Books I Bought While On Vacation Part II

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!

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Reading Tracker: March Edition

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.

Books I Bought While on Vacation Part 1

Hello Readers!

You all know by now that I love to travel. But what you may not know is that I recently went on two trips. The first was back in December when I traveled solo (for my very first time) to London. And most recently, I went for a long weekend adventure with my bestie to San Antonio, Texas.

Now, one of the highlights of traveling for me is discovering new and interesting places to see and things to do. And the one thing that is always on my things to do and see list are check out the local bookstores.

I thought it would be fun to share with you what books I picked up on my first solo adventure in London.

 

London is one of my absolute favorite cities. I love the bloody history and the beautiful sights to see. Besides that, as a shopper, I love the shopping that this hip city has to offer.  And that includes the London bookstores.

On this trip I visited three bookstores, and found treasures in each.

The first bookstore is one I literally stumbled upon. While walking around Portobello Road in the Notting Hill area of London,  I turned down a side street to find a bit of space and quiet to take a phone call, and I spotted a strange sight: a group of tourists snapping pictures of a store front that I couldn’t quite see (that’s how many people were crowded in front of it.) I stepped a bit closer to discover that it was the Notting Hill Bookshop and aside the sign there was a blue tile stating the stores fame: it was featured in the movie Notting Hill.

I have a rule .. whenever you stumble upon a bookstore, especially an independent one, I have to pay it a visit. I walked in, and yes it was crowded. And not just because of the massive amounts of people in it, but because it was very small. Although small, it was charming.

I looked around and found myself in the children and teen section of the store.  The Notting Hill Bookshop had a great selection of some of the most popular books. I think found the children’s classics section since I’m always on the hunt for a new addition to my (always) growing Alice in Wonderland/Through The Looking Glass collection. While most I already had or had seen, I found the picture book adaptions. And that’s when I saw it. That’s why I saw the most unique edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

This edition, not adapted, but illustrated and created by Irena Trevisan and Nadia Fabris, tells Carroll’s famed story with beautifully intricate cut-outs.

I also bought a matching bookmark because … why not!

The next store I went to, I didn’t necessarily stumble upon. I sought this one out. I went to Foyles Bookstore – a massive store that seemed like it would have every book imaginable.

Going into this London adventure, I had researched books – books that I’d potentially want, books that weren’t necessarily published in the States. I mean, I didn’t want any old book I could buy. And I found a ton of books that I would want, but I knew I couldn’t buy all of them. There is a luggage weight limit after all.

One of the two books, which I was sure they’d have, it turned out it wasn’t available. As much as I was saddened about it, I was still hopeful that I could still find it at another bookstore.  The second one, however, they had stacks of.

In Foyles I purchased a total of four books,  two of which were new to me editions of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. both were books that I read about online, and both feel like true “Nicole” books. The first one I picked up was a signed copy of Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles. The second was Witch Born by Nicholas Bowling.

As I was checking out, the guy helping me flashed the copy of Bookshop Girl I was purchasing, and commented that “I had great taste in books!” I told him I was excited to check the book out, as I heard good things about it. He proceeded to tell me that the author of Bookshop Girl, Chloe Coles, is an employee at that very Foyles. For whatever reason, I found that totally cool, and made me only want to read this book more and more. I am so glad that I purchased this book.

On my last day in London, I ended up in the Piccadilly Circus area. It’s an area that, even though it’s very reminiscent of NYC’s Times Square, I absolutely love it.  I went back to the very first Waterstones that I had ever stepped foot in several years ago. This Waterstones has several floors, and it’s chock full of books. Immediately, I knew what book I wanted. The one I was hoping to find at Foyles but sadly didn’t: Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence. I can’t explain exactly why I wanted this book so much, besides the fact that the summary really appealed to me, but I had to have it. And as luck would have it, there was only one copy left! Score one for me!

There’s one last book I purchased on this adventure. However, I didn’t purchase it in a bookstore. My first full day in London I had a ticket to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. (In case you’re wondering … it was AWESOME! And if you want a post about it, let me know in the comments!) While walking around the store I (finally) came up on the various house editions. I knew I wanted a Hufflepuff edition, and before actually seeing what stock was available, I wanted my favorite book in the series. But they only had one book in the house editions: Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets. So I quickly bought it, and no regrets as it is probably my second favorite book in the series.

