Monthly Recap (3) - June 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014 12:00 AM



Monthly Recap is where I share with you everything that happened on Courtney Reads A Lot during the past month. As always, this month flew by way too fast. And once again, I was not satisfied with the number of books I read, but I don't think I ever will be. Well, as long as I'm reading regularly, I am happy.

This past month was super busy for me! Not only was it my birthday month, but I was also house hunting, and now my boyfriend and I are official homeowners! Whoop whoop! We'll be moving into a townhouse sometime in November once it's built, just in time for the holidays! Although I am not looking forward to moving all of my books, as there's way too many of them, I am still really excited to take this big step! Anyways, here's all of my posts from the last month.

Book Reviews:
-Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
-The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman
-Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo
-Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

Other Posts:

As for the goals I set for myself this month, I did not meet any of them. I only read one debut and not two. I finished one series, The Grisha series, and not the two I was hoping for. I did not read at least 7 books this month, and I was planning another Bookish to a Fault post, but alas, I didn't write it. I'll have to post it this month. I'm beginning to think I might need some more realistic goals in the future, given how little time I have for reading some weeks.

Goals for Next Month: 
-Read 1 debut
-Finish 1 series
-Write another Bookish to a Fault post
-Don't buy a single book the entire month (this one will be difficult, but I have to save money and read some unread books I already have)

So what has everyone else been up to? What were some of your favorite reads this past month? And what are some books you're looking forward to reading next month?


Review: Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 9:02 PM
Title: Ask Again Later
Author: Liz Czukas
Published: March 11, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 336
Source: Library
Rating: 2 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“It was weird the way you could be friends with someone but not really know the ugly parts of their lives. We all had our secrets, I supposed.”
― Liz Czukas, Ask Again Later

Synopsis
Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there's only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.

Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother's best friend really be?

Tails: The theater geek...with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart's interests--even if he wants to share all his feelings?

Heart's simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all... (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Ask Again Later is a fun, light read great for stuffing in a beach bag, or for a much-needed break from the heavier issue books or fantasy chunksters you may be reading. It’s a fluff-filled book centering around prom and gossip and first crushes, and as such, it is not my type of read at all. It’s not a horrible book per se; it’s just not the kind of book I would normally pick up, even when I’m looking for a cute contemporary.

Review: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 12:51 PM
Title: Siege and Storm
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Published: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Series: The Grisha #2
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 432
Source: Purchased
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for Shadow and Bone*
“The ox feels the yoke, but does the bird feel the weight of its wings?”
― Leigh Bardugo, Siege and Storm

Synopsis
Darkness never dies.

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her--or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
I had already read Siege and Storm once before during my blogging hiatus last year, but I wanted to reread it and give it the positive review it deserves before I read Ruin and Rising. If possible, I enjoyed Siege and Storm even more the second time. I fell in love with the Grishaverse all over again, and I loved revisiting Ravka and all of its surrounding countries. Rereading it, I noticed small details I had missed the first time I read it. Since I already knew what was going to happen, I could pay more attention to the little things, such as the secondary characters and their developing personalities. Even though I had read it before, I was still deeply immersed in the storyline. I found it difficult to put the book down when food, sleep and work interfered with my reading time. I could have easily read it in one sitting if it hadn’t been for life and responsibilities getting in the way.

Review: The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 10:07 PM
Title: The Glass Casket
Author: McCormick Templeman
Published: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 352
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
"It was a coffin. A glass coffin, intricately carved, and set out in the yard for all to see. Inside it was the girl, her black hair splayed out around her, her lips like rotting cherries set against a newly ashen complexion."
― McCormick Templeman, The Glass Casket

Synopsis
Death hasn't visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders' bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal.

Rowan's village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan's door once again.

Only this time, its appetite is insatiable. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
The Glass Casket is a chilling, atmospheric tale that sent shivers down my spine and had me imagining all sorts of horrors when I heard the creak of a floorboard or the thump of a cat’s feet hitting the floor. I could not help but admire the beautiful writing, and I fell headfirst into this suspenseful story, flying through the pages in my excitement to find out what would happen next.  It borrows many elements from the classic fairy tales, resembling the darker tales you may have read from the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. Far from the modern fairy tale retellings where happily ever after is a given, The Glass Casket unravels a much more sinister, gruesome story that I rather enjoyed. Yet while I loved the first 95% of the book, I have to say I was disappointed with its conclusion, and I closed the book feeling let down in some way.

Waiting on Wednesday (39) - The Fall by Bethany Griffin

12:00 AM
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine. Every Wednesday, book bloggers post about books they cannot wait to read once they are released. This week, I am waiting on...


