Firsts of 2017

It’s been a while (since October) that I posted regularly, so I wanted to inform my minuscule readers what I’ve been reading and up to while on hiatus. Mostly, I was too depressed to actually write, but I was still reading. My goal here is to compile a list of books that I read in the first few months that meant something to me. Now, I’ve certainly read books that have made me cry or made me go “what did I just read?” but these books are the first books of the year that I’ve read that made me cry or made me go “whaaaat?” So without further adieu, let’s get started.

2017’s Firsts


First Book I Bought for an Actual Reason: The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

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Disclaimer: the pink/white pills are joint medication for my cat; the purple round ones are children’s chewable ibuprofen; the two prescription bottles are obviously that–prescriptions written for me. This is a commentary on Carrie Fisher’s love of drugs, especially her own.

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher
Published by Blue Rider Press on November 22nd 2016
Genres: Biography, Diary, History
Pages: 272
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Nobles

I’m not crying, you’re crying. I knew that when this book came out that I had to own it. It was over Christmas break, I was back home in Chicago while my cat and boyfriend were in our little cottage in central PA when we heard the news. Princess Leia has passed away. I didn’t grow up with Star Wars (I was stereotypically given dolls and not science things), but I knew of the impact these movies have had on future movies to come, Hollywood itself, and nerds of every age. I only saw the movies for the first time about two years ago, all in the rightful order of 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3 and then 7 and 3.5 when they came out respectively. I cried at the end of 7, The Force Awakens, because, though I didn’t see them as a child, I was already deeply attached to the characters and the harrowing story.

When Carrie Fisher died, I didn’t know what to think. She was older and clearly didn’t take the best care of herself, but she was an idol–is an idol–and will continue to be not only for fans in metal bikinis everywhere, but for those with mental illness that she made feel more normal with her hilarity towards her own problems. I didn’t even know much about her seminars and discussions, mostly because I don’t have bipolar disorder, but I know that she influenced many outside of the Star Wars franchise. Long story short, I had to have her book. I knew her also as an hilarious actor outside of the franchise–starring in 30 Rock as a crazy cat-less lady and the equally real and hilarious British show Catastrophe. I watched her with admiration as someone who accomplished so much in her life, while struggling with her own problems of stardom, mental health, unrequited love, etc.

I will continue collecting her works–I didn’t know she wrote so much, why did she have to leave us!–and forever remember her as fantastic woman.


First WTF is Happening Book: The Graces by Laura Eve

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The Graces by Laura Eve
Published by Harry N. Abrams on September 6th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary, Thriller, Romance, Friendship
Pages: 352
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Nobles

Has anyone read this book????? Can someone explain to me this book??? Laura Eve, you have done it. I have a literature degree and have been trained, for more than four years if we’re counting my excessive literature classes in high school, as well as getting my Master’s in literature starting in August and yet, you have stumped me. So thank you. Thank you, Laura Eve for completely and utterly confusing me.

I thought I had it all figured this out while reading this book, and yet once I got to that last chapter, everything I thought I knew went flying out the window. And it was so refreshing! I love young adult books, they’re my favorite genre–so much so that I write in this genre–and yet sometimes I can figure out the entire story during the first couple of chapters. And this is nice, don’t get me wrong, I can then just focus on the characters, love stories, familial ties, etc. and not have to worry about using my brain too much. But not with Eve’s ridiculous and outstanding tale.

Also, I can’t even disclose any of my confusion because it would give away the entire story, and I wouldn’t want to do that because the twist is so intense, so heart-stopping, that it would be an injustice as a book-lover to spoil. Please read this book if you have ever thought what it would be like to meet real-life witches, people you have read about in books and searched the internet for, and are desperate to be a part of that life. I can imagine Harry Potter lovers relating with River and her desperate need to know more about the Grace family. Who doesn’t want to be best friends with witches?

BUT THAT’S NOT EVEN THE HALF OF IT! If you enjoy murder mystery, surprise twists with characters, forbidden love and desperate lust, then read The Graces; it will do you well.

A close second for this category is Caraval by Stephanie Garber.


First Book I Cried In: The Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout

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The Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout
Published by Harlequin Teen on May 17th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Friendship, Family, Mental Health
Pages: 480
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Nobles

This book is beautiful. It does seem a little long in the beginning, and since it’s almost 500 pages long, it can seem like it’s dragging. But do not lose hope because the more you read, the more you discover. Armentrout carefully and artfully discloses only certain information at a time, never giving away too much, always keeping you on the edge of your seat. I fell in love with the characters–feeling so much for them that when the time is right I am going to consider adoption myself. I wanted to go into the book and hug Mallory and Rider each (even though the name Rider isn’t my favorite name for the character, but that’s just how it is).

