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My Seasonal TBR Challenge Choices: June Tasks

Seasonal TBR Challengev2

If you haven’t already seen it, I’ve created a Seasonal TBR Challenge for summer! Basically it’s different fun little tasks to try to identify books that are already on your TBR and read them this summer. Once you read them, you can post about it and the reader with the most points from completing the tasks wins a prize! It’s just a little fun and not necessarily meant to grow that TBR any larger than it already is, but it’s also a good opportunity to see what other books people are going to read that match the tasks.

So what books have I chosen to work towards this summer with the June tasks?

5.1 Summer Heat. The sun is definitely here and that means raising temperatures! Read a book with one of the following words in the title: hot, scorch, heat, warm, sun, blaze, hazy, or any other similar variations.

For this task, I plan on reading:

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This is a book that I know other reading friends have really enjoyed, it’s the first in a season, and I’m curious about it. I have only read one Armentrout book and liked it so I’d like to think perhaps I’d enjoy this one too.

atlantia5.2 Summer Vacation to the Water. I hope you all are able to go on a vacation this summer, but let’s make sure we go on one to the water! Read a book that has a cover with a beach, river, lake, or pond on it or has the word beach, vacation, holiday, or other related words in the title.

For this task, I plan on reading:

Atlantia by Ally Condie.. It may not be exactly a lake or a pond, but it’s got a seashell and clearly some body of water on the cover so I think that counts.

5.3 Warning, Contents are Hot! Read a book with a cover that is predominately made up of hot colors (red, orange, yellow).

For this task, I plan on reading:

Talon by Julie Kagawa. It’s a mostly red cover and has been on my shelf for a few months. And who can say no to a dragon story?

talon10.1 Hurricane Season. June is the beginning of hurricane season, which can definitely dampen vacation plans! Each year, the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center releases the names that will be used for each hurricane. Read a book whose author has a name on the 2015 list.

For this task, I plan on reading: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. The sequel is going around right now and I hate feeling like I already missed the boat so I’d like to read the first in the series.

10.2 Anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, the invasion of Europe, known as D-Day began. Read a book with a title beginning with the letter ‘d’, or has a plot that centers on an invasion.

For this task, I plan on reading:

The Dyerville Tales by M.P. Kozlowsky is a book I got about the same time as Talon and would love to read it and I think shakes things up a bit in terms of my summer reading list.

10.3 Summer Reading List. School summer reading lists were never all that fun, but the internet is full of different lists recommending different reads for summer. Read a book that is featured on a summer reading list and share the link to the list.

For this task, I plan on reading:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins has been a book with a lot of buzz and I’m all about reading it. I found it on one of the lists I offered as an example on the original task, the EveryGirl’s list, and their pick for a beach read.

So I think that’s some good books that match up with the tasks. Some are books that I already own and wanted to read anyways, others are books that I’m aware of and may have been moving a little slowly towards.

What are your picks? Have you signed up yet? Definitely sign up at the original post and share the challenge with others!

pj - michelle

Seasonal TBR Challenge – Summer 2015

Seasonal TBR Challengev2

Seasonal TBR Challenge – Summer 2015

One of the things that got me to return to reading for pleasure five years ago while I was in my undergraduate program was a book club on Goodreads. It was (and is! It’s still around, though I haven’t participated in over a year) called The Seasonal Reading Challenge. Every three months for each season, they develop a list of tasks each worth different points. People plan what books best fit each task and earn points throughout the season for each book that they read for the tasks. It was a great way to add some variety to the to-be-read (TBR) list and choices. And the competition was fun too!

