Friday, August 1, 2014

ARC August Sign-Up

I don't request many ARCs, so for the most part I don't even consider participating in any ARC reading events. Within the past few months, however, I was a little less restrained with my ARC requests, and I've reached the point where this is the most amount of unread ARCs I've had at one time...ever.

Luckily, I found out about the ARC August event hosted by Octavia of Read.Sleep.Repeat and decided this challenge - and some public accountability for ARC reading - was just what I needed. 

I've compiled a list of all my unread ARCs and potential reading choices over this month.

May ARC:
Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

 August ARC (sort of):
Crushed by Eliza Crewe

September ARCs:
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Macguire
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Firebug by Lish McBride
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

October ARC:
The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

My plan is to read at least three ARCs this month. I'm probably going to focus on my September ARCs, but we'll see how it goes.

August is shaping up to be a busy month for me. There are some major life changes in store for me and over Labor Day weekend I get to attend a good friend's wedding. Plus Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard, and Erica O'Rourke will be having a signing in the Chicago area in early September that I'm going to make every effort to attend - but first I feel like I should read some of their books!

These fall ARCs need to be read, so hopefully this challenge will encourage me to prioritize them in the upcoming month. 

Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Monthly Digest: July 2014

Welcome back to The Monthly Digest here at Late Nights with Good Books. With these posts I hope to recap everything reading- and blogging-related for the past month.

The Books

Favorite Read from July: 
Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Notable Quote from July: 
Maybe love was superstition, a prayer we said to keep the truth of loneliness at bay. I tilted my head back. The stars looked like they were close together, when really they were millions of miles apart. In the end, maybe love just meant longing for something impossibly bright and forever out of reach. 
Leigh Bardugo, Ruin and Rising

The Blog 
July Reviews: 
The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham 
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord 

July Features: 
Top Ten Favorite Classics of the Twentieth Century by Decade 
Showcase Sunday #15 
Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From 

In My Life 
Remember that hiatus I mentioned not wanting to take in last month's The Monthly Digest? Clearly it happened anyway, much to my chagrin. 

And what exactly necessitated this hiatus? In short: my summer class. Fifteen normal weeks of schoolwork were crammed into this eight-week course. Let's just say that being sleep deprived and in a near-constant state of stress for this past month in particular did not leave me with any desire to blog. 

But my class ends tomorrow and I have nearly a month's break until my fall classes start, so hopefully that means more reading and more blogging again. Along with everything else I need to do that's been neglected for the past two months now... 

How was your July?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Ten Authors I Own The Most Books From

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the BookishThis week we're revealing the authors from whom we own the most amount of books.

Author: J.K. Rowling
Number of Books Owned: 18
Why: J.K. Rowling is my queen. I will always be grateful to her for writing the Harry Potter series, and for the series itself getting published when it was. It was a hugely formative part of who I am today, as a reader, a writer, and a person. So obviously I own all the Harry Potter books (two versions!) as well as the Harry Potter-universe books. I also own a copy of The Casual Vacancy. I haven't bought any of the books in her Cormoran Strike series yet, but it's only a matter of time.


Author: Tamora Pierce
Number of Books Owned: 14
Why: I've been a fan of Tamora Pierce's Tortall companion series since middle school when I first picked up Wolf Speaker (Yes, that's the second book in her second Tortall quartet. Oops.). I acquired her Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, and Protector of the Small quartets in their entirety, as well as her Daughter of the Lioness duology. I remain convinced that no one can write a strong (physically and mentally) female heroine quite the way that she does. And, for the record, my favorite Pierce heroine will always be Daine.

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Number of Books Owned: 8
Why: I can thank Peter Jackson's amazing film renditions for my love of Tolkien, if I'm being quite honest. I read The Hobbit a year or so before The Lord of the Rings films premiered, read it again for a class in middle school, and have read it multiple times since then. I think I actually prefer it to The Lord of the Rings. I love The Lord of the Rings, of course, but I think that Jackson's films made it even more epic and relatable. That didn't stop me from acquiring two sets of The Lord of the Rings, in addition to The Hobbit and The Simarillion, though.

