Retail Therapy

Oh, hi.

You may have noticed, reader, that my best-sister-friend has been holding down the fort here at Gun In Act One lately. I’ve managed to stay on top of a few things, like the posts we wrote in May for Pink for All Seasons at the Bubble Bath Reader, but there has not been a lot of reading, writing, or even proofreading Amanda’s posts in my life recently. (Let’s hope that she hasn’t posted too many comma splices while I’ve been otherwise occupied!)

Anyway, my life has been a bit bananas, but that’s a story (or six) for another day. What I’m here today to talk about is finding myself in a bookstore (The Book Cellar) while in serious need of some self-soothing (a.k.a. retail therapy). I have previously professed my preference for e-books (or the library) over acquiring new books, but don’t worry, I am a good shopper. I came up with something(s) I had to have in print form.

Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh

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This blog makes me laugh, and I needed to laugh. And this book cannot be read and enjoyed on my Kindle, so I had to buy it. See what I did there, with logic? #noregrets

We Should all be Feminists, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Now, I had seen this book mentioned in other places, and you might think, from looking at the cover, that it’s a book. It’s really more like an edited transcript of a TED talk, consisting of 48 pages about half the size of a regular paperback. But, we should all be feminists, and I decided this would be a good addition to my bookshelf at work. And it is.

With my schedule on overdrive, picture-books and miniature books seem to be at just the right speed. What do you turn to for reading when your head has turned to mush?

Top Ten Tuesday – New TBR Finds

It IS still Tuesday, right?

I have to say, ever since we started blogging about books, I am constantly adding more books to my TBR list. Here are ten that caught our eyes recently.

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Thanks to the Broke and Bookish for the topic. Click here for more Top Ten Tuesdays!

Holly

  1. The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game by Mary Pilon – I need more nonfiction like this in my life
  2. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen – because reading Persuasion was fun
  3. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh – I don’t know what this book is but Amanda is all about it
  4. The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan – I found this one after finishing Rodin’s Lover and searching for more books in the historical-fiction-about-artists genre
  5. That Summer by Lauren Willig – I am ready to try out some more Lauren Willig because I love the Pink Carnation books!

Amanda

  1. The Great Beanie Baby Bubble: Mass Delusion and the Dark Side of Cute by Zac Bissonnette.  Thanks Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness for catching my eye with this one!
  2. Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson
  3. The Witches by Stacy Schiff
  4. This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!  by Jonathon Evison.
  5. The Royal We by Heather Cocks

What great books have you heard about recently?

2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon Interview

Thanks Alexa Loves Books for hosting the 2015 Book Blogger Love-a-Thon!

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  1. What’s your name?  Amanda and Holly
  2. Where in the world are you blogging from?  The frigid midwest. Complete with neverending snow and ice.
  3. How did you get into blogging in the first place?

Amanda: Our fairy blogmother is my friend Christina who was blogging at Allodoxaphobia at the  time.  Those ladies have moved on to other endeavors but thankfully Christina continues to answer all my blogging questions and always is willing to talk books with me!

Holly: Amanda made me do it!

       4. How did you come up with your blog name?

Amanda: The name is in homage to our amazing high school English teacher.  He taught us “If there’s a gun on the wall in Act One, its going to go off by Act Five.”  RIP Bro Ruhl!   If he could, Brother Ruhl would come back from beyond the grave to beat me with my inappropriate comma usage as well as my inability to correctly use “it’s” vs. “its”.  Sorry sister.

    5. What genre do you read and review the most on your blog?

Amanda: That’s a good question-I don’t think I can answer.  I think both of us will try nearly anything.  I admit to reading much more smut and YA than my sister.  But I don’t think that’s all of what I read.

    6.  What other types of posts do you do on your blog, apart from reviews?

 Profound Ones.  Completely profound discussions.  And TTT when we’re in the mood!

     7.  Best blogging experience so far?

Holly: Getting a comment from a Pulitzer Prize winning author here

     8 .  Favorite thing about the blogging community?

Amanda:  That there is always someone willing to listen to me rapture about my latest read. And then chances are good they’ll point me to my next best read!

     9.  Name the 5 6 books you’re most excited for this 2015!

Amanda:  The Wrath & the Dawn; Re Jane; The Invasion of the Tearling; A God in Ruins; Pocket Apocalypse

 Which should I read first?  The first 4 are all on my floor staring at me.

