Merin’s Musings #6: The Joys (and Perils) of Library Books

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Today’s musing post is brought to you by the stack of library books I currently have sitting next to the chair I do most of my reading in, as well as an email from the library reminding me to renew said books.

For the fourth time.

Let me preface this by stating the obvious: I adore the library. There’s a quote by T.S. Eliot that says, “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.” I love this quote, because it really speaks to the importance of libraries in general, the fact that they can educate and provide sanctuary and support for anyone who seeks it out. It also speaks to the idea of hope: hope that things will get better, hope that people will take steps to improve themselves, hope that future generations will want to know about the past. Libraries are full of so much information – there’s something there that can speak to anyone – and I’m not sure there are many other places that can say the same. So thinking about libraries in general just makes me happy.

And while I’m all about “yay, education!” and “yay, information!” what I really love about libraries is that I can generally get my hands on any book I want, even if said library system doesn’t have the book I might want (inter-library loan, ftw!). But my overall feeling of “YAY, BOOKS!” usually tends to lead to me going overboard with my requests. Because I just want to read all the books, you know? After all, I subscribe to the thought shared by Roald Dahl when he said, “If you are going to get anywhere in life you have to read a lot of books.” And the library certainly gives me a chance to read a lot of books.

And therein lies my problem: Libraries are bad for my self-control.

I have always had issues figuring out the balance between reading what I want (library books or books I own) and books I “need” to read (like arcs/galleys). Because my reading in general has been such a struggle the last nine months, I have kind of made a point to switch my mentality and really only read what I want to read, with the hope that this will just get me reading something. And for the most part it’s worked, although I am still definitely going through some reading slumps/lack of desire to actually pick a book up. But a while back I decided to go through my Goodreads to-read list and look at some titles I was initially really excited about, to see if they were available at my local library. They were, so I requested them. Hence the stack of library books currently staring at me.

So here’s my question. If you use your local library system, how many books do you usually check out at one time? Do you limit yourself to one, or do you get a whole stack at once? How do you balance out “your” books and the books you need to read for review?

Right now, the last book I read was a review book. I have another review book that I’m (slowly) working on as well. And I have two others that I need to read within the next few weeks, just so I can get them reviewed prior to their release. And yet, I have a giant, teetering stack of my own books to read, plus the four books from the library that I can only renew so many times. In fact, I feel like I’m so inundated with books, that I’m just generally avoiding them altogether. Which is ridiculous, right? I mean, just pick something up, Merin, seriously, right?

So. Do you read library books? If so, how do you structure them into your review schedule? And how do you keep yourself from generally requesting all the books? Am I just overthinking this? Am I just being generally ridiculous? (Feel free to say yes.)

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

Agreed, sir. And maybe, if that’s true, I will finally get a chance to read all those books on my TBR List – without the fear of those dreaded overdue notices.

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Waiting on Wednesday #89

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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 Devil You Know by Trish Doller (Bloomsbury):

devilyouknowArcadia “Cadie” Wells has one primary goal in life –– to escape the sleepy Florida town where she was born and raised. Since her mother’s death, she’s sacrificed her boyfriend, her spot on the soccer team, and even her plans for the future to raise her little brother and help her still-grieving father. On a rare night out at a party at the local state park, Cadie meets a couple of good-looking tourists and impulsively agrees to join them on their road trip from one end of Florida to the other. But when their adventure goes tragically wrong, Cadie’s new goal is to make it home alive.

[ADD TO GOODREADS]

 

Why I’m looking forward to this book:

I really enjoyed Where the Stars Still Shine, and am so excited to see a new book coming out by this author. I love that she writes very flawed, real characters – and Cadie sounds no different – and also love that this one has a definite thriller/mystery-type feeling to it. I don’t read a lot of contemporary, but this one definitely sounds like it will be a good one!

Release Date: June 2, 2015

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

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Top Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

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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 asks us to list the Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More. I’m not sure how exactly this was meant, so I chose a couple of different ways to make this list: authors who have series that I’ve only read the first book of (but want to read more), and authors who have only written one book that I loved so much I can’t wait to see what they do next, to the authors who have tons of books but I’ve only read one of them. So this is sort of a mishmash list, but hopefully it still works!

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So that’s what I’ve got this week! Who made your list? Please link me!

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REVIEW: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood

sistersfateSisters’ Fate
(Cahill Witch Chronicles #3)
by Jessica Spotswood

Putnam Juvenile, 2014
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

Previous Installments: Born Wicked | Star Cursed

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

A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

mythoughtsAfter reading Star Cursed, book two in this series, I was really nervous to see how the author was going to wrap this series up. The ending of that one showed she could be cruel – it nearly broke my heart – but I also loved that it also probably meant we’d be in for a wild ride in Sisters’ Fate where the reader wouldn’t really be able to guess what was going to happen. And I was right: Sisters’ Fate was a rollercoaster ride from start to finish, but one I thoroughly enjoyed being on. I was also extremely satisfied with how this universe ended, and am really glad I stayed with the series after not loving the first book as much as I’d wanted.

