Friday, May 31, 2013

Daisy Talks About the BEA Blues

So if you're part of the book blogging community, you might have heard about this thing called Book Expo America, or BEA. You might also know that it's happening right now in NYC. And if you're not there, like me, you might also be feeling some BEA blues: the gloomy thoughts because of all the awesomeness that's happening and wishing you were there instead of at home, staring at your Twitter timeline...

There are some ways in which this can be handled:

1. Avoid all social media and blogs for the duration of the event: so as not to get too envious of your blogging friends meeting each other, the authors they're seeing, the ARCs they're getting...
This doesn't really work for me, but it might for some people.

2. Make a list with all the reasons why it's better to NOT be there: with stuff like 'at least my feet aren't killing me from standing around in line all day'.
Yeah, I kinda blanked after that as well.

3. Participate in Armchair BEA: Armchair BEA is seriously awesome and a good way to meet other people and I love the community feel of participating in stuff like this! We also had a really fun chat yesterday :)
This is actually a valid option, plus you'll be so busy with visiting all the blogs and writing your posts, you won't have time to think about BEA itself (lie, but it does help).

4. Have a #bookishparty: Cass and Judith hosted an AMAZING #bookishparty on Twitter and it was so much fun! And it had drinking games!

5. Buy yourself some books: because buying books can never be a bad thing and it always cheers me up. Plus, I can totally justify it by tallying up all the money I've saved by NOT going to BEA and a couple of books is maybe 5-10% of that.

6. Make plans to go next year: this only works if you're actually going to go next year.

7. Look at a shirtless Gendry: because this makes everything better:

8. If all else fails: have a cocktail and look at other people's pictures till you can pretend you're there yourself.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Special Announcement

Hi Everyone!

We at The Broke and the Bookish have a special announcement to make--We're starting a monthly book club.  And we want you to join!

Each month the contributors of TB&TB will read a book together and discuss it amongst ourselves towards the end of the month.  Much like we did with The Casual Vacancy, we will edit and post the results of this discussion.  Unlike The Casual Vacancy discussion, you will have an opportunity to share your own thoughts about the book by writing your own posts and linking them to our with Mr. Linky (like for the Top Ten Tuesdays).

For the month of June, we will be reading Lauren Graham's new book, Someday, Someday, Maybe.

Here is a brief synopsis of the book, taken from Goodreads:
Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates-Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material-and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works.
Meanwhile, she dreams of doing "important" work, but only ever seems to get auditions for dishwashing liquid and peanut butter commercials. It's hard to tell if she'll run out of time or money first, but either way, failure would mean facing the fact that she has absolutely no skills to make it in the real world. Her father wants her to come home and teach, her agent won't call her back, and her classmate Penelope, who seems supportive, might just turn out to be her toughest competition yet.
 Someday, Someday, Maybe is a funny and charming debut about finding yourself, finding love, and, most difficult of all, finding an acting job.

I recommended this book as our first selection because I thought it would be a good read about figuring out what you're going to do with your life--a struggle many of us are facing right now.  We're at the point where we need to start thinking about adult things, like finishing school, starting a career, settling down, or even continuing our education.  As Franny strives to make it in New York, we're all striving to make it in our own little corner of the world.  We hope you'll join us on this new project.

The game plan is for us to read the book, discuss it, and have the discussion posted on Saturday, June 29.  That way you all know when you will be able to link up your own posts.  We'll post again if there are any changes or developments.  If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments or shoot us an email.

Happy reading!

A Cocktail & Conversation

Every other(-ish) Thursday here at the Broke & The Bookish is  A Cocktail & Conversation time. One of the TBTB 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 asks:  What is one book you wish you could read again for the first time?  And why?

Julia's Answer: Wow that is quite the hard question. I immediately jump to the Harry Potter series, but I don't know if I want that to be my answer, because a lot of the Harry Potter love I has came from when I read it and the fandom around that time. I am actually going to say Angels and Demons. It is classified as my favorite book (tied with Time Travelers Wife) right now. Dan Brown has an interesting quirk where you could interpret his books as being very similar to one another. But Angels and Demons was my first of his, so the thrill and excitement were new to me. It was such a fun mystery! Now when I reread it, I am not as wowed as the first time, so I want that "WHAT? OMG I didn't see that coming at all!!" moment again :)

Jana's Answer: I'm with Julia. This is a hard question! I think I would choose Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. This book is absolutely amazing, and I have recommended it to every person I know. It inspired me to go on this epic 6-week trip, and it inspired me to think about my life differently. I'd love to have such epiphanies all over again, AND have it inspire ANOTHER amazing trip!

