March Reading Tracker: End of Month Wrap Up

Monthly Reading Tracker

Hello Readers!

March was a busy month for me, as I’m sure it was for you. And because of that I feel as if I didn’t read as much as I did during the months of January and February. But that’s okay.

During the month of March, I read a total of sixteen (16) books!  While most of them were picture books, I did manage to squeeze some personal reading as well. The books I read in March are:

YA:

  • Dramarama by E. Lockhart
  • Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
  • Always & Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Picture Books:

  • From the Garden by Michael Dahl
  • Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert
  • A Whale in the Bathtub by Kylie Westaway
  • Dinosaurs Love Underpants by Claire Freedman
  • Roar: A Dinosaur Tour by Michael Paul
  • Dinosaurumpus by Tony Mitton
  • Dinosaurs Don’t Have Bedtimes by Timothy Knapman
  • A New Friend For Sparkle by Amy Young
  • St. Patrick’s Day by Ann Rockwell
  • The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day by Teddy Slater
  • Can You Make a Scary Face by Jan Thomas
  • 999 Frogs Wake Up by Ken Kimura

Even though I didn’t read as much as I did in previous months, I’m still happy with the books I read. Not including the picture books (because I mainly read those for work related reasons), I feel that this month I focused on quality instead of quantity.

This month, I read a book that has been on my TBR list since I was in grad school (Dramarama), a book by an author who I feel like I more and more with each book I read by him (Goodbye Days), and a book that is the last in a series that I’ve been meaning to finish for a while (Always & Forever Lara Jean).

All in all, a good reading month!

What did you read during the month of March, readers? Please share in the comments! I’d love to know!

Books I Bought While On Vacation Part II

Food For Thought, Random

Hello Readers!

A few months back, my bestie and I went on an adventure. We packed our bags for a long weekend in San Antonio, Texas. Both of us had never been to this place, but we were excited at our chance to spend time together, and experience this new city as friends.

We did a lot of exploring. And of course, we came across a bookstore or two. And because you know me, I couldn’t pass up my chance to check them out.

The first book store that we stumbled upon was an independent/antique-esque bookstore called Cheever Books. This store was packed to the gills with used and rare books. It was hard to look around as it was all organized chaos. But as we walked around – me cautiously trying not to knock anything over – I finally found my section: the youth section.

A lot of the books were rare, and super old. A part of me didn’t even want to touch or pick anything up out of fear that the yellowed pages would disintegrate in my hands. But I looked and looked, and found the Little Golden Books section. For as long as I could remember, I’ve been on the hunt for the Alice In Wonderland Little Golden Book.  I flipped through, what seemed like, endless Golden books, and when I couldn’t find it, gave up. But my bestie – being my bestie – plodded on and found it!

I didn’t set out to buy a book within the first few hours of this mini vacay, but I did. And I like to think that it set the pace for the rest of the trip.

After that we headed to Half Price Books – a chain that sells books at half price. Obviously. While there was a lot of great titles, and I really loved the store as a whole I didn’t actually buy anything. There wasn’t anything that I particularly needed or wanted. And I knew that there would be other bookstores on our adventure so I might as well pace myself.

A few days later, we decided to check out Austin. And while driving around, we found Book People – a large Barnes and Noble like store that is independently owned. Even though it reminded me of a Barnes and Noble, it was nothing like it. This store had character. And I liked it immediately.

My bestie and I are both book people. And we can spend hours in a store. While she looked for books that fit her fancy, I looked for my own. And somehow, we ended up in the picture book section. Picture  book sections are a favorite past time for us. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve hung out at a bookstore reading and laughing at our favorite, or newly favorited picture books.

While she sat there, I told her to check out the Mother Bruce books. They are my faves. I can’t help but laugh (out loud) each and every time I read these books. I knew she would love them. And as I sat by quietly, reading my own really strange picture books (I found them in a section labeled “weird”) I heard her laughing. I knew she was enjoying the books as much as I knew she would.

We then hit up the middle grade and teen section. I suggested that she get the Hazel Wood. And she found a MG book called Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller that screamed “Nicole” from the moment she read the dust jacket flap.

Besides that book, I bought one other book. As I was browsing, I decided to check out the adult section. I don’t read a lot of adult fiction, but I want to. While browsing The Seas. by Samantha Hunt caught my eye. First the cover, and then the description. Impulsively, I picked it up and knew I would buy it immediately.

I’m happy with the choices of books I picked up on this trip. And no matter if I like them or not, I will keep them as a memento of an unforgetable trip!

Freebie Friday: Books on My 2019 Reading Challenge(s) List – Part One

Challenges, Food For Thought, Freebie Fridays

Hello Readers!

A few weeks ago I posted about what reading challenges I was taking on this year. In that post (which you can check out here) I explained what challenges I was taking on and why. Not only that I asked if you, dear readers, would want to know what books were on said challenge lists.

