Bout of Books 11:: Daily Updates

boutofbooks11The 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, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th 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 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

Flergs_SpringFling_StitchedConfetti1

I’m going to update this post daily to share my Bout of Books 11 Daily Reading Progress. I will also make a note if I’ve participated in any challenges, and share link(s) to the posts. This post will remain at the top of my blog until the end of the read-a-thon!

readathonprogress

Monday, August 18th:
Today’s Read(s):
winnerscurse
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Number of pages I’ve read today: 18
Challenge(s) completed: 0

Tuesday, August 19th:
Today’s Read(s):
fiendish
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Number of pages I’ve read today: 172
Total number of books read: 0
Total number of pages read: 190
Challenge(s) completed: 0

Wednesday, August 20th:
Today’s Read(s):
fiendish
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Number of pages I’ve read today: 180
Total number of books read: 1
Total number of pages read: 370
Challenge(s) completed: 0

Thursday, August 21st:
Today’s Read(s):
Number of books I’ve read today:
Number of pages I’ve read today:
Total number of books read:
Total number of pages read:
Challenge(s) completed:

Friday, August 22nd:
Today’s Read(s):
Number of books I’ve read today:
Number of pages I’ve read today:
Total number of books read:
Total number of pages read:
Challenge(s) completed:

Saturday, August 23rd:
Today’s Read(s):
Number of books I’ve read today:
Number of pages I’ve read today:
Total number of books read:
Total number of pages read:
Challenge(s) completed:

Sunday, August 24th:
Today’s Read(s):
Number of books I’ve read today:
Number of pages I’ve read today:
Total number of books read:
Total number of pages read:
Challenge(s) completed:

signature2

Posted in Reading Challenges | Tagged | 4 Comments

Merin’s Musings #5: Are You A Peek-er?

musingsbanner

I want to take a moment to talk about something that makes me rather uncomfortable when I stumble upon it in books: secondhand embarrassment. I have a massive secondhand embarrassment squick; it makes me uneasy and unnecessarily nervous, considering the people causing it aren’t even real. But, when those moments happen in books – and they happen in pretty much every single book ever – it can actually be bad enough to make me set the book aside for a while because I just feel so BAD for the character dealing with whatever caused said embarrassment. My reaction towards their embarrassment is actually a physical response, and it’s hard for me to turn that off.

Which ties directly into today’s musing topic: I am a peek-er. As in, I will actually go ahead to the next chapter (and yes, sometimes even the end of the book!) to make sure things are going to ease up before I can bring myself to continue reading. It’s like I just HAVE to know that things for this (nonexistent, imaginary) character are going to get better before I can bring myself to continue reading their story. I actually did it in the book I just finished (Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff, if you’re curious), although it was mild and just necessitated me going ahead a few paragraphs and not, you know, an entire section of the book.

Am I the only one who does this?

I mean, I know I’m not. I’ve seen others talk about this. I’m just kind of curious as to WHY I do this, and maybe see why you all might (or might not) have this habit as well.

Personally speaking, I think it’s because reading is such a visceral, gripping thing, and I get so caught up in the story (which is a testament to the author’s writing, let’s be real) that, when something happens to upset or embarrass the character I’ve become emotionally invested in, I can’t help but to feel what they’re “feeling”. And sometimes, if the feelings are strong enough, it just makes me such a nervous, anxious wreck that I just can’t help myself. I have to know, right then, that things will sort themselves out, and the only way I can do that is to skip ahead a bit. Usually I don’t skip ahead that much – just to the next chapter or so, but sometimes – particularly if we’re in the climax of the book and it’s almost over – I’ll skip to the last page. Sometimes this habit has come back to bite me in the butt and I’ve been spoiled for some big plot twist or whatever, but I’ve actually never minded that because the peace of mind of knowing that whatever it was that embarrassed them or whatever was gone was such a relief that I didn’t even care that something else may have been revealed before it was time. Knowing how a book ends has never actually impacted my enjoyment of the story, which might also be strange, I guess, but that’s how I roll. For me, the pros just far outweigh the cons.

So now I want to ask you: Are you a peek-er? If you’re not, how do you get through those moments when the secondhand embarrassment – because that’s generally what triggers me – is just ratcheted up so high that it’s physically uncomfortable? Or am I just weird to have such a physical response? Inquiring minds would like to know, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

signature2

Posted in Merin's Musings | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday #85

wowbanner

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week I’m Waiting on Wednesday for This Shattered World (Starbound #2) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (Disney-Hyperion):

thisshatteredworldThe second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

The stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war.

