There’s An App For That: Bookworm Edition

April 16, 2014 by Spencer | 0 comments

I have no shame in admitting that my phone is my lifeline. It’s never more than, oh, 5 feet away from me at all times — and yes, that includes when I’m in the shower (don’t judge!). While I do have my fist-shaking, get-off-my-lawn moments about technology (Can someone explain the point of Snapchat??), I am most definitely on #teamiPhone when it comes to 21st century technology. Because my phone is pretty much an extension of my personality, it only makes sense that a good portion of my apps represent my bookish side.

These apps are bound to please readers, lexophiles, and the book-obsessed — I already own a few, and the ones that I don’t have will be downloaded in T-minus…

Apps for Bookworms

  • Want to listen to listen to audiobooks on your daily commute? Audible (free)
  • Want to read your Kindle books but left your Kindle at home? Kindle for iPhone (free)
  • Want to look up what that obscure word means in the book you’re reading? Merriam-Webster Dictionary (free)
  • Want to update your reading progress while on the go? Goodreads (free)
  • Want to survive the Hunger Games as Katniss? Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Panem Run ($0.99)
  • Want to play an addicting word puzzle game? Wurdle ($1.99)
  • Want to have fun while reading Pride and Prejudice? Stride & Prejudice ($1.99)
  • Want to create angsty refrigerator poetry? Instant Poetry ($1.99)
  • Want to check out audiobooks from your local library? Overdrive (free)
  • Want to find your next read based on its cover? Book Wall (free)
  • Want to create your own library database? Book Crawler ($1.99)

What are your favorite bookish (and non-bookish) apps? I’m sure there’s a sliver of memory left on my phone for just ONE (or two) more app suggestions!

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Wishlist

April 15, 2014 by Spencer | 0 comments

TTT logo

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started by the lovely (and creative!) Jamie of The Broke and the Bookish. After following along since TTT’s inception (and because list-making is a die-hard hobby of mine) it only makes sense that I chime in with my own top tens. This week’s topic is ten bookish things that I’d like to own — items on the list range from fandom souvenirs to accessories that contribute to or enhance my bookish obsession… Scroll down & take a look!

Check out my past Top Ten Tuesdays or head to The Broke and the Bookish for more Top Ten topics.

TTT book wishlist

TTT-bookish wishlist

1. Penguin clothbound classics ($20) // 2. Penguin book mugs ($10) // 3. “Too Fond of Books” tote ($15) // 4.  Out of Print literary classic tee ($28) // 5. Harry Potter ring ($28) // 6. BookBook laptop case ($80) // 7. Agate bookends ($25) // 8. Royal typewriter ($450) // 9. Ikea Billy bookcase combination ($250) // 10. Warby Parker glasses ($95)

 

 

Pros & Cons: Murder is Binding by Lorna Barrett

April 7, 2014 by Spencer | 0 comments

Hello there! I’m back with another review, but I thought I’d try something new this time around… While some books call for fangirling and in-depth analysis of characters, plot and other literary devices, there’s something refreshing about a simple pro/con list that gives an at-a-glance look at the book as a whole (and, let’s be honest, it can be easier to get your thoughts down this way sometimes). That said, I’ve whipped up a pro/con list of a book I read recently — MURDER IS BINDING.

These type of reviews are meant to be short & touch on a few key points that stood out to me — not delve into every single aspect of the book. Are you a fan of pro/con lists? Or do you prefer reviews that dig deep into the story? Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments!

Pro-Con_Murder is Binding1

Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

April 6, 2014 by Spencer | 0 comments

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

 

FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell
Pages: 445 pp.
Genre: Contemporary YA
Published: Sept. 2013, St. Martin’s Press

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? [GOODREADS]

Oh gosh, where to start with this book. My first reaction is to dive right into fangirling (shameless pun) and gushing over how much I loved this book, but I feel like it deserves more than that… Then again, to hell with it –

*Kermit flail* I LOOOOOOOVED this book SO. FREAKING. MUCH.

kermit flail

You know the books where you just want to crawl between the pages and never leave? The kind where you’re so consumed by the story that you begin to take on the qualities of the main character? This was it for me. While Cath is certainly relateable as it is, I found myself becoming even MORE like here while I was reading the story — awkward, angsty, a hermit (more so than usual), and totally into fanfic (something I’ve never dabbled in). I relived my freshman year through her eyes, experiencing both familiar and new-found emotions that actually made me wish (if just for a moment) that I were in college all over again.