As it’s the beginning of June, I thought it’d be a great time to try doing something similar for the blogging community! We all have that leaning tower of TBR books and sometimes it can get difficult to figure out which book to read next. So let’s have fun matching books to the challenges and see which books we’ll discover! Here’s the way it’ll go down…

The Rules

  • The Seasonal TBR Challenge for summer 2015 will run from 01 June through 31 August. All books read during those dates that count towards a task may be tallied, even ones read before officially signing up.
  • Interested bloggers can sign up using the link up below. Because of the short-notice launch of this challenge, a kick-off post is not in any way mandatory but if you post a kick-off after signing up, feel free to add that link as well and I can curate the list for increased usability. For any non-bloggers wishing to participate, please comment below and let us know so we can figure out how best to include you!
  • Each month will have additional tasks added to the list. June’s tasks are below. If you have suggestions for July and August tasks, please comment below!
  • Each task will relate to themes of the month and the season. Any book can be chosen to count towards a task as long as it meets the specific task’s details. (So any genre, length, style, etc. can be chosen unless otherwise specified by the task.)
  • At the end of each month (or really at any point), participating bloggers can post an update on their progress for the challenge, listing which books you read for the tasks, and how it matched. We will have an additional link up for update posts so we can all see what books you chose to match each task and how many points you’ve accumulated. (This is a great way to be exposed to new books and get help on pairing books to challenges!)
  • The challenge banner or button can be (and is recommended!) used in posts.
  • The reader with the highest amount of points by the end of the challenge period (01 September) will win a prize! (If you would like to contribute to the prize(s), please let me know as well! Email

seasonal tbr challenge buttonv2

June’s Tasks:

5 point tasks:

  • 5.1 Summer Heat. The sun is definitely here and that means raising temperatures! Read a book with one of the following words in the title: hot, scorch, heat, warm, sun, blaze, hazy, or any other similar variations.
  • 5.2 Summer Vacation to the Water. I hope you all are able to go on a vacation this summer, but let’s make sure we go on one to the water! Read a book that has a cover with a beach, river, lake, or pond on it or has the word beach, vacation, holiday, or other related words in the title.
  • 5.3 Warning, Contents are Hot! Read a book with a cover that is predominately made up of hot colors (red, orange, yellow).

10 point tasks:

  • 10.1 Hurricane Season. June is the beginning of hurricane season, which can definitely dampen vacation plans! Each year, the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center releases the names that will be used for each hurricane. Read a book whose author has a name on the 2015 list (spelling variations are okay):

Ana; Bill (Example: Bill Bryson); Claudette; Danny; Erika (Example: Erika Johansen); Fred; Grace (Example: Grace Draven); Henri; Ida; Joaquin (Example: Nick Joaquin); Kate (Example: Lauren Kate); Larry; Mindy; Nicholas; Odette; Peter; Rose; Sam; Teresa; Victor; Wanda

  • 10.2 Anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, the invasion of Europe, known as D-Day began. Read a book with a title beginning with the letter ‘d’, or has a plot that centers on an invasion (alien, invasion of privacy, war, etc. all count, though if it’s not clear from the synopsis, please explain the book pairing)
  • 10.3 Summer Reading List. School summer reading lists were never all that fun, but the internet is full of different lists recommending different reads for summer. (Examples: ALA’s 2015 Summer Reading List; The EveryGirl’s List; Bustle’s List) Read a book that is featured on a summer reading list and share the link to the list.

Good luck! Please sign up below! You can add the link to your blog or kick off post with any plans you have for each task and share any of your summer plans! If you have any cool ideas for the tasks for July and August, please share in the comments as well!

Happy summer reading!

pj - michelle

May 2015 Wrap Up and Books for June


May 2015 Wrap-Up

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but I think it’s about time!

In May, I read five books! I feel like that’s an impressive number for me these days. The books were:

Hexed by Kevin Hearne (Book Two in The Iron Druid Chronicles)
Hammered by Kevin Hearne (Book Three in The Iron Druid Chronicles)
Tricked by Kevin Hearne (Book Four in The Iron Druid Chronicles)
Two Ravens and a Crow by Kevin Hearne (Story 4.5 in The Iron Druid Chronicles)
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

As you can see, there was a definite theme to the books I read this month. I absolutely binged on Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series, which was so nice and refreshing to do. It was very nice get through each book and be able to go right on to the next one. Additionally, they were all audiobooks, and the narrator does such a good job with it. It really pulls you in and makes you want to continue to listen, even when you shouldn’t really. I will have a post coming up in a few days with my thoughts on the series so far.

