BOOK VS MOVIE | Ready Player One

Let me start off by saying that I fell in love with Ready Player One from the first time that I read it back in 2011. Then I read it again more recently in 2015 and thought that it still held up really well. Then I made my husband and brothers-in-law read it and they all liked it too.

Some time between my first and second read, it was announced that the book had been optioned for a movie–this was VERY exciting to me. But then years passed and nothing came of it until…something did. When they finally started casting, I was ecstatic and thought that almost all of the actors/actresses casted were perfect (with the exception of Art3mis). When they announced that Spielberg would be directing I thought, “OF COURSE. THIS IS PERFECT.” And then when the first teaser trailer came out, I swear I actually died and came back to life. Needless to say, this weekend when my husband and I went to go see the movie, my expectations were high. Very high.

Well…I liked the book better. But, that’s not to say that I didn’t like the movie too. To be honest, I almost always like the book better than the movie. A lot of the time, I feel like the movie changes or completely omits too many things and that makes me mad. Why did they have to change the story? The book was PERFECT and there was no reason to get rid of that character or change that plot point or whatever.

And then there’s Ready Player One. RPO changed quite a few things from the book while maintaining the overall storyline. Despite all of these changes, I still really enjoyed the movie! I actually understood why things were different from the book–to be honest, it just would not have been as interesting to watch as it was to read. Another big difference is that the movie is not so saturated with 80s pop culture. So if that’s what you love from the book, you’ll be disappointed. There are definitely some 80s references, but the movie also references more current pop culture things like Halo and Minecraft (which I actually think is reasonable considering the OASIS is set in the future where all of those things would exist). It’s just not quite so much of an homage to the 80s as the book is.

Overall, the movie was good–a little slower than I expected? But still good. Depending on why you like the book, you may or may not like the movie, but I would still recommend it.

Have you guys seen Ready Player One yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
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How do you read so much? | 5 ways to read more books

Over the last few years, I’ve been able to read over 100 books a year even while going to school and/or working full-time and/or making time for my husband. I don’t say this to brag, but just to say that I’m pretty good at finding the time to read. I just wanted to share a few tips that I’ve found help me to find the time and motivation to read despite my busy schedule.

1) Always have a book with you

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This one seems kind of obvious–right? If you don’t have a book with you, then you can’t read. This is one of the main reasons why I love my Kindle Paperwhite. It’s slim and light and easily fits in my purse. I’ve almost always got a book that I’m reading on my Kindle whether it’s one I’ve purchased, an ARC, or a library book. If you don’t have a Kindle, though, I would highly recommend the Kindle Reading app for your phone. I don’t like it quite as much since the screen is so small, but it’s better than nothing! Whenever I’m waiting in line for my lunch or for a meeting/presentation/class to start, I pull out my Kindle and read for a few minutes. If you’re doing this a few times a day, that easily adds up!

2) Prioritize reading over other activities

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Since my husband’s family lives close by, we spend a lot of time with them. We often have family dinners followed by hanging out/playing games/watching sports. When I was first getting to know the family, I felt like I needed to participate in everything and show that I was a team player, etc. However, now, I think we all know each other well enough that I don’t feel that need to “impress” so much anymore. Obviously, I don’t seclude myself in another room all night, but if I don’t feel like playing a game, I’ll sit it out and read instead. Or if the boys are all watching a basketball/football/baseball/insert sport game, then I’ll sit back and crack open my book. It’s okay to choose reading over other activities! Don’t let other people make you feel bad for enjoying reading more than other things.

3) But don’t force it

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I have been known to add reading a certain number of pages to my weekend “To Do” list (especially if I’ve got an ARC or blog tour book that I need to finish). But sometimes…I just don’t feel like reading! I feel like watching Netflix or working on one of my other hobbies, and that’s okay! I think that if you force yourself to read, it will just take you longer to get out of your reading slump. So calm down, take a minute, allow yourself to do other things, and then maybe you’ll feel like reading again in a few days–but don’t stress about it.

4) It’s okay to DNF/mood read/reread

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I think sometimes DNFing or mood reading or rereading books are considered “bad etiquette” in the blogging world, but I don’t think they should be! If I’m not enjoying a book, I’ve learned to DNF because I don’t want to waste my time anymore. Even if it’s a book I’ve been asked to review, I’ll just say at what point I DNF’ed, explain why, and then move on. For mood reading, I find that I read books a lot faster if I’m in the mood to read them. If I’m forcing a mood on myself, it will take FOREVER to finish a book. Lastly, I think rereads are great–especially for getting myself out of a reading slump. Some of my favorite rereads have just become comfort items to me and are so easy to sink into.

