Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bookish Deals (24)

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!

When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt - $1.99  
"If you leave Opi, you'll die with strangers," Irma Vitale's mother always warned.

Even after her beloved mother's passing, 20-year-old Irma longs to stay in her Abruzzo mountain village, plying her needle. But too poor and plain to marry and subject to growing danger in her own home, she risks rough passage to America and workhouse servitude to achieve her dream of making dresses for gentlewomen.

In the raw immigrant quarters and with the help of an entrepreneurial Irish serving girl, ribbon-decked Polish ragman and austere Alsatian dressmaker, Irma begins to stitch together a new life . . . until her peace and self are shattered in the charred remains of the Great Chicago Fire. Enduring a painful recovery, Irma reaches deep within to find that she has even more to offer the world than her remarkable ability with a needle and thread.

Blood Rights by Kristen Painter - $2.99  
Rebellion has a price.

The lacy gold mapped her entire body. A finely wrought filigree of stars, vines, flowers, butterflies, ancient symbols and words ran from her feet, up her legs, over her narrow waist, spanned her chest and finished down her arms to the tips of her fingers.

Born into a life of secrets and service, Chrysabelle's body bears the telltale marks of a comarrĂ©—a special race of humans bred to feed vampire nobility. When her patron is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect, which sends her running into the mortal world...and into the arms of Malkolm, an outcast vampire cursed to kill every being from whom he drinks.

Now, Chrysabelle and Malkolm must work together to stop a plot to merge the mortal and supernatural worlds. If they fail, a chaos unlike anything anyone has ever seen will threaten to reign

The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher - $2.99  
Welcome to a future where water is more precious than gold or oil—and worth killing for

Vera and her brother, Will, live in the shadow of the Great Panic, in a country that has collapsed from environmental catastrophe. Water is hoarded by governments, rivers are dammed, and clouds are sucked from the sky. But then Vera befriends Kai, who seems to have limitless access to fresh water. When Kai suddenly disappears, Vera and Will set off on a dangerous journey in search of him-pursued by pirates, a paramilitary group, and greedy corporations. Timely and eerily familiar, acclaimed author Cameron Stracher makes a stunning YA debut that's impossible to forget.

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks - $2.99  
Galen is the prince of the Syrena, sent to land to find a girl he's heard can communicate with fish. Emma is on vacation at the beach. When she runs into Galen—literally, ouch!—both teens sense a connection. But it will take several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, for Galen to be convinced of Emma's gifts. Now, if he can only convince Emma that she holds the key to his kingdom...

Told from both Emma and Galen's points of view, here is a fish-out-of-water story that sparkles with intrigue, humor, and waves of romance.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Bridget's Review of The Stranger by Albert Camus

Title: The Stranger
Author: Albert Camus
Published: 1942
Rating: I don't really feel qualified to "rate" this book--see why below.

I bought The Stranger a few weeks ago at a used bookstore because it was cheap and it rang a bell in my head as a "classic" I should probably read at some point. I knew nothing about it going in, except that it's pretty short--only about 150 pages.

The book opens with the narrator, Meursault, explaining that his mother has passed away. He doesn't seem to be experiencing any grief, and when he gets to the home where his mother lives, refuses to view the body but instead spends the night sitting by the closed casket, drinking coffee and smoking. Upon returning home after the funeral, he begins dating a former coworker, Marie, and befriends a man named Raymond, who lives in his building. His friendship with Raymond is built upon Meursault agreeing to assist Raymond in writing a letter to Raymond's ex-girlfriend, luring her to the building so that Raymond can get back at her by pretending he wants to sleep with her before kicking her out at the last minute.

Raymond later invites Meursault and Marie to a friend's beach house, where brothers of the girl Raymond spurned (described as "Arabs") injure Raymond in a fight. Later, Meursault takes a walk on the beach, and runs into the same Arab who hurt Raymond. Having taken Raymond's pistol with him so Raymond wouldn't do anything rash, Meursault, on the verge of heatstroke, kills the Arab after seeing the flash of his knife. Even though he killed the Arab with the first shot, he fires three more times.

