Sunday, December 21, 2014

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 12/7 - 12/20

Daisy's Book Haul

I only got one physical copy of a book these last two weeks and it's The Duke's Guide to Correct Behavior by Megan Frampton, which sounds like something I will really enjoy, I've never read anything by Megan Framptom before, but I'm excited!

Egalleys for review:
-Half the World by Joe Abercrombie: OMG SO MUCH EXCITEMENT!!! I LOVED Half a King and cannot wait to read the sequel! Happy dances were involved when I got the e-mail saying I was approved for this!
-Stonehill Downs by Sarah Remy: this sounds REALLY good! I'm always up for new-to-me fantasy!
-Paper or Plastic by Vivi Barnes: I think this will be a whole lot of cute fluff. I need this in my life.
-The Devil Takes a Bride by Julia London: a marriage in name only that will lead to love OBVIOUSLY. I like this kind of plot.
-Tempting the Pirate by Tamara Hughes: one word: PIRATE. I am in.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bridget Wants to Know How You Find New Releases and Debut Novels

In preparing some of my Top Ten Tuesdays for 2015, I’ve been forced to enter an unfamiliar world: the world of new releases. In general, I don’t track new releases unless they’re by J. K. Rowling or Stephen King, in which case there’ll be enough press around them that I don’t have to go out of my way to do any research on them.

What I want to know is: how does the rest of the reading world find and know about all these new releases coming out? Am I living under a rock?

Writing about my Top Ten Most Anticipated Debut Novels for 2015 (which I’m just now realizing I did wrong, I just did 2015 new releases, but I’m not rewriting it now, sorry) was a huge struggle. I ended up culling a few HuffPost and Book Riot lists for books I thought I’d be interested in, and used those as a jumping-off point on Amazon to find “related items” that would also be released in 2015. I actually ended up with 11 books in the end, but—as I mentioned above—I’m pretty sure most of them aren’t debut novels at all. I know a few are, but certainly not the majority.

So, blogger friends, tell me: where do you find new releases, particularly debut novels, that strike your fancy? I peruse NetGalley on occasion, but much less these days as I have enough hard copy books to last me a while and it’s hard for me to concentrate when I’m reading on my iPad. (I’m actually thinking about selling it because I hardly ever use it, so I’m also trying to distance myself from it a little bit.) I also haven’t found a whole lot to love on NetGalley. I’ll occasionally find something that piques my interest, but by the time I’m approved for it, I’m not as interested as I was, and I forget about it. Out of all the titles I’ve downloaded from NetGalley, I’ve probably read 20% of them all the way through and enjoyed an even smaller percentage.

I’m also quite a bit less into YA than most of my TBTB compatriots, so while there seems to be no shortage of YA novels getting churned out, most of that volume is lost on me.

I’ve finally begun to use Twitter a bit more fluently (@thebookishmilso, should you want to follow me), and I’ve followed a couple of authors and a LOT of publishers, so maybe that will help? I don’t know. Guys, I’m really clueless here. Help a sister out?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Daisy's Review of Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Title/Author: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Publisher/Date published: Dutton, August 14th 2014
How I got this book: bought a shiny hardcover

Goodreads summary: Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last?

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

So we read Isla for Book Club October and it was AMAZING! 3 of us loved it and our fourth member not so much, she actually DNF-ed it, but we still gushed about it over dinner (sorry Mel!). It was probably one of the most anticipated books of 2014 and it was very much worth the wait!

Let me start off by saying that I'm a huge fan of Stephanie Perkins' writing. She manages to pull me into the story and it just flows and I wanted to keep reading and had me laughing and going NOOOOOO!!! and just made me FEEL everything. It was awesome.

I liked Isla, she and Josh made sense together and the way their relationship developed felt real. And then they were blissfully happy and I was like: we have over half of the book left, this has to go wrong somehow right?? And it did. And it was painful and I wanted to shake Isla and tell her to stop sabotaging her relationship and just OMG I could just SEE it go down like that and it was awful.
But the book isn't called Isla and the Happily Ever After to mess with you, it's really a happy ending and I adored it. It was sweet and just fit Isla and Josh's personality and their bond and it made me swoon and just all the happy sighs.

I really liked the way sex was handled in this book. It was realistic and even though it's obviously a big deal, it wasn't overly so. Am I making sense? It was just a natural part of their relationship and also: I can now never look at bunnies the same way again (you'll know what I mean if you've read the book), so thanks for that.

