Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Kimberly discovers Lola and the Boy Next Door Lola and the Boy Next Door
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Series: YES!!!
Rating: 5 stars

Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood.

When Cricket--a gifted inventor--steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.

A month ago I had NO idea that Lola was a sequel/companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss (which I adored). I started reading the book and nearly dropped it when Lola started talking about her coworker, Anna and her boyfriend… I LOVED that little glimpse that we get of what happens after Anna and the French Kiss ended.
As for Lola? She is adorable. I liked her from the start. Her style. Her sense of humor. Her FAMILY. (Her Dad’s are hilarious. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do”, “Honey, that saying doesn’t really work when you’re gay.”
All of the characters were, as to be expected of Stephanie Perkins, so fully developed and imagined that I connected with them. I loved them and hated a few of them. I was so invested in Lola’s relationship with her rocker boyfriend, half the time I was seeing him through her eyes, which made his character an interesting one for me. Cricket was also quite nice… ;) I first thought “what kind of dumb name is that??” It didn’t take me long to change my mind.

If you want a fun, contemporary read, with characters that you will love, with a romance that you will love, give this a read. Don’t forget to pick up Anna and the French Kiss first!

Have you read Lola? Or Anna? Tell me about it in the comments!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Top Ten Books Julia Wants to Read But Doesn't Own Yet

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Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don't Own Yet

1. Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook
I read The Iron Duke so long ago... so long ago. But I don't want to reread it until I have this next one in the series in my possession. One day soon I will have it. One day soon.

2. Beyond Control by Kit Rocha
Oh I read the first book so long ago that I really wanted to read the next in a series. But I have a problem jumping into self published purchases. I know it makes no sense because I know what I would be getting into in this series. I should just bite the bullet, buy it and enjoy it. 

3. Between the Devil and Ian Eversea by Julie Anne Long
This is one of the longest series featuring two different families. I love it, some are hits and some are less so, but each one is a least a fun ride. I caught up to the current book this past summer, but didn't get this latest release. I think I am falling behind again. The next book may be coming out soon... I dont know actually haha

4. An annotated version of Paradise Lost by John Milton
I have no idea if what I want exists, but I really want to read Paradise Lost. Not just any ol' version either. I want a version that has one page of actual text and one page of "This is what this is referring to" like those Shakespeare books prevelant in so many high schools. If anyone knows of this, please comment!

5. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Aka JK Rowling. I read The Cuckoos Calling and it was really good. I really liked it, and really liked the main detective character, Strike. I can't wait to read more stories featuring him... and this one is next!

6. The Winds of Winter by George RR Martin
I don't care if this is a cop out answer, but darn it I really want to read this and I don't own it yet (no one does) so I think it counts! Write on Mr Martin, write on.

7. Butterfly Swords by Jeanie Lin
Or really anything by Ms Lin. I read a short story set in Tang dynasty China by her this past year and really enjoyed it, so I want to try a full length novel. This is the first one I saw on my list, but I know there are a few on there that sound great!

8. Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss
Same thing as Winds of Winter. It's not written/published yet, but I really want it!! If you have not read the Kingskiller Chronicles, do it!

9. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
I read the first one a while back, but I never went to go get the next one. I heard it was better so this is probably the one young adult book right now I really want to get my hands on. 

10. Spy's Honor by Amy Raby
This book I read the first one and thought it was okay, but really liked the concept of the world. I'd like to get this book two so I can see where it goes.

Wow! That was hard to get to ten. A lot of the books I want to read I already own and are literally sitting on a shelf. So how about you guys? What are you most pumped to get your hands on and into your keeper case?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Lori Reviews "An Everlasting Meal" by Tamar Adler

Title:  An Everlasting Meal:  Cooking with Economy and Grace

Author:  Tamar Adler

Published:  Scribner, 2012

How I got this book:  I purchased a copy for myself.

Briefly--Twenty beautiful essays that make me want to move into my kitchen and possibly start eating cooked vegetables.

Full Review--This is not a cookbook, though Adler provides some tips on how to prepare a few basic dishes, such as bread, roasted vegetables, and pasta.  My favorites were about boiling pasta and a secret for making perfect scrambled eggs.  It shows that cooking really and truly is a lot simpler than many people and books make it out to be.  Adler shows the reader how to prepare wonderful food affordably and simply so you can eat well and actually enjoy it.  You don't need 84,000 gadgets, tons of time, or complicated lists of ingredients to make a fantastic meal for yourself or for a crowd.

