Monthly Recap (1) - April 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 10:00 AM

This is my first Monthly Recap post. I've seen similar posts on other blogs, and I thought it was a great way to rewind and take a look at what has been going on with Courtney Reads A Lot over the past month.

Book Reviews:
-Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier
-Night of Cake & Puppets (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2.5) by Laini Taylor
-A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire #1) by George R.R. Martin
-Hyperbole & A Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
-Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor
-The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Other Posts:
-Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read
-Showcase Sunday (3)
-Top Ten Characters Who Are Bookish
-Bookish to a Fault (1) - Confessions of a Bookaholic

After a long break from book blogging, I am thrilled to be back! I have less time than I'd like to read, but I try to fit it in as much as possible, especially when I'm reading a book that's difficult to put down. This month, I was starting to get back into the swing of things and I was having so much fun rediscovering what makes book blogging enjoyable - connecting with fellow book bloggers and sharing reviews among other reasons. I hope to read more books next month, and I'm considering participating in Bout of Books! We shall see!

Goals for Next Month: 
-Read another debut for my Debut Author challenge (perhaps I'll read two but let's not get ahead of ourselves)
-Finish 1-2 series for my personal challenge
-Participate in Bout of Books?
-Read more books!

How about everyone else? How was your month? Did you get a lot of reading done?

Bookish To A Fault (1) - Confessions of a Bookaholic

Monday, April 28, 2014 10:20 PM

I'm so excited to introduce my new original feature Bookish to a Fault. Bookish to a Fault is basically where I confess my nonsensical and/or shameful reading habits and bookish behaviors. I hope these posts will act as a reality check because I'm often in denial when it comes to my ridiculous self.

Confessions of a Bookaholic 

For my first Bookish to a Fault, I chose a topic that I seriously need to address since it concerns my wallet. I just need to come out and say it: "Hi, my name is Courtney and I'm a bookaholic". I've admitted this to myself and to others many a time even though my admission has yet to solve anything. I frequently buy books when I still have tons of unread books waiting for me at home. It is an addiction. It's why I have to avoid bookstores like the plague because every time I go to a bookstore, I find myself searching for books to buy just because I can. Because I have that power! I see a book that has a nice cover or that I've been meaning to read for some time, and I'm a goner. From the outside, I may appear to be calmly holding a book in my hand, admiring the cover and contemplating its merits. But on the inside, my logical and irrational halves are engaged in all-out war.

Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Thursday, April 24, 2014 6:50 PM
Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Published: March 13, 2014
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Magical Realism, Historical Fiction
Pages: 301
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“Love makes us such fools.”
―Leslye Walton, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender was not at all what I was expecting, and I mean that in the best possible way. There are many different directions I could have seen this book taking. I thought it would mainly be told in young Ava's time, with flashbacks scattered throughout as Ava uncovers more of her family history through research. Instead, this haunting tale is told chronologically, beginning at, well, the beginning, where Ava's family history takes a turn for the worst.

Top Ten Characters Who Are Bookish (27)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 12:00 AM
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday, book bloggers share a bookish top ten list. This week's Top Ten Tuesday allowed for some creativity with Top Ten Characters Who _____, and I chose...

Top Ten Characters Who Are Bookish

There is nothing I love more than reading a book with a protagonist that loves to read. It makes the character so much more relatable, and while I know they're fictional characters, I still love learning about their favorite books and how they escape from reality through fiction.

1. Matilda Wormwood from Matilda by Roald Dahl - I haven't read this book in years, but it was one of my favorites when I was younger. Matilda is a bookish fiend, and I think she definitely belongs on this list.

2. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter series - Hermione was an obvious choice, as she is very studious and bookish. Her extensive knowledge of spells saves Harry and Ron time and time again.

3. Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices series - Tessa loves reading, and she dreams of one day going on adventures like the heroines in her favorite books. If she only knew what the future had in store for her!

4. Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey - Catherine reads far too many Gothic novels, which only fuels her overactive imagination and leads her to dream up all sorts of skeletons in people's closets.

5. Liesel from The Book Thief - The Book Thief takes place in 1939 in Nazi Germany. Like Liesel, I'd want to steal books and spend most of my time reading too. What better way to escape from such a dismal time?

6. Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire series -  I figure it's only fair to include a male character in this list since not only females read. When asked why he reads so many books, the Imp says, "My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer and I have my mind...and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge." Well said, Tyrion.

7. Alaska from Looking for Alaska - Alaska's room is filled with stacks upon stacks of books. She says, “When I look at my room, I see a girl who loves books.”

8. Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Another male character! Charlie loves reading so much, he is actually given additional reading assignments by his English teacher, Bill. I wish I had an English teacher like that in high school. I would have loved the extra reading.

