The Perfect App for the Person Who Keeps Planning on Reading Classics but Never Actually Does

This is me. I am the person who has a list of classic books that I want to read eventually, but never do because when it comes down to it I have too many other, more current books to read instead. Classic books just always take me so long to read and it’s not like they’ll ever be unavailable to check out, right? That’s always my rationale at least. But then I discovered the most wonderful app called Serial Reader (this is not a sponsored ad, I just seriously love this app). So here’s how it works. You pick a book that you want to read and set a time to receive new issues every day. Then, once a day you’ll receive a manageable portion of the book to read. The app even tells you how long it will take for you to read it! Once you’re done with your issue, then you just have to wait until the next day to keep reading. Before you know it, you’ll have finished the whole book one manageable portion at a time!

Serial Reader 1

There’s a really wide variety of books to choose from and as far as I know, there isn’t a limit to how many you can read at one time. You can highlight and take notes and it will save all of those for you in the app. The app itself is free, but if you purchase the upgrade (I think it was either $1.99 or $2.99) then you can read ahead to future issues and use the handy dandy “Read Later” function. So far, I’ve finished¬†Northanger Abbey and am currently reading¬†Wuthering Heights. On my “Read Later” list I have¬†Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Letter, Frankenstein, The Haunted Hotel, The Woman in White,¬†and¬†The Mysteries of Udolpho. The only drawback that I’ve found so far is that the app only has the rights for books published before 1930. So books like¬†1984 and¬†Farenheit 451 aren’t on there.

I have my issues set for 7 AM, shortly after I wake up, so that I can read them at any point during the day. I’ve only tried reading one at a time at this point–more than that might be a little much for me–but it feels good to know that I’m knocking some classics off of my TBR without taking too much time away from the other books that I’m reading!

Has anyone else tried this app? What did you think? Let me know if you end up downloading it and what your first read is going to be! What are some of your other favorite reading apps?
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Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Would Stand in Line For

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week‚Äôs topic is: Top Ten Authors I’m Dying To Meet / Ten Authors I Can’t Believe I’ve Met¬† (some other “meeting authors” type spin you want to do)

I think most of us would agree that standing in line is one of the most painful aspects of the human existence. But I would brave a line no matter how long to get a book signed by these authors (that’s an exaggeration. I definitely have a line limit).

1) Sarah Dessen
2) Marissa Meyer (been there, done that)
3) Suzanne Collins
4) J.K. Rowling
5) Jennifer E. Smith
6) Morgan Matson (been there, done that)
7) Gail Carriger
8) Ernest Cline
9) Ryan Graudin
10) Cornelia Funke

Which authors would you wait in an enormous line to meet? Which authors have you already waited in enormous lines to meet? Let me know in the comments!

Non-ARC Mini-Reviews

When We CollidedWhen We Collided by Emery Lord

The first thing I’ll say is that Lord did a great job writing from Vivi’s point of view. I don’t know enough about Bipolar Disorder to say whether or not Vivi was at all manic in the beginning of the book, but the writing felt to me like an out-of-control train (if that makes sense). There was just no stopping Vivi, she was a force to be reckoned with and that was really skillfully illustrated on the page. That being said, I could not handle Vivi as a character and I don’t particularly know what Jonah saw in her. They just didn’t ever really make sense to me as a couple and I had this overwhelming feeling the whole time that Jonah was too good for her. So that was kind of my only issue with it–I didn’t like the romance. If they had just been friends, I think that would have been a completely different story and I would have liked it a lot more. I thought this book was a great depiction of what it must be to live with and around Bipolar Disorder, but I didn’t like the romance and I didn’t like that the adults were so peripheral. 3/5


The CrownThe Crown by Kiera Cass

It had been a while since I’d read The Heir and I had a very hard time remembering anything that had happened in the first book. I barely remembered any of the characters. I honestly didn’t even remember that Eadlyn had a twin (which is kind of a big deal). This made it really hard for me to connect with any of the characters. Eadlyn would reference an event or a person from the previous book and I was just completely lost. It made it so that this story basically had no context. I also didn’t feel like the writing was very smooth, so that was also distracting. The romance was also a little forced, but maybe that was just because I couldn’t remember any of the development from the first book? In the end, I feel like¬†The Crown and¬†The Heir should have just been one book. Omit a couple of unnecessary things from both books and voila, there you have it, one book. 3/5

What do they call a road trip in space? | Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray [ARC]

Defy the StarsNoemi is determined to save the planet Genesis even if it means sacrificing her own life to do so. But when she finds out there might be another way to save her home planet, she’s willing to travel all around the galaxy to make it happen. In this scenario, the only sacrifice would be a mech that she found aboard an abandoned ship. She’d almost feel bad about it, but mechs aren’t human and don’t have opinions or feelings¬†anyway, right?