My absolute favorite essay was "How to Paint Without Brushes," which is all about how much cooking equipment you don't need.  I am in the position to really go through all of my kitchen stuff and get rid of the excess.  All you need are a few utilitarian items and you are set.  That's perfect because I've learned that those fussy, single-use only gadgets a) drive me crazy because they waste space and b) rarely get used because being single-purpose items, I store them away, so I either forget to use them or decide to just make do with whatever else is handy instead.  The idea of just getting rid of a lot of useless stuff sounds perfect!

Another beautiful essay is "How to Build a Ship," which walks you through what to do when you just don't feel like cooking.  It happens.  Sometimes there is a decent enough reason--I'm sure I'm not the only one who just needs Chinese food when I am PMS-y or who just gets too tired from spending all day reading to cook--to grab supper out.  However, this becomes a slippery slope to me.  One meal becomes two or three meals that I just grab something.  Then I just don't feel like cooking at all.  Adler recommends you just let your mind wander and eventually you remember why you like to cook, which makes you want to cook.  Memory, taste, and smell are so closely linked that this is no surprise.  Some of my most creative cooking comes at the end of a slump!

A longtime carb lover, I adore Adler's essays on rice and bread and how to make a meal revolve around them.  There is a very helpful essay and appendix about how to fix cooking mistakes.  There are so many beautiful essays.

This is a wonderful book about the poetry of food.  You can be an utter beginner at cooking or an old pro and you will still find something useful to take from this book.  I don't know that it will get me to cook more vegetables (it won't; let's be real), but it does enchant me.  :)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Cocktail and Conversation

Every other Thursday here at the Broke & The Bookish is  A Cocktail Conversation time. One of the TB&TB members will pose a question to 2-3 of the other members of TB&TB crew about books, life, music, etc and then they'll answer and we can converse about it. So grab a cocktail & cozy up for some conversation. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, friends.

Lori says:  So...I saw earlier this week that there is a new animated version of The Boxcar Children that just came out.  That was the first series I remember starting to read.  I loved how simply the children lived and how they were happy with so little, living in a boxcar.  Though I am an only child, I remember being surprised that the siblings mostly got along.  They were super resourceful--keeping drinks in the stream so they'd stay cool, stuff like that.  I was totally impressed.  I am not sure whether I ever actually finished reading that series--I think there are several books to it--but I own most of them and plan on passing them along if I ever have any children.  I still love reading about people having to be resourceful and making it outside of "normal" circumstances.

Anyway, that got me wondering what was the first series you remember reading?  Did you like it?  Why?

Tahleen says:  Boxcar Children was my first series too! I remember buying the first book for a friend's birthday party, and it sounded good so we got one for me too. I wasn't a huge reader up to that point, but I kept finding myself reading well past bedtime by the light in the hall, and it was usually one of these books. My dad said I shouldn't do that, and I would reply with pointing out how he always would say how he wished I would read more. I was just doing what he told me to, ha. I think I liked that they were mysteries, and I liked following the same characters. (Mysteries are still my favorites!)  I'm not surprised you didn't finish the series, Lori--there are over 100 I think! I'm not sure where Gertrude Chandler Warner stopped writing, as I think it was taken over by ghost writers like the Babysitters' Club books (another good one), but there are a ton of them.

Bridget says:  The first series I remember reading is Samantha's American Girl series. I remember liking it partially because there was a seven-year-old girl named Bridget in one of them, and at the time I was seven. I eventually moved onto Molly and Kirsten, and my sister had Josephina. When I was younger I had a much bigger interest in historical fiction, especially since the eras vaguely matched up with what I was learning in school, so I really enjoyed them. I wish I still had the books so I could pass them onto my little sister (she's six) and eventually to my own children, but I think we gave them away. I still have my Molly and Samantha dolls, though :D 

Jana says:  My first series was called Full House Michelle. I loved the TV show so much, and when they came out with a series of books about the youngest girl, Michelle, I was all over them. I'm pretty sure I owned all of them, actually. They read like an episode of Full House. They came out with a Stephanie series too, which I liked even better. Stephanie was my favorite Full House character. And her books had a little romance in them. Hehe.

