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Waaaay too many books, not enough time

One of the things I love about Good Reads is that users can set reading challenges every year. This year I had to up my goal a few times because I read a lot of picture books. The challenge doesn’t make you specify what kind of books or number of pages; it just counts the quantity of books.

As of this posting, my “to-read” shelf is at 631 books.1 I can’t possibly read that many books in a year; I fall asleep when I read (hey, it relaxes me!). Still, on average it takes me a week to get through a 300 page book. So a realistic challenge for me would be to read 52 books in 2014 (not including picture books).

But what to read? With over 600 choices, I thought it would be best to put down the titles on a “short list” and read those first. I tried to get a variety of genres as well as finish up some series I started. So, divided by genre, here are the 52 books I will read in 2014:

Classic

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston3

 

Fiction

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

 

Non-Fiction

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Lucky by Alice Sebold

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

The Great Typo Hunt by Jeff Deck

Love You More by Jennifer Grant

College Girls by Lynn Peril

Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper

The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland

The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich

102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer

For Her Own Good by Barbara Ehrenreich

 

Young Adult and Teen

The Void of Mist and Thunder (13th Reality #4) by James Dashner

Reached (Matched #3) by Ally Condie

Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth4

Lovesick (Ghostgirl #3) by Tonya Hurley

Delirium (Delirium #1) by Lauren Oliver

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine’s #2) by Ransom Riggs5

Shelter Me by Alex McAuley

The One (The Selection #3) by Kiera Cass

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Fever (Chemical Garden #2) by Lauren DeStefano

Sever (Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano

Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms by Lissa Evans

Ascend (Trylle #3) by Amanda Hocking

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Me Since You by Laura Wiess

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Rule of Thoughts (Mortality Doctorine #2) by James Dashner

Unhinged (Splintered #2) by A.G. Howard

The Testing (The Testing #1) by Joelle Charbonneau

The Fire Chronicle (The Books of the Beginning #2) by John Stephens

The Curse of the Broomstaff (The Janitors #3) by Tyler Whitesides

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

When Did You See Her Last? (All the Wrong Questions #2) by Lemony Snicket

Shutdown (Glitch #3) by Heather Anastasiu

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

So, just over half of the titles I picked are young adult and teen. This really doesn’t surprise me since it’s what I read most of the time. A lot of the titles, from all the genres, were books that I bought on impulse6 because I HAD TO READ THEM RIGHT AWAY. Some I’ve had for years. Others, just a few months. Either way, I thought I should whittle them down first before trying to accumulate more, even if they are just digital. 

The ones I don’t currently own, I will rely on getting from the library. Now that I’m in a smaller town, access to free books is a bit more limited. Indy had over 20 libraries to pull from so almost everything I wanted was available. Here, not so much. There are only a handful of libraries at my disposal so my choices are more limited. Should I not be able to get a title through the library and am unable to afford to buy a copy, I will substitute the title for another in that genre.

And if when I get through my list, I’ll refill my coffee mug and start a new one.

 

1. To give you an idea, my “read” shelf, compiled over 7 years, is at 567. So, it would take me a good 8 years to read everything on my “to-read” shelf if I don’t add anything to it.2

2. Yeah, right.

3. I was supposed to have read this for a class in college. I don’t remember which class and the only thing I remember about the book was the beginning, which I liked, so I think that I didn’t actually finish it. Oops.

4. I want to read this before I see the movie, which is set to release in theaters in March.

5. It’s been over two years since the first book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, came out and left its readers hanging off a cliff!

6. No, Mom, I don’t own ALL of the books on my list. Just most.

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Posted by on December 14, 2013 in About me, Literature

 

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Those who don’t learn from history are stupid

Note: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) through my workplace. The book is scheduled to be released in March 2013.

