Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It Turns Out That I Can Kinda Deal With Romance. Occasionally.

Romance in books seems to be one of the most contentious topic debates in the blogging world. Considering the love-it-or-hate-it debates around Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight, the topic of romance has become more polarizing than ever.

I, personally, am no particular fan of romance. After spending about three straight years devouring almost everything V. C. Andrews ever wrote, I—understandably, I think—got a little sick of romance. Though I more or less stopped reading V. C. Andrews a decade ago, my general impatience with romance hasn’t abated much. In so many cases, romances in books follow the same insipid pattern: instalove, misunderstandings (however many they need to keep the book going), then happy ending (probably). So predictable, so blah. So not my thing.

Because of this, I tend to avoid anything that openly advertises romance in the blurb or in the title (or—puke—on the cover). There are plenty of other genres to keep me interested; I haven’t really felt the lack of romance in my life. I will admit—I think this miiiiight have something to do with the fact that I’ve been in a serious relationship for seven years, and it’s pretty easy to see how unrealistic most fictional relationships are. This might not be the case for all fictional relationships, but it’s the case for a lot of them, in my opinion.

I did, however, just recently pick up (and enjoy!) two different books that advertised romance. And frankly, I was surprised to find that I didn’t hate them. I mean, yeah, the romances were terribly unrealistic in a lot of ways and frankly like “…how? Why?” but since I knew it was coming, I didn’t mind it so much. And I think I hit on what I dislike about books with romance: when the romance is unexpected.

If I’m reading a thriller or a horror story or something, the last thing I want is a romance getting in the way of things. Like, I get that it makes the stakes higher because now the guy HAS TO SAVE THE GIRL THAT HE JUST MAGICALLY FELL IN LOVE WITH TWO DAYS AGO, but…it would be nice if, for once, someone wants to solve a crime or whatever for the sake of…justice? Doing the right thing? I don’t know. There are so many situations where the romance is superfluous or frankly just annoying.

But knowing one was coming, and knowing I had willingly picked up the books knowing this, helped me let it slide a little bit more, and I even let myself enjoy it. It’s still not really my thing anymore, but at least now I know that I won’t hate everything that hints at romance. The key for me, too, was that the romance in each of these books, though certainly part of and important to the plot, was still secondary to the main storyline.

So believe it or not, after a decade or more of avoiding romance and being annoyed anytime it popped up somewhere I didn’t expect, it seems my horizons have re-expanded to tentatively include romance again, or to at least not exclude it completely.

Are there topics like this that you tend to avoid, but don’t mind occasionally—as long as you’re aware of them?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ten Books To Read If You Like These Popular Books/Authors

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

Lauren's Picks

The bestselling author I chose for this week's TTT is the infamous Hugh Howey, author of The Silo Series. The Silo Serious is true dystopian at its best. If you are looking for a novel with an unsettling society, a penchant for relatable characters, or just some classic science fiction, below are a few recommendations if you like any of Hugh Howey's novels.

Bridget's Picks

I've always been a fan of thrillers, and 2015 has been a great year for discovering new ones! If you loved The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (and I know a lot of people did, myself included), tend to like unreliable narrators, and love a fast-paced psychological thriller, give these books a try:

Jamie's Pick

7. If you like Landline by Rainbow Rowell, read The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton

It's got that supernatural element to let the main character go back and try and fix her relationship with her fiance before the moment it all went wrong.

Julia's Picks

I don't read a lot of popular to the masses fiction, but I have read a lot of romances. Julia Quinn is one of the most popular historical romance authors and thus I recommend these three books that are sort of in line with the same style Julia Quinn used in her old Bridgerton books. They are all at random parts in a series but still good books on their own.

9 -- What I Did for a Duke by Julie Anne Long
10 -- A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean 

Tell us your readalikes!!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Kimberly's review of "The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars!)

Book: Thousand-Dollar Tan Line
Author: Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Why I read it: As a Marshmallow I couldn't resist!
Rating: 5 stars


“Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She's traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it's spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is not a simple missing person's case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica's past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.”

As a proud Marshmallow, I eagerly downloaded the audio book for this, especially after I learned that it was narrated by VMars herself, Kristen Bell.

