Tag Archives: #smashyourstack

May Reading Wrap-Up!



Total books finished: 7

#readmyowndamnbooks/#SmashYourStack:  4 (!)

Audiobooks: 2 (!)

Library books: 1

Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 1

✓ 6. Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography)
Notorious RBG The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon

Severity of Ferrante Fever: high

So, I had decided to participate in the #SmashYourStack challenge for May and challenge myself to take down books from my physical TBR. I actually did OK on this challenge–I read hardly any of the books I thought I would, but I did manage to read 4 books that I actually own. (Although I totally cheated by buying the first 2 Ferrante books and then counting them for the challenge.) Overall, the quality of the books I read this month was fantastic–I added 2 books to my ongoing list of my top ten reads of 2016 (of course, it’s all subject to change, since 2016 isn’t even halfway done yet).

I also listened to 2 (and a half, since I started Citizen: An American Lyric this month too) audiobooks this month, which is crazy for me. Bout of Books gave me a lot of audiobook motivation, and I feel like I’ve really found my audiobook niche with nonfiction.

The Story of a New Name (The Neapolitan Novels #2)My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1)Death My Own WayMr. SplitfootRoses and RotNot That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned"Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

So here’s what I read in May, ranked in order of awesomeness:


My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (5 stars) – If you haven’t read this series yet, prepare to become obsessed. It opens with a mystery and the two main characters in their sixties, then flashes back to their fascinating and violent childhood in a poor neighborhood of Naples. The relationship between the two main characters is constantly fraught with emotion in different ways, and the world of 1950s Italy is alien and immersive. I highly, highly recommend this for anyone in a reading slump or looking for a new series to become addicted to–I honestly think anyone would enjoy these books, even if, like me, you typically steer clear of realistic fiction in favor of science fiction/fantasy.


Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt (4.5 stars) – this quickly became one of my favorite reads of 2016 so far. I loved the dual narrative structure and the consistent weirdness of this book. Highly recommended for anyone interested in weird fiction.


The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (4.25 stars) – Although I liked My Brilliant Friend more, this was still incredibly well done–especially the whirlwind last 200 pages and the OH SHOOT ending. The middle had a long plot section that I wasn’t a fan of, but once it transitioned out of that, it went back to amazingness. It’s the perfect springboard into the third book, which I started this morning.


Death My Own Way by Michael Graziano (4 stars) – I picked this book up at the Buffalo Small Press book fair as part of my effort to read more books from independent publishers, and found that it was a perfect entrancing book to read in one sitting. It’s a philosophical take on life, death, and art set in a single night in Central Park. Recommended for anyone looking for a short, thought-provoking read.


Roses and Rot by Kat Howard (3.5 stars) – This book was released last month and got a great review from Neil Gaiman, which is how I heard about it. It came in as a library hold and I only had a week to read it; I was nervous about finishing in time so I ended up reading it in 2 days! That kind of binge reading has been rare for me lately due to work, but it was a great feeling to just dive into a book and barely come up for air. This is a dark fairytale/fantasy about two sisters, a writer and a dancer, at an artist’s retreat after escaping an abusive mother; it’s about the love between siblings and the devotion to art.
I loved the setting, the concept, and overall liked the plot and characters, but I found the writing style to be way too simplistic for my taste. I needed a lot more detail and description, and although the characters were interesting, they could have been much more fully drawn. I also found the love interest very boring.
If you enjoy dark fairytale themes, then you’ll probably enjoy this; for me, it was good, but just not amazing.

Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham (3 stars) – I liked this audiobook a lot more than I expected to, although I found the quality to be very inconsistent. I like Lena Dunham’s delivery, and found her very easy to listen to.

Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (3 stars) – I loved hearing more about the amazing RBG, but didn’t love the structure and writing style of this audiobook. The narrator was also not awesome.


What did everybody read in May???