Uprooted I devoured as well. I received a review copy through Netgalley a couple of weeks ago and finished it in a week. I would definitely recommend it. I enjoyed it though I will say it gave me all kinds of dreams and seems to continue to do so even after I’ve finished it. If you get nightmares, perhaps it’s not the book for you only because the fantasy world is so intense.

To highlight some of the reviews that were posted on the blog in the past month:

And we posted the following non-reviews:

Be on the lookout for a new way I may be approaching reviews…I -may- have figured out a way to get over some of my growing disinterest in them.

Books for June

Now, what shall I read in June?

I’ve been doing a lot of mood reading lately, but I generally still have a good idea of which books will be read in a month. Some of the books I’m looking forward to reading are:

days like thisDays Like This by Danielle Ellison

Sometimes the only thing standing between fear and hope is you.

Almost a year ago, nineteen-year-old Cassie Harlen had a lot to deal with. A stack of college acceptance letters waiting for answers, a proposal from the boy next door, and a mother whose most recent bipolar episode left Cassie hurt and confused. Tired of cleaning up the messes caused by her mother’s disorder, of resenting her mother for not being there, and scared of being trapped by an inevitable future—which included marrying Graham Tucker—Cassie did the only thing she could think of to keep from ending up like her mother: she left.

Graham never knew why Cassie walked away. He woke up one morning and she was gone—along with the life that he’d created around her. After eleven months, Graham has a new plan for his future. One that doesn’t involve Cassie Harlen.

When Cassie’s mom nearly burns down her house, Cassie’s forced to return home. Back to a mother she’s tried to ignore and the guy she’s been unable to forget. Graham doesn’t know how he’s going to spend the whole summer living next door to the person who broke his heart without letting those old feelings push through to the surface.

Neither does Cassie.

I also received a review copy from Netgalley for this book. I really enjoyed Salt by Danielle so I am hopeful that I will also like this one though it sounds completely different. I don’t usually read contemporary so we’ll see if I can be converted.

madmans daughterThe Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father’s handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it’s too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.

Inspired by H. G. Wells’s classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Madman’s Daughter is a dark and breathless Gothic thriller about the secrets we’ll do anything to know and the truths we’ll go to any lengths to protect.

I’ve been trying to read this for a while and it keeps being put aside for other books. I’m determined to at least knock this out finally to stop it from continuing to languish on my bedside table.

silkwormThe Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives—meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.

When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…

I have this from Audible and I am looking forward to some more of J.K. Rowling’s characters. I’m already a little way into it and I may regret trying to listen to it instead of reading it because of the number of characters but the narrator does a decent job once you get used to him.

chardonnay charadeThe Chardonnay Charade by Ellen Crosby

“The Chardonnay Charade” begins with a daring helicopter flight in the middle of the night. Facing a freak spring frost that threatens to kill the grapes in her vineyard, Lucie Montgomery hires a chopper to fly over the vines in order to blow warm air on them. But her thoughts soon turn from grapes to murder when she discovers the body of Georgia Greenwood, a controversial political candidate, lying near the fields. Georgia’s husband, Ross, Lucie’s friend and doctor, immediately falls under suspicion.

To make matters worse, Ross, a renowned collector of Civil War documents, has just discovered a letter that seems to prove that Confederate president Jefferson Davis had prior knowledge of the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. In the small town of Atoka, Virginia — proud home to the “Gray Ghost,” the Confederacy’s legendary guerrilla commander — the letter is a bombshell.

Three years ago Ross saved Lucie’s life after she was involved in a near-fatal car crash. Now she intends to return the favor and prove Ross’s innocence. As the search for Georgia’s killer escalates, Lucie crosses swords with her attractive but cantankerous winemaker, Quinn Santori, and confronts her own unwelcome feelings of jealousy over his new romance and job prospects. Her worries about her kid sister’s out-of-control drinking and a second vineyard-related death further ratchet up the tension. Even though Lucie believes that in vino veritas — in wine there is truth — she finds that the path to uncovering a murderer involves making a heartbreaking decision that will alter the lives of those she loves.

