How Do You Balance Reading and Your Family?

We got a question from another blogger recently that made us stop and think.  We both recently had babies (Kelli's first and Natalie's third) and have had to adjust our lives and reading time accordingly.  What the other blogger wanted to know was how we find time to read and blog.  Here are our secrets:

I have a Nook and find it convenient to read at mealtimes and on breaks at work.  I also read while exercising at the gym (the few times a month I get to actually go to the gym)---an e-reader makes that possible, which I love!  It's the only way I can get through a workout now that I've gotten in the habit of reading while exercising. 

Reading and blogging while the baby naps is my other secret.  She takes long afternoon naps most days, leaving me some time for myself each day (after I finish my housework).  I try to read at night before I go to bed, but usually only manage to read a few pages before I pass out from sheer exhaustion. 

Reading on the weekends while hubby is home helping me out is my last secret.  An hour or two spent alone with a book is precious time for me now---nothing beats having a baby but I do sometimes miss being able to sit down and read whenever I wanted to!
Well, there is something magical that happens when you start having babies... your days are extended from 24 hours to 36 hours of endless reading and butterflies & sparkles can be seen in the sky... NOT... I know, I know I am a mean woman :) I am a mom all day or until Papa comes home (in which I start singing "I'm so glad when Papa comes home, glad as I can be..." you get the picture). Time is a very precious thing and I don't give it away too freely.

First off, I read for PURE pleasure. If a story doesn't catch my interest in ~20 pages I move on.  As I am working on this post I have newbie #3 on my lap, #2 taking a nap and #1 getting dressed for karate practice. So, the question still remains "How the heck do you read so much?"

The best advice that I can give to any mom who wants to continue reading with babies wrapped around her ankles is to get an audiobook FAST! You can do anything and everything with an audiobook. I have lots of comical stories about my audiobook adventures with kids in tow (which Kelli happens think are hilarious) :) Yes, I will admit that as my children think I am basking with joy as they play on the swing set I am in fact grinning about whatever story is playing in my ears. We have frequent 4-wheeler rides down trails, piano/soccer/karate practices, and long road trips that all include an audiobook. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too! 

Lately, my routine has included a late night read. My newbie #3 still eats about every two hours so why waste time, right?!... depending on how invested I am in a story will determine how much sleep I am willing to sacrifice. 

My philosophy is if I keep the 3 F's (family, faith & fun) there will always be time for my book affairs!

We want to hear from you now!  Knowing that all of you have busy lives and/or families of your own to take care of, when do you find the time for reading and blogging?

Book Review: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She's stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she'll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father's recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother's open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.

Release Date: May 11, 2004
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Puffin
Source: Purchased

I've heard so many good things about Sarah Dessen and knew that I had to try her, especially since I am liking contemporary YA lately.  And I'm happy to report that I now understand what all the hype is about.  I really liked The Truth About Forever, and will definitely be reading more by Dessen in the future.

Macy's father died unexpectedly, and she and her mother are left picking up the pieces.  Macy's mom throws herself into her work and Macy pushes her grief down and tries to become perfect.  A perfect daughter, a perfect student, a perfect employee, and a perfect girlfriend (to the always-perfect Jason).  But all that perfection does is cover Macy's crushing grief over her father's death and she's left feeling like she can't tell anyone how she really feels without upsetting them.  She's relegated to a "fine, just fine" type of exsistence.  Everything changes, though, when Macy starts working with Wish Catering.  The employees there are different from anyone she's ever met, and Macy's perfect world is affected by the chaos surrounding the Wish team. 

I liked Macy right away and I fell for Wes as soon as he showed up.  I loved watching their relationship develop.  I liked the secondary characters as well, especially Delia and Kristy.  Dessen does a great job with character growth and weaves the individual characters' stories together so well that it all makes sense as a whole.

