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7.23.2016

24 in 48 Readathon is Here (Summer 2k16)

24 in 48 IS HERE!!!!



Really excited to join so many other readers for 24 hours of dedicated reading time!

Here's the stack I put together to get me through the weekend (plus, Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey on audio). I've got travel essays, graphic novels, fantasy, a thriller, and a kickass biography. I've even got plans to meet up with some other participants in the Chicago area for a little reading session in the park. Who knows... I might even end up by the pool at some point -- ah! the life!


What will you be reading? Good luck!

6.29.2016

Books to Fuel Your Wanderlust

Ring Road, Iceland, September 2015

The only thing I love as much as reading is traveling (excluding my husband, of course). I'm always dreaming of visiting a new city, state, country... you get it. I've recently found some A+ travel-themed material, which is really outside my regular reading zone, and thought I'd share the wealth.

Here are some titles that make me want to hit the road ASAP:


1) No Baggage: A Minimalist Tale of Love and Wandering by Clara Benson

A memoir, as the titles suggests, about traveling (overseas) sans baggage, but also a look at the author's struggle with severe anxiety and depression years before her journey. Benson's around my age and so hilariously cynical, to boot, that I couldn't stop turning the pages. Her experiences are both totally relatable and then completely foreign at the same time. Weird, right? There's also the guy she meets on OKCupid who suggests the whole thing, and a home in a garbage compactor, but I'll let you read it to get the other juicy bits that make it so good. *One of my favorites of 2016

Favorite passage:
I'd have saved myself some heartache if someone had informed me that life isn't a linear, teleological climb that culminates in some final plateau. It tends to look a lot more like a rolling tumbleweed that gets blown off arroyo cliffs and trapped in barged cow fences just as often as it rolls smoothly down the road. I wish I'd known how many forces are completely out of our control and how often we fail to get exactly what we want (and the disappointment that sometimes follows when we do get exactly what we want). I wish I'd know to hold everything a little more loosely; to be more accepting of the millions of messy, glorious forms a single life can take; to quit acting like the human experience was a geometry equation with a firmly established, correct answer. And hell, I wish I'd known it's perfectly acceptable to have a little fun with the whole business of being alive.

2) Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travel: Our List of the 500 Best Places on the Planet - Ranked by Lonely Planet

I actually read through all 500 picks and have never wanted to race to the airport and randomly select a destination so badly in my life. So many beautiful landscapes and interesting places! Naturally, I made a list of the locations I'd already visited and found I'd only seen 25/500. Looks like I've got some traveling to do! *Scroll down to see my own images of some of those 25.


3) The New York Times 36 Hours: 125 Weekends in Europe by Barbara Ireland

More a coffee table book than a guide you'd cart around (this thing is pretty hefty), the 36 Hours collection (I want them ALL) is not only beautiful, but also informative. I'm going to be honest and just come out and say that I love this one for the incredible photography packed within its pages. I sometimes find myself flipping through whilst daydreaming of my next getaway. The itineraries are more for people who enjoy hunting down cocktail joints and getting nightclub action in over finding new bookstores, so, again, I mainly use it as inspiration for my own photo work rather than travel guide.

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany, 2014
Versailles, France, 2014

Eiffel Tower, France, 2014
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Iceland, 2015








*All images (aside from book covers) are my own. 

 Have any favorites that tempt you to pack up? Let me know!

6.20.2016

The Summer Solstice & Navigating a Reading Slump


Happy first day of the summer solstice!! Summer is one of my favorite seasons so I'm doing a little happy dance to celebrate. (Just picture that for a moment. Ok, let's move on.)

I know a lot of people don't particularly love summer because of the heat but I really thrive in the warmer months. Like fall, I strive to be outside as much as possible to get my body moving and soak up the sunshine before -0 temps return and I go into hibernation.

Here's a list of my absolute favorite summertime activities/things/places:

1) Mouthwatering berries.

