Where to get book recommendations?

Someone asked me how I figure out what books to read and I felt myself look like this:

I mean, the answer to that question is beyond complex.  So here I am, days later, mulling it over and I realized that I don’t purposely do anything to seek new book recommendations but they come from a variety of places.  With that being said, I will share some of the ways I find new books to read and hopefully some of you will drop a line and tell me where you get your recommendations.

1: Podcasts

My daily commute to work and household chore time are full of podcasts.  The two book related ones that I listen to most are the What Should I read Next podcast and the All the Books Podcast.  Of the two, the What Should I read Next podcast is my favorite.  Anne Bogel, the host of What Should I read next is a joy to listen to.

2: Staff Picks

I love staff picks at the bookstore.  I love how there are always a variety of selections from different staff members so there is usually someone with similar reading tastes to mine.

3: Cover Browsing

It’s time consuming but such a pleasant way to spend an hour… or two (don’t judge me) at the bookstore.  I do tend to pick up books with pretty covers, but I will pick up any book if the title is intriguing.

4: Other Bloggers

It’s one of the reasons we’re all here isn’t it? We share book reviews and rave about books we couldn’t get enough so naturally I pick up book recommendations here and there.

5. Amazon

The “You might like this” feature on amazon sometimes has a nice gem tucked away and I’ll usually make a note of any that sound interesting.

6. Other books

This is one of my favorite ways to get book recommendations.  I love when I’m reading a book and the characters mention another book by different author.  It’s almost like book inception.  A book within a book.  Mind blown. Another way I can get book recs from other books is when I read a retelling or a spinoff of another book.  (ie. when I read the Historian I had to go read Dracula)

 

There are many ways that I get book recommendations.  Divine intervention, being in the right place at the right time, having someone hand me a stack of books they’re getting rid of. You name it. But these were some of the most common ways I figure out what to read.

What are some ways you get new book recommendations?

Bad Book Habits Tag

I love reading other bloggers’ responses to book habits tags and I came across this tag over at Another Book in the Wall and thought it would be fun to put in my two cents.

Bad Book Habit 1: Spending too much money on books

I am THE WORST at controlling myself when I go to the bookstore.  I walk in and all those glossy covers and new book perfume assault me and I start picking up all the things. Oooh look, the sequel to that book I read last year. OOOOOHHHHH look, it’s the special edition hardback of that one book I love! OH how cute, Bella will like this one. And so on and so forth until my trip to the bookstore for one book, turns into a full out haul.  I need help. If there is a support group for people like me, please share in the comments because at some point, we will be unable to sit in my living room because the books have already spilled off the shelves and into a stack on my living room floor.

Bad Book Habit 2: Trying to Read too many books at once

I can manage pretty well with this one, but I am usually reading 2-3 books at a time.  One is usually digital and gets read at work when I have a few minutes here and there and the others are usually divided into a heavier read and something more page turning.  I guess this isn’t necessarily a bad habit, but I included it anyway.

Bad Book Habit 3: Hoarding Books

While I buy a lot of digital books and download others for free, the majority of my books are physical copies and I have a very hard time letting go.  When one of my dogs was teething a few years ago, he used the bottom shelf of my book case as a teething ring and so a lot of the tall books I had down there have damaged spines.  They are now on the floor in the aforementioned stack but I just can’t bring myself to get rid of them.  I know the spines are probably too damaged for any used bookstore or library to take them and I absolutely cannot bring myself to throw them out.  There are also some beautiful copies of books I wasn’t too crazy about sitting on my shelves that I just find so difficult to get rid of.

Bad Book Habit 4: Not utilizing my library enough

There is no valid excuse for this one.  It’s not like I never go to the library.  I mean, my daughter is enrolled in the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program there so we go to check in whenever she reaches a milestone and I have gone a couple times to pick up my holds books… but… I’m still buying books.

Bad Book Habit 5: Tuning out the world

When I read, I really like to be left alone. Preferably in a comfortable spot and with a tasty beverage.  However, I am a wife and mom of two who works a much more than regular full time job.  This leads to issues in that I always sneak away from things to get in a few extra minutes of reading.  In fact, I sometimes take way too long making dinner because my book always accompanies me into the kitchen and I will start reading while waiting for water to boil or something similar and ten minutes later I still haven’t put the noodles into the water. *covers face in shame* I mean do these people really need to eat right now?

So there you have it.  I am a terrible person sometimes.  Don’t judge.