I also loved the return of Anna, Etienne, Cricket and Lola, I so love those characters, especially Etienne with his 'Anna and I are headed out for a celebratory dessert. I'd ask you all to join us, but I don't want you there', AWESOME. If Anna one day decides she doesn't want him anymore, I volunteer to soothe his broken heart!

I could probably go on and on about all the things I loved about Isla and the Happily Ever After, especially after re-reading some of the quotes (which are all AMAZING), but I'm just going to say this: READ THIS BOOK. And Anna and the French Kiss (which is still my favourite of the 3 and now I'm dying to re-read it) and Lola and the Boy Next Door and let them make your heart happy, like they did mine.

My rating: 5 stars

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten Books We Read In 2014

For future Top Ten Tuesday topics & info on how to participate, click here!

Kimberly's Picks

1. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch- Wow! This is one heck of a debut novel. I loved the world she created, it was rich and vibrant. The characters are fantastic, none of them are cookie cutter stock characters, they're all detailed and layered and endlessly interesting.

2. Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund- A retelling of one of my all time favorite stories, the Scarlet Pimpernel? Yes please! The first book in the series, or it's companion, was excellent. This one was even better! Awesome characters, fantastic world building,

Tahleen's Picks

3. Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, narrated by Moira Quirk. I loved this steampunk ladies' spy school story. Gail Carriger is a wonderful author with a creative and absorbing world she's used now in two series, and Sophronia is a character to be reckoned with. The sequel, Curtsies & Conspiracies, was just as delightful, and I can't wait to listen (because the audiobooks are spectacular) to the third in the series, Waistcoats & Weaponry.

4. A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty, narrated by Fiona Hardingham, Andrew Eiden, Kate Reinders, and Peter McGowan. When I first heard the premise of this book, I was skeptical. A girl in Cambridge, England somehow starts communicating with a boy in an alternate world called Cello? But, to my happy surprise, it works beautifully. I loved the two stories in tandem, and seeing how the two characters and their worlds converge. I was even happier with Cracks in the Kingdom, the sequel. I am waiting for book 3!

5. The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It's the kind of fantasy with no magic, set in another world that resembles ancient Greece. Forbidden romance, politics, war, intrigue. This is such a complex story and world, and I enjoyed reading this one very much.

Julia's Picks

6. The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith. I was nervous about picking up this book for book club, knowing that it was J.K. Rowling and that I would have high expectations. Everyone had such mixed reviews on her last non-HP book... would I like her writing mystery? The answer is a resounding yes! This book was great! I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel. 

7. The Bridge by Rebecca Rogers Maher. I bought this book early in the year on a whim when I found it linked on Dear Author in a comment to a post about ... something. The premise is that these two people independently want to commit suicide by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, unfortunately (fortunately?) for them, they run into each other and each can't go through with it knowing the other would die... so they spend the next 24 hours together each trying to convince the other to live. It's a shorter book but I devoured it. What a unique story that I thought was executed really well. 

Daisy's Picks

8. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo: it's not secret I LOVE this series and this final book just slayed me. I'm still not ok and OMG I just need more ok? Like I said in my review, Ruin and Rising was everything I never even knew I wanted it to be. And basically you should all read this series. Cause it's awesome. (Jana is seconding this choice!)

9. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas: cue all my fangirly flailing. THIS BOOK you guys!! I just cannot. It's been a little over 3 months and I still cannot handle my feels over this book. After I finished it I just wanted to wallow in my feelings and just had the biggest book hangover. In case it wasn't clear yet from the raving that's been going on around the blogosphere about Sarah J. Maas and her Throne of Glass series, I'm saying it again: GO FORTH AND READ THIS SERIES.

10. The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley: I really feel like The Emperor's Blades hasn't gotten enough buzz, which is a shame, as it's one of the best adult fantasy novels I've read this year. It's got intrigue and amazing warriors and just weird stuff going on and it truly made my heart happy.

Bridget's Picks

11. The Magicians by Lev Grossman. I think I've mentioned it before, but The Magicians is like Harry Potter, THE COLLEGE YEARS plus Narnia plus lots of awesome other stuff. So good. It's the first in a trilogy, and I'm hoping for the other two for Christmas, as you'll see on my Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me post on 12/23 :)

12. Above by Isla Morley. Got this one through NetGalley and it was amazing. Definitely a little disturbing—think The Lovely Bones—but very well-written and quite a ride.

13. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This book was incredible. It was funny, sad, magical, and just lovely all around. It's very short, but really perfect in its length. Everything about this book was unutterably gorgeous. I read it right at the beginning of 2014 and have spent the last year singing its praises to everyone I know. READ THIS BOOK.