Julia says:  The first series I remember reading and loving is The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. I had always been a reader but at some point in my early grade school years, I fell off the reading bandwagon. I remember just guessing on books I had never read to pass my accelerated reading tests. Then I found The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and I fell in love with the Pevensie children. I devoured The Magician's Nephew and then didn't really enjoy The Horse and His Boy because the kids were gone. I stopped there, not knowing that the others in the series had Edmund and Lucy come back. But reading this series broke me into other books and I loved reading again. I think the next thing I moved to was the Choose Your Own Adventure novels. Those are amazing and would love to read an adult version sometime! I think they exist...

What about you?  What is the first series that you remember reading?  Did you like it?  Did you finish?  Why?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Julia Reviews The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Title/Author: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Publisher/Year Published: December 2008 by Walker
How I got this book: The Library
Why I read this book: This book was recommended to me by Hayley, Susan, Kritka and rrteenlibrarian on my reading slump post
Rating: 4 stars

Well guys, I did it! I finished a book from my View from Page Thirty series that was actually worth adding on to the review. A few weeks back I posted my initial reaction to The Knife of Never Letting Go. The general sentiment was that it was pretty darn good and I wanted to continue with it. Here was my overview reaction:
"I am really curious to see how the story unfolds and what the rules and limitations of this world are. It sounds like a different twist on the dystopian thing, rather than just the controlling government makes us do something strange that our main character is rebelling against. I want to know more and can't wait to continue on!"
Well it didn't completely fall into that general dystopian genre, but it didn't stay as unique as I wanted it to. A few chapters after my initial reaction, things started moving into normal dystopian YA territory. Our hero was becoming special, some of the things I really enjoyed fell apart when things were reveled, and I was not as entertained as I wanted to be. 

I had high hopes for this book, and I wasn't necessarily not entertained. It was a good book to read, just it feel into old tropes as the book went on that I thought it was breaking away from. It also ended on a cliff hanger which really bothered me. It's book one! Usually book two is the cliffhanger. I really like it when my books wrap up, even if only a little. Thinking more about the ending, I guess it could be considered wrapped up, but I know that it's not and it bothers me.

Surprisingly, the narration did not bother me like I thought it may. I didn't mind Todd's colloquial phrasing and spelling of certain things. His being 14 annoyed me a few times like when his pride got in the way of doing things that made the most freaking sense (like with the book). But whatever, he's 14 and it fits with his characterization. No points off. It just was a personal pet peeve.

I really liked the pace in the first 30 or so pages, and I am happy to say that this story did not drag. It clipped along pretty much the entire journey. The plot was always moving the characters forward and into new adventures on the way to their goal.

Overall, it wasn't bad but it wasn't as good as I was thinking it was going to be from my first 30 page visit. Am I glad I read it? Sure. Am I going to read on? Maybe? I haven't decided. It may be after a while but I haven't ruled out coming back to this series. Just not right now.

Thanks for the recommendation guys! I can't wait to take a look at another one off the slumplist! By the way, if anyone wanted to view the compiled slumplist, I put it into a google drive document here. It's all messy and just my compilation of the comments people left on the original post. But just in case you wanted to see it, there it is :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Top Ten Books People Have Been Telling Daisy That She MUST Read

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

1. A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin: and yes I KNOW! I'm trying to find the time, but I need a couple of days where I'm doing nothing but read this or I'll be stuck. So Kelly, I haven't forgotten ;)

2. Insurgent and Allegiant by Veronica Roth: I really enjoyed Divergent and now the boyfriend's sister is badgering me to read the other two books because she wants to talk about them and noone else around here has read them.

3. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller: so Debby has been pushing this book because she loves it and it does sound really good!
Side note: I could have easily filled this list with books Debby's pushing ;)

4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: Sarah highly recommends this series. By which I obviously mean she raves about it and made me buy the first one.

5. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: and basically all her other books. People keep telling me to read it and it's so hyped up that I'm scared.

6. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson: and all her other books, but mostly this one. People keep telling me it's amazing. I should really just read it, but it's kinda scary and I'm putting it off because it deals with disease.

7. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers: so Mel loves this series and has been pushing it and all of the blogging community seems to agree with her and how could they not because ASSASSIN NUNS?? How can that not be awesome?

8. Gone Girl by Gillian Flyn: EVERYONE seems to love it and says it's a must read. I'm a little scared of this one as well, mostly because I don't really read a lot of mystery/thrillers, so it has to be REALLY good to wow me.

9. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan: both Daph and Debby keep telling me to read this. I will, obviously, cause I love Percy Jackson.

10. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer: so I could tell you who has been telling me I must read this, but it's basically EVERYONE. So, yeah...

What about you guys? What books are people telling you you MUST read? Any you want to second/third/millionth?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tahleen's favorite audiobooks

I am a big audiobook fan. I am always listening to one in the car and one on my iPod, usually while running. As a result, I have found some excellent audiobooks with excellent narrators. Here are some of my favorites:

Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford, narrated by Nick Podehl.

Those of you who listen to audiobooks avidly probably already know of Nick Podehl, who is one of the foremost narrators in the business. This book, about a freshman boy's life, is probably one of the funniest and well done YA audiobooks I've come across. Podehl's voices and the way he directs his voice away from the microphone for effect are spot on, and his timing is perfect.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex, narrated by Bahni Turpin.

Turpin won the Odyssey Award (best audiobook narration for youth) for her work on this book, and it's well deserved. Her voice for the aliens, especially J.Lo, is just too perfect. I have no idea how I would have read those voices, but now I can't even think about this book without hearing her. I'm super excited about the sequel coming out next year, and I hope hope hope she will narrate that audiobook too. Oh, and the book itself is very funny and I love it.

See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles, narrated by Kate Rudd.

Time for something serious. This audiobook is not funny like the previous two picks, but it is still very affecting. Rudd does a masterful job giving voice to Fern, a 12-year-old middle child who feels invisible in her family. She and her brother are bullied, her family takes her for granted, not to mention her dad keeps trying new, embarrassing tactics to advertise for their restaurant. But this one becomes a tissue-box novel once a heart-wrenching tragedy is thrown in. I will never forget listening to Rudd's grief-stricken voice.

(Um, as of the time I wrote this post, it is THREE DOLLARS for an MP3-CD on Amazon.)

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, narrated by Moira Quirk.

Who doesn't love a good, amusing steampunk novel mixed with some paranormal happenings? Carriger's YA series set in her version of Victorian England (which has werewolves, vampires, and is powered by steam and innovation) is a rollicking good time, delivered with panache by Quirk in her narration. The sequel, Curtsies & Conspiracies, is just as good. Looking for an adult series instead of YA? Check out Carriger's Soulless series, though I'm not sure about the audio versions for that.

The Jacky Faber series by L.A. Meyer, narrated by Katherine Kellgren.

Katherine Kellgren is another audiobook heavyweight, winning awards left and right, and for good reason. She throws herself into her character, getting each and every accent down and nailing it. Jacky Faber, a young teen girl in the early 1800s, travels around the world on adventure after adventure, all trying to keep one step ahead of trouble, which always seems to find her.

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, narrated by Rupert Degas.

I honestly can't imagine reading this series over listening to it. I'm so sad the audio version are so difficult to find after #3. Degas deadpans the sarcastic and witty banter, as well as giving truly fantastic voices to each and every character. He does a perfect job, and bonus points for his Irish accent. Love it.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, narrated by Wil Wheaton.
Yes, that Wil Wheaton. Who is the best man for the job. I loved this audiobook, especially once the action really starts up. Basically we've got a future where people spend most of their time in the Oasis, a virtual online world, and the creator of this place has left clues throughout the game leading to his fortune. But he hid it so well that no one has found it in over a decade. Until Wade.

The Flavia de Luce mysteries by Alan Bradley, narrated by Jayne Entwhistle.

I love Jayne Entwhistle's voice, which is perfect for 11-year-old Flavia de Luce, lover of chemistry and poisons and amateur sleuth, whose stories take place in rural England in the 1950s.

Really, anything by any of these narrators is probably a good bet. If you are thinking about jumping on the audiobook bandwagon, this is a good starting point.

Happy listening!

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