What about you all?

PS--Come back later today for a Special Announcement!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kimberly's Review of How to Save a Life

Book/Author: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Publisher/Year Published: Little Brown, 2012
Reason I read it: Recommendation from a friend
Rating: 4 stars

Jill MacSweeney just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends—everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands what it’s like to grow up unwanted—to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she’s sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It’s harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy—or as difficult—as it seems.

My thoughts:

I honestly had no idea what to expect from the book. A friend recommended it to me a while ago because Sara is a local author. This is not one of those books where you immediately fall in love with the characters, in fact, I was annoyed with them most of the time. And yet... something about them  drew me in and I connected to them. They grow as the story progresses and I found things about them I liked, while still being annoyed by their less attractive quirks. It's a bit like a friendship.

The story will tug at your heartstrings. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a good contemporary YA.

Oh, and I also got to meet the author. She's pretty awesome. :)

**Make sure to stop by the blog tomorrow for a special announcement!!**

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie!

As I draft this post, I've just spent the most perfect day reading.  Because the topic is "Freebie," I get to decide what I want to write about.  I'm really disappointed with my own reading as of late and don't want to bore everyone with another list of books that I almost always wind up writing about it.  So, I'm going to write about my top ten ingredients for a perfect day of reading.  You're welcome to create your own top ten list about whatever you want.  Please share your link below.

In my experience, perfect days of reading aren't planned.  They just kind of happen to me.  All of the days I've woken up with the intention of reading all day get scrapped around lunchtime.  But my favorite readings days just sort of developed.  That said, there are some common ingredients that you need to have if, on the off chance, you wake up and a perfect reading day unfolds...

1.  First of all, you need to sleep in a little bit, but not so much that you've slept through half of the day. Me, I woke up at about 8:15, which is two hours later than I usually get to sleep on a Monday.  I was well-rested, but not hungover from too much sleep.

2.  Coffee!  Coffee is a must every single day.  But there is no better way to start a day than to read while you drink your coffee.  This has become a total rarity for me, so I was happy to partake.

3.  A super breakfast.  My usual weekday breakfast consists of a breakfast sandwich of some kind and it's usually eaten at my desk at work.  But today was a holiday and, so I made some amazing blueberry pancakes from scratch, doused them in syrup.  Then I ate them regally in bed.

4.  Good books to switch back and forth between.  Obviously.  Can't have a day of reading without some books.  Personally, I've been reading The Grapes of Wrath and Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses.  I think that they strike a great balance--fiction and memoir.  I can get lost in the novel for a couple of hours, then take a short break to read a chapter from Dederer.

5.  A nice snack or snacks.  You can totally pig out on a perfect reading day and there will be no judgment.  Food groups don't exactly exist on these days.  I stayed super full from breakfast until just now.  I am going to eat some popcorn because I have dinner plans, which leads me to my next item--

6.  An escape of some kind.  Basically, you need to have some sort of option to distract you because feeling obligated to read all day with no escape in sight is not as appealing as it sounds.  (Maybe this explains why I suck at readathons...)  Tonight I have dinner plans.  They make a great addition to a day of reading by giving you a nice break and some human interaction.  But you can have any sort of distraction lined up--a walk outside, coffee with a friend, a movie, whatever you can do for a couple of hours and then blissfully return to your books.

7.  Quiet.  I love my boyfriend with all my heart...but it felt really good to be able to spend the day just reading and not having to worry about anyone feeling ignored or slighted.  Granted, sometimes when it's this quiet and I'm this free to read all day, I have a hard time concentrating, but not today!

8.  Good concentration.  I am totally not one of those people who are blessed with the ability to read while the TV is on.  I guess I do OK if someone had selected a show I'm really not interested in, but even so, if there is a loud noise, I wind up looking up from my book.  So I just haven't turned on the TV today.  At all.  It's been really nice, though it is killing me because there is an NCIS marathon on.  Also?  Really hard to not check Twitter and Facebook a million times an hour, but once I go without checking for a couple of hours, I kind of forget about it.  (I really can't find a good picture for this one...)

