Saturday, July 25, 2015

Summer Read-a-thon 2015: Day 7 and Wrap-Up

Sadly dear readers the Summer Read-a-thon 2015 is over...although I can't say I'm too sad because once this post goes live, I'll probably just go back to reading. Oh, the life of a book lover. As I mentioned in my last post, despite the fact that I had a lot of errands to do yesterday, I still managed to sit down and do quite a bit of reading. I was determined that this reading challenge wouldn't fizzle out at the end and it didn't.

Yesterday I left off reading Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley and boy was it not going well.

I started off the day optimistic in the hopes that the further along I got in this book the better it would get. I kept going through this cycle of thoughts: "Nothing is happening in this book. I wish I could just stop reading. You know you could DNF this book. No, I've never done that. Besides I'm already so far along and I couldn't possibly give up now." I kept going through that process for the rest of my reading experience. The book was so boring that I actually stopped and read a completely different book. Then I resigned myself to finishing this and then stopped again to do some spur of the moment online shopping. Once I bought two pairs of shoes I might regret in the future, I again returned to this book and prompt discovered all of the action is crammed into the last 100 pages of the book and none of it is built up to or even hinted at. Not to mention there is romance in this book, but so much of the interactions are bland and forgettable. Needless to say I wouldn't recommend it. Ever. I'm proud of the fact that I did finish Season of Storms and my determination allowed me to start the day with a total of 253 pages.

The next book I read, which I started and finished while reading the aforementioned book was Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

 Coraline is one of those books that I've been meaning to read forever. It was popular when I was still in secondary school and then when the movie version of it was released. I always like watching Coraline around Halloween and every time I question why I've never read the book. Now I can finally say I have. Right off the bat, I'm way too old for this book and not the intended audience. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it. I feel like I would have loved Coraline had I discovered it around the same time that I was going through my intense Roald Dahl phase. I, of course, finished Coraline well before midnight and that added 162 pages to my page count.

Since I spent most of the day reading or avoiding Season of Storms I didn't get a chance to read anymore books before midnight came around.

Despite that setback I still manged to read a total of  415 pages for the day! Now it's time for the best part: looking back to see how many books I read and determining a final page total. In the span of a week, I managed to finish a total of 9 books and 2891 pages!! 

I'm pretty sure this is my most successful Summer Read-a-thon challenge to date and you'll get to look forward to a rather lengthy July wrap-up post at the end of the month. I figure if the summer continues with this trend of awesome reading, my TBR pile will finally start to disappear. In case you're curious about some of the stuff I have in the works for future blog post during the month of August, I'm currently working on the last Jane Eyre Watch-a-thon post, which is honestly a long time coming. I've also started reading for a new blog series that I hope to release in the next couple of weeks, but I don't want to share what it is just yet. I want to keep some of the surprise alive. All I'm going to say is that it involves re-reading a lot of books. Something I never do. I hope you've enjoyed hearing about this reading challenge and you'll stick around to see what else I have in store!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Read-a-thon 2015: Day 6

Oh hey readers! After what felt like the shortest summer day (shocking considering I was up before noon), the sixth day of the Summer Read-a-thon is complete. In other words, I've successfully languished on the couch for a good portion of the day while reading and drinking way more coffee than I should have. I even made nutella cookies, but that didn't really help with the whole spending the majority of the day reading bit.

As some of you may remember, yesterday I left off reading An Autobiography by Agatha Christie.
Even though non fiction/biographies aren't typically the types of books I like to read, I really enjoyed Agatha Christie's biography. Granted, as it got nearer to the end, the reading experience got a bit tedious. This is a rather sizable book and I think I personally found the ending a little less captivating because around Christmas time I read a book that detailed Agatha Christie's travels throughout her life. Much seemed to be repetitive. Regardless, I'm so glad I finally got around to finishing it. Agatha Christie will always be one of my favorite authors and it's nice to know more about her actual life. By completing this book, I started out my day's total with 261 pages.

