Book Recommendation: Ready Player One

Thursday, December 11, 2014

If I could describe this book to anybody, it is that it is every nerd's dream. It's a scifi dystopian novel set in 2044 where our world basically sucks. It is so horrible that people prefer to live in a virtual world called the Oasis. The Oasis is essentially a multiplayer game where you get to create your own avatar, similar to games like World of Warcraft. This book is told from a relatable main character's point of view, which makes the reader feel like they're not just reading what is going on, but are actually living it. 

Having played multiplayer games like World of Warcraft, the world was familiar to me and the story just felt possible and realistic. I also loved that the book references so many things in nerd and pop culture from video games, comic books, movies, music, to Dungeons and Dragons. Basically, if you can think of anything nerdy, it's probably mentioned, which makes this book one of the most fun stories I've read in a long time. 
Another thing to note is that the author is just excellent with world building and plot development. He writes so effortlessly that makes it such a page turner, making it difficult for me to put it down. I didn't want it to end. It felt just like any other addicting video game. I found myself staying awake late at night reading, and I was simply stuck in this world that the author created because nothing else mattered while I was reading the story. Another awesome part about this is that not only is it exciting, but this book also has a lot of heart. The characters did that for me, as they were so easy to believe  in, to root for, and to love. 
I highly recommend this book to anybody. If you like a good story and like immersing yourself in different worlds, read it. It's so much fun that I believe it will be appreciated by anyone. But yes, if you are a nerd and you like pop culture, you have to get this book now. For me, it's definitely on my top 3 books I've read this year and I can't recommend it enough. 

So I got a Kindle...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

If you've been a follower of this blog for a while, you'd know by now that I have always been anti-ereader for a few reasons. However, I feel like as I got older and life and schedules got busier, I haven't had time to go to bookstores anymore. In addition to that, there's sadly a lack of bookstores around my area. Because of those circumstances, I caved, and I got a Kindle. I got it for a good deal off of Amazon during a Black Friday sale, and two weeks later, I have fallen in love with it. 
Admittedly, I felt like I betrayed physical copies as I finally bought an e-reader, but over the past two weeks of consistently (almost daily) using it, I couldn't help but enjoy my time reading with it. I've been obsessed with it that I've already finished three and a half books with it. Here's just a few reasons why I love my new Kindle Paperwhite.

  • I love the fact that there are thousands of books right on your fingertips. If I ever get the antsy feeling of wanting a book badly (which I do often) I can simply purchase it right then and there. I'll have it immediately, and don't have to wait until my next day off until I could drive to the nearest bookstore. 
  • Prices. They're usually always cheaper than retail price, and there's always amazing e-book deals. I got a lot of the books I have on there right now for $3.99, $8 at the most. 
  • It feels like a book. Sure, maybe not out of the box, but once I put on the case I got for it (that basically flips like a vintage book), it feels like an actual book. 
  • The screen legitimately looks like a page. I didn't know this before, but the screen is very different from a typical tablet screen or a smart phone screen. It's not glossy, it feels and looks more like an etch-a-sketch to me. The texture is a bit different too, which I think is what prevents the glare. This also makes it easier on the eyes. I've tried reading on an iPad and I just got headaches, but I never get that from the Kindle. 
  • Portability. I can bring it anywhere. Literally. It fits in my medium-sized purse easily. I bring it to work so I can read during my break. I can't wait when I have to travel so I can test it out then.
So while I will always love going to bookstores, purchase books I really love from time to time, and prefer physical copies for my growing home library, there's definitely room for an e-reader. If you are thinking about it because you like the idea of its convenience, I highly recommend it.

Gift Guide for the Literary People In Your Life

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I have done gift guides for readers before, but because the holidays are here again, I figured it's about time to make a new one. These are just some gifts for the reader and literary lover in your life.

Book Art and Book Jewelry 
I love book art. Etsy shops like BlackBaroque that feature antique book prints are great, and so is this store that has typography prints.
As for book jewelry, all you have to do is go to this link and get lost. I particularly am in love with this store and absolutely love this Harry Potter bracelet. 

It's all about those cases, skins, and accessories for your smart phones, laptops, and more. I do recommend the BookBook case. While it sells for $79.99, it is quite unique and does its job. 
I also adore this store for their literary phone cases.  I love the options and the highlighted text!

Clothes and Accessories
Bookish jewelry is always a good way to go, but let's not forget other clothing items and accessories. Scarves, leggings, dresses, skirts, socks? Yes please. I would start with Out of Print, because they're a great company in my opinion. I also highly recommend the etsy store, Storiarts, more than anything else, because I am in love with the designs and the quality of their stuff. I have the Jane Eyre scarf, and it washes and wears so well. For leggings, I highly recommend these Hamlet leggings. They're $75 each, but your bookish person would no doubt adore it. For general nerdiness and a lot of bookish related items, check out this amazing store, NerdAlertCreations. I have their classic covers infinity scarf, and I loved it as a gift. For more custom style shirts, I recommend Redbubble as it features different artists and there's tons of options!

For Your Bookish Home 
Want your home to smell like old books? A library? Try candles. I like this fun line of bookish themed candles. For book inspired candles, check out this etsy store. 
Mugs are always a good idea. I love the banned books mug of course, and I love this one as well. 
Want bookish coasters? Look no further because Out of Print has some cool ones.
And of course... pillows. This is a favorite of mine. I love the font, the quality, and the price. 


