April 2018 Reading Wrap-Up

I had an amazing reading month in April, much more than I’ve read in a single month in a very long time. Half of that was how many graphic novels/short stories I read this month, and some was how much I got into reading e-books from my library the second half of this month. (This was prompted by starting my new job at the public library and getting a brand spanking new library card!).

Since I had such an amazing reading month I figured I’d go ahead and share a wrap-up. Another wrap-up hopefully coming soon? My CampNanoWrimo wrap-up, but that’s for another day. For now, here’s everything I read in April 2018.

CLASSICS:

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THE HOBBIT by JRR Tolkien.

Related blog posts: Rereading Favorites: THE HOBBIT by JRR Tolkien and 2018 Reading Challenges.

I loved my reread of THE HOBBIT. I hadn’t read it since middle school, but my love for the movies meant that I’d been wanting to reread the book for a while, and I’m so happy I finally did this month. Now I want to reread the LORD OF THE RINGS, too, though that’ll have to wait for a while.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen.

Related blog posts: Reading Classics: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen.

I was hesitant about this one because for some reason I always expect to dislike classics even though I usually enjoy them. Due to my enjoyment of this one, I’ve moved WITHERING HEIGHTS and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA further up on my TBR pile.

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E-BOOKS

THE MAP by William Ritter.

I absolutely love the JACKABY series, and when I realized there was a short story available in this world I immediately flew through it. It was so fun to see another part of this world and to revisit characters I love so much.

ANYA’S GHOST by Vera Brosgol.

I checked graphic novel out on e-book from my library and was surprised by it from beginning to end! I thought the story was about one thing for the first part, and found the main character understandably unlikeable and assumed that was the basis for the story, but by the end everything had shifted. This is definitely one of those books that leaves an impression by the last page, and I love that it surprised me in so many ways and ended up being such a powerful message.

NIMONA by Noelle Stevenson.

This was another graphic novel I got on e-book from my library that surprised me. I read the first few pages and assumed it was a silly and entertaining graphic novel about a supervillian and his sidekick. Oh boy did it become so much more than that. I ended up loving this story just as much as her other graphic novels, THE LUMBERJANES.

WRITING THE FICTION SYNOPSIS by Pam McCutcheon.

Not going to lie, I didn’t really learn anything new about synopses from this. However, that’s because I’ve already extensively read up on a lot of writing topics and author blogs and the like, so I wasn’t really reading it for new information. But if you’re just looking into writing synopses for the first time, or want a book that puts it all in one place with helpful worksheets and steps to follow, definitely check this one out.

BYGONE BADASS BROADS by Mackenzi Lee.38197343

This book was so interesting! I learned about some women I’d never heard of before and got a refresher on some of my favorite people from history. I’ve seen a few reviews that talk about how many of the women were American once the time got to the American Revolution, but I didn’t really notice that. The stories were diverse and focused on women from so many places and time periods who did so many different things. I read this on e-book from my library but definitely plan on getting my own physical copy soon.

GRAPHIC NOVELS

LUMBERJANES VOL. 8: STONE COLD.

This series is so good and I can’t say much about this because it’s Vol. 8 but definitely check out this series for amazing friendships and fun adventures.

THE BACKSTAGERS VOL. 2: 

Again, a super fun story with adventures and friendships and surprising turns that almost ripped my heart out (in the best possible way!)

NOVELS

HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA by Kerri Maniscalco.

Related blog posts: Read This Week: STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Maniscalco and Recommendations Book Tag.

I loved this sequel as much as the first, and I’m SO EXCITED for ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI. Audrey Rose continues to be brilliant and I can’t wait to see what mystery she and Thomas solve next.

ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS by Francesca Zappia.

I’ve been meaning to read this one for a while, and I’m so glad I finally did. This book had so many amazing messages about fandom and creators and mental health and I loved how genuine it all felt and the struggles that the main character, Eliza, went through with her art and her friends.

 

And last but not least, some CURRENTLY READING:

CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber

THE TOUGH GUIDE TO FANTASYLAND by Dianna Wynne Jones.

SHERLOCK HOLMES by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Narrated by Stephen Fry).

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Reading Classics: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen

I finally read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE! Not going to lie, I went into this one nervous about whether or not I would enjoy it. I’d seen bits and pieces of the movie as well as seeing PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, but that was the extent of my knowledge regarding this book.

The plot itself is pretty well known, along with most of the major events throughout the novel, and so i really expected to go into this bored and forcing myself to finish. I don’t know why I keep having these expectations when reading classics, because I thought the same thing about FRANKENSTEIN and ended up enjoying it.

