MY BOOKS. I cannot part with them! But I must Thankfully my friends like to take some off my hands and the rest I can donate to my apartment’s library. It’s hard, but a must.

9) Less eBooks. Now if you know me you know that I was once against eReaders and then I got one and my life changed. I used to not be able to afford/access physical English titles when I lived in Japan, so eBooks and my Kindle were the most important things to me. But let’s be read, $9.99 for an eBook is a bit much. I know that you can use Oyster to borrow from the library and blah blah blah… but after awhile I became addicted to eBook deals. Anything less than 2.99 and I was all over it! I now have SO MANY EBOOKS. And a lot of them I, again, bought only because they were on sale and I MIGHT read them. I wont. I know I wont. I wish I could donate them or something. I can’t. Plus I have so many eARCs it’s just… yeah. So I’m trying not to buy eBooks anymore. I just have too many. And now that I can get physical books again… not to say I’m going to give up on my kindle, no way. Like I said, I have A LOT to read on there.

10) Be less OCD and anal about everything book related. For example, I like to update my goodreads with even page numbers. Wtf is this. I like to finish all books that I start in a month before the end of the month. I actually am in the middle of two books and I know that I’m not going to finish them before tomorrow and this is driving me NUTS that I’m going to be finishing a 2014 started book in 2015. WHAT AM I WHAT IS THIS. idek. I’m just weird and OCD about books and I need to just chill. Who cares if I start a book at the end of May and finish it a few days into June. I can stop reading a book on page 157. I can mix hardcovers with paperbacks on my shelves (if they’re in a series). Ahhhh just chill self.

So those are my bookish resolutions! What are some of yours?

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

River’s #Holidayreadingmadness

Hey guys! Sammy Mc Sam Sam and I are hosting #holidayreadingmadness with our friend Katharine over at Ventureadlaxre and I’m here checking in with what I’ve managed to read so far! Sadly I haven’t read as much as planned due to husband being done with his first semester (!!!!!!!!!!!!! can you believe it!?!?!? Last year we were JUST finding out that he’d even gotten IN to MIT) so we’ve been watching a TON of movies (X-Men: Days of Future Past,The Giver, The Maze Runner, Mud, & Horrible Bosses to name a few) and TV (True Detective & Attack on Titan). But I AM on track for my goodreads goal of 150 books and I HAVE knocked out quite a few #holidayreadingmadness challenges!

So here are the books and challenges that I’ve done so far!

coeChallenges: 11) Read a book featuring cultural diversity
12)  Read a graphic novel or a book with pictures
14) Read an award winner (okay, this isn’t really an award winner, but it WAS banned, so I’m going to fudge it a little)

heroChallenges: 7) Read a book that has animals in it, either as a protagonist, side kick, or as a huge focal point
8) Read a middle grade novel.

vaultChallenge: 3) Read a book that has been signed by an author.

hereChallenge: 9) Read a book that has travelling.
10) Read a novel with a green cover or has green in the cover.

coldChallenge: 2) Read a book with winter in the title, as a theme, or as a main setting.
17) Read a retelling of some kind

lamentChallenge: 4) Read a book that has been gifted to you.
15) Read a self-published book or a book from an independent publisher.
18) Start a new series!

polarisChallenge: 19) Read a middle book in a trilogy.

So that’s what I’ve read so far! I’m planning on reading DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS to knock out challenges number one (Read a book that exceeds 450-500 pages), thirteen (Read a book a friend has always nagged you to read.) and twenty (Read the ending of a series/latest installment of a series).

And that leaves me with challenges five, six, and sixteen! Which is not bad at all!

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!)

 

General Status Update

I feel like I should post something! Ugh, Sammy, you are the best for keeping this blog going. But maybe I am finally starting to get some free time. So here are 10 random things that have been going on lately.

1. I am ALMOST caught up with my goodreads challenge! I keep getting ‘on track’ only to fall 1-2 books behind. But that’s better than the 4-5 behind I was after moving. Remember when I was EIGHT books ahead??? (yeah probably not)

2. This: cambridge

3. I love my job! Like I really honestly truly ENJOY my job. I don’t dread waking up in the morning. I don’t spend the entire day wishing it was time to go home. I don’t feel my soul dying.

4. I’m trying to contact publishers about receiving physical ARCS! A few book bloggers on twitter have been helping me out and hopefully soon-ish I’ll be posting reviews for books that publishers have so kindly granted me permission to review (aside from my eARCS, I mean I love those, but I’d love some physical ARCs oh man would I love them). Wish me luck.

5. I might do NaNoWriMo next month. Might. I uh, have characters, and an idea. So that’s a thing.

6. This: halloween

7. Came up with a new life goal: swear like Ronan Lynch. (Jesus. beep. Mary. beep.)

8. I saw robots tonight. Legit robots. Like, robots that are probably some of the first robots that will even be close to achieving consciousness. Jesus. There was a red one and it’s face was like, an iPad or something and it was freaky.

9. I’ve been learning to cook all the Mexican food because for some reason that’s the food that my husband loves the most in the USA.

10. I READ BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE AND MY LIFE WHAT IS LIFE WHAT IS THIS BOOK WHAT IS MAGGIE. Oh Jesus. That book. I ordered a copy at work and had to short list it because we didn’t get any on pub day and then when it came on Wednesday my co-worker handed it to me AND I HUGGED IT. It’s a physical struggle to keep my hands from reaching for it because I want to re-read it so badly. GANSEY HAS A FANCY FACE AND I LOVE IT OKAY.