Mallory and Rider’s relationship is so complicated and heartbreaking, but also extremely uplifting and hopeful. Rider’s unconditional love for Mallory, both as her boyfriend but mostly as her best friend, is so endearing and real. Of course he wants, needs, to protect her from the horrible things she’s seen, but he’s also there to watch her grow into the fully functioning and courageous woman she becomes.

Definitely a must read for those wanting a good cry, to feel something in their chest as they near the end of the story, and the aggressive need to keep reading.


First Book I Wanted to Like, but Didn’t: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows

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My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
Published by HarperTeen on June 7th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary, Romance, Friendship, History
Pages: 512
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Nobles

Okay, I didn’t hate this book, that is much too dramatic. In fact, it’s quite silly and hilarious, making the reader laugh out loud. However, the main factor that I disliked was the constant intervention from the narrators. I’ve done my fair share of studying when it comes to the British monarch and while I hadn’t heard of all the characters, I did have a pretty good grasp on who was who. I would be reading, though, and suddenly the narrators would intervene to tell me that what I’m reading isn’t true. Well…duh. Someone didn’t actually have a horrible curse–that isn’t really a curse–that turns them into a horse every day break. That would just be ridiculous of me to think that was real. I love the idea of the authors taking over a story that we don’t know much of, and turning into something lovely, but the constant interruptions are a little jarring.

That being said, I did enjoy the adventure. This is an easy read, so though it’s a long 500 pages, it is a fast read. I didn’t need to fuss over it (other than it being heavy!). The characters, Jane and G are adorable and hilarious, but part of me (spoiler!) wanted Jane to end up with Edward! I know that there is an incest-problem there, but as the narrators dutifully point out, this was very common back then. And something about Edward and Jane seemed real. On the other hand, G and Jane are quite fitting for each other too–how G constantly teases Jane, calling her “love” even when they haven’t discussed their relationship other than their pure hatred for each other. I think this book would have been better if there weren’t so many interruptions from the writers–simply let the story be and you can either disclaim in the prologue or epilogue that none of it was real–as well as getting more in-depth with the characters. I wanted to feel something when reading about them, other than just laughing and enjoying my time. I want to worry about them, fear for them, love them.


First Book with a Love Story that Won Me Over: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

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A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray
Published by HarperTeen on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Romance, Friendship, Family, Suspense
Pages: 384
Source: Amazon // Goodreads // Barnes and Nobles

So even though I’ve given this book the title of winning me over with the love story, I actually don’t know if I’m going to read the sequel, mostly because I can’t take any more heartbreak between the main characters. Now I’m not the biggest science fiction buff, so it took me a little while to get into the whole “Firebird”, multi-demnsional travel, but I was able to get through it and I’m so glad that I did because Marguerite and the Russian Paul’s love is indescribable. I constantly go back to how I felt, my heart racing, sweating palms as I frantically read to make sure they made it out of the snow storm alright and into each other’s arms.

I don’t know if what I feel for this dimension’s Paul, for my own, or for both of them. I can’t tell the difference any longer, and in the moment, I don’t care…

“Paul,” I murmur, “call me by my name.”

“You know I cannot.”

“Just once”…

And we are lost. I’m the one who breaks the last rule, the final taboo–the one who kisses him. But then he surrenders. He holds nothing back. We tangle together, kissing desperately, clutching at the few clothes we still wear, hardly able to breathe or think or do anything other than those ourselves in each other (194-95).

I could go on, pretty much quoting this entire scene between Paul and Marguerite because I get butterflies in my stomach, rising up my throat, threatening to escape, but I won’t; I’ll let the beauty stay in the book. I don’t know how Gray does it, but I feel so enchanted with the characters and storyline. There is a sense of urgency, the rushing that Marguerite, Paul, and Theo feel trying to catch each other and get to the right dimension, that manifests in the reader, as if we are a part of the race.


First Collection: The Entire Works of William Shakespeare by Modern Library

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From left to right: The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of The Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Henry V, Henry IV Part 2, Macbeth, Henry VI Parts 1, 2, & 3, Richard III, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Winter’s Tale, Twelfth Night, All’s Well That Ends Well, Henry IV Part 1, Titus Andronicus & Timon of Athens, Coriolanus, Hamlet, King John & Henry VIII, Othello, The Comedy of Errors, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, The Sonnets and Other Poems; King Lear, Cymbeline, Antony and Cleopatra, Troilus and Cressida, Pericles, Julius Caesar, Richard II

 

If you know anything about me, you’ll know that Shakespeare is my true passion. I wrote my 30-page senior thesis on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and am now going to attend St. John’s University in New York for my Master’s and then Ph.D in literature with an emphasis in the Early Modern Period, or Shakespeare’s time. The collection I just bought is published by Modern Library and edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen.

