Taking on my TBR pile

I am finally set to do something about my pile of TBR (To-Be-Read) books! Big part of the problem are the books I hoarded over time. I believe the Japanese even have a word for this apparently not so uncommon hoarding disorder – tsundoku!

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Mostly all were and are still the books I am genuinely interested in reading. Some of them were collected since they simply fit the profile and genre I like to read. Some were the books I heard enough about to get me interested to get them and put them on my TBR. Some are gifts and I’m not so sure about those :/

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One of my goals is to cut this pile to be closer to 300. I know it doesn’t seem like much but most of the books I end up reading every month are not already in my TBR pile. I usually read two books a month for my RL book club. Those are mostly books that come as a group choice and offer a variety of genres and authors I don’t normally read.

Also, since I work in a bookstore there are always new arrivals that grab my attention. Reading those can be a part of the job. (Almost a dream job there :p )

Type of books I mentioned above take up almost half of my reading for any given month. These are not the books I can always count on or expect in the form of the time that it takes me to read them trough.

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The books I can do something about are those that are already on my bookshelves. Right there! (right behind my computer screen, right of my desk, left of my desk, on the shelf by my bed, on the shelf by my BFs computer…)

I have gone trough my GR TBR list and sorted out the books I already own. I wrote the title of each on a little pink piece of paper. On the list were lots of books that were part of a book series. With those I only wrote down books that were first in the series or those that continue on the books I already read. I took all the little pink papers and put them into a glass bowl.

IMAG0404I realized too late that since the glass is dyed turquoise I should have used blue or green paper :/

As it turns out there are exactly 82 little pink papers with titles of books that are waiting patiently on the bookshelves in my room for their turn to be read.

Starting this month I will draw three titles from the bowl and pick at least one of them to read in the current month. The ones not chosen for the month will go back into the bowl, and if by chance I draw the same ones for three times I will forgo the choice and read the one that has been drawn the third time!

First three titles I’ve drawn are:

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1 # Fushigi Yûgi: Genbu Kaiden Vol. 01 by Yu Watase

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2 # The Undead Pool (The Hollows #12) by Kim Harrison

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3 # The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo #1) by Rick Riordan

 

I am actually pleasantly surprised by the titles I’ve drawn. For now I will keep all the choices until the end of the month. I’m undecided which one to start first. Since one of them is a manga I might go and read more than one! I’m just too damn pleased with what I’ve drawn right now 🙂

Hopefully this will start a habit of reading more of the books I already own 🙂

Wish me luck!

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Monthly reading review – February 2017

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Monthly reading review – February 2017

This February I have read:

Le Bal du comte d’Orgel by Raymond Radiguet ★★★★

Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy ★★

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James ★

Married By Morning (The Hathaways #4) by Lisa Kleypas ★★★★

Factotum by Charles Bukowski ★★★

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1. How many books you’ve read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

This February I’m back at a reading pace of around one book per week. It is generally a good number but I get greedy for more.

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in February? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

From all the books I’ve read in February I’ve liked a historical romance Married by Morning the most. Aside from being a work of one of my favorite authors – Lisa Kleypas, it was by far the happiest read I’ve had all month.

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

From five books I’ve read three of them are set in English countryside and one in French! The scenery was very much the same but the characters were not. Turn of the Screw was a baffling read for me. I gave it one star mark on GR for more than one reason. The topic and how the work was presented were at best confusing. I felt like the author wanted to write a novel that was modern at that time – ghost story and just threw few ideas on the paper without making an effort.The whole story just felt boring and out of balance.

“Frankly, I was horrified by life, at what a man had to do simply in order to eat, sleep, and keep himself clothed. So I stayed in bed and drank. When you drank the world was still out there, but for the moment it didn’t have you by the throat.”
― Charles Bukowski, Factotum

4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

Three out of five books were for my RL book club! This is seriously turning around my reading habits and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Other two books were a random picks in the spur of the moment. I had plans for reading more books I already own, but aside from Tess of the D’Urbervilles which I bought for the purpose of reading it for book club (!) not one other of the books I’ve read in February is actually owned by me.

As plans go, I’m not pleased.

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5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

From the five books I’ve read in February only Married by Morning is a part of a book series. Since I jumped in with book 4. from the series I’m interested in reading some other books from The Hathaways book series.

6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

Much of my February reading has been done out of book club obligation and it is about time to take my own advice and read more books for fun. I don’t think I would have made it out of my February reading without Lisa Kleypas and her HR romance series. Bukowski was painfully sarcastic and reading it now when I’m older is a completely different experience that it was when I was younger. I would recommend it as a reading that gives perspective on life better than any sugarcoated self help book could do.

Final thoughts on February reading

All that stayed with me for reading classics these last two months is that I prefer reading my funny, trashy, romance and fantasy books more and more!

I like keeping track of my monthly reading in this manner because I keep getting surprised by my own reading habits. It felt good getting all the required RL book club reading done in time. Turning around I feel I miss my free reading more and more. Again I’m thinking about book club required reading becoming a chore instead of a favorite hobby. It gives me something to think about while I pick out books for March.

