Bout of Books 7.0

This year I am going to participate for the first time in Bout of Books. It lasts from tomorrow (Monday, May 13th) to next Sunday (May 19th). The goal is to challenge yourself to read more during that week than you normally would. It's also a great opportunity to socialize with other readers and those involved in the online book community. You are supposed to tweet your progress as you go. I'm excited to take part and since I am currently out of school and unemployed, I figured this would be the perfect week. If you are interested in participating as well, following the link to the Bout of Books blog I linked above.

Here is the official blurb:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 13th and runs through Sunday, May 19th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 7.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I will be challenging myself to read at least 3 books this week. I know, it may not seem like much but compared to what I have been reading lately (barely anything…) it's a big step for me. I haven't decided which books I will be reading yet for BoB, but I will go check out my bookshelf as soon as I am done typing this post and hit 'publish.' 

Let me know in the comments if you're going to participate too and hopefully I will see some of you around on Twitter. I can't wait to start reading and to see what others are reading too. #boutofbooks

 

My Writing/Editing/Publishing Book Collection Pt. 2

Here's the follow-up post to the previous one. This time, I talk about my collection of writing/editing/publishing books that weren't purchased for school but out of my own interest. Enjoy!

1. On Writing by Stephen King

I have not read this one yet, but it looks promising. I'm not a fan of King's writing; that is, I've never read any of his novels. However, he is very popular and that must mean his writing tips are probably helpful. That was my logic when purchasing the book, but now as I skim through it I am realizing it's more of Stephen King's biography. There's snippets about his brother, his marriage, his past jobs, etc. If you're interested in King or getting inside such a great writer's head, I'd recommend this one. 

2. Writing: Grammar, Usage, and Style by Jean Eggenschwiler, Emily Dotson Biggs, CliffsNotes

This one is great for consulting basic grammar. If you're unsure about spelling or comma placement, it's helpful to read this one. Or if you're like me and havw never been able to figure out how to use a semi-colon properly or memorize the definitions of basic literary terms like adverb, I'd recommend this one. However, you could just as easily Google the very same things in this book and come up with results just as helpful. 

3. The Copyeditor's Handbook by Amy Einsohn

This one is super helpful. The title is self-explanatory and the content lives up to its name. I haven't gone through the whole thing yet but I hope to one day. 

4. Let's Get Digital by David Gaughran

This book is awesome for understanding today's publishing industry and gives great pointers for self-publishing. See my previous posts on this book!

5. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms & Literary Theory by J.A. Cuddon

Super dense but super useful, especially if you're taking an AP English course that requires knowledge of literary terms. 

6. Great Jobs for English Majors by Julie DeGalan & Stephen Lambert

I have this one 3/5 stars on Goodreads. Here's my review:

This isn't what i was expecting. Luckily, I ordered it online for cheap so i didn't mind. I wish it would've talked more about the job positions and such, since it IS entitled "Great Jobs…". All the self identification stuff was really cliche and unnecessary. I also could have done without the resume writing stuff, but i'll admit that it was somehow helpful. For someone like me, a high school senior that's exploring major and career options for college, this book wasn't the most helpful. Others might be of a different opinion though.

 

 

My Writing/Editing/Publishing Book Collection

Hey guys, so as I've (very, very slowly) been unpacking my stuff from college and putting it away, I came across my little collection of publishing/editing/writing books and thought I'd share them with you. Honestly, I have not had much use for most of them just yet but hopefully they will come in handy in future endeavors. Maybe this post will help some of you out who have been thinking about purchasing any of these. Enjoy!

I'll start out with books I own solely because of school, and do another follow-up post about books I've purchased on my own. 

1. How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

This book was required reading for my high school AP Literature class senior year. It was definitely one of the more interesting things we had to read that year. As I flip through it while I'm typing this, I stop at the passages I highlighed and skim over a few of the sections. I remember thinking this book was pretty helpful; the author talks about irony, metaphors, symbolism, politics, sex, food, biblical references, and even vampires. He helps you identify what certain elements or passages of a story might mean or might be alluding to. For example, he says dinner scenes or scenes including food are never just simply about eating; they always signify something much more important taking place. Personally, I think this book is great not just for reading and interpreting passages, but also for helping develop your writing skills. And if you're in high school like I was and are preparing for AP exams and English tests, this might be helpful as well; as a very unreligious person that is expected to recognzie biblical references in a poem or story, this book came in handy for me and might for you too. 

I rated this book a 3/5 stars on Goodreads. 