Bout of Books Starts Tomorrow!! Here are my Thoughts and TBR…


Bout of Books starts tomorrow! Since the weeklong readathon is less strict compared to Dewey’s, I’ve been thinking about how my reading this week will be different than normal. I typically read a decent amount in any given week, but I’d like to increase my amount of reading during the Readathon by switching up a few things:

-Listening to audiobooks during all of my driving time (instead of only occasionally)

-Reading for at least 2 hours every day (I’d like to do more than that for most of the days, but some might be busier than others and I tend to get out of work pretty late)

-Finishing at least 3 books (again, I think I can do more, but I’ll set a low goal for now)

-Posting frequent blogging updates on my progress

-Participating in as many of the mini-challenges as I can

-Bookstagramming up a storm!



As far as my TBR goes, I’m currently in the middle of two books that I’m absolutely loving: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante and A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (which is VERY Rhysand-centric, fyi, for people who were bored by the Tamlin love story in book 1). I figure that this Readathon could go one of two ways: either I’ll focus so hard on those two books that they’re all I’ll be reading until I finish both and dive into a major double book hangover, or I’ll decide that I love them so much that I need to savor them and only read a little each day, in which case I’ll start something new sooner rather than later.

The other thing I’m thinking is that I really, really want to stick to my physical TBR shelf to keep up with the May #SmashYourStack challenge, but if I hit the aforementioned dreaded double book hangover I may hit the library or go in an ebook direction. Who knows! I’m terrible at sticking to TBRs, but I love to make them anyways.

Also! If I read 6 books (ambitious, for sure) I will beat my current record of 5 books from the last Bout of Books in January. So, that probably won’t happen.

I’m looking at reading these 5 books from my physical TBR shelf:

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)My Brilliant Friend (The Neapolitan Novels, #1)The Girl Wakes: StoriesDeath My Own WayStone Mattress: Nine Wicked Tales

As well as these audiobooks: I’m listening to Notorious RBG right now and really enjoying it but I think I’ll need a backup audiobook too in case I finish.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader GinsburgNot That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned"



Who else is participating?? I’d love to see your TBRs!

May Bookish Plans and #SmashYourStack TBR


I’m extremely excited for May reading after an odd yet fun bookish April. This month my focus is going to be reading books from my physical TBR shelf for the #SmashYourStack challenge, and I’m really excited about my options. I’m also really looking forward to participating in Bout of Books from May 9-15; I had so much fun during the last challenge in January.

Here’s my May #SmashYourStack TBR! Ranked in order of my excitement level, although I’m very psyched for all of them.


Stone Mattress: Nine Wicked TalesMr. SplitfootThe Girl Wakes: StoriesA Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)City of Dark Magic (City of Dark Magic, #1)The Good GirlDeath My Own WayLeo@Fergusrules.Com: A Novel


Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt – For real, this time. It’s been on my TBR list for the past few months and I’ve yet to finish it, but that’s for a very legitimate and odd reason: because I like it so much. Hear me out! Sometimes when I’m really loving a book I have an extremely hard time actually reading it, because I only want to read it when I’m in the right mood to fully appreciate it. I also have a hard time reading it because I don’t want it to be over. But now I’m over halfway through Mr. Splitfoot, and I’m so intrigued that I absolutely have to know what happens very, very soon. It’s seriously amazing so far.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – I’M SO EXCITED. I was re-reading parts of A Court of Thorns and Roses the other day in preparation for this book, which comes out on Tuesday, and I seriously can’t wait to start it. My goal is to finish Mr. Splitfoot before this one comes in the mail (I pre-ordered it and the release date is Tuesday, so I’m not sure when it will get here? Do stores try to get it to you by the release date or after?) so that I can devote my full attention to it once it comes out. I’m hoping that this book is more akin to the last part of ACOTAR, which was the more interesting part in my opinion.