The publisher Shadow Mountain has yet to fail me. When it comes to young adult fantasy and adventure, they know their stuff. Back in early 2009, they sent copies of teaser chapters from a new series by an up-and-coming author. Not one to read adult fantasy (save for the Quantum Leap books and a few others), I picked up the book sample and read it on my break. Instantly I was blown away. I wanted to continue reading beyond the two teaser chapters but the book wasn’t due to be published for another two months! Instantly, I ordered it and the day it arrived, I was eager to get home from work and start in on it. The book was The 13th Reality: The Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner. He’d published a series before, but wasn’t widely known – yet. Within a year he published another book, The Maze Runner, through another publisher. It was through this new series (four books in total) that earned him the title New York Times Bestselling Author. I have every single one of his books and it is because Shadow Mountain first introduced him to me.

Then in late summer of 2011, my Community Relations Manager handed me an ARC of a book titled The Janitors by Tyler Whitesides. The publisher was Shadow Mountain so I thought I would give it a try. Once again, I was blown away by the clever and well written fantasy book!

Inventors SecretSo when my CRM told me he had an ARC from Shadow Mountain, I didn’t even ask who or what it was; I just said I wanted it. It was The Inventor’s Secret by Chad Morris. Not surprisingly, I loved the book.

It’s the year 2074 and twins Abby and Derick have been admitted to the world-renown school Cragbridge, a school for gifted and talented students. Abby doesn’t believe she belongs there. It’s Derick who gets the perfect grades and programs video games. She struggles with math and has done nothing extraordinary with her life. So why is she even admitted into the school? Because her grandfather founded it.

This makes life for the socially shy Abby even more difficult. She gets ostracized by her roommate, who then tells the other girls that Abby’s at school while someone who should be there isn’t. At this point in the story, I was already emotionally attached to this young girl and my heart went out to her when people started being mean to her. But eventually Abby makes a friend, Carol, who thinks that being ordinary in a school full of extraordinary kids makes Abby special.

Like most of its students, Cragbridge is no ordinary school. Animals are studied through avatars and historic events come alive in the classroom. Thanks to the wonderful inventions from Abby and Derick’s grandfather, learning has become so much more than just reading books.

Because of his inventions, though, Oscar Cragbridge fears he is in danger. Indeed he is right; a man the reader only knows as Charles seeks to learn all of Oscar’s secrets and to get them, he traps Abby and Derick’s parents aboard Titanic three days before its doomed demise. All Abby and Derick know, though, is that their family is missing and it’s up to them to follow their grandfather’s clues to rescue them. The clues rest in various places, including books, quotes, and historic events. I won’t say how it ends but lessons are learned and there is an opening for more to come.

The book is also a clever history lesson. Morris does a great job of describing the historic events as Abby and Derick review them, making it feel as if the reader is right beside them as they watch history. One event they review is Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance being stranded in Antarctica. As I read this part of the book, I remembered my own fascination with the story when I first learned about it a few years ago (22 men stranded in Antarctica for two years and they all survived). It made me want to read even more about the event; perhaps other readers will feel the same and pick up history books after reading this one.

Fans of fantasy and adventure are sure to love this book just as much as I did. Download or buy a copy (preferably from a brick-and-mortar store) in March – you won’t regret it!

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2013 in Literature

 

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Looking forward to the rest of 2011

As I often do, I was browsing upcoming book releases on Amazon. There are some books coming out this year that I’m excited to read. Below is a list of what and when by authors I’ve already read (and really enjoy). I’m sure there will be more exciting books from new authors but I don’t know what they are yet. If you know of an unreleased book that’s getting some buzz, drop me a comment and let me know!

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
March 22nd

Bumped by Megan McCafferty
April 24th

If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster
May 3rd

Ordinary Beauty by Laura Wiess
June 14th

Uncommon Criminals (A Heist Society novel) by Ally Carter
June 21st

Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner
July 12th

The Dog Who Knew Too Much by Spencer Quinn
September 6th

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
August 30th

The Death Cure (Maze Runner Trilogy #3) by James Dashner
October 11th

Crossed by Ally Condie
November 1st

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2011 in Literature

 

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A great way to start the work week