In total, I purchased a total seven books. And I know that’s a lot, but considering I have very little self control when it comes to books I’m pretty proud that I didn’t fill my suitcase with books!

Freebie Friday: Adulting

Hello Readers!

And happy Friday to ya!

At the end of 2017 I took a look back at all of the books I read, and I realized that there was a gaping hole. Because of that, I decided to make it one of my 2018 goals: to read more adult fiction.

I really, really want to read more adult books, not because I’m an adult and I feel I should, but because I feel that I’m missing out on some really great reads. And I hate to think that because I don’t love to to step outside of my comfort zone I’m short changing myself.

There’s just a little problem … I’m not exactly sure where to start. I’ve tried wandering the adult fiction section of my library and I felt lost.  Judging by the few adult books I have read in the past, I know that I like quirkier books. I’m not looking to read the latest James Patterson book – not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I know that it’s just NOT a “Nicole” kind of book. But how does one search for “quirkier” books? It’s not like quirk is a genre.

In the past these are the adult books I read and have enjoyed:

  • Eating the Cheshire Cat by Helen Ellis
  • Whores on the Hill by Colleen Curran
  • Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
  • Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
  • Swamplandia by Karen Russell

Wandering the stacks I felt like I couldn’t find a book that suited me and my tastes. I picked up a few, and from summaries  that sounded like books I couldn’t relate to. I tried judging by the cover, but nothing stood out. Nothing caught my eye. Everything felt … blah.

When all else failed I took to Amazon, and randomly started searching. I’ve made a list, but it’s a very short list. The adult books that seem interesting enough for me to want to read are:

  • A Visit From the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan
  • The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
  • The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
  • The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston

But readers … I want more.

That’s why I’m reaching out to you, dear readers. I’m asking all of you to suggest some really great, really quirky adult books. Because I am not ready to take a giant leap outside of my reading comfort zone, I’m asking specifically for works for pure fiction.

With that, I want to say THANK YOU in advance. I just know you are going to suggest a few of my new favorite books!

 

Freebie Friday: December Stars Hollow Monthly Subscription Box Review

By now you all know that a) I’m an insanely HUGE Gilmore Girls fan and b) I subscribe to a monthly box called Stars Hollow Monthly put out by Lit Cube.

I love getting mail. That is half the reason why I love this subscription box. The other reason is because it’s all Gilmore Girls themed.

When the box arrives, I can’t wait to tear into it.

And this past December, I was super excited, because I assumed there would be some special, Christmas-y items.

This is what I found inside of the December Stars Hollow Subscription Box.

A set of four Christmas Ornaments
A pair of socks with little cups of coffee all over them.
A reusable travel mug that says “Everything Magical When It Snows.”
A tin of Cisse Cocoa Company Semisweet Hot Cocoa mix
A box of peppermint Marshmallows
A magnet with a purple scarf that says “I Smell Snow”
An “oi with the poodles” car air freshener

The first thing I noticed about this box, was the actual box. Previously all the goodies were contained in Stars Hollow themed decorative boxes. Some had umbrellas, some had tiny coffee cups, one even had food in honor of Sookie St. James. But this time around it was a plain, brown cardboard box. Honestly, I was disappointed.

Lit Cube’s Stars Hollow Monthly – which I pay for out of my own pocket – isn’t exactly cheap. It’s roughly $30.00 plus dollars. While I fully get that that money goes to the goodies inside of the box, I do kind of expect for that price should cover the packing supplies.

The first thing I noticed when I opened the December box was a set of four Gilmore Girls themed Christmas ornaments. There was a purple one that has the Dragonfly Inn logo. One that was silver and said Al’s Pancake World. A gold ornament with the Doose’s Market logo. And lastly, a Christmas red ornament with a Luke’s Diner logo.

Honestly, before I took them out of the plastic packaging, I absolutely LOVED them. I thought they would be a really fun edition to the Christmas tree. But after taking them out of the packaging, I felt that they weren’t the best quality. The silver “Al’s Pancake World” wasn’t only scuffed, but the top bit which holds the string (to hang the ornament) in place was slightly broken. It doesn’t sit on the ornament correctly. I’m not sure if it was because it was cheaply made (I feel really bad saying that but that’s the truth of it) or if the packaging was lacking.