   10.  What’s an underrated book or series that you think everyone should read?

 Amanda: Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson.  Totally shocked me.

   11.  Which book boy or girl would be your book BFF?

 Holly: I really hate questions about book friends or boyfriends. Books are not people and that is okay.

Amanda: Books are not people I know sister. But it’s still fun to think about sometimes!  I will avoid picking a boyfriend lest my husband ever read this and feel offended.  But I can think of 2 BFF’s I take- 1. Elisa from Girl of Fire and Thorns.  2. Robin from The Cuckoo’s Calling.  Clearly those are very different books – but two chicks that are smart, self aware and can kick booty!

   12.  Apart from reading, what are your other hobbies or interests?

 Holly: Cooking, tennis, annoying my sister

Amanda: Chasing my 4 year-old. Daydreaming fantasy vacations. Going anywhere in Chicago I can walk-when its not freaking snowing.  Texting my sister.  Also currently obsessed with the Americans and Orphan Black.  Debating trying the 100 after the twitter obsession I see.

     13.  Apart from book shopping, what else do you like shopping for?

 Holly: Plane tickets.

 Amanda: Shoes.  All the shoes.

     14.  At a party, the DJ suddenly changes the song – and it’s your song. What song would be playing?

 Holly:  Who goes to parties with DJs?

Amanda:  How do I follow that up?

    15.  Pick out either a book you want turned into a film/TV show, or a film/TV show you want turned into a book.

Holly: The Lumatere Chronicles. Obviously.
Amanda: Obviously, I agree with my sister 100%.  On a totally different note, I think The Pink Carnation series would be totally fun.

Thanks for stopping by our Love-a-Thon post!! Please link us back to visit you!

Can we Persuade you to read with us (and the Paperback Princess!)?

We have both been working on our 2015 TBR Challenge lists, along with our friend Eva at The Paperback Princess.

We have one book that we both committed to finally reading this year: Jane Austen’s Persuasion. And because it’s a favorite of Eva’s, the three of us decided to host a little informal #persuasionreadalong in March.  So, if you’d like to join us, download a copy (you can find it for free), head to the library, or check out your favorite bookstore. Throughout March, we’ll have a few posts between Gun In Act One and The Paperback Princess as we read/reread the story of Anne Elliot and Fredrick Wentworth.

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And, speaking of TBR lists, Eva also tagged us to answer these TBR-tag questions. So, here goes:

1.   How do you keep track of your TBR Pile?

Holly: Sometimes I add books I want to read to Goodreads. Sometimes I add them to my Amazon Wish List. Sometimes Amanda yells at me to read things and overrides both those lists.

Amanda: I add everything to Goodreads that I have the slightest interest in. That’s why my TBR list is out of control-but I kind of skim through to see what I’m in the mood for.  I still have a paper list too which I add to Goodreads sometimes.

 2. Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

Holly: I’m all about e-books.

Amanda: I think mostly e-books, but after ALA that might be a lie.  I love my kindle but there is nothing like picking up a new hardcover for me. Its like a gift-even when I buy it for myself!

3. How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

Holly: There is a complicated algorithm that includes Amazon sales, library availability, lunar cycles, book length, attention span, and mood. Sometimes I surprise myself with what I pick next.

Amanda:  Mood + date of publication for ARCs. Holly is clearly the more complicated sister.

4.  A book that’s been on your TBR the longest?

Holly: Until recently, that was Little, Big, which was waiting on my bookshelf (in various locations) since 1996.  Next up, maybe A Vindication of the Rights of Women. I’m pretty sure I’ve been meaning to read that since Mr. Nall’s class in high school.

Amanda:  Per Goodreads, The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr has been languishing on my TBR since 2008.  I’m sure there are a few I’m forgetting though!

 5.  A book you recently added to your TBR?

Holly: The Monopolists, thanks to Shannon @ River City Reading.

Amanda:  Oh me too! But more recently, Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem.  Its from 2000 and is my April book club book.

6.  A TBR on your list strictly because of it’s beautiful cover?

Holly: Not applicable. Oh, except maybe Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half.

Book Cover Final three

Amanda: This took me forever!  Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black.  Pretty cover, doubt I’ll read it.

