Monthly Recap (2) - May 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014 4:01 PM

Monthly Recap is where I share with you what I posted on Courtney Reads A Lot over the past month. For me, this month flew by so fast, and, as always, I felt like I didn't read as much as I wanted to. There's just never enough time for all the books I want to read, and this month especially. So much was going on this month, but I did manage to fit in some reading time at least.

Book Reviews:
-Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (Necromancer #1) by Lish McBride
-Fourth Comings (Jessica Darling #4) by Megan McCafferty
-Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen
-Perfect Fifths (Jessica Darling #5) by Megan McCafferty
-Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Other Posts:
-Top Ten Book Covers I'd Frame As Art
-Waiting on Wednesday (36) - The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
-Courtney Reads A Lot Adopts a Puppy!
-Showcase Sunday (4)
-Top Ten Books About Friendship
-The Book Blogger Confessions Tag
-Top Ten Book Quotes

Armchair BEA:
-Day 1: Introductions & Literature
-Day 2: Author Interaction & More Than Just Words
-Day 3: Expanding Blogging Horizons & Novellas/Short Stories
-Day 4: Giveaway & Beyond the Borders
-Day 5: Recovering from a Blogging Slump & Young Adult
-Day 6: Armchair BEA Wrap Up Post

Yes, Armchair BEA gets its very own section! As you can tell, this month was very post heavy even though I did not actually read any more books than I usually do. I participated in Armchair BEA for the first time this year, and I loved it! I'd definitely do it again next year. I made an effort to post on others' blogs, but I still wish I could have visited everyone's. If only! If you're unsure what exactly Armchair BEA is, you can check out the Armchair BEA website here.

In other news, there were some interesting developments this month, as in I adopted a puppy! Or well, a three year old dog. There's been ups and downs with the training, but Riley is settling in very well, and I'm so happy to have him. As for my monthly goals I set in my first Monthly Recap post, I read 1 author debut (Stolen Songbird) and finished 1 series (the Jessica Darling series), taking me one step further for each of my 2014 reading challenges. Hey, I'll take it. As for Bout of Books, I did not end up participating, but there's always this August. I did not read more books than last month, but oh well.

Goals for Next Month: 
-Read at least two debuts for Debut Author Challenge
-Finish at least 2 book series for personal challenge
-Read at least 7 books by the end of the month
-Write another Bookish to a Fault post

How was everyone else's month? What was your favorite read for May? Are you ready for summer? I am!

Armchair BEA Day 6 - Wrap-Up Post

10:56 AM
Design by Amber of Shelf Notes
We have reached the end of Armchair BEA, and I am exhausted. I haven't posted this much on my blog ever. While I'm happy things will calm down posting wise, I'm also sad that this week is over. I really enjoyed Armchair BEA, and overall, it was a wonderful experience. This was my first time participating, and I don't want it to end. Sure, it was a little too hectic to be an every week kind of thing, but I still had so much fun. As this was my first year participating, I'd like to share with you some of my favorite things about Armchair BEA.

1) The bloggers. Obviously, the other book bloggers and authors make this event what it is. I loved visiting others' blogs and meeting new people. I didn't interact as much as I could have, and I missed out on the Twitter parties, but I tried to comment back and visit as many blogs as I possibly could. And everyone was giving each other support, leaving meaningful comments and participating in discussions.You guys are all amazing and your blogs are so awesome! Keep doing what you're doing because the book blogging community is so wonderful!

2) The discussions. What avid reader doesn't love discussing books? I loved how there were dual topics each day, so participants had a choice. If they weren't into one topic, they could just write about the other. I enjoyed reading the discussions, and I found so many books I need to read.

3) Guest articles. I didn't get to read all of the guest posts on the Armchair BEA site, but I really loved the ones I did read. One of my favorite guest articles was To Make A Long Story Short..., which explored different ways you can discover more short stories to read.

Overall, it was a blast, and I definitely want to participate next year! I really appreciated all of the comments, follows, etc! If you participated in Armchair BEA, what were your thoughts? Did have you a fun time and would you join in again next year?