9.  A comfy place to read.  Obviously, if you're going to be sitting on your butt ignoring the outside world for long stretches of time, you need to be comfortable.  Most of the day, I've been reading in bed with the overhead fan on.  This allowed me to stretch out, change positions, and cover up if I got cold or throw off the covers when I got warm.  The bedroom also has the advantage of there being no TV to tempt me.  But the living room is great for sitting up and reading because I can go with the couch or the chair.  I decided to move into the living room to do a little work and read for a bit before going to dinner or maybe watch some NCIS...

10.  Comfy clothes.  Again, a huge part of being able to sit and read all day is being comfortable.  I've stayed in my yoga pants (I'd live in them if I could) and a t-shirt all day.  Naturally, I plan to put on real clothes before I meet my friend for supper, but once I'm home?  Back in the yoga pants.  This is also important if you plan to eat copious amounts of food while reading all day.  Tight pants just aren't fun.  And dresses just aren't the best for all of the crazy positions you find yourself in while reading for hours.

There you have it.  My top ten ingredients for a perfect day of reading.  Can't wait to see your top ten list, whatever you choose to write about.

Also--Come back on Thursday for a Special Announcement...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Julia Reviews Austenland by Shannon Hale

Title/Author: Austenland by Shannon Hale
Publisher/Year Published: 2007 by Bloomsbury
How I got this book: I got this from the library
Why I read this book: This is another one for the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books bookclub. The book discussion is this Thursday and it's a really fun time if you care to join :)
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary: via Goodreads
Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.  
Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?
Wet Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy
What is a post about Mr. Darcy and P&P without wet Colin Firth?
First I am going to come out and say it. I still have yet to read Pride and Prejudice. Or really any Austen. What I know about her and her books consists of what my professor and I chatted about walking around on the Roman Forum on a high school trip to Italy, the movieThe Jane Austen Book Club, some Jane Austen TV movie that I feel like I may have seen but can't remember the title, and of course the Pride and Prejudice movie and BBC mini series. So I mean I have a lot of secondary sources, but I have yet to read her words and have them wash over me to take me to a time where men were gentlemen and women were future wives.

Not to forget Mr. Macfadyen
I'll put this here, too. 
That said, I thought Austenland was a cute book, but I am not in love with it. Maybe it's because of all the things mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Jane, our heroine, is a women in her early thirties who has had the worst luck we relationships. Each chapter actually opens with a small paragraph outlining them. They are really the pits. She partly blames her lack of luck with her secret obsession with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Nothing can compare to that, can it?

Well she gets the opportunity through a series of events to go to this rich people Disneyland called Austenland. They take your oodles and oodles of money and in trade you get three weeks of the full pre-air conditioned, corseted, sewing all day Regency experience. She opts to go to get rid of her silly obsession once and for all. Most of the book chronicles her time there.

Most of the people there in the house she is staying at are paid actors there to give the experience authenticity, but there are at least two other women who paid for the experience and are also guests.

Now that I summarize it the plot is rather dull, as I suppose country life would have been at that time. She gets herself two "love interests" and is all in a tizzy about her life for most of the book. It is interesting to see how much the people playing this world take it seriously. Like it is a Big Deal when anachronistic things happen. They are Regency down to the underpants or lack of them.

The romance itself was nice, I guess. Nothing super steamy and nothing super dull. I enjoyed the paralels in all of the characters to what I know of P&P. I didn't get any other references to things like Emma if there were any.

Overall it was a quick, light jaunt into the world of one woman as she tries to find out who she is and stumbles into a strange scenario in the process... trying to figure out what is real and all that.

If you like light romantic romps into the past, this would probably be right up your alley. There is some fun twists and I did get caught up in the story a bit. I definitely don't regret reading it, but I don't think I'll be reading the sequel.

There is one more thing. It has absolutely nothing to do with the plot or the characters but one itsy bitsy line near the end that talks about kissing on an airplane all the way from London to New York. In Coach. On a plane that is rather crowded. As a frequent airline traveler, I only have one thing to say.

How About No

PS: Jana has also reviewed Austenland and gave it five stars. Check out her review from July 2010!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 5/12 - 5/25

Paula's Book Haul

The books I got this week are nothing new for me to review but rather hard cover pretty omnibus editions of some of my favorite comics. I'm excited because they are things that I've wanted for a long time and finally own.

