Reading More Than One Book At A Time…

Up until recently, I was a very strict “only 1 book at a time” reader. I’m not even really sure why…other than I liked the feeling of being totally immersed in a story. But sometimes even the best of stories can have parts that lag, get slow…or just parts that are emotionally heavy and you need a break from them. A handful of months ago, I started regularly reading two books at a time….one on my beloved Kindle Voyage img_4198that is worth it’s weight in gold (I’ll save my gushing for another post) and one in hard book form. The reason being…I love reading both on a device and a real book for different reasons. My Kindle is perfect for traveling or at night when I read in bed because I do not need a book light that almost always disturbs my sleeping husband. However….nothing can really beat the touch and smell of holding and paging though a real book. So now, I almost always have at least two books going at once. For me, that seems to work well so far. If I start feeling bored or even overwhelmed with one book, I can easily hop to the other one and most of the time…when I come back to the first, those feelings have left me.

So…what am I reading now??? img_4645Currently, I almost almost finished reading At The Water’s Edge By Sara Gruen…the author of Water For Elephants. I’ll likely be writing up a full review in the next day or so…but it’s a great Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction novel. It’s about a pampered and spoiled young woman’s social awakening to the harsh realities of life in WW2 Europe, to friendship, and to love.

 

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And, then on my Kindle…I’m also reading Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It is a Historical Fiction novel that traces the lives and future generations of two half sisters separated before ever meeting. One sister was sold into slavery and one was married off to a British slaver.  There’s a lot of history and information in this one….quite a lot of it that I had never leaned of before. I’m currently almost 50% through this one and I have a feeling it’s going to be a 5 star rating from me….so stay tuned for this one too!

 

So…Those are the two novels that I am currently reading and hoping to finish up here soon. I’d love to hear what you guys have on your “currently reading” list!

If you happen to be without a current read and you read on a Kindle or even on a Kindle app on a device, here are a few great Kindle Book deals that I found for you today:

Is This Tomorrow: A Novel by Caroline Leavitt is on sale today for $1.99 (regularly $14.95) – Historical Fiction/Mystery

Pines by Blake Crouch is on sale for $2.00. This is the first of three books in a fantastic Mystery/Thriller trilogy that I highly recommend!

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison for $1.99. I have heard quite a bit about this book…and this is one I’ll definitely be purchasing. It looks to be a very good murder mystery/thriller that I’m excited to read.

Happy Birthday, Stephen King! Plus, an added Kindle deal!

Happy Birthday, Stephen King! Plus…an added Kindle deal below.

img_4600 If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, it should come as no surprise to you when I say that Stephen King is one of my all time favorite authors. Since today is the big man’s birthday, I figured I’d write a small post professing my undying love for any and everything Stephen King!

I own quite a few of his novels….both in actual book form and on my beloved Kindle Voyage. Have I told you guys how much I love my Kindle before?? No? Hmm…maybe that’s a good idea for another blog post in the future. But I digress….

My absolute most favorite Stephen King book is The Shining. img_3060Hands down, it has got to be one of the creepiest, scariest, keep me up afraid of the dark books I have ever read. I was about 15 years old when I read this book for the first time and was immediately a fan of Mr. King…I wanted to get my hands on anything of his that I could. I have since reread The Shining two more times…the most recent being early this year. You can read my thoughts HERE. The sequel, Doctor Sleep, is also amazing and one I definitely recommend reading. The Shining also earned it’s spot into my ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOKS list.

img_4040The Stand is likely my second favorite King novel. It’s simply one epic and awesome work of literary art, in my opinion. That review as well as Thinner & Salem’s Lot can be found in my HORROR category. It’s been years since I’ve first read IT and I’m hoping to reread it again here soon…maybe in October for a good Halloween spooky read. Some other King books that I love: Under The Dome, Different Seasons (which is a book of short stories including The Body and Rita Hayworth & The Shawshank Redemption), The Green Mile Series, Misery, and Pet Sematary….to name just a few.

Are you a fan of Stephen King or the Horror book genre, in general? If so…what are some of your favorites?? I’m thinking I’m going to keep most of my October reads to creepy, scary ones…so I’m sure at least one or two of Mr. King’s books will be included there.