What are some of your favorite bookish gifts that you've either given or received? 

Recommendations: Disturbing Books

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Since it's the month of October and it's almost Halloween, I figured I should make a list of books that not only I highly recommend, but that I found are incredibly disturbing. These books aren't necessarily horror novels, but they definitely disturbed me to no end, and I do appreciate an old fashioned creepy-can't-get-it-out-of-my-mind story. In no particular order.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn 
I figured I would begin with the latest book that disturbed me. This book wasn't perfect, but it was 100% effective in terms of giving me the creeps. It's such a thrilling, suspenseful page turner that left me with a few goosebumps along the way. Gillian Flynn has a knack for creating messed up characters, and she does it so well that I believe every word! I did see the movie adaptation, and I thought it was so good! The actress that played one of the characters here was great, and I highly, highly recommend everybody to watch it, even if you're not interested in reading the book. But the book... always read the book first ;)

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Next up is a classic disturbing book! A Clockwork Orange has Alex, who is one of the most memorable characters ever. He will forever be stuck in my mind. Such a well-structured and engaging story! I do have to admit though that there's something extra special and extra disturbing about the movie adaptation. The actor that plays Alex just truly captures everything about the character, and I love everything about the movie. Such a classic film, and something I wish everyone would watch at least once. 

Misery by Stephen King
Such memorable characters in here. And some of the most memorable scenes as well. If you're looking for a Stephen King book to read, check this out. It's very different from his other novels, and it's what made me appreciate King as an imaginative author. I do have to mention the movie, as Kathy Bates was incredible in it.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Elis
This list can not exist without this book. Some of the events that are told in this book have been some of the most agonizing things I've ever read. It's one of those rare books that made me put it down several times, thinking I could not continue with it! And yes, the movie... must watch. 

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
This book is about an unstable kid, and the story is told from the perspective of a mother who also disturbed and unstable. Put them together and you have this realistic story. I have not seen the movie adaptation, but I hear it's well done. 

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk
Chuck Palahniuk has always been such an out there author, and I have to include his book of short stories on this list. Haunted is an amazingly well-written collection of disturbing short stories. Its themes vary, but every story is unique and well thought out. 

Because we're talking about disturbing things, I can't leave this list out without listing the most disturbing film I've ever seen - Requiem for A Dream. Based off a novel as well, but I actually haven't read it. However, the movie... *shudders*

Anyway, that's it for my list. Please let me know what you think of my picks, and if you have any recommendations for disturbing books, do recommend them. 

Readathon On A Reading Slump: It's A Go!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I have to admit that signing up for a readathon while on a terrible reading slump sounds unwise to me, but I enjoyed my time so much last readathon in April that I knew I couldn't pass it up. Back then, I read quite a good chunk. This time around, I think I will take it easy and attempt to finish at least one book. Mostly, I plan and look forward to interacting with other readers through twitter and instagram, as those were my favorite parts in the event. 
My start time is 5am, but I do have to come in to work at 7:30-1pm. I might take a much-needed nap, but then after that, I will have the whole Saturday for the readathon. Here's my book stack.

As for snacks, I have my Snapea Crisps ready, brie and crackers for maybe night time, and lots of coffee. If interested, please check me out on:
If you have accounts for those platforms as well, please link below so I can follow you and your day tomorrow! Happy readathon, everyone!

2nd Favorite Book This Year So Far.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I finally picked up the first mystery thriller in the Millenium trilogy by Swedish author, Stieg Larsson. 
I have long avoided this book for many reasons, but I am so glad that I finally just read it, because I absolutely loved it. 
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is essentially a mystery where a journalist and a world-class computer hacker team up together to solve the mystery of someone's disappearance. While doing so, the author also delves into each of the character's own stories. I have to say that the character of the introverted and unique computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander - who is the girl with the dragon tattoo- has got to be one of the best written characters I've read about in a while. Though I can not relate with her as a character, I root for her to no end, as she lives her life exactly the way she wants to. 
The plot behind the book is intelligent and complex, and the pacing was very fast. The mass paperback was 700 pages and I read it in two days, and I'm not a fast reader at all. It was exciting, suspenseful, and difficult to put down. 
I have to say that the other thing that really engaged me here wasn't just the story itself, but the fact that this was written by someone like Stieg Larsson. The author said that when he was 15, he witnessed a gang rape and that started his abhorrence towards men that violate women.He became a political activist who truly fought and spoke up about what he believed was right. He was against violence towards women, racism, among others. Because of his background, it was easy to understand why there was so much graphic violence in here. These are things that happen in real life, and there's no use pushing it under the rug and denying it. So yes, it's dark and tough to read at times, and be warned that it can be triggering for some, but knowing the author's background makes it more profound and important, in my opinion.
I absolutely loved the book that I picked up the sequel the day after I finished it because I can't read anything else but this trilogy. So yes, at the end of the day, I highly recommend it! 5 stars!

I try to form words about Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Friday, July 25, 2014

My blood still howls in my veins like the wind itself,and it shakes the empty nest and asks where all the birds have gone, where have they gone?

Burial Rites was a true testament to everything I said on my previous post about why I love reading so much. THIS... this is exactly why I love books. 

Truthfully I expected this book to be good before picking it up, because of so many positive things said about it, but oh my goodness, I honestly did not expect for me to feel this much for it.