I wanted to switch up my reading experience again and decided to pick another random book from my TBR pile. I ended up deciding on Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley.

This is a book that I can't quite remember discovering, but the synopsis sounded so interesting that I had to check it out. The story centers on Celia, an actress, who is contacted about traveling to an Italian villa in order to star in a performance. The complication comes from the fact that the playwright wrote the play for his mistress, a woman that Celia shares a name with. Sounds appropriately gothic-y and mysterious, right? With a bit of romance thrown in to spice things up? Well I managed to read 183 pages of it today before midnight and...nothing has happened. I'm serious. This book manages to be even less interesting than the biography I just finished reading.
 A couple of times during the reading experience, I seriously considered just giving up and moving on to a different book. I didn't though. I've gained the ability to abandon series I don't like, but for whatever reason I can't break the habit of finishing every book I start. I guess tomorrow I'll be slogging through the rest of this book in the hopes that it gets better somehow. 

Moving on. It's time to share my updated page count totals! After all was said and done, I managed to read 444 pages today. After adding that to my running challenge total, I'm now up to 2476 pages! 

Tomorrow is the last day of the Summer Read-a-thon for this year and as much as I'd love to have the whole day free for reading, unfortunately I have to do some errands and drop by work. Nevertheless, I'm determined to make the last day as awesome as possible.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Summer Read-a-thon 2015: Day 5

We are steadily getting closer to the end, dear readers, and that's a bit sad. I'm kind of loving how much reading I've accomplished so far. Could you imagine how small my TBR would be with a little bit of determination and no responsibilities? That would be the life.

For Day 5 of the challenge I decided to continue reading An Autobiography by Agatha Christie.

So far I think this is one of the best autobiographies I've ever read, but maybe that's because I love Agatha Christie's work so much. This book provides a funny and comprehensive view of her life, while also giving readers a glimpse into the past...a past where even middle class families had a maid and a nurse.

This is the only book I read today and I haven't quite finished it yet. That's the challenge for tomorrow. I did manage to read a total of  245 pages for today. After adding that to my running page count, I now have a total of  2032 pages! 

Now that this short update is out of the way, time to get back to reading! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Read-a-thon 2015: Day 3 & Day 4

Thought I'd abandoned the challenge for a second didn't you? Well readers, as predicted, my work schedule on Day 3 disrupted the flow of the read-a-thon and I never got a chance to read much or even update my progress. This may have been me after work:

Cut to me snapping awake around 1:30 in the morning. At that point, I made the executive decision to transfer my sleepy self from the couch to my bed. When I woke up today I realized that it would just be easier for me to lump in my Day 3 updates with Day here we are. My fully rested self is ready to share just how much reading I've done. 

On Day 3, I again chose another random book that sounded interesting to read, which ended up being Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (better known as Lemony Snicket). 

The premise of the book is that Min is writing a letter to her recent ex-boyfriend letting him know why they broke up. This letter is the narrative of the book, which Min plans to include with a box of stuff she's saved during their relationship. Each section focuses on an item in the box and flashes back to the point in their relationship that is relevant to the object. In theory, this book sounds great. Who wouldn't want to read a contemporary book that chronicles the emotional ups and downs of a relationship. In reality, the book is a jumbled, run-on mess of sentences that try to explain how emotionally crushing this shallow high school romance is supposed to be. As you can tell, I wasn't a fan. Back to the details of the read-a-thon.

On Day 3, I read 194 pages of this book. That's all I managed before the aforementioned super slumber. 