The rest of the book describes Meursault's stay in jail, his trial, and his sentencing. Throughout, he neither feels nor expresses any remorse for what he did. His generally detached personality makes living in prison relatively easy, and he soon gets used to not being able to go where and do what he pleases. He mostly seems bored with everyone and everything, and often refers to things "happening to" him, as though he himself has no agency at all.

I'll be the first to admit that if there's a point to this book (and Wikipedia seems to suggest there is), it went straight over my head. It seemed a lot like a somewhat uneventful snapshot of some random guy's life, of course interrupted by more or less cold-blooded murder, but still. It wasn't badly written by any means, but it just seemed pointless to me. I probably haven't read nearly enough philosophy to get it. But maybe the seeming pointlessness of the story mirrors the pointlessness Who knows.

Anyway, due to my complete ignorance of any and all philosophical schools of thought that this book may or may not be espousing, I really can't give this book a fair rating. Check out what Wikipedia says about this book and the philosophies it might be examples of, read about those, and maybe then tackle this book.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Julia Reviews Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

Title/Author: Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster
Publisher/Year Published: 2012 by Sourcebooks
How I got this book: I bought it for me Nook a while back when it was on sale
Why I read this book: I like Steampunk; I like romance. I like it more when they combine :)
Rating: 4.5 stars

Yay! A great read that I got for a great deal! 

Sorry I just had to get that out of the way.

I have a soft spot for Steampunk ever since I accidentally started reading it my senior year of college, so I was a bit predisposed to liking Kiss of Steel. But honestly, even if I was only a teensy bit interested in Steampunk, Kiss of Steel would have been a wow read.

Let's back up. Our heroine is Honoria, a displaced member of the middle class who had to go on the run with her two siblings into the slums of London after her father shows up dead. They live in a world where the Echelon rules. They are this worlds answer to the ton, or the elite upper class. This class also has a special nickname, blue bloods, for the blood rite select males take at 15 which turns them into not quite a vampire, but someone on it's way. 

Our hero, Blade, is a member of the lower class gutter who was taken by one of those blue bloods and "gifted" this rite. By rights he should have been killed as a rogue but lives as sort of like the king of the slums, protecting those whom ask for it as long as he gets something in return.

That is how he meets Honoria. He brings her into his home and is instantly taken with her. She offers to pay for his protection with speech lessons to make him sound more aristocratic and less cockney. But there is a vampire (a blue blood who has lost control and thus gone over the edge) on the loose and somehow keeps throwing Honoria and Blade together and intertwines them in a ton of unexpected ways.

Seriously what I just described is probably about the first chapter. This plot was gripping! The problem in the beginning though was trying to organically introduce us to this worlds and it's rules. She did an okay job, but I was scratching my head for a while. But once I got the hang of it, the story took over.

The characters I really enjoyed. Not only are the main couple three dimensional, they have intense chemistry between them. The heat level in this gets intense at times, though I am sure if that is not your cup of tea, skimming over them would be possible without missing major plots.

The secondary characters are also pretty amazing. I look forward to reading more about them in future novels.

The problem and why this book didn't rate 5 stars on Goodreads for me was the ending. It was rather abrupt and a bit too convenient. It almost entered a completely different story for a bit, but it was still engaging and it didn't dampen my overall enjoyment. I think toward the end the "power of love" started to change the essence of the characters a bit (especially in regards to Honoria). But like I said, it didn't dampen my enjoyment.

I would definitely recommend this to people who like Steampunk and/or paranormal romance. It's a great mix of both!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Ten Favorite Secondary Characters

 For a list of past and future Top Ten Tuesday topics and to find out more about Top Ten Tuesday, click here!

Tahleen's pick: There are so many wonderful secondary characters all over the place, but I'm going to go with one of my favorite books (as I usually do, but whatever). Calvin O'Keefe from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. Calvin is definitely not the main character, but he is an integral part of the journey across space that he, Meg, and Charles Wallace take. He is a sport, and I love him for using that word in that way and for not taking the Murrays at face value; he is trust but discerning, and fiercely loyal and protective.

Lori's pick:  The secondary character that keeps popping up in my mind is Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird.  He is hilarious, but he's also kind of tragic in that he's been totally abandoned by his parents and doesn't really realize that.  He's also the impetus behind getting Boo Radley to come outside, which is a huge part of the story.  I think that everyone had that neighbor kid who was like Dill.  Harper Lee did-- she had Truman Capote.

