Sunday, May 31, 2015

Review: The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1)

The world can make fun of the paranormal YA genre all it wants - and yes, I know I'm a culprit, too - but every once in a while, a book comes around that explains why we all fell in love with it in the first place. This is one of those books. 

The Raven Boys - the first in Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle series - follows the story of Blue Sargent, the daughter of a psychic, who is destined to kill the boy she loves, when she kisses him. With that foreboding of a destiny, you'd think things couldn't get much more complicated, but when she sees the spirit of a young man named Gansey on the spirit road on a cold, spring day, it sets off a series of events that lead to the revelation of a mysterious underside of their sleepy southern town. Now the girl who'd always sworn off boys finds herself in the thick of a ancient search, with four of the most difficult prep school kids she's ever met... and that's only the start of their journey.

Truth time: I had a bad experience with a fortune teller when I was 13 (and no, I'm not going to tell you the story.). But because of all this ambiance - from the house full of psychics, where Blue lives with her mother, to the strong sense of ancient mysticism - now I want to go get my cards read. The depictions of the many women of Blues' house and what they can all do are just so darn intriguing.

When it comes to the structure of the narrative itself, the plot can be somewhat cliche, but parts of it are just so oddball, that its endearing. Any kind of predictability is forgiven in the extensive descriptions of  magical happenings, and there are enough abrupt twists to excuse even the most hardened reader hearts. There was an interesting enough mythology behind the magic, and depictions of magical places unlike others I've read before, and that made it unique in the canon of paranormal YA for me.

One of the choices I appreciated was that it's set in the South, in keeping with current YA trends, and something that I wished Libba Bray's The Diviners had been, too. I just feel like the region has this abundance of natural history and mystique to draw off of... it definitely proved a believable setting for the highbrow prep school boys, as well as the objects of their mysterious quest.

There are still a couple of qualms I have, however... like, I don't know, the title kind of reminds me of a boy band? This may be a silly complaint to make, but it's like each of the boys in the four-man-band they've got working for them is the personification of the band boy types - the leader, the rebel, the smart one, the mopey, cute one - and Blue is their ultimate fangirl. It was like if N*SYNC had four members, and suddenly took up a kind of Indiana Jones habit.

But even that was pretty forgivable, because let's face it: they were all still strongly-built characters! 

Truth be told, I was a little annoyed by, was that the novel ends on a cliffhanger... make that a couple. Normally, this might be a pretty sizable turn-off, but bearing in mind that I will most likely be following the rest of the series, it didn't bother me too much. Huzzah, to starting a new series!

Final Verdict: The Raven Boys is a super fun YA paranormal read free from most tropes, with a great vibe, full plot, and fleshed out characters. If this is your home genre, then welcome back.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Three Day Weekend: Link Love

Hope you're all enjoying your three day weekend! I, for one, have already forgotten Saturday ever happened, and keep questioning my own grip on chronological progression every time I look at yesterday's jam-packed page in my planner. Here's to taking a little bit of time out of your busy afternoon, to check out some awesome things from around the web this week! 

Another season, another brilliant paintball episode from Community. This one was a more involved send-up to spy movies, but the highlight, for me, was a homage of the already-iconic Captain America: Winter Soldier elevator scene.

If classic literature is the perfect jumping off point for new inspirations, then why not check out these journals, themed around classic works of literature. Look closely: the lines you write on are made up of the actual texts from the works that inspired them! 

I've never been exactly quiet about my girl crush on Mindy Kaling, but her new partnership with bestie BJ Novak for a book collaboration is fully deserving of a pterodactyl screech of victory. 

For the grammar grumbler in your life, we have the perfect coffee mug. 

You an espresso fanatic? Check out "Coffee Cups of the World" on Instagram!