1. Y: The Last Man, Book 1 by Brian K Vaughan
2. Scott Pilgrim Color Edition by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Julia's Book Haul

It's all my eBooks. There were a few sales...
Also this is like all the books since the last time I did a book haul, which was in mid April. :D

The Winter Palace - Eva Stachniak
Tarnished Knight - Bec McMaster
Wicked in Your Arms - Sophie Jordan
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer, Anne Barrows
Homespun Bride - Jillian Hart
The Perils of Pleasure - Julie Anne Long
The Time Machine - H.G. Wells
Like No Other Lover - Julie Anne Long
How the Marquess Was Won - Julie Anne Long
Since the Surrender - Julie Anne Long
The War of the Worlds - H.G. Wells

Daisy's Book Haul

Egalleys for review:
-Asylum by Madeleine Roux: it sounds SO CREEPY! :D
-The Angel Stone by Juliet Dark: I really enjoyed the first book in this series and am excited to get to the sequels.
-All Our Yesterday by Cristin Terrill: this just sounds SO GOOD! And something that the boyfriend could read as well :)
-Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein: ALL THE EXCITEMENT! I loved Code Name Verity SO MUCH!
-The Rules of You and Me by Shana Norris: sounds like the perfect summer read to me :)
-Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts: what would YOU do if you only had a couple of days left to live, together with the rest of the world?
-I Married the Duke by Katharine Ashe: I love Katharine Ashe's historical romance and this one has a 'dashing sea captain' in it! Which is almost as good as a (gentleman) pirate! :D
-The Trouble With Being A Duke by Sophie Barnes: they meet at a MASQUED BALL! YES I WILL READ THIS!
-The Ruin of a Rogue by Miranda Neville: unexpected love and deceit and all of these good things :)
-Invisible by Marni Bates: I've heard many good things about Awkward and this just sounds really cute!
-Resist by Sarah Crossan: ok, so I haven't read Breathe yet, but I'm dying to! And then I can just continue with this! :D
-Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey: this series is amazing and I'm probably gonna cry at this final book, cause we all know what happens to Marie Antoinette...

Not pictured: One Doctor by Brendan Reilly

-Inferno by Dan Brown: it was a total bargain and I couldn't resist the shiny cover!
-The Heiresses by Allison Rushby: about triplet in 1926 London. Need I really say more?
-Impossible by Nancy Werlin: a modern day fairytale about a family curse, COUNT ME IN.
-Beauty by Nancy Ohlin: set in a boarding school in a fantasy world. Seriously, why would I NOT read this?
-Oath Bound by Rachel Vincent: I own the whole series and have read none of the books, but I'm sure they will be awesome!
-Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins: yes, I do still need to read the first book... But the covers are so pretty!
-A Farewell to Charms by Lindsey Leavitt: LOVE THIS SERIES! Can't wait to finally read this last book!
-If I Should Die by Amy Plum: very much loved Die For Me and I really need to get on with the series!
-The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller: it looks ADORABLE!

Our Broke & Bookish book haul is inspired by memes like IMM & Stacking the Shelves & Mailbox Monday. This is just our very simple way of doing it collaboratively so we can participate in all of them and not have to choose one.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bookish Deals (19)

Happy Saturday, everyone! Welcome to today's biweekly edition of Bookish Deals where I (Julia) try to scour the Internet to find you guys an array of deals to fit in with any budget!

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause - $3.99  
Vivian Gandillon relishes the change, the sweet, fierce ache that carries her from girl to wolf. At sixteen, she is beautiful and strong, and all the young wolves are on her tail. But Vivian still grieves for her dead father; her pack remains leaderless and in disarray, and she feels lost in the suburbs of Maryland. She longs for a normal life. But what is normal for a werewolf?

Then Vivian falls in love with a human, a meat-boy. Aiden is kind and gentle, a welcome relief from the squabbling pack. He’s fascinated by magic, and Vivian longs to reveal herself to him. Surely he would understand her and delight in the wonder of her dual nature, not fear her as an ordinary human would.

Vivian’s divided loyalties are strained further when a brutal murder threatens to expose the pack. Moving between two worlds, she does not seem to belong in either. What is she really—human or beast? Which tastes sweeter—blood or chocolate?

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones - $1.99  
One late spring evening in 1912, in the kitchens at Sterne, preparations begin for an elegant supper party in honour of Emerald Torrington's twentieth birthday. But only a few miles away, a dreadful accident propels a crowd of mysterious and not altogether savoury survivors to seek shelter at the ramshackle manor - and the household is thrown into confusion and mischief. One of their number (who is most definitely not a gentleman) makes it his business to join the birthday revels. Evening turns to stormy night, and a most unpleasant game threatens to blow respectability to smithereens: Smudge Torrington, the wayward youngest daughter of the house, decides that this is the perfect moment for her Great Undertaking.