My one complaint, and this is kind of a big one, is that the story felt slow for the first half of the book.  To be fair, it took me about three weeks to read this book because for the first half of the book I could only read a few pages a night.  My "night-stand books" are always slow going for me, because I'm so tired from work and taking care of the baby (and now packing---we're moving soon) that I fall asleep just about as soon as I sit down to read at night.  But, once I got to the half-way point of the book, I had to make time to finish it during the day because I just couldn't wait to find out what would happen and if Wes and Macy ever got together. 

I was totally satisfied with the ending.  I was so happy to get a concrete ending in a stand-alone book where I don't have to wait for years to find out how the story ends!  It made me so happy that I have decided to make a point to read more stand-alone books.  Overall, The Truth About Forever was a really good read, and I'll definitely be reading more from Sarah Dessen.

Book Review: Glow (Zellie Wells, #3) by Stacey Benefiel

Zellie Wells has mastered her powers and gotten the guy. She’s lived through her parents’ divorce and being separated from Avery. She’s come back from the dead.
What else is there?
Oh, yeah. REVENGE.
Discover how it all ends when Zellie and the gang finally track down Mildred and fight to right the wrongs of The Society’s past, present and future.

Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Review copy from author
Other Books in the Series: Glimpse, Glimmer

I have been looking forward to Glow for months now and couldn't wait to find out how Zellie's story ends.  I have really enjoyed this trilogy and think that the premise is so unique and interesting.

But, Glow felt lacking for me.  I had a hard time remembering a lot of what happened in the first two books and found myself wishing Benefiel had included a summary to refresh my memory.  I ended up reading my previous reviews, which helped me remember a few of the specifics.  But what helped me the most was talking to The Book Vixen, who read the book at the same time as me.  That was fun, TBV, and I hope we do it again!  Talking about books with other bloggers is the best part of blogging, don't you agree?

Anyway, back to Glow.  After feeling confused for the first half to two-thirds of the book, I could not overcome those feelings to really get into the story.  I do think that this series would be a great read if you were able to read all three books back-to-back.  I liked the way Benefiel wrapped up each character's story, with concrete resolution for everyone.  I liked the relationships between characters, and the character growth.  I just wish that I would have read all three books in a row to keep the story fresh in my mind.

Bottom line: The Zellie Wells trilogy is a unique YA paranormal read.  Read all three books together to get the best reading experience.

Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

'As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I'm still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me ...' Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love - all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine's life.

Release Date: June 14, 2011
Age Group:  Adult
Publisher:  Harper
Source:  Library

Every once in a while, I'm reading a book I really like and I do something bad: I cheat.  I get to where I know I won't have the time to finish the book that day, and I want to know the ending so badly I just can't wait, so I skip ahead and read the end of the book.  I know, I know, it's a terrible thing to do!

I got 180 pages in to Before I Go To Sleep (over halfway through) and I just had to know how the story ended.  I knew my baby was going to wake up from her nap soon, and I also knew I couldn't wait until the next day to find out what happens to Christine.  So, I skipped ahead 150 pages and read the last 40 pages of the book.  And all I can say is that I really cheated myself.  Now that I know what happens, I'm not going to go back and read what I skipped, and I really missed out.  This book was so good...such a great psychological thriller.  It kept me guessing the whole way through. 

The book alternates between Christine's present day life and her journal entries.  This alternation keeps the story moving quickly, even though there is a slightly frustrating (for the reader, and especially for Christine) "Groundhog Day" effect with how Christine wakes up every morning with no memory.  She has to learn that she is in her forties and married every single day.  She doesn't know her husband most days and feels totally alone and lost.  This premise was so unique and so well-executed, it made for a great read.  

I would recommend this book to just about anyone.  Just don't get impatient and cheat yourself out of a great read like I did!

Score: DID NOT FINISH (because I cheated myself out of finishing)

Guest Post and Giveaway: Amira Aly, author of Egypt: The Uprising

Today I'm happy to welcome Amira Aly, author of Egypt: The Uprising, a YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel.  Fill out the form at the end of this post (it's short, I promise!)  to enter to win an e-book of Egypt: The Uprising.  

Why I Had to Self Publish
To North American and European natives my story may seem strange, borderline shocking even, given the prestige associated with landing an agent and selling your book to a publisher.
Where I come from, it's a whole different game.