Two little notes of “business” before  today’s Kindle Deal…I am now officially a self hosted blog. Meaning…my new blog address is now  www.afterthischapter.org  So, I would really appreciate it if anyone who enjoys my blog can please share on social media to your friends that might also enjoy reading my reviews. There’s a handy little “share on FB” like right below each review.  And…since I am self hosted, I can now link to special Kindle and book deals that I happen across from time to time to help spread the reading love! Because of this….I ask that if you do decide to purchase a book that I have linked for review, you do so through my affiliate link. It would be much appreciated! Win for everyone!!

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Without further delay…..as  promised….for today (possibly only today), September 21st…. Amazon has a Kindle Daily Deal for a Stephen King book I haven’t yet read! Lisey’s Story is on sale (Kindle version) today for only $1.99 instead of the normal $10.99.

Since it’s a book of his I haven’t yet read, I’ll definitely be taking advantage and ordering it. Reviews are calling it “perhaps King’s most personal and powerful novel” (Goodreads). Lisey’s Story sounds like a fantastic addition to my October Spooky Reads plan.

I hope everyone enjoys the new look to my blog…I’d love to hear your thoughts and I always appreciate your “shares”!

My All Time Favorite Books

The other day, someone asked me to tell them my all time favorite book..the best book that I have ever read.

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And then I just laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more.

 

 

But no….really, that’s not possible for someone who loves to read as much as I do. That’s like asking me to pick a favorite out of my three children. And as all mothers know…that answer can change depending on what mood I’m in, what day it is, and who is driving me the most crazy at any one particular moment. I kid, I kid…I’d never actually pick a favorite child (most days).

So, after I had a good laugh…that person then asked me to narrow it down to my top 5 favorite books of all time and that’s not really any easier. So, I settled for a list of 10 books that can all be considered my favorite…and all for different reasons. It took me a little bit to complete the list of 10…some titles I rattled off right away and others took a little more consideration and thought. It’s kind of a big deal…telling someone your favorite all time books, right???

So, after much consideration…here is the list of my top 10 books (in no particular order):

img_4250-1 1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Historical fiction is likely my favorite and most read genre…and The Book Thief is a prime example of why. Liesel is such a fantastic main character who shows such strength, courage and determination in the face of Nazi control during WW2. I read this book a handful of years ago and upon finishing, immediately knew it would be one of my all time favorites.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – So, I know this one is probably a tad cliche to be added to my list. After all….pretty much everyone has it listed as their favorite book. I’ve now read it twice…once as a teenager and once again just recently and I think it’s a book I actually got more out of reading as an adult. I always loved Scout…who doesn’t, right? But, reading this book as an adult…I feel I was able to fully appreciate the brilliance and gentle strength that is Atticus Finch. I definitely wanted to include at least 1 classic in this list and while there are others I really love (Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies), this is one I’ve reread most recently so it wins.

3. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – Obviously. Right?!?! This is probably one of those books that I don’t even have to think about mentioning when someone asks for my favorites…A Game of Thrones is a given. If you’ve followed this blog, you are probably more than aware of my love & obsession for the entire A Song of Ice and Fire series. I’ve finished every currently published book in the series and I’m slowly working my way through it a second time. They are all phenomenal…so technically, I’d like to add the entire series, here….but the first book is what started it all for me. The funny thing is, it’s so far outside of my normal genre of choice or my normal comfort zone of books I typically go for….but GRRM is such a fantastic writer and story builder, I couldn’t help but fall head over heels in love with the entire world of Westeros.

4. Night Road by Kristin Hannah – This is one of those books that took a little more consideration to be added to my list. I recommend this book to a lot of  people because it is such a tragic and beautiful story. I love books that make me FEEL….whether it be anger, sadness, happiness or whatever. If a book evokes a strong emotional response from me, it’s usually a favorite. Night Road is a book that I read after not reading for a significant period of time (due to being elbow deep in toddlers & babies) and feeling like I was in sort of a reading slump. I cried my eyes out….like, get a giant box of tissues ready, cry. I could feel for each and every character and understand their heartache and their perspective.

5. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – This is another one that I don’t even have to consider adding….AND, another one that most people have on their ‘favorites’ list too. There’s a definite reason for that….remember when I talked about feels?? Yeah, this one! Plus, it also has an interesting historical aspect that I really appreciated reading about. One of the many things I love about historical fiction, is that you get a first hand insight into a time or a culture that is different than what you currently know. The Kite Runner is a popular book that most people have now read already…but just in case you haven’t…read it!