Author: Shannon Hale 
Number of Books Owned: 7 
Why: I bought The Goose Girl and The Book of a Thousand Days within relatively close proximity to one another. I still haven't read The Book of a Thousand Days (I'm writing a story based on the same fairy tale and don't want to be influenced by her work at all), but I read and loved The Goose Girl. So much so that I bought the remaining three books in her Books of Bayern series, Princess Academy, and Austenland. I loved the two MG books of hers I've read, but was not as big a fan of Austenland. Fortunately the rest of my unread books are MG.

Author: Jane Austen
Number of Books Owned: 6
Why: Total Jane Austen fangirl right here. Pride and Prejudice, being the first work of hers I read, will always hold a special place in my heart, but I've come to appreciate all of her works and really love Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. I even took a class on Jane Austen in college (which was awesome), so I've read many of her books multiple times, even her unfinished works. My version of Pride and Prejudice doesn't match the other five, though, so I may need to make a new Austen purchase very soon...

Author: T.A. Barron
Number of Books Owned: 6
Why: I freaking loved Barron's The Lost Years of Merlin series back when I was a tween. I was introduced to the first book through my mother-daughter book club, and immediately proceeded to buy the rest of the five-book series. I don't regret it in the slightest. Well, except for the fact that Fincayra isn't real and I can't eat all its delicious fruit or borrow the Flowering Harp. I tried starting his The Great Tree of Avalon series after receiving the first book, but, alas, couldn't get into it at all.
Author: Juliet Marillier
Number of Books Owned: 6
Why: I consider her Sevenwaters series to be a favorite of mine (well, the original trilogy). Up until a few years ago, I had only read and re-read library versions, but I acquired my own versions a couple of years ago and I can feel a re-read coming on... After enjoying the first three Sevenwaters books, however, I did go out and purchase her duology The Light Isles and the first book in her The Bridei Chronicles. And I should consider reading her Shadowfell series soon as well.

Author: David Eddings
Number of Books Owned: 5
Why: I blame my friends for getting me hooked on Eddings' Belgariad series in middle school/early high school. My absolute weakness for any high fantasies featuring a "chosen one" trope was already going strong back in my early teenage days. I loved the very real religion and pantheon presented here, as well as the worldbuilding. Also, Silk. That is all. I've since heard criticism that it's not really that good and clearly intended for younger readers, so, while part of me wants to re-read, I'm not sure whether that's going to happen.

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Number of Books Owned: 4
Why: But, Amanda, Leigh Bardugo has only published three books (not counting her novellas). I know that. But I bought an ebook of Shadow and Bone, loved it, and decided I needed to own a physical copy. And since then I've bought physical copies of the rest of The Grisha trilogy. Something felt a bit off about the conclusion, but I still love this series tremendously and am excited to read Bardugo's next Grisha-verse series.

Author: Rae Carson
Number of Books Owned: 4
Why: Again, Rae Carson has only actually published three full-length novels. Again, I have a ebook and print copy of the first book in her Fire and Thorns series. But in this case, I really was intending to only purchase the ebook versions. I was gifted a physical copy of the second book, The Crown of Embers, however, and if there's one thing I dislike, it's having a copy of the second book but not the first. I'm fine not owning a complete series, but I can't just have the second all alone. So I just decided to get the first. And then the third. Now to finish reading that series!

Author: Philip Pullman
Number of Books Owned: 4 
Why: I own copies of His Dark Materials trilogy, of course. I love that series (still my favorite steampunk series) and am still waiting to find out what form my daemon has. I also own a copy of his Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm. He's the editor rather than the author, but I count this as his work because he was responsible for the arrangement of the stories, and he also provides commentary and extra information at the end of each tale. 

Author: Megan Whalen Turner 
Number of Books Owned: 
Why: I own all the books currently published in The Queen's Thief series. Turner can be as slow as she wants in publishing future installments - I'll wait happily and savor whatever new story she produces in this world. Although this is another owned book count I should probably up soon, as none of my books for this series match thus far. Not something that needs to be amended right away, but at some point I suppose I'll give in and get all the ugly recent covers.