A Place for Pluto

Bella and I are still chipping away at her 1000 Books before Kindergarten goal (though I am the absolute WORST about logging our books… and so despite reading 2-3 books minimum per night, we’ve only logged around 200 in the last few months) We still have our old favorites, but we’ve acquired many new books recently. And this book is among our favorites recently.

Brief synopsis: In this book, we meet Pluto (yes, THAT Pluto) when he’s part of the famous nine. He’s the smallest and furthest planet from the sun but he’s proud to be part of that elite group. Until… he finds out he is no longer considered a planet and thus is no longer part of the famous nine. He’s devastated and sets off through the galaxy to find out who he really is.

Mom’s thoughts: Ok so this book is heckin adorable. Aside from the beautiful color illustrations, the story is super cute as well. The story itself is good, but I like that it also teaches kids about belonging. It also has the added bonus of teaching kids a little bit about our galaxy. I found that it is entertaining enough that I don’t feel like pulling my hair out after reading it REPEATEDLY.

I’d say the intended age group is probably the preschool and up crowd, but the story is so engaging and the illustrations so adorable, that Bella (who is 2) has sat through MULTIPLE readings. Did I mention that I have a two year old and that we have to do everything repeatedly? 😆

Bella’s thoughts: Bella says “I like it”. (And we all know toddlers are brutally honest)

Til next time, Happy Reading.

War of the Worlds: My thoughts

I have been wanting to read this book for so long, but after I read The Time Machine, I found that I wasn’t really eager to pick it up anymore.  I put this book on both my Classics Club Challenge list and my Back to the Classics list and finally picked it up last month when I was trying to recover from a book hangover. I wasn’t sure if I’d finish it as I was a bit bored by The Time Machine, but I needn’t have worried because this book sucked me right in.

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A brief synopsis:

It is the end of the 19th century and a series of explosions on Mars is seen from an observatory in England.  Scientists are intrigued, but shortly after this, what appears to be a meteor lands in England.  The meteor turns out to be a landing pod which contains Martians.  Several men approach, waving white flags to signify peace, but are quickly incinerated by a strange Martian weapon.  What follows is utter chaos as the Martians begin their invasion of earth.

It wasn’t until the end of the book that I realized that the narrator was unnamed, but I found him to be a very likeable character. He never claims to be a hero and I was rooting for him the entire time. The narrator has a series of narrow escapes and I found it utterly freaking fascinating as he describes the breakdown of society and the mass panic that follows the invasion.

I tend to like books and the writing style from this era, but I think even those who aren’t very accustomed to this particular writing style will find it enjoyable in this book.  The story moves along pretty quickly and the writing is never an obstacle toward enjoying the book.  A Sci-fi book written in the 19th century might be expected to be a little “cheezy” (for lack of a better word) but I honestly found the book to be very suspenseful and no more “cheezy” or hard to swallow than any of the modern movie adaptations (In fact, I don’t think a single movie adaptation has done this book justice). This was definitely a page turner for me, but it also gave me a lot to think about when the narrator described society’s breakdown so clearly.

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Working in an industrial environment as I do, a cheap paperback edition was perfect for reading on breaks.

I highly recommend this book to anyone and I think this book would be a perfect choice for someone who wants to read more classic literature but is intimidated by massive tomes of literature written in archaic language.  5/5 stars for me.

Thanks for joining me today! Happy reading!

 

24 in 48 Readathon

Well, I’ve decided to participate in the 24in48 Readathon for the second time.  I had a lot of fun the first time I did.  If you are unfamiliar with this readathon, the idea is not to read 24 books (as I thought the first time I ever heard of it) It is to read for 24 hours in a 48 hour period.  I’m really looking forward to making a dent in this pile of books.  If anyone else is participating, I’d love to hear about it! How many of these books will I be able to get through this weekend?IMG_4462

Summer Reading Programs

While looking for a way to keep my 11 year old son reading during summer break, I came across a couple Summer Reading Programs that I thought I’d share.

1. Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

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This program allows your kids to track the books they read, get book recommendations and earn digital prizes. This year’s theme is “A magical summer of reading”.

However, it should be noted that this program also requires that they be registered by a teacher or librarian.

 

2. Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program

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I really like this one for two reasons.  The first being that they can earn a free book, and the second is that it requires that they log their thoughts about what they read.  They read 8 books, log what their favorite parts are and turn in their log for a free book at Barnes and Noble.  Yes for free books!!