Now on to Day 4! After waking up bright and early (read that as sometime after noon), I resigned myself to finishing Why We Broke Up. The plus side is that started out my day with 160 pages. While trying to find another book to read, I made the startling realization that we are getting super close to the end of the month and I have in no way finished the books on my monthly TBR. That immediately prompted me to pick up Othello by William Shakespeare and brush off my English major academic reading skills.
As I mentioned in my TBR post, this book is kind of special because one of my favorite professors gave it to me and it's a shame that I hadn't read it until now. As a whole, I'm much more of a fan of Shakespeare's comedies rather than his tragedies, but I can still appreciate the tragedies, which is what I did for Othello. On a semi-related note, after I finished this play I had to see if there was a Thug Notes for it and to my delight there was! I can't mention it without sharing the video of course:

Anyway, I finished Othello, which added 208 pages to my total page count. After briefly considering finding a different book from the ones on my TBR list, I decided to start An Autobiography by Agatha Christie. 

Technically, I've had this listed as currently reading on Goodreads since December, but I really haven't been reading it. You've got to be in a certain mood to read an autobiography and today was finally that day. Before midnight came around I managed to read 70 pages. That brings my Day 4 total up to 438 pages. Considering I read an entire Shakespeare play today, that's not too shabby. 

If I add my Day 3 and Day 4 totals to my overall page count, that brings my challenge total up to an impressive 1787 pages! 

See all of you bibliophiles tomorrow for another update, I promise.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Read-a-thon 2015: Day 2

Welcome back to another update on the Summer Read-a-thon 2015, where I let you know my day to day reading progress. As I'm typing this, it is a little bit after midnight and Day 2 has finally wrapped up. Advanced apologies go out for the possible brevity of this post. I sadly have to wake up early tomorrow for work and I really should be getting to bed soon. That means that my Day 3 page totals might be the low point of this challenge, but then again I could very well surprise myself.

Despite the fact that I went to bed right after publishing the Day 1 update, I did get some pretty substantial reading done today.

Last night I mentioned that I had started reading The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black and today I sat down and finally finished it.

Reading this book took up the majority of my day because I just had no desire at all to continue with the story. Nothing about it was really grabbing my attention. Granted, the world building was great, but I think I personally can't get any sort of enjoyment out of a ya book that has fairies. As a whole the plot just felt "meh"-ish  and the romances were complete insta-love. Since I finished the book, it started out my Day 2 count with 195 pages!

After finishing Black's novel, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to read next, so I randomly chose Born of Illusion by Teri Brown.

The book centers around Anna, an illusionist, who takes part in her mother's traveling magic show. The setting is in New York City in the 1920s, which seems to be a popular time and place to set stories in the ya genre. The interesting part about this book is that her mother plays at being a medium and a mentalist while Anna attempts to hide her actual supernatural powers. She can see visions of the future, read people's emotions, and communicate with the dead. There is some mystery and intrigue thrown into the mix, but the best part of the book has to be Anna's own personal struggles as the entertainer always in the shadow of her mother. I really enjoyed the story and was pleasantly surprised to find that it is part of a series. You can tell I was engaged, more so than the previous book because I finished this all in one day. That means I added 373 pages to my total page count.

I didn't get a chance to start another book before midnight, so my final page count for Day 2 is 568 pages. If you add that to my page total from yesterday, that brings the page count of the whole challenge up to 1155 pages!

See you back here tomorrow after midnight for the next update on my Summer Read-a-thon 2015 challenge. Now it's time for this dedicated reader to go to bed.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Summer Read-a-thon 2015: Day 1

Hello readers! It has officially begun. The Summer Read-a-thon 2015 is off to a pretty great start.

I was a bit apprehensive about the amount of time I could devote to reading on my first day because I made plans with some friends, something that prevents me from reverting back to my hermit tendencies. The plus side is I'm a night owl, so those few hours after midnight really helped kick start my page count. Just a bit of some not so humble bragging, but this book nerd reached her goal of reading 100 books this year and had to up her reading challenge to 120 books!!!! All I can say is I'm loving this whole no homework thing because I can actually use my free time to read. That's about the millionth time I've mentioned that fact of my life. Time to move on.