I'm sure I'm forgetting someone here. That's the problem with keeping the vast majority of my books packed away in boxes in the basement. Oh well. 

Please let me know which authors top your owned books list!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Published: 2014, Walker Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Library

If we could capture feelings like we capture pictures, none of us would ever leave our rooms. It would be so tempting to inhabit the good moments over and over again.

Open Road Summer could well become the book of the summer for many YA readers; it’s certainly been hyped enough by many on all sides of the writing-publishing-reading spectrum. While it’s not a perfect book by my standards, I can appreciate its influence and did enjoy the time I spent reading it.

This summer is supposed to be the summer of Reagan and Dee. Reagan and Dee, who’ve both recently had their hearts broken, who are both desperately trying to move forward with their lives and dreams. For Dee, this means a full summer headlining her music tours, for she is no other than the super popular country music star Lilah Montgomery. For Reagan, this means an escape from her abusive ex-boyfriend and stifling family life, a chance to expand her portfolio for her photojournalism college applications, and the opportunity to reconnect with a best friend who’s away more often than not.

Reagan expects a few pitfalls along the way, and her primary purpose in touring is to be Dee’s support. When the inevitable scandals happen, Reagan is there to shield Dee. What she doesn’t expect is a new chance for love and regained trust in the form of former singer Matt Finch, who agrees to join the tour as the opening act, as well as Dee’s fake boyfriend.

Open Road Summer gets its title after one of Dee’s earlier songs, which is about her and Reagan on a road trip. This road trip is nothing like the one in Dee’s song - it’s much more structured, for one - but the sentiment remains the same: Dee and Reagan reunited and experiencing life together. Dee and Reagan willing to face anything to protect each other. Theirs is the sort of friendship that I love to read about.
I owe Dee for so much, for the pinkie links and kindnesses and phone calls and bail-outs. This is the currency of friendship, traded over years and miles, and I hope it’s an even exchange someday. For now, I do what all best friends do when there’s nothing left to say. We lie together in the darkness, shoulder to shoulder, and wait for the worst to be over.
On more than one occasion, I’ll admit I was a bit baffled by the continued strength of their friendship. After Dee got picked up by a record label, she becomes more wholesome, a fully positive role model for her young fans. Reagan’s just about her opposite in every way, at least outwardly. Had Reagan and Dee met at their current phases in life, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have had any possibility of becoming friends, with Dee’s stardom just one of the barriers.

But I have to commend Lord here; she made me believe in a friendship that, for all intents and purposes, would probably not exist outside of the realm of fiction. And that’s by no means an easy thing to accomplish. Theirs is the sort of friendship where very few things can disrupt the camaraderie and trust. If only every book could have such a positive focus on female friendships.

Despite (anvil-sized) hints to the contrary, this is all I wanted this book to be about: Reagan and Dee and all that they’re willing to do for the sake of their friendship. But once Matt joins the tour, much of the focus on friendship is redirected to a more romantic bend. The relationship that Matt and Reagan develop is healthy and undeniably good for them, so I suppose I cannot complain much.

I will say this, though: the fact that the resolutions to Reagan and Dee’s main conflicts are both centered around romance is a bit problematic. The final romantic foci serve to undermine the importance of Reagan and Dee’s relationship, potentially feeding into beliefs that only romance will make you whole, in the end. That really isn’t the case with either Reagan or Dee, but I wish that romance isn’t given such a heavy emphasis for each of them as the book concludes.

In addition to the friendship and romance angles, Open Road Summer heavily focuses on self discovery. First there’s Dee, whose profession requires her to wear many masks, whose every action must be tempered by the fact that she’s bound to be scrutinized by others. Her life no longer appears to be quite her own - and this story is in part about her learning how to reconcile that knowledge. Reagan also feels trapped by her life in many ways, although for her the road trip is more a way to escape her problems than anything else; at least initially. Much of the novel deals with how Dee and Reagan can adapt to life’s challenges and become better versions of themselves, and I fully appreciated that aspect of the book.