This is our June book for the book club. While I may not be able to go to the meeting this month, I’m excited to see what it’s like to return to the series that kicked off our book club. I’ve been to many wineries in Virginia since then so there’s some curiosity with this book.

I think that’s about it for me and June. I am taking summer classes so despite only being in the third week of this course, I have a final paper due in three weeks…fun!

What are you reading this month?

pj - michelle

One Month’s End is Another Month’s Beginning: February/March 2015


I know it has been quite the time since the last time we did this feature. Basically, for about three months last year, I was in such a reading slump which translated into a blogging slump. I was able to get out of it by revisiting the Outlander series, rereading Outlander and then diving in to the rest of the series. I think between those books being simply enjoyable and finally divulging in my desire for series, I was able to snap out of the slump and have already read five books this year! (That’s a lot for me right now!)

A lot happened this month! The below is in no particular order. :)

I am participating in the OTSP Secret Sister program. The best way to describe it is that is a six-month long secret Santa thing with other book bloggers. I have a blogger that I send anonymous monthly gifts to and someone else is sending me anonymous fun things. It’s really cute and provides nice pick-me-ups to break up the doldrums of the month. So if you follow me on Twitter, you may see me using the #OTSPSecretSister hashtag as we answer questions that could be posed by our Secret Sister.

Christina got quite the opportunity when she was invited to be a guest on VinVillage Radio, to discuss Virginia wine, her website Virginia Wine Uncorked, Playing Jokers, and our book club! You should definitely check out the podcast!

I ended up having quite the accident with my copy of Voyager as I was reading it this month. It’s the first time in a long time that I had something like that happen to me. Thankfully, it was my own copy, but as you can see, it’s quite crispy!

Had quite the accident with a container of water and my copy of Voyager. Pages are very crispy… :( #booknerdproblems

A photo posted by Michelle (@deckfullojokers) on

Our newest contributor hit the ground running with quite a few reviews and a lovely discussion piece. If you haven’t already said hi to Ellen, you definitely should!

In February, our Virginia Wine and Book Club read Vicious by V.E. Schwab (that both Christina and I have reviewed now), and went to a paint and sip event. It was a lot of fun to try our hand at painting and I think everyone really enjoyed the book.


And finally, I participated in half of the 2015 Book Blogger Love-A-Thon. I wasn’t able to be quite as active with it as I had been last year, but as this is an annual event put on by fellow book bloggers, I would definitely recommend it as a great way to connect to the community in ways that sometimes can be harder otherwise.

And in case you missed it, here are some of the reviews we published this month:

And we posted the following non-reviews:

I would normally in these posts list the books that I am interested in reading for March, but I’m being a little more fluid about it right now. I’m trying to make sure that I read things as I want to read them so I don’t end up falling into another reading slump.

Happy reading!

pj - michelle

One Month’s End is Another Month’s Beginning: September/October 2014


It’s officially the Halloween season! Right? I’m sporting some awesome Halloween Jamberry nails:

Pretty cool, right? I am still learning exactly how to put them on, but I’ve got a few more sheets to try out.

In other news, I’m officially more than a month through my first month of graduate school. It’s a mixed bag of a lot of work, a lot of non-work, and definitely a lot of time in class (5.5 hours every Wednesday after a full day of work). It’s definitely reiterated that I am not destined for a life in academia forever. Maybe when I’m older, my mind will change…

We posted the following reviews in September:

And we posted the following non-reviews:

That said, I did pretty good with reading this month, until I started reading Disunion, the anthology of articles on the Civil War. It’s very good, but it’s not exactly a book you can speed through. Of the books I had wanted to read for September:

  • I finished: Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night and Wonder Show. I definitely enjoyed both and they took place within 30 years of each other, so that was sort of fun to have that type of continuity.
  • I finally gave up on We’re All Infected: Essays on AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Fate of the Human. I just couldn’t stomach anymore of it, particularly when dealing with scholarly essays for school.
  • As I mentioned above, I’m in the thick of Disunion. It’s definitely very interesting and I am enjoying it. But despite being made up of lots of digestible essays on various aspects of the Civil War, it isn’t something that I can race through.
  • I haven’t even started Lucky Us or Salt & Storm. Both of those are books from Netgalley for review, so those are definitely next on my queue!