The Uninvited Guests is the bewitching new novel from number one bestseller Sadie Jones. The prizewinning author of The Outcast triumphs in this frightening yet sinister drama of dark surprises - where social codes are uprooted and desire daringly trumps propriety - and all is alight with Edwardian wit and opulence.

 by Amanda Hocking - $2.99  
Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Jana's Recent 5-Star Reads

Since becoming a book blogger, I find myself not LOVING as many books as I used to. I'm not sure if my tastes are changing, if I'm expecting more of a book because I've read so many amazing ones (and terrible ones), or if I'm just getting pickier because I feel like my readers expect brutal honesty from me. I'm not giving out as many 5-star reviews as I used to. Is that good or bad? I'm not sure... Anyone feel like weighing in here on this?

Anyway, I thought I'd highlight a few of the books that have gotten 5 stars out of me lately!

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill 
(full review here)

This might possibly be my new favorite YA contemporary romance! I love the descriptions of London (a place I am just dying to visit), our very nerdy Julia (her nickname is Book Licker. COME ON.), and the swoony young love that blooms and burns sooooo slowly. And the witty banter and hilarious situations can't hurt. Plus, travel. This book knocked it out of the park for me. 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 
(full review here, in which I make a Friends reference... 
because doesn't Friends fit into everything?)

Guys. I am not a fantasy lover. Or at least I never had been. Leigh has created this super dynamic, exciting, mysterious world for us and I can't get enough of it. Plus, her writing had me salivating. It's absolutely amazing. Throw in a bad-a heroine, a sexy villain, a noble love interest, and SO MANY DETAILS, and you've got a Jana who loves the fantasy genre.

Instructions for a Broken Heart by Kim Culbertson 
(full review here)

Yet another book that takes place on a class trip to a far off place. Can you tell I missed out on study abroad and class vacations? Yeah. My love of this book probably comes from my love of Italy. Kim took me right back. Our heroine, Jessa, is perfectly flawed and so much fun to read about. And then there are some sweet boys... and introspection... a little controversy. I just loved it. And honestly, I have not been hearing enough about it these days. Don't let this one get lost on your TBR shelf! 

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (full review here)

I probably don't have to explain much with this one. Marissa has me loving Little Red Riding Hood, a story I hate growing up. And I got to see my best pal Cinder again, which was a surprise. I love that Marissa writes strong heroines, and then puts the focus on them. These girls don't need saving, and that's refreshing. I love the balance of humor and seriousness, and I'll never get enough of this world. Ahhhh...

Ok, so there you have it! Do any of you feel the way I do about these titles? And please. Throw some of your 5-star reads at me, because I'd really LOVE to read them! And I'm serious about advice on whether or not you're getting more picky about books as time goes on. Are you a book blogger who finds themselves getting more cynical? Are you getting more selective in your "old" age? Help a girl out!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

In which Bridget discusses the appeal of short stories versus novels

I am very much a novels person. I love grabbing a chunky volume off the shelf and curling up with it, and I've found that my favorite novels tend to be at least 500 pages long. I'm also very much a details person in that I find that I need to know everything, and that's what long novels usually give me: painstaking detail.

This is also why I am generally not a big fan of short stories.

But--I've been reading a lot of Stephen King's short stories recently. Maybe it's just that it's him, but I've been enjoying them quite a bit. One of the advantages is that if I'm not necessarily very into a story, I don't feel bad skipping over it. It's also an advantage that I can tell myself it'll only be a few more pages and then it'll be over--it's not like trying to plod through a novel that I'm not enjoying.

They're also just cool little pieces of the author's mind. It's so interesting to me to think that an author could be struck by an idea and create an entire story in pretty much one sitting.

I feel like I've always resisted short stories unless I had no choice--by which I mean, if I wanted to read something by Edgar Allen Poe, it would probably have to be a short story. The desire to read short stories just never really translated to authors that had written things other than short stories. My fiancé wanted me to read a collection of James Thurber's short stories once, and after not really getting into the first few, the book sat guiltily on my nighttable until he asked if I was ever actually going to finish. I said I might, but short stories just really weren't my thing. It was difficult for me to enjoy them because right as I was getting drawn in, the story would be over.

I think now, though, after reading a few of Stephen King's short story collections in a row (Everything's Eventual, Night Shift, Skeleton Crew, and now I'm working on Nightmares and Dreamscapes for a second time), I'm starting to appreciate the format a little bit more. It's kind of cool to have neat, easily digestible, read-in-one-sitting stories that I don't necessarily need to get invested in (even though I do).