You like last time's "Times are New Roman" tee shirt, but looking for something a bit bolder? Maybe Helvetica is more your style

I am the biggest Buzzfeed procrastiner... every time something important is due, you know where to find me. This recent listicle, involving "16 Libraries You Have to See Before You Die," proved a suitable distraction... but I can't say I don't think it's missing something (namely, UW's Suzallo Reading Room!) 

The hashtag #IReadYA absolutely killed it on Twitter this past week. Check out some really great reasons fellow YA lovers have for the popularity of this genre! 


  • What I've been obsessing over: the newest season of Bachelorette has officially started, in all its drunken, sloppy glory, and thankfully, my threats to punch out our sorority television did not have to come to fruition, because Kaitlin is officially our Bachelorette! 
  • What I've been noshing on: Ellenos Greek Yogurt. If you live in the Seattle area,you've probably already sampled this addictive, filling, delectable treat. (If you don't live in the Seattle area, why the hell not?) 
  • What I've been viewing: SORTED Food on YouTube. Four British hunks cooking delicious food and being generally adorable? Yes. 

What good reads have you seen on the feeds this week? How are you spending the three day weekend? Who are you remembering this Memorial Day? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bookish Probs: How to Overcome a Goodreads Challenge Book Lag

Whether it's because you've been spending a lot of time navigating an extra-heavy tome, or you've just gotten bogged down in the boonies of assigned reading for school, you may have already fallen a bit behind in your Goodreads goals for 2015.

I certainly know it did for me; after a hellaciously busy Spring Quarter, I'm running short on motivation and time. No matter how much I could try to read a chapter or two on my flight to San Diego for AFLVWest, or sneak in a novel into my travel bag for the Spring Sisterhood Retreat for my sorority, I soon found myself staring down at a 12 book lag in my Challenge for this year!

However, after shifting around some things in my busy life, I was able to make time again for my favorite pasttime, and I've got to say, I think it's been a pretty good deal for me. Just restructuring my days around reading makes me a lot more conscious about how I spend my time when I'm doofing around my desk. There's ways out of the pit, guys!

SO, here are some of my tried-and-tested ways of overcoming a Goodreads Slump! 

Simplify! I had a really interesting discussion with a friend recently, about how having too many choices available hinders my ability to make a choice at all. Instead of just having a massive stack of books looming over you as a reminder of your slump, sort out the ones you actually are invested in reading. Just make it easier on yourself!

Get organized. This goes hand in hand with simplification, but just clearing out your space in general isn't enough. Make stacks! What the books you have to read for school? How about your fluffy, feel-good YA stack? What about the books that are a little denser, but you're still excited to read? Make room for everyone at the table, and increase your access to the books you really want to read. And this is just another good way to familiarize yourself with what kind of resources you have in your arsenal for good reading.

Refocus on your challenge, by emphasizing the books you're excited about. Whether it's by having a list of books you're amped to read on the desktop of your computer, or just making a stack of some of the paper-and-ink copies on your desk itself, make sure they're in view as much as possible. If you're constantly reminded of the stories you haven't delved into yet, chances are, you're going to want to make more time for reading.

The current colossus of a book tower overlooking my planner and keyboard,
supported on its side by my trusty Kindle. And this is only the SCHOOL stack! 
Take comfort in old favorites. Rereads totally count, and if you're looking for an easy gateway back into a favorite pasttime, then why not try something that already makes you love reading? Anything to get you back in the groove of steadily chugging along through your TBR pile.

Prepare accordingly. Whether that's special treats to coincide with enjoying your book, picking out a sunny spot with a favorite blanket on the Quad, or just carving out a bit of "me" time from your schedule, there are plenty of fun ways to make sure you're ready to commit to at least a little bit of time each day for reading.

Get reading! The only way to do it, is, well, do it. There's not that much more to it. (And if it rhymes, you know it's good advice. Most of the time.)

And, just as a final note: Be easy on yourself. Even if you're reading a little bit every day, there's still ways to get bogged down in extraneous forces that prevent you from enjoying the novels you want, no matter how much you've rearranged your bookshelves or you've blocked out your schedule. It's okay! Reading is supposed to be fun!