Monday was a day I’ve been anticipating for a long time.  It was the day I got to meet one of my favorite authors, James Dashner.*  Eager as I was, I sat in the second row (no one ever sits in the first).  About 10 minutes before the event was set to start, James asked everyone who was there early their names.  I introduced myself as one of the employees and then proceeded to cough profusely.  Once the fit was over I explained about having pneumonia a month ago but that I wasn’t contagious.  James asked if perhaps I had The Flare.**  “You tell me,” I said.  “You know the symptoms.”  “Have you been acting crazy lately?” he asked.  “Pah,” I replied, waving my hand dismissively.  “I always act crazy.”  (Okay, so this probably wasn’t the best thing to say to a favorite author I want to return to the store some day but I think he knew I was joking.)

When the seats were a bit more filled in, James started off with talking about his writing process and how The Maze Runner trilogy got to where it is today.  He shared a great story about meeting Judy Blume and getting to have tea and cupcakes with her (awesome).  Then he took questions from the audience and try as we might, he was very tight-lipped about the third book.  He was even a bit tight-lipped about The Scorch Trials because it’s only been out a week and he thought that most of the audience hadn’t read it yet.  However, I did (as did most of the staff) and I was anxious to ask him questions about stuff that happened in the book but I didn’t want to spoil it for anyone either.  (I admit this begrudgingly.)  After he was done signing everyone’s books, he hung out for a few minutes to chat with the staff.  James was very laid back and down-to-earth.  I hope that he’ll be back to the store when the third book The Death Cure comes out next October.  After all, I can’t own all his books and have only one of them not signed!

*Okay, if you don’t know who I’m talking about by now, then you really haven’t been paying attention.

**You must read his books in order to get these references so go read them already!

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2010 in About me, Literature

 

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Author visits are a bibliophile’s dream

For me, hearing my favorite authors speak is like seeing a favorite band in concert but far better.  For one, it’s a lot more intimate.  Also, chances are a lot higher that you can get a picture taken with the author as well as speak with him as he signs your books.  Sure, the hysteria may not be as high, but that really depends on the author and his fan base.  I’ve never seen gobs of screaming teenage girls trying to bust down the door to meet some author.  Still, people will line up hours ahead of time for a chance to hear and speak with the author.

Over the past seven years I’ve had the opportunity to meet several authors who’ve come to the bookstore.  Twice I shook Tony Dungy’s hand.  He was very polite and nice (some authors can be divas).  I also got to meet Janet Evanovich, although I didn’t have a chance to talk with her except for a hello.  I was too busy working; she was too busy signing books.  At the end of the night, though, she gave thanks to all the booksellers who worked the event and we got a group picture taken with her.  Then she signed my t-shirt, which our Community Relations Manager had made special for staff during the event.  It read “Team Evanovich”* and then gave the date of the signing.  You wouldn’t believe how many customers were offering to buy the shirts off our back!  Hearing Elizabeth Berg talk was great.  She was quite funny.  Of course, when Nicholas Sparks came to our store, I didn’t meet him.  I wasn’t scheduled to work and that was fine by me.  It was probably a good thing, too, because who knows what might have come out of my mouth when faced with him.  (Probably I would have said something like, “It gives me great hope that if someone like you can get published, then I can, too.”)

In exactly one week, one of my favorite authors, James Dashner, will be coming to my bookstore.  I’ve written about him before on my blog but in case you don’t remember or are too lazy to look at older posts, he is author to The 13th Reality series and The Maze Runner trilogy.  The second book in the trilogy, The Scorch Trials, comes out tomorrow.  You can read my short, non-spoiler review of it here.

Why do I love his books so much?  The concepts of the books themselves fascinate me.  What would I do if I woke up in the middle of a maze with no memory other than my name?  What would I do if I was told I could save not only my own Earth but other parallel versions of it, though it might mean risking my life?  Dashner creates worlds of fantasy while keeping at least parts of the real one in tact so it’s easier (for me, at least) to believe that these events actually could happen.**  Not only that, but Dashner takes the awkward kid and makes him the hero, but does not shy away from admitting that even they have their faults.  He keeps his characters human rather than building them up to be superior and completely flawless.  Humor, suspense, action, teen angst and awkwardness are just some of the elements that Dashner puts into his stories.