 

3. Lifeway 2018 Summer Reading Quest

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Sadly I do not think we are able to participate in this one because we no longer live near a Lifeway (though I still get the emails)  This program allows your kids to earn a free book AND a free bible.  They will also provide them with the program journal to log their books, plus a bookmark and pencil for free!

 

I came across quite a few more programs but I was very impressed by these three in particular.  The others that I looked into didn’t really seem to have any incentive or at the very least, not one that would interest my son.  Well, that is all for today. Thank you for joining me! Happy reading!

Mid Year Recap Part 2: Some of my favorite books so far

I have been so lucky in my reading this year. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read. In Part 1 I listed the books I didn’t enjoy so much, but even those weren’t terrible and I didn’t actually hate or DNF any of them. But here in Part 2, I’d like to give a shoutout to the books I’ve enjoyed the most so far in 2018. Some are newer releases and some are a bit… older. But to be fair, I will only be listing those books that weren’t rereads.

So let’s begin!

I’ve been hearing about the mini series for so long that I don’t know how I made it this long without reading this book. All I can say is that I just loved it. I can’t even decide what I love more, the social commentary or the wonderful main characters. This book will probably be among my all time favorites.

 

 

I already did a post on this book so I won’t say too much about it. I just have to say that I love Frances Hodgson Burnett and she did not disappoint me with this book.

 

 

Next book is quite a change of pace because it’s middle grade. I enjoy reading middle grade after more dense books and it cleanses my palette and allows me to read the same books as or recommend books to my son. I enjoyed the magical element in this book and I really enjoyed the young female protagonist. This book was a lot of fun and I’m eagerly awaiting the next one.

 

 

The next book is probably a household name whether it’s been read or not. After reading The Time Machine, I wasn’t super eager to read this but it was on both of my Classics challenges and I am so so glad I finally read it. I found this book so freaking fascinating that I couldn’t put it down. I plan on doing a separate post about this book so I won’t say too much, but this is one of those books that I’m now kicking myself for not reading sooner.

 

circe

This was an impulse buy at the bookstore and I’m glad I bought it.  I love Greek mythology so this book was a great way to fill that need.  I liked this book so much that I went out and got her first book The Song of Achilles.

So that is it for my favorite books of 2018 so far.  We are only halfway through the year so some of these may get ousted by other great books.  I really hope I enjoy the books I read during the second half of the year as much as I did during the first half!

Thanks for joining me today.  Feel free to comment below if you’ve enjoyed any of these books (or hated them).  Happy reading!

A mid year recap of my least favorite books this year

Now that we are officially halfway through the year, I was thinking back over all the books I’ve read so far and there a few that I have very strong feelings about so I thought I’d share what some of my favorites and not so favorite books are. Part 1 is dedicated to my least favorite books and Part 2 is dedicated to my favorite books so far in 2018.

Let us begin with the Books I didn’t enjoy so much in the first half of 2018:

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I was a little let down by this book and I’m not quite sure why.  I had such high hopes for it because it was a multi generational historical fiction book with what I guess would be considered magical realism and/or supernatural elements.  It’s not a bad book and the writing was good, I guess I was just expecting more.

 

 

city of brass

This is another book I had high hopes for.  After reading The Golem and the Jinni I was super excited when I heard about this book on the All the Books podcast and ran and picked it up immediately.  I was severely let down by this one. The concept of this book was fascinating but I found most of the dialogue to be very juvenile (which is perfectly awesome when I’m expecting it) and though it was marketed as an adult book, I found that it felt much more like a YA novel.  I have nothing against YA and enjoy reading YA books WHEN I AM IN THE MOOD FOR THEM. But this had a lot of what my 11 year old would call “cringe-y” dialogue and plot.  I found the whole thing to be a little cheezy and overdone.  I really wanted to like this but I doubt I’ll read the next one.

 

abc murders

*Sigh* I hate to add this one to my non fave list because I feel like I am betraying my queen.  I am a definite Agatha Christie lover and have been doing a read through challenge of the Poirot books, but this one is not my cup of tea.  Part of why I love reading Agatha Christie is because of the cozy yet clever mysteries presented in her books and this one felt a little too much.  It was a little over the top for me.

 

villette

People aren’t kidding when they say this isn’t Jane Eyre.  Aside from the obvious “well duh, it’s a completely different book” it really is different.  I did not hate this book and I mostly enjoyed it because it still had that element of melancholy throughout, but I found it very slow to start and the ending was like getting hit by a bus.  I immediately said “WHATTTT????!!!!” and went online to see if I had interpreted it correctly.  I had, and I was very taken aback by this book’s ending.  Still worth the read though.