Moving on, I found a pair of socks made by the brand Evenbright. The socks are super cute, and feature pictures of coffee cups and coffee beans all over them. Perfect for any Gilmore Girls fan. The socks, which they aren’t heavy, are a solid pair of socks. They aren’t flimsy, and they do not feel scratchy. I am looking forward to wearing them in the future.

Each and every month each Stars Hollow Monthly box features a magnet and a car air freshener. I have never used the air fresheners, because I don’t necessarily love those kinds of fresheners – I find them to not last very wrong. But the magnets I absolutely LOVE. And I am sure that my parents love them too! I loved the soft baby blue color of this one, and how it perfectly captures, not only Lorelai, but winter as a season.

The next two items I found go hand in hand. The first was a shiny blue, reusable to go cup that says “Everything’s Magical When it Snows.” While I only half heartedly agree with the saying (I, unlike the Gilmore Girls am not a fan of snow), I like the cup just fine. It seems to be a sturdy plastic. But with that said, I have found that they give a LOT of cups/mugs in this subscription box. I mean, I get it, both Lorelei and Rory drink a lot of coffee, but it’s getting a little excessive.

In the past I have received:

A Doose’s Market mug
A Ceramic Luke’s Diner (reusable) to go cup
A metal travel cup that says “I Drink Coffee like a Gilmore Girl”
Two stemless wine glasses with fun Gilmore Girl quotes
A mason jar “Luke’s Diner” cup

That’s a lot of drink ware for an already cramped kitchen cabinets.

Honestly … it’s a bit munch and I’m kind of over it. Even though I will undoubtedly put this to good use.

Accompanying the mug was a tin of Semisweet Hot Cocoa by the brand Cisse Cocoa Company. It’s a brand I have heard of, nor one I have tried before. I thought it was a nice touch to the box, and I don’t want to say too much because I have a whole review already written and schedule to post next week about it. But in short: I liked it. And stay tuned to a full review to find out why I liked this product.

Finally, what is hot cocoa without marshmallows. But not just any marshmallows, but Wondermade Peppermint flavored marshmallows. I haven’t tried these, and I probably won’t. I don’t necessarily love peppermint, and I don’t necessarily love marshmallows. The fact that these two things have been combined, does not make me want to try them any more than I would want to try any flavored marshmallow. But I can honestly say, the packaging was nice.

Overall, I think this box contained more items in it than in previous boxes. Which was a nice surprise, because again, it’s not a cheap subscription box. But I also found that the items weren’t all of the best quality.

Each month I think the next will be great. But the more boxes I receive the more they seem to be missing the mark. But I’m still very much on the fence as to whether or not I’m going to keep subscribing. I’d love for you to weigh in readers! Please comment below! Tell me what I should do? Or at least what you would do if you were in my shoes.

Freebie Friday: Top Books of 2017

Hello Readers!

Today I’m sharing with you my top books read in 2017. I broke it down by category: top picture books, top middle grade books, top YA books. and top graphic novels. Generally I do not love sharing these kinds of lists because it is very difficult for me to narrow down my choices. To make it a bit easier on myself (and ensure that this post was super long) I decided to limit each category to my top five favorite books. In total these are my top 20 favorite books I read last year.

Top Picture Books:

  • Love by Matt de la Pena
  • Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
  • Scariest Book Ever by Bob Shea
  • Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
  • The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito
  • Honorable Mention: Every Color by Erin Eitter Kono

 

Top Middle Grade Books:

  • Squish: Super Amoeba by Jennifer L. Holm
  • The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  • The Nest by Kenneth Oppel
  • Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Hotel by Kimberly Willis Holt
  • Threads by Ami Polonski
  • Honorable Mention: Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce

Top YA Books:

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  • The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone
  • Honorable Mention: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Top Graphic Novels:

  • Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm
  • Paper Girls, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan
  • The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1) by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Akame ga Kill by Takahiro
  • The Girl From the Other Side, Vol. 1 by Nagabe
  • Honorable Mention: Real Friends by Shannon Hale

 

Freebie Friday: 2017 Reading Stats

Hello Readers!

And a Happy and Healthy New Year to all of you! ::throws confetti::

Way back when 2017 first started, like I always do, I set a reading goal for myself. At the time, I thought it was a low goal, but I figured if I knew I would surpass it somewhere along the line, I would adjust accordingly.

I set my goal at one hundred and fifteen (115) books.

