Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Books That Were Hard For Us To Read For Various Reasons


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


Today we are talking about books that were hard for us to read (because difficult of book, subject matter, because it was cringeworthy-- however you want to interpret)!

Bridget's Picks


1. Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin. This series has been really hard for me to get through, especially right now. I'm currently reading A Feast for Crows, the fourth book, and it is such a slog. I was warned about that, but I'm still mad that I don't get to hear about Tyrion or Daenerys in this book. (For those of you who aren't familiar, the events of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, the fifth and most recent installment of the series, take place over the same timeline, but apparently there was just TOO MUCH STUFF happening to make it one book. So it's two books. And this one is a snoozefest.)

2. A Safe Place - Lorenzo Carcaterra. I read this in college for one of my classes. It's a horrific account of the constant domestic abuse the author and his mother suffered at the hands of his father during his childhood in Hell's Kitchen. There isn't much that can make me woozy when I'm reading, but there were several moments that I had to stop and look at puppies or something while I was reading this book. I don't recommend reading it unless you can stomach terrible violence.

Jamie's Picks


3.  Serendipity by Carly Phillips: Honestly this was so hard to read because some of the sexytimes were so cheesy and eye-rolly and corny that I just couldn't. I wanted to laugh half of the time and sometimes I felt really uncomfortable...especially a certain weird leg humping in a Target thing that happened. I do love me some sexytimes and romance novels but this one didn't work for me.

4. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson: I LOVED THIS BOOK but it hit so close to home. I don't think I've ever cried harder. In the book a girl is watching her dad slowly pass away from cancer and it took me back to when I was watching MY mom slowly pass away from cancer and it was just so vivid and intense that I had to pause sometimes so I could calm myself down.

5. Live Through This by Mindi Scott: I don't want to spoil what this book is about too much but I'll just say I felt SO uncomfortable reading it and that always makes for a hard reading experience. I though it was a good book but MAN..tough subject!

6. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: I really liked this book but omg the characters are so AWFUL. It was so hard to read this one because I wanted to punch everybody in the face and plus it was so twisted that I felt squicky.

Julia's Picks

6.5 Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: I realize that Jamie already picked this, but I have a different reason for wanting to include this book on the list. It was chosen for book club and as soon as I started reading it it felt like the author was talking down to me the reader. The best word I have for this book is pretentious. I couldn't stand it. I disliked almost all of it. The characters are meant to be hated, I guess, but urgh I just hated this book so much. 

7. Dune by Frank Herbert: I read this because a boy I liked at the time gave it to me and told me I would like it. Determined to like it, I started. Soon I was just determined to finish it and focus on the parts I liked rather than the ones I didn't. My problem with this book was the same problem I had with parts of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. The authors get on tangents describing the sand or the forest or the rock for pages, chapters even sometimes (I am looking at you The Two Towers). I liked this concept much more as the sci-fi miniseries then I did while reading it.

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: This is an amazing, amazing book, but it's subject matter makes it hard for me to read. I've actually only read it the one time, and I really loved it, but many the feels just take over with that book. Don't read it without a box of tissues. 

9. 14 by Peter Clines: This was an early pick for my work book club. I was a little hesitant since it was supposedly classified as horror. But it was actually pretty interesting ... to a point. Then it got hard to read because it went to far over the line of believability, at least in my opinion. I ended up skimming the end because I just couldn't believe it in the context of the world I was introduced to.

10. A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin: HOW did I almost forget this one?! This book is seriously the longest amount of time I have read a book without giving up. There would be months where I wouldn't read. Why was it so hard? It's long and the plot doesnt go anywhere AND most of my favorite characters were not in it. The only reason I finished this was because I went overseas for work and this was the only book I brought. If I ever read it again I am reading it mixed with A Dance with Dragons. I think reading them as one big book would help a lot!

Alright guys, how about you? What books did you guys have trouble reading for whatever reason? Link up below!





Monday, September 29, 2014

Daisy's Mini-Review of A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall


Title/Author: A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall
Publisher/Date published: Swoon Reads, August 26 2014
How I got this book: got it from Debby, who got an extra copy of it at BEA

Goodreads summary: The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common — they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship.

Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together....

A Little Something Different is just as cute and adorable as the cover promises! And with all the different POVs, it is definitely something different!

Sandy Hall brings us a developing love story that EVERYONE (even a squirrel) has an opinion about and I enjoyed some POVs more than others. I really liked the squirrel, because basically it is the cutest. And the Starbucks employees and the lady at the diner. I thought their creative writing teacher was a little over the top, but oh well, it was still fun.

The only thing that I can fault with so many POVs, is that you never delve really deep into any of the characters, but for this story it served its purpose and was basically just pink and fluffy and yes to this couple who even orders the same take out without consulting the other first. I was REALLY wondering what was up with Gabe, cause like the summary says, he seemed to have issues. But it was a very good explanation and like always, I was just wishing for them to communicate!

But overall this was an adorable, quick read and if you're in the mood for fluff, you should definitely pick it up!

My rating: 4 stars

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 9/14 - 9/27

Daisy's Book Haul



Bought:
-The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris: I'm always down for a pretend boyfriend plot because usually I get ALL THE FEELINGS over it. And Rachel Harris is awesome.
-Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed: this was an impulse buy, it sounds like it could be pretty fantastic!
-Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: YAYYYYY! IT'S FINALLY HERE! And it's next month's book club read, so I'll be reading this soon :)
-Deliverance by C.J. Redwine: final book in the series, I still need to read the second one. I'm kinda sad they changed the font on the cover though...

Egalleys for review:
(I'd have a picture of the covers normally, but I'm seriously running out of time cause I'm typing this up on Friday and am leaving for a girl weekend and haven't even packed yet...)
-The Shocking Secret of a Guest at the Wedding by Victoria Alexander: a fake engagement. Same thing goes for this type of plot as for the pretend boyfriend :)
-The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCullogh: I am excite. This sounds like it could be amazing!
-The Shape of My Heart by Ann Aguirre: I've heard really good things about Ann Aguirre's writing and I'm very excited to try her romance!
-Soulprint by Megan Miranda: I love Megan Miranda's writing and this just sounds like all kinds of awesome.
-Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen: SO MUCH YES! And the cover is so pretty!
-The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel: this will either be a big hit or a big miss for me, can't wait to find out!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tahleen reviews: "Sabriel" by Garth Nix, narrated by Tim Curry

Title: Sabriel
Author: Garth Nix
Publisher: HarperTeen, 1997 (first published 1995 in Australia)
Narrator: Tim Curry

Rating: 5 stars

Sabriel has been around for 17 years at this point, and I read it back when I was in 8th or 9th grade for this first time. Recently I discovered a prequel is coming out in October of this year, and to prepare I decided to reread the three books in the series.

Sabriel is 18, and gets excellent marks at Wyverly College, where she has been a student since age 5. Her father, Abhorsen, visits every once in a while, either in the flesh or via the spirit world, as his work requires he be in the Old Kingdom across the wall. He is Abhorsen, necromancer and sorcerer who lays the dead to final rest, when they might walk the earth instead of staying in death. But when Sabriel receives her father's sword and his bandolier that holds the bells which control and banish the dead, she knows something is wrong and sets out to find her father, whom she suspects is trapped in death. Little does she know what kind of journey she will be undertaking; there is much more than her father's life at stake, and it is up to her to bring the Old Kingdom back from the chaos that has taken hold.

Garth Nix is a master. The world he has created is incredibly lush, dark, and complex, one that stuck with me long after I finished reading the books. And Sabriel is one admirable and amazing heroine. I remember wishing I were brave like her, comparing some of my discomforts with what she has to go through in this book and thinking my life wasn't so bad. Plus, the magic (both free and Charter) and dead creatures that walk in life are thrilling and chilling. I don't think I realized this is kind of a zombie book when I first read it; I loved it just as much upon rereading it, and zombies usually freak me out. So high fives to Nix for creating world with all kinds of zombies that is creepy, but won't give me nightmares. There is too much beauty and excitement in the Old Kingdom to keep me from reading about it.