Jamie's Pick: Cinna from The Hunger Games was such a favorite secondary character of mine! While I loved the movie so much I hate how you didn't just how special Cinna was like in the book. He was just so vibrant and really supported Katniss well.

Kimberly's Pick: Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter. I adore him. He goes from the forgetful boy who is constantly bullied, to an absolutely amazing person. He becomes as important as any of the leads. We see him grow even in just the first book, he not only stands up to his bullies, but to his friends as well. As Dumbledore said. 'It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.'

Kimberly's Second Pick: (This could also be "Kimberly's Mother's Pick" as she is the one who inspired it. I asked her who she'd pick and she immediately responded with "Diana Barry". Sweet, loyal, earnest Diana Barry. Best friend to Anne (with an 'E') of Green Gables. Whether she is standing by the side of her bosom friend, getting accidentally drunk off of what she believed to be Raspberry Cordial (it was currant wine, oops), or being her sweet, day dreaming self, she is ever so lovable. She is the best friend anyone could ask for, and is the perfect companion for Anne.

Paula's Pick: Spader and Loor from the Pendragon series. I'm not sure what all to say about Spader. He joins Bobby Pendragon in the second book and is such a loyal companion who is always upbeat and looking on the bright side even when things are not looking good for our characters. The only thing to say about Loor is that she is so incredibly B.A. - I would have loved for the whole series to revolve around her.

Jamie's Pick: Finnick from The Hunger Games: AHHHHH FINNICK <33

Jamie's Pick: Phoebe from The Catcher in the Rye: Phoebe is Holden's 10 year old sister and I loved her so much! Wise beyond her years but not annoyingly so IMO.

Kelly's Pick: Brienne of Tarth from A Song of Fire and Ice series is an amazing character who embraces her quirks and disadvantages to become perhaps the strongest and most loyal character in the entire series.

Kelly's Pick: The Weasley twins from Harry Potter: Almost more than anything, I wish we could read through this series from the viewpoint of Fred and George Weasley. They are the two wittiest and most hilarious characters I think I've ever come across!

Who are YOUR favorite secondary characters?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Seasonal Reading

One of these days I will read enough books that I can post a review instead of just spouting off my thoughts about bookish topics that occur to me.  Today is not that day.  
As summer fades into fall, I find myself thinking about books I want to read in the coming weeks and months.  In a few weeks, we'll be doing a Top Ten Tuesday post about the books we plan on reading in the fall.  I'm not pre-empting that topic.  I know that a lot of people always participate in those because reading plans are fun to think about and I don't want to take away from that. 
Instead, I've been thinking about the WHY behind these reading choices of mine.  For instance, I always want to read something kind of spooky in October (Dracula, I believe, for this year); I think that fall is the ideal time to read Moby Dick; I gravitate towards Faulkner every spring; I think about reading Leaves of Grass every fall and every spring; and I want to read long epic works every summer.  Fall is also when I find myself wanting to finally take on (and stick with) the Rory Gilmore list, even though I am atrocious at sticking to lists.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who falls to the same topics on an annual basis.  But why do we do that?
OK, the spooky thing in October is pretty easy to explain.  We're trained to look for the spooky around that time of year because of Halloween.
But the other things...why should the temperature is outside or the upcoming holidays make me want to read this or that?  Does is have to do with the cover of the edition you have?  Does it have to do with the title?  Or is it perhaps the subject matter?  Or, maybe less specifically, do you find your reading habits or preferences changing over the season or do they pretty much remain constant?
Personally, I think it's all of the above.  My copy of Moby Dick has a really somber cover and it has red and that makes me think of fall.  Leaves and grass are emblems of fall and spring, respectively.  I think that in the summer I imagine a version of my life where I have tons of free time to do nothing but read all day.  That never happens.  My reading stays pretty constant throughout the year, despite my best efforts to read more at different times, like during the summer or over Christmas break.  And the Gilmore Girls thing...maybe it's because the fall is when I am at my most organized with the new school year, so I think about organizing my reading as well.  The Faulkner thing is purely inexplicable.
What about you?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Cocktail & Conversation With TB&TB: Required Reading


With schools starting back up I get all nostalgic, tell me one of your favorite assigned books you read in school?

