#24in48: How I Did

24in48Ugh…I feel like I failed miserably at this readathon. Originally I planned on having a pretty open weekend, but things don’t always work out the way you think they will, and I’m not going to complain because I actually had a pretty fun weekend despite not being able to commit half the time to reading.

On Saturday I started off the morning reading on the beach while my husband did some Cross Fit. It was a super hot, super sunny day, though, and pregnant me didn’t enjoy being out there so long!

Beach

I did get to finish The Martian that afternoon! Such a good book :) That night we threw an impromptu birthday party for a friend, so reading was put on hold.

Sunday is one of our busiest days of the week, and I took a much needed nap that afternoon. But I did get some more reading in!

24in48 Readathon Results:

Reading Time: ~6 hours
Books Finished: The Martian by Andy Weir, Sailor Moon #1 by Naoko Takeu

At least I finished two books!

#24in48: What I’m Reading

24in48I was just thinking about how I haven’t participated in a reading event in a long time (and I really miss the blogosphere camaraderie) when I discovered that the #24in48 Readathon is happening this weekend!

The goal of the readathon is to read for 24 hours during a 48-hour time span. The readathon begins Saturday morning, July 11, just after midnight and officially ends Sunday night, July 12, at midnight. 

Since Matt is dragging me to the beach tomorrow morning because his Cross Fit gym is having a beach workout followed by a BBQ, I figured that would give me a few hours of uninterrupted reading time (because I will not be swimming along the coast of North Carolina for a while *cue Jaws theme*).

So here’s what I plan to read this weekend:

The Martian Wives and Daughters Sailor Moon

The Martian by Andy Weir (paperback) – I have a little over 100 pages left in this book and I’m determined to finish it this weekend.
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (Kindle and audiobook) – I just started this classic last week, so I definitely don’t intend to finish it. It’s a little daunting so far, so if I need something light I have Option 3…
Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi (paperback) – I’ve been slacking on this one for book club, but our chats keep getting rescheduled so I keep putting it off every time. Plus, I’m running out of library renewals.

Are you participating in #24in48? If not, it’s not too late to join in!

May & June Highlights

I haven’t done a highlights post in forever! It feels nice to be back into blogging regularly :)

Here is what I was up to the past two months…

I read 8 books.

Hitchhiker's Guide  Jurassic Park  Persuasion harrypotter whereshewent

      Fables  Seconds  Stealing the Groom

Which is a lot considering I was still coming off my reading slump last month.

Most Popular Posts

Where I’ve Been – It was nice to finally share with everyone our exciting news and explain why I’d been absent for several months.

25 Things: Ever After’s Château de Hautefort – I love that this post from last summer is still so popular, especially since it was on my bucket list for so long & I’d love to revisit it!

What I Watched

I finally got to catch up with my favorite web series! I updated my ‘Literary Vlogs’ sidebar to reflect some of the new YouTube shows I’ve been watching, like Northbound and From Mansfield With Love (adaptations of Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park, respectively).

Northbound

I relate very much to Catherine Morland…and of course, who doesn’t love Henry Tilney?!

I also caught up on From Mansfield With Love, finally. It’s a harder Jane Austen novel to adapt, but the frequent cameos from the minor characters make it pretty interesting :)

May & June Highlights

  • Traveling – I traveled a lot the past two months. Probably more than a pregnant lady should, but I always had a buddy with me (either family members or Solo) and it was nice to visit friends and family.
  • 2nd Trimester! – After the first trimester’s ups and downs, it’s been like a breath of fresh air being in my second trimester. We also got to see our “little baby french fry” up close and found out it’s a boy! Since then we’ve been preparing our tiny apartment (and ourselves) for his arrival. Every time I see a friend has had her baby I get a tiny bit jealous! For now, labor doesn’t scare me, but I’m sure that’ll change in a few months!

    24 Weeks

    24 weeks as of July 6th!

  • VACATION! – Last week we went on a family reunion cruise. It was wonderful :)
    Key West

    My husband and me in Key West (we also visited Cozumel).

    Carnival

    Carnival Ecstasy

    Cruise

    My mom’s side of the family :)

    Matt and Ian

    My brother would probably kill me if he knew I put this online, but I love this picture so much! We were all pretty exhausted on the drive back from Miami.

