Sunday, November 29, 2015

Announcement: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (+Share Your Holiday Posts)

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year celebrates Christmas and the Holiday season through Christmas related posts.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year will run from the 1st of December to the 25th!
Happy Holidays!

December is almost here, which means it is time to announce THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR @ ReadReadRead, a blog event that will run here at ReadReadRead from the 1st of December until the 25th. 

During this time, I hope to bring some holiday cheer out to the blogosphere through reviews of holiday books and films as well as through sharing other holiday related posts, such as recipes and wishlists. 

If you have a film/book/recipe/etc. you should like to share to the world in my blog, please email me at milkareads(at)gmail(dot)com or contact me via Twitter @milkamilka. I have enough posts on my own, but I am definitely willing to bump something away if someone wants to share a guest post here. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (#40)

"Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!"

For more information, click here

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Uplifting, sexy and warm, Sarah Morgan's O'Neil Brothers series is perfection."—Jill Shalvis, New York Times bestselling author 

This winter, ex-skiing champion, reformed heartbreaker and single dad Tyler O'Neil has only one mission—making sure his daughter, Jess, has the best Christmas ever. The fact that his best friend, Brenna, is also temporarily moving into his chalet at the overbooked Snow Crystal resort is a delicious distraction he's simply going to have to ignore. Theirs is the one relationship he's never ruined, and he's not about to start now. 

Ski pro Brenna Daniels knows all about the perils of unrequited love—she's been in love with Tyler for years. But living with him is absolute torture…how can she concentrate on being his friend when he's sleeping in the room next door? Then when Tyler kisses Brenna, suddenly the relationship she's always dreamed of feels so close she could almost touch it. Could this be the Christmas her dreams of a happy-ever-after finally come true?

My Me at Christmas by Susan Mallery

Wish upon a Christmas star with New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery's sparkling Fool's Gold romance!

To bridal boutique owner Madeline Krug, organizing a Christmas wedding sounds like a joy—until she finds out she'll be working closely with the gorgeous brother of the bride, movie star Jonny Blaze. How will a small-town girl like her keep from falling for the world's sexiest guy? Especially with mistletoe lurking around every corner!

Jonny came to Fool's Gold looking for normal, not for love. Happily-ever-after only happens in the movies. Still, nothing about this quirky town is quite what he expected, and "ordinary" Madeline is the most extraordinary woman he's ever met. Refreshingly honest, disarmingly sweet. Achingly beautiful.

Planning the perfect wedding leads to candlelit dinners and strolls through snow-covered streets. And Madeline finds Jonny in real life even more captivating than her celebrity crush. But will the action star be brave enough to risk his heart and step into the role of a lifetime?

When Snow Falls by Brenda Novak

After growing up in cheap motels, moving from town to town with her sister and mother, Cheyenne Christensen is grateful to be on her own. She's grateful, too, for the friends she found once her family settled in California. But she's troubled by the mystery of her earliest memories, most of which feature a smiling blonde woman. A woman who isn't her mother. 

Although Cheyenne has repeatedly asked for explanations, the people who could help aren't talking. Cheyenne is set on finding answers, but without so much as a birth certificate, it won't be easy. 

Things get even more complicated when her closest friend is attracted to the man Cheyenne has secretly loved for years. For Eve's sake, she decides to step aside — which lands her right in the arms of Dylan Amos, oldest and baddest of the hell-raising Amos brothers. He's the kind of guy she's sworn to avoid. She can't afford to make a mistake, not when she finally has a chance to learn who she really is and change her life for the better. But . . . maybe there's more to Dylan than she thought. Maybe letting him go would be a bigger mistake.

As you can probably see, I am kicking into full Christmas mode. These seem to be all part of series, but I am sure I can just dive into these without worry. 
I will be posting a lot of Christmas/Holidays related posts starting on December 1st, and hopefully I will be able to have at least one of these reviewed for you.

What did you add to your shelves this week? Share with me your awesome Black Friday hauls! 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: Howl by Allen Ginsberg & Eric Drooker

I was first introduced to Allen Ginsberg's Howl when in 2010, in my most fervent time of James Franco obsession, I stumbled into the film about the poem with Franco playing Ginsberg. I was immediately taken my the film and the poem, and ended up reading the original text after watching the film. Since then, I have read it multiple times, but it wasn't until I found this graphic novel from the shelves of my local library, that I became to realize that there was a graphic novel (or I guess graphic poem) version of it.