I decided not to wait for your response, and just share these TBR lists.  Why? Because it seems like a fun thing to share.

The first challenge I decided to take on is one that hopefully will help me tackle all those series I’ve started but haven’t finished. I’m calling it the Series Challenge. Not only do I hope to read  the books I haven’t read in the series, but I’m also planning on re-reading the first book – the book that originally got me hooked on that series.

Besides listing the series I’ve started, there are several series on this list that I’ve wanted to read but haven’t.

In no particular order, here are the series I’m hoping to get to in 2019:

  • The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
  • The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding by Alexandra Bracken
  • Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
  • Revenants by Amy Plum
  • Birthright by Gabrielle Zevin
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass
  • Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • Shades of London by Maureen Johnson
  • Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Hereafter by Tara Hudson
  • The Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood
  • Jackaby by William Ritter

Because I don’t want this post to be super long, I have decided to be best to break it down into three parts. Consider it a mini-series of sorts.

So, dear readers, are there any series that you hope to start and finish this year? Please share in the comments! I’d love to hear all about what you’re reading, and what challenges you are taking on this year.

Around the Web (#31)

Around the Web

Have you heard the news? Rainbow Rowell has a sequel to Carry On? Get a preview of Wayward Son here.

Who doesn’t love a good scare?

Lauren Myracle tackles Catwoman.

This just makes me angry … especially because it’s coming from my home state of New Jersey.

Into the zodiac? Want some bookmarks showing off your sign?

Even though the month of March is coming to a close.

Feminist YA.

If Internment by Samira Ahmed is on your TBR list (it’s on mine!) check out what Muslim YA authors are must reads!

Books about different cultures.

Speaking of horror.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Audiobooks That I Really (REALLY!!) Enjoyed

Top Ten Tuesday

(Top Ten Tuesday a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. The above image was taken and created by me for the purpose of this post.)

Hello Readers!

I am an audiobook lover. As of recently, I seem to even be favoring them a bit more than physical books.  Not only does an audiobook allow me to read when I’m normally not able to (while I’m driving), I have found that audiobooks enhance my reading of physical books.  Recently, I’ve taken to, when I’m reading a physical book, downloading the audio edition (that is, if it’s available on Libby) so that I can read the audiobook when I’m on the go, and read the physical book when I’m at home. Believe me, it’s not only helped me read a bit faster, but it has helped me read more.

Because of that, I have found several audiobooks that I truly love. And not just because of the story, but also because I’ve enjoyed the reader and the production of the audiobook.

Today, I’m going to share the audiobooks that I really, REALLY! enjoyed. And I’m going to also include some audiobooks that I’m excited to read in the future.

Audiobooks I’ve already read and have enjoyed ….

  • Aru Shah and The End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
  • Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • People Like Us by Dana Mele
  • Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
  • Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved (all three books) by Jenny Han

Audiobooks I haven’t read, but am excited to check out …

  • Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers (I’ve heads this is full cast and because of that it’s outstanding!)

(Cover images from GoodReads)

Freebie Friday: The Neon Museum

Uncategorized

Hello Readers!

Last weekend I found myself in Las Vegas. I’ve been to Vegas one other time previously, and I swore then that it would be the last time I ever visited. Not because I hated it, and not because it was the worst place ever. But because Las Vegas is wasted on me. I don’t drink and I don’t gamble – the two main attractions to this city.

But nonetheless there I was. But this time for a very specific reason. This time I was going to see Gwen Stefani’s Just A Girl residency.

But this post isn’t about the show. No, it’s about a museum I visited while in Las Vegas: The Neon Museum.

The Neon Museum is a museum located in Downtown Las Vegas, about 20 minutes away from The Strip. This isn’t a typical museum. Nicknamed the boneyard, this museum is predominately outside and features some of Vegas’ most famous signs from yesteryear.

Walking in the first sign I noticed was the famed Hard Rock Cafe guitar.

It’s the newest addition to the museum. From there I was able to follow the path around the open yard.

There were so many signs that I almost didn’t know where to look first. Good thing as a visitor I was able to spend as much or as little time I wanted to in the boneyard.

Because there was so much to see I maneuvered the boneyard by taking in the signs on my right as I walked up the past, then taking in all the signs on my left side. This way, I felt that I was guaranteed to see all this museum had to offer. Even though this took some time, it was fine because even though there are many signs (and the collection is growing) the museum itself isn’t big.

As I strolled through the museum, snapping picture after picture (the museum allows picture taking for personal use only, no recording allowed) I saw signs from many famed hotels and casinos. Some of which I hadn’t heard of. For example, the Queen of Hearts Hotel.