It was everything I could have hoped for! (Well, minus ONE thing. I could have used a bit more of a certain character… ;) ) It has the sass, the mystery, the genius, the laughter and tension of the TV series and movie. It was so fun to be back with these characters! Every time a familiar character entered the scene it was like a reunion for me. Old favorites back together again. All of the references and inside jokes! It kept me on my toes and challenged my Veronica Mars trivia! I was weirdly pleased every time I made the connection and remembered the right facts and details.

The mystery itself kept me guessing throughout the story. I’d start to suspect someone, then change my mind. Then I’d start wavering again. The “who done it” was pretty surprising, and I was so pleased that I was actually surprised, that doesn’t happen all that often! I did guess a few of the twists.

Overall, it was a great story. Made even better by Kristen Bell’s narration. If you haven’t watched the series, you’d probably be very very lost. I also recommend the audio over print. I’ve been told that the style of writing is a bit too script-like, which makes for a great audio book.

5 stars! 

Now... Where are my fellow Marshmallows???  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Broke and Bookish Haul for 9/13 - 9/26

Lauren's Book Haul

The Bone Circle by David Mitchell
The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts
Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts
Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons
Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
Three by Kristen Simmons
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Friday, September 25, 2015

Lauren Reviews Sound by Alexandra Duncan + Giveaway

A special thank you to Jamie at Rockstar Book Tours for including me on this book tour! I enjoyed this book so much and I'm so grateful that I get to share the love!

Before I get to my review and the giveaway I know you are all dying to enter... here's a little author info to brush up on. :)

About Alexandra Duncan

Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian. Her first novel, Salvage, was published April 1, 2014, by Greenwillow Books. Her short fiction has appeared in several Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leather-working, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi. She lives with her husband and two monstrous, furry cats in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

You can stalk her online via these links...

Sound (Salvage #2) by Alexandra Duncan
Published: 9/22/15 by Greenwillow Books
Source: Finished Copy from Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

Sound is the stand-alone companion to Alexandra Duncan’s acclaimed novel Salvage, a debut that internationally bestselling author Stephanie Perkins called “kick-ass, brilliant, feminist science fiction.” For fans of Beth Revis, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica.

As a child, Ava’s adopted sister Miyole watched her mother take to the stars, piloting her own ship from Earth to space making deliveries. Now a teen herself, Miyole is finally living her dream as a research assistant on her very first space voyage. If she plays her cards right, she could even be given permission to conduct her own research and experiments in her own habitat lab on the flight home. But when her ship saves a rover that has been viciously attacked by looters and kidnappers, Miyole - along with a rescued rover girl named Cassia - embarks on a mission to rescue Cassia’s abducted brother, and that changes the course of Miyole’s life forever.

Back to the world of crumbling planets, deep space ships, and most importantly... back to Ava and Miyole. First off, I loved the first book in this series. And... I definitely love the fact that each of the books in this series can be read as a stand-alone book. Sometimes series books get tiring for me.

While the first book has everything to do with Ava, this book focuses completely on Miyole. She's all grown up. At least as grown up as a young adult can be. She's extremely smart and determined... flying through school and university like jet plane. She landed her first job on the Ranganathan, a deep space research ship as a scientist assisting in a lab to cultivate and oversee the lives of bees and butterflies. The goal is for them to eventually be able to thrive on a newly terraformed planet. While Miyole enjoys her work, it is easy to sense something is missing in her life. 

Suddenly a small space ship crashes into the Ranganathan, bringing with it a handful of survivors as well as a cat. Dakaits, whom I imagine to be like space pirates, attacked the small space ship, kidnapped a few of the people, and left the everything else to burn. One man that was kidnapped happened to have a sweet young daughter and a courageous/fiery sister: Cassia. Cassie enters Miyole's life and reminds her of the past. Miyole has done everything to forget her Manman, her biological mother who was killed, and to forget her life before finding Soraya, Miyole's adopted mother. Now Cassia's distress over her lost brother starts the bring Miyole's past back to life. Cassia is stubborn and will not take no for an answer when she asks the Ranganathan's commander for help rescuing her brother. Miyole cannot accept it either. Miyole and Cassia steal a short range space shuttle and make plans to rescue Cassia's brother. Miyole has decided to risk all just as her Manman and Ava had for her.

The courage Cassie and Miyole display is awe-inspiring. Against all odds, against so many variables, against all of the evil lurking deep in space... they decide to venture into the unknown to save a loved one. Rules be damned. I was extremely happy to see how the author also incorporated Miyole's Haitian ethnicity and Mumbai upbringing into this book. I loved reading about the cultural aspects involving the beautiful saris and practices. Cassia and Miyole also have a little romance going on at times... which is a huge high-five in my book for more authors including homosexuality in their writing. I throughly enjoyed this book and I can only hope the author writes another.

