Review: Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)

Siege and Storm Seige and Storm (The Grisha, #2)
By: Leigh Bardugo
Website: http://www.leighbardugo.com/index1.html
Release Date: June 4th, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Series: The Grisha Series
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I returned to the Grisha series with high hopes and while I liked book two more than book one it was only barely more. Siege and Storm offers a lot to the series but still it was one of those books I liked, not loved. Nonetheless, as I always do, I will finish the series and pick up book three sometime soon and I’m hoping all of my little issues with the story are solved by then because I love this premise and these characters but something, I don’t know what is lacking here for me. Hopefully my brain can sort it out.

Throwback Thursday: Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8)

Proven Guilty Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8)
By: Jim Butcher
Website: http://www.jim-butcher.com/
Release Date: February 6th, 2007
Publisher: Roc Books
Series: The Dresden Files
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Here’s the thing. If you’re reading a review for book number eight in a series you’re either already hooked (like me) or you’re uncertain about going forward. Either way you’ve made it more than halfway through the series (as it currently stands at 15 books) so, really, are you going to quit on Harry Dresden now? Your choice.

Bookworm Problems: Reading Slumps

Reading Slump
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It’s perhaps one of the worst things that can happen to a bookworm. A reading slump.

For the last month or so I’ve been stuck in a pretty bad slump. I have many books on my to be read pile which, is taller than me, and I want to read them. I really want to. When I sit down to do just that, what happens? Nothing. I can’t focus. I can’t get into the story. Take away the usual challenges us bookworms face (unable to get comfortable, bad lighting, etc) and multiple those things and their frustration by a thousand and you will have entered the frustration of a reading slump.

So, below are some ways I’ve found that help break out of a reading slump. While none of these are fool proof and my slump isn’t over yet let me tell you I’m much more ready to settle in with a good book now than I was this past weekend when I resorted to doing nearly all of these things.

  1. Switch Genres
    This one is simple. If you’ve been reading about witches and wizards but can’t get into the next fantasy series or part of a current series take a break! I know for me this is difficult, especially if happens mid-series (I always feel obligated to read start to finish, no other books in between) but lately this is the trap I’ve fallen into. So, while I liked Leigh Bardugo’s first book in the Grisha Series, Shadow and Bone I had a hard time getting into it. The writing is good, the plot is interesting but I’d been so far into the fantasy realm lately that I didn’t recognize that I needed a break from it.
  2. Read something light
    Sometimes, if switching genres doesn’t work, I find reading a novella (whether from the same genre or different) will metaphorically wet my whistle and get me excited to read more ASAP. I found this particularly effective when reading the Selection Series by Kiera Cass. The novellas in between the books (The Prince, The Guard, The Queen and The Favorite) were exactly what I needed when I was in between the actual books and trying to get into the next one. Not only did they give a bit more about the characters from the main story but it made me even more intrigued by the main story line which, as an author, is exactly what you want readers to feel.
  3. Read reviews
    This is huge for me and sometimes this will make or break a slump. If I see someone raving about a new book my interest is piqued. When I see many people freaking out over the same? Well, the old adage of “How can X number of people be wrong?” stands true here. If I see a high average rating on GoodReads and a lot of in depth, fun reviews, I’m more likely to pick up that book and dive right in.
  4. Re-read an old favorite
    Sometimes you need to remember why you love reading. I mean, we all know it’s amazing and a great way to spend your time. However, when you’re in a slump you’re often discouraged about books and reading in general. In my case I feel guilty that I’m not reading with so many books on my pile (and reviews to write for this blog). So, sometimes you need to reset and go back. For me sometimes it’s Harry Potter. Other times I’ve gone way back and read The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton because I distinctly remember reading this book twice in one day.
  5. Switch up how you read
    Sometimes holding a physical book is part of the problem. If you can’t get comfortable you might give up. Try an e-reader. Try an audio book. Anyway to get the story in your mind and refocus on the love of storytelling  will sometimes be enough to snap you out of it.
  6. Get some recommendations
    Whether you go on GoodReads, ask a librarian, ask a bookstore associate or turn to a trusted friend (I’m looking at you, Kate) sometimes you just need someone to push a book in your hands and say “this one.” And, most of the time, those people are right.
  7. Watch a book based movie or show
    Whether you watch the 2016 movie Girl on the Train, the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, or any number of the books turned cable TV show (Pretty Little Liars, Recovery Road, Shadowhunters, etc) sometimes you just need the visual handed to you. I know plenty of people out there think like me and say “I can’t watch that until I read the book first.” Well, if you’re in a book slump, when exactly do you think you’ll get to the show or movie?
  8. Set the mood
    Mood is important. Have a reading chair or, in my case, nest. Have water, tea, coffee and snacks near by. Make sure the room you’re in is at a comfortable temperature. If you like it cold so you can be under a blanket while you read, open the window or lower the temperature in your home. If you like it warmer, sans blanket, dress warm and cozy or raise the temperature. Make sure the lighting is exactly how you like it.  Most importantly, don’t let other distractions enter your mind. Put your phone aside (or turn it on silent mode). Play soft music. Whatever you need to enjoy your much deserved down time.
  9. Focus on your goal
    If you’ve set a reading goal for the year (like I have) sometimes you need to remind yourself of that. And while you can’t force yourself out of a slump sometimes focusing on the goal can help. For me, despite my reading slump, I have promised myself to read for at least twenty minutes a day. Some days it’s a struggle and some days I’ve found myself reading well beyond those twenty minutes, if only to finish the chapter.
  10. Reorganize your shelves
    For me this is a last resort kind of thing. Generally that’s because I’m very…let’s call it particular, about how my shelves are organized. While I love the color coded shelves or genre specific shelves you see on Instagram and other social media platforms I just can’t bring myself to do it. For me, reorganizing generally means going through and pulling out the books I think I’ll want to read next, dusting off my shelves and enjoying my extremely tall to be read pile. While my friends and family are visibly concerned at such a pile, for me it is a physical representation of a challenge to myself. And I never turn down a reading challenge.