Unfortunately, I, myself, am still 9 books behind in my Goodreads Challenge for the year - reading the books themselves takes time, too! - but I am incredibly confident that I'll be caught up again in no time at all. I've got a steady stream of novels at the ready for my perusal, and honestly, having this blog helps a lot, too. It's nice to read, when you know you'll have people to discuss the books with, right? (Want in on the convos, too? Be my friend on Goodreads!)

What are some of your tips and tricks for getting back on a reading schedule?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie: Books I Would Break my Resolution For Right Damn Now

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

This week's topic was a freebie, which was a good thing, too, because there have been some titles I've been waiting to spotlight, but haven't had the chance, because, well, they're kind of a motley crew. The one thing they have in common? How badly I need them all in my lil' grabby hands right this very minute! 

As y'all might remember, my 2015 Resolution was, well, distinctly un-bookish. In a way, it was straight up anti-bookish. Basically, my Resolution was that I wouldn't buy any books for all of 2015. But these ones? Damn, buy 'em for me in hardcover, 'cause I have a great need. My obvious gluttony for punishment aside, here, for today's Top Ten, I've gathered all the titles I'd be willing to drop everything and spend on... should my sense of self-control not be so secure 

(honestly, though, why can't it be this secure about donuts or something, why'd I have to make it BOOKS...) 


Ready Player One, Ernest Cline. Lord knows I love some good sci-fi, and this has just been recommended by too many cool people to ignore.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli. I'd be lying if I didn't say Epic Reads lent itself to needing this book, but I've always got room on my shelf for well-written LGBT YA lit.

Isle of the Lost, Melissa de la Cruz. Yes, this is that one. That one that's the basis for the new Disney Channel Original Movie coming out this summer. Yes, I'm 21 years old.


A Court of Thorns and Roses, S. J. Maas. It was written by my all-time writing girl-crush and the woman I've sworn my YA-reading-life to, need I say more?

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins. That cover, so intriguing. That summary, so enthralling. My heart, in need.

Missoula, Jon Krakauer. I have been a huge fan of Krakauer's works since Into the Wild was assigned to my Junior year AP English class, and his topics are factoring into my education once again: Panhell is just wrapping up a major partnership with our campus' branch of SARVA, and this is a conversation my friends and I are currently very invested in. I'd love to hear more.


So You've Been Publicly Shamed, Jon Ronson. I've been entranced in this book since I heard it on a radio spot on the way to church in my Dad's car for Easter mass (weird amount of detail, but I remember it specifically). I am someone who lives in constant fear of doing / saying the wrong thing, so to me, the people who've managed to actually eff up that badly, are fascinating.

Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard. Pretty cover. Cool concept. Fair amounts of hype. Why not?

The Opposite of Loneliness, Marina Keegan. This book of essays has been swirling around in the back of my mind ever since I heard about the all-too-brief life of its prodigy author, but its also been pretty expensive. I want to take the time to read this one in paperback, but at this point, I think my only luck lies in the library.

Life, Animated, Ron Suskind. I read an excerpt from this book that ran in the New York Times, which, in itself, made for a sizable article. Now, I'm ready to dive into this nonfiction account, about how a father reached his autistic son through Disney movies, because I need a little bit of that positivity inflected into my reading schedule.


Realistically, there could be so many more on this list. I went through my To-Read tag on my Goodreads profile just to make sure I wasn't forgetting anyone important, and a million titles came rushing at me that made me just want to drop everything and hightail it to Elliot Bay Book Company or make a raid on Amazon.

Life is hard when you're being a responsible adult.

Still, there are ways out of my predicament that I'll be detailing for you all soon enough: ways that I've been able to revitalize my reading schedule without sacrificing my need for new material, that haven't resorted to outright grabbing them out of people's hands on the way to class (yet). You'll just have to wait a little while for them!

