New Years Resolutions?

I know, I know.

I talked about getting back to blogging in my last post, and here I am over a month (ouch!) later with my first post since then.

But since this is the time for resolutions, I’m going to make mine, right now, on this blog. First and obvious things first – get back to blogging! I’ve been in a total reading slump lately (only three and a half books since I last posted – very slow for me), which is going to make blogging more on a books blog a challenge, but hopefully I’ll be able to pull myself out of it! As I’ve mentioned before, I moved to NYC just over 6 months ago, and I’m not going to lie, it’s been a struggle for me. I’m homesick for my family and my home state, and I’m poor, and it’s been affecting my reading. It’s hard to enter into a book that might emotionally devastate you when you’re already half way there on your own, and sometimes when you aren’t feeling very light and airy, reading anything that remotely qualifies as such just feels like you’re kidding yourself. But I’ve just had a lovely, rejuvenating visit home for the holidays, and I’ve come back to New York armed with a Barnes & Noble gift card, so I’m ready to fight that slump!

Also on my resolution list, but completely unrelated to books, is to take better care of myself. Take my vitamins, wear my retainers at night like I’m supposed to, moisturize, and stop using finances as an excuse to eat poorly. Not that I’ve been overindulging in restaurant food (trust me – I don’t have the money for that), but variations on the cheap and delicious pasta + cheese + ground beef + sauce meal doesn’t exactly equal a nutritionally varied and vibrant diet. So I’m resolving to eat better.

And since this is a blog about books – two review snippets to hold you over until I’m back in the swing of things, courtesy of the free ARCS from my publishing friends/the shelf in my company’s kitchen. I did just finish another book on my plane ride home, but I’m not sure I’m ready to review it yet, and I’ve also picked A Winter’s Tale back up again after a few months vacation from it, but I’m not close to finishing, so no review for it yet either! Images from Goodreads.

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The Walled City, by Ryan Graudin:

I picked this one up and put it down a couple times in various bookstores and such before I finally decided to go ahead and read it when someone offered me the ARC. It isn’t usually my style, but I’m glad I ultimately decided to go for it, because I enjoyed it. Some parts definitely were slower than others, and some things were definitely a little more gruesome/gory/real than I needed at that moment, but it kept me entertained on my 45 minute subway commute when I got a chance to sit down, and I found the ending satisfying, so I’d say it’s worth a shot if you’ve been on the fence.

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The Diviners, by Libba Bray

I read and enjoyed A Great and Terrible Beauty when I was in high (middle?) school, so even though I never finished that series, I picked this one up with high hopes and a few reservations, and my expectations were essentially met. I vaguely remembered A Great and Terrible Beauty slowing down and having a hard time revving itself back up again periodically, and The Diviners suffers from the same misfortune. Not helped by the fact that it’s a pretty long book, The Diviners could have used some pacing help. All that being said, the story is great, and I actually think some of the spooky elements made appearances in my dreams, which never happens, which I thinks speaks to the quality of the spook. Be prepared for a commitment, but once The Diviners gets going towards its climax, it’s worth it. Side note – I picked up the ARC noting that is was a fall 2012, so when I realized it was a series, I thought surely the second book would be out by now…and it’s not. Really, guys?

That’s all for now! I hope everyone had a happy holidays!

-Strawberry

Wow..

It’s been a long time since I last posted!

When I last posted, I had literally just started my job, and now I’ve been there almost four months….

Time has been doing that funny thing it does where it feels simultaneously incredibly fast and painfully slow. You know what I’m talking about? Where I find myself saying I can’t believe I’ve already worked and lived in New York City for four months, but also, I can’t believe it’s only been four months. Like I’ve somehow been here forever and yet only just gotten here.

While I haven’t been blogging in these last few months, I still have definitely been reading. Some really great stuff, and some less-than-great-but-still-worth-finishing stuff.