The State of Affairs.
Egypt is an Arabic speaking country. Arabic publishing houses have the necessary expertise and skilled staff to wade through manuscripts and choose what they deem publishable. Of course, the fact that Arabic is the population's native tongue means that the are many eloquent, skillful writers to create a decent Arabic slush pile.
English fiction faces a much more complicated predicament. English is spoken by the well-to-do and hip 'n happenin' crowd--a minority in a poor developing country like Egypt .

Something Fishy on the Banks of the Nile.
Small publishing houses opened up seemingly  to cater to the needs of this readership, while in fact they were catering more to the stardom desire of wannabe authors. Many business people identified the opportunity and set up vanity publishing houses under guise of being 'traditional', liberal and progressive publishers embracing young authors.
They did embrace them alright, but not without screwing them over.
These publishing houses charge authors for running prints of their copies. Authors are expected to seek out their own editors, and pay them of course.
To make matters worse these Vanity-publishers-in-disguise make authors sign ridiculous , often seven to ten-year, contracts which basically give the publishing house rights to change anything and everything they want without consulting with the author.

Slush Piles Anyone?
I could have marginally, or at least temporarily, ignored the silly contracts and the fact that your book goes out of print before you can blink if the whole process involved any validation whatsoever.
Writers, especially previously unpublished writers, crave that recognition; that special feeling of being 'chosen' from a slush pile as it were.
Well, Egyptian publishing houses do not even offer you that. All it takes for a manuscript to be accepted is for it to be written with a near-native fluency. I have yet to figure it out whether this is because of the lack of linguistic appreciation and English language fluency on the editors' part, or simply because more authors mean more money to the publisher.
I am a storyteller. I worked on my craft through endless hours of studying the tools of the trade; through writes, re-writes, online workshops, and critique groups. I owed it to my novel to seek out the best home for it.
But since a home could not be found, I decided to build one for it. Make it all pretty and Publish it myself.
I figured that going the indie route, putting out "Egypt: the Uprising" as an e-book and as a print-on-demand paperback would be best. Given the timely nature of the events in Egypt, I wanted to present my novel as soon as I could to the only gatekeepers that truly matters--the readers-- and hear what they think of it. 

Find Amira on the web:

I think that this is such an interesting post!  I never considered what it must be like to write a book in a language different from the native language of your home country.  Thank you Amira!

Don't forget to fill out the form below to enter to win an e-book of Egypt: The Uprising.

When Do You Give Up on a Book?

Many of you know that I recently had a precious baby girl, my first child.  I have had to adjust all areas of my life, including my reading habits.  I knew I would have to make some changes---ie, cut back on my reading a lot---but what I didn't expect was for my taste in books to change.  I have started liking contemporary fiction a lot more, and like paranormal fiction less.  I find myself wanting to read more women's fiction, a genre I was never particularly interested in before.  I think it may be because I'm a mother now and can identify with more characters.  

But, what's most surprising is how quickly my patience wears thin now.  If I'm not liking a book within the first few pages, I quit.  I used to try to give a book a good 100 pages before stopping, but now, if I'm not in love, I drop it and move on.  I sometimes convince myself that the book will improve and make myself finish it.  This always ends in disaster because I start to resent the book and end up with a bad reading experience.  

Which made me start thinking, how long do you give a book before stopping?  And at what point do you consider it too late to stop? 

Leave a comment with your thoughts...I want to know!

Book Review: Frost (Stork #2) by Wendy Delsol

After the drama of discovering that she’s a member of the Storks, a mystical order of women endowed with powerful abilities, Katla Leblanc is finally settling into her life in chilly Minnesota. In fact, the ex-California girl even hopes for a white Christmas. But Katla’s wintry wish unexpectedly turns into the snowstorm of the century, drawing the attention of Brigid, a gorgeous environmental researcher with an amazing array of fur coats and an unusual interest in Katla’s boyfriend, Jack.
Release Date:  October 11, 2011
Age Group:  Young Adult
Publisher:  Candlewick Press
Source:  NetGalley

Do books ever make you hungry for a certain food or thirsty for a certain beverage?  Or do they ever make you wish you were in a different season of the year?  Frost made me long for winter's chill (we are currently experiencing daily temperatures of 95-103 degrees here in Southeast Texas) and it made me thirsty for hot cocoa. Wendy Delsol's imagery and description were so detailed, so intricate, that I found myself wishing for the trappings of wintertime.