There are many editions of Shakespeare’s work published; I have many different copies of the same play (particularly A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet) as well as the entire collection in one book by Oxford. However, I saw these editions on Instagram and fell in love. It took me so long to find them, but when I did, I knew I had to get them. They are not only beautiful covers, the editions themselves (footnotes, introductory information, etc.) are spot on. This is something I look for as a scholar and the main scene I double check is Act 2 Scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet. Most editions will print “etc.” on line 40, but this edition does print the “open arse” that is usually left out. A winner for sure!

I don’t normally buy collections, partly because trilogy, sagas, etc. don’t all come out at the same time unless you’re reading a collection that has been out for a while. My boyfriend buys many comic book collections (like March written by Congressman John Lewis), but I don’t have many completed collection, except for now! These plays will serve me well once I start school again this fall. Wish me luck!

My First Comic Books! (I know, right?)

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So I was never into comic books–I’m a bad nerd. Sure I love superheroes, male and female, but the extensive canon for each? Not so much. I had my stint with Manga in middle school–like most girls do–but that didn’t last long. Although, I do still love Fruits Basket and always will.

But suddenly, my Barnes and Noble set up a table with a crudely photoshopped sign reading: College Con above a full table of new, trade comic books. There were many (okay all) that I didn’t know about, and only a handful of employees and costumers were showing interest. In fact, if it weren’t for my boyfriend, I would have continued walking past that table every day, unseeing.

However, my boyfriend mentioned that he was grabbing the trade copy of Black Panther and a few others, just to try out since the sale price was Buy 2, get 1 Free! Plus my discount? Why not?

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Here is the haul that I picked up (four books) plus one I snagged in Philly. If anyone is interested, my boyfriend is totally obsessed with Saga and The Wicked and the Divine. Those are his top two and has started his own mini collection of those. But those don’t interest me too much, so here are the ones that I thought looks good:

  • How To Talk to Girls at Parties — Neil Gaiman, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba // A man recalls his first party as a fifteen-year-old and the strange world of women that he walks in on.
  • Paper Girls — Brian Vaughan, Cliff Chian, Matt Wilson, Jared Fletcher // Four young paper delivery girls stumble upon a shocking, headline-worthy story.
  • DC Comics Bombshells — Marguerite Bennett, Marguerite Sauvage // Written by women, drawn by women, for women; female superheroes from around the world are recruited to fight in WWII.
  • Fables: Legends in Exile — Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton // [I actually have no idea what this one is about so here’s a brief description] When a savage creature known only as the Adversary conquered the fabled lands of legends and fairy tales, all of the infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile
  • ApocalyptiGirl — Andrew MacLean // Aria searches for an ancient relic at the end of the world along with her cat, Jelly Bean, and hopes to return home.

I’ve already finished Paper Girls and How to Talk to Girls at Parties; they both have me seriously intrigued but I’m not 100% sold on loving them. I’m certainly going to buy the next trade copy of Paper Girls so I can see what happens. From what I am to understand, How to Talk to Girls at Parties is a stand alone comic but the back of the hardcover book says it should be turned into a film adaptation by 2017!

I’ve also started Bombshells, but this one is the one I’m struggling with the most. An all female cast, written by women and designed by women? It sounds amazing! However, I have a few gripes with it. First, once Book 1 ends and Book 2 begins, the art style changes. I am to understand that they have gotten several artists to design the different books and, while this is awesome, I was totally in love with the first Book 1 style and the Book 2 style is so different that I’m thrown off. Second, it’s taking me so long to get into it! All of the characters get a long introduction and backstory, so long that all of Book 1 and most of Book 2 are just background information, preparing the reader for the true story–which I don’t even know what that is! I haven’t gotten to that part yet!

So while I’m looking forward to finishing my collection, and of course complete the series that I end up enjoying, I don’t think I’m going to change my entire book collection into comics. It is fun to have a story with pictures (that makes it sound so childish, but I can’t think of another way to describe it!) but they’re too short for me. It took me less than ten minutes to read How to Talk to Girls at Parties! I can read a novel pretty quickly, but still at least two hours. I enjoy more in-depth stories, long plot lines, difficult characters to grasp, etc. But like I said, I am enjoying the ones I have picked out and I think they will be a little guilty pleasure.

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First Bookstore Discount Haul!

Now that I work at an actual bookstore (it’s not a cool independent bookstore like I wish it was, but instead a very classic Barns and Noble), that means I get a discount on books. This is mostly the reason I work there, because I don’t even get to work with the books. Instead, I’m a barista at their in house Starbucks. If that isn’t lame then I don’t know what is.

