Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Books That Were Hard For Us To Read For Various Reasons

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

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

Bridget's Picks

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

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

Jamie's Picks

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

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

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

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

Julia's Picks

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My rating: 4 stars

Sunday, September 28, 2014

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

Daisy's Book Haul

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

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

Friday, September 26, 2014

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

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

Rating: 5 stars

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

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

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

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

Disclosure: I got this audiobook from my local library.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Julia on Outlander

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Top Ten Books On Our Fall TBR List!

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


Lori says:

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

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

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

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

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

Daisy says:

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

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

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

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

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

What's on your Fall TBR list??

Friday, September 19, 2014

Easing My Way into Contemporary Lit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any good contemporary literature that you want to recommend?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jamie Reviews Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Published: September 2014 - Penguin
How I Got This Book: BEA
Why I Read This Book: I knew it was related to The Bell Jar & Sylvia Plath's work which I LOVE.
Rating: 3 stars..maybe 3.5 stars.

Add it to your to-be-read-list! // Buy it! 

I talked more personally about this book on my blog, The Perpetual Page-Turner, and how The Bell Jar was important to me and about how this kind of took me back to a time in my life that was hard. So if you want to read THAT...go here! But I wanted to actually let you know more what I thought about it here!

What I Liked:

1. The plot -- it was super interesting! A girl whose boyfriend dies and she isn't handling it well at all gets sent to a special school with other kids who have some issues and needs therapy. She gets put into this mysterious English class that is super hard to get into and nobody even KNOWS how you get picked to be in it. They study the works of Sylvia Plath the whole semester and are given a journal they HAVE to write in. And what happens with the journal I'm not telling you! I was VERY much engaged and interested!

2. So quoteable: I can't tell you how many dog-ears I made with just really great lines or passages. The writing was pretty solid and it was very thought-provoking!

3. I thought I had this book's number but NOPE -- I thought I knew the trajectory of the story pretty much and let me tell you...it took me for a bit of a ride. I didn't see something coming and how it was revealed and built-up to was SMART.

4. Some of the characters and their stories were intriguing!  I really liked our main character and some of the friends she made. I LOVED how their group came together and supported each other. I wish we would have seen a LITTLE more of the teacher because she intrigued me a whole lot.

What I Didn't Like:

1. The pacing wasn't consistent -- there were times I was racing to read this and there were other times it just was DRAGGING and DRAGGING. Too much in some places, not enough in others.

2. Way too "this is the message/lesson" -- This was a really thought-provoking novel! However, it felt almost as the author didn't quite trust the reader to glean some of the important things out of it. At the end it was super THIS IS THE MESSAGE and I felt like it was dumping it all out there to make sure I got it. Which I did.

3. Sometimes I felt we were being TOLD stuff rather than shown --  There were certain areas where I think I was supposed to feel more but instead I felt like it was just being told to me and I was like okay so this is happening. Like instead of FEELING changed attitudes and hearts..I was just told that there were changes.

Overall, Belzhar was enjoyable and engaging. It wasn't always consistent but at its highs it was GREAT. It felt unique and I loved how thought-provoking it was. In certain ways I think this could have been better but I did like it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ten Authors We've Only Read One Book From & NEED To Read More!

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


Jamie says:

 1. Leila Sales -- I LOVED This Song Will Save Your Life and have yet to read her backlist which FOR SHAME, self!

2. Nina LaCour -- I read Everything Leads To You this year and I SERIOUSLY need to check out her other books!!

Jana says:

3.  Kiera Cass -- I enjoyed The Selection quite a bit, and now I need to get myself to read the others in the series!

4. Maria V. Snyder -- I loved Poison Study, but never finished the series or read any of her others! I've heard such great things about them, so I really need to get on that.

Lori says:

5.  F. Scott Fitzgerald -- The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels.  I own most of his other stuff and have even started reading a couple, but just haven't finished any.

6.  Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- Technically I've read two novel by him, but he had such a large list of novels, novellas, and stories to his name that I need to read more.

Daisy says:

7. Guy Gavriel Kay -- I LOVED Tigana, it was epic and beautiful and I really need to read more by Guy Gavriel Kay to see if it's just as awesome.

8. Jessi Kirby -- Golden was such an unexpected love for me and I can't wait to see what else she can do!

9. Tahereh Mafi -- I can't believe I've only read Shatter Me! I do own the other two books in the series, so I'll be sure to remedy this!

10. Veronica Rossi -- Same goes for Veronica Rossi, I ADORED Under the Never Sky and PERRY! And I can't believe I haven't read the other books in the series!

If you've read any of these authors let us know what books we should read next of theirs!!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Daisy's Mini-Review of Hexed by Michelle Krys

Title/Author: Hexed (The Witch Hunter #1) by Michelle Krys
Publisher/Date published: Delacorte Press, June 10th 2014
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley

Goodreads summary: If high school is all about social status, Indigo Blackwood has it made. Sure, her quirky mom owns an occult shop, and a nerd just won’t stop trying to be her friend, but Indie is a popular cheerleader with a football-star boyfriend and a social circle powerful enough to ruin everyone at school. Who wouldn’t want to be her?

Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.

Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.

So, to be honest, I kinda had to skim through the book again before writing this review, because it's been about 3 months since I read it and aside from knowing that I was kinda bored by it, I was drawing a bit of a blank. Which is not a good sign on itself.
Which is why this review will be short and maybe not really sweet, but oh well.