In list form…

Tiger Lily, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

There Will Be Lies by Nick Lake (in ARC form, no less – perks of working in publishing)

The Thickety by J.A. White (also in ARC form)

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarity

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

We Were Liars by E.Lockhart

Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper (another ARC)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

One of the best parts of working in publishing, as is to be expected, are all of the free books/ARCs. Publishers send them to each other, so I’ve gotten to read some great stuff from companies other than my own. There’s a bookshelf in our kitchen/break room where everyone dumps the books and ARCS they don’t want, which has populated much of this list. Don’t worry, I’ve still been buying some, too – I’ve got to support the book industry! 🙂

I’m mad at myself for neglecting this blog for all of those books, because I really enjoyed most of them, and some would have made some really great posts, but I don’t see myself going back and reviewing. So I’ll just have to resolve to be better from here on out!

-Strawberry

What I’ve Been Reading Lately, again

Hello everyone!

A lot has happened since my last post, and while I don’t want to be that person and give excuses for my terrible lack of attention to this blog, I can explain a little!

For one, the Columbia Publishing Course has ended. 😦 I will never forget all the memories I made, everything I learned, and all lovely people I met and so quickly befriended as a part of this course. It was simultaneously the fastest and slowest six weeks of my life – leaving me feeling like I just arrived in this city and how can it all by over already while at the same time like this is the way my life has always been. The last few days were bittersweet, because some of my international friends and two of the best roommates a girl could have have left the good ol’ US of A to either go back to their home countries for a little while or give the publishing industry across the pond a shot. Fortunately, a ton of people from the course are staying in the city, and I’m even lucky enough to be living temporarily with two of them now, with a fourth joining us in our apartment search. I can’t wait to be real roommates with these women as we navigate NYC and the publishing world together.

Speaking of the publishing world, the second major explanation for my lack of posting is….(drumroll)…I got a job! I have no idea if I’m legally even allowed to mention where I work or what I do on this public forum (probably not – conflict of interest with talking about other publishers’  books and all that) so I’m not going to, but I just finished my first week and I love it there already. I had a (very) brief weekend at home before I packed up to return to NYC, and am already grateful for the combination of the excitement in the variety of my day-to-day work and the routine it nevertheless is helping me establish as I acclimate to a new city so far from home.

On to what I’ve been reading, the real reason (if any), that you’re probably here! As always, cover images are from Goodreads!

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Remnants: Season of Wonder by Lisa Tawn Bergen – I mentioned this one in my last post as being in-progress, and I’ve since finished it. While it wandered a little and lost me periodically, I still thought it was a pretty interesting Christian take on the dystopian genre. It can get a little heavy-handed at times, but nothing bothersome, and I’m definitely considering downloading the next one in the series when it’s released.

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Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter – One of my roommates at the course was reading this one and lent it to me, and I’m so glad she did. It took me a little while to get interested in the story, but the ending was so inexplicably uplifting to my soul that it was worth the initial effort.

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Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen – I picked this one up at the Strand essentially on the recommendations of numerous book bloggers. The cover isn’t really to my taste and it took some time to get used to the vernacular language Gaughen writes in, but ultimately, this book sucked me in and I can’t wait to pick up the next one. There’s just something so romantic about the idea of Robin Hood to me, and I love the idea that his Maid Marian is actually a badass.

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Heist Society by Ally Carter – Another Ally Carter series that I totally, unabashedly love in spite of its cheesy, teenybopper cover art. This is just the first in the series, but just like with the Gallagher girls, Carter has found a topic and a cast of characters that I love to live vicariously through.

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The Water Seeker by Kimberly Willis Holt – This book was a $2 Strand find, and was a bit of a departure from what I’ve been reading lately, but still lovely and more than worth what I paid for it. It reminded me how nice it is to step away from your genre and main character comfort zone. Side note, I clearly bought it for the cover art alone, and I don’t regret it. Worth a read.

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The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp – I bought this one half-price at the Strand, which explains why I went against my usual rule of no movie tie-in cover art. It had been on my list, and as much as I hoped it would have ended differently (because it broke my heart!) a decent-sized part of me appreciated Tharp’s realistic portrayal in the story, sans nicely tied loose ends and perfectly happy endings. I’ve heard that the movie slightly changes this ending and makes it more hopeful (a la Dear John), and my inexplicable crush on Miles Teller hasn’t abated yet, so maybe I’ll watch it some weekend soon and see how I feel about a different ending. Still worth the read, though, half price or not.