I posted earlier in September that I was craving a good series. I highlighted some ways that I hope to start satiating that craving. So I’m going to switching up a bit my TBR for October.

  • I will finish Disunion…eventually.
  • As listed above, Lucky Us and Salt & Storm need to be read next.
  • The Walled City is yet another Netgalley book that I need to read. I always feel so guilty when I get excited about a book, request it, and then let it sit for too long. One day I’ll get on top of that.
  • The Swap is another review copy I received, this time from Goodreads. Once I knock out these review copies, I think I’ll be happier in my reading life.
  • As a non-series book that has been on my Goodreads’ TBR the longest (yes, that’s a lot of qualifiers), September Girls is the final book on my month’s TBR. I bought it and had it signed over a year ago. It is probably a more appropriate pick for this past month, but oh well!

I keep listing fewer and fewer books for a month, but I’m okay with that. So for October, my goal is 6 books. I keep getting ahead, being on track and falling behind on my annual reading goal. I have a feeling that I will be making that goal by just an inch!

What are you planning on reading this month? Do you have anything exciting happening?

pj - michelle

One Month’s End is Another Month’s Beginning: August/September 2014


Hey everyone! So it’s the end of another month and the beginning of the next–already! What happened to August?

So I had all these grand plans on what was going to go up on the blog this month, but unfortunately life got in the way. August was a strange month for me. I went on two trips, back to back. One was for business and the other was a vacation. I started graduate school and all the stresses that that brings along. (In fact, I’m trying to write this post when I should be doing my homework! Ugh!)

We posted the following reviews in August:

And we posted the following non-reviews:

I felt like it wasn’t a successful reading month for me, but when I look at what my month’s reading goals were, I didn’t completely fail.

  • I finished Landline by Rainbow Rowell. Audiobooks definitely helped me achieve my goals this month.
  • I finished We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, again another audiobook. It was amazing!
  • I finished Captain Alatriste…just very slowly. It wasn’t really the story I was expecting.
  • And finally, I also finished Anna and the French Kiss. I liked it, but I don’t think I loved it as much as others do…oops!

That’s a total of 4 books for August. Considering I had set a goal of 8 books for the month, it’s not as impressive as it might have been otherwise. I still like setting my month’s reading goals though; you got to believe that I am always checking these posts throughout the month to figure out what I have next to read.

You might have noticed that while I have said I have finished those books above this month, that there are no reviews of them. For the first time in years, I have a backlog. I for some reason stopped reviewing books as soon as I finished them, so now I have such a backlog of books that I need to review that I don’t even know really where to begin. It’s quite daunting and I hate it because my reviews suffer the longer I have taken to write them.

So for September:

  • I have just started reading Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night, so that will have to be an August goal book that gets carried over into the September goals. I won it to review from…Librarything I think.
  • I still need to make sure I read and finish (and review) Lucky Us, a Netgalley book that I requested because it sounded interesting and I need to slowly chip away at my horrible approval ratio.
  • And someday, sometime, I will finally finish We’re All Infected: Essays on AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Fate of the Human. At this point, I don’t think it would really make a huge difference if I didn’t finish it…blah. I won it to review from Librarything.
  • The September book club book is Panopticon, but I don’t think I’m going to get around to reading it…but I’m still going to list it because that’s what a responsible book club member does.
  • Disunion sounds like it would be more of a book in Christina’s line of interest as it’s essays on the civil war, but it’s one of those books from BEA 2013 that I feel guilty for grabbing and not reading so I’m going to give it a try.
  • After attending a Cirque du Soleil show themed around a slightly twisted and whimsical circus and listening to vloggers discuss the Night Circus, I’ve decided that my random pick for the month will be Wonder Show.
  • And finally, another Netgalley book that I want to read and review to help my approval ratio: Salt & Storm.