Yesterday, I decided that even though I worked from 7:30 AM until 4:00PM, I was gonna go book shopping. During my first fifteen minute break I scoped out all of the tables and the young adult section. There were few books that I had seen before, such as Love and Gelato and The Vorrh that I knew I wanted to pick up, but then added some of the other ones. Once that clock hit 4PM, I was outta my apron, credit card in hand and I picked up this haul.

  • Beware That Girl — Teresa Toten // I was drawn to this book by the The Girl on the Train vibe the cover gave off, but then the blurb is nothing like The Girl on the Train, which intrigued me more
  • The Unexpected Everything — Morgan Matson // It’s Morgan Freaking Matson; need I say more? I don’t even know what this is about, only that it’s written by her.
  • Nice is Just a Place in France: How to Win at Basically Everything — The Betches // This book is probably every thought I’ve ever had but was raised too nice to ever say it
  • The Vorrh — B. Catling // Moons interest me. This probably has nothing to do with moons, but everyone is saying that it is an amazing piece of fantasy that our current century hasn’t seen yet.
  • The Regulars — Georgia Clark // Love the cover, love the vibe, I too am an aspiring magazine copy editor, so what’s not to love?
  • Love and Gelato — Jenna Evans Welch // The cover is cute and while it seems like it might be cliche, it still looks like a good time.
  • Red Queen — Victoria Aveyard // This right off the bat reminds me of A Court of Roses and Thorns so I bought it.

I think I am most excited to read The Regulars because it looks super interesting, different from what I have been reading, and it’s gotten pretty great reviews. The cover art constantly pulls me in because I love the minimalist style and since the cover really doesn’t say anything–neither does the title I might add–the reader is still left with a yearning to find out what this book is really about.

I still have a gajillion books from my last haul to read like Six of Crows and The Love that Split the World as well as complete the next five books of the Pendragon series my boyfriend just got me. ANNND keep reading and reviewing books from NetGalley, so I definitely have my hands full! However, having your hands full of books is always a good thing.

Are you guys excited to read any of these titles? Which ones look the best to you?

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Professional Sequence in Editing Haul

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instead of posting my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses today (which is coming along!) i decided that i couldn’t really call this a lit major’s bookshelf without talking about some lit major things.

this past month i enrolled in UC Berkeley’s Professional Sequence in Editing certificate program and i am very anxious to begin in september. i already ordered all the books i would need for the four courses, even though i’m only taking the first two this semester and then the last two in the spring. i figured what better way to showcase what being a literature major is all about than to show you the course materials i need to get my certificate in editing.

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for the courses i need only four books, but i figured there was no fun in taking pictures of only four books, so instead i gathered all of my editing-related books and did this shoot. here are the books i’ve included, starting with the first four that i need for school:

now to the passerby, these are certainly not as interesting as say my haul of young adult books or my reviews and that is partly true. these books come with the boding sense of impending school ahead–a feeling i both love and hate. school to me is a sanctuary, a separate space for the intense learning that i crave on a daily basis. however, school is also a lot of work, as most of us know, and knowing that i need such large and in charge books for a simple certificate program is scary. however, some of these books, like The Subversive Copy Editor or the Grammar Girl’s collection are quite silly and entertaining to read. they are each written in a style that is easy to understand and follow and that slightly excites the reader to read on.

now of course there is a copy of the dictionary and the chicago manual of style which are not as fun to read–i am deathly afraid of the CMS and am not looking forward to having to learn in.

but these books are for my career–they are not supposed to be here for my enjoyment. it helps, though, that i am interested in the topic and am excited to begin classes. one day, hopefully soon, i’ll be a recognized editor who still does my own novel writing and book reviewing. this certificate is just the next stepping stone.

if you have any questions regarding editing program (i’ve basically looked at them all) or what it’s like to be a starving copyeditor, then please don’t refrain from asking. i only know as much as i tell people i know–which isn’t a lot, but i still like to chat about editing to anyone who’s interested!

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First Book Haul

 

welcome to the new edition to shelbylueders.com! A place for me to put my talent to the test and see if how quickly i can read new books as well as how well i can review it.

here is the first haul for my new site.

during the month of july (and a tiny part of august) i purchased 18.5 books (i’ll get to that half in a second). that is quite a haul! normally i would peruse the shelves of barns and nobles and write some titles down and then see how much they cost on amazon kindle (usually much cheaper!), but recently i decided to just forgo that whole step and if i saw something interesting, i would just buy it. you only live once right?

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so here’s a list of the books:

this haul, as you can see, ranges over many different genres, with the most being in the young adult category. even though i just got my degree in literature, young adult books, though mostly left out of schooling, is one of my favorite genres to read and write. they entertain me to no end, satisfy my romantic relationship needs, and generally don’t require much thought.

here’s the young adult books all together:

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stay tuned for some reviews of a few of these books, and for more blog posts to come.

have you read any of these yet? what is your favorite genre to splurge in?