Here's the review I wrote for it on the site:

Had to read this for my AP Lit class, and, I'll admit, I merely skimmed it after the first couple of chapters or so. The author would ramble on and on about examples from works of literature that I have never heard of.. therefore, I got bored pretty quickly. Granted, they did back up his claims.. but I didn't need so MANY backups. One would have sufficed. Some of the topics discussed in this book were pretty helpful though. Most of it seemed really obvious, except that I needed the way that Foster worded it in order for me to comprehend it. It was a quick read that, I'm hoping, will help me to understand and possibly even enjoy (doubtful) the classics that I am regrettably forced to read in school. Sigh.

2. Writing Analytically by David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen

This one was required for my introductory college writing course. There is probably some useful information in this book – if you feel like digging through every page, that is. It's very wordy and oftentimes ends up being a lot of things you already know. If you have trouble with anaylsis, which I admittedly do, it might be worth it to pick this one up.

3. The DK Handbook by Anne Francis Wysocki and Dennis A. Lynch

This is another one I had to read for that introductory writing course and I have much the same opinion on it. I would not say this was a "handbook," and by that I mean I could definitely live without having to consult it. A lot of the content was self-explanatory and thus boring, and the authors sometimes made claims about writing that I did not agree with. Bottom line: if your teacher makes you buy this, do it. Otherwise, don't bother picking this one up.

 

Unfinished Series!

So I recently did a post about the book series I've been wanting to start reading, but then I got to thinking…there are a couple of series that I haven't even finished yet! I figured it'd be best to finish those before I begin a new one. I stopped reading these for a variety of different reasons: got into a reading slump, lost interest, didn't have access to the sequels, etc. I'll be sure to explain the scenario for each and give my opinion of the series' so far – up until the point I have read at least. 

1. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld 

I left off at about the middle of the second book, Pretties. I enjoyed the first one enough to purchase the second, but I found that I just did not have enough interest in the story. I didn't fall in love with the characters, I wasn't crazy about the plot… Don't get me wrong, I think the premise is great but the execution just isn't in my tastes. I'd like to get around to finishing the second book and hopefully the whole series one day.

2. Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

I absolutely loved Clare's The Mortal Instruments series; I've read all of them and am excited to see the first movie (even if the actors they cast are not my favorite) when it comes out soon. However, I had more trouble getting into this series. It's basically the same world and mythology just several years earlier. Some of the same characters are present in this series as in the Mortal Instruments, but none of my favorites. I think I've read the first two in the series, but because of a combination of reading slump and loss of interest never made it to the third. One of the other things I've noticed about series is that I'm much more likely to forget about them or lose interest if I have to wait months or even years for the next sequel to come out. 

3. Across the Universe by Beth Revis

I've read the first two books and really enjoyed them, and I own the third one but have not gotten around to reading it yet. It's the conclusion of the series and I'm excited to find out what happens, but for some reason I just have not been in the mood to pick this one up. Hopefully I will be soon.

4. Gemma Doyle by Libba Bray

I have only read the first book in this series. I had heard good things about it so I picked it up, but I ended up being a little disappointed. It definitely was not what I was expecting nor it is my typical taste in books. I'd like to finish the series one day though, just to see how the story ends!

Top 5 Series I Want to Start!

Hey guys here are some series I've been wanting to read but never got around to. Series, especially long ones, can be pretty daunting to read sometimes because of the length. It's so much easier to start a stand-alone novel and then be done with it in a day or so. Saying goodbye to your favorite characters is never fun though, so that's one of the good things about series. Hopefully I'll be able to start some of these now that I have some free time on my hands finally. There are also several series I have started but never finished also awaiting my attention. 

1. The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater

This one first came out in 2009 in the midst of all the Twilight hype, and everyone always said if you liked Twilight you'll like this one. Personally I'm kind of over the whole supernatural thing, especially werewolves (I'm more of a vampire fan). I'm willing to give it a try though, especially since I already own the first one. 

2. The Selection by Kiera Cass

I've heard a lot of mixed things about this series. I know the author fairly well though – she's actually a BookTuber (book vlogger on YouTube) that I've been subscribed to for awhile now. She's great and I'd love to support her by reading her series. 

3. Millennium by Stieg Larsson

Super popular book and movie, so it must be good right? I tried watching the movie once…but it just couldn't hold my attention. Hopefully I'll have better luck with the book.

4. Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore

I have the first book but have never gotten around to reading it. Every time I go to pick it up, something else catches my attention instead. I've heard good things about this series – the first one at least. The rest seem to have fallen under the radar. Hmm…

5. Gone by Michael Grant

This series seems like a great dystopian read, and they are fairly popular. The first book has gotten a lot of mixed reviews on Goodreads, but that doesn't mean that I personally won't like it! 


Which one should I tackle first? Which series are you looking forward to starting? Let me know in the comments! 

First Year of College Wrap-Up and Update

Update

Now that I'm home from college for the summer, I'm finally getting a chance to slow down and reflect back on the last 10 or so months of my life- this journey of mine towards earning a degree and getting the "job of my dreams." My first year away at college was defintely not what I expected – in a good way though, sort of. 

Instead of partying and making lots of friends every weekend, I worked to earn money for school. Had I not worked, I would not have been able to afford my tuition. As it was I barely managed to pay it off. How many college freshmen can say that they paid off a Syracuse University tuition (mostly) by themselves? Not many and I am definitely proud of that.

Instead of reading a ton of books like I wanted to, I found that I really didn't have that much free time between classes, assignments, and work. I packed so many books but ended up reading only a couple. Next year I know to pack a little lighter.

Instead of joining a bunch of clubs and organizations and utilizing the gym facilities on campus, I did almost nothing. I was too timid about things and I didn't make very many friends; none were willing to go to the gym or meetings with me. Soo, I was pretty much a veg all year. A homework-doing veg though. 

Hopefully next semester will be better! I'm already looking forward to it. I signed up to take a literature class about Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, two Russian authors. I started to read Anna Karenina last summer and failed miserably, but maybe this class will motivate me to finish it. I'm super excited.


Mini Wrap-Up

Some of the english/writing classes I took this year were:

introductory writing course

DIY publishing

English lit. 1789 to the present

Gender and lit. studies course

Reading Popular Culture

I have a love-hate relationship with English/writing classes. The essay prompts aren't always to my liking, and the professors are usually either very "out-there' (if you know what I mean) or extremely strict and of the grammar nazi variety. Not all, but most. I also don't like the criticism, but I suppose it will help in the long run. 

Bookmark Collection!

Hey guys, so I am officially home from college for the summer. As I was unpacking and putting my things away, I came across my bookmark collection. I have over 70 bookmarks – crazy right? Who needs that many? 

I do, apparently. Honestly though, I haven't actually used bookmarks while reading since middle school! I normally just dog-ear the pages or use the dust jacket to keep my place.

Anyways, just thought I'd share a couple with you. Enjoy.

 

bk5

These two are probably my favorites and most used. I love polka dots.

bk11

These are all my Twilight ones. There was a stage of my life in which I fangirl'ed. Hard.

 

bk6

These are all ones that either have a specific memory for me or are from a certain place. The Rome and Phillip Island ones I received as souvenirs from my best friend in middle school when she used to travel a lot. We aren't close anymore, but the bookmarks remind me of what a great friendship we used to have. The one that says Princeton I got while visiting the college with my family. The other two are from Arlington, Virginia where my grandfather is buried in the war memorial cemetary. I got them while I was there for his funeral. 

One of the reasons why I like to collect bookmarks so much is because they're like little souvenirs – super cheap and easily transported too!

 

bk12

bk3

bk2

This one I bought at a museum field trip for school. 

 

bk9

I love bookmarks that have information, quotes, or fun facts on them. They're like little pieces of knowledge, and who doesn't love learning?

bk4

The presidents. 

 

bk8

The string type of bookmarks.

bk1

A few of my favorite animal bookmarks. The turtle and wolf ones both have information on the other side, which, as I said before, I love.

bk10

One my mom bought for me that has my name and the origin/definition of it.

Is it weird to have a bookmark collection? I'm not sure, but I don't really care either. I think they're cool and super easy to collect. I don't go out of my way to look for them – friends and family buy them for me, I buy them when I travel new places…and over time they have just accumulated. They're also a great way to preserve memories and experiences. 

Self-Published Book Critique

So while I'm sitting here trying to block out my roommate and her family (she's moving out today) and the rap music she's blasting, I was thinking a bit about Let's Get Digital. I wanted to look up some self-published books, check out the cover art, and see how successful they are compared to trade published books. I went with YA titles just because I'm more familiar with them and therefore a better judge.

I searched through Goodreads and found this book called Awaken Me by Emily Gossett. It's the first in a series (the rest aren't out yet).