First off, Hannah Kent's ability to write a factual-based story is so effortless. She gives you information in the most engaging way possible, and at the same time, lets you in the characters' world. Because of the wonderful narration, it's as if you can really hear the characters speak for themselves and you can really see everything that they go through and feel. The author not only builds this story with excellent pacing and suspense from beginning to end, but she also transports you into that very world she is painting for you. Her writing is incredibly atmospheric, that even in 80 degree weather in California, I imagined that winter chill in Iceland in the early nineteenth century. I could see the scenery, the characters, the events that took place. And the emotions I felt for these characters were indescribable.
I couldn't put this down especially towards the end.  I didn't want to blink, didn't want to read too fast for fear that I would lose these people in the story. "Not so fast, don't end yet," I kept thinking to myself. And when it did end, tears and goosebumps were inevitable. I just wanted to tell everyone how much this story touched and broke my heart.

There's honestly not much to be said aside from those above, but I will say that this is story telling at its finest. It is a beautiful story that I will remember for a long, long time. 5 stars and nothing less. My favorite read this year so far, hands down.

Why do you love reading so much?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

When people ask me this question, I usually can't think of a quick, direct response. So many answers pop in my head, and various reasons cloud and mix together. After all, there are countless reasons why I love reading, why I love books, why I love literature. I love reading because I love words in general, I love creativity and imagination, I find it relaxing and therapeutic, I find it fun, inspiring, and amusing at times. I love reading because of the fact that it allows me to feel everything there is to feel.

Mostly though, I have always said that reading was a form of escapism for me. It was a gateway to different worlds, different people, different experiences that I do not get to live in real life. It is my familiar place, my refuge, my little break from the mundane and sometimes stressful things of everyday life. It is sometimes even my escape from the more difficult times in my life.

And yes, I still do see all that.

However, this year in particular, I feel like I've discovered a bigger answer to the question. To me, I feel like reading has evolved and has become a closer look at life. How? Through the events and situations that occur in books, through the subject matter and themes explored, and through the characters' stories.

Through the variety of these stories, I have a closer look at my own life and my own experiences. I get to see a closer look at my own dreams and aspirations. I get to reflect on my past, my present, my future. When I read, I see my life in one way or another in them. I get to inspect how I live my life, what I can change, improve, what I can continue to do. It's also how I learn ideas and concepts, different opinions and viewpoints.

Secondly, books not only let me see my life, but it also opens my eyes to different situations and issues about the universe we live in, and lets me learn about different types of people and the things they go through. Books have opened doors to endless opportunities for learning and discovery, understanding and empathy. 

I feel like when I put a book down to continue to live my own life in the real world, I become, even just a tiny little bit, a much more well-rounded, sensitive, and open-minded individual than when I started the book. Because of all those things that reading does for me in my life, books have become a necessity, no longer just a hobby or a past time. It is a part of who I've become today, and who I will be as a human being later. You know that saying that books feed one's soul? I believe that to be absolutely true. Tell me what books and reading mean to you, and your reasons as to why you love reading so much.

Books I've Read So Far This Year

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Last year, I probably only read 10 books, and that to me, was a huge difference compared to my usual reading habits. I have to say I am very happy that I have now passed that number, and I have not had a slump this year... yet. It might happen, but for now, I am excited to be so into reading like this again. 

These are the books that I've read so far this year in no particular order. 
For a complete list, click here.
*The Little Prince and Game of Thrones are re-reads.

As you can see, I've mixed mostly general fiction with a bit of sci-fi, autobiography, classics, nonfiction, and young adult. What has been your favorite read so far this year? Let me know in the comments below. As always, happy reading! 

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Friday, July 18, 2014

Rating: 3.5 stars
I picked up this debut novel because of countless positive reviews about it, saying how wonderful it is and how charming the story is. So I bought it, and I am glad I read it.
After finishing it in 3 days, I thought that this book was very well told. It is such a well-written story about family and relationships, and how complex those can be no matter your age. This is a great coming-of-age story about an alienated teenager, and those surrounding her. The author did a great job creating realistic characters. Though admittedly, I did not find any of them necessarily likable, except for the character of Toby, they are believable and authentic. I also thought that the way the author explored the subject matters and topics in the story was flawless, as compelling and thought-provoking as can be.

As I have mentioned, I did not particularly like the main character, June. I had many issues with her, but I think that's what makes her a good protagonist. She is complex and multifaceted, not one dimensional. 

I do recommend this if you are looking for a genuine read, perfect for those looking for a fast-paced general fiction story.

Netflixing: 3 Recommendations

Thursday, July 10, 2014

If you are like me and you like to go on a Netflix binge every now and then, here are some of the movies that I think you should check out. Now keep in mind these recommendations are movies I've seen recently, and all three of them are fairly sad in nature. So... tread lightly. 

Short Term 12
Rating: 5 stars
According to Netflix, this movie is 'emotional.'
I would say it is definitely emotional, but also strangely uplifting. I highly recommend everyone seeing this film, as it touches on many sensitive subjects that often gets overlooked by society today. I love the cast as well as the pacing of the movie. Very underrated and deserves higher accolades in my opinion. 

The Virgin Suicides
Rating: 4 stars
According to Netflix, this movie is 'dark.' And dark it is. The Virgin Suicides is one of the most emotionally haunting films for me. There is something about the atmosphere behind this movie, and if you combine that with the music and storytelling, there's something special about it. I read the book a few years ago and liked it, but for some reason, I feel something extra for the movie. It has Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, and even Hayden Christensen in it. It is also important to note that it is a film by Sofia Copolla. 