What are your tips for getting over a reading slump? Anything that always works for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Throwback Thursday: Dead Beat (The Dresden Files #7)

Dead Beat Dead Beat(The Dresden Files #7)
By: Jim Butcher
Website: http://www.jim-butcher.com/
Release Date: May 2nd, 2006
Publisher: Roc Books
Series: The Dresden Files
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There are certain things that Harry Dresden cannot, and will not, abide by. Threatening his friends (in this case, Karrin Murphy) is one of them. Another, is necromancy. But, when his arm is twisted into finding the lost information on an old necromancy spell that could rip the world in half the blackmail on Murphy is too much and Harry must make a deal with what he feels may be the closest thing to the devil, a Black Court vampire named Mavra.

Review: Damned

Damned Damned
By: Chuck Palahniuk
Website: http://chuckpalahniuk.net/
Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
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When you think of Chuck Palahniuk I’m sure most people think of perhaps his most well known work, Fight Club, which I understand, given how well written it is and what a hit the move became. But, let’s look at another work of his that is just as sharp and witty to read as Fight Club. I might not have loved it as much, and it seems many fans agree, but still the book is worth the read if you can get into it.

Review: 45 Pounds (More or Less)

45 Pounds (More or Less) 45 Pounds (More or Less)
By: K.A. Barson
Release Date: July 11, 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
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Fat. It sounds like a dirty word, doesn’t it? It’s something you shouldn’t call someone or, heaven forbid, even say in front of someone who isn’t the societal norm of the perfect weight. In this book we see how one teenager takes on this word, her own body and, most importantly, her view of herself, to become the person she feels she needs to be.

Throwback Thursday: Blood Rites (The Dresden Files #6)

Blood Rites Blood Rites (The Dresden Files #6)
By: Jim Butcher
Website: http://www.jim-butcher.com/
Release Date: August 3rd, 2004
Publisher: Roc Books
Series: The Dresden Files
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When White Court Vampire Thomas Raith joins Harry on an errand (well, a  rescue mission) to save stolen puppies (yes, stolen puppies) Harry thinks his night is interesting enough. Add in gorrilla demons and it’s another thing entirely. Things only get weirder when one of the puppies stows away in Harry’s car. He’s amused but also alarmed as the dog, while a great security system which alerts him to an attack by the Black Court, Harry really doesn’t know what to do with the puppy. Let’s just say Mister doesn’t approve of the new house guest. And this, like always, is just the start to Harry’s next insane adventure. And boy is this book a doozy. 

Throwback Thursday: Death Masks (The Dresden Files #5)

Death Masks Death Masks (The Dresden Files #5)
By: Jim Butcher
Website: http://www.jim-butcher.com/
Release Date: August 5th, 2003
Publisher: Roc Books
Series: The Dresden Files
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Harry’s ex, Susan Rodriguez (half-vampire)is back, just in time for evil fallen angels, a duel with the Red Court’s champion, a missing mystical Shroud he’s been asked to help find and a diseased headless corpse that CPD needs help dealing with. If Harry’s life wasn’t already complicated his good friend and Knight of the Cross, Michael Carpenter, is there to help Harry when it’s needed, and throw another wrench into the already complicated few days Harry is having. 

Review: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)

Shadow & Bone Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)
By: Leigh Bardugo
Website: http://www.leighbardugo.com/index1.html
Release Date: June 5th, 2012
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Series: The Grisha Series
Award: Pennsylvania Young Readers' Choice Award Nominee for Young Adults (2014), Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award Nominee (2014), Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), Prix Elbakin.net for Meilleur roman fantasy traduit Jeunesse (2013)
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When you hear an author’s name enough you become interested. I had heard of Leigh Bardugo a lot lately and decided to give it a try. Six of Crows has had such rave reviews I was afraid to not like her style for something so widely loved. So, I chickened out of starting there and picked up her previously published trilogy, the Grisha trilogy, instead. (Plus, I had a gift card and got the box set.) So, let me tell you about the first book in the trilogy, Shadow and Bone.

Review Special: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why Thirteen Reasons Why
By: Jay Asher
Website: http://www.thirteenreasonswhy.com/
Release Date: October 18th, 2007
Publisher: Razorbill
Award: Georgia Peach Book Award Nominee for Honor book (2009), South Carolina Book Award for Young Adult Book (2010), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Preis der Jugendjury (2010), California Book Award Silver Medal, Lincoln Award (2013) Missouri Gateway Readers Award (2010), Oklahoma Sequoyah Award for High School (2010)
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Maybe you’ve seen this title mentioned a lot lately. Thirteen Reasons Why. It’s a new series on Netflix. Recently a 10th Anniversary edition of the book was published. What you should really know is that this book is gripping, haunting and one of the books in my library that I purposely have two copies of (my original copy and the 10th Anniversary edition) and that I won’t be departing with either copy, ever.