What's YOUR Top Ten? 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Review: Vanished

Got an ARC for the first time in a long time, and tried not to reflect for too long on how little I liked the cover art, in order to get to the plot inside. Unfortunately, that didn't do much for me, either. Here's why Vanished wasn't a favorite of mine... 

Vanished, by E. E. Cooper, follows the story of Kalah, whose too busy juggling a burgeoning crush on her best friend, Beth, to see that their friendship with Brittney is quickly disintegrating. When Beth takes off, leaving little trace behind, Kalah can't help but think of what she could have done wrong... and when Britney is believed to be dead, shortly after finding out of ties between Beth and Brit's boyfriend, Kalah knows that Beth has to come back. But as secrets mount, it's clear that nothing here is really what it seems, including the people she thought were her best friends.

No one's going to pick up this book because it's packing anything radical. Why bother reinventing the wheel with YA thrillers when Pretty Little Liars have already done it so well? I mean, even searching for the title on Goodreads will bring up so many other novels named Vanished, and I felt like that was a pretty good allegory for the novel itself: it's nothing new.

Even post-Chapter One, I had a couple of concerns, compounded after a conversation about representation in popular fiction, with my younger sister over tea. In Vanished, the main character is non-white, and bisexual, so it would seemingly be a big ol' woohoo for diversity in YA, right? However, that was where all notable decisions made about characterization were pretty much finalized.

So many components were just-off the mark for me. I have notes scribbled throughout the edition I was given that an editor easily could have filled in... "Blonde lead characters named Britney and Beth? What is this, the '90s?" (Yes, I'm sassy even in shorthand.)

The ethnically diverse lead could have been an awesome representative choice... but it gave no dimension to the character. Similarly, the bisexuality component could have played an interesting role in the dynamics of the friend group... but the romance was murky and undeveloped, and only served as a road bump for her and her long-term boyfriend (and making them a "cheater" is definitely not the right way to write compelling bisexual characters, anyways).

Current view of my desk.... I've been trying for about five minutes to try and find some kind of metaphor for these frogs for Vanished - overly chewy? not sweet enough? dug it out of the clearance bin? - but nothing seems to be working. 
Also, not a huge fan that the lead characters issues with anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are used to seemingly make her an unreliable narrator. (Similarly, not happy that there are those among the book-blogging community who are using this to laud the inclusion of a "disabled" character). It complicated the plot and was handled in a fairly appropriate way in terms of description, but I haven't really been loving peoples' reactions to it.

And maybe it's just me, or did anyone else think that the chronology of the disappearance-murder timeline didn't exactly work out like it was supposed to?

I don't know, Maybe it's just because I've been volunteering all day before taking the time to write this out, and I'm a little crankypants that I could have posted this earlier, had I just taken the time to bring together all the reasons why this book just didn't work for me. But while I made it through the book, and it had a couple interesting attempts at plot twists, things were a little too sloppily handled for me to really latch onto it. 

Final Verdict: a new variation on the growing YA thriller genre, but still manages to sloppily handle the very concepts that may have been their strong suits. Attempts at diversity didn't quite hit the mark, and there were too many cliches beyond that to make it much of a contender.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Ladies Paradise: Setting as Character

No one can judge me for reading a novel for my Parisian History class with accents of macarons.
(What you might judge me for is the fact that they were purchased from Trader Joes. Oops!) 

To be fair, I knew what I was getting into, when I registered for a "History of Europe : Paris" class last quarter. But I wasn't prepared for exactly how thoughts of the glittering city were going to overtake my life. Nowadays, all I'm thinking about is French food and fashion, as well as all of that history, both the good and the bad sides (which might sometimes be on the same side... I mean, I got to watch the opening three minutes to Moulin Rouge in class yesterday!).