As the days, weeks, and months passed I started to think that I wouldn’t surpass my goal. I started think that I would have to adjust my goal, but instead of adding I would have to subtract.

And honestly …. that stressed me out. A LOT!

The more I thought about my reading goal, the more daunting the challenge became. There was a point where I actually considered giving up.

Let me explain why …

This pas year I felt like I hadn’t been reading as much as I had in the past. Life seemed busier with work, with my bestie’s wedding (and all the fun things that go along with being in a wedding), vacationing abroad, and well, life in general. As much as the fact that I wasn’t reading as I normally had saddened me, I had plenty to occupy my time. So much so, there were stretches of time (sometimes weeks) where I hadn’t picked up a book for fun.

I simply did not want to read. I hate to say I was in a reading rut, but for lack of a better term, I was in a reading run.

Because of my lack of reading I lost motivation and momentum to blog. I felt like I had nothing of quality to talk about.

At this point I was certain that I most definitely was NOT going to make my reading goal. But there was a nagging voice in the back of my mind that told me to keep my set goal. To not change it. To persevere. After all, this was a personal challenge. I resigned myself to stop worrying about this goal. Whether or not I made my goal would not make or break me – as a reader and a blogger.

Eventually, I picked up a book, and kind of re-discovered my love of reading.

With all that said, I bet you are wondering if I did or did not make my goal.

The answer is: YES!

Not only did I reach my set goal, but I surprisingly surpassed it. I read a total of one hundred and fifty-two books.

Obviously, I was happy. But more than that, I was shocked. Seriously, how did I read that many books?

I attribute a lot of my reading to “work related” reading. I do at least four story times per week, and with that comes a lot of preparation. Not only craft preparation, but finding the perfect books to share with my audience.

Another thing I attribute my reading challenge success to is the fact that 2017 proved to be the year that I stepped out of my (reading) comfort zone. I’ve wanted to read more graphic novels for some time, but they scared me. Admittedly it’s because I sometimes have a hard time following the boxes.

Not only did I pick up more graphic novels than I normally would have, I took a giant step outside of my comfort zone and read several volumes of manga. Seriously, I devoured the first eight volumes of a now fave manga series in under two months. This is a feat in my book.
Because I was so excited about reaching my reading goal, I decided to take a good look at the numbers. This year, I did something I never ever do, and I am sharing it with you!

I came up with a set of statistics, that I’m happy to share with you today.

Why am I sharing? Because, even though I normally do not post things like this, I thought it would be fun (and possibly interesting) to share with you guys.

* * *

Goal Set: 115 Books
Start Date: January 1, 2017
End Date: December 31, 2017
Total Books Read: 152 Books

Book Breakdowns:

Picture Books: 87 Books
Middle Grade Books: 20 Books
Young Adult Books: 20 Books
Adult Books: 0 Books
Graphic Novels: 25 Books

(I could have not included graphic novels, and just have included them within the Middle Grade, YA, and Adult categories, but because I really, really dove into graphic novels this year, I wanted to give them a category all their own)

Star Ratings:

1 Star Books: 2 Books
2 Star Books: 32 Books
3 Star Books: 55 Books
4 Star Books: 49 Books
5 Star Books: 14 Books

(Looking at my star ratings, I realize now that I’m a lot tougher on rating books than I thought I was. In the past, I thought I dished out five star ratings all the time, but I guess. I was wrong about that)

Books Marked as DNF: 3 Books
Books With Female Main Characters: 46 Books had Female Main Characters
Books With Male Main Characters: 20 Books had Male Main Characters

(I bet you are wondering how I came up with these numbers. After looking at the list of books that I read in 2017, I calculated which books had a female main character and which had a male main character. Any book that had two (or more) main characters (of either gender) were accounted for. And still, if I read a series with the same occurring main character(s), those characters were only counted one time. I feel like I’m not explaining that well, but there it is.)

Genres Read:

Horror: 5
Realistic: 21
Fantasy: 9
Sci-Fi: 2
Romance: 1
Classics: 0
Historical: 0
Humor: 3
Action/Adventure: 2
Mystery: 3

So there you have it! Those are my 2017 reading statistics. If you liked this post, and would like to see something similar to this in regards to this here blog, please let me know in the comments. And I’d love for you to share your own reading goals/challenges in the comments!