I’m starting to think that sci-fi might not be my genre. I either find it really confusing or the explanations of the technology is too boring. I just have a hard time when there’s all this future technology that I don’t really understand. On top of that, this book has multiple WORLDS that I need to try to understand. It’s not easy, I’ll tell you that. I felt like I got a pretty good handle on Earth (obviously), Genesis, and Kismet, but then Stronghold and Cray are toss-ups. I have no idea which world is which. Overall, I wish that there had been a little more world(s) building. Gray had such a huge opportunity to create these awesome new planets, but in the end I feel like I didn’t really get a sense of “there-ness” for any of them. They might as well have been all one planet. Also, I wish the characters had actually gone to Kismet instead of just landing on its moon. That almost felt like a cop-out to me. Like the author didn’t really want to go into all the detail that Kismet would require so she just said, “Here, I’ll have them go to this more boring place instead.”

Noemi was okay as a character. I didn’t hate her, but I didn’t love her either. I don’t really feel like we got to know her that well. We get some of her background, but it’s more telling rather than showing. I didn’t¬†feel anything about her history. Like, I felt bad that she’d lost her whole family, but it didn’t feel like something tragic in her backstory even though it was. Does that even make sense? I did like the religious aspect of her character though, it gave her a little more depth. Abel was a little more interesting. There were times when you could almost forget that he’s a mech (basically a robot) but at the same time, you never really could. There were times throughout the book when his abilities were a little too convenient. Oh, the characters are in a bind? Luckily Abel can do this thing and get them out of it! I mean…everything that he did was plausible with who his character was, but still…too convenient. And I thought all the details about how he’s programmed to be really good at sex was weird and unnecessary to ANY aspect of the plot. Honestly, it just made me feel super uncomfortable every time he brought it up. Secondary characters were alright. They were really just there to help the main characters keep the plot moving.

The relationship between Abel and Noemi just seemed so obvious and contrived. Like…of COURSE they’re going to fall in love. Never mind that Abel is NOT HUMAN. Here’s the thing. I always have a really hard time when a human girl falls in love with an alien, a being who is technically hundreds of years older than her, or robots. Basically anything that isn’t really human. It just feels so weird to me! Like…we wouldn’t have a YA book where a human girl falls in love with a dog, right? So what makes these other non-human love interests okay? In my opinion, nothing. Nothing makes it okay. I’m still creeped out. WHY COULDN’T THEY HAVE JUST BEEN FRIENDS???

Overall, I thought this book was just okay. It was really slow for me to get into, but once I was about halfway through the pace really started to speed up and I finished the last half fairly quickly. It looks like this is going to be a series though and I just don’t see myself having the motivation to pick up the next book even though I wouldn’t necessarily mind finding out what happens next. But if you’re already into sci-fi, then I think you might like this book.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: Moderate. No actual sexual encounters, but it is mentioned openly at times.

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A book about grief and growing up too early | Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer [ARC]

Letters to the LostThe accident happened months ago, but to Juliet, it feels like it was just yesterday. Her mom took an earlier flight home as a surprise because Juliet begged her to. Now she’s dead. Hit and run. So Juliet writes her letters. Of course, she knows that her mom will never read them, but it feels good sometimes to put those emotions down on paper. When Declan finds one of Juliet’s letters at the cemetery where he’s doing community service, he can’t help but respond. They become pen pals of sorts and under the cover of anonymity they can admit things that they never had the courage to admit before.

I did not expect this book. It was deep and meaningful and was a really intense look at grief from all kinds of different angles. All of the characters in this book are flawed and the author doesn’t shy away from the ugly parts of their lives or personalities. Juliet and Declan are both kind of angry people, but I didn’t find that I minded like I have with characters from other books. Mostly I just felt sad for both characters. They’ve both had these huge events in their lives that completely change how they interact with the rest of the world. I wouldn’t say that either of them are particularly likable, but I still felt for them and I think that’s a sign of really well developed characters.