Armchair BEA Day 5 - Recovering From a Book Blogging Slump & Middle Grade/Young Adult

Friday, May 30, 2014 10:51 AM
Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

It's Day #5 for Armchair BEA! We're almost at the end, and I have really enjoyed myself so far. I've loved all the discussion topics and the giveaways yesterday were especially fun! By the way, my giveaway for a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card is still open if you want to enter. It's also so nice to meet new book bloggers and visit their amazing blogs! Today's dual discussion topics are a Topic of Choice and Middle Grade/Young Adult. I hope you enjoy this post! And if you'd like to check out more blogs that are participating today, here's the linky for Armchair BEA Day 5!

Armchair BEA Day 4 - Giveaway & Beyond the Borders

Thursday, May 29, 2014 12:00 AM
Design by Amber of Shelf Notes
We've reached Day #4 of Armchair BEA! Can you believe it? Today is the highly anticipated giveaway day, a favorite for Armchair BEA participants. Who doesn't love winning bookish goodies?

And today, I am hosting my first ever giveaway (and probably the only one you'll be seeing for awhile because I'm saving up to move out) in the spirit of Armchair BEA! One lucky winner will be receiving a Barnes & Noble gift card for a total of $20! And it's up to the winner whether they want it mailed to them or just sent by email. I'm not sure if I did this Rafflecopter thingie right as it is my first time doing it, and I apologize if it's confusing at all. Good luck everyone!

Review: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 10:10 PM
Title: Midwinterblood
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Published: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Pages: 272
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“If a life can be ruined in a single moment, a moment of betrayal, or violence, or ill luck, then why can a life not also be saved, be worth living, be made, by just a few pure moments of perfection?"
― Marcus Sedgwick, Midwinterblood

Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick is unlike anything I've read before. This book takes you on a long but rewarding journey of despair and heartache, love lost and found again. Of course, other books have chronicled a series of lives where reincarnated lovers meet again and again, but these types of books usually move forward in years and not in reverse. Midwinterblood is the exception to the rule, as it spirals backwards in time, and we find ourselves at the end of the story in the beginning and vice versa. My mind was left reeling as the story jumped wildly from one time period to the next, always going backwards in time, but I also appreciated this unique twist on what could have been an overused storyline.

Armchair BEA Day 3 - Expanding Blogging Horizons & Novellas/Short Stories

12:00 AM
Design by Amber of Shelf Notes
It's already Day #3 of Armchair BEA! For some reason, this week has flown by for me, possibly because I had off Monday for Memorial Day. I haven't had much time for blogging this week, but I am still having so much fun writing these discussion posts and commenting on others' blogs. It's so neat to see all of the different book blogs and read their posts. I am hoping to have more time the rest of the week to visit other blogs and comment.

Today's discussion topics are Expanding Blogging Horizons & Novellas/Short Stories. I'm really excited to discuss these, since short stories and novellas are rarely given enough attention, especially by me. I always mean to read more short stories, and then I fail at doing so. But enough babbling! Let's get this party started!

Top Ten Book Quotes (30)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 12:30 AM
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday, bloggers post top ten lists based on a bookish theme. This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic was a freebie, and I chose...

Top Ten Book Quotes
I'm constantly pinning book quotes to my Pinterest board I titled "Quotable," and I cannot get enough of them. I'm sure there are some I'm forgetting, but here are the ones I could think of.

1. "Forever is composed of nows."
― Emily Dickinson 

Armchair BEA Day 2 - Author Interaction & More Than Just Words

12:00 AM
Design by Amber of Shelf Notes
It's Day #2 for Armchair BEA, and I did not participate nearly as much as I wanted to on Day #1. Memorial Day weekend was very busy, and I didn't have much time for blogging. But hopefully, the rest of the week will be better. If you missed my first post for Armchair BEA and are unfamiliar with the event, here's some more info.

Today's topics are Author Interaction and More Than Just Words. I have to say I haven't interacted with many authors and I don't read many graphic novels, so these topics were a little tough for me. But I managed.