Much of this book is about the Cahill sisters’ drama – and I mean that in a good way, because it was well-developed, tension-filled, interesting drama – and the resulting fallout from what Maura did at the end of Star Cursed and its impact on Cate’s already-dwindling sisterly emotion towards her.  Tess likewise has a lot going on – which we’re not really privy to until towards the end of the book – and then there is Cate, who is once again our narrator. I really felt for her in this book – she’s lost something important, is struggling with what that means for her and her sisters, and it’s also pretty obvious that the prophecy about the Cahill sisters is coming closer to fruition. There’s also drama within the Sisterhood itself, with Inez becoming the new leader and Cate’s distrust towards her and dislike of what Inez did to the leaders of the Brotherhood. (Vagueness is vague, I know, but I don’t want to spoil unnecessarily!) I really felt like Cate went through a lot of growth in this book, and I found her to be stronger and more capable than before.

I also really loved the way this book flowed. Everything was gearing up towards the final climax – which I have to admit I totally didn’t see coming, at least in terms of how the prophecy played out – and there was so much drama and intrigue and second-guessing going on that it just made me sort of clutch at the book insanely. There was so much going on here – the drama with the Sisterhood, the fallout from Maura, the fever sweeping the commoners, Tess’ weird goings-ons – that there was certainly never a dull moment. I also loved getting to know some of the side characters a bit better as well, and particularly enjoyed Alice and the way she played into the story.

All in all, I have zero complaints about the finale to this trilogy, and that’s not always something I can say. Sisters’ Fate wrapped things up nicely – but not neatly – and I really loved the character development AND the fact that we got to see a whole lot of witchery from the girls. The drama made this a “I must finish this now!”-sort of book, and I loved the way everything played out to keep me on the edge of my seat. This one was definitely worth the wait; I can’t wait to see what Ms. Spotswood writes next!

4stars

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Trees of Reverie September Read-A-Thon

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I’m once again participating in the Trees of Reverie Read-A-Thon, which starts today in my timezone. (Sarah is in Australia, so the official timezone is hers, but we’re allowed to use our own instead, which is much easier for me to keep track of.) I had a lot of fun during July’s Read-A-Thon, and am sure this month’s will be no different.

As usual, I have a list of books that I’ll be choosing from, with an ultimate goal of reading 6 during the 2-week timespan. Unlike last time, I won’t be participating in any challenges, though, as work is taking a lot of concentration and time and I just really want to devote myself to reading this go around. Here’s the list I’ll be working off of!

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pointe flightsandchimes fourthwish terrorofthesouthlands betweenthespark curefordreaming  stitchingsnow resurrection

I’m really going to focus this time on getting my library books read (those are the first three listed), as well as three galleys. We’ll see how it goes!

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-Read at least 1 hour a day
-Participate in 2 sets of Reading Sprints
-Chart my progress across different social media platforms

Feel free to follow me on Goodreads, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter in order to see my updates!

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Get to Know Your Bookworm

So a week or so ago, penw0man had a fabulous idea for the book bloggers on Tumblr to get to know each other a bit better by participating in what she tagged #gettoknowyourbookworm. In this tag, we were to share 25 random facts about ourselves, and any pictures we might feel comfortable posting. Now, I am normally not a selfie-posting person – I am a teacher, so have to be careful to follow my district’s social media-posting guidelines – but I couldn’t pass this up. And then I realized that some of you reading this might not actually know these things about me, either, so wanted to share this here. So, here are some pictures (click to make them larger) of me, and 25 things that you may – or may not – know about the person behind this blog!

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25 Random Facts About Merin:

  1. You’re probably saying my name wrong! It’s pronounced like the mer in “mermaid” or like Marin County, California. Mer-RIN. I’m convinced my parents spelled it wrong!
  2. I was born, raised and still live in a suburb just north of St. Louis, MO. St. Louis is in my heart and soul and I will never ever leave!
  3. I am a first grade teacher! It’s my third year of teaching, and my second in first grade. They are rambunctious but adorable and loads of fun. I love seeing their growth from the start of the year to the end!
  4. I played the violin from third grade until my freshman year of college and was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. But I burned out pretty badly, and now hardly touch it!
  5. If the pictures don’t give it away, let me go ahead and do that now. I LOVE baseball! I am a St. Louis Cardinals girl and have mad crushes on Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. They are my forever favorites!
  6. I love music – most nights you can find me curled up in front of the TV watching baseball, reading a book, and listening to my iPod, which is infinitely more interesting than the baseball announcers. I am eclectic when it comes to music, and find it hard to pick favorites, although I am partial to 80s hair metal bands, bubblegum pop, and Top 40 radio.
  7. I am a fast reader once I get going, but am also a procrastinator so it can take me much longer to finish a book than it should. What can I say? I am easily distracted!
  8. I’ve been reading since I was 4. The first book I could read all by myself was Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman.
  9. I am addicted to crime dramas. I can mainline those Criminal Minds or Law & Order marathons without any trouble at all, much to the irritation of my family!
  10. I hate driving! My commute to work is only 5 minutes and that’s just the way I like it.
  11. I cannot function in the morning without some sort of flavored latte. My favorite is Starbucks’ Cinnamon Dolce, both iced or hot, depending on the weather.
  12. I am a big giant introvert. I can also be very antisocial, although if you give me a reason I will most likely go do something outside of the house.
  13. I used to be massively into Harry Potter and its fandom, and volunteered at FictionAlley doing moderating on the boards and fic-handling. I still answer Help Desk emails, although my interest in the fandom side of HP has waned significantly.
  14. I work in the same school district that I attended from Pre-K though my senior year of high school.
  15. I did my undergraduate work at St. Louis University and graduated in 2005 with a BA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. I also have an MS in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  16. Aside from baseball, I am a pretty huge sports fanatic in general. I don’t care much about football or hockey, but anything else is fair game. I am a maniac when it comes time for the Olympics!
  17. I have an addiction to Tieks flats. They’re expensive, but SO comfortable, which is necessary when you’re a teacher and on your feet all day.
  18. I am one of those people who have massive celebrity crushes that tend to change randomly and without focus. Right now I have a big giant one on Jensen Ackles, which is why you’ll find lots of pictures of him on my Tumblr!
  19. I love fairy tales and fairy tale retellings! They’re one of my favorite book genres.
  20. Percy Jackson is my all-time favorite fictional character. Rick Riordan is a god.
  21. I don’t actually like being outside. I am not a fan of heat or bugs or things that make me itch.
  22. I am a huge Disney fangirl! Disney World is my favorite place on earth; I just love the atmosphere and the way the parks are laid out and everything about the franchise.
  23. I am a night owl. Getting up for work in the morning is torture.
  24. My birthday is June 15th!
  25. I have loads of patience for children, and very little for [stupid] adults. Which is why I work with the little ones!

So there you go! A little more information about the mind behind the blog. :)

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Waiting on Wednesday #88

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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 Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers (HMH Books for Young Readers):

mortalheartAnnith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.

She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn’t mean she has…

[ADD TO GOODREADS]

 

Why I’m looking forward to this book:

This is, hands down, one of my favorite YA series, and I absolutely cannot wait to read this third (and final) installment. While each dealing with the same overarching plot idea – being daughters of Death – each girl the series has focused on has been different and unique and amazing, and I’ve loved reading their stories. I know Annith’s will be no different, and can’t wait to get to know her just like we got to know Ismae and Sybella.

Release Date: November 4, 2014

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

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Top Ten Underrated Books in the Contemporary YA Genre

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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 topic is my Top Ten Underrated Books in the Contemporary YA Genre. I have to admit that it gave me a bit of pause initially, because I always have trouble figuring out what’s considered underrated. So I ultimately went with books that I personally really enjoyed and haven’t heard that much blogger buzz about. Because I like to have ten books on my lists, I may have cheated a bit with the last two, though, although I figure it’s my list and I can do what I want. Ha!

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ocdthedudeandme1) OCD, the Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn
This book was rather heartbreaking in its depiction of a girl with OCD and the trials and tribulations she goes through in high school. I found it poignant, eye-opening and definitely worth the read.

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2) Confessions series by Louise Rozett
I have not been shy in singing the praises of this series to the sky, and yet I feel like folks still aren’t reading it. There’s so much going on here, and Rose is a true treasure to the contemporary genre. She’s real, down to earth, and a perfect example of someone just trying to find herself and figure things out. I absolutely cannot WAIT for the third book!

ifIlie3) If I Lie by Corrine Jackson
Oh, man, this book made me cry. A very real, very heartbreaking look at peer pressure and social isolation. I felt so bad for Quinn, especially once everything comes out and you understand why she did what she did. Seriously, just go read this book!

breakingbeautiful4) Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
This was actually the first “ya contemporary” book I read that I can remember – I mostly stick to fantasy – but this was an amazing look at an abuse victim’s steps towards reclaiming her life while she tries to piece together what happened on the night her boyfriend was killed.

wherethestarsstillshine5) Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
Okay, admittedly, when this book was released, I heard a lot of buzz. And now, nothing. For me personally it took me a while to warm up to our main character in this book, but I ultimately was really touched by her story, even when she made some choices I definitely didn’t agree with.