 127880617.  A book on your TBR that you never plan on reading?

Holly: Ha! There’s a good chance that life will be too short for me to get around to Infinite Jest.

Amanda: This is a tough one! The Moviegoer by Walker Percy.  I started it once and basically hated it.  I think I’m deleting it off my shelf now.

8. An unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for?

Holly: The Winds of Winter. Light it up, George!

Amanda: The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev. Also, Inflict by Cora Carmack -get to writing ladies!  Last, Second Position by Katherine Locke.  Its going to be good!

 9.  A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you?

Holly: Hmmm – Eleanor & Park. The Interestings.  Unbroken.

Amanda: The Glass Castle.  Wild.  Cinder-and the rest of the Lunar Chronicles.

10.  A book on your TBR list that everyone recommends to you? 

Holly: Well, not directly, but everyone and their brother was recommending Station Eleven on their best-of-2014 lists.

Amanda: Strongest recommendation I’ve had recently has been for All the Rage by Courtney Summers which I’m about to start.  Not going to lie, I’m a little scared.  I did just get Station Eleven at the library though.  Maybe I can start pushing that on Holly too.

 11.  A book on your TBR that you’re dying to read?

Holly: Persuasion, obviously. Starting soon!

Amanda: How long do you have?  Currently I’m debating whether to start Re Jane or The Wrath and the Dawn.  Though the second I get the Ruby Circle from the library everything else in life will be ignored.

 12.  How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

Holly: Currently, 203. I think I could probably delete some that I’m not that interested in, but that’s a project for another day.

Amanda:  Don’t judge.  1573.  DON’T JUDGE!!  I just deleted 2 off the list while writing this post.

Thanks Eva for tagging us!   If you want to play along consider yourself tagged and share your link with us!

Books and Swoon Blog Tour and Giveaway!

Just for fun, we’re joining in with Fic Fare and the Swoony Boys Podcast for a Valentine-themed post and giveaway. 25 blogs are hosting giveaways and a scavenger hunt. We’ve got a special giveaway (details below) and you can also enter a big giveaway for a bracelet and an amazon giftcard – each participating blog has an assigned word or phrase (highlighted) somewhere in the post that you need to find to enter the grand giveaway (find a list of all the blogs to visit below).

Anyway, for our 14 Days of Fictional Swoon post, we are bringing you on a date. Or two.

If you could plan a double-date with any fictional characters, who would you bring? You just think about your answer for a minute, then you can scroll down for our’s!

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Amanda

I decided first that our double date would have to be a triple date so that Holly and I and our husbands could all be together.  Then because I decided I had two of the best couples I could think of and didn’t want to make up my mind it’s now a quadruple date.  Holly is inspiring me to be a rule breaker clearly.  It would be an amazingly hilarious date I want you to know.  My date includes my sister and the husbands, as well as Samir and Mili from Sonali Dev’s fantastic new book A Bollywood Affair and the delightful Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones’s Diary.  (I’m pretending Bridget Jones #3 has never happened and if you try to tell me otherwise I am not responsible for my response.)  Basically this dream date involves Samir cooking all the delicious sounding Indian food described in A Bollywood Affair in Mark Darcy’s posh London home.  It also involves drinking ALL of the wine with Bridget and hilarious and intelligent conversation with Mili  Don’t you wish you could be invited too?!

Holly

One time, Amanda came to visit me while I was in college and we went out for a nice dinner. It also happened to be Valentine’s day, so we were the literally the only two-some in the restaurant that was not out for a romantic evening together. Anyway, I am certain we had a good time, and considering that I am not a believer in celebrating romantic V-day’s, I decided that first and foremost, I would bring my sister on my fictional book character double-date.

[Note: I did try to think of a book that my husband and I have both read, to see if I could come up with a clever answer and invite him along, but I’m not fool enough to set up even a fictional rendez-vous with anyone from Game of Thrones.]

So then, I had to think about what fictional characters we could have a fun, platonic“date” with, and the answer was clear:

That’s right – we’re going out for second breakfast with hobbits Merry and Pippin. All romance will be repressed. In fact, there’s a good chance that these two would get stoned and blow us off, but that’s okay. Amanda and I will still have a good time.