Valentine present Vampire books

 

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This year for Valentines day I was given a stack of Vampire the Masquerade RPG books. I am extremely happy for getting them. I used to have a huge list of White Wolf RPG books I wanted to collect one day. Vampire the Masquerade is a game setting designed by White Wolf. I used to play Vampire card game by White Wolf competitively and RPG setting is one of my favorites.

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Both the card game and the RPG books were printed back in the nineties and early 2000. This used to be my favorite past time. The background and stories with all the intricate mythology that was developed for these games are something I can still remember by heart.

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These were all bought used and I’m still very happy with finding them. I hope to get to reading them and playing the games more. This has also peaked my interest in collecting more of them.

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Vampire the masquerade is a role playing game of intrigue. Vampires are divided by origin into clans and  politically into factions. As opposed to traditionally fantasy oriented Dungeons and Dragons setting this one is more complex for players. It requires a lot less dice rolling and a lot more actual role playing.

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I was surprised to see that Clanbook formats are A4. For some reason I always thought they would be smaller than that.

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I am currently on the look out for more of these and my big wish is to get the Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition. It has been printed as a collector item back in 2011.

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Reading in February 2017

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After finishing some books I’ve been dragging along from last year I am in the middle of reading some really interesting books!

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Le Bal du comte d’Orgel by Raymond Radiguet

This book intrigued me since it came into the bookstore last year. I got interested in theme and less known french author. I’m one third into the book and I really love the writing style and the characters. Melancholy tone of the book does not interfere with my reading speed so far.

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The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2) by Rick Riordan

Finally I got into reading second book in Magnus Chase series. I’m a bit distressed with all the up to speed pop culture references. Also the tone is very inclusive and it screams 2016. I will definitely have to write a review on it after I’m done with it.

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Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

This is the first of two books I’m reading for book club this February. With some of these classic books I have a feeling I’ve been living under a rock since I’ve managed to avoid any contact with books or move versions even though some of them were part of my mandatory school reading like Jane Austen’s books or those by Bronte sisters. I’m going in blind into this one as well.

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After finishing with the books above here are a few others I want to read in February as well.

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The Hidden Oracle (The Trials of Apollo, #1) by Rick Riordan

I’m attacking this one right after I’m done with Magnus Chase book.

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The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This is my second book club required reading for February

After these I’m hopping to add some romance novels since it’s February after all. I haven’t picked out anything in particular yet.

 

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Monthly reading review – January 2017

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Monthly reading review – January 2017

This January I have read:

Ottoline Goes to School (Ottoline, #2) by Chris Riddel ★★★★

Bonjour Tristesse by  Françoise Sagan ★★★★

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter, #8) by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling ★★★★

Storm’s Heart (Elder Races, #2) by Thea Harrison ★★★

The Course of True Love [and First Dates] (The Bane Chronicles, #10) by Cassandra Clare ★★★★★

The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins by Irvine Welsh ★★★

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1. How many books you’ve read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

I have read six books and I’m happy for them in particular if not for the sheer number. I feel positive about my reading numbers climbing. It is a good start of the year reading wise.

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in January? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

The book I enjoyed most was Bane chronicles part 10. I love the character of Magnus Bane and the writing style of Cassandra Clare. I liked the new Harry Potter story and was so enamored with Scorpius Malfoy that I might go back to looking up fanfiction sites for more stories with this character. 

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

Finishing Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison brought me relief. I decided to go a bit harsh on it since it is a genre I love reading. The lack of enjoyment in reading it alone made me rate it with two stars out of five at first. Afterwards I reconsidered it and opted for three stars instead. While getting into this book was so hard that it took me almost a year to read it trough ending it had some redeeming qualities. The romance part of the book was not very interesting to me but after the couple was set and the author turned to some other things like world building and presenting of new characters for future books I was intrigued. Next book looks much more promising and tempting.

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4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

I was overly optimistic about my reading plans and while the books I’ve read matched them I am left with some books I’ve planned to read in January untouched and barely started. I was happy for finishing all book club required books and finishing up those I’ve been dragging on since last year. Only one that is a last year left over now is Bane Chronicles extra chapter since I can’t get a hold of it. Serves me right for not being able to buy the whole collection when I saw it in the bookstore :/

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

Lately I’ve been reading lots of books that are not part of the series and only squeezing in a series book every once a while. This is a complete opposite of what my reading habits and tastes were when I started this blog. A book series favorite Harry Potter is once again done. I’ve moved and finished a second book in Elder Races book series and might even get to the third book by Easter. Bane Chronicles are almost done! Ottoline was a nice spur of the moment surprise and if I get the chance I will read the other parts as well.

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6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

Françoise Sagan was a thought inspiring read and as much as I love recommending my favorite authors and UF books I strongly recommend reading one of her works. 