So going into the read-a-thon I was already in the middle of reading Off the Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer. This book is the sequel to their earlier book Between the Lines.
 The main premise of this duology is that Delilah is in love with Oliver, a prince from a fairytale book. The obvious problem is that Oliver is a character stuck in his own story. In Off the Page Delilah and Oliver have now managed to be together in the real world, but the real trouble is finding a way to stay together when the story is rebelling against all of the changes made to it. Since I'll be covering all of the books I read during my monthly wrap-up, I don't want to get too in depth with my opinions because I'd rather you not endure repetition. All I can say is this book really was kind of a let down compared to the first. For whatever reason every little bit of plot felt weak and contrived, not to mention it seemed like the language and content tended towards the border of middle grade/YA when Jodi Picoult is obviously an adult writer. I'm just curious who this book is actually marketed towards. Anyway I finished the book, which added 163 pages to my total.

Next I decided, as per usual, to avoid my monthly TBR and start a book that I've been hearing a lot of positive press about: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

The premise of the story is that a kind of socially awkward geneticist has made up his mind to start The Wife Project, where he basically makes up a questionnaire to gauge whether potential women will be suitable enough to be his wife. Then he meets another manic pixie dream girl *cough cough* I mean Rosie. I'm saving my rant for later, but basically I feel like this is a more romantic version of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a book I loath so fully you can't even begin to understand. Lets just say I didn't like this book either. Regardless I read all of it, which added 295 pages to total. That brings my total up to 458 pages!

Now that's I page count I can be happy with, but I figured why not keep reading right up until midnight, which explains the lateness of this post. The next book that I picked for the first day of the read-a-thon was The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black. 

This was another one of those books that got a lot of press a couple of months back, but I couldn't remember if it was good or bad. I decided to give it a chance despite the fact that it is a paranormal ya book with fairies. Normally that combination of descriptors gives me flashbacks of all the terrible books I've read in the past that deal with love triangles and fairies. Here the story centers on a brother and sister named Ben and Hazel. What makes their world different from ours is that they live near a forest inhabited by fairies. Even stranger is the horned boy encased in a glass coffin. So far I feel pretty neutral about the book. It hasn't driven me away yet, but for some reason it hasn't grabbed my attention either. Before the end of Day 1, I managed to read 129 pages. 

That means that the complete page count for Day 1 of the Summer Read-a-thon 2015 is 587 pages!

Now that I've updated all of you on my Day 1 progress, I'm ready to get started on some Day 2 reading...or maybe go to bed. Who's to know until tomorrow when I report in on all my Day 2 reading escapades.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Announcing the Summer Read-a-thon 2015!!

Hello readers! As you know, since the beginning of this blog I've hosted a read-a-thon every summer. At that time it was to speed read a ton of books before the end of the summer and before my return to school. Well now that I've graduated, this read-a-thon time has been determined by the small break I have from work. I'd rather not host the event later in the summer and risk having to battle my work week exhaustion in order to get something read. So here we are and I'm ready for a week's worth of awesome reading.

Time to get to the technicalities of the Summer Read-a-thon 2015. This fantastic week of reading will start tomorrow the 17th (Friday) at midnight and end next Friday the 24th at midnight. On each day after midnight I'll try to publish an update of my reading progress. I say try only because one of the days this week I do have to work unfortunately. Additionally, unlike the previous years, I will not be setting a page goal for myself. I learned that lesson the last read-a-thon when I got so overwhelmed and ended up quitting half way through. That won't be happening this time!! I'd rather just read at my own pace and be happy with the results.

Unlike my monthly TBR where I meticulously plan out what books I'd like to read, here I'm really just not in the mood to do that either. I kind of want to pick up whatever strikes my fancy in the moment. That being said I do want to try to get to the books that are remaining on my July 2015 TBR. I figure now will be the perfect time to get them out of the way:

Other than that I guess you'll find out what I'm reading during that week through my daily updates and if you follow me on Goodreads. I encourage, nay, implore you to join along with me and share what books you've been reading. Sometimes it's great to just set aside some solid time to read. Honestly this will probably be me for the next week. 

