#ArmchairBEA Wrap It Up

Well, Armchair BEA 2014 is officially over.

This was my first ever BEA event, and I really enjoyed meeting lots of new (to me) bookish bloggers. I am still working my way through the intro posts, and I have immensely enjoyed reading them. Personally, I skipped the deserted island question, but that one made for some of the funniest reading material. I followed every blog that I visited in some shape, form or fashion. If you haven't gotten a comment yet, don't worry. I'll be commenting on many of your posts well into next week! 

I only participated in one Twitter party, and it was incredibly fun (especially the prize winning part) to engage with everyone. Although I didn't jump into the Instagram shenanigans, your pictures were a hoot to view.

My favorite topic to answer (and read yours, too) was Beyond the Borders. We need diverse books!

You can find all of my Armchair BEA posts here.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts and recommendations! It was truly a pleasure, and I definitely plan on coming back next year.

Casual Summer Challenge + Prize

As promised, mustaches and Sherlock Holmes! Well, kinda.

The Casual Summer challenge begins on June 1st and ends at midnight EDT on August 31st, 2014.

Eligible books are those currently listed on our group bookshelf as a primary monthly group read, a secondary series group read, an alternate group read or as a poll reject that are read within the dates of this challenge.

You must be an active member of Casual Readers to qualify.

All qualifying reads must be shelved as 'casualsummer' to verify eligibility.

In addition, individual entries must also be added to this thread for verification.

ONE winner will receive the following sponsored gift(s) valued at $35:

 Whimsical and trendy, Mustache adds a fun pop of contemporary culture, and the warm glow of porcelain, to any décor.

Refreshing bergamot contrasted with mint, cedar, and suede. 
Sophisticated and smart.

Good luck!

*Prize sponsored by Scent Surplus.

Blogger's Choice & YA #ArmchairBEA

Wait! I can talk about ANYTHING? Hmm.

Book Clubs & Goodreads

As you might have noticed by now, this blog was born from a book club group on Goodreads. I originally started the group as I had a hard time finding an existing group to fit my reading needs. Sure, there are some other great groups out there, but they are moderated poorly (most of the time) and full of clutter. More likely, I just needed to feed my own control issues. Heh, heh.

We started off with a bang but participation eventually waned. Long live the lurkers! Therefore, I started this blog to reward discussion participants with linkage to their own posts and reviews.

I hope you can forgive me for this shameless self-promotion. Join us, if our group is the right fit for you. Otherwise, happy blogging and thanks for reading!

I read YA

If you missed #IreadYA week, it was May 19-23 and sponsored by This Is Teen. Search the hashtag. You will find lots of great stuff!

What is YA?

Young-adult fiction (often abbreviated as YA) is fiction written for, published for, or marketed to adolescents and young adults, roughly ages 13 to 21. Young-adult fiction, whether in the form of novels or short stories, has specific attributes that distinguish it from the other age categories of fiction. The vast majority of YA stories portray an adolescent as the protagonist, rather than an adult or a child. The subject matter and story lines are typically consistent with the age and experience of the main character, but beyond that YA stories span the entire spectrum of fiction genres. The settings of YA stories are limited only by the imagination and skill of the author. Themes in YA stories often focus on the challenges of youth, so much so that the entire age category is sometimes referred to as problem or coming of age novels. Writing styles of YA stories range widely, from the richness of literary style to the clarity and speed of the unobtrusive. Despite its unique characteristics, YA shares the fundamental elements of fiction with other stories: character, plot, setting, theme, and style.

My favorite YA read last year was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Yes, it's true. Grown ups read young-adult books, too.

I probably have more YA books on my TBR list than any other genre.

Which one will be my favorite this year? Only time will tell.

Please, comment with your all time favorite YA read ever!

Giveaway & Beyond Borders #ArmchairBEA


Currently, we do not have a giveaway running. However, there is a HUGE announcement scheduled for this Saturday, May 31st. Hopefully, you will remember to come back!

Hint: It involves mustaches and Sherlock Holmes. Well, kinda.

Beyond Borders

The most recent culturally diverse book I read was The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic. When her master, the husband who commissioned her, dies at sea on the voyage from Poland, she is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire, born in the ancient Syrian desert. Trapped in an old copper flask by a Bedouin wizard centuries ago, he is released accidentally by a tinsmith in a Lower Manhattan shop. Though he is no longer imprisoned, Ahmad is not entirely free – an unbreakable band of iron binds him to the physical world.