    We also got to spend 4th of July at EPCOT so my husband and I got an unexpected Disney fix (thanks to my aunt’s sister who works at the parks).
    Epcot

    Matt

    Isn’t he cute? ;)

May & June Challenges

  • Feeling hungry all the time – This has been the one pitfall to my second trimester. I feel like I’m hungry so often, and most of the time the only foods I want to eat are sweets and junk food =P I’ve always been active and have had a fast metabolism, so it’s hard for me to limit myself but I don’t want to overindulge at the same time.
  • Missing having a job – I wasn’t able to find a job before we moved to Wilmington, and after I hit the 12 weeks mark I figured it would just be best for me to take it easy and pick up my job search early next year. But I miss having a routine and that extra income. If anyone knows of some reliable, non-telemarketing, work-from-home jobs, PLEASE let me know!

Things I’m Looking Forward To in July

  • More traveling – Hey, it’s better to get all this traveling in now than when after the baby arrives!
  • Catching up on reading – I’m trying to put a big dent in my Classics TBR plus I have tons of unread books on my shelves that I’d like to get to sometime this year.
  • Summer activities with friends – We have some game nights and beach days penned down for the summer that my husband and I are both looking forward to (although I’m much more hesitant about the ocean after the 8th North Carolina shark attack this year was reported a few days ago…).

July To Be Read

harrypotter  The Martian Wives and Daughters

My husband and I are continuing through our read along of the Harry Potter series. I started reading The Martian last month and although it’s holding my attention, it does take a while to read. I’m seriously behind on my Classics Club list, so I’m picking up Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters this month.

What was your favorite moment from June?

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books I’ve Read (So Far) in 2015

toptentuesdayThe year is halfway over, and despite the fact that I took a 3-month long reading and blogging hiatus, I have read a decent amount of books so far this year! Which is great, because today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is about the top books I’ve read so far this year. Unfortunately, I’ve only read a handful of books that I really loved (meaning I gave them a 5-star rating), so I’m cutting this list down to 5 books.

Top Ten Five Books I’ve Read So Far in 2015

Jurassic ParkJurassic Park by Michael Crichton – I shared my review for this book last week, but this book was definitely a big hit with me. I loved the characters, the dinosaurs, and even the philosophy in the books (which is funny, since I usually stray away from books or discussions heavy in philosophy).

harrypotterHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling – My first reread this year! I’ve been reading the series with my husband, who has seen the movies but never read the books, and even after having read this book so many times that the pages are literally falling out, I still enjoy it just as much. Eternal 5-star rating!

mara dyerThe Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin – I feel like it’s been much longer than 6 months since I’ve read this book, but I still remember staying up really late to finish it because I had to know what happened next! It has so much: mystery, suspense, romance. Definitely my favorite book in Hodkin’s series and obviously one of the best books I’ve read this year.

earnestThe Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde – An easy book to read in one sitting (or listen to on the way to and from work, as I did), Oscar Wilde’s “trivial comedy” had me laughing and hoping for a happy ending, and I was definitely pleased :) This is a great read for people who aren’t very used to reading classics.

PersuasionPersuasion by Jane Austen – Oh, I lied earlier. Persuasion was my first reread this year (although I did reread Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the same week), and it was also the first time I had reread this particular novel, my second favorite of all Jane Austen’s works. I still felt just as much for Anne Elliot, and I definitely still swooned at Captain Wentworth’s letter <3 This book has gotten me all excited for Austen in August in a little over month! (I’ll be following along with two blogosphere events this year: here and here)

Honorable Mention:

whereshewentWhere She Went by Gayle Forman – I read this sequel last month and never got to talk about it, but I definitely enjoyed it more than the first novel, If I Stay. That’s probably because I got used to Gayle Forman’s writing style. In If I Stay I wasn’t prepared for the whole book to take place over 24 hours and most of the plot happening in flashbacks, so I got a little annoyed, but this time I anticipated that and had more fun reading it.

Thanks for reading! What have been some of your favorite reads so far this year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer To Be Read List

toptentuesdayIt feels nice to be making these lists again :) This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is our summer reading lists! I have a diverse line-up for the months ahead, including science fiction, some classics, young adult reads, and a rereading of some childhood favorites!

The MartianThe Martian by Andy Weir – I read so many phenomenal reviews for this book last year, and after seeing the recent trailer for the movie adaptation coming out in October, my husband and I both want to read this sci-fi adventure.

Harry PotterHarry Potter Series (1-3) by J.K. Rowling – My husband, who rarely reads, recently voiced interest in reading one of my all-time favorite series. We started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone last week

senseandsensibilitySense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – For Austen in August this year I’m finally going to reread the first Austen novel I ever read. I also really want to watch the 1995 movie version again!