Julia says: I really loved Macbeth, but my answer is going to come from a class I took in high school called "Classic and Modern Novels." The class was awesome! Come to class, read for 40 minutes. Any book you wanted, you just had to read 30 pages a night and write an essay at the end. But when we started the class we read one book together, The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy. Such a good book! The feels. I have them.

Tahleen says: I have to say To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It's still one of my favorite books today, and I loved reading it in 9th grade English class. It is one of those books that I can revisit time and time again.

Jen says: I agree with Tahleen. To Kill a Mockingbird was my favorite novel we were required to read in school. I believe I first read it in 8th grade Language Arts class and then again in my senior year English class. It is one of the few books I actually read the entire thing for school.






What about you? What was your favorite book you had to read in school?

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Quick Bookish Survey (4)

I (Kelly) found this short bookish survey awhile ago and it's a fun, easy way to update everyone on your current reading habits. Sometimes questionnaires of this sort can get a little long - this is just five easy questions! If you would like to participate and catch us up on your reads, be sure to leave your choices or a link in the comments. (I wish I could make this post a little more aesthetically-pleasing with some pictures, but my computer is not cooperating...)

1. The book I'm currently reading: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling - I reread this series annually and this year's is coming to a close. The sixth book is my favorite, so I'm enjoying this immensely :)

2. The last book I finished: The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson - my goodreads friends have been gushing over this one, so I gave it a try. I really like the world and magic created in the story!

3. The next book I want to read: The Maze Runner by James Dashner - I tend to get overexcited when books get turned into movies! 

4. The last book I bought: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - I bought this A LONG time ago, because thanks to my library, I don't have to buy books very often anymore. What a crazy ride Mara was! I rushed out to get the sequel almost immediately.

5. The last book I was given: The White Princess by Philippa Gregory - people usually don't give me books, but I received this one for review recently. You can find my review here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Things That Make Our Life As Bloggers Easier/Better

 For a list of past and future Top Ten Tuesday topics and to find out more about Top Ten Tuesday, click here!
Julia's Pick: Goodreads makes my life a hell of a lot easier. When I go to write a review and I want to get the summary or the publishers information, Goodreads has it all right there for me! I usually have Blogger open in one tab and the book page for Goodreads open in another. It is my favorite book site!

Julia's Other Pick: Rafflecopter is GREAT for holding contests. I like entering with it and I like using it when I am hosting my own contests. I still put in the fail safe of email entries if for some reason a user is not able to use the widget, but I think I've done that twice or so. It's a fantastic tool.

Jamie's pick: Audiobooks -- It really helps me to squeeze in a little extra reading time while I'm commuting, cleaning or working out.

Jamie's pick: Google calendar: I don't know what I'd do without the Google docs calendar for TBTB. There are quite a few of us so it helps us to stay organized and know who has what due. I use it for my own blog also but not as much. Having a calendar helps me plan out what I want to do so I can get into beast writing mode when I'm ready to sit down.

Jamie's pick: Tweetdeck & Hootsuite: I hate the Twitter web application but I looove Tweetdeck! I hate the latest updates but whatever still useful! I use Hootsuite to really schedule tweets and Facebook posts for when I know I'm not going to be able be on to tweet posts.

Jamie's Pick: Feedly: After Google Reader died I never thought I'd be whole again but OMG I LOVE FEEDLY. There are some less than perfect things about it but I hope as it grows those will be ironed out!

Jamie's Pick: Instagram &VSCOcam: Love these apps to prettify my pictures of books!

Tahleen's pick: NetGalley and Edelweiss. True, these awesome galley resources aren't necessary if you are a book blogger, but if you're at all interested in getting free copies of yet-to-be-released books, they are KEY. I love being able to browse what's available and share my thoughts on new titles.

Tahleen's other pick: The library. Because this is where I get all my other books for free. I don't think I've paid for a book in print for at least a year, if not longer (e-books are another story). Maybe once or twice at a signing, but really, that's it. I get all of my audiobooks (digital and on CD), print books, and a few e-books at the library. It helps that I'm a librarian, but still.