One little note: I did listen to the audiobook the second time around, and as it's narrated by Tim Curry, it was pretty great. I did find myself having to rewind a lot though, as Curry's voice is pretty soothing and I found myself zoning out. But, I recommend it.

Disclosure: I got this audiobook from my local library.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Julia on Outlander

Being in touch with the romance novel community, there was a pretty big shout for joy when Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series was going to be made into a TV series. Some of you may remember from back in 2011 when I reviewed Outlander, that I did not find it that enjoyable. My biggest gripe was with the length of time it took to get to the point and move the story along. So I held out hope that maybe converting this book series into a television show would make the experience better for me. And you know what? It did.

I started off watching Outlander because I was curious. I almost stopped after the second or third episode, but I kept watching. And now I am actually enjoying it more than the book. Is it really just because I couldn't get over the wordiness of Gabaldon's prose? Why was I connecting with pretty much the same story on screen that I couldn't with the books?

Here is my hypothesis. My biggest gripe with the books was the length of time it took to get to any sort of point. The wordiness really didn't even start bothering me until the anti-climatic last 200 pages. Right now in the show we are about 1/4th of the way through (maybe. I honestly don't remember the timeline too much in this book). I think the transfer of this to screen is slowing it down while also getting to the point. 

I realize that is kind of an oxymoron. Each episode moves the overall plot along while still feeling like it is taking things slow. I like it. I think that it is helping me connect with the characters and story a lot more.

In addition, I think that at least so far the series is touching on characterization that bothered me in the book regarding Claire. I never believed her struggle with the two men, but in the show I really do. The actress is amazing in her role. That's actually another thing I really enjoy about the show. The acting is outstanding. I am actually more entrenched in the people around them then I am in the love story between Jamie and Claire.

Another thing I think works really well in the show is the dichotomy they show between Claire's life in the 1940s and her life in the 1740s. The flashbacks work so well at framing the story!

I realize that we are only 7 episodes in, and I have yet to get to the part of the book that really turned me off, so I guess I reserve judgement. But overall I have to say that this series is doing a great job of translating book to screen. If people are interested in a time travel romance story set in 18th century Scotland, you should check this out. I think you can actually watch the first episode free on Starz's website. 

Has anyone been watching? I am curious to get the opinion of other people who read the book? Were you a fan of the book and do you like or dislike the show? Conversely, I'd love to hear from people who just are watching the show. How are you liking the journey so far? 


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Books On Our Fall TBR List!

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

 

Lori says:

1.  Landline by Rainbow Rowell -- This one came in one of my RiotRead packages and I've heard a lot of good things about her.  The storyline sounds really interesting too.  On the outset, who wouldn't love to be able to call into the past?

2.  The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer -- This one is also courtesy of BookRiot--it came in the most recent Quarterly Box.  I am really digging the recent spurt of literary mysteries and other books that somehow pay homage to the classics.  It sounds like I might not be able to put this one dow!

3.  The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert --  I bought this one as soon as it came out last year, but just never could get into it when I'd try to read it.  To be completely honest, I've already been reading this one and would love to be finished by the time this post actually goes live.  (Challenge accepted!)

4.  Dracula by Bram Stoker or Frankenstein by Mary Shelley --  I always want to read some sort of dark, creepy book around Halloween and this is the year I think I am finally going to stick with it.  I like how Dracula is told through letters, newspaper clippings, and diaries, in addition to parts of regular narration.  It makes for an interesting flow.

5.  Secrets of the Flesh by Judith Thurman -- This biography has been on my TBR shelf for ages.  I am finally going to read it with an online friend who is reading all of the books mentioned on Gilmore Girls in order.  I am really excited!

Daisy says:


6. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner -- I LOVED These Broken Stars and can't wait for the sequel!

7. Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean -- Sarah MacLean's historical romance novels are awesome. So obviously I will be devouring this one.

8. Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot -- This just sounds like it could be REALLY good and I'm excited!