Jane Austen Book ClubThe Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler – Another book I’ve lined up for Austen in August. I absolutely adore the movie adaptation of this book, so I can’t wait to finally dive into the original version! I’m expecting it to be very different, but I hope to still enjoy it.

The Boy Most Likely To

The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick – I’ve talked about my excitement for this spin-off before, but it’s finally almost here!

Jurassic ParkJurassic Park by Michael Crichton – This novel has been on my Classic Club list for a couple of years now, but since seeing the movie Jurassic World this past weekend, I really want to experience the book that created the franchise! I hear that it’s quite different from the films.

The Mysterious IslandThe Mysterious Island by Jules Verne – Every July for the past two years I have read a Jules Verne book to personally celebrate Bastille Day (the national holiday of France). This year I’ve picked The Mysterious Island to read!

War and PeaceWar and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – I started participating in a War and Peace Read-Along earlier this year, but I unexpectedly had to drop out halfway through. I’m hoping to finish this chunkster sometime this summer.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Books!

toptentuesday

Whew! I took an unexpected week off from blogging and I think it did me a lot of good. I’m going through some personal things at the moment, some of which I’m hoping to post about tomorrow on my late February wrap-up.

But for now, let me ease back into blogging with my favorite meme, Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)! This week’s topic is about our favorite books. For a long time now I’ve had a very stable Top 5, so for today I had to decide on my top 6-10, which was hard! I almost cheated…

Top Ten Favorite Books

AoGG Pride and Prejudice janeeyre Persuasion Harry Potter

attachments IMG_2049 tokillamockingbird littlewomen Hamlet

Anne of Green Gables is my all-time favorite book, but Anne of the Island should be on this list, too! I only left it out to make room for some others. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Persuasion are so close I could easily switch them around. Yes, my favorite Harry Potter book is the last! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows made me feel all the feels, and I thought it was the perfect ending to a favorite series. The rest of the books on this list probably don’t belong in that order, but I haven’t given it much thought before now. Those would be my next favorites, though. Attachments is my favorite book from this decade, so far. Short Straw Bride is my favorite historical novel. What else can I say to justify To Kill a Mockingbird‘s place in my heart and on this list? Little Women is another book that makes me feel so deeply! And Hamlet has always been, and most likely always will be, my favorite Shakespearean play (and favorite play in general, for that matter), no matter how cliché it sounds :)

There you have it: my ten favorite books! Do you like any of my favorites? And what are your most beloved reads??

War and Peace Read-Along: Week 3, Books 4 and 5

76051-war2band2bpeace2bread-a-longThis week’s reading was so much more interesting! There was drama, dueling, death, rejected marriage proposals! I love 19th-century drama :)

Here are my answer’s to this week’s discussion questions:

1. Are you managing to keep all the characters straight in your head?
Yes, finally. The only one I had to look up this week was Denisov, because I was confusing him with Dolokhov. And the fact that I spelled their names right without looking them up is saying something!

2. Have your tactics that we discussed in Week One changed since beginning this book?
I’m no longer reading every night. Instead, I read larger portions so I can spend other nights doing/reading other things.

3. Aww, poor Pierre. Do we feel sorry for him or is it his own fault for marrying for lust?
I pitied Pierre a lot in the earlier books. I felt sorry for him and I sympathized with him, but as Books 4 and 5 progressed, I started getting fed up with him and his naivety. I mean, how many times is he going to let people take advantage of him?

4. Do you think Dolokhov will get his comeuppance – not only for sleeping with Helene, but for basically bankrupting Rostov?
But did he sleep with Helene? We don’t know! No one confirmed or denied it. And although he bankrupted Rostov, Rostov did nothing to stop it. He’s just as guilty. And I hope he follows through with his plan to reimburse his parents. I like Rostov more than some of the other characters, so I hope he does the right thing.

5. Who knew the FREEMASONS were part of War & Peace!? How do you feel about this?
Confused. The philosophical discussions go right over my head, and the induction ceremony felt so cult-like.

6. Do you think Tolstoy dislikes women as much as he seems to, or is it a form of satire?
Hmm…I think he satirizes all the characters, not just the women. Did Tolstoy dislike women? I haven’t done any research on it, so if he did, maybe I’m just not reading deeply enough into the novel.

“I am afraid my way of looking at the world is so opposed to yours that we shall not understand one another.” – Pierre

Are you reading along with us? How are you liking the book so far? I flew through Book 4; it was so intriguing!