Before I go any further, I need to disclose that I have not read Stork, the first in the series.  I make a point to only read sequels when I have read the first book, and have no other reason for reading Frost before Stork besides a lack of reading time.  I requested Frost from NetGalley thinking that I would have time to read Stork first, and then when I didn't (remember I have a brand new baby and have not adjusted my expectations of personal time) I had to jump right into Frost, not knowing any of the back story.  Thankfully, Delsol provided a nice review at the beginning that filled me in, and I was able to enjoy Frost without feeling like I didn't know what was going on.

Several things really stuck out for me about this book.  I loved the imagery and the way Delsol sets a scene.  I liked the fact that the secondary characters are very well fleshed-out and I found myself just as interested in their stories as I was in Katla and Jack's stories.  I thought the premise was so unique and well-executed.  Delsol's plot and pacing were great, which kept me reading past the point where I said I'd stop.  Katla and Jack were so sweet with their love story.  Everything was not roses all of the time, which made the good times more enjoyable for me.

Just when I thought I had the story figured out, Delsol threw a wrench in things and added another layer to the plot.  I loved that!  There were definitely some issues left unresolved, which sets up the next book in the series, and leaves me very interested to read book three.  I liked the ending, that the main issues in Frost were resolved, and that I wasn't left frustrated with a cliff-hanger ending, like so many series employ nowadays.

Overall, I think the greatest endorsement I can give Frost is that I enjoyed it enough to seek out and read Stork---after reading book two!

Book to Movie News: The Host

It's official, The Host has officially been given a release date and production is moving forword! Why is this so important you ask? Two reasons 1.) First book review posted on I'd So Rather Be Reading and 2.) The same reason I reported on Odd Thomas' movie progress (my favorite)... this happens to be one of Kelli's favorite books. 
Here are the details released so far:
* Release Date: March 29, 2013
* Director: Andrew Niccol (also wrote the screenplay)
* Producers: Nick Wechsler, Chockstone Pictures' Paula Mae Schwartz and Steve Schwartz, and Stephenie Meyer 

*Saoise Ronan has been cast as Melanie
Wow has she grown up! She is a young woman now. I last reported that she was cast to play in another upcoming film The Hobbit but haven't seen any updates on that project thus far. I really like her films and can't wait to see her in action. We know she can handle action (Hanna) and drama (The Lovely Bones).

Who would you like to see play the role of Jared?

We vote Ian Somerhalder!

If you have any movie news please share!

Book Review: Bloody Valentine (Blue Bloods #5.5) by Melissa de la Cruz

Vampires have powers beyond human comprehension: strength that defies logic, speed that cannot be captured on film, the ability to shapeshift and more. But in matters of the heart, no one, not even the strikingly beautiful and outrageously wealthy Blue Bloods, has total control. In Bloody Valentine, bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz offers readers a new story about the love lives of their favorite vamps - the passion and heartache, the hope and devastation, the lust and longing. Combined with all the glitz, glamour, and mystery fans have come to expect, this is sure to be another huge hit in the Blue Bloods series. Also, witness the bonding of Jack and Schuyler.

Release Date: December 28, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Hyperion
Source: Purchased

I am no lover of short stories, and with that in mind, you'd think I would stop reading them.  However, when short stories are part of a series I just can't resist.  Bloody Valentine falls between books five and six in the Blue Bloods series and it was the perfect teaser to tide me over until Lost in Time (book six) comes out in September.
Bloody Valentine contains three short stories: the first about Oliver trying to recover from being Schuyler's familiar, the second a look back in time to Allegra and Charles Van Allen's relationship, and the third a present-day account of Jack and Schuyler's bonding.  The bonding is why I bought this book and although it does irk me that I paid about $10 for a book that took me an hour and a half to read, the third story was worth the cost of the book.  I have been team Jack all along so it was great to read about Jack and Schuyler's happiness.

