Category: Discussion Post

June Is Audiobook Month: Top 5 Audiobooks for New Listeners + Giveaway!

Posted June 26, 2017 by Bonnie in Audiobooks, Discussion Post, Giveaways / 32 Comments

I’m an avid reader and am always trying to squeeze in reading time. I find audiobooks to be great for those times when you can’t sit down and read because they allow me to multi-task when I wouldn’t have been able to with a print book. I didn’t always love audiobooks, they did take me quite a few tries to get used to but I’m so glad that I do now.

These five titles are ones I would recommend to a new audiobook listener looking to see what all the fuss is about. A few of these were some of my first audiobooks too! Be sure to check out the full tour where every day a new blogger is celebrating audiobooks the entire month of June.

If you’re looking for something Sci-Fi, listen to Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

This epistolary type story told using interview transcripts, news articles, journal entries, etc. is the perfect audiobook to listen to. The full cast narration that includes 9 separate narrators is immensely thrilling to listen to. If you love it, make sure to pick up the equally impressive follow-up, Waking Gods.

If you’re looking for something Historical Fiction, listen to: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Narrator Allan Corduner transforms this devastating book into something unique with his sardonic and humorous performance. This story of a motherless girl set in Germany during WWII will break your heart and leave even the hardest of hearts crying (speaking from experience) but Zusak’s prose is something not to be missed.

If you’re looking for something Funny, listen to: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

Hands down, the most hysterical novel I have ever read. Jenny Lawson personally narrates her memoir and only succeeds in making this even funnier (which I didn’t think was possible.) If you’re looking for something to put a smile on your face (and maybe a few laugh tears) give this one a listen.

If you’re looking for something Fantasy, listen to: The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass was one of my very first audiobooks and it’s brilliantly narrated by a full cast which includes the author himself, Philip Pullman. While many of you read this as a kid, this is well worth a re-visit. I personally plan on doing a re-read in anticipation for the new installment, The Book of Dust, which is set ten years before The Golden Compass.


If you’re looking for something Contemporary, listen to: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl has a dual narration that is easy and entertaining to follow courtesy of Rebecca Lowman and Maxwell Caulfield. It’s a story written for any “fangirl” out there, but especially you Harry Potter fans. If you love this audiobook, you’ll also love Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.

Thanks to the Audio Publishers Association, I have a giveaway to offer today! One lucky reader will receive earbuds and a card with 3 free audiobook downloads on

To enter, tell me in the comment box below what you love about audiobooks. Never listened to audiobooks before but would like to start? Tell me where you’d like to listen to audiobooks!

One entry per person, available to US readers only. Last day to enter is July 3rd, 2017.


The End of Your Life Book Club

Posted February 28, 2017 by Bonnie in Discussion Post / 11 Comments

Book lovers are constantly adding to a TBR that they won’t likely ever finished. Read it Forward recently released a TBR calculator which takes the number of books on your TBR, the number of books you read last year, and your current age and calculates approximately how long it would take for you to finish them all. It said it would take me 4 years and 4 months to read all 739 books on my TBR which sounds fairly doable… until you take into account the number of new books that I’m constantly adding to it. It’s a never-ending battle to read all the books you want to read.

In a perfect world, my schedule for how I prioritize my reads typically centers around my review books and their order of publication. These days though my picks have been super random and I’ve been all about the mood reading. Here’s the part where this discussion post turns a tad bit morbid. Imagine, like the individual in The End of Your Life Book Club, you’re given a time frame on how long you’re expected to survive. Will Schwalbe’s mother was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer where patients are typically only given six months to live. What would you do with your precious remaining days left on Earth? Everyone has a bucket list of things they wish to experience in their life whether it’s visiting some far off place or achieving something amazing.

Inspired by the concept of an end of your life book club, I decided to make a list to see which stories I’d want to spend that precious time on. I am 100% a reader at heart and I know that I’d be completely content and wouldn’t regret a single second if I spent my last remaining days in a comfortable chair surrounded by books. But which ones do you choose? Do you revisit old favorites, secure in your choice that you wouldn’t be wasting any time with anything that you didn’t already know was amazing? Or do you finally tackle those books that make you say “Why didn’t I ever make time for you?” For me, I can understand the lure between both choices, wanting to return to a book that feels like a best friend but on the other hand wanting to experience something fresh, new, and potentially exciting.

As I said, my reading picks lately have been a bit all over the place. This concept of prioritizing the books you choose to spend your time on (even if you haven’t been given a deadline on life) is a fairly enlightening concept even if it seems like a no-brainer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “I’ve been wanting to read this FOREVER! I really need to make the time for it.” Well, what’s stopping me? Why not now?

Glancing through my TBR, I notice just how many I’ve said that about and still they sit unread. I declare myself to be a massive Sherlock Holmes fan, and yet I haven’t even finished all of Doyle’s stories. The Collector by John Fowles, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, and The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock are all recent favorites of mine that I gushed over incessantly, yet I never made time for the other books those authors have written. And Stephen King. I’ve read so many but keep going round and round about starting The Dark Tower series. Honestly, what am I waiting for?