5) Read more than one book at a time

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I’ve usually got a couple of books going at a time. Usually I’m reading one on my Kindle and at least one hard cover or paperback. It’s just easier to read physical books when I’m at home and my Kindle everywhere else. But I think reading more than one book at a time is a great idea because if you get tired of one, you can just switch to the other. Of course, if you’re just plain tired of reading that doesn’t help…but if you’re just tired of the story, then pick something else up for a bit!

Have you tried any of these? What are some reading techniques that you use? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!

Discussion: Thoughts on YA Novellas and Short Stories

I’ve noticed a trend over the last few years where YA authors are putting out lots of novellas and short stories to accompany their series. Examples:

throne of glass novellas

The selection novellas

Please tell me, WHO ASKED FOR THESE??? I already have a hard enough time reading all of the books in a series, but now I have to read all of these novellas and short stories too? I know that I don’t HAVE to read them–nobody’s forcing me. But it feels like if the author’s putting it out there, then maybe I’m supposed to get additional information about characters or events from these stories.

However, I’ve found that a lot of times reading the extra material does not help or change my viewpoints about characters or events. If the events in the short story or novella were so important, then the author should have included that information in the book/series to begin with. To be completely honest–and I don’t really like feeling this way–it feels to me like these short stories and novellas are published purely to make more money by milking an idea that’s working for all that it’s worth. And that just leaves a bad taste in my mouth where that author is concerned. I feel like I, as a reader, am being taken advantage of.

kim kardashian money gif

So my position is that these little “extras” are unnecessary and just create added stress as a reader (not to mention cost, because libraries don’t often carry these–you actually have to buy them). Let’s think about one of the greatest series that has ever been: Harry Potter. If she wanted to, J.K. Rowling could 100% write a million more stories about day-to-day life at Hogwarts featuring a variety of characters. But she hasn’t. Sure, she’s fleshed out the world and made movies, etc. but she hasn’t done anything else with Harry, Ron, and Hermione and their time at Hogwarts. If she wanted to, I know for a fact that people would pay for that. So why hasn’t she chosen to do that while many lesser known and less popular authors with smaller fandoms have?

At the end of the day, I’m just sitting here pleading for authors to give me the whole story in one or two books (three max). I don’t have time to read four, five, eight book series anymore and I certainly don’t have time to read 50-100 page novellas and short stories.

What are your opinions on YA short stories and novellas? Are you a fan? Why do you think authors write them? Let me know in the comments!

Hype, hype baby | Under pressure to read new and hyped books

This is a blog post idea that has been bouncing around my head for a little bit, but yesterday it kind of came to a boiling point. I kept seeing posts about one book in particular (it was the book’s release day). Bloggers, authors, EVERYONE was raving about this book and talking about how excited they were to finally receive and read it. This is the book in question:

The Belles

So I’m just like, yes pretty cover, I understand. But then I went to read the synopsis on Goodreads and it left me feeling just…confused.

confused gif supernatural jensen ackles

It legitimately doesn’t sound interesting to me AT ALL. There is no part of that synopsis that appeals to me and I don’t even really understand what the book is supposed to be about. But here’s the thing:¬†I marked it as “Want to Read” anyway.

Why did I do that? Even now I’m not totally sure. I’m usually pretty good at resisting peer pressure and I’m not really afraid to share my unpopular opinions, but hearing how excited everyone else was about this particular book, I thought that I must be missing something. So I guess FOMO is why I did it?

FOMO gif The Office Steve Carell Michael Scott

Something that I really enjoyed from my hiatus was completely unplugging from the book scene. I didn’t check my blog, I didn’t check other blogs, I didn’t even really go on Goodreads except to update my reading progress. This made it so I wasn’t really aware of what new books were coming out, what other people were hyping, etc. I also didn’t request ARCs on NetGalley during this time. I felt like I had this new freedom to read books that had been sitting on my shelf for a while (physical and digital). I also had time to do some rereads that I’d been meaning to get to.