Jen's Pick: Other book bloggers make booking blogging easier! I love reading other bloggers reviews (everyone has their own unique style which is awesome) and you really do discover some great books. There are SO many wonderful books I doubt I'd ever pick up if it wasn't for other book bloggers!

What things make your life as a blogger easier/better?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tahleen reviews: "Three Times Lucky" by Sheila Turnage

Title: Three Times Lucky
Author: Sheila Turnage
Publisher: Penguin Audio, 2012 (print available from Dial)
Narrator: Michal Friedman 

Rating: 4 stars

I really liked listening to this audiobook, the print version of which nabbed a Newbery Honor this year. Mo LoBeau, rising sixth grader and our narrator, finds herself and her small NC town of Tupelo Landing in the middle of a murder mystery t
hat ends up being years in the making.

We are first treated to a bit of exposition and an introduction to the small, sleepy town and its residents. Mo and her adoptive family, the Colonel and Miss Lana, run the town cafe. We learn about Mo's history, a baby who was washed away from her "upstream mother" (as she calls her) during a hurricane and rescued by the Colonel, who came to town with a "suitcase full of money" (so they say) and without his memory.

Various other townsfolk wander in and out of the narrative, and they are mostly well-rounded characters at that.

Tupelo Landing itself is a charming setting for such a serious event as a murder, and I felt Turnage handled it all incredibly well. The murder itself is not glossed over for the benefit of the children, and Mo's reaction to the news is very believable, as are everyone else's. Yet Mo's quick tongue and humor are enchanting, lifting the mood considerably despite the danger and ugliness. Abuse, abandonment, and poverty are all major themes, but Turnage's prose is delightful and calming, which balances everything out nicely.

I had trouble with the ending of the novel, which felt abrupt to me. Everything was wrapped up very quickly, and I was surprised when I got to the end as I felt like something was missing. But despite this minor quibble, overall I thought it was a well done piece of writing. Deserving of the Newbery Honor it received? Maybe, maybe not. But definitely deserving of your time.

Michal Friedman does an excellent job narrating. She gave Mo a young girl's voice with spunk and a gentle Southern twang, giving every word and phrase just the right amount of emphasis. Her acting was spot on, and it's very disappointing to hear that she's passed on and will be unable to give her voice to any other characters in the future.

This is a lovely, well-done audiobook that I definitely would recommend to fans of middle-grade fiction, Southern fiction, and mysteries.

Disclosure: I got this audiobook from my public library.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bookish Deals (23)

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!

The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley - $2.99  
Matt Beaulieu was two years old the first time he held Elle McClure in his arms, seventeen when he first kissed her under a sky filled with shooting stars, and thirty-three when he convinced her to marry him. Now in their late 30s, the deeply devoted couple has everything-except the baby they've always wanted.

When an accident leaves Elle brain dead, Matt is devastated. Though he cannot bear the thought of life without her, he knows Elle was afraid of only one thing-a slow death. And so, Matt resolves to take her off life support.

But Matt changes his mind when they discover Elle's pregnant. While there are no certainties, the baby might survive if Elle remains on life support. Matt's mother, Linney, disagrees with his decision. She loves Elle, too, and insists that Elle would never want to be kept alive on machines. Linney is prepared to fight her son in court-armed with Elle's living will.

Divided by the love they share, Matt and Linney will be pitted against each other, fighting for what they believe is right, and what they think Elle would have wanted resulting in a controversial legal battle that will ultimately go beyond one family . . . and one single life.

Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund - $1.99  
Marie Antoinette was a child of fourteen when her mother, the Empress of Austria, arranged for her to leave her family and her country to become the wife of the fifteen-year-old Dauphin, the future King of France. Coming of age in the most public of arenas, the young queen embraces her new family and the French people, and she is embraced in return. Eager to be a good wife and strong queen, she shows her new husband nothing but love and encouragement, though he repeatedly fails to consummate their marriage and in doing so, fails to give her the thing she—and the people of France—desire most: a child and an heir to the throne.

Deeply disappointed and isolated in her own intimate circle apart from the social life of the court, the queen allows herself to remain ignorant of the country's growing economic and political crises. She entrusts her soul to her women friends, her music teacher, her hairdresser, the ambassador from Austria, and a certain Swedish count so handsome that admirers label him "the Picture." When her innocent and well-chaperoned pilgrimage to watch the sun rise is viciously misrepresented in satiric pamphlets as a drunken orgy, the people begin to turn against her. Poor harvests, bitter winters, war debts, and poverty precipitate rebellion and revenge as the royal family and many nobles are caught up in a murderous time known as "the Terror."