The Fall by Bethany Griffin
Hits Shelves on October 7, 2014
Add to Goodreads
Synopsis
Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher. (Goodreads)
Why I'm Waiting
This book had me at "reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher." It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Poe's work, and I'm beyond excited for this retelling of one of my favorite Poe short stories. Plus, it sounds so creepy. I mean, just look at that cover. I love it! I can never resist a psychological thriller, and I'm hoping this one will impress.

What about everyone else? What upcoming releases are you eagerly anticipating? Let me know!



Review: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Friday, June 13, 2014 12:41 PM
Title: Number the Stars
Author: Lois Lowry
Published: 1989
Publisher: Yearling
Genre: Children's Historical Fiction
Pages: 137
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“It was all imaginary, anyway—not real. It was only in the fairy tales that people were called upon to be so brave, to die for one another. Not in real-life Denmark. Oh, there were the soldiers; that was true. And the courageous Resistance leaders, who sometimes lost their lives; that was true too. But ordinary people like the Rosens and the Johansens? Annemarie admitted to herself, snuggling there in the quiet dark, that she was glad to be an ordinary person who would never be called upon for courage.”
― Lois Lowry, Number the Stars

Synopsis
Ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend Ellen Rosen often think about life before the war. But it's now 1943 and their life in Copenhagen is filled with school, food shortages, and the Nazi soldiers marching in their town.

The Nazis won't stop. The Jews of Denmark are being "relocated," so Ellen moves in with the Johansens and pretends to be part of the family. Then Annemarie is asked to go on a dangerous mission. Somehow she must find the strength and courage to save her best friend's life. There is no turning back now. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Believe it or not, this is my first time reading Number the Stars. Of course, I’ve read Lowry’s The Giver along with other books from that series, but somehow, I missed out on this childhood favorite. I know that is unforgivable! It’s such a shame that I went years without reading this. It’s inexcusable, and I’m happy I finally picked it up because Number the Stars was well worth my time. Now I finally understand all of the hype and why it received the Newberry medal, as Number the Stars is truly a treasure. This book will have you feeling emotionally affected weeks, months, and maybe even years after you’ve finished it. It’s a poignant, touching read about the unbreakable bond shared between two friends, two friends who may have different religious beliefs but who never let that come between them.

Waiting on Wednesday (38) - Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 12:00 AM
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking the Spine. This feature has bloggers post about books they are highly anticipating. This week, I'm waiting on...


Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Hits Shelves on September 23, 2014
Add to Goodreads
Synopsis
An utterly captivating reinvention of the Rapunzel fairytale weaved together with the scandalous life of one of the tale's first tellers, Charlotte-Rose de la Force.

Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. She is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens...

Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death, sixty-four years later. Called La Strega Bella, Selena is at the centre of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition, retaining her youth and beauty by the blood of young red-haired girls.

After Margherita's father steals a handful of parsley, wintercress and rapunzel from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off unless he and his wife give away their little red-haired girl. And so, when she turns seven, Margherita is locked away in a tower, her hair woven together with the locks of all the girls before her, growing to womanhood under the shadow of La Strega Bella, and dreaming of being rescued...

Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together to create a compelling story of desire, obsession, black magic and the redemptive power of love. (Goodreads)
Why I'm Waiting
At long last, Bitter Greens will be available in the United States! I am beyond excited! Why am I so stoked for this novel? Let me give you a list of reasons because only one will not suffice...

Grow Up And Read Young Adult: A Response to That Slate Article

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 12:49 PM
Source
Recently, an article posted on Slate concerning YA book reading habits incited some significant outrage in the book blogging community, and I would like to add myself to those angry numbers. Many bloggers and even The Washington Post responded negatively to this affront to all YA book bloggers. The Slate article, posted by the “lovely” Ruth Graham, claims that YA readers should be ashamed of their reading selections. She even goes so far as calling such reads as Divergent “transparently trashy stuff” that “no one defends as serious literature.” Besides making such outrageous generalizations, she goes on to say that she did not cry while reading The Fault in Our Stars because she is a grown-up. Well, folks, at the age of 23, nearly 24, I can proudly attest to the fact that I am not a grown-up. I cried like a baby while reading this emotional book about two teenagers suffering from cancer and finding love when they have almost lost all hope. If that makes me immature, naïve, or unsophisticated, then I will gladly admit to any of the above faults.

Showcase Sunday (5)

Sunday, June 8, 2014 12:00 AM
Showcase Sunday is hosted over at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Showcase Sunday is a feature where book bloggers can show all of the books and bookish goodies they bought, received, borrowed, etc recently. This post features books from my last few weeks, and I'd like to think I kept my book buying addiction under control. I snatched up the occasional Kindle book deal, but I avoided bookstores, and my wallet has thanked me.