I apologize for the rambliness of this post, but in the end it just got me thinking about how much pressure we put on ourselves as bloggers to read the newest thing, the most hyped thing. We want to stay relevant so that means keeping up with everything that’s happening RIGHT NOW. We have to read the latest books and hop on the newest trends immediately or else we’ll get left behind. Except…I don’t think it’s really like that. I like reading reviews about newer books, but I also like reading reviews about older ones–maybe ones that I’ve read a few years back or ones that I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

What I’ve learned through all of this: It’s okay to not be the very first one to read and review something. Accepting this idea has helped me to relax as a blogger and as a reader. Changes I have noticed:

  • I’m not requesting as many ARCs on NetGalley
  • I feel less pressure to try to get publishers to send me physical ARCs
  • Because I don’t have as many ARCs to review, my reading schedule is more open which allows me to mood read more or read the books that have been piling up on my shelves or reread old favorites
  • I don’t feel the urge to buy as many books since what I want to read is usually available at the library–no holds (and I’m also actually reading books that I already own)
  • I’m reading books that I WANT to read, not just books that I feel like I SHOULD read

So there you have it. I’ve officially removed¬†The Belles from my “Want to Read” shelf on Goodreads. I’m still open to reading it in the future, but I’m not going to let myself be pressured into reading it just by its initial hype.

Let me know how you feel about book hype in the comments! Is it helpful, damaging, or neutral? Do you have any similar experiences to mine? How did it turn out?

Super read-alikes for Superbowl LII

I know this community is super into football, right? Wait, we’re not? Ah, just kidding of course. I’m actually not a HUGE fan myself, but I married someone who has three brothers and they all love sports of any kind. I have watched more sporting events with these guys in the last five years than I had my entire life previous. I would go so far as to say that I haven’t missed a major sporting event for the last five years. Baseball, football, basketball of course, but also golf, tennis, soccer, horse racing, etc. THESE GUYS LOVE SPORTS.

So my purpose with this post is to help make the Superbowl a little more accessible for those of us who will only be watching for the commercials and the half-time show.

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Here’s to you guys

The New England Patriots

The Patriots and Tom Brady are the obvious favorites of this Superbowl. They’ve been like eight times in the last 10 years. They’re a dominant dynasty. We all agree that these guys are good. Their defense isn’t great so they’ll mostly be counting on their #1 offense (led by Tom Brady of course) to outscore their opponent.

Tom Brady high five patriots gif

If you like the Patriots, you might also like:

Cassandra Clare books

I think most readers and bloggers would say that they like these books. Cassandra Clare keeps coming back to the same world with new-ish stories and you can pretty much count on a new book coming out every year. These books have a consistency that could be perceived as either comforting or boring depending on the reader. I would say that the overall idea behind these books was pretty unique at the time and hasn’t been able to be adequately replicated by anyone since. The series is super mainstream these days after having both a movie AND a popular TV show made based on it.

This series is the Patriots. While there’s not a ton of depth throughout the series (defense), the fact that the series remains consistent and that a new book comes out so often means that nobody can forget that it exists (offense). I mean, the first book came out over ten years ago, but like Tom Brady, there’s still something really ageless about it.

The Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were a surprise this year. The last time they made it to the Superbowl was in 2004. They have a great new quarterback, Carson Wentz, but when he got injured at the beginning of December, there wasn’t much hope that the team would get this far. Luckily, they came up with a backup plan. Nick Foles had been the Eagles QB in the past, but was replaced by Wentz as the starter. He got a chance to come back and has helped the team to make it to the Superbowl. With their amazing defense, the Eagles hope to shut Tom Brady down.

Philadelphia Eagles gif

If you like the Eagles, you might also like:

unwind dystology

Neal Shusterman made a big splash a couple of years ago with National Book Award winner Challenger Deep¬†and there has been a moderate amount of buzz surrounding his recent Arc of a Scythe series. But did anyone remember that he has a four book series that came out before that? Shusterman’s Unwind series is a social commentary that was ahead of its time.

This series and Neal Shusterman are the Eagles. Shusterman’s had some really great recent stuff (Carson Wentz), but when it comes down to it, it’s the past (Nick Foles) that’s going to make an impact. Like the Eagles, the Unwind Dystology doesn’t necessarily have a “star player”, but it’s really effective as a “team”. On Goodreads, all four books have a significantly higher than 4-star rating (4.18, 4.25, 4.23, 4.48 respectively). Cassandra Clare’s books may be flashy and get a lot of publicity, but I think Neal Shusterman’s books deserve our respect as well.


So there’s my in-depth bookish analysis of the Superbowl. I hope football makes a little more sense now and that you feel inspired to read some of Neal Shusterman’s books (to be completely transparent, I haven’t actually read any of his books either, but I plan to).