There wasn't really much to choose from today. But luckily, Jamie covered a whole bunch a few weeks ago, some of which are still going on! Check those out too!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Paula gets a new library!

Hey all!

So this past month my life has been surrounded by boxes. My roommate and I got to move out of our terrible slightly sketchy apartment and into a pretty house with a backyard and all that lovely stuff. We also picked up a third roommate along the way and she is pretty fantastic as well! With all that being said- there has unfortunately been a lack of time for reading (and therefore a lack of a review for you guys... sorry!). Plus side for me is that both roommates love books as much as I do- and when we were trying to figure out exactly what to do with the downstairs den... we all glanced over at our bookshelves. And thus a group decision was made to display all of our books in one place.

So far I am the only one who has had a chance to unpack all of my books. So I thought I could share my new shelves with you all.

 My "Read" shelf that is getting dangerously close to full. And that's even after I routinely purge it of books I don't consider my super favorites or worthy of re-reading.

My "to-read" shelf. I just bought a new one since my old one collapsed from having too many books on it (Oops!) And as you can see on the floor there are already two stacks waiting to find space. Also my new favorite part of my library- a great way to display my old book collection. 

And while they aren't part of the new library... two great creatures I get to constantly spend time with. My dog Pogo (the white corgi mutt) and his new lady love Luna (my roommate's basset hound mutt). And don't worry- we are painting over that awful lime green wall. 
Sorry I don't have a review for you this time. Hopefully once we get all of these boxes unpacked and awful walls painted I can get back to what I truly love doing!
Hope all is well,

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Giveaway: The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins

Hi guys! Thanks to Harlequin I have The Next Best Thing by Kristan Higgins to give away to one lucky winner!! To enter? Simply post a comment with an email address/Twitter handle so I can contact you. US only. Giveaway ends August 21st at 11:59pm.

Lucy Lang isn't looking for fireworks…

She's looking for a nice, decent man. Someone who'll mow the lawn, flip chicken on the barbecue, teach their future children to play soccer. But most important: someone who won't inspire the slightest stirring in her heart…or anywhere else. A young widow, Lucy can't risk that kind of loss again. But sharing her life with a cat named Fat Mikey and the Black Widows at the family bakery isn't enough either. So it's goodbye to Ethan, her hot but entirely inappropriate "friend with privileges," and hello to a man she can marry.

Too bad Ethan Mirabelli isn't going anywhere. As far as he's concerned, what she needs might be right under her nose. But can he convince her that the next best thing can really be forever?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jamie's Top Ten (9 actually) Books Set At The Beach/Near The Sea

 For a list of past and future Top Ten Tuesday topics and to find out more about Top Ten Tuesday, click here!

This week's topic was Top Ten Books With X's up to you! What did I choose?


Guys I love books set at the beach or by the sea so I decided to make a list of the top ten that I've read! Please give me more suggestions in the comments!

The Books:

The Au-Pairs by Melissa De La Cruz (this is my sister's pick bc I was talking to her while I was working on this! I STILL need to read this series bc she's told me it's so fun multiple times!)

Tell me if you've read any of these/if you have any more suggestions for me!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Julia Reviews Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher

Title/Author: Ghost Planet by Sharon Lynn Fisher
Publisher/Year Published: 2012 by Tor Science FIction
How I got this book: I won it in a contest from Dear Author (and if I didn't win, the author offered to send me a free review copy)
Why I read this book: The concept that I read sounded interesting  It was brought to my attention because it was nominated for a Best First Book RITA award
Rating: 4 stars

Normally, this is where I would put the summary right? It's usually a nice way to start a review. But I don't like the summary that's on Goodreads because it spoils you for a fun little plot twist that takes place in the first chapter, and I think it would be more fun going in NOT knowing that plot twist so I am going to make my own summary up this time.