9. Charmain Baker from House of Many Ways - Charmain may be annoying at times, but I love her because she's a bookworm. She would gladly spend her entire day with her nose in a book, but instead, against all of her expectations, she gets caught up in a magical adventure.

10. Bastian from The Neverending Story - Bastian takes refuge in books, escaping from a life of bullying and insecurities. When he steals a book called The Neverending Story, he has no idea what he's in for.

Can anyone think of a bookish character I forgot to mention? Did you pick a different topic for this week's TTT? Let me know and leave the link to your Top Ten Tuesday in the comments!

2014 Reading Challenges

Sunday, April 20, 2014 10:35 PM
I know I'm kinda late to the party, but better late than never. I missed signing up for reading challenges at the beginning of the year because I was taking a blogging break. I figured I'd actually challenge myself this year though I'm not sure how this will all play out. We shall see!

2014 Debut Author Challenge

Even though this challenge is to read 12 books by debut authors published this year, I'm going to aim for 10 since I'm already behind. Maybe, just maybe, I'll make it to 12, but I'm not promising any miracles. Here's some of the debuts I'm interested in reading:
Personal Challenge
I am challenging myself to finish at least 10 book series, whether it's a series I've already started or a new one, before the end of the year. I start way too many series and then leave them unfinished, and that is unacceptable. Now this could mean finishing an entire series or just all of the books that are currently released for that series. Some series I'd like to finish or start...
  • The Monstrumologist series
  • Jessica Darling series 
  • Study series
  • Curse Workers series
  • Fire and Thorns series
  • The Chemical Garden series
  • Penryn & the End of Days series
  • Shatter Me series
  • His Fair Assassin series
  • Divergent series
  • Matteo Alacran series 
  • Lunar Chronicles series 
  • Necromancer series 
  • Maze Runner series 
  • A Song of Ice and Fire series 
  • Shadowfell series 
These are all possibilities, but some of them, I will admit, are low priority. I may not have liked the first book as much, or I'm not sure I'll like the later books because of bad reviews. And obviously, I will not be finishing all of these this year. I am a mood reader so it's just not happening. But I definitely plan on getting some serious reading done this year.

Have you read any of these series? Or are there any 2014 debuts you loved or look forward to reading? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Friday, April 18, 2014 12:54 PM
Title: Dreams of Gods & Monsters
Author: Laini Taylor
Published: April 8, 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 613
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight*
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts

and started the apocalypse.”
―Laini Taylor, Dreams of Gods and Monsters

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael's brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz ... something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter? (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
With deep regret and sadness, I read the final pages of Dreams of Gods & Monsters and finished a beloved series. As this trilogy comes to a close, I am left feeling conflicted. While I couldn't help but admire Taylor's gorgeous writing style, as always, I also had higher expectations. I was hoping that the ending would leave me feeling hollowed out as if I had lost something precious. I wanted tears; I wanted to cry from the aching beauty that is Taylor's writing. Instead, I felt like the final book in this trilogy was kind of a letdown compared to how much I loved Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight.

Showcase Sunday (3)

Sunday, April 13, 2014 11:00 AM

Showcase Sunday is hosted over at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Every Sunday, book bloggers can post about the books, ebooks and book swag they received over the past week. This is my first Showcase Sunday in a longggggg time, but I'm only showing the books I've gotten over the past week. I promise! Well, okay, maybe there are a few books in this post that I acquired over the past two weeks, but it hasn't been that long. I kinda went through some book blogging and book buying withdrawal over these past few months, so I went crazy recently. No big deal.

Bought (Kindle):
Night of Cake & Puppets (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2.5) by Laini Taylor - This novella may be short and sweet, but I absolutely adored both Zuzana and Mik. It was wonderful being able to witness their first date! (my review)

The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson - I cannot wait to read the finale to Carson's Fire and Thorns series. I have read glowing review after glowing review, and I'm 99.9% sure I'll love it!

Sea of Shadows (Age of Legends #1) by Kelley Armstrong - This is yet another series I'm starting while I have yet to finish a whole bunch of other series, but I couldn't resist. The gorgeous cover drew me in!

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1) by Pierce Brown - I actually haven't heard much about this book yet, but only because I wasn't reading book reviews until recently. But when my friend told me it was only $1.99 for the Kindle, and that it had been receiving some amazing reviews, I snatched it up right away. 

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn - I've heard so many good things about this book, but book bloggers won't reveal anything about the synopsis for fear of spoiling the plot. The suspense only intrigues me more, and I need to read this soon!

Paper Towns by John Green - I've read two of Green's books now, and I'm curious to see how I'll like Paper Towns.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton - I wanted to read it because 1) it's a standalone, 2) people have been raving about it in their reviews and 3) the beautiful cover.