Berries are in season during the summer months (so juicy and sweet), so I stock up to get my fix. ALL of the blueberries and stat!

2) Lazy days at the pool.

I know many people hate frying out by the pool during the day, but I LOVE it. Most weekends you'll find me, book in one hand, fizzy water in the other, soaking up the vitamin D and grinning. I get soooo much more reading done. Plus, short swim breaks take me back to my childhood and my mermaid dreams.

3) Picnics, concerts, Shakespeareyou name itin the park! 

Chicago is the best during the summer (yes, it gets hot, but it's nothing compared to Atlanta's humidity so I can deal). There are always so many outdoor events occurring in each neighborhood that it'd probably take you a lifetime to experience them all. My particular favorite is the symphony at Millennium Park, where visitors have the option to buy seats or sit on the lawn (free) and watch the symphony perform at dusk. You're welcome to bring a picnic, a bottle of wine or two, and relax on the lawn with the skyline as your view. It's magical.

Yay! Summer.

I'll have a considerable amount of free time in the coming weeks so I'm looking to get some good reads in. I'm stuck in a rut at the moment with no sign of getting out. Help!

Current Reads:

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

This started out strong for me (well, after getting over some small annoyances), but then kind of just died. I know I'll finish but don't find myself itching to get back.

Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt by Yasmine El Rashidi

I keep reading that once you get past the initial chapters, told from the perspective of a 6-yr-old girl, this book gets really good, but it's been such a struggle to even get as far as I have. I'm really interested in Egyptian political culture but this just isn't doing it for me.  I feel guilty because I'm really trying to get through my ARCs (and post about them) and this one is just rotting on my kindle.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

This one is actually really good. As much as I want to push on, I just don't think I'm in the right emotional place for it at this point in time. I linked to Julianne's (Outlandish Lit) review because she does a fantastic job covering everything Porter does right.


So... what should I pick up next? I've got The Girls by Emma Cline, Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, Invincible Summer by Alice Adams, and SO MANY OTHERS just waiting to be consumed. What are you reading right now?? And what do you love about it?





5.20.2016

Ten Books from BEA I Can't Wait to Read

Ok, guys, you saw the stack of books I picked up at BEA via my post on Wednesday. It might be a tad ambitious but I'm confident I can make a decent dent by end of year. Hoping to avoid a slump due to indecision, I've color-coded each title by season of release date, and composed a list of ten that I'm most excited about. Goals!

Here are the titles that were either A) on my list going into BEA, or B) just jumped out at me right away:

Btw, I totally stole the descriptions from Goodreads because they're so much better than anything I could've come up with. I've also linked back to Goodreads so you can add them to your TBR list, too!

1. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (June 2016)

"Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and will live in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle, raising children who will be sent abroad to be educated before returning to the Gold Coast to serve as administrators of the empire. Esi, imprisoned beneath Effia in the Castle's women's dungeon and then shipped off on a boat bound for America, will be sold into slavery."

2. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (Sept 2016)

"A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery."

3. Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters (July 2016)

"A gifted young black man calling himself Victor has struck a bargain with federal law enforcement, working as a bounty hunter for the US Marshall Service. He's got plenty of work. In this version of America, slavery continues in four states called "the Hard Four." On the trail of a runaway known as Jackdaw, Victor arrives in Indianapolis knowing that something isn't right--with the case file, with his work, and with the country itself."

4. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Sept 2016)

"Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all slaves, but Cora is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is coming into womanhood; even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her of the Underground Railroad and they plot their escape."

5. Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America by Patrick Phillips

"In 1912, a young girl's murder rocked the rural community of Forsyth County, Georgia, and led a mob of whites to lynch a black man on the town square. A month later, thousands cheered the hanging, on spurious evidence, of two black teenagers, then set fire to the homes and churches of farmers, field hands, and servants. Bands of night-riders declared Forsyth "whites-only" and sent 1,100 citizens running for their lives. Whites took over their livestock, harvested their crops, and laid claim to "abandoned" black land, slowly erasing all evidence of their communal crime."