I flew through my read of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, reading the bulk of the book in three days. I loved how the characters interacted, how even though I already knew how Elizabeth and Darcy were going to interact at the beginning, I was taken by surprise with their dialogue.

I also was happy to see that a lot of the interactions and characters I’d assumed I already knew were a lot less two dimensional than the impressions I’d gotten from my general knowledge of the story.

Lydia made all the mistakes I knew she would, but in ways I hadn’t expected. Jane and Bingley were sweet and adorable but still more genuine than I thought they’d be. And Darcy and Elizabeth were snarky and disagreeable in all the ways I knew they’d be but with personality and concern that really made me root for them and rush through reading so I could know what came next.

It’s hard to really say how I feel about this book because it is a classic and one I knew enough of to feel that the story wasn’t a surprise when reading. But with all that it was still enjoyable and amazing, and I’m glad I finally picked it up.

My sister even said “I told you so,” though we agreed that I might not have enjoyed it this much if I’d read it years ago. Which is to say, don’t push yourself to read books, even classics, that you aren’t interested in, but do give them a chance if you can because they may very well surprise you.

2018 Reading Challenges

We are well into 2018 as I’m writing this, but I just saw Kat Cho’s Reading Challenges for 2018 while perusing through her brand spankin new author website and was inspired to write my reading goals for the year down.

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GOODREADS CHALLENGE 

I read 45 books last year, and the number of books on my TBR that I already own is still hovering above 50, so I challenged myself to read 50 books this year. At the time of this post I’ve already read 12!

Kat is doing an A-Z Challenge, but since I’m trying to read the books I already own, there’s not really any challenges necessary in regards to “picking” books. I made a TBR Jar of all the books I own but haven’t read, and I’m hoping to simply pick out the next one from the jar each time I’m ready to start a new book.

So far I’ve only done this once, and it was the other day after I finished reading HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA by Kerri Maniscalco (I have a little post up about how much I loved the first book in the series here). I pulled out PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen, so that’s what I’m currently reading.

PERSONAL CHALLENGES

Reread at least 12 books

This one comes courtesy of the fact that I have a few books on my shelves (and in my TBR Jar) that are in a series where I read the previous book(s) years ago and don’t remember enough to continue until I reread them. The books I need to reread in order to finally finish the series;

Other books I’d like to reread because I haven’t read them in a while, or just love them so much I want to read them, or they have a movie coming out that I want to see.

  • TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE by Jenny Han. (The movie comes out on Netflix August 17th!)
  • THE ALL FOR THE GAME SERIES by Nora Sakavic. (I read this trilogy for the first time May 2016, and reread them in May 2017. I’ve decided to make it a yearly tradition since they’re relatively short and I love them so much.)
  • SHERLOCK HOLMES by Arthur Conan Doyle. (I’m currently listening to it on audio.)
  • THE HOBBIT by JRR Tolkien. (I’ve already read this and have a post about my reread here.)
  • THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROSPER REDDING by Alexandra Bracken. (The sequel comes out either late this year or early next and I want to reread the first one around Halloween time to prepare.)

As you can see I didn’t set very many challenges for myself, but I wanted to write them all down and get motivated to knock some of them out. I’m hoping the rereads will end up being on top of 50 other books, but as Goodreads is telling me I’m still one book behind on my reading goal for the year, I’d also like to be realistic with myself.

Ultimately the only real goal is to enjoy what I’m reading and get my TBR down considerably by the end of the year. If you’d like to keep up with my reading and see updates you can add me on Goodreads or follow me on Tumblr.

Rereading Favorites: THE HOBBIT by JRR Tolkien

1828AF7B-4C04-40F9-AACA-D6254A30E700I last read THE HOBBIT way back in 8th grade, and I love the movies so much that I’ve been really wanting to read the book again.

I reread this book in three days (March 31st-April 1st). Not going to lie, I mostly picked it up as a change of pace from my current read, which I’m immensely enjoying but incapable of reading faster than a snail’s pace. I wanted to read something I knew I’d enjoy and that I’ve been meaning to reread for years anyway.

Like I said, I love the movies, particularly AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY. In college I went through a period of a few months when I was watching it on average once a day. (Which is a fun fact that left the TA for my film class giving me odd looks for a while).

But I hadn’t read the book since it was assigned in middle school, and I knew there were a lot of details I’d forgotten and that weren’t the same as the movies. So I was excited to get to experience the story all over again in a new way. I loved this reread, and was reading during nearly every free second I had, but, as much as I loved it, there were a few things that disappointed me.