theoryofeverything6) The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna
This one is sort of borderline contemporary, because there’s some string theory stuff going on as well as talking shaman pandas, but whatever, I’m going with it. This is another case of a “weird” girl protagonist, but I’m mostly reccing it for her amazing best friend. This one was just cute and fun while still being poignant in places, which is exactly how I like my YA contemps!

alsoknownas7) Also Known As by Robin Benway
This one MIGHT be pushing it a bit on the “underrated” front, but I feel like the author’s first book – Audrey, Wait! – still gets more press. Also Known As is charming and fun and I loved Maggie’s spirit and spunk. I think you will, too!

mehimthemandit8) Me, Him, Them, and It by Caela Carter
Another one that had a difficult protagonist to love, but a very real look at teenage pregnancy and fact that things just aren’t nice and neat and easy when dealing with a decision about what to do when you’re hit with something so unexpected and unplanned.

loveletterstothedead9) Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Okay, this one’s newer – it released earlier this year – and has actually gotten a fair amount of press. It’s also a book that may not work for everyone because of its style, but I personally found it a pretty emotional read, and loved the way the story from the past was weaved into the present.

fallingintoplace10) Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Talk about a new release – this one comes out tomorrow – but I was lucky enough to get an e-galley and just finished this one this weekend. And I really liked it, even though it’s told nonlinearly  and has another of those not-so-likable protagonists. And lots of point of views. But it just really worked for me, and is a fabulous addition to the genre, so on the list it goes!

Flergs_SpringFling_StitchedConfetti1 So that’s my list this week! What topic did you do? Please link me!

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REVIEW: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

fallingintoplaceFalling Into Place by Amy Zhang
Greenwillow Books, 2014
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.

Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.

mythoughtsFalling Into Place has been on my radar for a long time, back when the book was still untitled and didn’t have a blurb. It’s odd for a book to get so much pre-release press without any actual information available, and it definitely piqued my interest. So when I saw the book available for request on Edelweiss, I immediately jumped at the chance to read it, particularly since the blurb sounded completely different from anything I’d ever read before. And while the book took a bit to work for me personally – I’ll get into my reasons why in a second – ultimately it left me feeling pretty satisfied overall and more than willing to lend my own recommendation to the ones it’s already racked up.

First of all, I want to say that this book is not told in your usual style. The nonlinear storytelling might put some people off, and the multiple points of view take a bit of time to adjust to. The entire book is set around Liz Emerson’s attempted suicide, and you don’t learn until the very end what the ultimate outcome of her choice is. The book is told via flashbacks to her childhood (told by a seeming imaginary friend who maybe isn’t actually all that imaginary?), Liz’s own point of view leading up to the accident, plus chapters from her best friends’ points of view as well as the boy who has a crush on her. They’re all kind of erratically placed and don’t have much flow, so it took a bit for the story to gel for me personally. But things finally started to come together, and I think that fractured style of storytelling actually really worked in the long run, because Liz herself is such a mess. It only makes sense that her story is a bit of a mess as well.

There are a lot of poignant lines and moments of clarity as Liz slowly comes to realize that she’s been a really terrible person to most of the people around her. Truthfully I never actually felt sorry for her – she made her choices and her reasons for them didn’t really work for me. In fact, I didn’t really connect with any of the characters; they’re all deeply flawed (except for maybe Liam), and all do really unlikable things to others, and I just felt sort of horrified by their choices and lots of secondhand embarrassment for their victims. And yet the story is extremely compelling; I wanted to know what the ultimate outcome would be, and how things might be resolved. The truth is, the ending is a bit ambiguous in terms of all the issues brought up by all the different narrators, and nothing is really nicely tied up. This is good, because life isn’t nice and neat, but might frustrate some people who just want to know what happened. I thought it worked, but, again, am well aware that might not be the case for everyone.

All in all, I’m glad I gave Falling Into Place a go. I think there are some very important themes found within its pages, and would particularly recommend this one to the middle/high school age group just because of the subject matter and the whole importance placed on bullying and its effects. There are some adult themes here – drug use, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, etc. – but they were handled well and really used to show how badly peer pressure can turn you into something you don’t want to be, which is really the crux of this entire book. It’s also a really fast read, so if you’re interested at all in this one, I’d definitely say go for it. I personally think it’s well worth the read!

4stars

An e-galley was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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August Book Haul

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[Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews]

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Purchased:

Non-Book Items:

I was a very good girl when it came to requesting galleys or buying e-books or audiobooks this month, so my haul is sort of small when you consider it’s for the entire month of August. But I have so many books to read already, and just really didn’t need to add to the review queue!

What did you pick up recently? Please link me!

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