Despite some issues I had with the depiction of romance, I did enjoy Open Road Summer overall. It is a well-written and entertaining read, and I adored how genuine Reagan and Dee’s friendship is.

Rating: 4 stars

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Showcase Sunday #15

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicki at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Its aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley
Thank you, thank you, HarperTeen and Netgalley! This is one of my most anticipated releases for 2014, so I was definitely happy to see Netgalley's approval message in my email. I admit I'm a bit concerned that this not only deals with the friendship between a white girl and black girl during Civil Rights-era America, but with a romantic relationship between them. It just sounds like a lot of ground to cover in one book. But I'm really hoping that Talley is able to pull this one off!
Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper
Thank you, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Netgalley! This is another 2014 YA debut that I've been highly anticipating. All that I need to know, really, is that this is a historical fantasy about witches. But it sounds like it's also about family legacy and fate and sacrifice and I don't know how long I'll be able to resist before starting this one.
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Macguire
Thank you, Candlewick Press and Netgalley! I haven't been the biggest fan of Macguire's adult stories (Wicked in particular felt a little too weird for me), but I respect the fact that his works have helped popularize retellings and fairy tales to some degree. And his newest is for a younger audience and about Tsarist Russia and Russian folklore. I'm hoping this is a winner for me.
The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
Thank you so much, Amulet Books and Netgalley! I'm so psyched about this one that I won't even complain that it's a non-Kindle-compatible file...well, not much. I adored Winters' In the Shadow of Blackbirds last year and am so honored I have the chance to help with the early promotion of her sophomore novel, about a suffragette imbued with some mystical powers in 1900s Oregon.

...I think I'm suffering from a case of ARC anxiety here. These are ALL publishing between September and October. I guess I better get my reading schedule in order.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
Series: Veronica Mars, #1
Published: 2014, Vintage Books
Genre: Adult Mystery
Source: Library
Goodreads · Amazon · Barnes & Noble

I’ll admit I was a bit wary of reading this book. Any book developed from some other media - be it a tv show, a film, a video game - makes me more than a little skeptical. Can it really translate all that well to a written story? Although The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line was entertaining, I do think it faced quite a few pitfalls in the conversion from one media form to another.

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line takes place shortly after the events of the Veronica Mars film (which I guess means there’s not much of a possibility for another film being made, sadly). Veronica is back in the seedy and corrupt town of Neptune, the one place she planned to leave forever only ten years ago. After solving a mystery surrounding one of her high school classmate’s death and realizing just how bad things are in Neptune, however, she’s decided to forgo practicing law and do what really suits her: being a private investigator.

Near the top of Neptune’s notoriety list, apparently, is spring break season, when teens and college students from all over the country stop by for some serious partying. But while spring break is a boon to local businesses, it is just as likely to become a threat, which is what happens when one college girl is pronounced as missing. While the local sheriff’s department is ostensibly on the case, it is Mars Investigations that has been hired to do the heavy-lifting.

Soon after Veronica begins her investigation, another girl is pronounced missing. And their last whereabouts place them both at parties held by the same house. A house that’s hiding some seriously shady activities.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Top Ten Favorite Classics of the Twentieth Century by Decade

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the BookishThis week is all about the classics - however we choose to define them. The topic I eventually decided on is this: the top classic novels I've read for each decade of the twentieth century. But that's a bit of a mouthful, and so I abbreviated it for my post title. 

Obviously there are some decades where I've read a fair amount of books that were published, and others where I've only read one or two. The 1930s to 1960s were the hardest decades to narrow one to one top choice, while the earlier decades I only really had one or two options that I'm aware of having read. So, even though it was fun to categorize books this way, please take my list with a grain of salt.

1900s: The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton 
1910s: The Secret Garden by Frances Eliza Hodgson
1920s: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
1930s: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
1940s: Native Son by Richard Wright
1950s: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
1960s: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
1970s: The Princess Bride by William Goldman
1980s: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
1990s: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Any books you think I should include for any of these decades?
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