 Happy reading and our adventure begins tomorrow at midnight!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Penny's Music Recommendations: July 2015

Hello readers and music lovers alike! Another month has come and gone and with it arrives another crop of great songs that I had to share with all of you. Sorry for posting this a little later than usual. The #livetweetHP happened to coincide with the same time that I usually draft this up and I needed a bit of a break from spending two of my nights solidly reading and tweeting. Never fear though! I had a break from work this week and resolved to type this up...even with the temptation of nostalgia playing Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep. Anyway, here are the songs I've been listening to on repeat.
  • Young Blood by The Naked and Famous
Once I finished having my musical fling with The Naked and Famous' Hearts Like Ours I set out to find some other songs of theirs that I might like just as much. That's when I came across Young Blood. Just as I said in one of my previous music recommendation posts, it has a mellow sort of mood to it, with some electronic beats in the background to keep everything still a little upbeat and interesting to listen to. When I want to wind down after a long day, this is one of the songs that I now turn to.
  • White Noise by PVRIS
After listening to and loving St. Patrick by PVRIS I had to listen to the rest of the album. For whatever reason this was the only other song that I enjoyed. White Noise is one of those slower electronic songs that is really just begging for a DJ to turn it into a more upbeat dubstep remix, which might be a good or bad transformation, who can tell. Aside from that the vocals are full of emotion and really just perfection. Plus I just like the combination of electronic and rock sounds. 
  • Sex (EP Version) by The 1975
I think my love for The 1975 is pretty well established by now and I don't feel like I need to explain myself, but of course I will :) A couple of days ago I was going back over some of their songs on YouTube and I came across the EP version of Sex. It has that type of intense indie electronic rock song that I've come to prefer.
  • Illuminate by The Hunts

A couple of recommendation posts back, I talked about how much I loved The Hunts after I heard them at one of my college events. Well my appreciation for their music continues to grow. Recently they released their newest album Those Younger Days and so many of the songs on there are fantastic, so I had a hard time deciding on one. I finally settled on Illuminate because it's one of those deceptively mellow songs that picks up in pace halfway through and manages to stick in your head for the rest of the day. It also has a sound that just envelopes you. I know that sounds a little vague and weird, but you'll see what I mean when you give it a listen. Granted if you don't like folk inspired music, you might not like The Hunts...that doesn't mean you shouldn't give them a chance. 
  • Cold Cold Man by Saint Motel
Cold Cold Man is yet another incredibly catchy song that I discovered through the featured free songs on Google Play. When I say catchy I really mean it. As in after one listen, you will never get it out of your head. You'll find yourself singing it at random times and then you'll get the strongest urge to listen to it, which is kind of hard when you're at work. Cold Cold Man has an electronic feel that is reminiscent of songs from the 80s, with some great guitar and drum back-beats. It is also one of those songs that just makes you feel better and happier afterwords.   
  • Different Colors by Walk the Moon
One of my previous posts featured Walk The Moon's very popular song Shut Up and Dance and I'm one of those people who has to listen to the whole album if I know I love one song from it. Different Colors is one of the songs that I immediately liked when I listened to their album Talking is Hard. Again it's peppy, upbeat, with a little bit of indie flare thrown into the mix. Perfect combination if you ask me.
  • Tear in My Heart by Twenty One Pilots
I know this is probably a bit unfair to the rest of the fantastic songs on this list, but Tear in My Heart has to be my favorite and most listened to song this month. For whatever reason I can't get enough of it. I could listen to it over and over again and never get sick of it. I was doing one of favorite past-times, YouTube video hopping, where I listen to one song I like and just click on songs that sound interesting in the recommendations sidebar or those that have suggested in the comments. If my memory is correct, somebody recommended that people listen to this if they liked Cold Cold Man and that person in the comments was completely right. I was absentmindedly listening to this song for the first time while I was reading a book on my tablet, when this line caused me to burst out laughing: "I'm driving, here I sit cursing my government for not using my taxes to fill holes with more cement." From then on I was hooked. Again this has an electronic rock feel to it that makes you want to sing along, tap your feet, or even get up and dance. I'm determined at some point to spend an afternoon digging through their discography to find some other great songs. 
  • Midnight Sun by Kate Boy