6. The Shining by Stephen King – And…another book that I don’t even have to think twice about adding to my favorites list. Stephen King is one of my all time favorite authors…and while I haven’t read anywhere near all his work, I’ve read quite a lot of it. There’s very little that he’s written that I don’t love…however, The Shining is my absolute favorite book he’s written! It’s one that I’ve read more than once and one that never fails to scare the shit out of me every single time I read it. Mr. King is a masterful storyteller and he works some seriously creepy magic with this masterpiece.

7. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – I had a hard time picking one specific Jodi Picoult novel for this list because she has quite a few that I consider ‘favorites’ of mine. My Sister’s Keeper is likely the one that tops my favorite of hers though. It’s another book that had me crying my eyes out at an uncontrollable rate. I read this book years ago on an airplane and was likely making a fool of myself in front of my fellow passengers for my tears while reading, but I couldn’t help it. My Sister’s Keeper is such a great story about a very hard and real family struggle and one that I think everyone should read.

8. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys – This was another easy add to my list and yes…another Historical Fiction. Between Shades of Gray is a WW2 story about Stalin’s invasion of Lithuania. Septeys’ father and uncle were Lithuanian refugees during that time…the personal investment she has in this period of history shows in her beautiful writing. There is such raw emotion mixed with just enough historical information to make one fantastic novel. Between Shades of Gray is Septys’ first of three novels and they are ALL excellent…I highly recommend all three but this one is my favorite!

9. The Help – by Kathryn Stockett – Yet another no question-easy add for me. I first read this book shortly after it was initially published and loved it immediately! It’s one of the few books that gave me a full range of strong emotions. There were times I was literally laughing out loud, others that I was crying my eyes out, and times that I was so angry that I wanted to hurt something.  It’s another historical fiction, but instead of the typical ww2 time period…this book takes place in the South during the Civil Rights era. So good! There is a movie made after this book that I know a lot of people have seen, but in typical fashion…the book is SO MUCH BETTER! I think I’ve now read this book a total of three times and it’s one I can see myself rereading every few years just so I can revisit some of my favorite literary people.

10. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara – This book is my most recent addition to my list because I just read it for the first time early this year. In the week that I spent reading this book, I could not stop thinking about the characters in the story….in fact, they stuck with me long after finishing. A Little Life probably gave me the biggest Book Hangover I’ve ever had. Yanagihara wrote such deep, complicated and real characters that you feel they are actual people you know in your life. It’s a very sad and even depressing book at times, but it’s soooo worth the read! If you can handle dark and heavy subject matter handled (child abuse, drug addiction, physical abuse, etc), it’s so worth the journey! It’s honest and authentic and it’s such an important book.

Phew! That was hard! This list is by no means permanent…I reserve the right to change it or add to it at any point in time, but this is where I sit today  😉

So…what do you think of my list? Have you read any these and also love them (or hate them)? I’d love to hear your opinions and also hear some of your all time favorite books!

 

Who wants to join me??

So because GRRM is taking his sweet time writing book #6 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series (I’m not pushing…I swear, I’d rather it be amazing and take another year than just be mediocre and be finished tomorrow), I decided to go ahead and start watching the newest season of the HBO series, A Game Of Thrones, that started this past Sunday. 


I was actually going to hold off watching because I have a VERY strict book before movie/tv-show rule. And the newest book in the series, The Winds of Winter, was supposed to be finished before this current season aired… but as Neil Gaiman so eloquently put it, “GRRM is not your bit@h.”  I had initially decided to hold off watching so as not to have any major plot lines spoiled until I could read them first…thinking that the book would be coming along any time now. But sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems now that in the best case scenario, we can hope for WOW to be published late 2016/early 2017. 

So now we’ve reached the point where the show has completely caught up to the 5th and so far, most recent book. Even the self proclaimed “Book Snobs” (not judging…I’m one of them) don’t even know what’s coming next. I mean…we have guesses and theories, but this is the first time that the “book readers” of the A Song of Ice and Fire series don’t actually have a heads up to the non-book-readers of what’s coming. And for a while, I was slightly annoyed about it. Ok…I’ll be honest, I was down right out pissed for quite some time actually. But I’ll spare you my initial ranty thoughts & feelings because….I’m over it. Really, I’m good with the book not being published yet and do you want to know why??? Because at this point, the books and the show are two different beasts. Season 1 & 2 of the HBO series pretty much followed books 1 & 2 to the word. Then came season 3 of the show and we started to get some character and storyline changes…some more drastic than others. Fast forward to season 5 vs book 5 and I think we can safely say that some of the major storylines are so different that they can be seen as two completely different entities. So what’s my point??? I’m getting there, I promise…just bear with me. 