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Euphoria by Lily King – This was a book I received free as a result of the course. The author’s publisher, Morgan Entrekin, was one of our speakers and brought a few books with him when he came to visit, which he left behind for students that might be interested in them. A few weeks later, we received word that he felt bad (unnecessarily so) that in his first visit he hadn’t brought books for each of us, and he had graciously sent over a number of copies of four titles for us to choose from. A sucker for cover art but also interested in the back cover summary, I picked this one. I finally got to reading it on the plane on the way back home, and was so interested by the characters. The three leads are all anthropologists studying tribes in New Guinea in the 30s (based loosely off of Margaret Mead’s life and studies), but I was just as fascinated by the interactions between the three characters as I was by their work in the fictional tribe.

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Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson – When I was in middle and early high school (and actually the target age for Anderson’s books) I read and loved a book of hers called Peaches. I admit I can’t remember exactly the events of that book, but I do remember how deftly Anderson had crafted that story of young female friendship and first love, and in this Peter Pan retelling (re-envisioning?), Anderson hasn’t lost her touch. I just finished this one less than an hour ago and my heart is breaking, and probably will continue to do so for at least the rest of the weekend, if not longer.

I think that’s everything! I’m still embarrassingly behind in my GoT Book 2 progress, and have maybe read like 50 pages or so since my last post. I promise I will finish it eventually.

Side note – I’m thinking that, at least for the time being, I like this round-up format better than what I’ve been doing for my reviews in the past. It’s nicer to not have to think so much about my review as I’m reading and just enjoy the book. This way, I can do that, but still give a little snippet about my thoughts and a recommendation.

That’s all for now!

-Strawberry

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks

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Just got home from chilling on the beach with my family. I figured I should share what book has been keeping me occupied.

For all those needing a break from the flood of dystopian, teen novels I post, this one’s for you. This book contains the clinical tales of neurologist Oliver Sacks and his patients. Ranging from amnesia to phantom limb, there is bound to be something you’ll learn about the human brain that may shock and amaze you.

~ Blonde

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Hello beautiful readers! (all 5 of you)

I love New York City. I love being here and buying books and ice cream on Saturday afternoons and walking around the city and going for brunch on Sunday mornings. I’m also really enjoying the Columbia Publishing Course, and while I don’t have the massive amounts of free time I had before the course started, I have been able to squeeze in some reading since I’ve been here. What I haven’t really had time for is writing review posts. It’s something I hope to get back to after the course is over, but for now I thought I’d just give a little bit about what I’ve been reading since I got here and what I thought about them!

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Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kahling – I read this on the plane to NYC, and all I can say is that Mindy Kahling is my spirit animal. I follow her on Twitter and was pretty sure I wanted to add her to my dream best friends club (with Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, and Anna Kendrick), and after reading her book, I definitely want her in there. It’s like she was following me around my whole childhood.

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Paper Towns by John Green – I did get around to writing a review for this one, though I admit I don’t think it was proofread, so I can’t get fully behind the grammar and spelling on that one. Sorry bout it. I loved the book, and that’s all you need to know.

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Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones- Tayari Jones came to speak during the first week of the course, and before her presentation, I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to buy a book, even though she was doing a signing. After her talk, I made a beeline to the table in back to buy the book so I could get her to sign it. Zero regrets, because it was a lovely book that I really enjoyed.

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Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell – One of the books that’s been on my TBR list for a while, I bought it from The Strand Bookstore this weekend and read it in about two days in between celebrating one of my roommates’ birthday. So so good. A little heartbreaking. Ok, maybe a lot heartbreaking. But worth it. I’m actually kind of sad I don’t have the time to give this one a real review.

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Remnants: Season of Wonder by Lisa Tawn Bergen – I downloaded this one on my ereader for free as a reward for signing up for some newsletter, so the stakes were low when I started reading it on the plane over here. I still haven’t finished it yet, but that’s not to say that I’m not going to. Keeping my standards pretty average, I like where it’s going, and definitely want to finish it.