There was something about Cath that made me connect to her right away — some of which I could directly relate to (a combination of her love for writing & fictional characters as well as her social awkwardness), and some that I’ve never experienced but learned to appreciate while reading this book (her ingrained need to be the “caretaker” for her dad and sister).

Cath is worrisome, awkward, judgemental, creative, caring and REAL. I could both imagine myself AS her as well as someone I could be best friends with. As someone with an extremely small friend circle, this says a lot.

Also, can I just point out how adorable it was that she and Wren were named together? Cather & Wren… I love it! Speaking of Wren, I appreciated the fact that the story showed Wren wanting to branch out on her own. On the surface, it seemed like Wren was a reckless, stupid college student (which she was at times), but to me, Wren’s character was more of a vehicle to show Cath’s personal growth and the fact that she’s not defined by her twin — just like she’s not defined by Simon Snow.

The fanfic part of this story was one of my favorites, not only because I’m a huge Harry Potter fan (which I assume Simon Snow was based on), but also because it added another layer to the story as well as illustrated the author’s exceptional writing talent to write a genre aside from the one Fangirl is categorized as (though it was really “Cath” who was the author of the Simon Snow fanfic ^_^). I’m not familiar with online world of fanfic, but as an outsider, it seemed to me that Rowell did a good job of showing the art of fanfic, as well as the behind-the-scenes pressure and seriousness of it all. When you think about it, Cath was to Harry Potter as E.L. James was to Twilight… Ha! Wouldn’t it be something if she became an overnight sensation for publishing a book that was originally based on Simon Snow? How about a real life fanfic about her rise to fame? Talk about Inception: a fanfic about a character who writes fanfic about another character who’s based on another character? Eek!

mind blown

I digress…

So, Levi… Umph. I ADORED Levi!

adventure time love it

The fact that he WANTED Cath to read her fanfic to him like a lullaby and didn’t judge or make fun of her for it made my heart swell and my gut clench. What girl wouldn’t want that?? Even though it seemed as if he “had it together”, simply because he was older and he smoked and lived off campus, he was just as flawed and lost as Cath, which made him all the more endearing.

This is the first book I’ve ready by Rainbow Rowell and she’s already one of my new favorite authors. Her ability to write characters that are so inherently relateable, regardless of if you really share common traits, is a gift — one that I’m grateful to have experienced. When it comes to deciding if a book is a favorite, of course there’s more to it than simply the book — it’s the book, the mind frame of the reader, the setting and circumstances of how they came to read said book… in essence, it’s the entire reading experience that determines why a book becomes a favorite.

all the feels

Fangirl is one of those rare books where everything came together and made this a favorite that I was pulled into, obsessed with, and actually somewhat melancholy when it was over.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Gateway Books + Authors

April 1, 2014 by Spencer | 0 comments

TTT logo

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started by the lovely (and creative!) Jamie of The Broke and the Bookish. After following along since TTT’s inception (and because list-making is a die-hard hobby of mine) it only makes sense that I chime in with my own top tens. This week’s topic spotlights “gateway” books/authors that somehow led me to discovering a certain genre, book or author.

Check out my past Top Ten Tuesdays or head to The Broke and the Bookish for more Top Ten topics.

TTT-Gateway Books

1. Nefertiti by Michel Moran… gateway to historical fiction.

2. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri… gateway to literary fiction & short stories.

3. Mythology by Edith Hamilton… gateway to Greek/Roman mythology.

4. Majoring in Murder by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain… gateway to Murder She Wrote series (HUGE fan of the show!).

5. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss… gateway to READING! This was the first book I learned to read all on my own.

6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell… gateway to Rainbow Rowell. Also, this book got me out of a major reading slump!

7. Truly, Madly Yours by Rachel Gibson… gateway to the romance genre (aka The One That Started It All).

8. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer… gateway to paranormal fiction.

9. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich… gateway to cozy mysteries.

10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins… gateway to the dystopian genre.

 

 

Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

March 31, 2014 by Spencer | 0 comments

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent series, Book #1
Pages: 487 pp.
Genre: Dystopian YA
Published: Apr. 2011, Harper Collins

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. [GOODREADS]

 

I admit, I jumped on the Hype Train with this one, since I didn’t really have an inclination to read it on my own. After downloading Divergent on a whim when it was on sale, it sat for months on my Kindle before I finally decided it was time to see what all the hoopla was about.

I finished it in less than a day.

When I first started reading, the similarities between it and The Hunger Games were glaringly obvious (dystopian setting, teens forced to make a life-altering decision), but it only took a few chapters before Divergent started branching off into its own adrenaline-pumping storyline. When it did, my fingers were swiping as fast as I could read!