My point is…I realized that the delay in the publication of the 6th book in the ASOIAF series is actually a blessing in disguise. The reason being is that it gives me (and maybe you???) time to (re)read the series from the start! I know what you’re thinking: Are you crazy?? Why would you want to read such a long (and sometimes challenging) series over again from the start?? Well….most likely, I am crazy, but that probably happened years ago (and likely had more to do with mothering 3 boys than anything else). But seriously…as good as the show is…these books are AMAZING! You just get so much MORE out of reading the books than you can ever possibly get from a tv series. The storyline is so complex, the characters are so deep & complicated that I’m 100% certain that there is more for me to get out of this series by reading it a second time. And that brings me to my question: Who wants to join me??? Even if you already watch the HBO show, I still think everyone should give the books a try. (Yes…I own a digital e-copy of each book on my kindle as well as a hard book copy of the first 3 in the series…I warned you that I may be crazy). 


So, what I think I’m going to do is aim to start A Game of Thrones at the start of May (or whenever I finish my current read) and then hopefully have a group discussion, here by the end of the month. That is…if anyone else decides to take up my chalkenge and join me in (re)reading the book series! I figure an entire month should be ample time to finish the book. According to my GoodReads log, the first time I read this, years ago I finished it in about 2 weeks. 

So what do you think? Does anyone want to join me in the month of May for a sort of group read of The Game of Thrones?? (Honestly, either way…I’m re-reading it and will likely discuss my thoughts here even if I’m alone). 

Author Meet & Book Signing: Ruta Sepetys

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I’m totally fan-girling over here! Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet one of my all time favorite authors, Ruta Sepetys. Immediately after reading her first novel, Between Shades of Gray, in March of 2015 I became a big fan and started looking for more of her work. I read her second novel, Out of the Easy, shortly after and it was added to my list of favorite reads in 2015. At some point last fall, I found out that she was to have her third novel released and immediately put my preorder in through Amazon. Like I said… BIG fan!

Ruta Sepetys’ Goodreads profile states: “Ruta Sepetys was born and raised in Michigan in a family of artists, readers, and music lovers. As an author of historical fiction, Ruta is drawn to stories of strength through struggle. Her award-winning debut novel, “Between Shades of Gray” was inspired by her family’s history in Lithuania and is published in 45 countries. Her second novel, “Out of the Easy” is set in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950, and her third novel “Salt to the Sea” exposes one of the greatest hidden disasters of World War II. Ruta lives in a treehouse in the hills of Tennessee.”

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This was my very first author meet/book signing and I was slightly nervous to attend. For this particular signing, the location was set at the Lithuanian World Center in Lemont, IL. If I had to guess, I would say there were approximately 100 people who attended. The afternoon started with a 45 minute talk/presentation by Ruta and it was amazing. She is such a wonderful speaker, totally engaging and you can tell she is very passionate about her work.

Ruta spoke mostly about the research, travels, and interviews she completed in order to write Salt to the Sea. Her presentation included quite a few photographs of the people she has met & interviewed. These were projected while she relayed their first or second hand experiences with the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. Many people were moved to tears during the presentation. At the end, she opened the floor for questions and I was quite moved by some of the people who stood up to speak. Two older gentlemen, in particular,  stood up to share their personal experiences during the Lithuanian refugee crisis. It was a very moving experience and I am beyond glad that I decided to attend.

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After the presentation, Ruta Sepetys sat down for a book signing. Luckily, since I sat towards the back of the room for the presentation, I was probably the 20th or so person in line for the signing…so I didn’t have to wait too long. She was wonderful…taking time to chat with each person as well as stop for pictures.

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She happily signed multiple copies of books for people and she gladly signed all three of my copies of her novels. It was such a cool experience to meet the person who wrote three books that all have touched me in such an emotional way.  So, if you ever have the opportunity to meet an author you love reading, I definitely recommend it!