Ginsberg wrote Howl in 1955, and it was published in 1956 as part of his poetry collection called Howl and Other Poems. The collection is dedicated to Carl Solomon, an American writer arguably most known for his Report from the Asylum: Afterthoughts of a Shock Patient, an personal account of the shock-therapy treatment used to treat patients in asylums. 

Both Howl and Ginsberg are widely associated with the Beat Generation, a group of authors who became popular throughout the 1950s. The publications of the Beat culture are known for their rejection of standard narrative values, exploration of religions, rejection of materialism, experimentation of drugs and sexual exploration and liberation. These elements can certainly be found from Howl as well, which uses graphic words and descriptions of drug use and sex. 

Because of its themes, Howl was involved in a obscenity trial in 1957. Due to its references to illicit drugs and both heterosexual and homosexual practices, copies of the poem were seized during importation process from London and San Francisco police officer arrested and jailed a bookstore manager for selling the poem. The publisher of the book, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, was arrested too, and on the trial nine literary experts were invited to testify on the poem's behalf.

The line in particular that was used in the trial is: "who let themselves be fucked in the ass by saintly motorcyclists, and screamed with joy." Yes, it certainly is pretty graphic, but the fact that someone was arrested over that feels so strange now. Ferlinghetti eventually won the case and the poem was decided to have "redeeming social importance". The case was highly publicized, which probably led to more people reading the poem, and it is this trial that is also used as an inspiration of the 2010 film starring James Franco.

Like the original poem, the graphic novel/illustrated poem is also divided into three parts and a footnote. My personal favorite is part III, which is a directly addressed to Carl Solomon, the man the poem is dedicated to. Ginsberg met Solomon in 1949 during his brief stay in a mental hospital, and the "Rockland" the third part mentions several times is actually Columbia Presbyterian Psychological Institute. 

The poem is illustrated by Eric Drooker, who worked with Ginsberg in 1992 for a collection of Illuminated Poems (which is definitely something I need to get my hands on next). Drooker also designed the animation for the 2010 film and it is actually the film art that is used in this graphic novel. 

Drooker's graphic novel and the film go hand-in-hand and after seeing the film several times, it was interesting to see the animation close-up and go through it in my own pace. The more I read this poem, the more I like it. Every single time I pick it up, I feel like reading it out loud just to be able to hear the way the words sound together. 

Both the poem and the film are definitely bit out of the mainstream, but if you are interested in familiarizing yourself with some of the significant pieces of American literature, Howl is definitely worth a read. The film is also brilliant, and one of my personal all-time favorites, and though James Franco has turned kind of creepy in the past couple of years, he is brilliant as Ginsberg.

You can get an idea of the film and listen to the poem from here. 

It was no surprise to me that I loved it as much as I did, and I definitely want to buy this for myself at some point to add it to my Ginsberg collection. It also really made me want to watch the film again, which I will probably do as soon as I have time for it. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday (#49) - Adnan's Story - Murder, Justice, and the Case that Captivated a Nation by Rabia Chaudry (September 2016 by St. Martin's Press)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. 
For more information click here

(description from Entertainment Weekly)

Now, EW can announce exclusively that Rabia Chaudry, co-host of the podcast Undisclosed, and the person who initially brought Syed’s case to the attention of Serial’s Sarah Koenig, has written a book called Adnan’s Story: Murder, Justice, and The Case That Captivated a Nation, to be published by St. Martin’s Press in September 2016.
The book, which Chaudry is writing with Syed’s cooperation, “will reexamine the investigation that led to Adnan Syed’s arrest, share his life in prison, discuss new evidence and possibilities that have since come to light, and review the recent court successes — including a ruling by a Maryland judge to reopen Syed’s case,” according to St. Martin’s. Chaudry recently told EW that Syed’s case would likely not have been reopened if it weren’t for the popularity of Serial.
“The first letter I received after being arrested in 1999 was from Rabia,” Syed says in a release. “Since that time until now, she has believed in my innocence and been committed to my exoneration. There have been appeal hearings in which she is the only other person other than my mother who showed up. Rabia, Saad, and their family are one of the only families that never forgot me. Over the years they never stopped visiting me, taking my calls, sending me letters and books, and praying for me. As someone connected to me, my family, my community, my lawyers, and my investigation, there is no one better to help tell my story, and no one that I trust more to tell it, than Rabia.”
I was absolutely captivated by Serial and have been listening to Undisclosed attentively since it started, so obviously I am very excited about the idea of reading more about Adnan and this case that gets more and more complicated the more you learn about it. It is true that this case probably would never have gained the attention it has received without Serial, and I am aware that there are several other cases that deserve to be re-examined, but at the same time, the true crime lover in me cannot stop happy dancing from excitement.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday (#51) - Ten Book Blogs/Bloggers I Am Thankful For

For more information on Top Ten Tuesday click here.