Armchair BEA Day 1 - Introductions & Literature

Monday, May 26, 2014 12:55 AM
Design by Amber of Shelf Notes
I am so excited to be a participant of Armchair BEA 2014! This is my first time participating, and I look forward to each discussion post and to visiting other book blogs! I may even join in for some of the Twitter parties, but we shall see. I am horrible at keeping up with those.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Armchair BEA and have yet to participate, Armchair BEA is for the book bloggers that cannot attend Book Expo America and/or the BEA Blogger Convention in New York City this year. This virtual convention offers some bookish discussions, giveaways and other events so us book bloggers at home won't miss out on all the fun. Armchair BEA will last from
May 26th to May 31st, 2014, and dual discussion topics are scheduled for each day. Each participant can post on one topic or both; it's all up to them. For more info on Armchair BEA 2014 and to see the overall agenda for this year, check out the website here!

For the first day, I will be answering some introductory questions to help you get to know the real Courtney Reads A Lot, and I'll be discussing what I think of when I hear the word "literature." Woohoo!

The Book Blogger Confessions Tag

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:15 PM
I stumbled across this old tag that The Bookish Owl reposted, and I thought it'd be a fun post. I mean, who doesn't love answering questions about books? I will not be tagging other people, which kinda defeats the purpose, but oh well. I'm not really one for tagging others, especially since I have no idea if you actually want to be tagged, but if you'd like to post this on your own blog, go for it! Pass it along!

1. Which book, most recently, did you not finish?
That would be Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris. I love David Sedaris and his dry humor, and his essays always manage to turn my bad day into a good one. But I guess I just wasn't in the mood for this one? I am a mood reader, and I was feeling more up for fantasy at the time. I will definitely return to this one and finish it sometime later.

Top Ten Books About Friendship (29)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 12:00 AM
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday, book bloggers post top ten lists based on a bookish theme. This week's Top Ten Tuesday is:

Top Ten Books About Friendship
Friendship is a topic so often overlooked in the young adult genre in favor of concentrating on romance, which makes a close friendship all the more precious when it is done well. For this top ten list, I turn to the classics for some of my favorite books featuring friendship, as well as some YA books that I think did a great job of focusing on the subject.

Review: Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

Monday, May 19, 2014 6:15 PM
Title: Perfect Fifths
Author: Megan McCafferty
Published: April 14, 2009
Publisher: Crown
Series: Jessica Darling #5
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Pages: 258
Source: Library
Rating: 2.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds and Fourth Comings*
“We just want to be where we're supposed to be. We just want to be with the people we want to be with. I don't think that's asking for too much, ya know what I'm saying?”
― Megan McCafferty, Perfect Fifths

Captivated readers have followed Jessica through every step and misstep: from her life as a tormented, tart-tongued teenager to her years as a college grad stumbling toward adulthood. Now a young professional in her mid-twenties, Jess is off to a Caribbean wedding. As she rushes to her gate at the airport, she literally runs into her former boyfriend, Marcus Flutie. It’s the first time she's seen him since she reluctantly turned down his marriage proposal three years earlier–and emotions run high.

Marcus and Jessica have both changed dramatically, yet their connection feels as familiar as ever. Is their reunion just a fluke or has fate orchestrated this collision of their lives once again?

Told partly from Marcus’s point of view, Perfect Fifths finally lets readers inside the mind of the one person who’s both troubled and titillated Jessica Darling for years. Expect nothing less than the satisfying conclusion fans have been waiting for, one perfect in its imperfection. . . (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
The Jessica Darling series has taken us on a long and eventful journey, detailing the young adult years of one Jessica Darling who we cannot help but love even with all her imperfections. From teen angst and first love to broken hearts and college graduate woes, we have witnessed all of Jessica's mistakes and triumphs, trials and comforts. Alongside Jessica, we have experienced the thrill of accomplishment, the sting of betrayal, and the unconditional love of true friends and family. Everything that has happened in the last four books has led to a single outcome, the strange but true reunion of Marcus and Jessica. Three years have passed since they parted ways, but have their feelings really changed? While Perfect Fifths gives readers some much-needed closure and a few touching scenes, it fell far short of my expectations.

Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 11:34 PM
Title: Stolen Songbird 
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Published: March 30, 2014
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 480
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“Dying was an easy thing to accomplish, effortless in its agony. It was living that was hard, requiring endless toil and labor, and for all one's efforts, it could be stolen in an instant.”
―Danielle L. Jensen, Stolen Songbird

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Having just finished Stolen Songbird not even 10 minutes ago, I am left reeling from the ending and I just had to pour out my thoughts immediately. Stolen Songbird has all the makings of a wonderful fantasy, with an underground kingdom cursed to remain hidden away, a strong but slowly maturing protagonist discovering her secret abilities, and a romance that will linger in your mind long after you've finished the last page. Yes, I'll admit that Stolen Songbird had its faults, but this did not lessen my appreciation of Jensen's enchanting debut.

Showcase Sunday (4)

Sunday, May 11, 2014 10:11 AM
Showcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea. For Showcase Sunday, book bloggers feature their new books and bookish goodies.

This week, I took advantage of some Kindle book deals. I couldn't help myself.

Review: Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty

Thursday, May 8, 2014 9:45 PM
Title: Fourth Comings
Author: Megan McCafferty
Published: August 7, 2007
Publisher: Broadway Books
Series: Jessica Darling #4
Genre: New Adult Contemporary
Pages: 307
Source: Library
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings and Charmed Thirds*
“I wish our love was right now.”
―Megan McCafferty, Fourth Comings

Is the real world ready for Jessica Darling?

At first it seems she's living the New York City dream. She's subletting an apartment with her best friend, working for a magazine that actually cares about her psychology degree, and still deeply in love with the charismatic Marcus Flutie.

But reality is more complicated than dreamy clichés.

When Marcus proposes, giving her only one week to answer, Jessica must decide if she's ready to give up a world of late-night literary soirees, art openings, and downtown drunken karaoke to move back to New Jersey and be with the one man who's gripped her heart for years. Jessica ponders this and other life choices with her signature snark and hyper-intense insight, making it the most tumultuous and memorable week of her twenty-something life. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
In Fourth Comings, Jessica Darling has graduated from college and is officially in "the real world." She lives in an apartment in New York City with not only her best friend Hope, but also her "friend" Manda and Manda's girlfriend Shea. She's struggling to pay off her college loans while also trying to have enough money for real food, not a ramen only kind of diet. She works as an editor at a pop psychology online magazine/journal called Think and babysits her niece Marin 10 hours a week, but even two jobs isn't enough when she's living in New York City, which isn't exactly cheap. On top of all this, she has only a week to decide if she wants to marry her boyfriend Marcus or leave him instead. If I were her, I would have exploded from all this stress a long time ago.

Waiting on Wednesday (36) - The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 12:00 AM
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted over at Breaking the Spine. Every Wednesday, book bloggers post about books they cannot wait to get their hands on.

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
Hits Shelves on July 15, 2014
Add to Goodreads
In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assasin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love. (Goodreads)
Why I'm Waiting
I always have trouble resisting a good fantasy, and The Kiss of Deception sounds like it's right up my alley. And its stunning cover doesn't hurt too. I am curious to see how this story will unravel, and I cannot wait until July!

What about you guys? What are you waiting on this week?

Top Ten Book Covers I'd Frame As Pieces of Art (28)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014 9:59 AM
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday, book bloggers post a top ten bookish list based on a given prompt. I had a lot of fun with this week's Top Ten Tuesday...

Top Ten Book Covers I'd Frame As Pieces of Art 

I'll let these covers speak for themselves. Aren't they beautiful?
What are some of your favorite book covers? 

Review: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Friday, May 2, 2014 8:50 PM
Title: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
Author: Lish McBride
Published: October 12, 2010
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Series: Necromancer #1
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Pages: 343
Source: Library
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“Next time a talking head ended up in my easy chair, I would have all sorts of points of reference, but at that moment, I was completely at sea.”
―Lish McBride, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin? (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
I was looking forward to reading Hold Me Closer, Necromancer because of its dark humor and its male POV, a rarity in YA. I just couldn't ignore a tale that makes light of raising the dead, and I'm happy to say that Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was, for the most part, a delightful read filled with laughs despite its disturbing subject matter.
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