[ADD TO GOODREADS]

Why I’m looking forward to this book:

Oh, man, I ADORED These Broken Stars. It was one of my favorites from last year, and I recommend it to pretty much everyone I know. And while This Shattered World isn’t about Lilac and Tarver, I am sure I will love Flynn and Lee just as much. I can’t wait to read more in this universe!

Release Date: December 23, 2014

What are you waiting on this week? Please link me!

signature2

Posted in Waiting on Wednesday | Tagged | 18 Comments

Top Ten Books People Tell Me I MUST Read

tttbanner

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers there at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday post asks us list the ten books that people have told us are must-reads. Funnily enough, I have loads of these – probably all bloggers do – and decided to do something a little bit different for this week’s post. Instead of making a list, I created a book stack with those ten books – because I can’t resist people’s recs, even if I know straight off that I’m going to take forever to get them read. So, have a big giant book stack full of books on my TBR List that have been wholeheartedly recommended to me!

Flergs_SpringFling_StitchedConfetti1

ttt59banner

ttt59

Books Shown (Top to Bottom):

  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Storm by Brigid Kemmerer
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  • Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
  • Golden by Jessi Kirby
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer

Flergs_SpringFling_StitchedConfetti1

So that’s my list this week! What books did you include on yours? Please link me!

signature2

Posted in Top Ten Tuesday | Tagged | 10 Comments

REVIEW: Starling by Fiona Paul

starlingStarling (Secrets of the Eternal Rose #3) by Fiona Paul
Philomel, 2014
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

Previous Installments: Venom | Belladonna

The dark, seductive conclusion to the thrilling Secrets of the Eternal Rose trilogy!

In the final book in the trilogy, Cass and Luca are back in Venice trying to find the Book of the Eternal Rose to clear Luca’s name and keep them both out of prison. But the hunters become the hunted when the Order of the Eternal Rose figures out their plan. Filled with twists and turns, danger and torrid romances, this novel brings the Secrets of the Eternal Rose novels to a thrilling, heart-pounding, sexy conclusion.

mythoughtsI have a very love-hate relationship with Fiona Paul’s Secrets of the Eternal Rose series. For the most part, I liked both of the previous books, even though portions of Venom and Belladonna sent me into a Falco-induced rage. I also found myself equally amused, frustrated and confused by the main character, Cassandra. But through all of our ups and downs, I really found this series to be solidly written, and – for the most part – absolutely enthralling and engaging. That being said, Starling by far outpaces the previous two installments, and – while there were one or two moments here that made me roll my eyes (again in Falco-induced irritation), I actually really loved how this book brought everything full circle, and the amount of character growth present in its pages.

What I liked the most about this book was Cass’ character, which surprised no one as much as it did me. While she really did frustrate me over and over again in the previous books, in Starling she was just so determined and almost calm in some ways, even though there was just as much danger and intrigue still surrounding her. I loved that she really seemed to find herself and figure out what she wanted; that theme of realizing her heart and using those she loved and lost to make her stronger carried throughout the book and just really drew me in to her and helped me – finally – get to know her and understand her and, ultimately, love her. Her character growth was amazing, and I was so happy to see the person she grew into at the end of the book.

I also want to give mad props to the author, because – like Cass’ character growth – I really felt like I could see exactly how much Ms. Paul grew as a writer while working on this series. I felt like the story really flowed well in Starling, creating a perfect mesh of the drama necessary to further the plot with the slower moments of personal growth that both Cass and Luca (and even Falco) went through. I just really found the writing to be tighter and more cohesive, and that furthered my enjoyment of the story. I also liked the way she reintroduced characters we’d gotten to know in Venom (and Belladonna, but mostly the first book since the setting moved back to Venice), and the way we got to see some of their backstory and history. I also thoroughly enjoyed the introduction of the courtesans – Flavia, in particular, was quite a treat!

Because I don’t want to spoil anyone who’s still thinking about giving this series a try, I’m going to go ahead and refrain from saying anything else, because all of my other thoughts are really quite spoilery. Suffice it to say that Starling was a fabulous finale to this series, and – while I still had my moments with Falco (see my Belladonna review if you’d like to read my Falco rant) – was a book I very much loved from beginning to end. I highly recommend this series to pretty much everyone, particularly if you’re a fan of historical YA!