My one complaint about this book is the same complaint I have with all short stories: it felt lacking in substance and depth.  However, I would definitely recommend Bloody Valentine to fans of the series.  It's a great addition to the series, and sets up the author's new series about witches as well (funny how convenient that is...).

Thank You!

Texas-sized hugs to everyone who left a comment on my "I'm a Prudish Old Lady" post!  I really appreciate your support! 

The consensus is that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but it's best to express it in a respectful way.  I am going to continue my 'prudish' ways, and will warn you when a YA book contains (what I feel are) inappropriate themes.

Thank you again and thank you for following I'd So Rather Be Reading!

I'm A Prudish Old Lady

So, lately my review on The House of Night's latest book, Awakened, has been getting some traffic.  Actually, it's been getting some ugly comments by anonymous commenters.  Read the review and the comments HERE.

Now, I'm a firm believer in expressing your opinion.  Isn't that what blogging is supposed to be?  Sharing your own subjective thoughts about books?  That's what I thought it was about---that and sharing the excitement of reading with other bloggers.  Well, apparently not everyone feels this way.  I guess some people think it's cool to be rude.  

I've been called a prude and an old lady repeatedly by these commenters.  And that's okay.  If not liking bestiality, rape, lewdness and obscenity in YA makes me a prudish old lady, then that's what I am.  I don't mind sex or swearing in adult fiction---have you not seen that I am a fan of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series?  I simply have a problem with these themes in YA literature. 

So here you go, folks.  This is what an old prude looks like (coincidentally, I was on my way to church here):

This is me and my precious baby girl, who will not be allowed to read books like The House of Night.  This is why I include these types of details in my reviews, for moms who are trying to monitor what their kids read! 

So, to the anonymous commenters:  if you don't like my blog, go find another one to read.  There's bound to be someone out there who feels the same as you do about these issues. Or just keep leaving ugly comments here at I'd So Rather Be Reading---we get a good laugh out of them!

Book Review: Vanish (Firelight #2) by Sophie Jordan

To save the life of the boy she loves, Jacinda did the unthinkable: She betrayed the most closely-guarded secret of her kind. Now she must return to the protection of her pride knowing she might never see Will again—and worse, that because his mind has been shaded, Will’s memories of that fateful night and why she had to flee are gone.

Back home, Jacinda is greeted with hostility and must work to prove her loyalty for both her sake and her family’s. Among the few who will even talk to her are Cassian, the pride’s heir apparent who has always wanted her, and her sister, Tamra, who has been forever changed by a twist of fate. Jacinda knows that she should forget Will and move on—that if he managed to remember and keep his promise to find her, it would only endanger them both. Yet she clings to the hope that someday they will be together again. When the chance arrives to follow her heart, will she risk everything for love?

In bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s dramatic follow-up to
Firelight, forbidden love burns brighter than ever.

Release Date: September 6, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: NetGalley

I enjoyed Vanish just as much, if not more, than Firelight.  Sophie Jordan has created a unique series with a lushly described world that I just can't leave.  I had a hard time putting this book down, and read it in only two days (an almost impossible feat with a new baby).  

I love Jacinda's character.  She is the perfect example of a young girl trying to balance her obligations to others and her own desires.  Jacinda has some tough decisions to make in Vanish, and while the decisions she made weren't the ones I wanted for her, they were decisions that made me respect her.  Jacinda has grown up a lot since the first book, even though less than two months have passed, and I really enjoyed reading about her character growth.

One of my favorite things about the Firelight series are the relationships between characters.  There's a thin line between love and hate, something that Jacinda knows well.  Her world is turned upside down yet again by the events in Vanish, but Jacinda picks herself up and keeps going.  I really admire that in a character.  But what endeared her to me the most were her sacrifices for other people.  Jacinda puts others before herself, which to me is the true marker of growth.