Like Katniss, Tris is a strong female lead, but I found her a bit more compassionate and a lot less self righteous. Unlike Katniss, she wasn’t a natural fighter and not the best at combat — I actually appreciated this because it made her character more believable. Not to say she was weak — girlfriend was scrappy! — but it’s refreshing to read about a heroine who isn’t perfect at everything right off the bat. Plus it gives her character room to grow as the series progresses.

I could go into the whole “Divergent” aspect, but I don’t feel like it was the real crux of the story (at least not yet) — this book was more about character development. Which leads me to… Four. Oh, Four. So brooding & deep. There’s just something about him… I already know he is a reader favorite and rightfully so! I haven’t gotten around to them yet, but I will be reading the Four novellas because he’s got a complicated history that I’d love to learn more about. His feelings for Tris were swoon-worthy but I have to say, I didn’t quite get WHY he was so drawn to her so quickly. Luckily, Tris doesn’t either, which makes this subplot easier to follow along with, since both readers and Tris get an explanation as to why Four is so smitten.

One thing that really stood out to me was how violent this book is. Between the hand-to-hand combat and the multiple shoot-outs, I found myself cringing while reading at times. As someone who watches gory crime dramas (Dexter, Criminal Minds, etc.), I’m pretty immune to stuff like that, but Ms. Roth is one hell of a writer if she can make me squeamish with just words. I’m counting that as a plus.

Obviously Divergent is part of a trilogy — one that I feel obligated to see through. I mean, I owe it to Four, right? ;)

Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

March 29, 2014 by Spencer | 0 comments

Hex Hall

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Series: Hex Hall series, Book #1
Pages: 323 pp.
Genre: Paranormal YA
Published: Mar. 2010, Hyperion Books

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father–an elusive European warlock–only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire student on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her. [GOODREADS]

 

After a particularly LONG (a near eternity, it seems like) reading hiatus, I was in the mood for something different than my usual romance-genre trope. Enter Hex Hall, an captivating read about a young witch sent to a magical boarding school that I gulped down in one evening.

The story’s first person point of view is its greatest appeal — Sophie is cheeky but flawed, just how I’d imagine a teenage girl coming into magical powers would act. She may only be 16, but her individuality and the way she doesn’t care what others think about her is truly commendable. My 16-year-old self definitely could have taken a page from Sophie’s book!

I’m a sucker for boarding school settings and Hex Hall makes an excellent backdrop to a unique cast of characters. From hot-headed werewolves to stuck-up faeries to ghosts roaming the halls (à la Hogwarts), the magical student body runs the gamut and I wanted to learn more about them and their backstories as well. Because this is the first book in the Hex Hall trilogy, the story did end on somewhat of a cliffhanger, but I guess that’s okay since I was pulled in enough to want to read the rest of the series (as evidenced by my next day trip to the library for books two and three).

In some ways, Hex Hall is your quintessential paranormal YA/magic school trope, but Sophie’s voice is really what makes this story stand out from other stories like it. The twist at the ending will convince readers to stick around for book two, which, if it’s anywhere near as engaging as Hex Hall, will be just as unputdownable!

Happy New Year & Happy Birthday (to me)!

January 1, 2014 by Spencer | 0 comments

happy new years

2013 has been quite the roller coaster, with both ecstatic highs and frustrating lows. While I’m thankful to have accomplished quite a lot, I must admit that this past year definitely paved the way for room for improvement. So sayonara, 2013, and HELLOOOOOO 2014! I’m excited for the next 365 days and am determined to make this year better than the last.

I’m still working on my list of resolutions, but of course I’ve got a few bookish ones sprinkled in there. Like I said, last year was quite the roller coaster, resulting in a neglected blog and a reading slump that lasted WAY too long. I refuse to let that happen again. Books are my life (she says dramatically) and I need to get back to what makes me happy. As for this blog, I need to write for myself and stop worrying what others think and whether or not they do(n’t) like it. As much as I LOVE the book blogging community (another resolution is to become more involved with commenting, social media, etc.), it’s easy to get caught up in comparing my blog/reading speed/ARC piles to other bloggers. My plan is to look to others for inspiration, NOT envy. Besides, the only person who can do RtR justice is moi!