4.5stars

ARC was won via a contest from Paper Lantern Lit. This in no way impacted my review.

signature2

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Bout of Books 11 Sign-Up and Goals Post

boutofbooks11The 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, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th 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 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

Eek! I’m barely getting this posted in time! Things with work got rather out of whack, and the date just totally got away from me! BUT! I AM participating in Bout of Books and am really excited to do so! I am not going to set any massively huge goals – I know myself well enough to realize that doing so is pointless and I’d just end up failing spectacularly – but I do have some things I’d like to accomplish and will welcome any cheering on you may want to give me. :)

readathontitles

sparkunseen sistersfate fiendish opheliaandthemarvelousboy winnerscurse betweenthespark  loveletterstothedead

My goal is to read Sisters’ Fate – which is a library book – and two others from this list. I’m leaning pretty heavily towards Fiendish, which I’m really excited about, but we’ll see if something changes. The Winner’s Curse is an audiobook that I plan on listening to each morning as I get ready for work, so while I probably won’t finish it, I hope to at least make a bit of a dent!

readathongoalsI want this to be low-key and fun, but the main reason I’m doing this challenge is to actually get some reading done! So that being said, here are my goals for this week:

  • Read 3 books
  • Participate in 2 challenges
  • Visit 5 participating blogs and leave comments (ideally daily, but at least every other day)
  • Share my progress on Instagram (HERE), Tumblr (HERE), and Twitter (HERE) [tag will be #boutofbooks on all three sites]

So that’s that! Are any of you participating in Bout of Books? If so, please link me to your posts! I’d love to cheer you on!

signature2

Posted in Reading Challenges | Tagged | 7 Comments

My Classroom!

I was supposed to do a Merin’s Musing post today, but instead I’m going to share pictures of my classroom! I am super pleased with the way everything looks and basically just want you all to bask in my joy. :D The room does look similar to last year – there’s only so much you can do with limited space – although this year I have fewer desks (less students = fewer desks, hurrah) and also moved the table from the side of the room to the back. I also shifted the big blue cabinet over (you can see it below) and added a little shelving unit, and rearranged “my” corner of the room as well. Anyway, here’s what it looks like!

NOTE: This post is really image-heavy. Sorry in advance if that causes issues!

classroom1

View from the corner where my desk is.

classroom2

In front of the back table, aiming towards the left.

classroom3

Same spot, only this time pointing to the right.

classroom4

Our gathering spot for Morning Meetings and read-alouds, as well as our Writer’s Workshop Mini-Lessons.

classroom5

The cabinet that the custodian was able to move (YAY to infinity!), and my new shelving unit to give me some extra storage space.

classroom6

Close-up of the shelving unit and my cute owls. <3

classroom7

The back table, where I will work with small groups. I am STUPIDLY EXCITED about that pocket chart stand!

classroom8

“My” corner of the room.

Yay! I really kind of love how everything looks. Like, a whole lot. <3 <3 <3

signature2

Posted in Personal | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday #84

wowbanner

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week I’m Waiting on Wednesday for The Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus #5) by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion):

NOTE: Summary contains spoilers for the previous books in this series!

bloodofolympusThough the Greek and Roman crewmembers of the Argo II have made progress in their many quests, they still seem no closer to defeating the earth mother, Gaea. Her giants have risen—all of them—and they’re stronger than ever. They must be stopped before the Feast of Spes, when Gaea plans to have two demigods sacrificed in Athens. She needs their blood—the blood of Olympus—in order to wake.

The demigods are having more frequent visions of a terrible battle at Camp Half-Blood. The Roman legion from Camp Jupiter, led by Octavian, is almost within striking distance. Though it is tempting to take the Athena Parthenos to Athens to use as a secret weapon, the friends know that the huge statue belongs back on Long Island, where it “might” be able to stop a war between the two camps.

The Athena Parthenos will go west; the Argo II will go east. The gods, still suffering from multiple personality disorder, are useless. How can a handful of young demigods hope to persevere against Gaea’s army of powerful giants? As dangerous as it is to head to Athens, they have no other option. They have sacrificed too much already. And if Gaea wakes, it is game over.

[ADD TO GOODREADS]

Why I’m looking forward to this book:

Oh, man, this is like, my most anticipated book of 2014. As anyone who is a regular visitor to this blog knows, I ADORE Percy Jackson and Co., and have loved every single book that features him as a character. This series is so amazing – funny, dark, with fabulous character development, amazingly written, full of drama and angst and adventure and twists and turns and, and, and … it seriously makes me gesture about with flail-y hands. I absolutely cannot wait to see how this series ends!