These disappointments were entirely the fault of how much I love the movies and how well I know that version of the story. Not a fault of the book but rather a fault of personal preference. Movie Bilbo saves the day multiple times and acts with purpose and a deep involvement and concern for the outcome of the quest.

Book Bilbo as a main character is very passive and essentially just reacting to the plot and Gandalf’s prompting. Multiple times he thinks “I wish Gandalf was here to handle this”. Many of the moments where Bilbo truly shines and helps the rest of the company during the movie aren’t events he plays a role in for the book. He’s there relaying the information and what happened, but he was just a bystander as someone else saved the day.

I, as a writer, have read and studied a lot of craft that talks about making sure your main character is being active. Obviously JRR Tolkien wasn’t writing based on the advice of current craft books, but it’s a personal preference of mine to have the MC actively involved in how the story plays out rather than just relaying some other character’s story.

The movies gave Bilbo a lot more purpose and he actively affected the course of events much more. I still love THE HOBBIT and my preference for the movies doesn’t mean I didn’t love this reread, but that was a large distinction that I kept noticing throughout the reread. I loved the book though, and I know that if I hadn’t seen the movies so many times and automatically compared the two, I wouldn’t have probably noticed the lack of involvement on Bilbo’s part.

6D512928-B835-4A64-88E3-67CBDD3EC613This is because Bilbo does still affect the story ultimately, and becomes a lot more active in the second half of the book. Honestly, it makes sense that he wasn’t for the first part, as he hadn’t really wanted to be on the journey in the first place and was therefore understandably reactive to all the events of the first half.

And don’t let my talk of not being active fool you, the major events of the story are still affected by Bilbo, and he still saves the dwarves plenty of times and earns their respect along the way. And ultimately, that’s the purpose of Bilbo’s character in the movies and book, to quietly show how the course of events can be affected by the ones not wielding swords and running into battle.

 

Recommendations Book Tag

Hey there friends. Today I’ve got a pretty short book tag for you. I’ve never done a book tag before, but when it comes to books I prefer talking about things I like than things I don’t, so I figured a book tag all about recommending books I love to people was something I wanted to give a try.

This book tag was created by ZarriahRose on Youtube and I saw that Ali from HardbackHoarder had done it so here we are.

1. Recommend the best book that you read last month.

Definitely STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Manisclaco. I don’t have a lot of experience reading historical fiction, even in the YA category, and I was so surprised by how immersive and complete this world and story felt. I loved every second of it and the characters were fleshed out and genuine in a way that left me wanting more as soon as I turned the last page. (Subsequently, I’m now reading the sequel). I also did a post on it that you can read here.

2. Recommend an old favorite.

This one is a little tougher, as a lot of my favorites are books I’ve read in the last year or two and I wouldn’t classify that as “old favorites”. But there is one book I haven’t read probably since high school but that I used to read over and over during the summers. It’s HE’S WITH ME by Tamara Summers. This book is the classic summer contemporary. It’s the book that introduced me to the fake relationship trope before I even knew what that was. It’s a super cute and easy read that I devoured all the time and definitely recommend for anyone who loves cutesy contemporary romances.

3. Recommend a Nonfiction

I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but surprisingly I have two for this one. I know I should pick only one but they’re both so vastly different from one another and neither gets a lot of love from readers.

The first is kind of niche and unless you’re a hockey fan or just really love Montreal history you may not find it as amazing as I did, but that’s THE MONTREAL CANADIENS: THE HISTORY AND PLAYERS BEHIND HOCKEY’S MOST LEGENDARY TEAM by J. Alexander Poulton. I got this book as a gift from my brother for my birthday last year (I’m a huge hockey fan and it was the Canadiens Youtube channel that actually got me into it). I loved learning more about the team and it’s history and recommend it for anyone who also likes hockey.

The other one is THE SCIENCE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES: FROM BASKERVILLE HALL TO THE VALLEY OF FEAR, THE REAL FORENSICS BEHIND THE GREAT DETECTIVE’S GREATEST CASES by E.J. Wagner. When I was reading STALKING JACK THE RIPPER it was this book and the science explained in it that I kept coming back to. I learned so much about how forensics worked in the 19th century and found it fascinating how much of that related to the cases in Sherlock Holmes. I actually picked this book up because I was in the middle of my second read through of the collected Sherlock Holmes stories and wanted to see more of the real science. For anyone interested in forensic science or historical crimes this is definitely a book to read.