Jana's Picks

14. Boomerang by Noelle August. My favorite new adult EVER. It's such a sweet and funny story, with a pretty swoony romance that begins in the funniest, most awkward way possible. 

15. Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae. This book took me right back to Italy, and I never wanted it to end!! It's pretty much perfect. 

16. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. Holy CRAP. This book is amazing and has an epic twist you'll never see coming.

Jamie's Picks

17. Station Eleven by Emily St. Mandel: OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. This book really surprised me. It made me think so much, too! And the writing <3

18. I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson: THIS BOOK IS AN ALL TIME FAVORITE. Gorgeous and heartwrenching and JUST THE BEST.

Tell us your favorite books you read this year!!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Came A Little Early For Jamie!

So last night my husband and I celebrated our Christmas with him mom since we are going to be visiting my dad for the holidays and among the gifts from my (amazing) mother-in-law was a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card!!


It's already burning a hole in my pocket though and I'm already facing the OMG WHAT DO I BUY WITH IT dilemma.  I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I get overwhelmed by the possibilities. Do I buy a new book I've never read? Buy a book I loved but don't own? And how to pick out of all of those???

My book buying habits have changed A LOT since I got laid off and was unemployed for a while. Even now I'm not in a great situation so I'm still not buying AS many books as I used to because I'd rather keep my lights on so I can READ books. So, now, every time I DO buy a book I am always VERY strategic and calculated about it because I see the crazy amount of unread books on my shelves that I spent my hard-earned money on!

So here are a few of the books I've been contemplating buying with it:

- Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed
- The Catastrophic History Of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg
- How To Save A Life by Sara Zarr
- More Than This and also A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
- Every Breath by Ellie Marney

Those are just some loose ideas so what I want from YOU GUYS is:

1) Tell me a book you read this year and LOVED
2) Tell me an older favorite (a book you read a couple years ago and has stuck with you).

Hopefully I'll be able to use this gift card wisely!!! Do you think I should buy any off the list I already made? 

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Giveaway On A Friday Sounds Like A Great Way To Start The Weekend, Yes?

Happy Friday!! We've got an awesome giveaway for y'all today to celebrate the release of the 3rd book, Gathering Darkness, in the Falling Kingdoms series. If you are a fantasy fan and haven't jumped on this series, get on it!

We are happy to offer an amazing Falling Kingdoms prize pack that will include:

 - Copies of Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring & Gathering Darkness
- Falling Kingdoms postcard set
- Falling Kingdoms t-shirt

Series Overview

In the three kingdoms of Mytica, magic has long been forgotten. And while hard-won peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering.

As the rulers of each kingdom grapple for power, the lives of their subjects are brutally transformed…and four key players, royals and rebels alike, find their fates forever intertwined. Cleo, Jonas, Lucia, and Magnus are caught in a dizzying world of treacherous betrayals, shocking murders, secret alliances, and even love.

In AURANOS, privileged Princess Cleo is forced to confront violence for the first time in her life when a shocking murder sets her kingdom on a path to collapse.

In LIMEROS, the king’s son, Magnus, must plan each footstep with shrewd, sharp guile if he is to earn his powerful father’s trust, while his sister, Lucia, discovers a terrifying family secret about her birth that will change everything.

In PAELSIA, rebellious Jonas lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country cruelly impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.

Witches, if four, are put to death, and Watchers, immortal beings who take the shape of hawks to visit the human world, have been almost entirely forgotten. A vicious power struggle quickly escalates to war, and these four young people collide against each other and the rise of elementia, the magic that can topple kingdoms and crown a ruler in the same day.

About The Author

photo credit Shanon Fujioka

Morgan Rhodes is the New York Times bestselling author of the FALLING KINGDOMS series. As a child, she always wanted to be a princess—the kind that knows how to wield a sharp sword to help save both kingdoms and princes from fire-breathing dragons and dark wizards. Instead, she became a writer, which is just as good and much less dangerous. Along with writing, Morgan enjoys photography, travel, and reality TV, and is an extremely picky yet voracious reader of all kinds of books.


Follow Morgan Rhodes on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram
Find the Falling Kingdoms series on Facebook


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Prizing & samples courtesy of Penguin Young Readers

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lori's Favorites of This Year

Technically, I was supposed to organize a Cocktail and Conversation post for today, but those posts always sneak up on me, so it didn't get done.  I also didn't get my post written for last week because, among other things, I spent over two hours on the phone dealing with insurance, then got called into work on my day off.  So I decided to go ahead and do my post today because I really liked my post that I was mentally composing whilst on the phone (because who really wants to pay attention while they are dealing with insurance stuff?).