Still, in between all the Wars of Religion and Revolutions and Napoleonic Empire and whatnot, the assigned readings for the class don't really have all that much in common with a history novel at all. Colin Jones' Paris: the Biography of a City aside, we are reading, for the most part, novels.

The first of them, Emile Zola's The Ladies' Paradise, was particularly notable to me, due to its characterizations, not of people - I found the characters in that respect to be a little drab and mopey - but of the development of the modern-day department store. The novel follows the challenges faced by country girl Denise, a young orphan, who, alongside her two younger brothers, moves to Paris to find a better life, eventually leading her to work at a rapidly growing department store, which is sending all of the smaller, specialty stores in the same area out of business. Funny enough, it's the building that captures your attention.

The store itself in the novel - the titular Ladies Paradise - was modeled after Le Bon Marche, which was a noted Parisian retailer in development at the time of the novel's inception (which would, in turn, become Seattle's own The Bon Marche... RIP). While the descriptions and actions of the characters are the deliberate focus of the novel, the presence of the department store really serves as an insight into developing marketing and service practices of the 19th century, whether it was how they decided to organize merchandise, the treatment and social interactions of the men and women who work inside the mammoth store, or how other shops responded to this new superstore, too.

The entirety of the store is described in almost worshipful detail... everything about it sounds glamorous and grand, especially in contrast to the drab and practically prison-like appearances of the other shops in the story. Its sparkling and luxurious ambiance is lovingly transcribed, and gives better exposition to the stakes at play in the interactions with outsider shop owners.

Have you ever read a novel like that before... where the primary character of the novel seemed not to be the people and forces at play, but what setting gathered them all together? Can you think of an example of a book that draws its significance from the surrounding landscape, and not its major characters?

Let me know, in the comments below! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: The Diviners

I am just such a huge fan of Libba Bray, ever since I got stuck on her A Great and Terrible Beauty series as a kid. But other than Beauty Queens, I've not had the chance to sample much of her other work. Can Bray work the same magic into a different story? Let's find out... 

The Diviners, (the first book in the series of the same name) by Libba Bray, follows the exploits of flapper femme Evie O'Neill after one too many scandals in her humdrum Ohio society gets her shipped off to live with her eccentric uncle in Manhattan... at his museum of the Occult. Where better for a girl who can read people's pasts through their possessions? However, when spirits rise and a serial killer starts stalking the streets in an attempt to fulfill an age-old ritual, it's up to Evie and her friends to find the madman before the earth is plunged into chaos. What else is a thoroughly modern girl to do?

Classic Libba Bray, this novel is straight-up fun, fast-paced, and set in a world that's far from ordinary, but is still based on our own. If you loved the Gemma Doyle trilogy as much as I do, then these books are right up your alley, as well!

I think my favorite pieces of the whole book were the horror elements... she certainly knows how to bring on the creepy, and this book delivers in a way that won't ostracize young adult readers, but still will send shivers up the spines of thrill enthusiasts. It ups the ante on Bray's past forays into fantastical visuals established back with AGaTB, with some serious goosebump action. 

At one point while reading the story, thunder struck, and it started to rain!
And, of course, the historical accuracy was on-point. Bray is the kind of gal who knows her time periods and works 'em to her whim well. That being said, if I hear one more piece of '20s slang in the next 24 hours, I may punch out a wall. I thought this generation had it bad with "swag," I can't believe an entire decade got away with adding the phonetic "-ski" to the end of every sentence.

Unfortunately, there was this shoe-horned love triangle that I wasn't buying in the slightest, but I've got to admit, these fellas ain't cookie cutter. In fact, there weren't a couple of characters who especially stood out to me for their uniqueness. I appreciated that there was such a diverse range of people involved, and boy, were there a lot of people on top of that, too. At some point I just had to stare resolutely at a name until I could conjure up the characterization of what part they'd played thus far in the story. 