The Girl Wakes by Carmen Lau – I’m really excited to read this book of dark feminist fairy-tale retellings, and it looks like the perfect length for Bout of Books. I picked it up at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair last month and I’ve been anxious to dive in ever since. I mean, read this blurb and tell me this book doesn’t sound awesome: “A beautifully vicious first collection of retrofitted fairy tales, with whip-smart swerves, darkly funny moments, and razor-sharp language. Like Angela Carter meets Let the Right One In with a dash of Lady Vengeance tossed in for good measure.”
—Brian Evenson

City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte – this was a total impulse buy at one of the library used book sales I hit last month, and I feel like I’m going to be in the mood for a lighthearted fantasy option this month. Its blurb on Goodreads calls it a “rom-com paranormal suspense novel,” which sounds like it could potentially really work for me. There are a couple of not-so-great reviews I’ve seen on GR, but sometimes you really need to ignore reviews and just read something for yourself.

Leo@fergusrules.com by Arne Tangherlini – another book I picked up at the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, this book is described as “a post-modern tilt at Alice in Wonderland, a computer-age Huckleberry Finn, leo@fergusrules.com is above all the story of a young woman’s search for the lost world of her ancestors in a society in which technology has replaced community.”

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood – I’ve ranted before about my love for Margaret Atwood, and I’m so interested to see what her short fiction is like. I’ve heard that this collection has a lot of horror influences and dark themes, which I’m totally on board with.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica – I hope I like this book, but I’m not getting my hopes up. It’s supposed to be Gone Girl-esque, and I really enjoyed Gone Girl, but I’m not sure how I’ll feel about something similar but not the same. I hated The Girl On the Train, for example. But it will be good to have a fast-paced thriller option for Bout of Books, so I’d like to try it.

Death My Own Way by Michael S. A. Graziano – Another BSPBF find, this one was described to me as being “extremely weird” but very good. Here’s the blurb: A man dying of cancer wanders naked into Central Park and embarks on a twisted, fetishistic, hilarious journey toward a deeper understanding of life. A story of vulnerability, brashness, and the universal need to find some comfort and philosophy before the journey ends.” Sounds super interesting, and it’s a very short read–perfect for Bout of Books!


Additionally, there are a few books not on my physical TBR shelf *gasp* that I may also read this month, depending on my reading moods and how I’m doing on my challenges (audio/library/ebooks):

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader GinsburgThe Young Elites (The Young Elites, #1)The Bone KnifeThe Awakened Kingdom (Inheritance, #3.5)



Has anyone read any of these books? What did you think? And what is everyone reading in May? Feel free to link to your TBR posts 🙂

May #SmashYourStack Challenge!

One of my bookish goals for 2016 was to read more of the books sitting on my TBR shelves, since I physically cannot stop myself from buying more books. April was not a great month for this–almost every book I read this month was from the library. Not that this is a bad thing–I love libraries and I think supporting them is vital–but my TBR stacks could really use some love. A lot of this was due to Dewey’s Readathon; having lots of shorter book options is helpful for me during Readathons, and I tend not to buy shorter books because of how quickly I finish them. I tend not to buy YA for the same reason, but sometimes I get into YA moods and am forced to hit the library repeatedly. Another issue is that April was apparently some kind of library book sale bonanza–three local libraries close to me held book sales, and the selection was just too good at all of them for me to pass up adding some great books to my collection.

So, in May, I’m looking to switch things up and focus on those TBR shelves by joining #smashyourstack, a month-long challenge hosted by Estella’s Revenge (http://estellasrevenge.blogspot.com/2016/04/smashyourstack-read-your-own-books-in.html). I heard about this from Janani @ The Shrinkette’s blog post (https://theshrinkette.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/smashyourstack-read-your-own-books-in-may-2016/comment-page-1/#comment-147) and was inspired to join!

Here is my goal for the month: I’d like to read 7 books from my TBR shelves. It’s a little ambitious for me since the majority of the books I buy tend to be really long, but I’ve picked up some enticing-looking shorter books recently that would be perfect to incorporate into this kind of challenge. I’m not going to avoid the library completely, because that is my only source of audiobooks, and I’ll go further and say that I can read one print book from the library if I’m hitting a reading slump, or something like that. But otherwise, it’s going to be a TBR party for me in May. It also helps that Bout of Books is May 9-15, which will help me kickstart this challenge!