With the end of the year looming before us, I've begun thinking about what I've read this year and what I really liked.  I didn't read a ton this year, I never do.  But I feel like I read a pretty good variety for me.  As a result, I am kind of surprised by the books that are quickly becoming solidified as my favorites for this year.  I usually read mostly fiction.  I'll usually read a couple of non-fiction books for fun, which I enjoy, but don't usually totally knock my socks off.  So, imagine my surprise when--as I am reflecting on my favorite books of the year--I realize that my favorite reads this year are non-fiction.  Naturally, I am not stopping reading for the remainder of the year, but I feel pretty comfortable in naming these as my favorite reads of the year.

Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto  This one came in a BookRiot Quarterly box earlier this year.  When I first read the description on the back, it didn't really sound like me, so it kind of hung out on my bookshelves for a while.  One afternoon or evening I wound up grabbing it and flipping it open.  I finished the next day.  Leto's book is full of a lot of really interesting and short essays or pieces about reading and not taking reading too seriously.  It has a very long list of what your favorite author says about you.  It has a long chapter on how to fake reading certain authors, which really turns out to be a great reading pathway if you choose to actually read some of Dostoevsky's works (to name one author).  I had a lot of fun reading this book.  It really helped me chill out and decide to not pressure myself so, so much with my reading.  I read for fun.  So isn't stressing out over what I'm reading totally defeating the point?  It is, it is.

Thus ends the books I've actually finished.  The remaining ones on my list are all in progress.  I think I'll finish two of them by the end of the year.  One, however, is perfect for stringing out for a while.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff  I'm at the halfway point with this one.  It was a quick read for me up to that point.  I would have made more progress, actually, if I hadn't stopped for watch an episode of NCIS with my parents (it's our family time).  I am loving reading about the publishing industry during the late 1990s.  Rakoff is extremely relatable to me.  She faces a lot of issues that I faced and still face today, like the part when she realized that her friend who had always written poetry had let that dream die and how that affected their friendship dynamic (basically--people change).  I can't wait to see what happens next.  It's an unputdownable memoir.  Love it!

Ten Years in the Tub by Nick Hornby  Beginning in the early 2000s, Hornby (author of High Fidelity and About a Boy) began writing a monthly column for Believer magazine.  He continued writing this column for ten years.  This volume collects all of his articles.  Each month begins with Books Bought and Books Read, then he discusses what happened and offers up impressions of his reading.  He also offers up a lot of wisdom about his reading life in the process.  For instance, he muses that the books we buy probably say more about us than the books we actually read because the books we buy illuminate who/what we aspire to be, whereas we read books for a variety of reasons that are sometimes have less to do with us than outside forces.  He also shows that you can do a whole lot of reading while still having outside interests (for him it's soccer and music) and that it's OK if sometimes those outside interests overshadow our reading for a while.  This was another that made me realize that reading doesn't have to be a super serious venture.

The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller  I impulse bought this one a couple of days ago, when it was released.  Except I had to buy an e copy because none of the stores near me had any physical copies in stock.  It's fine, but I would have preferred the ability to underline and mark pages for future use.  Anyway, Miller decides that he's dissatisfied with his reading life, so he decides to organize it a bit more.  He starts with a list of ten classics that he's really kind of ashamed that he hasn't read yet and vows to start reading them.  The list ultimately grows to fifty books.  He works his way through each novel.  The book he writes details his journey through the list, what happens to him along the way, how the novels make him feel and how they impact his life, etc.  It's not a ton of literary criticism or a book review of each novel, which I really like.  Though, reader beware, there are spoilers to the plots of these books.  So far for me this hasn't been too big of a problem, but once he gets to reading novels I really want to read but haven't yet read, I'll probably wind up skipping those bits.  This one is a bit more serious because it explores the importance of literature and reading, but I think it's ultimately about pleasure and one man's way of making his reading journey pleasurable to him.

I find it interesting that all of the books that are going down as my favorites for the year are non-fiction books about reading.  But I like it.  These books have given me a lot to think about with my reading and have given me some ideas for how to go forward.  I also find it interesting that all of them are ones I only picked up in the last month.  I could have just as well skipped the first ten months of the year.  :)

I'm still really excited about all of the reading I have left for the year.  In addition to finishing the Rakoff and Miller and making more progress on the Hornby, I am working on I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe, tentatively starting Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, and making some plans for my upcoming reading goals and ventures.  Plus, there absolutely must be a reread of David Sedaris's Holidays on Ice.  It's a must for this time of year.

What have been your surprise favorites of the year?
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