You know what makes any evening of reading better? Pie. From the farmer's market.
Especially when it's a baby pie. 
There were a couple of instances where I thought Bray's dabbles in the occult and American history - especially when it came to the more difficult-to-swallow bits, like frequent references to the inequality that lasted long past slavery for African Americans, especially in the form of the Klan, and the significant ties between the lead heroine and the terror of WWI - verged on the unsympathetic, sheerly for their inclusion. Honestly, though, while it gave me a bit of uneasy feeling, I can't think of a single example where things were treated unequally or represented unfairly. I don't know, it was a weird time in this nation's history, where like 9/10 people had ideas about the world that we'd gasp at today, but Bray still managed to keep everything, as Evie would say, "copacetic." 

In terms of how the novel stays in keeping with current trends in publishing that we've seen, the '20s period setting squares out pretty firmly. However, I actually wish that the novel had been even more hip to the times, by having a Southern setting, instead of in New York City. NYC is so over idealized in YA, and I wish they could branch out a little bit more from such a catch-all setting... focusing the story in the South would have carried the same place-out-of-time feeling, and would have lent itself to even closer ties to the occult and the Klan. But that's just my opinion!

Final Verdict: A supercharged paranormal mystery with plenty of inventive characters and plot points to make you feel like the story was brand new, even though the time period was one we've seen cropping up in plenty of YA these days. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Favorites: Link Love!

It's Friday, which means I'm wishing a very lovely weekend to all you lovely folks! I'm trapped in quite a bit of Panhellenic madness for the weekend, as our neighborhood at UW is busy hosting Greek Preview tomorrow for all the incoming freshman, but hopefully I'll get some time to read... and celebrate Mother's Day of course! 

This fantastic print, which I immediately require in its black tank iteration.

Who knew Random House had a Pinterest, let alone a tag specifically for bookish get-togethers?

My favorite news in non-profit and publishing partnerships this past week. Way to go, Obama! Always 'bout that education.

This year, #IndependentBookstoreDay and #FreeComicBookDay fell on the same day... but I'm still languishing beneath the burden of my unrelenting 2015 Resolution! Hopefully y'all celebrated more than I was able to, but if not, you should still go check out the Instagram tag, and marvel at all the papery goods.

If you're a tea fan like I - and most other book bloggers, lol - are, then check your knowledge against Pop Sugar's History of English Tea Time quiz! (I got a 90%. Just sayin').

Publishers Weekly's Books of the Week, and they've got some really great ones! Luckiest Girl Alive and Bibliotech sound like they're right in my wheelhouse.

Mindy Kaling released the cover and release date of her new book! Girl crush leveling up.

And, of course, here's a nice throwback to last year's Mother's Day last-minute-gift rundown! There's still plenty of time to pick up some great goodies for the lucky women in your life, so here's some examples, tailored to the needs of some particular kinds of mamas.


What good reads have you seen on the interwebs this week? How are you spending Mother's Day? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Enough is Enough: The Earth-Friendly Reader

Reading for school can be a significant drag, especially when the topics you're covering in lecture seem to have no influence on your own intended career direction. I'm a Poli Sci minor, so the topic of the economy has come up in my sphere of study before, but it wasn't exactly something I was enthused about (Math hates me, and I reciprocate).

However, Rob Dietz & Dan O'Niell's book Enough is Enough: Building a Stable Economy in a World of Finite Resources, makes the subject a lot easier to understand, by orienting the subject into the realm of how the economy interacts with the environment. The relationship makes it a lot easier for me to see the direct consequences of economic trends, which makes them more of a real concept, than just a lot of numbers on the Dow Jones. 

How best to accompany an eco-econ afternoon of reading? With eco-sustainable sushi! 
Of course, the ecological component is what really has my attention; specifically, how personal consumer choices can also have collective effects that directly influence our natural resources. At first, I felt pretty good at a lot of the choices I make as a consumer... I don't go shopping a lot, I love buying things secondhand, and the grand ol' PNW in general has a pretty good handle on what kinds of foods are sustainable for our region of the country.

