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Rifle Paper Co. x Puffin in Bloom I’ve professed my love for Rifle Paper Co. many times here on the blog. I just love their aesthetic and pretty much every single item they produce. When I saw that Anna had designed covers for a series of classic books, I just had to share them here. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Last May I made an effort to read more classics. I read The Great Gatsby in anticipation of the movie and I also read Little Women. I’d forgotten how delightful Little Women is and I’m so glad that I reread it. I want to make it a goal of mine to read more classics again this year. There are so many that I haven’t read and I’d like to start tacking my list. I’m not sure yet if I want to dedicate one particular month like I did last time, or maybe aim to read one classic a month for several months?

I’ve also been thinking that I’m going to allow myself to buy pretty editions of the classics that I read. I feel like I’m willing to spend a little extra money for a cover that I love since it’s a classic and I plan to keep it in my collection forever. There’s not a ton of space in my small NYC apartment, but one day I dream of having the space to display all of my books properly. I’m plan to buy the entire Harry Potter series soon too since I’m reading them. I’ve been borrowing them from the library, but I already know that I want to own the books as well!

Tell me: What’s your favorite classic?

(These Puffin in Bloom editions will be available on August 28th!)

What I Read June 2014 I mentioned last month that I planned to read the Harry Potter series and I promised I would tell you guys more about that this month. Well, the short version of the story is that before June, I’d only read the 1st and 3rd book in the series! If you want to hear the long version, I talk all about it in the video I uploaded yesterday. Yep, I’ve started making bookish videos, so if that interests you, you can follow along on SCS reads!

Harry Potters Books 1 3

About- I’m sure y’all already know this, but the Harry Potter series is about a boy who finds out he’s a wizard and chronicles his life and his magical adventures.

Why I picked it- See here!

Grade A I’m so happy that I’m reading this series right now. It’s just so delightful and I feel like it’s a perfect series to be reading in the summer. When started the first book, it took me right back to my seven- or eight-year-old self who was reading the book for the first time and just discovering this magical world. There was some controversy a couple of weeks ago over an article that said that adults should be embarrassed to read young adult (YA) novels. I have to say that I disagree with the fundamental premise of the article. I think that people should read whatever they want to! Of course, not every genre or type of book is for me, but I’m not going to judge people for what they’re reading or tell them they should be embarrassed about it. I was thinking about that article when I started rereading Harry Potter and I’m not at all embarrassed that I’m reading these books now. I am a little sad that I didn’t get a chance to read them when I was a kid and I do feel like I missed out a bit on the cultural phenomenon, but better late than never, right?!

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

About- A retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale set in New York City during the Jazz Age.

Why I picked it- I won this advance reader’s copy from Goodreads- thanks Goodreads!

Grade B- I was looking to forward reading this because generally I enjoy retellings of fairytales. However, I thought this book was only ok. The story is mainly told from Jo’s (the eldest sister’s) perspective, but I would have liked to hear from the other sisters as well, to be able to connect with their characters. The writing was also ok- I found myself comparing this to Rules of Civility, which has a similar setting and features really sharp, witty dialogue. I would definitely recommend that book over this book if the idea of a novel set in New York during the Prohibition Era intrigues you. Overall, it was neither terrible nor amazing, just somewhere in the middle.

So that’s it for June! Right now I’m in the middle of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and I’m also reading The Snow Queen. I can’t wait for the long weekend and hopefully I’ll be able to do some reading outdoors. I’ll be taking off the holiday on Friday, so I’ll see you all back here next week!

Disclaimer: I won a copy of The Girls at the Kingfisher Club from Goodreads. I’m not required to do a review, but I wanted to and these are my honest thoughts and opinions about the book.

What I Read May 2014

The Last Letter From Your Lover

About- After a terrible car crash, Jennifer suffers from memory loss and has to slowly piece her life back together. In the present day, Ellie’s life intertwines with Jennifer’s when she stumbles onto a letter Jennifer wrote in the 60s.

Why I picked it- I have not read a book by Jojo Moyes that I didn’t enjoy. I’m slowly going to make my way through all of her books!

Grade A- Jojo Moyes is very good at keeping the reader guessing. Every time I think I’ve figured it out, she throws another twist in there (but not in an obnoxious or confusing way). I do like that this starts out in the past and then moves into the present, but we spend a lot more time in the book with Jennifer. Ellie doesn’t really appear until the last third of the novel, so I felt less invested in her storyline and much more interested in how Jennifer’s story would end.

One Hundred Years of Solitude

About- The life and times of the Buendía family over the course of one hundred years.

Why I picked it- As a Spanish major, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never read this book before. When I heard of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s passing, I was inspired to finally pick up this book and read it.

Grade B+ This is one of those books that I really wish I’d read during school. Of course the writing is wonderful, but I do feel like I would have better grasped the nuances of the text if I could participate in a discussion on it. I did generally enjoy it though and I also picked up Love in the Time of Cholera to read at some point.

Love Letters to the Dead

About- Laurel receives a school assignment to write a letter to a dead person and turns it into a coping mechanism for dealing with the death of her sister.

Why I picked it- You guys know me, I like to mix it up, so after a rather heady book I switched to a YA novel.