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick - I'm anxious to read this year's Printz Award winner!

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #3) by Laini Taylor - I am reading this book now, and so far so good. It's thicker than I expected, but I'm totally cool with that. I don't want this series to end!

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh - This book was hysterically funny, just as I expected it would be after following her blog for years. (my review)

Fourth Comings (Jessica Darling #4) and Perfect Fifths (Jessica Darling #5) by Megan McCafferty - I can't wait to see where Jessica Darling's life takes me next! I'm also somewhat apprehensive since I've read book reviews, and I've heard the series goes downhill. But at least I'll finally finish this series with no more procrastination!

So what books did you guys receive this week? Or have you read any of these? I'd love to hear what you thought about them!

Review: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Saturday, April 12, 2014 11:00 AM
Title: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened
Author: Allie Brosh
Published: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Touchstone
Genre: Non-Fiction, Humor
Pages: 371
Source: Gift
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“No one could tell me not to eat an entire cake—not my mom, not Santa, not God—no one. It was my cake and everyone else could go fuck themselves.”
―Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative--like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it--but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness! (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Every once and awhile, I like to mix it up and read something funny instead of the darker reads I usually pick up, and Hyperbole and a Half was just what I needed to tickle my funny bone. Hyperbole and a Half was such a delightful read, and I'm still recovering from the uncontrollable fits of laughter it caused. I don't know how Brosh does it, but she takes everyday situations and just makes them hysterically funny with a few simple drawings and spot-on word choice. I've been a fan of her blog, Hyperbole and a Half, for years so I was ecstatic when I heard she had a book coming out. This book is a mix of new chapters and some posts from her blog, and each chapter is a whirlwind of emotion, equal parts touching and hilarious.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin Book Review

Thursday, April 10, 2014 10:00 AM
Title: A Game of Thrones
Author: George R. R. Martin
Published: August 6, 1996
Publisher: Bantam
Series: A Song of Ice and Fire #1
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Pages: 837
Source: Gift
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“When you play a game of thrones you win or you die.”
―George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes of the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom's protective Wall.

At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Some time ago, there was girl named Courtney who decided to take a chance and buy the first season of Game of Thrones without having watched a single episode. From that day on, her life would never be the same. But seriously, it wasn't the same and it has changed for the better. After discovering this extraordinary tv series, I knew I had to read the books. Finally, I have started this popular series, and, so far, I have no regrets.

Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read (26)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 12:00 AM
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. I missed Top Ten Tuesday when I wasn't blogging so I was really excited to do this week's! The topic this week is:

Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read

This one was a toughie because most of the books I've read may contain some unusual elements, but they still are inspired by earlier books and/or remind me of books I've read before. Yet I managed to decide on a list though I'm sure there are others I've forgotten.

1. Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz - I may not have particularly liked Teeth or felt a connection to any of the characters, but I still have to admit that the premise was as unique as they come and the characters were downright bizarre, especially Teeth who is half fish and half boy.

2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - Ready Player One takes the futuristic novel to an entirely new level. In 2044, the line between the real world and virtual reality has vanished, and most of humanity spends their days in a virtual utopia called the OASIS. By mixing together 80's pop culture and advanced technology, Cline has created a terrifying but convincing world that, in our day and age with Google Glass, doesn't seem that far off.

3. The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey - I rave about this book on a regular basis and basically tell everyone, even if you're not a fan of horror, to read it. One of the reasons why I love this book and the entire series, except The Final Descent which I still have yet to read, is because I have never read anything quite like it before. It's one of those rare finds I just happened to stumble upon, and I'm so happy I did!

4. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - It's been some time since I read this book, but I still remember the unusual setting and the haunting black and white photos scattered throughout the book. The Goodreads synopsis mentions "a mysterious island" and "an abandoned orphanage," but you can trust me when I say there is nothing normal about the island or the orphanage. I hope to read its sequel, Hollow City, sometime in the future!

5. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor - I had read so many glowing reviews for this book before I picked it up, but even then, I had no idea what I was in for. The scenes in Prague were just as fantastical and out of this world as the ones that took place in Eretz. Taylor created a world like I had never experienced, and I couldn't think of another book it reminded me of while I was reading it.

6. Eon by Alison Goodman - Eon is heavily influenced by Asian culture, but it has some unique characteristics that I have yet to see in any other book. The energy dragons are unlike any other dragons you may see in fantasy. Their presence is felt but they are rarely seen. These differences really made for a refreshing, enjoyable reading experience.