The Golem and the Jinni is their magical, unforgettable story; unlikely friends whose tenuous attachment challenges their opposing natures – until the night a terrifying incident drives them back into their separate worlds. But a powerful threat will soon bring Chava and Ahmad together again, challenging their existence and forcing them to make a fateful choice.

If you haven't read this yet, be advised that the following contains spoilers.

I found the blend of diverse lore, religion and cultures intriguing. The character development was seamless.

I had the recurring thought of nature versus nurture repeatedly throughout. Their origin stories were similar as they both just became to be yet in different ways. Each were elemental, one earth and the other fire. One longed to be free while the other longed to be mastered. The golem craved sameness while the jinni placed higher value on diversity. These wants waned drastically by the end, and they both learned to appreciate humanity.

I think everyone can relate to both characters in one way or another. If I had a magical power, it certainly would NOT be to read minds. I found the inner struggle of the golem extremely fascinating. She constantly had to fight the urge to please those around her.

Arbeely first keeps the jinni's secret out of fear, which then turns to more selfish desires for success. The rabbi chose to see good in the golem and believed that she could become more than just a slave set to task. I think that he genuinely enjoyed her companionship.

Saleh was probably my favorite. Maryam and Anna were annoying but served their purpose, nonetheless. I sympathized with Sophia and Michael due to their unrequited love. Matthew especially tugged at my heart strings.

Everyone chooses their shackles. They can be made of religion or tradition or simply the indignation of submitting to neither. Change comes whether we embrace it or not. I believe that there can be a balance of faith and tolerance. Chava and Ahmad both struggle against their natures to adapt to the world as it changes around them and learn to nurture the changes within themselves.

Schaalman, known by so many other names, was driven primarily by vanity and the search for eternal life. He deemed his intelligence superior, and his arrogance was palpable. Not to mention, he was just creepy! He lived so many lives yet appeared to never really live life fully because of his obsessions. You wonder, in the end, if he ever really had a choice. I think that he did; we all do. He chose evil.

There are a plethora of parallels in this book. The story itself is virtually timeless. Obviously, Chava and Ahmad will be reunited. However, Schaalman's vision of another new life suckling from a clay breast still haunts me! Did you guys miss that? Blech.

Fave FANGIRL Quotes

If you haven't yet read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, be advised that this post contains spoilers!

My favorite LOL moments:

"If God put me into your life to keep you from wearing a fucking tail," Reagan said, "I accept the assignment."

"You look tarred and sweatered."

"Oh, fuck you, Flowers in the Attic!"

"It's like hearing that Harry Potter is gay. Or Encyclopedia Brown."

"Eggnog reminds me of mucus," she said. "Me, too. But in a good way."

"I need them to keep me from becoming the girl in She's All That."

"He'd probably come back with a pitcher of beer, lipstick all over his face, and Fiesta Bowl tickets."

"Are you pregnant? Are you gay? I'd rather you were gay than pregnant. Unless you're pregnant. Then we'll deal. Whatever it is, we'll deal. Are you pregnant?"

"Good thing she hadn't said Franklin Roosevelt. Her dad was nuts about the Allied Forces."

"Who calls the house phone? Probably 2005. I think it wants its shirt back."

"Are you awake? Have you been watching me sleep? Yes, Bella. Are you awake? No."

"But you're so helpless sometimes. It's like watching a kitten with its head trapped in a Kleenex box."

"It's like I'm trying to distract him with something shiny."

"Levi's eyebrows were pornographic."

"In the right light, you are such a nerd."

"Do you want me to show you on a doll?"

"God, his chin. She wanted to make an honest woman of his chin. She wanted to lock it down."

"It's like The Shining in here."

"Are you Zack, or are you Cody?"

"GTL" Did anyone else think gym/tan/laundry or just me?

"And I still can't backwards skate."

"Well done, English language."

My favorite I CAN SO RELATE quotes:

"You can't take back texts. If you come off all moody and melancholy in a text, it just sits there in your phone, reminding you of what a drag you are."

"Will you read this? I think maybe it sucks. Or maybe it's awesome. It's probably awesome. Tell me it's awesome, okay? Unless it sucks."

"I'm not really a book person. That might be the most idiotic thing you've ever said to me."

"How do you not like the Internet? That's like saying, 'I don't like things that are convenient. And easy. I don't like having access to all of mankind's recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don't like light. And knowledge."