Grade B- I’d seen a lot of hype for this book so I thought it was going to be really amazing. I guess my expectations were too high. Compared to gripping YA books like Eleanor & Park and The Fault in Our Stars, this one fell below the mark. One main issue I had was that Laurel is supposed to be a freshman in high school, but her voice seemed a lot younger to me, more like an eleven- or twelve-year-old. Also, over the course of the book, the cause of her sister’s death is really built up and when it was finally revealed I was disappointed. I thought it would provide further insight into Laurel’s character and her actions, but it didn’t for me.

An Untamed State

About- While visiting her parents in Haiti, Mireille is kidnapped and endures thirteen days in captivity.

Why I picked it- I listen to a couple podcasts about books and there was a lot of early buzz about this one. Then I read an excerpt of the first two chapters on Longreads and I was hooked- I bought the ebook immediately after.

Grade A I could not put this book down. Seriously, I read the first two chapters in the afternoon, bought the book when I got home from work, and stayed up until 4 in the morning finishing this book. Once you start this book, it reaches out and grips you and won’t let go. Ugh, it is brutal though. There are chapters about what Mireille endures that I almost couldn’t read. You know when you’re watching a scary movie and you cover your face with your hands because you can’t look, but at the same time you’re peeking through your fingers because you want to know what happens? That’s how I felt while reading this book. If you’re sensitive, I would say this probably isn’t the best book choice for you.

A Prayer for the City

About- Philadelphia mayor Ed Rendell’s quest to save his city from the edge of bankruptcy.

Why I picked it- It was chosen for our book club.

Grade B If you saw my recent video, you heard me talk a bit about this book and the next one. I’ve mentioned that I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. If left to my own devices, I probably would never have read this book because the subject matter doesn’t particularly interest me. However, I will say that I was pleasantly surprised by the writing. When the author focused on specific people’s lives and their stories, I found that much more interesting than the politics and statistics. If you have an interest in city government or Philadelphia, then I bet you would like this book.

Miss Peregrine

About- Jacob grows up listening to his grandfather’s fantastical stories, but it’s not until his grandfather’s horrible death that he discovers that all of those stories are true.

Why I picked it- When I saw it in the store, the cover felt familiar to me and looked intriguing. I thought someone had recommend it to me, but I couldn’t remember who or when. I finally figured out where I’d seen the title before- turns out my best friend had mentioned that she’d recently picked it up.

Grade A- This novel features a combination of words and photographs, which I loved. The author does a wonderful job of describing each image, but being able to see the photographs for yourself really adds to the overall experience. I read a bit of the information in the back of the book and the author actually collects vintage photographs, which gave him the inspiration to write this book. I just found out that a sequel was released earlier this year, so I’ll probably be picking that up too.

I’ve told you guys that a friend and I are reading the Harry Potter series together from start to finish, so I’m sure those books will feature heavily in next month’s post. I may sneak a few non HP books in-between though. Not to be too much of a tease, but there’s an interesting story behind my decision to read the series now, which I’ll talk all about next month!

Tell me: What was the last book you read?

What I Read April 2014 Collage

Someone

About- An unremarkable, Irish-American girl growing up in Brooklyn.

Why I picked it- Recommended to me by my friend Babe.

Grade A- In most cases, I probably wouldn’t like a book like this. It’s slow and quiet, and not really plot-driven. In fact, when Babe was describing the book to me, she said something along the lines of, “It sounds really boring, but I promise, it’s good!” She was right. In this novel, we follow the life of Marie as she grows up and navigates various obstacles in life. While I was reading this, I felt like I was peeking through a window into Marie’s life. That’s a strange way to describe it, but it did feel a little voyeuristic. The story flashes back and forth in time (sometimes she’s reflecting back on her life) but I didn’t find it too difficult to follow along. I definitely enjoyed the writing as well- simple and quiet doesn’t necessarily mean boring.

A Discovery of Witches

About- A young woman named Diana tries to resist her heritage, but can’t ignore it any longer when a mysterious manuscript threatens to upset the magical balance of power.

Why I picked it- I think one of you lovely readers recommended it to me, so I added it to my to-read list. I can’t remember who it was, but thank you!

Grade A About 10 pages in I knew I was going to love this book. I’ve always enjoyed fiction about witchcraft, I think in part because it was sort of banned from me as a kid and it’s always felt a little forbidden. Once I started this book, I could not stop. It’s not short (500+) but it was so interesting that I felt like I was flying through it. This book has vampires, witches, magic, history, and a love story. What can I say?! I’m a sucker for this stuff.

Shadow of Night

About- This is the second book in the series, the sequel to A Discovery of Witches.

Why I picked it- Since I loved the first one, I had to read the second one. In fact, I had to wait a few days for the library copy of this book, but I wouldn’t let myself finish the first book until the second one was available so that I could start it immediately.

Grade B It pains me to say it, but I don’t think this one was as good as the first. A couple problems that stood out to me:

1. The main characters travel back in time and suddenly we get bogged down in all this history. Don’t get me wrong- I generally enjoy historical fiction and history has an important role in the novels since Diana is a historian, but in this book I felt that the historical details weighed down the plot.

2. While I felt like the action was racing forward in book one, there are large chunks in book two where nothing happens. I think part of the problem was that there were so many new characters. It felt like the author wanted to squeeze in some historical figures that really did nothing to advance the plot.

3. I think I wanted a bit more character evolution. The two main characters began to morph people that I liked less than I did in the first book (no bueno).

Overall it was still enjoyable, but not nearly as much as the first one was. You know me- I can’t leave a series unfinished- so I’m hoping that the third book gets back to the excitement and pacing of the first book.

Tell me: Have you read anything good lately?