6. Mischling by Affinity Konar (Sept 2016)

"It's 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.

As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain. "

7. Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn (Out / April 2016)

"A future lord is dispossessed of his birthright by a scheming uncle, a mountain sorcerer imbues a mask with the spirit of a great stag for a lost young man, a stubborn father forces his son to give up his wife to his older brother, and a powerful priest meddles in the succession to the Lotus Throne, the child who is the rightful heir to the emperor barely escaping the capital in the arms of his sister. And that is just the beginning."

*This title is book one of a four part series is currently available in stores. The series will be published in rapid succession in order to be binge read to mimic the act of binge watching television shows online. 


AM I STILL GOING???



8. A Woman on the Edge of Time by Jeremy Gavron (Sept 2016)

"Like Sylvia Plath, who died in eerily similar circumstances two years earlier just two streets away, Hannah Gavron was a writer. But no-one had ever imagined that she might take her own life. Bright, sophisticated, and swept up in the progressive politics of the 1960s, Hannah was a promising academic and the wife of a rising entrepreneur. Surrounded by success, she seemed to live a gilded life.

But there was another side to Hannah, as Jeremy Gavron's searching memoir of his mother reveals. Piecing together the events that led to his mother's suicide when he was just four, he discovers that Hannah's success came ata price, and that the pressures she faced as she carved out her place in a man's world may have contributed to her death. Searching for the mother who was never talked about as he grew up, he discovers letters, diaries, and photos that paint a picture of a brilliant but complex young woman grappling to find an outlet for her creativity, sexuality, and intelligence."

9. The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (Sept 2016)

"One night an eighteen year old girl recently arrived in London from Ireland to study drama, meets an older actor and a tumultuous relationship ensues. Set across the bedsits and squats of mid-nineties north London, The Lesser Bohemians is a story about love and innocence, joy and discovery - the grip of the past and the struggle to be new again."

10. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (January 2017)

"On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body. Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel - in its form and voice - completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace."


Here's to 2016 and the ARC!


Excited about any of these?



5.18.2016

BEA / Chicago / 2016

just me, myself & my BEA book stack

Everyone in the book blog world knows BEA went down last week. And those who didn't attend had to suffer through snaps and IG posts and Twitter updates about each and every detail. I offer a sincere apology on behalf of everyone guilty of this (I know I went a little crazy). We were just excited?

It was fun! It was overwhelming! It was an incredible experience! 

I'm just going to come right out and say that BEA is not for the faint of heart (this was my first BEA, btw). And I'm not talking about fighting over books because I hear that actually happened. No, I found that I was able to get all of the ARCs I had my eyes on pretty easily and didn't walk away disappointed in the least. I even met the authors who interested me most without suffering hour long lines, etc. (Jonathan Safran Foer, awkward; George Saunders, ridiculously nice; Colson Whitehead, so freaking cool.) It's more that it's like this great experiment to see if people, who are most likely socially awkward, can hang with peeps from the net IRL. You know? Like a hunger games situation but not deadly and more just stilted conversation rather than daggers to the chest. I honestly had no idea how much of a homebody I had become until I found myself surrounded by people for three whole days. (I work from home full-time so I really only leave the house during the week to exercise and even that involves headphones.) Of course, I'm not all doom and gloom because I was so happy to finally meet some of my favorite bloggers, chat with incredibly awkward/charming authors, and be apart of an event that celebrates literature. I just like to be 100% honest and that was my take on the whole thing. If you get the chance to attend, do it!!

So... enough about that. The books (and totes)! So many! 


The photo above is the stack I brought home... well, it's not completely accurate because I left out four and didn't notice until the photo activities were done. Can't win 'em all. 


I think it's safe to say that I have a lot of reading to do and reviews to share. I'll be posting my top ten anticipated titles from those acquired at the conference later this week, so stay tuned! :) 



Been to BEA? What was your favorite/least favorite part?



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