In other words, I just completely broke all the rules about writing about Valentine’s Day swoony things. But, if you do want to read something more romantic, enter the giveaway below for a copy of A Bollywood Affair, which Amanda and I wrote about here and here.  US only -sorry!

Enter our Rafflecopter giveaway

Then check out the other blogs below

14 Days of Fictional Swooning Schedule

and enter the big giveaway!

American Library Association Midwinter Recap

This last weekend I ventured to McCormick Place to the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. This was heaven for a book lover even if not a librarian.  For $50 I was able to buy a ticket to the exhibit floor only where I was able to walk from publisher to publisher and see the most anticipated titles coming out in 2015.  I’m still kind of book drunk as my friend Christina put it. I honestly have no idea where to start!  I am so thankful I had this chance and that I received so many awesome sounding publisher recommendations. I have some AMAZING looking books sitting in my house just begging to be read.

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Some highlights for me: A God in Ruins, A Court of Thorns and Roses, An Ember in the Ashes, The Wrath and the Dawn, A Touch of Stardust, Black Dove, White Raven, Re Jane, and Hold Me Like A Breath. Basically I’m all over the place from YA to Adult fiction and from fantasy to contemporary!

I even got some books to try out on the 4 year-old.  She told me “This is the best day ever!”

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Did you go to ALA or are you planning to attend another book conference this year?

What are you most looking forward to reading in 2015?  Any opinions on where to start?  Also, keep an eye out for giveaways because I have more books than I have shelf space right now!

ALA Midwinter moves from city to city-next year its in Boston, maybe I can convince Holly to road trip with me!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 YA Series We Need to Read

We are not strictly dedicated to any one genre here at Gun In Act One, but for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday at the Broke and Bookish, we’re looking at ten Young Adult series that we can’t believe we haven’t read yet.

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Holly

Now, I just told you guys that I don’t keep up with New Releases very well (of anything), so this isn’t a list of books that came out 5 minutes ago that I can’t believe I haven’t read yet. These are more like, books that I’ve heard or read great things about (from either one person or a hundred people) that I keep meaning to get to. And I will…eventually.

  1. Mara Dyer – I have no idea what these are even about but I remember someone raving about them so I’ve been intrigued ever since. Maybe I will see if these are at the library soon.
  2. Noughts & Crosses – I put #1 of this series on my 2015 TBR Challenge list, so this is obviously happening.
  3. Throne of Glass – I even have the first book on my Kindle already, thanks to an Amazon deal of the day!
  4. Flavia de Luce – My sister loves these books so obviously it’s only a matter of time before she uh, lovingly convinces me to read them. [Not YA but I’m leaving these on Holly’s list because they’re AWESOME and everyone should read them.  Flavia is a young adult after all]

Amanda

  1. The Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood.  Witchy sisters? Yes please.
  2. The Madmans’ Daughter by Megan Shepherd.  Creepy Gothic!
  3. Kiss of Deception – The Remnant Chronicles by Mary Pearson. A hidden princess and assassins!
  4. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.  Dragons! I need more dragons in my reading life.
  5. Every Breath by Ellie Marney.  Contemporary Holmes/Watson set in Australia-how fun does that sound?
  6. Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal.  Based on Persuasion with a magical twist?  Perfection.  Now to get Holly to read this with me.

What’s on your list that you can’t believe you haven’t read?  Which series should we start with?

On New Releases

Blogging about books has certainly changed the way I read. I read more, and pay more attention to details about each book so that I can have something (hopefully) interesting to write about. I keep better track of what I want to read soon, and what books might compliment one another. I have a better awareness of what books are out there, and what is getting good reviews, so I can choose more deliberately. Don’t get me wrong – I read always and only because I find it enjoyable, but blogging has made me a bit more systematic in my approach to books.

However, one thing that has not changed is that I just.don’t.care about reading new books right as they’re released.

Recently, I read this great round-up of books that will be adapted for TV and film in 2015 from River City Reading. I had a moment of panic about all the books I haven’t read yet (but mean to): The Casual Vacancy, Me Before You, The Maddaddam Trilogy, The Martian, and so on and so on! Ahhhh!