Blue Valentine
Rating: 3.5 stars
According to Netflix, this movie is 'romantic.' Starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, this movie is about Cindy and Dean, who is going through a languishing marriage. The movie is told through present time and goes back every now and then to show their blossoming relationship full of hope and love. I enjoyed the movie, I thought that it portrays a very realistic relationship - how it is to fall in love, to fall out of love, etc. It is a bit of a sadder feel to it, so after watching this, I did want to watch something happier. 

Have you seen these movies? What did you think of them? Also, what should I watch on Netflix next? 

Books I Plan To Read This Summer

Monday, June 30, 2014

It is officially summer time, I hope you're all enjoying these longer days and summer nights. I have to admit that I tend to like cooler months more, as it gets too hot here, even in Northern California, but it does have it perks for sure. This summer, I plan to read a few books. 

I am still currently working on Hyperion by Dan Simmons, which is a high science fiction/fantasy. I am halfway done, and am loving it so far. 
I am also doing a re-read of Game of Thrones with other readers on goodreads. Some are new readers and some are re-readers like me. We are currently on Chapters 11-20. It's been fun so far.
If we get to finish that book, we will continue on to A Clash of Kings.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier is one classic I have been wanting to read. It's a mixture of suspense romance, and I think it could be good.
Next up is Burial Rites by Hannah Kent about a woman who was charged with murder and is sent to Iceland to await her execution. 
Currently, I am about halfway done with Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rufka Brunt. I am loving it at the moment, and that cover is seriously beautiful. 
Lastly, but certainly not the least, I plan to read a bit of some autobiography in the mix. Of course, what better way to start doing that than to read The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath? Sylvia Plath has always been an interesting figure to me, and I love The Bell Jar, so I wanted to read this too.

I might add in more books into the pile as the days go on, but so far, these are the books I plan to read and finish! What's in your summer TBR pile? Let me know.

Books that Shaped You Into the Reader You Are Today

Thursday, June 19, 2014

For five years now, I have been working as an English teacher for children from first grade to seventh grade. I have always loved my job and all that comes with it, but I do have to say that one of my favorite things about my profession is when I get to discuss something I know best - books. 
When I start talking about a certain book they're reading or a book they've read, often times, I will see them overcome with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and an eagerness to learn. Their enthusiasm grows even more when they realize that I have actually read those books myself. 

One of my favorite things we do as a class is when we all get to line up outside the corridor and head to the school library. Though it is a small space tucked in the corner of our campus, it's full of shelves and shelves of books. They perk up, smile, and even squeal when we take them to the room, and it's truly a lovely sight to see. When I do see them this way, it always brings me into thinking a lot about the books I myself have read when I was younger and how they have, unknowingly, influenced me in many ways in my life. 

There were books like Ferdinand the Bull that taught me that just because somebody or something looks scary or intimidating, doesn't mean they actually are. There were those books like D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths that started my obsession with Greek mythology. 
Thinking about this is also bringing me back to the books that got me into reading for the sheer fun of it. There were those Nancy Drew editions with the yellow hardback covers that my sister used to read and that I tried so hard to get into. There were the countless The Baby Sitter's Club books I've asked my parents to get for me because I was extremely into each of those characters, and I just really wanted to babysit for a living! Of course, I can't forget to mention the Animorphs series that was the origin for the appreciation I have for red-tailed hawks today.

I do think that there is always that one book that influences readers the most - the one that basically molded you into becoming an avid reader in the first place. For me, those books would be the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. I first picked this up when I was 11 years old. I was so immersed in that world and in all those characters. I not only related to them, but I felt invincible while getting to know them and their world. I thought that nothing in this physical world could ever stop me from becoming who I really want to be. If a boy stuck underneath the stairs with his horrible relatives could be a boy wizard, I knew I could accomplish anything if I wanted it. 

I also think there are moments that can shape people. I for one remember a significant moment after finishing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when my grandparents took me and all my cousins to the bookstore. My grandmother told us to get whatever book we wanted. Now this was incredibly exciting for us because we weren't allowed to get books unless we 'deserved' them. Still, my grandparents let us roam freely, to peruse through those shelves, to pick anything we wanted, and to read whatever we wanted. In that moment as a little girl, I remember I imagined and pictured myself as a grown-up, hoping that someday, I would also write a book that would mean something to somebody - at least one person. Perhaps it's that time that started my dream of becoming an educator and a writer. 

All in all, I think it truly is interesting how reading can mean something different to everyone. To many avid readers and literature lovers, it may have started with a book you were read to as a child, or a book you picked up when you were twelve. The bottom line is, it all started somewhere. As an educator today for young children, I would like to think that perhaps one of these books that my students pick up during one of our trips to the library would be one of those books that could start it all for them. 

Tell me what books shaped you into the reader you are today.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Rating: 2 stars (maybe a 1.5 even)

I actually thought about not writing a review for this, just because this book is popular, hyped up, and well-loved. It also has been recommended to me countless of times, and the mysteriousness and countless positive reviews intrigued me to no end, so I got it and I read it.