But then, I saw the stacks of books and papers around my room, and the numerous notebooks I use to store all of the things I randomly jot down throughout the day. I didn't just think of how my nail polish was locally produced, I thought about how I ordered it online and got it shipped to my house instead of walking down to the Julep bar in UVille to pick it up myself. And most importantly, it got me thinking about how being a book fiend might not be the most earth-friendly lifestyle choice... 

Here are just a couple of examples about why being such a book fanatic isn't always the most Earth-friendly option: 

  • We're driven to pick up the newest materials, even if we don't really want them. We're always on the hunt for the next big thing. Between ARCs and numerous new releases simply picked up from a table in the checkout line of Barnes and Noble, we're consuming books all the time, and at a quick pace... which doesn't really lend itself to thinking we're making the best use of our resources. 
  • The actual material we're buying leaves a significant carbon footprint. You don't just measure the paper and ink in a book. You measure how long the drive was between the forest to the paper maker, to the manufacturing plant, to the warehouses, to the bookstore, to your home. That's a hefty amount of travel and development, and a lot of natural resources consumed and affected! 
  • Self-publishing can be much more environmentally friendly, but we focus pretty exclusively on Big Publishers. With one of the Big Publishers, there are huge production schedules, massive amounts of materials printed, millions of miles traveled to deliver those books to customers, etc. With self-publishers or independents, things are much more locally sourced, and cheaply (which usually means more ecologically-friendly) printed and distributed. 
  • We're not making the most of the materials we have already. I'm constantly in awe of the stacked shelves I see on bookstagrams on the daily... but how many of those are read regularly? Are they just showpieces, or are these books actually serving their primary purpose... being read? And why is there this severe social penalty for recycling and reusing old or damaged books, to make crafts or notebooks? If you're not using them, then why are they there? 

However, don't fret! This also got me into thinking about how there are still ways we can turn our hyper-consumer ways around... 

  • Buy an e-reader. Digital books still leave an ecological impact - it takes something to process those Kindles out of a factory! - but they don't require massive amounts of manufacturing or transportation costs to deliver a book into your waiting hands. 
  • Trade books with friends. I love the idea of a little lending library between friends. This way, not everyone has to shell out massive amounts of money for the titles they want, and you all have something to talk about in common! 
  • Make better use of your local library system. The library is a magical, wonderful place, and sharing their copies is much more eco-friendly than buying your own. Besides, you can often rent their e-copies through your own e-reader as well! 
  • Treat your books nicely... but also reduce, reuse, and recycle. Of course, one of the best ways to lower your consumer and carbon footprints with books is to love them well... re-read your favorites, and treat them carefully, so you don't have to buy secondary copies. That being said, if there are books that are just a little too loved - or too hated! - send those puppies out in the recycling... or give them to Goodwill, so some enterprising Etsy aficianado can fashion them into something awesome! 

Do you think that the environmental costs of popular book consumers is an issue? Is this something you've heard bloggers talk about before? Do you have any other tips for lessening our ecological impact? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Will (Most Likely) Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

There are very few things in this world that I'll say a definitive NEVER to, because I'm a pretty big fan of trying everything at least once. Then again, these books weren't too hard to brainstorm (and I also know I'm going to get quite a bit of heat for a few of them!).

Moby Dick, Herman Melville. A little too long and dense for my taste, unfortunately. This one narrowly edged out Ulysses by James Joyce in the list-refining process... because at least I like James Joyce.

War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy. Anyone who knows my reading habits knows that one of the books I'm most proud of reading was Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, which really widened the scope of how I think about literature from different parts of the world. I'd love to read it again one day... but don't think that I could take it upon myself to take down this particular behemoth.