"There are other people on the Internet. It's awesome. You get all the benefits of 'other people' without the body odor and the eye contact."

"When I think about her coming here," she said, "it's like that scene in Fellowship of the Ring when the hobbits are hiding from the Nazgûl."

"Look at you. You've got your shit together, you're not scared of anything. I'm scared of everything. And I'm crazy. Like maybe you think I'm a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I'm a complete disaster."

"This is why I can't be with Levi. Because I"m the kind of girl who fantasized about being trapped in a library overnight-and Levi can't even read."

"The fact that he misspelled 'pumpkin' made Cath wince."

"Smiling is confusing, she thought. This is why I don't do it."

"I'm probably doing to be crazy for the rest of my life, thanks to her. I'm going to keep making fucked-up decisions and doing weird things that I don't even realize are weird. People are going to feel sorry for me, and I won't ever have any normal relationships-and it's always going to be because I didn't have a mother. Always. That's the ultimate kind of broken. The kind of damage you never recover from. I hope she feels terrible. I hope she never forgives herself."

"I'm fucking done with encouragement."

"I find Ugg boots really comforting," Cath said, "Why? Because they're warm? No. Because they remind me that we live in a place where you can still get away with, even get excited about, Ugg boots. In fashionable places, you have to pretend that you're over them, or that you've always hated them. But in Nebraska, you can still be happy about new Ugg boots. That's nice. There's no end of the innocence."

"I don't trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they're going to get tired of me and take off."

"If only he were a better reader, Cath thought, he could have been a proper nerd."

"To really be a nerd, she'd decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one."

"This is obviously about me needing a mother figure, she thought, disgusted with herself. I wonder if I'm going to get swoony around middle-aged women until I am one."

"Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can't quite keep up with gravity."

My favorite AWWW quotes:

"I don't want to kiss a stranger," Cath would answer. "I'm not interested in lips out of context."

"She hated the way he passed out smiles to everyone he met like it didn't cost him anything, like he'd never run out."

"Maybe all the bad stuff happens in the wrinkles, but all the good stuff does, too..."

"I'm rooting for you."

"You give away nice like it doesn't cost you anything."

"You look so blindingly cute right now, I feel like I need to make a pinhole in a piece of paper just to look at you."

"I don't have to forgive you," Cath said. "It's not like that with you. You're just in with me. Always. No matter what happens."

"Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy," Wren said. "It's the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for."

"Bless him. Bless him to infinity and beyond."

"He was a cave painting. He was The Red Balloon."

If you missed our group discussion, you can find it here

Expanding Horizons & Novellas #ArmchairBEA

Expanding Blogging Horizons

Hmm... beyond (bookish) blogging. What does that mean? 
When I think about expanding horizons, I say leave the house! We have all become too reliant on the Interwebs.
  • Join a book club IRL.
  • Visit your local library.
  • Hang out at a local bookstore.
  • Talk to people!
Maybe participate in the Summer Library Challenge?

When you've had a long hiatus from your blog, a redesign is always a good idea. Make sure your new look is uniform across all social platforms.

Don't fret, start fresh! 

Never beat yourself up for slacking. Tomorrow is a new day.

If you've ever thought about secretly becoming an author, you should try NaNoWriMo. It's a great resource for wannabes and loads of fun, too.

Does anyone really listen to podcasts? Sorry, no offense. Vlogging, on the other hand, is an awesome tool. If you can get over the stage fright, it's actually fun! Making videos is intimidating for many of us but probably the most engaging medium to share your message.

Google Hangouts are a great place to discuss books!

Novellas/Short Stories

Personally, I am a huge fan of anthologies! I am currently reading Dangerous Women and have already pre-ordered Rogues.

My favorite novella read this year was Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor. I just couldn't get enough of Mik and Zuzana!

There is nothing better than a good companion novella (or several) when you're really into a series.

I can't wait to read about your favorites!

Link me in comments to your post?

More About Me & #ArmchairBEA 

Are you ready for the #SLChallenge?

It begins June 1st and ends July 31st.
  • Visit the library.
  • Check out materials from the library.
  • Learn more about the library.
Basically anything to do with the library is fair game!

They will be hosting some fun challenges, a readathon, twitter chats and much more during the months of June and July.
The Summer Library Readathon will be from June 16th to June 22nd.