Release Date: October 7, 2014

What are you waiting on this week? Please link me!

signature2

Posted in Waiting on Wednesday | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Top Ten Books I’m Not Sure I Want To Read Anymore

tttbanner

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers there at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday post asks us to list ten books that we used to want to read, but now aren’t so sure about. I loved the way they put it: To Read or Not to Read? I’ve limited my list to books I actually own that are now mocking me from the depths of my TBR pile(s). So I really have no excuse for not reading them except that, well … I just haven’t. In some cases it’s because I’ve heard not-so-nice things, in others it’s just that my interests have changed. I’m sure there are actually more than ten books that could go on this list, but these are the ones I decided to share this week.

ttt58

Flergs_SpringFling_StitchedConfetti1

theselection

I’ve just heard so many bad things about this series that it’s really turned me off. Not sure if I’ll read this one or not.

jonathanstrange

This book is SO LONG. It’s sitting on my shelf, MOCKING ME, and I just … can’t. I really kind of want to? But I know it would take me absolutely forever to get through it, and I don’t know if I want to read it THAT badly.

storm

I’ve heard good things about this series, but what’s turning me off a bit is that it’s … a series. And I’ve just got SO many of those that I’m trying to follow right now.

ravenboysuk

I actually tried to read this one and just could NOT get into it. This is one that I’m actually planning on trying again, though.

clockworkangel

There was so much uproar when Clockwork Princess was released that I couldn’t help but get swayed a bit in my desire to read this series. I might still give it a try, but it’s not at the top of my list.

collector

I just don’t think I’m really in the mood to read about a rather arrogant bad boy. Plus, the longer this book is out, the more lackluster reviews have appeared. I’m just really torn about it, and don’t know if I’ll ever read it or not.

everneath

This is another one I’ll probably eventually read, mostly because I cannot resist the lure of a mythology retelling.

poisonstudy

I bought this one because various folk kept recommending it. And yet, now that I have it, I’m not sure why I did, because it doesn’t even sound like something I’d usually be interested in.

incarnate

Again, I’m torn on this one because it’s the start of another flipping series. And I just … I’m so kind of done with those, you know?

cityoffallenangels

Personally speaking, I just really don’t think The Mortal Instruments series needed to be continued. I kind of liked the ending just as it was, you know?

Flergs_SpringFling_StitchedConfetti1

So those are the ten books I picked this week! What made your list? Please link me!

signature2

Posted in Top Ten Tuesday | Tagged | 14 Comments

State of Merin

stateofmerin

Another month gone, another personal update! I’m going to preface this one with one of those internet e-cards, because it is particularly apt considering what I’m going to be up to today:

teacherecard

I’m sharing this one because it makes me laugh a bit: my Summer Break is over! Today and tomorrow I have Orientation Meetings, Monday is Meet the Teacher Night, I have PBIS/Discipline training stuff on Tuesday, we’re off Wednesday, and school starts on Thursday! Where did summer go, seriously? It always just seems to fly by even though I’ve been off for over two months. Craziness!

With the start of a new school year looming, I am still cautiously optimistic that I will be able to maintain some sort of blogging consistency and continue to keep things on a regular posting schedule. I’ve been giving some thought to how I want to run things, and have come up with the following:

Monday: Review post
Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday
Wednesday: Waiting on Wednesday
Thursday: Merin’s Musings (once a month) – the rest of the month will have something TBD

At the beginning of each new month, I will also share my TBR Pile, give a personal update via a State of Merin post, and do a Monthly Recap for the previous month.

I am still trying to come up with something I can do on the Thursdays when I don’t have a Merin’s Musings post. Since I’m doing Books & Cupcakes Monthly Photo Challenges over on Tumblr, maybe I can share some of my favorite bookish photos that I’ve taken or something. I am still debating; next week will be a Musings post, so I have two weeks to figure things out!

I am not currently planning on posting Friday-Sunday aside from the first Saturday of the month when I will share my monthly Book Haul posts. I know I am going to need this time to read and decompress from the work week, and am trying to keep things as low-key and stress-free as possible. I think that was part of my blogging failure over the last half of the school year last year; I was feeling anxious and overwhelmed over my lack of reading, and I just don’t want a repeat performance of that.

So, anyway, that’s where I’m at right now! I shall sign off with one final teacher e-card:

staffmeeting

Bring on those staff meetings! :D

signature2

Posted in Personal | Tagged | 6 Comments