Cover Art: Alright, so it's not bad. It definitely screams 'YA' and 'teenage girl'. It's a decent photoshop job. I liked it until I read the summary and realized the cover doesn't really tell readers anything about the book itself. It's just the typical eyeball you'd see on a DeviantArt creation or Meyer's The Host

Summary: I'm not so sure about this part. The summary provided on Goodreads is extremely wordy and has several grammatical errors. If that's any indicator of how the actual content is edited, then I definitely would not be able to get past the first page. It's only 211 pages, but the summary talks about so many different aspects of the plot that I can only wonder how Gossett managed to include everything – and do it well. There's a fiance, a murder, another guy, supernatural elements, something called 'the Rogues', strangers, a man who owns the narrator Aimee, Greece, deceit, and power. Interesting. I do like how the narrator is 23-years-old. Books about people in their early 20s aren't very common, and I'm not sure why!

Rates: An average of 4.9 stars

Format: It's available (according to Goodreads) in hardcover and ebook.

Reviews: On Goodreads many of the reviews are very positive, so I can only assume that the summary doesn't do the story justice. Even so, I couldn't help but notice that many of the reviewers had multiple grammar mistakes themselves. 

My thoughts: Having not read the book myself it's hard to judge it fully and fairly. With that said, it seems like the author either consulted a professional cover art designer or is really skilled at it herself – both options are something that Gaughran talked about in Let's Get Digital. However, it would appear that Gossett opted not to pay for a professional editing job. It actually seems like she didn't even edit it herself, but based on her website (which I also checked out) she is not exactly the most grammatically inclined person. I won't say that my grammar is perfect because I know it is not – not at all – but hers could definitely use some work. Overall, based on the positive reviews and ratings on Goodreads and the pretty cover, I'd say that Gossett was successful at her self-publishing venture. My only suggestion to her is to get an editor next time.

 

YA Books of Summer 2013

Hey all, here are some YA titles that are being released this summer that I personally think look promising/interesting. Perfect for taking along with you on those beach trips. Enjoy.

1. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

September 17th, 2013 (not really summer, but that's okay)

2 words: Stephanie Perkins. Love her. I was so pumped to see she has another book coming out and I will definitely be picking this one up! If you haven't read her other stuff yet, you should.

Boy. Girl. Love. Manhattan. France. Heartbreak. Typical female YA book, but still sounds awesome to me. 

2. All I Need by Susane Colasanti

May 21st, 2013

Summer. Falling in love. College. Goodbyes. Long-distance relationship. Um, sounds so relevant to my life that I'll have no choice but to get this one. 

3. The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

May 28th, 2013

Traveler. Honolulu. Plane crash. Ocean. One raft, 2 people, 0 food. Sounds reminiscent of The Life of Pi, but it's obviously different. The only similarity is the raft and the stranded-ness really. Sounds pretty beachy though!

4. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

June 4th, 2013

Another 'summer before college romance book' type thing. But c'mon it's Sarah Dessen so it's probably good, right?

5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

October 22nd, 2013 (again, not really summer, but again, that's okay)

Third book in the Divergent Series. Pure awesomeness, can't wait!

Update!

Hey everyone, I'd like to apologize for the lack of posts this past week. It's because I have a lot of things going on lately, as do most college students this time of year. You see, there's this thing called Finals Week. You may have heard it…if not, all you need to know is that it is hell. 

I've had a bunch of essays and tests to do, not to mention another 5-pager due tomorrow afternoon and a 10-pager due the day after that. I've also been working all weekend – like usual. Some kids might take advantage of the weekends to get homework done, and normally I would too, but I can't because I work. My place of employment is open from 11 AM to 4 AM on the weekends…and well, let's just say there isn't much leftover time for other things. 

I've also been trying to pack up some of my stuff and spend as much time as I can with my boyfriend and friends here. I'll be heading back home on Wednesday and I'll miss them. On my last night of work I was presented with a cake that said "we'll miss you," a stuffed frog (my favorite animal), and a card with little goodbye messages from all my coworkers. It was super nice and almost made cry. But guys, I'm coming back next year!! I'm actually really excited for this coming fall semester. My new dorm and room look great – so much nicer than where I'm at now! – and my new roommate seems so chill. Can't wait. 

OK so besides that, I have been getting some reading in between writing essays, studying, working, and sleeping. I'm enjoying This is What Happy Looks Like so far (go check it out!!) and I've been trying to read segments of Let's Get Digital whenever I get a chance to as well.


 

Looking forward to:

Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

&

True by Erin McCarthy, released May 7th 


Listening to: 

Drunk – Ed Sheeran

 

Primadonna – Marina and the Diamonds

Down the Road – C2C

Me Without You – Sam Tsui