What books would you say best represent these two teams? And are you going to be watching the Superbowl today?

And here:

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I know this is what you really came for

7 ways to keep yourself from going crazy on NetGalley

For book bloggers, NetGalley is a magical place where maybe, just maybe you might get a chance to read the next Sarah Dessen/Morgan Matson/”insert author here” book before everyone else. In my experience, it’s a lot easier to get approved for digital galleys on NetGalley than it is to get publishers to send you physical copies (I’ve only succeeded at that like twice). Perhaps this is why it’s so hard to practice self-control once you get on the site. There’s just an enormous potential to receive¬†free books.

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Me with all my free books from NetGalley

So how do you keep yourself from requesting every book that you see? Well, after a couple of years, here are some tips that I’ve come up with to (hopefully) keep your ARC load manageable.

1) Only request books that you actually want to read.

Baby Reading

This seems like a no-brainer, but I have definitely found myself being approved for a book and then wondering why the heck I requested it in the first place. Getting on NetGalley when you’re bored is sometimes like going grocery shopping when you’re hungry. EVERYTHING SOUNDS GOOD. But then when it actually comes time to eat (or read/review) you’re left with a bunch of things that don’t really sound that appetizing. So make sure when you’re requesting that the book actually sounds¬†really good to you. Not just pretty good or okay.

2) Keep a record of books that you’ve requested.

List

Even though you can view all of the books that you’ve requested on NetGalley, it’s easy to forget just how many books you might have already requested or when they’re all being published. I’ve had times where I’ve been approved for books weeks later. All of the sudden, I have 7 books to read and review for April and I’m not really sure how that’s happened. I suggest keeping a list in a more visible place as you’re requesting books. That way, if you’re on the fence about a book, you can see if you’ve already requested a lot of books being published in the same month and use that to help you make your decision.

3) Only request books that have a future publishing date.

Sometimes NetGalley has books on it that have already been published. I fell into this trap early on where a book would sound good, I requested it, but then found out that it had been published the year before. It didn’t seem so bad at the time, but when I also got approved for future books, the ones that had already been published got pushed to the back burner. For me, there just isn’t the same urgency to review already published books as there is to review books that are still to come. Eventually I created a rule for myself that I could only request books that were going to be published in the future.

4) Get to know which publishers you like and which ones you don’t.

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There are certain publishers that will almost always produce good quality books (HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, etc.). I feel pretty safe requesting books from these publishers. But there are other publishers that I have found to be hit or miss for me (SOURCEBOOKS) and still others that I don’t request books from anymore (Entangled Publishing). It might take you a little bit to establish which publishers you like, but eventually you’ll figure it out. I know that no matter how cute and fluffy a book sounds, if it’s published by Entangled Publishing, I’m most likely going to end up regretting my request.

5) Keep a schedule of ARCs that you’ve already been approved for.

This is similar to keeping a record of ARCs that you’ve requested, but even more important imo. These are books that you’ve already committed to reading and reviewing. If you’ve already got 5 books scheduled for this month, maybe rethink that book you’re about to request that comes out next week. Really consider if you have the time to read and adequately review all of the books on your schedule before potentially adding another one.

6) Set a request limit for yourself. AND STICK TO IT.
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It does Lindsay, it really does

Setting a limit for how many books you can request on a given day will keep you from requesting every book that sounds remotely good. Instead, you’ll have to prioritize which books you¬†actually want to read. Having a limit will force you to actually consider if it’s worth it to request a book or if you should save your request for something else.

7) Do judge a book by its cover.

This is so superficial, I know. But it’s a really easy way to keep yourself from going overboard since it eliminates a number of previously eligible books. If a cover doesn’t look interesting to you, don’t even look at the description. You might miss out on a great book here or there, but I think it’s worth the “risk”.

Now that you’ve figured out how to effectively use NetGalley…go forth, request, read and review!

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Did I miss any NetGalley tips? Do you have any NetGalley horror stories? Let me know in the comments!

6 books I didn’t like that other people did

Title links are to Goodreads and “My rating” links are to my reviews if applicable. Click here¬†if you’d like to see a list of 6 books that I did like that other people didn’t.

On the FenceOn the Fence by Kasie West – My rating: 3 stars; Goodreads: 4.05 stars

What other people are saying: “Tomboy Charlie was a lot of fun getting to know. She wasn’t exactly my favorite at the beginning but she grew on me. I liked her growth in the story and her progression of self-acceptance was very believable.”