While normally, I’d list a book that has been on my TBR the longest, the three at the top of that list are both in a series and require more commitment than I can offer right now. I also think that I have enough on my reading plate for the month without making myself feel too bad. Maybe once I’ve knocked out all my review books, I’ll select one of those series and do a nice readathon for them?

So I’ve listed 7 books for September…we’ll see how much grad school affects my reading!

What are you planning on reading this month? Do you have anything exciting happening?

pj - michelle

The Book Scoop: Hugo Awards and Crowdsourcing New Releases


Here’s the weekly round-up of bookish news and articles that I found interesting. And it’s barely more than the first scoop of what’s available out there.

Hugo Award Winners Announced for 2014
The annual awards for science fiction, the prestigious Hugo Awards, have announced their winners for this year. With fifteen categories spanning both the written word and dramatic presentations (movies, television shows) the awards celebrate science fiction and its different forms. This year’s big winner for Best Novel goes to Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. I’ve heard so much buzz about Ancillary Justice this year that I’m not very surprised it won! And for those Game of Thrones fans out there amongst us, the ‘Red Wedding’ episode of the television series (actually called “The Rains of Castamere”), won for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form. Congratulations to all those who took the prize and had the honor of being nominated!

BBC’s The 10 Best New Books to Read
It seems that there are a few new lists being released by news outlets on which books to read. I think it’s that time in the book season. I’m not complaining though—I love these lists! It’s made me aware of quite a few books I might have missed otherwise. I have actually not heard of any of the books on BBC’s list of the Ten Best New Books to Read, but Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford caught my attention along with The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith.

Favorite Required Reading Picks
In the second top ten list of the week, Huffington Post gathered the staff to discuss what their favorite summer required books from school were. It’s nice that not all required reading books are disliked, that their merits are appreciated by their students. I’ve read a few from this list and remember them somewhat fondly (if I remember them at all! Damn bad book memory!). There are a few that I have actually never heard of and I look forward to checking them out!

Publishing Imprint Takes Readers’ Votes on Next Book
Have you heard of Swoon, a young adult imprint of Macmillan Publishing? They have a pretty cool way of selecting which books to publish—they ask you. Taking the lead from more and more services that use crowdsourcing, Swoon allows readers to vote on which books should get published as well as which narrator should record the audiobook. How cool, right? According to the New York Times, there is a growing movement towards more input from the crowd in the publishing world. While it results in readers getting more of a say in what they would like to have made available to them, it doesn’t mean that everyone’s books gets published. The article really is an interesting read, and I plan on keeping an eye on this. Trends can become the way through time…

pj - michelle

The Book Scoop: What Publishers Do and 9 Standout Books


Here’s the weekly round-up of bookish news and articles that I found interesting. And it’s barely more than the first scoop of what’s available out there.

The Nine Standout Books of 2014 According to Goodreads
Goodreads released their list of the nine standout books of 2014 this week. It’s a list based on the numbers: their popularity on people’s want-to-read shelves and their above average ratings. I –believe- that this is the first time Goodreads’ has offered us this mid-year review. So for fiction, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and The Martian by Andy Weir. Of those, I’ve heard some great things about The Martian, am aware of All the Light We Cannot See, and haven’t heard of The Invention of Wings. They also offered up books in the nonfiction and young adult categories, of which I actually read one: The One by Kiera Cass. Go me! Check out the list—it’s nice to know what is popular before the year is out.

The New York Times Evaluates Book Subscription Services
With the news breaking of Amazon’s latest service to provide books for a subscription fee, in a model similar to Netflix with movies and television shows, The New York Times has offered some pretty interesting notes on similar services. Looking at not just the Kindle Unlimited service, but also Oyster and Scribd, they note the pros and cons to each. Personally, I think I’ll stick to the public library.

Outlander is Amazing
Well, clearly. But the popular book by Diana Gabaldon has been making buzz with its television show adaptation on Starz. The first episode is available for anyone to view online for a limited time and the consensus I’m seeing is that people are really pleased. And I received an email from my cable provider that they would be opening up Starz and Encore to be viewed by those without the subscription for this weekend, likely to allow for more subscriptions as people demand to watch Outlander.