Though we don't celebrate Thanksgiving here in Finland, I want to take the time this week as part of Top Ten Tuesday to say thanks to some of my favorite book blogs and book bloggers.

One of the best parts about having a book blog is being a part of this awesome, loving and inspiring community of people from all walks of life. I feel like too often I forget to leave a comment behind when I visit blogs to say thanks for an incredible review or another type of post spilling with creativity and passion for reading and books. 

I wish I had the time to include every single blog I visit on this list, because really, I am thankful for every single one of you for taking the time to contribute to this community. But since I do not have the time to do that now, I will list ten blogs/bloggers that I think you should all check out. 

I had the pleasure of co-blogging with Brittany over at WinterHaven Books and got to know what a sweet person she is. I am not big on fantasy, but every single time I am in a mood for a fantasy book, I head over to Britt's blog to check out her awesome reviews. 

Check out Please Feed the Bookworm from here

Though Grace's blog is a more recent find for me, I have already started to rely on her informative reviews and discussion posts, like her recent post on how to stay organized while blogging (you can find it from here). I also admire Grace for her tendency to comment on a lot of posts since I in general suck at staying up to date with comments. 

Check out Rebel Mommy Book Blog from here

Cait is absolutely hilarious and I am completely baffled by the amount of books she is able to read. She also kicked NaNoWriMo's ass and seems to be obsessed with dragons and cake. Cait also takes incredibly beautiful photos and posts them to her Instagram account. If you are looking for reviews from a great variety of YA sub-genres, I warmly recommend Cait's blog.

Check out Paperfury from here

I think Jen's blog is the most beautiful blog I have ever seen. SERIOUSLY! Take a look at it. IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL. I love Jen's informative reviews and she has some awesome features like Do! Judge a Book By Its Cover. She also had a month-long series of posts called Her Story: Ladies in Literature that I really loved (you can find those posts from here). 

Check out Pop! Goes the Reader from here

Danielle is my go-to gal when it comes to anything romantic and I have found several awesome titles to read while browsing through her blog. She also REALLY hates love triangles, of which I am not a big fan of either! 

Check out Love at First Page from here

Lauren's blog is also a recent find for me and a one that caught my attention with its beauty! I love the way Lauren's blog books, and her reviews are a joy to read. Kate also runs an awesome feature called Inside & Out in which she invites fellow book bloggers to share two pictures - one of their favorite book cover and one of their favorite bookmark. 

Check out Bookmark Lit from here

Shannon's blog is also a beauty, and I have been a fan of her reviews for a long time now. I love the variety of stuff Shannon posts and always eagerly check her blog for new stuff. 

Check out It Starts at Midnight from here

Natalie posts an awesome variety of stuff from book reviews and weekly rewind posts to occasional film reviews. I think I found Natalie's blog last year, and ever since her posts have made me add multiple titles to my to-read list on Goodreads.

Check out Natflix & Books from here

Already looking at Nick and Nereyda's blog button gives a promise of beauty! And yes, their blog is absolutely beautiful. I really love their recap posts and their reviews and they occasionally also post these awesome discussions posts, like this one about Book Excitement and Social Media Interaction

Check out Nick & Nereyda's Infinite Booklist from here

I actually stumbled into this blog after following Rachel in Twitter and ended up falling in love with the reviews and other posts of this wonderful trio. I also want to direct you to this awesome post called STOP BASHING YA that was released on the blog earlier in November. 

Check out A Perfection Called Books from here

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Stacking the Shelves (#39)

"Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!"