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Final thoughts on January reading

Finishing off some long time started books has given me energy for starting on new books. While I have not done all my planned reading I am in the middle of reading some excellent books and I have a really good feeling about February 🙂

 

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Book Review

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Finished reading

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8)

by John Tiffany (Adaptation), Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling

★★

Expectation

I was afraid of not liking this book a lot. Also I accidentally heard a spoiler while talking with a friend about it. I refused to believe what I heard and was perplexed by how absurd it sounded. Remembering the last scene from book seven and “feel good” vibes about it – except for making Draco slightly bald! I really didn’t like that part! – I was really into reading more from these stories. The fact that this book is written as a dramatic text made me apprehensive. I expected it to be okay and was settled for a mediocre reading experience.

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Summary

Getting into the story was easy to do. The background was familliar as were most of the characters. All the fast forwarding trough few years of Hogwarts experiences was understandable but I still did not like it. As many Harry Potter fans I love little quirks and details that were put into the books. Reading a script for a play made me feel cheatd out inner character input and descriptions. I was not watching a play but reading it; so there was definitely a whole dimension that was meant to be experienced visually missing.

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As for the characters, my mood was jumping up and down the whole time. The villain of the story was a character that annoyed me from the second scene it appeared. Grown up versions of book series protagonists seemed a bit strange and off from what I remember – though this also might be due to the script writing.

New characters, and here I primarily mean Albus and Scorpius; were interesting enough. The character of Albus suffered most from script writing syndrome. I would have loved to get more insight into his motivation and personal growth.

Scorpius on the other hand was an extremely lovable character. His geekines and quirkiy banter dialogue made me smile at every scene he was part of. Honestly I was mesmerized.

“SCORPIUS: I can’t quite believe I did that.

ALBUS: I can’t quite believe you did that either.

SCORPIUS: Rose Granger-Weasley. I asked out Rose Granger-Weasley.

ALBUS: And she said no.

SCORPIUS: But I asked her. I planted the acorn. The acorn that will grow into our eventual marriage.

ALBUS: You are aware that you’re an utter fantasist.”

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I think that the plot twist of this book exploits the messiest part of the Harry Potter universe. The one thing that the cynics point at as the loophole in the otherwise richly written world. I love that somebody addressed this issue and filled in some much needed gaps. As per usual I’m only hinting for fear of making spoilers for future readers since I think many people are cautious about this book.

Conclusion

I’m not a fan of drama texts but this one has brought me back some magic I’ve felt reading the Harry Potter books. Parts of it were kinda messy and had me on the edge of my seat while reading. The main villain could have used some more “screen time” to shine out. This way the whole backstory was put down in a few short sentences. Other parts were pure delight to read. I got to love some new characters and I got to be mopey about some old ones! Any Harry Potter fan will appreciate a new dose of magic it brings.
Also now I’m really interested in watching the play :/

 

 

Challenging challenges

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January is filled with people posting challenges. Every January I join the reading challenges craze and look for one I can challenge myself with. Sometimes I look for a way to keep my TBR monster under control but usually I’m just delighted to see what kind of challenging ideas people come up with. I’m not talking about challenges by number of books read. The thematic and weird reading challenges come to mind.

b0963-worldatwarreadingchallengeSome of the themes are totally out of my general reading scope and I could never hope to try them on. There is challenging oneself and then there is simply putting yourself up for a year of torturous reading.

What I really like seeing are smaller month-to-month challenges that make you spell out a word or a theme. Recently I stumbled on one such challenge in one GR group. It made me reminiscence of few years back when I was a devoted Shelfari member and I did those group challenges successfully. It made me read 7-10 books a month that fit the letters I needed for the challenge. As much as I admire these challenges I am not confident I could really complete one anymore.

rc-flexIdeas in the picture above do not belong to me and I’ve taken a screenshot from one GR group.

I tend to read trough many different genres and searching out the book where “someone practices or teaches yoga, tai chi, or ballet” seems like a rather challenging bother on it’s own.

Getting the letters and numbers are doable for me but when it comes to certain themes and plot twists I’m out of it.I believe this has something to do with the way I pick out books for my TBR monster. I see something I like I simply add it. Therefore I’ve concluded that these kind of challenges are for people who need ideas on what to read. I don’t need ideas since my TBR monster is quite chubby as it is.

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What I’m looking for is a way to trim my TBR and a way to organize how to do it. My TBR is rather versatile and thematic challenges are not a good choice for me. My reading choices vary from classics, graphic novels and manga editions to popular new editions, less known self published books and really obscure books never translated into English. Add to that a sprinkle of erotic genre which is not for sharing with most people and reading groups and I’m really struggling to find a reading challenge to fit my needs.

I get jealous when I see a really interesting thematic reading challenge since I know I could never really fit it in. Then there is a guilt trip for not trying hard enough which usually ends with not doing any reading done at all..

I’m actually torn up about reading challenges I can’t be a part of and on account of that I’ve made my search for organizing my reading with reading challenges a whole year round experience. I’ve stopped thinking about time limits and started perceiving it more about small victories and enjoying my reading.

So there, this was my reading challenge rant post for January to make up for not having an actual fun and interesting themed reading challenge to be a part of!

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