I was excited, but the first few chapters didn't hook me right away. I wasn't sure where it was going, what it was going to be about, and I couldn't really relate to the main character. I also found many insta-love moments here - wherein the protagonist falls in love with the good looking boy the moment she sees him and that's that.
By the time I got to the middle of the book, I was still left underwhelmed, like something was missing. There was no appeal, no excitement, no anything. I thought the ending was nicely done, but it wasn't enough to make me love the book, just because the rest of the story wasn't solid enough.  

Overall, I felt it was a very underdeveloped story with characters I couldn't picture as 'real people' that I can relate to and empathize with. I wouldn't recommend this if you usually don't read contemporary young adult. As always, this is just my opinion. Let me know what you thought of it.

Last Two Books I Read: The Storied Life of A.J.Fikry, The Circle

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
3 stars
If I can describe this book, I'd say that it was, simply put, charming. It felt like it was written for book lovers as there were so many bookish elements added in the story. It's mostly set in a bookshop in a small town, the bookshop owner is the protagonist, and several popular books were even quoted and mentioned.  
I did sort of expect a bit more from it though, I felt like it was too quick and not as developed as I would have liked. Things happened too fast, I found myself even wondering multiple times if I skipped a few pages. I didn't feel like I got the chance to truly connect with the characters, and I felt like they were not necessarily as likable as they probably should be. Overall, it was an easy, quick read, and it was definitely charming, but it's not a book I would put on the very top of the must-read-now list. 

The Circle by Dave Eggers
3.5 stars
I read The Circle for about a week or two, taking and enjoying my time devouring it. The premise, first off, is highly intriguing. I had to pick it up ever since I have heard anything about it. The book deals with the terrifying idea of digital utopianism, where transparency is required, and when everything about us is out there for the world to see. Privacy is considered old-fashioned and almost criminal.
I took my time reading it, and I had an enjoyable time getting through it. 
Sure, I have to admit, the book could be a lot shorter than it is. It was a bit repetitive for me at times, and I was even tempted to skip a few parts just because I feel like I've heard it all before. I also have to say that I did not really care for the main character, and felt like there weren't any redeeming qualities about her for me to stay by her side and root for her. Maybe that's the point?
Overall, I would recommend this book if you are looking for an interesting, unique general fiction novel. 

Day 5: Young Adult Book Recommendations

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Young Adult has always been a great genre to me, I have always read and loved it! I started with books like The Secret Garden, A Wrinkle in Time, The Harry Potter series, The Hobbit... and loved all the coming-of-age themes that come with it.
The YA genre nowadays have definitely boomed, and I think that whatever gets people to read more is a good thing! I do think though that the YA genre sometimes isn't for everyone, but I believe there's some specific titles that everyone will enjoy, love, and appreciate! Here are usually the books I recommend for all ages, whether you do typically read YA or you don't at all.

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    - narrated by Death, this is set in World War II about a girl who loved words. Beautiful and poignant book with wonderful writing and unique style! One of my all time favorite books. I will always recommend this book.
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
    - Great science fiction with a young adult character. Do not judge the book by its movie. This book is a classic!
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
    - Another classic that must be read. The original dystopian book, I think!
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
    - Beautifully told and painfully accurate story of a teenage girl suffering through self-esteem and self-image issues as well as an eating disorder.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    - Heartfelt coming-of-age story. I read it in high school. Liked it. Reread it in college. Loved it. Saw the movie adaptation, fell in love even more. It's not a perfect book, but it's a must read!
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - about a Native American boy who goes to an all white school. This is quite a profound, heartwarming and realistic story. 
Those are just some of the fool proof YA recommendations that I think everybody of all ages and tastes would appreciate! What are in some of your immediate YA recs list? 

Day 5: Topic of Your Choice: Strong Female Characters I Admire

Sometimes I feel like some female characters are solely written in a book for the male protagonist's purpose or growth, primarily as a tool to motivate him for his goals, dreams, etc.To be honest, I think that we need more female characters that aren't just written for the male protagonist. For me, I want to see more strong-willed, independent women in literature today, or at least, read books with a more accurate portrayal of different kinds of women. Badass females... they exist and they deserve more attention in my opinion.

Hermione Granger
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Hermione is Hermione. She is smart. Intelligent. Wise. Strong-willed. Brave. Courageous. And a very loyal friend. One of my favorite characters in general.

Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre, first of all, is my favorite classic novel. I admire Jane Eyre as a female protagonist especially, because she was independent, and had her own dreams for herself. She never let her love for Rochester and their relationship with each other cloud her from her goals, and I think that's important. She wanted to be her own person, and she was never going to be happy with someone else if she wasn't happy with herself yet.

Daenerys Targaryen
A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
My girl! She is not a perfect character that is for sure. She has many, many flaws but her core characteristics are great. She is a woman with a genuine and huge heart.She started off as an innocent, oppressed girl, but quickly, she learned to stand up for herself. She also continued to keep her genuine and huge heart that she has, consistently doing what she believes is right. She will fight for the oppressed, no matter what. She is also loyal to those she cares about. Sure, if she ruled our world today, she would probably be considered as an extreme liberal or a communist (sometimes), but in the world of Game of Thrones, she is definitely a queen in my eyes, both in the books and the movies. 

Luna Lovegood
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Love Luna! How could you not? In fact, I have to admit, I sort of wanted her to end up with Harry. 
Luna is awesome because is such a colorful and intriguing character! She doesn't care what other people think about her! She is such a happy, vibrant person and always finds the positive side in things, no matter what the situation. She understands Harry, and doesn't judge him. She is also quite a strong person and quite courageous, as she is not afraid to go to "battle" and help her friends. I admire that a lot about her.