Summary by me:
Earth is a crumbling wasteland of extinction, destruction, diseases and sadness; science has been trying to find a way to fix that during which they discovered a new planet that they could use to host life and regenerate long lost species. The only problem is that once the first settlers started to colonize a dead loved one from their past appears in an alien form soon called 'ghosts' and can't leave very far from the human. The psychological ramifications of this lead to "fun" times... Elizabeth is a psychologist ready for a change in her life and signs up to take on this burden at a new job post on the planet. Secretly though she also wants to study the phenomenon of these ghosts to better understand why they are there and how they exists. When she gets there she finds herself stationed under Murphy and finds herself in the best position to study these ghost and to crack the code about them. This leads to a ton of shenanigans. 

Clearly that summary would never fly on the back of the book, but I like it. I get my own stamp of approval.

This book was a page turner. It kept me up well into the night to find out what happened next. It's a first person POV from Elizabeth which normally I don't really like but I didn't mind it here too much. Trying to figure out the rules of this new world along with Elizabeth was interesting. The first half of the book was nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately that amazing tapers off a bit and the science takes over a bit too much so that it falls into sketchy science territory, but it still kept pages turning.

The characterization was a little flat for me. Elizabeth was pretty good at everything and verges on a too perfect heroine for me, but I came across that only on retrospection not during the reading. Murphy, our hero, however starts off strong when we know little about him but slides into two-dimensional for me pretty quickly. Maybe that's due to the first person? The many secondary characters are interesting, but again a little one-sided. 

I can totally see why this was nominated for a best first book, and if you want to read some catch science fictionish romanceish space book with aliens, I recommend picking this up. I am not sure if it is the first in a series or not, but the ending does make it stand alone okay, though there are questions I really want to find out. I will most likely be checking out the subsequent books, whether in this series or not, by Ms. Fisher.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

In Which Lori Gushes over You've Got Mail

1998 is when this amazing movie came out that just completely changed my newly eleven-year-old life.  It touched me in a way that no movie had ever done before and really hasn't since.  Sure, I've got my favorite movies--Gone With the Wind, Roman Holiday, The Seven Year Itch, and some others that all fill me with a sense of wonder--but this one is special.  It combines some important elements of my life--books, meeting people online, having to be braver than I believe I am--and helps me know that I'm not alone...which is always important, especially when you are eleven years old.

I wrote a post on my own blog the other day about the role this movie played in my recent bid to finally finish reading Pride and Prejudice.  It's Kathleen Kelly's favorite book.  She and Joe Fox go through their own bit of re-enacting the story with their own moments of pride or prejudice getting in the way of their characters finally getting together.  And Kathleen just makes the book sound magical and enchanting, which is the two main adjectives that I feel best describe this movie as a whole.  (By the way, have you listened to the soundtrack?  I just bought it and can't stop playing it in the car or at work!)

The movie has some of the best quotes that really sum of my feelings about life in general and my life in particular...

More than any of the other quotes I am going to share with you, this one means the most to me.  I think I could write an entire blog post dedicated to my feelings on this quote and how much it applies to me.  Obviously, I don't see anything wrong with reading...but sometimes I worry that I miss out on some of the other things in life or that I spend too much time in books--even if it's just thinking so much about a book after I finish and walk away--and not enough time doing original things.  

Seriously, have you ever listened to people order at Starbucks?  Try it sometime!  The way people order their coffee has got to have some sort of psychological insight.  Why have studies not been done on this yet?  (Or if they have, please let me know)  

OK.  I've never been to New York, let alone New York in the fall, but this really sums up that feeling you get on the first day of school or when fall truly begins wherever you live (which happens to be late September, early October in Oklahoma).  My program is almost entirely online and yet I can't help the thrill of buying new school supplies every year before school starts.  The leaves are turning and then dying, and the world is preparing for its long slumber through winter, but there is a sense of hopeful anticipation.  Or I am just crazy.  Whatever.

I mean, forget about the acting--which is amazing--there are some of the most amazing quotes and truths about life and books and happiness in this movie.  It's about living a simple life and finding pleasure in the small things.  I just want to crawl inside the movie and live.

What about you?  What movies have changed your life so much?  What movies make you want to crawl inside them and live?

Friday, August 9, 2013

Kelly reviews "The White Princess" by Philippa Gregory + giveaway!