Top Ten Tuesday: Book-Related Problems

toptentuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is about my biggest book-related problems! And, I have a lot (what bookworm doesn’t?). The good thing is that I don’t have all of these problems at once; they come and go, depending on my mood and what book(s) I happen to be reading.

Top Ten Book-Related Problems

Book hangovers – Ugh, I dread these immensely! For those who don’t know, a book hangover is what happens after you read a phenomenal book and you find yourself stuck in that bookish world, constantly thinking about the characters, ONLY wanting to read a book exactly like that specific one (which is impossible–even if you find a similar book in the same genre, IT WILL NOT COMPARE AND WILL MAKE YOU EVEN SADDER), etc. Right now I’m stalling on finishing The Retribution of Mara Dyer because I know I will have a massive book hangover (honestly, I knew before I had even finished the first book that I was going to be miserable at the end of the series).

Raving too much about my favorite books – This isn’t the worst problem I have, but I’m always self-conscious about talking too excitedly with my friends about my favorite books. I don’t want to over-hype it, because that could totally ruin it for people (books have been ruined for me because they were over-hyped), so I end up having this internal battle where I want to talk about a book in every conversation but at the same time I don’t want that person to get annoyed and hate the book when they do read it.

Avoiding hanging out with friends because I want to finish a book – Yessss…I am guilty of being antisocial. This is something I’m trying to work on desperately.

Being a mood reader – I would say this is my biggest problem, especially when I have books on my shelf that I need to review or return to the library (and I hate returning unread books). But I can’t really force myself to read a book that I’m not in the mood to read (and in all honesty, why should I? I’m not in school anymore; I’m not writing papers for grades or taking tests on any of these books). All you mood readers: how do you feel about this problem?

Reading multiple books at a time – This isn’t always a problem, but it has been lately. Normally I read one book at a time, but for the past couple of months I’ve had 3-5 books on my “Currently Reading” shelf and it’s kind of stressful because I’m not finishing books as quickly as I usually do.

Buying books when I have plenty of unread books at home – This is why I’ve placed a book buying ban upon myself this year. The only exceptions have been for series that I’ve started to read and love (i.e. Mara Dyer), and for books I adore and wanted second editions of (i.e. Anne of Green Gables, which I am currently lending to a friend so really I had no choice if I wanted to continue my tradition of reading the series every other spring).

Not keeping a good record of my favorite quotes – I’ve started doing this recently, but I wish I had been writing down favorite or memorable quotes I’ve read over the past decade. It would be nice to flip back through them and see what caught my attention at different periods of my life.

Not challenging myself enough in the genres I read – Specifically, I wish I read more non-fiction, poetry, and novels from more diverse cultures. I’ve been working on this. I read my first ever graphic novel last week and I am currently reading my first ever Russian novel (War and Peace), so there’s progress! Can anyone recommend some good poetry collections for me?

Stressing out over reading – This is just the worst. Whenever I find myself stressing out about reading I have to remind myself that READING IS SUPPOSED TO BE RECREATIONAL, especially now that I’ve long since finished school.

Wanting to name my future kids after my favorite authors and characters – Sometimes I can persuade my husband into liking the same names I do, but with other names, like Keats and Kipling, I don’t even try. And no, I’m not going to share with the internet the literary names we have agreed on because I am one of those women who doesn’t want other women to steal her ideas ;)

What are some of your biggest problems when it comes to reading?

War and Peace Read-Along: Week Two, Books Two and Three

War and Peace Read Along

Hanna from Booking In Heels is hosting a read-along of War and Peace through February, March, and half of April, and I am one of the bloggers crazy enough to join in! Honestly, it’s not as bad as I always imagined it would be, although it can be pretty daunting.

Unfortunately, I was behind in my reading for this past week! I think that can be attributed to the fact that this weekend I was busy doing Valentine’s Day festivities with my hubby (so totally more important that Tolstoy), but also…there were TONS of loooooong war chapters this week, am I right? It took me most of the week to get through Book Two because it was full of war strategies and history lessons. Book Three was much easier to get through.

[spoilers below for Books 2 and 3 of War and Peace!]

The biggest happenings in Books Two and Three are the marriage of Pierre and Helen (ugh), Marya’s rejection of Anatole (YES!), and the Battle of Austerlitz, where the Russians suffer a huge defeat.

1. Do you feel that the tone of the novel has changed this week? Has that affected your enjoyment?
Book Two was sooooo long and honestly I got pretty tired of all the war descriptions. I was longing for Book Three because they included several “gossipy” chapters (that’s what I’m calling them from now on since they feature the two-faced gossipy characters) where some more interesting plot points unfolded. But the last half of Book Three brought us back to the war front, but at least it was a tad bit more exciting.