Along with today being the start of a new year, today is also my birthday! Talk about a starting-fresh double whammy! While today was pretty low-key, I made sure to do two of my most favorite things: browse the bookstore and eat cupcakes. I also indulged in a personal birthday prezzie to myself, but I’m keeping it hush-hush until it arrives a few days from now. Needless to say I’ll be obsessively stalking the “track my package” until then…

…Starting now! Kidding (maybe). But I do hear a red velvet cupcake calling my name. Happy New Year, lovlies, and here’s to a healthy, prosperous, and BOOKISH 2014!

happy new year

My Thoughts on “Emo” Books & Why I Avoid Them

September 13, 2013 by Spencer | 1 Comment

“There can be no knowledge without emotion.” — Arnold Bennett 

Yesterday while chatting about scary movies (and why I avoid them them) with the beau, I confessed my extreme aversion to not just scary movies but to tear-jerkers too. He didn’t seem to understand why I prefer movies/TV shows that are cheery, comical, and over-all lighthearted. Not surprisingly, the same goes for books as well.

I got to thinking about my indifference toward books that are more emotional and “heavier” than the typical lighthearted, fun books that fill the majority of my shelves. I’ll admit, I tend to gravitate toward books that are typically more upbeat, but I look at it this way: reading is — and always has been — my escape. If I’m going to live on my own Fantasy Island, I want it to be happy-go-lucky, cheerful, and filled with sexy times (just being honest!). I don’t want to get over-emotional and become a blubbering mess because something tragic happened to a character who I’ve fallen in love with. (Reason #1 why I don’t read Nicholas Sparks books.) I don’t want crying on Fantasy Island, I want laughter!

All the feels!That said, whenever I hear buzz about certain books that actually seem interesting, I feel as though I’m depriving myself and not giving them a chance simply because I KNOW they’re probably tear-jerkers. Sure, I’ve read books that have made me cry, but in those instances, they’ve all taken me by complete surprise! The books I tend to avoid are the ones whose plots scream “Bring tissue!”

In an effort to experience all spectrums of the emotional rainbow, I’m making a personal decision to pick up at least one book that I’m sure is likely to “give me the feels.”

A few titles that have caught my interest while floating around the book world are:

Feel free to suggest any others that you think I should check out! I will definitely make sure I’m fully stocked with Kleenex before venturing into Emo City (the opposite of Fantasy Land, obviously).

ROAMING QUESTION: Do you tend to avoid certain books for emotional reason? Or am I just crazy for depriving myself from a whole world of great literature simply because it’s “too emo”?

#RWA13 Author Signing!

July 21, 2013 by Spencer | 0 comments

RWA Literacy Autographing

What better way to revive RtR than by recapping one of the biggest romance reader events of the year! After struggling with my reading mojo for months, when I heard that this year’s Romance Writer’s Convention was being held in Atlanta — and that they were having an event for the public — I knew I had to go! With over 400 authors (and easily double that many attendees!), the #RWA13 “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing was hands down the BEST bookish event I’ve ever been to!

I didn’t know what to expect, but I did do a bit of research the day before by making a list of which authors I had to meet. On the day of the event, in true Georgia summer fashion, the weather was erratic — rolling clouds, sticky, humid temps… it looked like it was going to open up and start pouring at any minute — but I wasn’t going to let that stop me! I made it to the hotel with ten minutes to spare and right before the thunderstorms began (whew!). When I arrived, I stopped dead in my tracks — literally. The line to get into the atrium was insane! Silly me for thinking that I was just going to waltz in, when in fact I should’ve arrived hours before as opposed to mere minutes. Luckily, once they opened the doors the line moved quickly and before I knew it I was in a room filled with people just like me — bookish, rom-loving fans. The air was electric!

Even though there were hundreds of people mingling about and standing in line to meet their favorite authors, I was able to make my way around and meet all the authors on my list! Talk about fangirling — I altered between squeeing my love, tumbling over my words, to being speechless. I can say, though, that there were a lot of “Oh my god!” and “It’s such an honor to meet you!”

The Authors

The best part is, every single author I talked to was SO NICE and genuinely happy to be there, interacting with fans! Then again, why wouldn’t they be? They write happily ever afters for a living! Everyone knows that romance lovers are nicer people ;) In addition to meeting all my favorites, I also scooped up copies of each of their books — complete with personalized autographs!

Book Haul + Autograph

When I finally made my way to the checkout line, my final haul was 8 books, including a reprint of the first romance book I ever read. A respectable amount, I’d say — especially considering how many I could have ended up with. Let’s just say it’s a good thing I hadn’t come prepared with an empty suitcase!

Despite the crappy weather, I’m so glad I went and got a chance to mingle with “my own kind.” Now that I’ve gotten my convention feet wet, I’m already planning how I can attend the next event… RT Con, anyone??