And then I remembered that in addition to rarely getting around to new release books (and yes, I realize that there are books on that list/link that are not at all new releases), I am also non-committal about seeing TV/movies when they’re released. I am currently (slowly) watching season 3 of Big Love, and just finished season 3 of Justified. I’m clearly okay with being behind the times.

I understand that there is some benefit of weighing in on cultural conversations when a new book/TV/movie is released. I also understand that many of those conversations take place on the Twitter these days, which is another area I just can’t keep up with. Maybe that’s why I don’t like Twitter – it’s too current. I should probably start reading backlist Tweets to see how that feels.

What do you think? Are you up-to-date on new releases? Or trying to finish books you’ve had since 1996?

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books to Read with My Sister

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from the Broke and the Bookish was Ten Books I’d Love to Read With My Book Club, but since we are an exclusive book club of two here at Gun In Act One, we’re changing it up for a list of ten books we’d like to read together. If you want to see what books we’ve read and blogged about together already, may we direct you to this post here for a list.

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Amanda

  1. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers.  Must finish the Assassin Nun story.
  2. Parasite by Mira Grant.  Yes I am a tad obsessed with Seanan/Mira’s books.  I don’t care and I’m taking Holly along with me.
  3. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.  Retelling of the Arabian Nights-yes sign me up and I’ll bring Holly whether she’s ready or not. Maybe I am a bit of a book pusher
  4. Persuasion by Jane Austen.  I think our high school English teacher, Brother Ruhl, would be proud! We both have this on our 2015 TBR Challenge list so it must be read!
  5. Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon.  I think its time to try some nonfiction together.  This will be a good spring read!

Holly

  1. Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein – Code Name Verity was my jam.
  2. The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Page – follow-up to the very funny Dorothy Must Die, so we’ve got to find out what happens next.
  3. The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johnson – okay, I still have to read #1, but I know Amanda is chomping at the bit for this one! (Chomping at the bit is being really polite-thanks sister)
  4. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson – hmm, this is the only author of my list who will be new to both of us. Maybe we need to think outside the box more. Maybe.
  5. On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta – author of our beloved Lumatere Chronicles. We obviously need to check out her other work!

Top Ten Books We’d Like From Santa!

Before you read our TTT you should make a note to check out Holly’s post about holiday birthdays over at WhatSarahRead!

We’re linking with The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday and here are our picks for 10 (or more) books we’d like to see under the tree this year!

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  1. The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta – if you’re asking, “will you guys PLEASE shut up about those books?”, the answer is NO. But I checked them all out from the library to read, and I need to own them. Tell Santa.
  2. Dead Wake the Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson – Does Santa send pre-orders? Please say yes.
  3. Hyperbole & a Half by Allie Brosh – Despite my penchant for ebooks, I would love this one in real book form. I have cracked up at the computer reading her blog, so I am pretty sure this book will kill me.
  4. Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay – I haven’t read it yet. I KNOW.
  5. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple – I have been resisting the urge to buy this at the airport bookstore anytime I’ve traveled in the last 6 months. I can only hold out for so long!

Amanda

We usually split these lists 5/5 but Holly likes to break rules and sometimes I can too!  More books for me!

  1. The Falconer by Elizabeth May.  Scotland.  Fairies.  Sign me up.
  2. The Magicians box set by Lev Grossman.  How pretty is that?!  I haven’t even read the Magician’s Land yet because I’m not ready for the series to be over.  But I need them all.
  3. The Storied life of AJ Fikry.  Everyone should read this! Here is my post loving on this book.
  4. Every Breath by Ellie Marney.  This Sherlock retelling just sounds really fun!
  5. Deadline by Mira Gran (Newsflesh #2)t. I own #1 and #3! Clearly I need this for complete Feed rereads.  The lack of symmetry on my kindle is kind of making me crazy. And if you haven’t read Feed yet, go away and do it now.
  6. Symbiont by Mira Grant.  Yes I’m obsessed.  I own #1, Parasite, haven’t read it yet but still need 2.
  7. Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta.  See Holly’s comments about these.
  8. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.  Yes the National Book Award drama caught my eye, but this sounds excellent.
  9. Sprinkles – Thank you Trish!  They have me at sprinkled cocktail rims!
  10. The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes.  Basically I need all the Jojo in my life. ALL.

What books are you asking Santa to bring?  Merry Christmas to you if you’re celebrating!