2. Do you feel comfortable telling other people that you’re reading War & Peace?
Absolutely. I just don’t like being applauded for reading it. Yeah, it’s a big personal accomplishment for me, but I’m not reading it to be impressive. I’m reading it because I genuinely want to.

3. How do you feel about Helene and Pierre’s marriage? Happily ever after or mildly doomed?
Totally doomed. I was practically yelling at Pierre to open his eyes and realize how badly Prince Vasili was playing him. But now that they’re married, I would love for it to work out. I just don’t think it will.

4. Should Marya have married Anatole or should she have stayed at home with her father?
As much as I dislike Marya’s father, Anatole is a huge egotistical jerk. I love Marya; even though she’s naive as anything, she’s also pure of heart and completely selfless. I’m holding onto the hope that one day she’ll marry someone who is actually honorable (is that an impossible hope? DON’T TELL ME!)

“My vocation is to be happy with another kind of happiness, the happiness of love and self-sacrifice.” – Marya

5. Andrei has featured in a lot of the war-related chapters so far. Do you think he’ll ever make it to military greatness?
I am now a quarter of the way through this novel and I STILL don’t know how I feel about Andrei. I don’t necessarily like him, but I don’t dislike him either. I think he could be a great military figure, but will he succeed in that? *shrugs*

Ok, I hope this week’s chapters are more captivating than last week’s were! How are the rest of the Read-Alongers doing??

Top Ten Tuesday: Romance Novels

toptentuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about what we like and dislike in romance novels. I actually wish there was another term for “romance novel,” because it automatically brings to my mind those old Harlequin paperbacks with Fabio-esque characters on the cover. In reality, the romance genre is very wide and varied, and they don’t all feature Fabio.

What I Like in Romance Novels:

  1. Hilarious and often embarrassing situations.
    Yes, I love laughing out loud, but I also love the aftermath of embarrassing situations when characters make amends and you find out how likable they really are :)
    Fiance muchado
  2. Pride-and-Prejudice-types of romances.
    Lizzie and Darcy’s relationship is classic, and I don’t care how often I see it repeated in other romances. If it’s done well, there’s a high probability that I’m going to love it.
    NorthandSouth AoGG
  3. Unrequited love and tragic situations.
    I don’t care how sad these types of books are, I love unrequited love stories (especially if it’s no longer unrequited at the end). I also feel the same way about tragic books, when a fictional couple faces a dramatic conflict and they have to recover from it. I learn a lot of lessons from those types of novels.
    senseandsensibility janeeyre
  4. Letters! (or emails or text messages)
    I think Jane Austen said it best: “Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.”
    attachments meanttobe Persuasion
  5. Character growth.
    I always enjoy a story with deep and well-developed characters. One of my biggest bookish pet peeves is trying to suffer through a novel, especially a romance, when the characters are utterly flat and unmotivated. (these books definitely show great character growth!)
    lastbestkiss sisterhoodeverlasting
  6. Deep themes and serious issues.
    I love books that make me feel those deeper emotions. When it comes to romantic books, I really enjoy the ones that deal with sad, and even dark issues unrelated to the central romance. Also, maybe I just like books that move me to tears because that means it’s some pretty powerful writing.
    secondchancesummer mara dyer Redeeming Love

What I Dislike in Romance Novels:

  1. CHEESINESS.
    I can handle one or two clichés, but a whole book full of them? Not so much.
  2. Explicit descriptions and foul language.
    Nope. I don’t finish any book, from any genre, that is overtly explicit/graphic or that includes too much foul language. Nothing turns me off quicker than seeing a dozen curse words splattered across a single paragraph, especially when they’re the weirdest and rarest ones I’ve ever heard. If an author can put THAT much creativity into which curse words their characters spew, surely they can come up with some less abusive vocabulary? (ok, rant is over–see, I told you it bothers me!)
  3. Unrealistic characters, plot lines, or dialogue.
    If it’s unbelievable, it’ll be unenjoyable for me too.
  4. Characters who are obsessed with their significant others.
    I’m talking New Moon Edward and Bella obsessed. I don’t want to read books where characters mope around and don’t know how to survive when their significant other leaves them or is gone for one day. It’s pathetic, dangerous, and in the case of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, just plain creepy.

What’s your favorite romance novel? Do you share any of my pet peeves or favorite motifs when it comes to romances?