9. The Fall by Bethany Griffin -- I loved Masque of the Red Death, though I haven't read the sequel yet, and this sounds just as intriguing!

10. Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay -- It's about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, who is a warrior princess, disguising as a boy. I really don't need to say more, do I?


What's on your Fall TBR list??






Friday, September 19, 2014

Easing My Way into Contemporary Lit

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about what I've been reading lately.  At that point, it was mostly essays, non-fiction, and toying with the idea of a novella.  Unfortunately, things haven't improved with my surroundings.  But I finally got going with some contemporary novels that were and are really doing it for me.  I am a little bit surprised by this because I was really hesitant to read much of anything that wasn't a classic or wasn't a contemporary piece on the Rory Gilmore reading list.  Mostly because I'm picky and I don't want to waste my time with something that just isn't worth it.  I still feel that way, but I don't have such a narrow view on what I should consider picking up.

As I try to trace the evolution of this development, I have hazy thoughts about its beginning.  I think it started with me picking up the latest IT book for the past couple of years.  Whenever a book was super, super hyped, I'd wind up buying a copy, believing that it was going to be really great.  The few times I started reading the book, I felt let down.  A couple of others, I wound up setting in the donate pile without ever cracking the cover.  I beat myself up over this for a while, but I finally accepted it, forgave myself, and moved on.  Because life is too short, especially to be beating yourself up about something you love doing!

Ever the optimist, I kept trying.  I'd still look at the latest IT book, but I wouldn't necessarily knee-jerk buy it.  I'd read the synopsis.  Sometimes I'd wait for the hysteria to die down and try to enjoy the book on my own.  Other times I decided to pass on the book.

However, I've found four contemporary books that I am super, super excited about and have been rotating because I just want to read all of them at the same time.  If I could literally read four books at the same time (like have four monitors to simultaneously watch) I would.  But I have to pick one to focus on each day.

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami  OK--non-fiction, but it's contemporary.  I've written before about wanting to run.  I'm seriously finally going to do it.  I have heard about this book before, but never really got a clear picture of what it was about.  The other day I impulse went to Barnes and Noble to buy this book.  I've read a few chapters and really like all of the correlations between running and writing, which is great because I really want to work on both of them.  Coincidentally, this is also my first Murakami.  It's piqued my interest in his other works, which are contemporary fiction.




The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman  When I went in to Barnes and Noble the other day, I picked up a Raymond Chandler book.  Then a bargain book of essays.  Then I saw this one and impulse bought it as well.  I saw the New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year label on the front first.  Then I saw the words "English-language newspaper in Rome" and I had to buy it.  I figured that it was set in comtemporary times based on the chapter titles, but ever since I first saw Roman Holiday, with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck I've had a thing for English-language newspapers in Rome.  I read the first chapter and love the gritty, deep style of the author's language.  I can't wait to read more.



The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert  You'll be seeing me mention this book in next week's Top Ten Tuesday...I'm about halfway through.  I bought this book immediately after it came out and it just sat around for a year.  I think that this was finally the right time to read it.  I am falling completely in love with the language and the style.  I think Gilbert has done something great here with this sweeping epic story.  Alma is a very interesting and inspiring character as well.  The secondary characters are also very strong, detailed, and interesting.  I cannot wait to see where this one goes and hopefully I can find the time to finish this weekend!




Lucky Us by Amy Bloom  I haven't gotten the chance to pick up this one yet.  But I am really looking forward to starting.  It's about two sisters in the 1940s.  They travel to Hollywood.  New York is involved.  I LOVE reading about or studying these two places at this time.  And who doesn't love a good girl power adventure?  The cover is gorgeous.  If I weren't so embroiled in the Gilbert, I'd be all over this.








I am so happy that I finally decided to step out of my comfort zone and try all of these amazingly interesting books.  I hate to think of what all I might have missed out on.  That's not to say that I am abandoning my classics, but right now I need language that is not so dense as that of the nineteenth century or prior.

Any good contemporary literature that you want to recommend?
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