Sophie Jordan's imagery is excellent.  I love how she describes the draki: detailed enough that I can picture them, but spare enough that I have my own unique idea of what they look like.  I love being able to imagine things for myself---isn't that one of the best things about reading?

Sophie Jordan has really set herself apart with Firelight and Vanish.  I would recommend this series to anyone!

Book Review: Firelight (Firelight #1) by Sophie Jordan

A hidden truth. Mortal enemies. Doomed love.
Marked as special at an early age, Jacinda knows her every move is watched. But she longs for freedom to make her own choices. When she breaks the most sacred tenet among her kind, she nearly pays with her life. Until a beautiful stranger saves her. A stranger who was sent to hunt those like her. For Jacinda is a draki—a descendant of dragons whose greatest defense is her secret ability to shift into human form.
Forced to flee into the mortal world with her family, Jacinda struggles to adapt to her new surroundings. The only bright light is Will. Gorgeous, elusive Will who stirs her inner draki to life. Although she is irresistibly drawn to him, Jacinda knows Will's dark secret: He and his family are hunters. She should avoid him at all costs. But her inner draki is slowly slipping away—if it dies she will be left as a human forever. She'll do anything to prevent that. Even if it means getting closer to her most dangerous enemy.
Mythical powers and breathtaking romance ignite in this story of a girl who defies all expectations and whose love crosses an ancient divide.

Release Date: September 27, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Won from another blogger

What a great read!  I really enjoyed Firelight.  I won it from another blog (I apologize, but I can't remember which blog or I would give you credit here) and have had it sitting on my TBR shelf for months.  Now I'm just sorry I waited so long to read it because it was such an enjoyable read. 

Sophie Jordan did an excellent job weaving her fantasy world seamlessly into the 'real' world.  I loved the way she executed her unique premise.  The descriptions and imagery were outstanding.  Have you noticed that weak descriptions and imagery really kill a fantasy novel?  They are one of those make-or-break issues for me when reading paranormal fiction and fantasy.

I loved the relationship development in Firelight.  Jacinda's relationships with her sister, mother, Will, Cassian and her pride are all developed so well.  Sometimes I find character development to be lacking in YA, so I really enjoy it when it's done well.

My one complaint is that Firelight got a little slow in the middle.  It picked up for an exciting ending, though I was not too happy about the extreme cliffhanger.  Luckily, I had requested Vanish (book two in the series) from NetGalley and was able to jump right in so I didn't have to wait to find out what happens next!

Book to Movie News: Hunger Games Castings Update

Meet the Cast!
I always get nervous when my favorite books are adapted to movies. What scares me the most is a.) the adaptation. I like the movies to stay pretty close to the book... although I wouldn't mind if the ending of Mockingjay was changed up... I want more details... such a rushed ending to an awesome trilogy, but I will leave that alone for now...  and b.) the cast. For the first time I am VERY excited about the cast! I will admit I had my doubts as they were announced but as the pictures keep rolling out of each character I get more and more excited.

I think I am most excited to see President Snow, Haymitch & Caesar Flickerman! I have really high expectations for this film.

Here is a new peek of Peeta & Gale from the cover of EW. If you have been following us for a while you are well aware that Kelli and I had BIG drama when it came to Peeta & Gale. It was the first & only time (to date) we have disagreed about our fictional men (click here to see how dirty it got, be sure to read the comments too). I thought I was officially torn between Team Peeta and Team Gale HOWEVER I have decided how I will handle this life altering dilemma... I am Team "Book" Peeta and Team "Movie" Gale... so all my original loyalties and statements still hold true (*cough, cough* directed to Kelli).
District Demographics
I LOVE when visuals are released for a book! I thought a lot about the demographics of Panem when I read HG's. If Panem were real Kell & I would be dead underwater. Poor 'ol Texas really took a hit in this world.
I will admit that I check for HG's movie updates just as faithfully as I do for Twilight :) If you have any news or gossip about the movie send us a tweet (@soratherread) or email and we will post your gossip! Remember you are always happier when you share :)