In terms of re-reads, I’d choose: to be mesmerized all over again by Mary-Louise Parker’s beautifully written Dear Mr. You, to revisit the magical world of Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy, to remember exactly why I fell in love originally with Rainbow Rowell with Attachments, to laugh until my belly ached in Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and to experience the beauty of friendship in Harry Potter.

This exercise has definitely inspired me to take a more conscious look at the books I choose to spend my time with. I hope that I can limit my excuse making and dive in head first, finally tackling those books that have sat on my shelf for far too long.

What books would you prioritize reading if you knew you only had a set time to read?


National Book Awards 2015: My Pick

Posted November 17, 2015 by Bonnie in Discussion Post, Reading Challenges / 5 Comments

This officially marks the end of my experiment and I gotta tell you, it was a ton of fun. None of these books were on my TBR but pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and reading those stories that I normally wouldn’t was quite an eye-opening experience. If you missed any of them, here are the links to my reviews for each book.


Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin


 photo 9780061134142_b0098.jpgThe first Finalist I picked up was Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. I adored Unwind by this author and while this one is completely different, oh, this story quite blew me away. This is the story of a fifteen year old boy who is suffering from schizophrenia and is struggling to live a normal life before getting treatment. An incredibly heartfelt story that the author brings to life based on his own son’s experiences with mental illness. It was part fantasy and melancholy and I truly loved this story. What I loved most was the honesty (and the lack of a romance to make mental illness all okay like most stories of this ilk). Extremely well-written and completely captivating.

My second read was The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin. This is more of a National Book Award 2015 Finalist – The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
Middle Grade novel and is actually the authors debut. It’s the story of Suzy Swanson who loses her best friend, twice. The first time she loses her is to the group of popular girls at school when Suzy fails to change her quirky ways and the second time is when she dies from drowning while on vacation. This one wasn’t on my TBR because kids books that deal with death are typically the most heartbreaking. I loved the portrayal of this one with its positive message and Suzy’s character is definitely one to admire.

 photo 9780062278227_15fdd.jpgUp next was the graphic novel Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. I hadn’t heard much of anything about this story despite the fact that it was apparently a well-loved web comic before it was published this past May. I’m a recent convert to graphic novels so I was eager to pick this one up after it got declared an NBA Finalist. I can’t say that I particularly see why it was nominated though. It was entertaining and made me laugh but it didn’t necessarily have the impact on me that the other reads already had. I do love seeing graphic novels being given the spotlight more and more these days though.

My second to last read was Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. This one had been on my TBR at photo 9780062317605_e6e2c.jpg
one point but apparently didn’t survive one of my infamous shelf purges. I’m a huge fan of magical realism though so I can’t quite recall why I gave it the boot. Bone Gap was easily one of the most unusual and unconventional reads I’d read this year… possibly ever. I didn’t realize until halfway through when I was reading an interview with the author that this is in part based on the Persephone myth which made me more intrigued in the book than I was before. Very mysterious with some rocky world-building but still an impressive enough story in my opinion.

 photo 9781596439528_991ba.jpgI saved the most daunting read for last, and ironically enough it ended up being one of my favorites. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin, as the title proclaims, is a story about the history of the Vietnam War. I saved it for last because, eeek, Non-Fiction. Except! It’s written in such an awesome way, I could have mistaken it for one of my typical mystery thrillers. This marks the third time that Steve Sheinkin has been a Finalist: in 2012 for Bomb: The Race to Build―and Steal―the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon and in 2014 for The Port Chicago 50. Third times a charm? I suppose we shall see.

So who should win?

*deep breaths*

It’s not like I’m actually picking the winner, I could be completely wrong but this still feels like a huge decision. I’ve spent the last month or so reading these stories and I’m so excited to find out who’s going to be taking home this incredible honor. Having read all of the Finalists and experiencing the stories makes me feel more invested in the outcome. But, I suppose the whole point to this was to make an actual decision.

It’s so hard to really differentiate between the stories because they’re all so incredibly different. Mental Illness, Death, Fantasy, Magical Realism/Mythology, and Non-Fiction. They’re all in a category of their own so judging them all grouped together like that is a bit daunting. In terms of overall impressiveness, it boils down to two: Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin and Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman. I gave both of these stories 4.5 stars but for different reasons. Most Dangerous was an incredibly thrilling portrayal of a real-life event and Sheinkin’s research was impeccable. Challenger Deep was an amazing yet heartrending adventure into the mysteries of mental illness. I’ve read several stories about mental illness before and none affected me quite like this one did.

Argh. Clearly I’m being indecisive. I can’t pick two winners. So, drum-roll please…

If I had it my way, Challenger Deep would win the National Book Award. The uniqueness in the portrayal was immensely moving and it couldn’t have been a more authentically felt depiction. It wasn’t emotionally devastating just because that’s what one would expect, it wasn’t a story that started off about mental illness only to be sideswiped by a romance that came out of left field, and it wasn’t given an unreasonable happy-ending. It was sincere and genuine with artwork that only added to its appeal.

National Book Award 2015 Finalist – Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

So there you have it! That’s my pick at least. 🙂 Be sure to check out the National Book Award site tomorrow (November 18th) for the actual winner.