Title: The White Princess
Author: Philippa Gregory
Published: Touchstone, July 2013

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The White Princess is fifth in The Cousin's War series revolving around the Plantagenet family. I read this series in the completely wrong order: book one, two, five, four, and then three. This would usually drive me nuts but I'm pretty familiar with this time period so it all still made sense. The latest release revolves around Elizabeth of York, King Edward IV's oldest daughter. Historically, we know her most famously for being the mother of Henry VIII, yet there aren't really many books that center around her, so this was exciting to pick up. Philippa and I have had our struggles in the past, but I still keep coming back for more.

In the series, we've left off right after Richard III is killed and Henry VII takes the throne. Elizabeth knows she comes as part of the package in Henry's ruling of England, but of course she's not eager to marry the man who stole her family's throne and killed her uncle. Henry certainly isn't a pleasant man in the beginning (aka he's HORRIBLE; what an awful portrayal of a pretty decent guy in reality), especially in his treatment of Elizabeth, but they eventually grow into somewhat happy pair. With a childhood spent in hiding, most of her family members meeting tragic ends, an unwanted husband, a rocky time as Queen, and the loss of many of her children, Elizabeth had quite an interesting life, but we don't see much of it in this book. She's pretty clueless throughout the entire thing (she says "I don't know" at least 400 times and most of her dialogue is her simply repeating what was just said previously) and at times I felt her character was underdeveloped and that she was simply observing things around her rather than participating in them (boooringgg).

Now I think Philippa Gregory writes wonderful fiction full of action (okay, not so much in this one), intense characters, and vivid scenery and life, but I don't like how she pushes many of her speculations as historical fact and her tendencies to make things over-dramatic simply for the sake of a good book rather than historical accuracy (as if this period of time wasn't dramatic enough). For instance, there's a BIG plot in The White Princess that Elizabeth was her uncle Richard III's lover (NO NO NO NO). There is only one tiny shred of historical evidence pointing to this and it's awkward to push this so heavily in a book (it's also a big point in the television show based on the series as well). Gregory's focus on Elizabeth and her female ancestors being descendants of a water goddess and consequentially sorceresses, if that's the right word, themselves is cool to an extent but mostly made me want to face-palm the entire time. The constant 'prophecies' Elizabeth kept relaying felt a little over the top - ("our family line will end with a red-headed girl," yeah yeah yeah). Still, I've enjoyed this series so far for what it is - "historical entertainment" (heavily twisted and imagined fiction as well). This was a good addition, even with a little debate and eyebrow-raising moments along the way - just don't take anything too seriously.

Giveaway! I have a beautiful hardcover copy of The White Princess to give away to one of you! US residents only - simply leave a comment below by August 16th to be entered.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Cocktail & Conversation: Biggest Hobby Outside of Reading

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. 


What would you say your biggest hobby outside of blogging is?

Daisy says: 
I think my biggest hobby other than reading and blogging is cooking. I LOVE to cook! I love baking and trying new recipes for dinner and all of it! (I totally hate cleaning up after though...) For my birthday last year I made this tapas buffet and it was SO GOOD! It took forever, but was so worth it. Oh, and I guess I should mention shoe/pretty dress/bag shopping as well, since I do tend to do that A LOT. And I love it ;)


Kimberly says
: My biggest hobby outside of reading is theatre. Acting, directing, techie stuff. Right now I'm working as stage manager for the musical version of Anne of Green Gables. We're a week away from opening. It's been great! Stage managing encompasses a lot of different jobs, things you wouldn't even think of. It's crazy and exhausting, but I love it!  Our cast is pretty amazing, and our Anne is absolutely PERFECT. I'm excited to open next week and have an audience!

Kelly says:  My biggest hobby would most likely be music. If my nose is not in a book, my headphones are plugged in my ears (I find it difficult to do both at the same time unfortunately). I play the piano and half heartedly attempt the guitar (it HURTS!). Even though I play pretty badly, it's a rush. I still buy CDs and have a collection almost as big as my bookshelf. My iTunes collection is off the charts. When my favorite artists release a new album or I find new songs it's like Christmas. Music can create memories and experiences for me that are all my own, something I find that books can't really do."

What about you guys? What is your biggest hobby outside of reading? I would love to hear from anybody who has a really unique hobby!!
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