50 Shades of Grey, E.L. James. Over-glorified and ill-constructed. My younger sister condemns its movie adaptation, and my mother literally recycled - my English-major mother actually sent it out of the house in the recycling bin - the copy she had been given, so it's a family consensus.

Absolutely anything written by James Frey or his associates, put forth by Full Fathom Five (especially Kathleen Hale). I got some flack for my round dismissal of Dorothy Must Die last year, but I'm sticking to my guns: the guy has an unsound practice, and he produces books at the expense of the people who write them... and the people who write them aren't exactly great people, either. Besides, anyone who's on the wrong side of Oprah ain't on the right side of me.

The rest of the Lord of the Rings series, J.R.R. Tolkien. I made it all the way through Fellowship, and I consider that a great effort, on my part. Probably tougher than Anna Karenina, at the very least. There's just so much epic poetry.

The rest of the Divergent or Hunger Games series, Veronica Roth and Suzanne Collins, respectively. I'm lumping these two together for good reason: overhyped YA dystopian that didn't bring the stakes to make the grade. Boring, mostly. And just so many plot holes...

The rest of the If I Stay series, Gayle Forman. Ugh.

The rest of the Maze Runner series, James Dashner. Double ugh.

The Vampire Academy series, Richelle Mead. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I was the creepy vampire book girl in middle school. I've trod that path; I shan't return to it. Unless it's in the form of one of the Amelia Atwater-Rhodes paperbacks I've still got stocked somewhere.

The Heir, Kiera Cass. This is less of a reality, or brutal truth, or more of just well-wishing on my part. I full acknowledge that The Selection series is a pretty terribly written one - and I'm not the only one to admit to it! - but I have bought every single book of this series the day it was published. Darnit.

What's YOUR Top Ten? 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Lay it All Out

There's this quote I love from Mindy Kaling's book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? 

“I do not think stress is a legitimate topic of conversation, in public anyway. No one ever wants to hear how stressed out anyone else is, because most of the time everyone is stressed out. Going on and on in detail about how stressed out I am isn’t conversation. It’ll never lead anywhere. No one is going to say, “Wow, Mindy, you really have it especially bad. I have heard some stories of stress, but this just takes the cake.”

This book is one of my favorites, and for good reason - it's realistic, relatable, and righteously funny. I love it because it applies so well to the twenty-something life, and because her words are so matter-of-fact and unabashedly spoken I have no trouble taking them as sacrosanct. That's why what she had to say about stress spoke to me so loudly... and why I've been trying to speak less about stress since then. 

So, instead of boring you with details about my two-month absence, I'll show you all this instead: my new blog design! 

The spur for revitalizing the design is actually kind of tragic: I was tired of juggling multiple Google accounts after they bought out Blogger, so I consolidated my email and blogger profiles under one Google account. Unfortunately, this caused me to lose a lot more than just time switching between tags... all of my photos I had uploaded under that secondary account were now gone! Thusly, I languished, not wanting to post anything new... until I took to the same pathway in every teen movie I've ever worshiped: the power of the makeover!

True, it's not earth-shattering, but it is a step forward, and it is mine. In case you needed a reminder, here's what my blog looked like before:

Like I said, earth firmly retaining its position, here. However, the changes that I did make are noticeable enough, and important enough to me, to warrant commentary: I switched up all the fonts, I've got myself a firm color scheme, the header tags are back, and I've got a beautiful new profile picture up, to remind you all of what my face looks like (like you could have possibly forgotten).

Plenty of changes are still underway, too: the "Review Policy" tag finally has an updated version under it, but the "Review Library" page is in need of some desperate refurbishing. There's still some tweaking I want to do with the layout, but there's plenty of changes going to be going on in what I post, as well, with a higher focus on visual content, and more frequent, quality posts with maybe a little less length than before (I get it, I ramble). 

If you've stuck with me this long, thank you so much for enduring the shift. If you're just getting started on this particular branch of crazy train, welcome aboard! I hope you're as excited to be here as I still am.