The cast of secondary characters was also amazing. I loved both Rev and Rowan, but especially Rev and I’m very excited that he’ll be getting his own book¬†coming out next year. They were a great support system for the two main characters and honestly just seem like really good people. At the same time, they had their own flaws that we don’t really have time to get into in this book–but they’re there. I also just want to give a shoutout to the fact that Rev is an unashamed Christian and isn’t portrayed as a complete freak. Then there are the adult characters. Frank, Juliet’s dad, Declan’s mom and step-dad, Rev’s parents, Mrs. Hillard, and Mr. Gerardi. A lot of times YA books portray adults as the enemies or like they just don’t understand or completely absent. There is a little bit of that in this book, but there are also a lot of times when adults are present and they are every bit as flawed as our teenage protagonists. Despite those flaws a lot of the adult characters are also super enabling. I especially loved the interactions that Declan had with Frank and Mrs. Hillard. It’s not always an us vs them thing when it comes to teens and adults–sometimes adults are on your side! So I give a big thank you to the author for illustrating that. I also loved Juliet’s gradual appreciation for her father.

There is a bit of a plot that runs as a constant thread throughout the book, but it’s definitely not the focus–we’re much more focused on the development of our main characters. I think my overall takeaway from this book is that we really shouldn’t judge other people before getting to know them. I think this is most apparent in the judgments that Rowan and Brandon make about Declan and Rev. Rowan and Brandon are nice, good people, but they don’t take the time to try to get to know either Declan or Rev. They only listen to the things they’ve heard about Declan and Rev is guilty by association and because he dresses strangely. How many of us are exactly like Rowan and Brandon? Let’s get to know and love the Declans and Revs of the world.

Overall, I thought this book was really great. While there were some¬†overused¬†elements (the “evil stepparent” for one), I also thought that the author included several refreshing elements. I think this book will, deservedly, stand apart from other books in the YA category.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate. Some brief descriptions of child abuse.
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate. Mostly due to one scene at the end of the book–not graphic.

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The book to read if you ever wanted to learn more about autism | Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik [ARC]

Things I Should Have KnownChloe doesn’t have what anybody would call an “ideal situation”. Sure she’s pretty popular at school, but her dad died a few years ago and her mom married a total tool. On top of that, she has an autistic older sister to worry about. Her friends are supportive, but don’t really get it–not that she expects them to. When Chloe tries to set her sister up on a couple of dates, Chloe begins to see one of her classmates in a completely different light. She starts to think that maybe there is someone who can understand her after all.

This book was truly great. The author has a child who is autistic and I felt that that really shows in the book. It feels real and authentic and I learned a lot more about how to interact with people who are on the autism spectrum. This is the kind of diversity in characters that I can appreciate. The author has first-hand experience with autism and can portray it in a way that somebody without that first-hand knowledge never could in my opinion.

Chloe and David are both just really great characters. The love that they have for their siblings is obvious throughout the book. They’re definitely flawed, but I can’t help but feel that they’re still better people than I am. They have normal lives, but at the same time, their worlds kind of revolve around their siblings. Chloe and David make me want to be a better person when I’m around those with disabilities for sure. Their relationship with each other felt real and progressed at a natural pace. I thought they really balanced each other out. As far as secondary characters go, I felt that both sets of parents could have been developed a little more. More depth was shown at the end of the book, but it almost felt like too little, too late. James and Sarah were both really flat characters as well and didn’t contribute much of importance to the story.

One criticism that I have is with Chloe’s relationship with her step-dad. It just seemed so obvious to me. For once I would like to read a book where the main character looses a parent that they had a good relationship with, but then they also love their step-parent as well. Does that ever happen in real life? Does it even exist? Or am I just wishing for a unicorn here? It just feels like a really cheap way to add drama.

Ethan and Ivy were also great characters. I felt like they really showed how differently autism can manifest itself. Not all people with autism act the same way or have the same triggers. Also, I thought the author did a great job of showing that even their loved ones get fed up with them sometimes. People who have autism don’t necessarily need to be babied–they just need to be treated like normal people. The LGBT aspect of it was interesting as well. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I think the author brings up an important topic here.

Overall, I thought this book was fantastic. I’ve really liked LaZebnik’s books in the past and while this one was different, it didn’t disappoint. I definitely look forward to reading anything else that she comes out with.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Moderate

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

March Reading Update

For some reason, writing reviews has become SUCH a struggle for me lately. Any tips on staying motivated?

ARCs
Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge – Read, and reviewed
These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shanker & Kelly Zekas –¬†Read¬†and reviewed
Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik –¬†Read, review coming
At First Blush by Beth Ellyn Summer
Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray – Currently Reading
The Takedown by Corrie Wang

Other
When We Collided by Emery Lord
Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger
The Crown by Kiera Cass –¬†Read, review coming
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen – Currently Reading

So far I have finished 4 books this month. How’s your reading going?