Schedule of Events

June 1st: Kick-off Linky

Week of June 2nd: Library Survey

Week of June 9th: Library Social

Week of June 16th: Summer Library Readathon

June 22nd: Twitter Chat #SLChallenge

Week of June 23rd: Library Discovery

Week of June 30th: Reviewing Library Books

Week of July 7th: Library Storytime

Week of July 14th: Library Collage

Week of July 22nd: Library Scavenger Hunt

Week of July 28th: Best of the Summer Library Challenge + Grand Prize Giveaway

Sound like fun? Declare yourself, grab the buttons and join us!

Sign ups end July 15th.

Author Interaction & More Than Just Words #ArmchairBEA

Author Interaction

I don't normally attend author events IRL (in real life) but actually had a couple great experiences recently.

Last year at NC Comicon, I met a local author, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, and was introduced to the Tales of Goldstone Wood. I am still making my way through this wonderful series.

This year at the North Carolina Literary Festival, I met R.L. Stine as well as Peter Straub. They were much funnier in person than I had expected!

My son, now a teen, has grown out of Goosebumps but was still excited to meet one of the authors that shaped his early love for reading. He actually purchased adult books from both authors and was thrilled to have his first signing experience.

As far as author interaction online, I honestly try to avoid it as often as possible. Many authors abuse social media as a tool of self-promotion that lacks authenticity. There are a select few that get it right, and I happily follow their updates.

I have noticed that Margaret Atwood is one such author effectively using the new Q & A feature on Goodreads.  

More Than Just Words

I have never been able to get into an audiobook. I've tried several times, but it simply isn't the right medium for me. 

I've always been a huge comic book geek but rarely read graphic novels. My most recent guilty pleasure is Harbinger from Valiant. However, comics must be tangible! Almost everything else I read is in digital format. 

I know, I know, I know. It took me a while to make the switch as the smell of a book is so divine!

Intro & Literature #ArmchairBEA

If you're a bookish blogger but not able to attend the BEA Bloggers Conference, there is no need to miss all the fun!
Join us for Armchair BEA with tons of social content to help you feel connected.

Daily Reminders:

Twitter Party TODAY at 7 PM EST
Instagram Challenge:  #MyArmchair

This is what's happening today...

Introductions & Literature

As in past years, we will provide you with a list of ten questions and ask that you answer FIVE.
You can find the full list of questions here.

What do you think of when you think of literature? 

Classics, contemporary, genre, or something else entirely? 

  1. My name is Amber, and I started blogging when blogging wasn't cool. Like, back in the day before social media. I don't like to put a year stamp on it as I don't consider myself a successful blogger. I first started blogging to keep in touch with my family and share pictures without having to send individual emails. I now live in rural North Carolina with my husband, teen son and more extended family than I care to count.
  2. Casual Readers started as a public book club group on Goodreads. The blog by the same name focuses on bookish challenges, discussions, hops, memes and reviews with occasional related giveaways. You can find all of our many social links here.
  3.  I mostly read general fiction. Right now, I'm on a high fantasy kick. I have always loved to read to escape reality. There is nothing better than cracking open a great book on a bad day!
  4. My favorite read last year was The Bone Season. My favorite book so far this year is Red Rising.
  5. My dream/favorite/ideal reading space would be somewhere on a beach, in a hammock, with a book in one hand and a tropical drink in the other.
  6. My new favorite blogging resource is Book Blogger
  7. You can find a list of some of my favorite blogs here
  8. “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” ― Cicero
  9. *skipped*
  10.  Like everyone else, I am really looking forward to The Fault in Our Stars!

I think of literature as any work with timeless value. 
Everything else is just a book.

2014 #ArmchairBEA Agenda 

June Poll Results & Summer Reads

The June poll results are in, and it was a tie!

Our primary read for June will be...

Are other monthly group reads for June are...



The runner up is now listed as our alternative choice for August.

There will not be another poll selection until September, but you can visit Casual Readers to vote and view a complete list of upcoming books.

Don't forget to check out our Poll Rejects Challenge!

Feature & Follow Blog Hop

 The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Rachel of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read.

The goal is to increase blog followers and make friends.

Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow those featured.

You must also follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy.


Have you ever convinced someone to read a book, a series, or a whole genre? What book(s)? Who was it? Did they like it?


Our book club encourages reading just about EVERYTHING! We vote on monthly group reads to discuss. Sometimes we hate 'em; sometimes we love 'em. The most important thing is to have fun, right?

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