 

So that is all for my least favorite books this year.  Please let me know if you love or hate any of these books.  Maybe I am missing something! Stay tuned for my favorite books so far in 2018.

 

 

The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett: my thoughts

After reading A Little Princess, The Lost Prince, The Secret Garden, and Little Lord Fauntleroy last year, it finally dawned on me that I freaking adore the writing of Frances Hodgson Burnett. Having read (and reread in some cases) her beautiful children’s literature, I was delighted to discover that she has a long list of adult works as well. After going through her children’s literature canon last year, I moved on and the first adult work I read was A Lady of Quality which I really enjoyed. This year I decided to continue on and as it is also on my Classics club challenge list and my Back to the Classics Challenge list, I decided to go ahead with The Shuttle. This was one of her longer works and I definitely felt it warranted a short review from me.

A brief synopsis:

It’s actually a little difficult for me to put this in my own words. Basically, this book uses a shuttle to describe the way “threads” of family connection and commerce connect England and America. The book follows one family whose elder daughter marries a penniless but titled English gentleman when English/American marriages were just beginning to be more commonplace. As the book progresses, we get to know the younger daughter of the family during a time where the marriages between Americans and English have become an everyday occurrence.

So I will not lie, I loved this book. The characters in this book are just lovely. I started out with a mild feeling of impatience towards the older sister but the younger sister is just superb. The characters in this book were just too engaging to ignore. If you are looking for adventure and the like, then this book is not for you, but I fell in love with all the characters in this book. Even the antagonist in this book was fleshed out and I wanted to know what became of him. I am typically a plot driven type of person but I was so interested in all the characters that I wanted to keep reading. The plot in this book is not particularly exciting but it is interesting enough that you will want to know what happens to all of the characters. We come across a rather weak female character in the beginning of the book but after meeting the male antagonist, things move along pretty quickly. The main character shows herself to be strong and intelligent and worthy of the few hundred pages that follow. As I stated before, there is not a whole lot of adventure going on here so I can’t really say much more without ruining the book. But I can say that this is one of my favorites of the year and gives me one more reason to love Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Annotating books: yay or nay?

If you are of the opinion that nothing should mar the pages of your precious books (and that’s a totally understandable point of view), than I would quit reading right now because some of these photos might upset you.

I re entered college a couple years ago and things are a lot different this time around. I have a very full time job, a husband and two kids. It wasn’t as easy to breeze through as it was when I was 18. Majoring in history, I have to keep track of tons and tons of names, dates, and places. I love to keep concise notes but I wanted to get more out of my text books. Because of my profession, I sometimes get grants for free ebook versions of my textbooks (which is great and many people wish for) but I missed the ease of flipping back and forth through paper pages, so I started buying the paper copies and started writing and marking the hell out of my textbooks. I began to get so much more out of my textbooks this way. My Historiography textbook is a good example of this and I am able to flip back through it for advice when working on a history paper.

 

 

Back in August when I started my Classics Book Club Challenge, I challenged myself to read many books that had frightened me in the past. I wanted to immerse myself in them and get all I could from the texts. So I thought to myself that if marking my textbooks was working so well, why not begin to mark my books as well? So that’s what I did. It has been going wonderfully so far. Over the last few months I have been honing my system so it has changed considerably from just post it notes and marking with asterisks. I now loosely color code things with highlighter and pen and take notes in my reading journal. I also still use plenty of post its to tab the books. Usually I will highlight or underline key characters’ first appearance in blue while highlighting pretty passages in pink. A good example of my more recent refined system can be seen here in my copy of The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien which I am currently re reading. I thought it would be fitting to include this book as tomorrow March 25 is Tolkien Read Day.

Annotating in this way has helped me remember so many more of the names and places in Tolkien’s universe and it has worked nicely helping me know what to look for in my companion books The Heroes of Tolkien and The Guide to Tolkien’s World: A Bestiary, both by David Day. (It has not escaped me that not only am I a real life history dork, but I am also a fictional history dork 😉)

But while I am all about annotating books, I haven’t yet started marking up my pretty collectible copies of certain books.

I know a lot of people think it an evil sin to mark their books but I also know there’s a lot of you out there who DO mark their books. So I’m curious to see how many of you out there mark your books and how do you go about doing so? I like where I am now compared to a few months ago but I would be glad of any new tips. So let me know if you’re a marker or not! 🙂

See you next time!