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A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin – I’ve literally been reading this thing since Easter, and I’m still chugging along a rate of about one or two chapter a week. The main issue with this book is that while it’s interesting enough for me to enjoy reading it while I’m actively doing so and to want to finish it, it isn’t so engrossing that it prevents me from getting distracted, hence all the books I’ve read since April that aren’t this one. If its anything like that last book, things should pick up for me soon and then I’ll pick up the pace and finish it eventually. Out of sheer determination if nothing else.

That’s it for now! Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

-Strawberry

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Classic Books

Hey y’all!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

We’re in the middle of book workshop right now at CPC, and it’s nuts! I’ve heard so many horror stories about how no one sleeps this week and everyone gets incredibly stressed, but so far I haven’t reached that point. We’re stressed, for sure, but not unmanageably so. I think it’s because my group is just awesome and on top of things and wonderful.

Anyways, thank goodness this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is an easy one for me to cobble together. Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Classic Books. I don’t have cover images or annotations this time, because I’m typing this on a break and my brain is a little scrambled, but let me know what was on your lists if you had one! As usual, things are in no particular order and I probably missed a bunch of good ones!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

-Strawberry

 

 

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

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“You’re supposed to say, ‘All I want is your happiness. I’ll do whatever it takes, even if it means being without you.'”
“Sorry,” Noah said. “I’m just not that big of a person.”

I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this book. It’s been a very long time since I found a book that I couldn’t put down. The book centers around Mara, a teenager who wakes up from a coma with no recollection of the events leading up to her comatose state. As she tries to piece together the night that put her in the hospital and killed three of her friends, odd occurrences begin to happen to Mara. With the help of love interest Noah Shaw, (who seems to have secrets of his own) Mara begins to learn more about her past and how they will impact her future.

A teen science fiction with a little twist, I very much enjoyed reading The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. They are the typical cliches of a super hot guy (Noah) falling for the new girl (Mara) but I personally love a good love interest, especially when there isn’t a poorly done love triangle. If you need a teen fiction read, I recommend this book whole heartedly. I also will admit as a side comedic note that I was saying Mara Dryer whenever explaining it to anyone…

The second book of the series I recommend reading during the day… with all the lights on… But then again I’m a huge baby.

The third and final installment will be coming out this fall!

~ Blonde

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Cover Trends I Like/Dislike

Hey y’all!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to post this week what with my publishing course being so busy, but I had some free time this weekend to pre-write and schedule my posts! No promises for next week though, because it’s the Book Workshop part of the course, and I’ve heard it’s the most intense-no-sleeping-no-eating-busiest part, so it’s not looking promising!

This week’s theme is Top Ten Cover Trends/Design Aspects I Like/Dislike, so I decided to do 3 and 7. I’m using the word trend pretty loosely, so it’s really mostly just cover elements, and I am in no way technical in the way I describe most of these! As always, cover images are from Goodreads.

Dislike:

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Headless woman syndrome – How many books have you seen where there’s just a pair of legs or there’s a woman without a head? A million right? I have a love/hate relationship with covers like this, but at the moment it’s leaning more towards hate. My mom is a big Elin Hilderbrand fan, so we have a lot of these books in our house, and the women has built a (very successful) career around books with headless woman syndrome covers. I understand the reasoning behind it (most books with headless women are chick lit that the reader is supposed to imagine themselves as the MC subconsciously), but I’m just not a fan.

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Related to headless woman syndrome is the super girly, essentially YA chick lit-esque cover with a headless teen on it. It’s not that I don’t like these books – I’ve talked on this blog before about how much I love Ally Carter books, but I’m not a huge fan of the covers. As a (semi?) adult who reads YA, I would feel maybe a little embarrassed walking up to a bookstore counter with one of those in my hand, where I wouldn’t be embarrassed at all with a John Green in my hand.

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Covers from the TV/Movie-Tie In edition – I don’t mind when books are made into movies – on the contrary, some of my favorite movies are based on books, and I like a lot of others. I just hate when I go to buy a book that has been made into a movie or a TV show and the only cover available has pictures of movie actors on it.

Like:

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As much as I don’t really care for the headless woman/teen, I seem to have a thing for the close up half face. Can’t really explain it, but I just think it looks cool.