Melanie Hamilton
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
She is a woman of strength, honesty, purity, and integrity. She is kind-hearted and loving, and accepts people for who they are. She always sees the good in others and sticks by them, when the need arises. She is a loyal person, and is courageous -- never afraid to "head to battle and fight." She faces her fears, and never falters. Although I do love Scarlett O' Hara, there will always be a special place for Melanie Hamilton for me.

Jamie Sullivan
A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
 The epitome of a true sweetheart and a good person; kind-hearted, friendly, loving, honest, compassionate, understanding, forgiving, patient. She does not judge others, does not seek revenge on anyone, and never lets anger get the best of her. She lives her life as if its her last, and ultimately, sees wonder, happiness, and fulfillment everywhere she looks.

Claire Abshire
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I have mentioned this times and times before. I admire Claire Abshire. She is beautiful in her own way and quite independent. She is perfectly flawed but strong-willed, and is not afraid of failure. When she falls, she gets back up again. She tries and tries again. She is loving, patient, and understanding -- most especially to Henry and his time traveling. 

Want to add to the list? Who are some female characters that you admire? 

Day 4: Beyond the Borders + Giveaway!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"A reader lives a thousand lives." This quote is so true, and it's been proven time and time again, given that there have been so many stories written that have transported me to countless worlds. From creative characters, settings, themes, plot lines, to the overall feel and atmosphere of a book... they all made me have the ability to step into somebody else's life, somebody else's world, somebody else's shoes.

Books That Transported Me Into A Different World/Culture
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosselini - a familial story set during many periods from the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy all the way to the rise of the Taliban regime. 
  • Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum - offers a different perspective of a realistic character about her life in Germany during World War II. 
  • A Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie - gorgeous writing about a Native American teenage boy growing up in an all white high school. 
A Book That Transported Me Into a Fantasy World
I can easily list the world of Harry Potter here as well as LOTR, but I won't because that's kind of a given. Instead, I want to mention a book that is fairly well-known, but also strangely underrated, and that is The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. There is something seriously twisted and creepy about this book, and the world that the author portrayed is familiar (fairy tale retelling), yet such a foreign place at the same time. And how the author writes... fantastic and brilliant!

Latest Book That Made Me Step Into Someone Else's Shoes
There have been many books that made me see different perspectives and worldviews that it's a bit hard to come up with a list. I will name the last book though that made me experience the life of a different human being, and the book that gave me that opportunity was Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I absolutely love and appreciate the outdoors, and one of my favorite things to do when/if I get the chance is to explore different National Parks. But the man that this book is about is totally beyond me and any adventurous person I have ever known.
The non fiction book is written by a writer and mountaineer, primarily known for his stories about the outdoors, and covers Chris McCandless' venture alone to Alaska. Chris M. gave everything away and left everybody he knew, and went on an adventure, into the wild. I completely immersed myself in this book, even doing additional research on his life outside of this book. I will never truly understand the way this man thought, how his mind worked, and why he made certain decisions, but it was a very surreal and interesting experience to hear about his story.

Giveaway Time!
The prize is ONE book up to $20 of your choice from Book Depository! I believe this website ships internationally, so anyone is free to enter.
To win, all you have to do is leave a comment, recommending me a favorite book of yours that you think I will love! (I am open to any suggestions) Also, leave your email and link to your blog so I can contact you and visit you as well! Contest closes at the end of Armchair BEA, when I do my wrap up post on the 31st! Good luck!

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Day 1: Introductions and Literature

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Hi everyone! I am so excited to be part of this year's Armchair BEA. My name is Jillian, from Northern California, and I have been running this little blog for four years now, since January of 2010. If I can describe my blog in a sentence, it would be that it chronicles my life as an avid reader, an aspiring writer, and a lover of everything related to literature.

If I could only bring 3 books with me to a deserted island, I would bring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Book Thief, and a tie between Jane Eyre and The Thirteenth Tale. 

As far as how I feel about literature, literature to me is something that is constant in my life. It is something I am very passionate about. It's been such a huge part of my life for years, ever since I was a child. I have always loved reading and writing, and adore words in general. I think that literature is something that is crucial to have in one's life. 

As far as genre goes, I've always liked fiction the best, and read anything in that genre. Mostly though, I love general, contemporary, and literary fiction, mostly geared towards adults, but I do enjoy a good Young Adult book as well. I do have a special place in my heart for historical fiction set in WWII. I think that's an important time in our history, and it's really the people's stories that are truly captivating.

Lately I've been getting into a lot more non fiction, specifically, memoirs and travelogues. My dream is to travel everywhere, but in the meantime, I try to live vicariously through these authors' stories.

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Instagram - I will be participating in the photo challenges for sure!

ever read a book that made you feel uncomfortable?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Recently, I purchased a copy of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I have been wanting to read this book for a while, as I know it's a bit of a classic read. Everyone keeps telling me that it's good, that it's a must-read, and an experience for any reader. So I am currently reading it. And man, how uncomfortable I am with this book. There's something about the themes and subject matter that do not make this an easy read. I keep putting it down and picking it up again, trying to give it a chance. I am not sure though if I want to even keep going. 

Lolita is basically about a man who is quite obsessed with a nymphet. Enough said?