For more information, click here


The Memory Jar by Elissa Janine Hoole
You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
Girls on Fire by Robin Wasserman
A Fierce and Subtle Poison by Samantha Mabry

What did you add to your shelves this week?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Review: November 9 by Colleen Hoover

Publication date: November 10, 2015
Author links: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 320
Purchase links: Amazon - Book Depository

Description (from Goodreads):

Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

Oh Colleen Hoover, once again you have left me conflicted about what to feel. My feelings are very similar to what I was feeling after I finished with Hopeless. While I liked November 9 and was intrigued by it, there was this little voice inside my head constantly bugging me and telling me that the whole situation between Fallon and Ben just feels a tad too unrealistic for my tastes. The case was definitely the same while reading a about Dean and Sky from Hopeless. I hope with this review I am able to express my conflicted thoughts, at least to some extent.

Fallon meets Ben on the anniversary of an accident that completely changed her life. As the daughter of a somewhat famous actor, she grew up dreaming about becoming an actress, and she actually reached that dream when she was cast as a lead of a TV show that sounds very much like something Disney Channel would play. But when she got caught in a fire and severely burned parts of her face and upper body, her dreams of being an actress seemed like something she was to forget. After the accident, her relationship between her father has been complicated and tension filled, and it is during a tense meal at a restaurant that Ben comes into her life. Their eyes meet, Ben notices Fallon and sees her in a way she has not been looked at since the fire, and the rest is history...

Ben dreams of becoming a writer, but it seems like the perfect story of him to work on hasn't shown up yet. When he meets Fallon, it seems like things are finally clicking together, and the day he spends with her is one of the most inspiring days of his life. When the two decide what to do when it is time for Fallon to leave to New York. They are both 18, with full lives ahead of then, and though there definitely is chemistry between the two, Fallon is determined to follow the advice her mother gave her and not engage in a committed relationship until she is 23 years old. So Fallon leaves, but the couple decides that they will meet every year on November 9th for the next five years and spend the day together. 

Now it is time to bring up the first "this just feels a bit too unrealistic" issue I had with the novel. Basically, Ben and Fallon decide that they will block each other from all social media and that they will not keep tabs on each other. But I mean, come on, could a person in our contemporary society filled with gadgets and the internet and ways to "stalk" other people resist the urge of checking on someone. Even if they have blocked each other, these people do have friends whose accounts they could use to check on each other. The idea of not knowing anything about the other person for a year is romantic, I guess, but I just feel like it is not very realistic during this day and time. Or then I am just a nosy bastard who cannot believe other people wouldn't act the same as me in a situation like this.

Number two "this just feels a bit too unrealistic" issue had to so with the plot twist the summary for the book also mentions. I won't go into detail with this one since it might ruin the experience that this book is, but let's just say that I kind of saw it coming. I feel like if the synopsis wouldn't have mentioned that there is a plot twist, I wouldn't have kept looking for it so intensively. But since the mention is there, and since I love to figure things out before they are actually revealed to me, I kept reading this book and constantly looking for that plot twist to take place, taking every little possible hint of it into consideration.

Despite these issues, the connection between Fallon and Ben kept me reading this book (and also the fact that I had to know whether my hunch about that plot twist was correct). Hoover is brilliant at combining heartfelt (and heartbreaking) romantic narratives with humor and stories about growing up and finding yourself despite difficult circumstances her characters find themselves in. Her books are the type that very quickly become addictive and very quick to put down, and despite the fact that I had my issues with it, I couldn't stop reading it until I reached the end. 

Instalove and a general dislike for it are kind of a thing within the book blogging community, and I really liked how Hoover brought instalove into November 9 and kind of justified use of it within the narrative. I mean, Fallon and Ben meet, spend the day together and instantly seem to have feelings. That feels like instalove to me. But the way Hoover puts it in and brings it to the character discussions made me forget it, and thus it never became one of those "issues" for me that I have mentioned here.

So, I am not really sure how to feel about November 9. There were some elements in it that I really liked, including Hoover's writing, the chemistry between Ben and Fallon and the little links it was with Hoover's Ugly Love. But there are those aforementioned issues that kept bugging me throughout the reading process that definitely show in my rating for the book. If you are a fan of Hoover's previous novels, you probably don't even need me to tell you to check this one out, since you probably have already done so, but if you are new to Hoover, rather than picking this one up, go and buy Maybe Someday, because that is definitely the best Hoover book to this day (at least from the ones I've read).



- I cannot help it, but seeing the name Fallon on the pages always made me think of Jimmy Fallon

- Fallon and Ben's conversation about Ben's novel and Fallon's wish to put it on her TBR pile

- I wish the problematic relationship between Fallon and her father would have been taken into the story even more extensively that it was (I guess I am a sucker for father-daughter relationships since I haven't had one myself since I was 12)