“…this was a generally enjoyable read and it has a giddily happy ending…”

What I say:¬†I honestly didn’t like Charlie very much–she just seemed too clueless! I get being a tomboy (I was one too) but even without a mom, I feel like there were some things that she just should have known by being around other females like her teammates. I also didn’t particularly care for any of the secondary characters–they just seemed super flat. Lastly, the ending was just too fast and the repeated use of the word “love” made me cringe so much.

Shadow and BoneShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo – My rating: 3 stars; Goodreads: 4.05 stars

What other people are saying: “Everything was fabulous: writing, setting, uniqueness, feels-inducing, swoon worthy villains characters.”

“First, Alina is such an incredible main character. Not only is she likable and relatable, her growth throughout the story is stunning to read. It is so believable, even in a completely unbelievable world.”

What I say:¬†Alina…..ugghhhh. She is honestly one of my least favorite main characters. I felt like she was actually pretty pathetic and so SO weak. And talk about “special snowflake”. I don’t think I’ve seen another character who was a more special snowflake. I never felt like the romance between her and Mal was genuine and it creeps me out how everyone is super into the Darkling. HE’S TERRIBLE, YOU GUYS. I did like Bardugo’s concept of magic, etc. But seriously, Alina was the most annoying character ever.

Anna and the French KissAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – My rating: 3 stars; Goodreads: 4.06 stars

What other people are saying: “This is one of the cutest feel-good teen romances I have ever read. It has a bit of everything that you want… humour, a likeable protagonist and a completely swoon-worthy guy called Etienne St. Clair.

“I love how Perkins created this romance between [St. Clair] and Anna. It was perfectly executed for my tastes, albeit at sometimes super drama-filled, but there was depth to their feelings for one another and I appreciated that.

What I say:¬†I do not understand the hype with St. Clair. I just don’t. He’s cheating on his girlfriend the whole time and it’s NOT OKAY. Also, the author really went overboard describing how beautiful he’s supposed to be. I got tired of it after the first 50 pages. Anna as a character was fine and I thought the secondary characters were fine too, but I am not on board the Anna/St Clair ship. Sorry, not sorry.

Red QueenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard – My rating: 3 stars; Goodreads: 4.08 stars

What other people are saying:¬†“The book is harsh, romantic, action packed, fast paced, with twists and turns that it literally kept me up all night so I could finish it. LOVED it.”

“I also loved Mare, who never became lovesick though she was not immune to the charms of her princes. There was no eye-rolly moony-eyed moments. ”

What I say:¬†I felt like Mare was such a wishy-washy character who had major trust issues. I mean, how can you commit to joining a rebellion if you’re not actually sure that you want to be part of the rebellion? She just didn’t feel very well thought-out. And don’t get me started on the brother love triangle. I absolutely ABHOR those.

The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogyThe Summer I Turned Pretty (series) by Jenny Han – My rating: 2, 2, and 2 stars; Goodreads: 3.96, 4.14, and 4.17 stars (respectively)

What other people are saying:¬†“Belly’s character is great, in the first book she was a bit immature but as I read the other two books I saw how she had grown up and changed.”

“This story has depth in character growth, emotion, back story, and sweep you off your feet love.”

What I say:¬†These books were just…way too angsty for me. I felt like Belly was a really immature main character. I mean, I know she’s super young in the first book, but she still seemed like she was always on the brink of crying or getting overly embarrassed by things. While she does grow throughout the series, I don’t feel like she grows all that much. I also didn’t particularly care for the two main love interests (and AGAIN with the brother love triangle. Gag). These were just kind of throw away books to me. Super easy to read, but not something I would ever reread.

The Names They Gave UsThe Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord – My rating: 3 stars; Goodreads: 4.15 stars

What other people are saying:¬†“This was truly a book in which every reader could find themselves in. The protagonist might represent one thing but a voice was given to so many other perspectives.”

“Emery Lord never ceases to amaze me. She has a magical way of weaving words and creating flawed, complex characters that are entirely relatable.”

What I say:¬†Yes, there was a lot of diversity in this book. Dare I say even…too much diversity? It just felt like Lord was trying to cover too many things. I think the story would have felt tighter and more impactful if she had only chosen a couple of things to focus on instead of trying to cover everything. Lucy was just okay as a protagonist to me. She didn’t actually feel that authentic as a Christian teen to me. I also didn’t think that Henry was realistic at all either. He seemed about 25 instead of 17 or 18.

Please tell me I’m not alone in these opinions!