The thing that I love most about the books is that they grab you from the start and won’t let go until the very end.  When I first read The Maze Runner, it was really hard to put down.  I didn’t want to go to work; I wanted to stay home and read (and, no, that doesn’t happen very often for me).  The book took me through a tough journey, then another trial with lives lost, and then settled in to comfort me that all the hardships the characters went through were over.  Just as I was feeling relaxed about where the characters ended up, the last two pages of the book ripped that away.  Suddenly, nothing was what it seemed.  The characters weren’t safe and there was a whole other twist on top of that, too.  And the most frustrating part about it all: I had to wait almost a year before finding out what happened next.  Now, after reading The Scorch Trials, I have to wait at least another year before the final book will come out.  At least I have the next 13th Reality book to read first, but that’s not until April.

Next Monday, though, I will get to meet the man who so easily grips my attention through his writing.  I’ll be waiting with my camera, books in hand, trying hard not to jump up and down.  Hopefully I won’t make a fool of myself and say something stupid to him.  Hopefully I won’t be so in-his-face that I scare him away from ever coming back to our store.  I’ll tell you one thing that definitely won’t happen at this book signing or other book signings for that matter: I will not fling my underwear up onto his podium while he’s speaking.

*The signing was for the release of her book Motor Mouth which was about a woman race car driver who stumbled upon a mystery to be solved.

**I know they really can’t, but it’s a lot more likely than a bunch of dwarves with magic powers defeating dragons.  That’s the kind of fantasy I can’t buy into when reading.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2010 in Entertainment, Literature

 

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Scorching read

They were supposed to be safe once they solved the maze. But the Gladers were anything but that.

After only a night’s rest, Thomas and the other survivors of the maze are thrown into another test, something WICKED (World In Catastrophe, Killzone Experiment Department) calls the Scorch Trials. Tattoos appear overnight labeling each of them (the Betrayer, the Glue, the Leader, etc.) but one wonders if this just WICKED’s way of keeping track of them or if it’s another test. With their deadline ticking away, the Gladers don’t have time for questions. If they don’t make it to their destination in two weeks’ time, they will not get the antidote for the Flare, a disease that slowly turns people crazy.

Soon after setting out on their journey, the Gladers come across metal balls that feast on human heads and people infected with the Flare. Obstacles are thrown at them from all directions. There are storms that bring lightning that crashes into the ground with great force and sets people on fire. All through the journey, Thomas has memory dreams, including one about his mother when he was really young. Most of the dreams, though, are about being in WICKED’s faculties and learning ESP with Teresa.

Like The Maze Runner, this book draws readers in right from the beginning. Non-stop action keeps the pages turning as does curiosity. Who is behind WICKED and why are they doing these trials? What part did Thomas have with WICKED before his memory was wiped? What is the Flare? What has become of the world? Does Thomas have a family and are they still alive?

And the most important question of them all: when will book 3 be out?

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2010 in Literature

 

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Is it October yet?

I’ve been asking myself this question ever since I finished reading The Maze Runner by James Dashner.  The next book in the series, The Scorch Trials, is due to come out October 12.  The first book leaves off at a major cliff hanger.  It’s been excruciating to have to wait this long to find out what happens next!  So far I’ve been able to satiate my eagerness by reading the latest book in his other series, The 13th Reality.  I’m also waiting for an advanced reader’s copy (ARC) that the publisher is sending to a coworker of mine.  Since the release of The Maze Runner, the staff at my store has taken to it and sold it to every customer looking for a good read, no matter his age.  Our excitement about the book, along with other contributing factors, was noticed by the publisher.  So come this October, just after the release of The Scorch Trials* James Dashner will be gracing us with his presence at our store.  You can bet I’ll be there with my stack of books ready to be signed and my camera to capture the moment of meeting one of my favorite authors.

Now, I just have to wait patiently for October to arrive…

*I don’t care if I read an ARC or not.  I’m still buying the book!

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2010 in Literature

 

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