So my question to you is, have you read this book and should I continue with it despite the uncomfortable and uneasy feeling I have when I pick it up? Or should I just stop and not even bother? Also, have you read any books that made you feel this way? If so, what are those books? Let me know! 

My Book Shelf Tattoo: 7 Years in the Making

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Well, here we go. I finally got the tattoo I've been wanting for so long. I was in high school when I first thought about getting a book-related tattoo, and in 2010 - the same time I started this blog - I figured out a clear picture of what exactly I wanted. 

You all know by now what books mean to me. Ever since I was a kid, they have been such a huge part of my life. It's what I know best, and it's what been a constant significant part of my life. I've always known I was meant to work around the world of literature - as an English and writing teacher, a book blogger, and more than anything, as an aspiring published writer. 

This is my first, and most likely my last (possibly) tattoo, and they're right, tattoos are extremely painful! It was no joke, but the pain was so worth it! I would do it again. It only took my tattoo artist an hour to fully finish, and I got it from an awesome shop. If you are in the city of San Francisco, CA and you want a unique black ink tattoo, check them out by clicking here for all the yelp reviews.

Black and White photo

Colored Natural photo: no filter

What do you think? I love it so much.
So much.
Here's to doing things purely for myself. 

Book Guilt: Books I Haven't Read

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

If I try to take 'Books You Must Read Before You Die' list, I would probably fail. I've finally come to terms though that I will just never be able to read all the books I want to read in my lifetime, and I think that's truly okay. However, there are some specific books that I haven't read and still feel embarrassed that I haven't. For today, I will just name a few out of a handful. 

1. Lolita byVladimir Nabokov
This is in my immediate tbr list. I have always wanted to read this one, and I really think 2014 is the year for this.

2. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
I have owned a copy of this book for years now, but never picked it up.

3. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
I have read a few of John Steinbeck's books, and loved them. I also want to visit his house in Salinas, CA since I don't live that far. Sadly, I've never read this classic.

4. Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer
I am actually currently reading this one, so I am slowly trying to fix not having read anything from Jon Krakauer. I am thinking Into Thin Air is next.

5. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Thanks to Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, I finally read this one. For the longest time though, I've always been so embarrassed that I've never read this classic. Oh but now that I finally have... I can definitely say how happy I am that I finally went for it. It was a lovely read, and might do an actual review on it soon.


So there we go! I have to say, it feels strangely satisfying to admit my book guilt. I might just make this a regular thing on the blog, where I will be talking about books I haven't read, but know that I should have already. Let me know what books you are most ashamed of that you haven't read, or if you ever feel book guilt at all!

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary
Rating: 2.5 stars

I picked this Contemporary Young Adult to read as my 2nd book for the 24-Hour Dewey's Readathon that just passed, mainly because it only had 215 pages. I also tend to fly through contemporary YA, so this was a perfect choice for that.
I enjoyed my time reading this and I got exactly what I wanted - something fast-paced and something cute. 
It was a bit too quick though, to the point that I felt it was rushed. And reading this, I have learned that I simply am not a fan of stories that give us "immediate love stories" where it's sudden, where there's no build up, no development. I like my love stories that take their time, and gradually grow over time. 
And to be honest, I didn't feel like there's any depth to the story. The characters all seem one dimensional to me, and I might not be able to tell them apart if I didn't know their names. 

It's not a bad book by any means. It was such a quick read, probably good for a beach read. For me though, I wasn't particularly wow'ed by it. 

Readathon Summary!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's 5am, and the readathon is officially done!! I am actually sad that it is! I have been awake for a while though and I am ready for bed. But I had so much fun dedicating a whole day to reading and talking to fellow readers. I've interacted with so many on twitter and instagram throughout the day, it was pretty wonderful!

Here's my final stats:

My start time: 5am
End time: 5am
Books Read: 4 and 1/2 books
Pages Read: 757 pages
Hours Read: 14 hours
Had work: 4.75 hours
Napped: 2 hours
Challenges: Only one sadly - Click here to check out my story

Since I woke up at 6:30am to go for a four and half hour shift at work, I missed the first few hours of the readathon. I read right away after though, and took a two hour nap in the afternoon. That really got me through the night! I had two cups of coffee consumed, and that helped too. So yes, I managed to stay awake until the end of the readathon!!

I don't know if I've mentioned it here on the blog, but I am also donating one book per hour that I read + per book that I read. I am trying to decide where to donate it to - Salvation Army, Goodwill, public library?

But oh my goodness, this experience was fantastic. Everyone was so nice on twitter, and add the fact that #readathon was trending the whole 24 hours!!! Just awesome. 
Thanks also to the cheerleaders: #TEAMAUSTEN! And to all the other cheering from fellow readathon-ers! You made time go by fast, and everyone was so encouraging! And thank you especially to our hosts, Heather and Andi, for all the hard work. If you participated, please link me to your blogs!

Until next time... happy reading! 

Readathon Mini Challenge: Write Your Own Story

Saturday, April 26, 2014

I fail at challenges, I haven't done any all day. This is going to be my very first one, and it's created by The Bibliophibian! I couldn't resist this one, it sounds fun and indeed a challenge! For this challenge, you're supposed to turn to page 35 of your current book, go to sentence #3, and write a short snippet of a story out of it! 
Currently, I am reading The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, which is a classic.
Page 35, Sentence 3 reads as: 
He always said that the country was going to the dogs. 