Simon & Schuster Explain What Publishers Do
It’s not new news that publishers are working in a different environment than years before. Self-publishing has taken off, leaving some to wonder what the purpose behind the publishing houses are. Several of the other publishing houses have offered videos or documents explaining the processes behind the scenes at the publishers that add value to an author’s work. Simon & Schuster is the latest to do so, releasing a series of videos with their editors giving details, called “Behind the Book.” While it may or may not make a difference, it is certainly very interesting!

Hachette Not the Only Publisher to Argue with Amazon
Or would it be better to say that Amazon is the one arguing? Hachette and Amazon have been arguing over their e-book contract for four months now. But Kensington Publishing Corp, a small New York publisher, has announced that they have reached a new deal with Amazon. This new deal ends next July. The kicker? This deal took 18 months! While it’s probably safe to say that both sides could have been at fault, it’s good for us consumers to know that Amazon is using the same business practices on all publishers.

pj - michelle

One Month’s End is Another Month’s Beginning: July/August 2014


I’m very glad for July to be over. It was not an easy month for me. Work was quite the beast and August brings a deep breath of relief. So while July around here was a little more than completely dead, I feel inspired for August.

To cut to the chase, in July, we reviewed:

And I promise we’ll have some non-reviews next month!

I had listed eight books that I wanted to read in July. Even though today is the third of the month, I’m going to go ahead and count these past three days as July. What–I can do that! So I finished The One, Evil Under the Sun, The Cuckoo’s Calling, Half a King, Island of a Thousand Mirrors, and Solstice. I’m working on finishing Ink Exchange and  We’re All Infected: Essays on AMC’s The Walking Dead and the Fate of the Human. It shouldn’t take too long. But in addition to those books, I hope to read:

So that’s another eight books for August. Considering that I’m only like 30ish pages away from finishing the essays on The Walking Dead, I think I can manage. However, I start graduate school at the end of August! Aaaah! Who knows what kind of impact that will have on my joy-reading…so stay tuned! :)

pj - michelle

One Month’s End is Another Month’s Beginning: June/July 2014


This month was a particularly good one for reading for me. However, that meant that quite a lot of other things went by the wayside. Like laundry. What is this laundry thing that people speak of? How often must it get done?

That said, I read quite a few books! I had wanted to read The Lies of Locke Lamora, Lexicon, The One, Hyperion, The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit, and Star Wars Jedi Academy, a total of six books, which I knew would be a stretch for me.

I ended up reading The Lies of Locke Lamora, Hyperion, The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit, and Star Wars Jedi Academy, four of those that I had planned. I’m 50% through with The One though! In addition, I ended up also starting and finishing Ender’s Game and They Do it With Mirrors, two audiobooks I had borrowed from the library. So in the end, I have completed six books! That’s really quite amazing for me. I’m now only two books behind my yearly goal of 50 books!

So in June, Christina, Calvert and I reviewed:

We also posted some non-reviews (hopefully more non-reviews coming in the future!):

In other news, I did find my wedding venue! I’ll post more about it once we book everything, but I’m very excited to be done with that part of wedding planning. And if you follow me on Instagram (deckfullojokers) I posted some pictures of my trip up to Rhode Island. It was a great vacation and even more wonderful to see all my family. I also attended the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival in May and wrote a review for Christina’s awesome website for Virginia Wine:!

For July, I’d like to perhaps achieve a better balance in my life while also reading:

Again, likely wayy too many books than what I’ll accomplish, but I like outlining what I’ll read each month. It helps me feel like a more productive reader in the way that I pick books from different groups.

And last, but not least, welcome to the new blog design! Hazel at Stay Bookish designed it! I wanted something fun and different for the summer and to reinvigorate both it and my interest in it. What do you think? There’s still a few things that need tweaking, like changing my pages to match the new color scheme and continuing to play around and figure out the Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin, but I think it will all add to Playing Jokers!

pj - michelle