And finally... the giveaway! Enjoy!
Enter below to win signed hardback of Sound, a signed paperback of Salvage, and this electronic butterfly in a jar. Open to U.S. residents only.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Daisy Talks About Birthdays and Books

So in light of my recent birthday, I started thinking about books as gifts. Because I'm definitely a person who gives books to other people, even if they're not the biggest of readers. Maybe the gift will convert them ;)
BUT as a well-known booklover to pretty much all of my friends and family, I almost never get books for my birthday (or other ocassions), despite annually sending my family my online wishlist so as to not get 'but I don't know which one, cause you have so many'. They're reasoning: you already have a lot of books (which is kinda the same argument I get when I don't give them a wishlist).

Sometimes there's an exception and one of my friends, mother or brother will get me a book, but usually I get other kinds of things. Which is fine, but it made me wonder if this is something that other bookish people experience. Do you get books for your birthday? Does your family/friends start sighing when you give them your wishlist? And what is the favourite book you ever got for your birthday? Mine are the first 3 Harry Potter books, I finally have a full English set (read them in Dutch first)!

Now excuse while I go stuff my face with some leftover pie.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tahleen reviews: Audiobook "Ghosts of Tupelo Landing" by Sheila Turnage

Title: Ghosts of Tupelo Landing
Author: Sheila Turnage
Publisher: Listening Library, 2014 (print available from Puffin Books)
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang

Rating: 4 stars

Mo and Dale, along with all of our other favorite characters from Three Times Lucky, Newbery Honor winner in 2014, are back with another mystery to solve. A decidedly ghostlike mystery. Miss Lana, along with Grandmother Miss Lacy Thornton, find themselves the new owners of an old inn and, as it turns out, a ghost that was in the fine print. Determined to get the inn back up and running in order to sell it to someone nice (gotta have nice neighbors, after all), Miss Lana and the gang sets to work—only to find out that ghost might not just be a footnote after all. Mo, along with a reluctant Dale, seize upon the opportunity to interview said ghost for their history assignment. But can they 1) get her to talk to them, 2) figure out what old Red Baker is doing and why he's sneaking around everywhere, and 3) possibly figure out what happened to their ghost all those years ago? Mo is no coward, and along with Dale and new friend Harm Crenshaw, set out to do it all.

I really, really love this series. And I'm so glad it's a series. I was very impressed with Three Times Lucky, as some of you might remember, and this is a great continuation. Turnage still deals with the tough realities of life in a gentle subtle way, without sugarcoating anything. There is an illegal moonshine still, poverty, bullying, and hints of past abuse and neglect, yet it's all very age-appropriate and well done. And Turnage adds in a hefty dose of humor. Mo is never fazed and generally seems to be a fantastic human being, though she does of course make mistakes and poor judgment calls now and then. It is nearly impossible to ruffle the girl, even when arch-nemesis Anna Celeste (aka Attila) continually brings up Mo's unknown origins to be spiteful (Mo was adopted by Miss Lana and the Colonel when she was washed downstream during a storm).

**Possible spoilers for book 1 follow**

Dale's father is now in jail, and Mo is pretty vocal about her opinion of him. She can't understand the complicated feelings Dale and his mother Miss Rose have about him; because at the end of the day, he's still Dale's father, and as Dale says, "you only get one Daddy." It is very clear that the whole situation is very hard for Miss Rose, who is trying to get on with her life despite not having much experience in not being in an abusive relationship. The whole situation was portrayed very well, and I thought Mo's child's understanding of it added much. Lots of showing instead of telling.

I did think it was slightly strange that this volume went into the paranormal realm, but I like a ghost story now and then. This one was good; just surprised it veered into this genre after the first book was strictly realistic fiction/mystery.

As for the narration, Lauren Fortgang was great. I was sad that Michal Freidman passed away shortly after narrating the first, but Fortgang was a worthy choice. Her matter-of-fact tone brought out the humor of Mo's inner dialogue and conversations with others, not to mention the vocal differences between characters was very well done.

Anyway, would I recommend this book? You bet I would. It's a great middle-grade mystery series with a quirky cast of characters in a small-town setting.

Disclosure: I got a copy of this audiobook from OverDrive through my local library.
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