7. White Cat by Holly Black - White Cat became one of my new favorites when I read it last year. The premise is wild, and I knew it had great potential before I even read it. Cassel, the protagonist, is a curse worker, and his family seems like the magical equivalent of the Italian mafia. Black definitely outdid herself with this series. Having the power to affect someone's emotions or change their dreams with a touch of a hand? How does she come up with this?

8. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale tells the story of a futuristic society that has chosen to return to a past lifestyle. Women are no longer allowed to read or have jobs, and the commanders have the control. It's terrifying to even imagine and some scenes were upsetting, but it definitely brought something new to the table.

9. Wither by Lauren DeStefano - I just realized I've been picking a lot of dystopian reads, and Winter is yet another to add to the list because of its unique premise. In The Chemical Garden series, a botched experiment has led to shortened lifespans for both women and men. Women now have a life expectancy of only 20 years, and men take multiple wives at a young age in the hopes of increasing the population by having as many children as possible.

10. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - I read this one over my blogging break, and I unfortunately did not write a review for this one, but I plan to reread it eventually. This book is indescribable. Not only is it amazing, but it tells a story that seems somewhat familiar, but at the same time it is like nothing I've ever read before. Spain comes to life with Zafon's words, and suddenly it feels like it's no longer Spain but an unexplored world hiding countless dark secrets. I definitely enjoyed the mystery in this book!

What about you guys? What are some of the most unique books you have read? I could always use recommendations!

Review: Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor

Saturday, April 5, 2014 11:00 AM
Title: Night of Cake & Puppets
Author: Laini Taylor
Published: November 26, 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Series: Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2.5
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 79
Source: Purchased
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“It’s not stalking if you don't follow them home, right?”
― Laini Taylor, Night of Cake & Puppets

In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik.

Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike. Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her.

Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Usually, when it comes to novellas, I'd rather just skip them and stick with the actual series. I've never been one for concerning myself with the side characters and their POVs because they are secondary characters and I believe they should remain that way. I'm much more interested in the main storyline. I'm also not a huge fan of alternating perspectives, even though there are some cases where it does work. Yet I was willing to ignore all that for Night of Cake & Puppets. Why? Because it was written by Laini Taylor, the author of Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight, and her writing has yet to disappoint me. And, oh boy, did I make the right decision.

Review: Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

Thursday, April 3, 2014 10:00 AM
Title: Heart's Blood
Author: Juliet Marillier
Published: October 2, 2009
Publisher: Roc
Genre: Adult Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 398
Source: Gift
Rating: 4.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“Even in that time of utter darkness, somewhere deep inside me the memory of love and goodness had stayed alive.”
― Juliet Marillier, Heart's Blood

Whistling Tor is a place of secrets and mystery. Surrounded by a wooded hill, and unknown presences, the crumbling fortress is owned by a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan's family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Since I read my first Juliet Marillier book, Shadowfell, I have yet to be disappointed in a single book that she has written. There is something magical about her writing style as the words seem to come to life on the pages. Heart's Blood was no exception, and I was once again impressed by Marillier's writing skill.

Long Time, No Write

Tuesday, April 1, 2014 6:51 PM
Hey guys...yes, I have returned from the dead. Alas, it has been too long. I apologize for my sudden departure from the book blogging world. It has been a rough year so far...actually, that's a lie because 2013 was also filled with many challenges. In the past, I have tried to keep this blog from getting too personal, but oh well, it's my blog so on with the bleeding heart and suffering!

First off, I want to say how much I appreciated the tweets from fellow book bloggers that were concerned about me. That meant a lot to me, and I am sorry that I did not even write a farewell post or anything whatsoever that explained my absence. 

I had to take a break from blogging because it seemed like everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong in the past year or so. It was just a very vulnerable, painful time for me, and I needed a breather. I don't regret anything that happened or any of my choices. I was very depressed for quite some time, but I have finally made it through. I have grown stronger because of what I have been through. I learned who I could depend on and that I didn't really know some people as well as I thought I did. I guess I had some more growing up to do.

I have definitely missed blogging and sharing my thoughts and, most of all, interacting with other book bloggers! For awhile, my book blog acted as a escape from reality. Now, I want Courtney Reads A Lot to coexist with reality. I will be keeping myself busy with writing hopefully and just living life as I want to so the posts will not be coming as fast and furious as they did in the past. But I will still be making time for my book blog because I am passionate about both writing and reading. Plus, I really missed being a part of the book blogging world, and while I did need a break from it, I am happy to finally be back.

From now on, I will not stress myself out about how many books I'm reading or how fast I'm writing posts. I will also participate in less memes. I don't want blogging to feel like a chore. I'm doing this for fun, and I will be posting at my own pace. 

I look forward to future posts and to reading some of my favorite blogs again! I also can't wait to hear from fellow bloggers!

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