That actually leads me to a good metaphor: short stories, to me, always felt like the one-night-stand of the book world. No commitment, minimal time spent, just wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am and we're done. I've always been a deep, committed relationship kind of person when it comes to my books. But now I think I'm ready to play the field a bit more with some more short stories.

So, that being said, a question those of you who are connoisseurs of short stories: where do I start? Or, I guess, where do I continue? What are some of your favorite short stories? Did you have to learn to like short stories like I did, or have you always liked them? Which do you like better, short stories or novels? Let us know in the comments!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Great Gatsby: Book vs. Movie

I've been waiting for MONTHS for the newest movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby to come out. Since pretty much the trailer was released sometime last year. I must say I was not disappointed.

It has been a couple years since I last read The Great Gatsby so I am a little fuzzy on the details of the book. From what I remember the movie stayed close to the book but there were a few things that were added for the movie or I just forgot.

I loved the flashy-ness of the movie. It was over-the-top but Baz Luhrmann did direct it. The soundtrack is...interesting. Definitely not something from the time period. But it does grab your attention and goes with the "flashy" theme.

And the clothes!! I loved everything Daisy and Jordan wore in the movie! Pretty dresses with sparkles and lots of gorgeous jewlery. Sometimes I wish I could dress like that on a daily basis.

Have you seen the newest adaptation of The Great Gatsby (or any of the movie versions)?  What did you think?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Julia's Top Ten Favorite Covers Of Books She's Read

For the future Top Ten schedule and how to participate go HERE!

Top Ten Favorite Covers of Books I've Read

In no particular order, the covers that caught my eye after I did a quick scan of my "Read" shelf in cover mode on Goodreads. Each cover will click through to the Goodread's page. Enjoy my completely impulsive, entirely bias top ten lists of cover based on books that I have read! - Julia

For most of these covers I like how they look (An Affair with Mr. Kennedy, Firelight, Yours Until Dawn, Across the Universe, The Memory of Water), others I liked what they had to say about the story within (Darkly Dreaming Dexter, The Time Traveler's Wife, Cinder, Beyond Heaving Bosoms), but with The Taming of the Duke, there is a story. I literally started reading Eloisa James because those abs on the cover above were haunting my dreams. Every time I passed by the book in Wal*Mart or Borders I would just stare. Literally stop, pick the book up, put it back down... rinse repeat. Finally I gave in to their pull (what was taming those abs? Must be one powerful woman!), devoured the book even though it was the third in the series, and as I made by way through her backlist, Ms. James became one of my favorite authors.

So link up your favorites! Let's enjoy the pretty covers. shall we?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kelly reviews "The Virgin Suicides" by Jeffrey Eugenides

Title: The Virgin Suicides
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing, 1993

 I am a HUGE fan of Sofia Coppola movies, and upon noticing that her wonderful movie The Virgin Suicides was based on a book, I knew that book had to be great.

The five Lisbon sisters are the unnamed narrator's beautiful and mysterious neighbors. The narrator and his friends (teenage boys) are obsessed with every move the girls take and worship the ground they walk on. At first you'd think that the sisters are some perfect, angelic beings, but they're not. It's mentioned that they all have crowded teeth, and some walk duck footed or have upper lip hair. The girls are real people. (They felt too perfect to me in the movie. Kristen Dunst? AJ Cook? Come on.) The Lisbon parents are very overprotective, but when the youngest sister makes a suicide attempt, they become even stricter. I couldn't quite tell why the parents were so fanatic. Was it religion? Or just wanting to protect the girls' innocence?

As time goes on and certain events happen, the girls are put on stricter and stricter lock-down  to the point they are withdrawn from school and barely let outside. That's when the girls hit their breaking point and, well, the title comes into play. The book is a haunting look at how a typical white-picket fence community in the 70s reacts to "the year of the suicides" and tried to come together to protect itself. I wanted to know more personally about the narrator. He's telling the story as a middle-aged adult looking back at a year in high school, yet he's clearly still obsessed. I wish we could see more about how the girls' actions affected him in the few years afterward. Reading the book made me realize that the movie, in pure Sofia Coppola form, is too minimal. The book and movie are the same in that the use of dialogue is sparse, but the book gives us much more detail and insight into how the girls lived their lives and for all practical purposes, struggled to survive.

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