There were even sign from, I think, a dry cleaners. (After a bit of Internet research, I found it was in fact from a cleaners, Steiger’s Cleaners, which was famous for serving the line of Elvis).

But of course, there were signs on display of famed hotels/casinos. Some of the signs on display were:

The Golden Nugget

The Sahara Hotel

And my all time favorite, The Stardust

I really loved this place. Yes, I obviously loved seeing all of these unique, vintage signs, but most of all I loved that I had the chance to see a different side of Las Vegas. One of the other aspects I loved about The Neon Museum, is that I took some time to really search the collection, to find my initials. And as I walked around I overheard other people doing the same. It was like an interactive game feature of the museum. It was fun, like a game of hide and seek. Here are the initials I found:

If I had to say, there was only one thing that I didn’t love about this place: the fact that I felt that there weren’t any explanations as to where the signs were from and why they were relevant to Vegas history. With that said, there were museum employees scattered about the museum to answer any questions. So yes, I could have asked, but I felt that I couldn’t ask about every single sign in display.

If you are ever in Vegas, readers, I would urge you to step off The Strip and check this place out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books on My Spring TBR

Uncategorized

(Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. The above image was created by me for the purpose of this post.)

Hello Readers!

Today I’ll be sharing the books on my Spring TBR list.

Admittedly though, all of the books on this list aren’t recent releases. The reason for that is because this year I’m really trying to focus on reading books I’ve been meaning to read for some time, finish all those series I started, and most importantly make space on my shelves.

But because I don’t want some exciting newly released books to end up waiting to be read in the years to come, there will be one or two included on this list.

1. Born Wicked

2. Small Town Sinners

3. Rayne & Delilah’s Midnight Matinee

4. Wicked King

5. Wanderlove

6. Family

7. Prom & Prejudice

8. On the come up

9. Love Letters to the Dead

10. My Life in Dioramas

What books are on your Spring TBR list? Please share in the comments! I’d love to know!

Reading Tracker: March Edition

Food For Thought, Monthly Reading Tracker, Random

Hello Readers!

Before I jump right on into my March Reading tracker, I feel like I should fill you in on what I’ve read during the month of February.

I like to think that I read a lot considering it was a short month . I had an idea of the books that I wanted to read, but didn’t have a set TBR list. All I knew in February was that I wanted to read a total of four books (that number does not include  any books/reading I do for work).

During February I read:

  • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart

While I didn’t necessarily make my reading goal, that’s okay. After all, reading is about quality, not quantity. And besides, when I factor in the books I read for work, I not only made my goal by I surpassed it.

In total, during the (short) month of February, I read twenty-six (26). The books I read, excluding the ones mentioned above, are:

  • I Do Not Like Al’s Hat by Erin McGill
  • Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio
  • Ask Me by Bernard Waber
  • Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant
  • What Do You Do With an Idea by Kobi Yamata
  • When I Grow Up by Julie Chen
  • When I Grow Up by Al Yankovic
  • President Squid by Aaron Reynolds
  • Hands Can Cheryl Willis Hudson
  • Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson
  • Ten in the Den by John Butler
  • How to Be A Lion by Ed Vere
  • Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
  • You Are My Magical Unicorn by Joyce Wan
  • The Icky Bug Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
  • Old Hat by Emily Gravett
  • Hello, Moon by Francesca Simon
  • Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward
  • This Beautiful Day by Richard Jackson
  • Cat and Mouse in the Rain by Tomek Bogacki
  • Grumpy Goat by Brett Helquist
  • B is for Bulldozer by June Sobel
  • Ready, Set, Build by Meg Fleming
  • Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty

Moving  on …

In March I am setting out to read another four (4) books, again not including any books that I read for work.

The four books that I am hoping to finish and/or get to this month are:

  • Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • Always & Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han
  • Sabrina The Teenage Witch (Comic) 1962-1972 by Archie Superstars.

We are just over half way through with March, and I am happy to report that I think I’m doing well. So far I have finished reading Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner and Dramarama by E. Lockhart. I have also started listening to via audiobook Always & Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han and The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Both audiobooks I’ve just started, but I’m confident that I could easily finish them by the end of the month.

What have you read so far, dear readers? Please share in the comments.

Freebie Friday: Challenges

Freebie Fridays

Hello Readers,

I’m the kind of person who, at the beginning of a fresh (and hopeful) year sets out to complete a challenge. Specifically one that involves reading.  Every year I set a goal of reading a certain amount of books – that number often based upon the previous years outcome.

Besides setting a reading goal, I often am hopeful that I can conquer several other reading goals throughout the year. Some of those challenges are: clearing off my shelves, completing series I’ve started by haven’t picked up, and getting around to all those books I was once so excited to read (my backlist of books I call it).

This year was a little different though. I set my reading goal and said that was enough of a challenge.