4. Recommend a book that will help people escape.

I’m going to go with THE BACKSTAGERS by James Tynion IV. I just read Volume 2 and I love this world so much. It’s about a stage crew at a high school and the world that exists behind the curtain. It’s a wonderful story full of mystery and magic and a cast of amazing characters that are all different from one another and I love this so much and definitely recommend it as a book to escape into. As it’s a graphic novel it’s even better because of how immersive and beautiful the illustrations are and how perfectly they fit the story. Similarly I’d recommend LUMBERJANES.

Read This Week: STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Maniscalco

IMG_0332February was a bit of a reading slump in that I only read two books, and both of those had been started in early to mid-January. So, I told myself I’d strive to make reading more important in March, and I definitely got off on the right foot by reading STALKING JACK THE RIPPER by Kerri Maniscalco.

I’ve had this book sitting on my TBR shelf for a year now, along with its sequel (which I’m currently reading) and am super happy I finally picked it up. It had elements of two other favorites of mine JACKABY by William Ritter and SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY by Susan Dennard.

This book had everything I look for in a YA; spunky protagonist, charming love interest, and interesting setting. I loved every second of this novel and ended up reading the bulk of it in two sittings over two days. It’s definitely safe to say this book has gotten me back onto reading, as I immediately started the sequel and want even more books like this one.

The protagonist, Audrey Rose, is sure of herself and what she wants from the very beginning of the story. She never wavers in her desires, but she still grows and learns in a journey I found immensely satisfying to read. She encounters problems and people that are equally as riveting.

Every character in this novel, no matter how much page time they get, felt genuine and furthered the story and Audrey Rose’s journey. I loved how her own worries and expectations seamlessly played into the mystery and the suspense, leaving me hooked.

I’m definitely glad I picked this one up and can’t wait to see what happens in HUNTING PRINCE DRACULA.

My 2017 Reading List

I was inspired to make a post about what I read in 2017 after reading Marissa Meyer’s 2017 Reading List. I must say that 2017 was the best reading year I’ve had in a while, which is to say that according to Goodreads I by far surpassed my yearly reading total for the entire time I’ve been keeping track.

I’m excited to keep the trend going in 2018, and I’ll be posting my 2018 reading goals pretty soon. For now I’ll be sharing my 2017 reading stats broken down into category and genre, along with my favorite book I read in that genre this year. For the full list of what I read and what I’m currently reading, check out my Goodreads.

STATISTICS

Total Books Read: 47

The breakdown:

Young Adult: 20

Fantasy / Urban Fantasy: 13

By far my favorite YA books this year was the SOMETHING STRANGE & DEADLY series by Susan Dennard. I read this trilogy back in September and haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

Contemporary: 7

Three of these seven books were me rereading the ALL FOR THE GAME trilogy by Nora Sakavic, so out of the four I read for the first time in 2017 I’m going to have to go with ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN by Jenny Han.

Middle Grade: 6

Five of these six was the PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS series by Rick Riordan, and the other was THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROSPER REDDING by Alexandra Bracken. I’m equally obsessed with both and am looking forward to continuing reading both authors in 2018.

Nonfiction: 5

Writing Craft: 3

I’m going to go with SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder as it was the most technically helpful of the three, though I enjoyed the storytelling and humor of all three.

Sports History: 1

The lone book in this category is THE MONTREAL CANADIENS by J. Alexander Poulton.

Crime/Science: 1

Another lonely category, this time consisting of THE SCIENCE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by E.J. Wagner.

Graphic Novels: 4

Another tie as this consists of two series I’m equally obsessed with. I read the first three volumes of LUMBERJANES and Vol. 1 of THE BACKSTAGERS.

Science Fiction: 3

I’m beginning to see a pattern. Once again there’s only two series in this category. I read the first two HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY books by Douglas Adams and THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS by M.R. Carey.

Fantasy / Urban Fantasy: 3

This one is a tight race, but I’m going to go with a book I’ve wanted to read for years and finally got around to, which is GOOD OMENS by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

Short Story Collections: 2

Since one of these was a reread of the all the Sherlock Holmes stories, I’ll stick with BECAUSE YOU LOVE TO HATE ME edited by Ameriie.

Fiction (mystery): 1

ARROWOOD by Mick Finlay.

Fiction (classic): 1

FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley

Poetry/Novels in Verse: 1

THINGS LEFT UNSAID by Stephanie Hemphill

Other: 1

CAT’S LETTERS TO SANTA by Bill Adler and Illustrated by Paul Bacon.