Here's my story, accompanied by a photo taken by Mhitchner that inspired this a bit.

He always said that the country was going to the dogs. Yet a sudden hint of loneliness enveloped him at that moment. This was a strange feeling to him as he never particularly thought highly of his hometown - after all, it was a place where people grew up, but nobody wanted to stay in. Despite this though, he found himself surprised by his own thoughts, as he began to imagine himself being transported to that familiar place. 
As a child, he always woke up to the sound of the roosters, all ready for the day. After getting dressed up for school, he would follow the scent of warm, freshly baked bread downstairs. There would always be milk ready on the kitchen table, set for him and his sister. They would eat breakfast quietly, waiting for the clock to strike 8:00. 
Like all the other days, they would hear a car rumbling outside, and they would get up from their chairs and head out. Mr. Mckinley, their English teacher, who also happened to live two houses from them would pick them up, and together, they would go to school. 
It was always warm and sunny out, and they would always stick their hands out of Mr. Mckinley's car to feel the breeze. They could smell the apple orchards on their way to school, and they could see the farmers working hard: a usual occurrence. By the time they get home, the sun is already setting, and it touches the fields and turns them into gold. 
For people who lived outside of the country side, their town was merely a tiny place, but it brought comfort and a sense of familiarity everyday. Everybody knew each other, and nothing strange ever happened. It was safe, and though as he got older, the economy faltered and their small town could barely survive, it was still the same safe haven he remembered it to be. So maybe now that he found out that his prediction was right - his hometown has indeed turned into an empty, deserted place, he felt a tinge of sadness. Though the everyday routines that came with living in the country side bored him as he got older and made him want to leave as soon as he turned eighteen, it's also the reason as to why he sometimes missed it so. The quiet, the peace, the assurance that everything was going to be alright at the end of the day. Perhaps the saddest part for him was the possibility of not having any home to go back to when all of this was said and done. 

Follow Friday (meet my dog!)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

This Week's Question: Do you have any pets?

Yes, actually... I DO!!!

His name is Kobe (pronounced kow-bi like Kobe beef, but really named after Kobe Bryant). He is 6 years old, and we had him since he was 8 weeks old. He is a pure Maltese, and only weighs 6 pounds! Sometimes less, if he hasn't eaten yet :P He is not a puppy anymore, but he sure acts like one sometimes. His favorite toys are the tennis ball, a small Nala - from The Lion King - stuffed animal, and the tire/rope combo. 

Someday, I would love to adopt a Golden Retriever! And maybe a Border Collie too.
Do you have any pets?
And if you are new here, please leave your links below so I can visit you!

My Readathon Book Stack + Overall Game Plan

Here we are! My official picks for Saturday's 24 hour readathon! My strategy for the readathon is to read books that are less than 300 pages (if not less than 100). I also wanted to pick books that are a bit more light-hearted, or "fun" to read.While I don't think I'll go through and finish ALL of these, I wanted to have various options.

I thought about adding Ariel by Sylvia Plath, but I thought it might put me on a somber mood, so after thinking and debating, here's my official book stack.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde 
229 pages. Fiction - Classics
  • My "challenge" book. I have a reader confession: I have never read this classic, which I know is a little shameful and embarrassing for a reader and English teacher like me, but I want to fix that. I am not sure how fast-paced this book is, so I will see on readathon day if I can get through it! 
 The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
78 pages. Fiction - Children's Classics
  • This one will be a re-read, but I haven't read it since I was a tween, so I'm excited for this! I read the first two chapters while teaching my 7th grade English class, and fell in love all over again.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
236 pages. Fiction - Contemporary Young Adult 
  • This has been in my TBR list for a while now, so when else will I read it than now? I picked this because I tend to fly through Contemporary Young Adult. It's also supposed to be adorable and cute, so I thought it'd be perfect as it's an easy read. 
Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod 
250 pages. Memoir - Travel
  • I picked this one because if you guys didn't know already, I'm a bit of a Francophile. I've never been to Paris or France though, and I have only fallen in love with the city and country through listening to French music, reading French literature, and watching French films. This memoir sounds charming, so I will live vicariously through the author's stories. 
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
120 pages. Fiction - Fantasy
  • I love fairy tale retellings, and Angela Carter is apparently one of the best. I picked this one because it's a collection of easy short story retellings. 
Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Graphic Novel Adaptation by Tim Hamilton
149 pages. Fiction Adaptation: Graphic Novel
  • This one is the graphic novel version of a wonderful book by Ray Bradbury! I am incredibly excited for this one the most. I love the fact that there's an introduction by Ray Bradbury, and was 'authorized' by him. 
As far as the overall plan of the day....
  • My start time (I'm in California) is 5am. I have to wake up at 6:30am to come in to work to get stuff done at 7:45am-11:45am. It's a short shift, so I'll be home by noon. I might nap for two hours, then the reading will begin. 
  • Fuel: I will go to Trader Joes (aka my favorite grocery store) and get my favorite trail mix, ice cream, and chips and salsa. I will also get ready-to-eat salads so that will serve as lunch, and for dinner, possibly another salad, soup, and a sandwich? Sounds good to me. 
  • COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE throughout the day, and some English Breakfast tea. 
  • I am a night owl and stay up very late, so I might stay up until 5am on Sunday :) 
Alright, tell me what's in your reading stack and share what's your overall game plan for the day! Link me to whatever readathon-related post you have. And tweet tweet tweet.