And I set my goal lower than I usually do. I purposely did this with the knowledge that I can adjust accordingly throughout the year as I please. Afterall, it’s my reading goal.

But by the end of January came around I noticed something: I’ve been reading a lot more. More than I did in 2018, more than I usually do in any given month. And that’s because I’ve taken advantage of audiobooks.

This post isn’t about audiobooks, or my new-found love of them, but instead I’m going to talk about some of the reading challenges I’m undertaking in 2019.

Like I said, I generally only do one challenge: the Goodreads Reading Challenge. This year I decided to set my goal lower than normal. In the past years I’ve set my goal at 150 books, but this year I set it at 100. Why? Last year, I didn’t come close to reaching my target, and it really bummed me out. So this year, I decided to reset, recharge, and not over think it.

But again, by the end of January I realized something: I’m reading a lot more. So I decided, not to up my Goodread challenge, but to take on some others.

Now I don’t know that these are official challenges. Okay maybe one is, because I found it while Googling “reading challenges”, but they will challenge me.

The first challenge, besides the normal Goodreads one, I decided to undertake was a series challenge. I’m terrible with series. I read book one, love it, and by the time the next one comes out (even though I’m super excited about it), don’t pick it up. Why? Because more than likely I’ve forgotten what happened in the first book.

Well, I decided that this year I was going to read and finish the series I wanted to read and to finish. I created a list of series – which I’ve kept in my newly created book bullet journal – with boxes correlating how many books are in the series. Each time I read a book in the series I get to “x” it off. Which is more satisfying than I thought it would be.

The next reading challenge, which I found from this website, is the A to Z challenge. The thought behind this challenge it to read a book for each letter of the alphabet. I took it a step further and decided that I would use this challenge to get to some of those books that have been on my TBR list for quite some time. You know what they say: two birds one stone.

Once again, using my book bullet journal I listed the letters of the alphabet, a title from my TBR list, and a nice check box next to it, so that when I read a book from this list, I can mark it as read. Again, so satisfying.

I’m hopeful that, even if I don’t 100% complete all of these challenges, that I will at least knock a lot of books off my list, and accomplish my Goodreads challenge in the meantime.

So, dear readers, are you participating in any reading challenges this year? I’m interesting in hearing! We can cheer each other on.

And, if you are interested in hearing what books are on the two challenges I am taking, please let me know in the comments.

Tyler Johnson Was Here

Reviews

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Marvin Johnson isn’t the kind of guy who goes to a lot of parties. Instead he’s the kind of guy who hangs out with his two best friends, watching the classic television sitcom A Different World. And when he isn’t watching it, he’s quoting it.

But here it is Friday night, and instead of just hanging with his friends, he’s at a party, trailing his twin brother, Tyler.

Tyler can take care of himself, but he just doesn’t trust the crew he’s being hanging out with lately. So when gunshots ring out, Marvin runs as fast as he could. And he hopes that Tyler made it out too.

Even though Marvin can’t seem to find Tyler in the chaos,he’s sure he’ll be home. But when hours turn into days, Marvin knows that Tyler isn’t just missing. He knows something terrible has happened to him.

All it takes is a leaked video to confirm all of Marvin’s worst fears. How will Marvin keep Tyler alive? How will he keep from his mother being consumed in grief?

Tyler Johnson Was Here, written by author Jay Coles, is a contemporary read that packs an emotional punch. Similar to such stories as The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and Dear Martin by Nic Stone, author Coles has been his own unique stamp and viewpoint on writing about hate crimes.

Coles writing is strong, but direct. He doesn’t beat around the bush, but gets the hard hitting point. More than that, his writing paints a darkly vivid image of reality: that life is often unjust and cruel, but that we can rise above it all. But what I enjoyed most of all about Coles’ writing is the emotion in it. I couldn’t help but feel each and every word.

I truly appreciated Coles’ writing. And the story that he was telling.  But there was one, glaring aspect that I struggled with: his main characters. I thought, going into this book, that Marvin and Tyler Johnson were going to be memorable characters. But they weren’t. Sadly they fell flat. And that’s because I feel like I didn’t know them. This was a big flaw for me.

.While I really did enjoy reading Tyler Johnson Was Here, this was not my perfect book. Even though I couldn’t put this book down, I felt like I kept waiting. A big chunk of the plot was spent reading about Marvin’s search for Tyler – searching the neighborhood, the school yard, and all his local hangouts. At one point I felt as if it was chapter after chapter of just searching. I get it, but as a reader I felt it was unnecessary. It was easy to sum up what had happened.

These two facts are what kept Tyler Johnson Was Here from being a five star book for me. But even though the book had its flaws, it still is an important book. And it’s a book that I am happy to have read, because it is story that kept me emotionally invested. But more than that, it’s a story that isn’t only powerful, it’s also important.

(Cover image from Goodreads)