As you know, I'm always on a quest to find new music. It was a habit I developed when I was a DJ at my college radio station and I haven't been able to give that habit up. I found this gem in a Buzzfeed list on 50 or so songs that you should listen to. After spending all that time going through the list, this was the only song I liked. Unfortunately if you're in the U.S. YouTube currently won't let you listen to it (this could change in the future), so I found it on soundcloud. I figure why deny you the pleasure of listening to Midnight Sun. I guess this month I've been really feeling upbeat electronic songs, since this is of course one of those. For whatever reason Kate Boy reminds me so much of Robyn, another one of my favorite artists. I dare you not to listen to this on repeat.
  • Search Party by Sam Bruno
Anybody that has seen the trailers for the movie Paper Towns of course recognizes this song. Once you get past the awesomeness of Mikky Ekko's Smile, then you notice how great Search Party is too. It doesn't have a peppy or infectious melody, but that back-beat though! I'm probably not the first person to say this and I won't be the last, but if you like M.I.A. you'll like Search Party, since it kind of has the same vibe as M.I.A.'s Bad Girls
  • Carried Away by Passion Pit
I'm going to be honest and say that I didn't like Carried Away when I first heard it. The heavily bubble gum electronic beat was off-putting and the screeching synth was just not working for me. Then I listened to it again and then again later on. For whatever reason something changed and it became less annoying and more infectious and catchy. Plus it's one of those songs about love that feels so much more honest than the crap that is usually on the radio. Basically nobody is perfect, so relationships aren't perfect, and often we stay together with people we really shouldn't. Who knew all of that was hidden in such a cheery sounding song. 

After such a great month of songs I'm not sure if I'll be able to move on to something new for next month. That doesn't mean I'm not going to try! As always I hope you enjoyed some of the songs on this list and feel free to recommend others in the comments.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Summary of #livetweetHP Day 2

As many of you know, my best friend and I decided to do something awesome and live tweet our re-reading of the first Harry Potter book. Well we enjoyed the first night so immensely that we decided to do another night of live tweeting. It made sense in the end because we only made it thought the first half of the book on day one. Our twitter journey took almost four hours, but we managed to finish Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone all while taking part in #livetweetHP. Since we had some really fantastic tweets and weird new twitter followers, I can't help but share all of the hilarity for those that missed out.

Yep. A sock twitter tweeted at us during our live tweet. It had to be the weirdest thing to happen that night.

I can only hope those tweets were as funny as I thought they were. I think #livetweetHP has to be one of the highlights of my summer. For those that really enjoyed this event, maybe there will be another live tweet in the future. After all, we still have the rest of the series to re-read.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Summary of #livetweetHP

Hi all! So last night as promised my blog/real friend Maddy and I held the first night of #livetweetHP where we started re-reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone while live tweeting all of the random thoughts and jokes that come into our minds.

It was a night of fabulous childhood rediscovery, Very Potter Musical puns, life lessons from Hagrid, and the realization that maybe the great JRK had this whole series planned from the start...or she's just fantastic at linking all of her books together.

Since the night was just too important to miss, I wanted to give everyone here the opportunity to experience the hilarity of the night, even if you missed it. Here are some of our tweets from the night. Also before I forget, we never finished the first book. That means we need to do another #livetweetHP :) If you'd like to witness the magic that is two post grad English majors rediscovering our love of Harry Potter, join us tonight at 8:00pm est. 

Without further ado, please enjoy these tweets.

Hopefully these tweets are just as totally awesome as I think they are and don't forget to follow @Penny_Landon and @MadelaineWhalen for more of #livetweetHP tonight at 8:00pm est!