Bought (Kindle):
-The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa
-The Eternity Cure (Blood of Eden #2) by Julie Kagawa
-Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) by Robin LaFevers
-To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han
-Another Little Piece by Kate Karys Quinn

Approved (Netgalley):
-Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin


Bought:
-World After (Penryn & the End of Days #2) by Susan Ee
-The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman

Borrowed:
-The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
-Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
-Ask Again Later by Liz Czukas
-Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

As you can see, Kindle books for $1.99 are my weakness. But, hey, that's a deal I cannot resist. I really enjoyed The Immortal Rules, so I just had to buy it for future rereads, and then I also bought the sequel when they were both on sale. I also loved Grave Mercy, so I was excited to find Dark Triumph at a low price. As for the other two, I've been meaning to read them, and now I finally have them on my Ipad!

This past week, I was approved for Tabula Rasa, which is exciting! Not only is it a debut, meaning it can count towards my Debut Author Challenge, but it is also described in the Goodreads synopsis as "The Bourne Identity meets Divergent," so I'm certainly intrigued.

I just finished The Glass Casket, and it is a new favorite! My review should be up soon. I'm reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao now, and I can understand why it received such high praise.

So what books did you guys buy and/or receive this week? Have you read any of these?


Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Thursday, June 5, 2014 10:00 AM
Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Author: 
Mark Haddon
Published: July 31, 2003
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 226
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“Prime numbers are what is left when you have taken all the patterns away. I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you spent all your time thinking about them.”
― Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Synopsis
Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow.

Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, fifteen-year-old Christopher is autistic and everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. He lives on patterns, rules, and a diagram kept in his pocket. Then one day, a neighbor's dog, Wellington, is killed and his carefully constructive universe is threatened. Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favorite (logical) detective, Sherlock Holmes. What follows makes for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing are a mind that perceives the world entirely literally. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is not an easy read, and it would leave even the most uncaring and insensitive of individuals emotionally affected. Told from the POV of Christopher Boone, an autistic teenager constantly overwhelmed by his everyday surroundings, I found myself sympathizing with his struggles. Christopher sees nearly everything in a different light than you or I would. His thought process is so much more logical, as very little emotion gets in the way of his making decisions. He observes small details that I would never even notice in the same situation. Yet, at the same time, he lacks some of the necessary skills anyone would need to live on their own. Even the simplest tasks, like purchasing a train ticket or boarding the train, are just too much for him. And as for walking in crowded public places, like a train station or a shopping mall, you can forget about it. The crowds and noises and advertisements all blend together, overstimulating him until he has to cover his ears, close his eyes, and solve a puzzle mentally to calm down.

Waiting on Wednesday (37) - I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 12:00 AM
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine. Every Wednesday, book bloggers post about books they cannot wait to read once they're released.


I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
Hits Shelves on September 16, 2014
Add to Goodreads
Synopsis
Jude and her brother, Noah, are incredibly close twins. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude surfs and cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and divisive ways . . . until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as an unpredictable new mentor. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.

This radiant, fully alive, sometimes very funny novel from the critically acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing—often all at once. (Goodreads)
Why I'm Waiting
When I first picked up The Sky Is Everywhere, I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did. In fact, I loved it so much that after I returned my library copy, I purchased my own copy because I knew there would be future rereads. It has become one of my favorite books ever, and I would even go so far as saying it's my favorite YA contemporary. I cannot wait to read Jandy Nelson's upcoming book, as I'm sure she won't disappoint.

What is everyone else waiting on this week? Let me know!




Top Ten Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag This Summer (31)

Monday, June 2, 2014 11:33 PM
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Every week, book bloggers post a top  ten list based on a bookish topic. This week's Top Ten Tuesday is:

Top Ten Books That Will Be In My Beach Bag This Summer
I've never been one for books that are categorized as "beach reads." The books I take to the beach are hardly ever light, fluffy books. One summer, I took The Tommyknockers by Stephen King, and another summer, I brought along The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. However, this summer, I'm going to try to make time for some YA contemporary reads that I usually wouldn't pick up. So this list will be a mix of more conventional beach reads and some other unexpected ones I just really want to read.

For fun, I paired each of these books with a beach bag that I think is a perfect fit! If only, I could afford to buy all of these!

1. To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before #1) by Jenny Han - I bought this one on sale for my Kindle app, and I definitely intend to read it this summer. I've heard such good things, and I'm sure it will be great for in between heavier books.
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