 

 

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When to quit…

I used to feel very conflicted when I wasn’t enjoying reading a particular book. On one hand, I wanted to quit the story and move onto something else, but on the other hand,  I HATE quitting so I felt like I needed to push through and finish. The Type A – perfectionist in me revolts at the idea of not finishing something.

But then I realized that not all books are for everyone. And just because other people (even thousands and thousands of other people) seem to love a book, it’s OK if I don’t like it. And I also realized that just because I don’t like a particular book now, doesn’t mean I might not be able to pick it up at a later time and enjoy it at that then. After all….I have WAY too many books on my to-be-read list to try to muscle through something that isn’t sucking me in.

So, I decided to write a post about the dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish). I don’t really have a rule of when I decide a book is likely going to be a DNF. I do think there are certain genres that I find more tedious and thus am ikely to get bored or frustrated quickly if it’s not really good. YA fiction is one. I seem to either really love YA (Example: Divergent, Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns)  or really find myself feeling annoyed and disconnected from the characters. Especially if the YA novel is a first person narration and that narrator seems to do nothing but whine and complain…I usually finding my eyes glazing over with boredom real quickly.

I like to think that by about 30-40 pages or so the book should have me interested. If, by then, I’m still feeling bored, uninterested, confused or annoyed….I should give up and mark it a DNF. The problem is, I usually don’t. Even though I’ve come to grips with marking a novel as a DNF, I still try to give it good chance. However, even when I push through to say…100 pages or so on a novel that I was bored with at page 40, I end up wishing I would have quit it sooner and just moved on.

Every once in a great while, I will really enjoy a book after the 30-40 page mark, but that is rare. One recent example is The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry. But that doesn’t happen often so I need to stop assuming that most books will win me over later on.

Here are two books that are recent DNFs for me.

First is: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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This is an example of a first person narration that I was annoyed with almost immediately. It read like listening to an immature teenager telling you about every minute detail of their day. No thanks. I hear it gets better and I’ve read the general synopsis. I don’t want to give anything about the storyline away, because other reviewers seem to like the idea that you don’t really know what’s going on until later on in the story. I’m sure I might have like it more had I stuck it out longer, but I just couldn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Second is: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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This is a book that has over 200,00 ratings on Goodreads with an average of a 4.3 star rating. I had such high hopes for this book and heard such good things…and just couldn’t get past 100 pages. Yes…I gave this one until 100 pages even though I started feeling the DNF bug around page 25 or so. I think the idea was cool…I usually like dystopian novels and I even appreciated the science fiction twist to it. But…I didn’t see it going anywhere. The book talks a lot about gaming and virtual reality so maybe if I was a gamer, I’d appreciate it more. Another thing that bothered me was the 80’s references. The funny thing is…these references are what a lot of other reviewers liked about the book. I just felt like they were thrown in for easy “oh I remember that!” feelings…but they didn’t really serve a purpose to the story. I can get the point the author was trying to reach with the story, but I just couldn’t finish this one either.

 

 

 

 

There are others I’ve started and haven’t finished over the years, these two are just the most recent. I think I’ll continue to post about my DNF every now and then since it is technically a review of mine. Although, let’s hope there aren’t many 🙂

So I’m curious….how do you feel about marking a book as a DNF? Do you quit or do you muscle through? At what point do you just know a book isn’t going to work for you? And what are some of your books you listed as a DNF?

I’m not really sure what I’m doing

The title says it all….I’m not really sure what I’m doing. Ha!

But, seriously…this is likely going to have a (rather large) learning curve for me. This is my first foray into blogging at all, so please be patient with me while I try to learn how to do this.

My hope for this blog is for it to be a place where I can share and review books that I have read. I love to read and have been regularly reading since I was a child. I definitely go through different periods in my life when I have more time and/or more want to read. Lately, I have been in phase where I am devouring books like candy…and I know how much I appreciate a good review of a potential read, so I figure…I should also share my own reviews!

At this time, it seems that I am at least reading one book per week…but it’s usually closer to 2. Obviously that all depends on how long the book is or how busy my personal life is at the moment. Reading, for me, is a way to decompress from a sometimes very busy (and loud) life as a stay at home mom of three young boys.

I primarily enjoy reading Fiction…with Historical Fiction being my likely top category. I also really enjoy Mystery/Thrillers….but I will read most anything except for Erotica or anything that is too religious in nature.