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Simple/Typography based covers – Love it! I haven’t actually read the JoJo Moyes book yet, but I saw someone reading it in Central Park and fell in love with the cover. Upon further inspection, there are other Moyes books with similar awesome covers!

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Single iconographic image with pretty simple background – This seems to be the way a lot of dystopians get covers (probably because of the success of The Hunger Games) and I like it a lot. It just looks cool, and doesn’t pigeon-hole these books that often have female leads as “girl books.” We had a discussion about how covers can affect readership and how girls will read “boy” books, but most boys won’t read a book they perceive as  “girl” book in one of my CPC lectures, so I like how these types of covers won’t scare away young boys from an awesome story.

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Sarah Dessen covers – not quite a trend or a design element, but I have loved the way all her books are designed, and so far she’s one of the only ones I think can get away with the headless woman thing and still look good.

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Silhouettes – As I’ve said before, I bought The Monsters of Templeton and The Night Circus partially based on their cool covers.

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Beautiful, painting-esque covers, often on historical fiction novels – Something about the old-fashioned quality of the cover design just adds to the history of the book!

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Folger Shakespeare edition covers – Again not a trend, but so beautiful none the less, especially when grouped together!

Have a great week!

-Strawberry

Paper Towns, John Green

Paper Towns, John Green, Speak

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My first review from NYC! I bought this book at Book Culture, one of many bookstores in and around the Columbia campus, with the hopes that I would have time to read it in between our crazy-packed schedule of amazing speakers at CPC. Both fortunately and unfortunately, my cousin, with whom I was supposed to hang out yesterday, got sick and had to cancel our plans (hence the unfortunately part – being sick is no fun!), but it did give me a free day to read, which I spent on Paper Towns. Paper Towns is one of those books that I bought because of the author – I’d read and loved TFIOS and Looking for Alaska, and Paper Towns was just the next on my list, but I didn’t actually really know what it was about. Which turns out to have been a lovely thing. Because while Paper Towns was not really at all what I was semi-expecting it to be, it was absolutely wonderful. Occasionally trying a little too hard to be profound, and somewhat dating itself with the instant messaging and some of the other technology, Paper Towns still managed to be one of those books that resonates with the reader long after the cover is closed. I especially found myself ruminating on liking the idea of somebody quite a bit more than the actual person for the rest of the night after I read it, and I’m not quite sure I’ve really come to a conclusion of how I felt about it.

As usual, John Green flawlessly illustrates the teenage mind and interpersonal interactions, navigating the teenage friendship in such a way as to leave the distinct feeling that he’d been listening in on my high school thoughts and conversations about being mad at a friend and having to still love them for the way they are, or ultimately deciding that they weren’t ever much of a friend in the first place. I’ve always said that you couldn’t pay me enough money to go back to high school (I was always much more of a Quentin than a Lacey or Margo – free from ridicule and friends with many of the elite, but never exactly cool myself), but, and maybe I’m reaching for some non-existent nostalgia here, Paper Towns allowed me to retroactively appreciate my high school friendship successes and failures for what they were – stepping stones that brought me to the person I am today, for better or worse. The characters are really well thought out in my opinion – they’re all a little annoying and selfish in one way or another, but still utterly likable and realistic in their developments and relationships. All in all – I’d definitely recommend it.

-Strawberry

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blogging meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish.

I didn’t really know what to title this post, because while that title is the theme, I’m not really participating this week. You see what had happened was, the theme for the week before last was Top Ten Books That Should Be In Your Beach Bag This Summer or Top Ten Books In My Beach Bag This Summer, and I picked the second one. Clearly I wasn’t looking ahead, because that post is pretty much what this week’s post is supposed to be – ten books I would like to read this summer. That week, I wasn’t particularly specific to the beach, and I picked all books I hadn’t read yet, making it essentially a TBR list. So if you missed that week’s TTT or are too lazy to scroll down, here’s a link to that post, which is simultaneously the Top Ten Books In My Beach Bag This Summer (if I was going to the beach, which I’m not, sadly) and The Top Ten Books on My Summer TBR list. Oops.

link: http://strawberryblondebooks.com/2014/06/03/top-ten-tuesday-top-ten-books-in-my-beach-bag-this-summer/

-Strawberry