Basically, I really didn't connect to Indigo, she's shallow and kind of a pushover and just not my kind of girl at all. Also, she has this weird frenemy thing going on with her 'best friend' Bianca, who is most definitely not a nice girl. Indigo seemed more interested in climbing the social ladder and her date than anything and it was a bit annoying. And ugh, here boyfriend is a douche and the new love interest isn't much better, he's got this snobby doucheness going on that really rubbed me the wrong way. I mean, this is what he says to her:
“Just don’t do that anymore,” he says, gesturing to my tear-tracked face. “It’s terribly unattractive, and I do hate to be seen with unattractive girls. Bad for the reputation, you know?"

Just ugh.

It was pretty fast-paced and a lot seemed to happen, but for a book about witches, there's not a lot of witchcraft going on and I like my witchcraft in your face over the top there, but that's just a personal preference. The main problem I had with Hexed is that I wasn't invested in the story, I didn't really care about what happened to Indigo and the only character I liked was Paige, cause she seemed to be the only one who possessed a bit of common sense. I was hoping for it to get better, but I was just a bit bored and it didn't get past the 'meh' point for me.

My rating: 2 stars

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 8/31 - 9/13

Daisy's Book Haul

Because I have to get up today at (what feels like) the crack of dawn to leave for my mom's to celebrate her birthday, I'm leaving you with this picture and am failing to include the links and all my feels because I just don't have the time. (Well, except for a shout out to Heir of Fire because I LOVED IT!!! SO MANY FEELINGS! Review has gone up on my personal blog already) (It's more fangirling than a review to be honest)

This book haul was brought to you by my wallet and Debby who is a good friend and handed me Mortal Danger after she read it herself :)

Hope you're all having a great weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How September 11th affected books

I was in the middle of another review when I realized what day this review would be posted on. September 11th. Anywhere you go there are reminders. Online. Newspapers. Fliers in the mail. That got me thinking, what else has been affected? I sat looking at my book shelves for a while, then I realized how much even books have changed. The first example that came to mind was one of my favorite book series, “So You Want To Be A Wizard”. The series recently was updated and republished. (The first book was published over 20 years ago, but only a few years pass from the first book to the most recent). In the original version the main character is on a train in NYC and makes a comment about the World Trade Center, and how many people are in the building and in Manhattan itself. In the new version she instead comments on the hole in the New York skyline.

Other books that have been published since that take place in NYC take more time to mention Ground Zero. Depending on when it was written it'll talk about the clean up, others talk about the construction of the new World Trade Center.

Of course the other change is that of the reader. It's always something of a shock when you come across a book that casually mentions the twin towers, you remember again what is missing.

What about you? Have you noticed changes in books you've read? Tell me about it in the comments!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Julia Reviews Evernight by Kristen Callihan

Title/Author: Evernight by Kristen Callihan
Publisher/Year Published: August 2014 by Forever
How I got this book: I was provided with a Netgalley book in return for an honest review
Why I read this book: I really love this series. 
Rating: 5 stars

The Darkest London series is one of my favorite series out there. It’s got everything: steampunk, romance, paranormal, an overarching plot, and characters that practically leap off the page and into my imagination. The latest book in this series, Evernight, is no exception.

Evernight picks up a year after the events of Shadowdance. Our lead characters, Holly Evernight and William Thorne, both had things happen to them in Shadowdance that effect their actions in the book greatly. So that said, I wouldn’t recommend jumping into this series with this book. And since I love this series so much and want people to read it without being spoiled, I am going to be vague about the particulars. So let's just take a peek at the characters.

First we have Holly, the intelligent inventor working with the supernatural agency in London. She creates some wickedly awesome inventions. We've seen her pop up in the series before, notably in the last book where she was forced to use her mechanical brain for evil. That whole ordeal has affected her and it carries over into this book in what I think is a realistic portal of how someone could react to traumatic events. She is very literal and speaks her mind without a second thought, a good a bad thing. She meets up with William Thorne when he tries to kill her.

Thorne is a demon known for their savoring of lust and life (and blood). He is the complete opposite of Holly: very devil-may-care, sarcastic and has worked for the enemy. They are stuck together because his heart is metal and causing an adverse reaction with the rest of his body. Holly can control metal and thus can help him keep things under control. She reluctantly pairs up with him so he can help figure out who is trying to kill her. It's a mutual trade that turns into something more.

They mix just as well as oil and water, and it is entirely believable and awesome. I love opposites attract stories. The plot is super interesting and expands on the story that is currently unfolding with this series. But like I said I don’t want to talk too much about that. Take it from me. If you are reading this series, the story just sucks you in and picks you up right where you left off with it.

One thing that I think Ms. Callihan does well is keeping her characters consistent. Frequently in series that I read, secondary characters become the heroes in their own stories. I've seen it happen so many times where a lovable secondary character that you are super excited is getting their own book, completely changes characterization when becoming the hero or heroine. It annoys the hell out of me. This series does not do this at all. Everything is consistent and I love it! The character's are still the ones you know and love (or hate) but you just get to see more of them and more of why they are the way they are. You don't backtrack on their characterization either. Things build. In my mind, this is what marks this as a great series. The characters just blossom in my mind.

One downside though is keeping track of the overall plot across books as well as of the supernaturals, their powers, who runs them, etc. It gets a little frustrating at times when I can’t remember something that I know I've read somewhere. It’d be nice if there was an online reference or something to just boost my memory.

Overall though, I really like this series, and Evernight is a wonderful continuation. It doesn't stand alone though so I would recommend starting at the beginning instead (or maybe at least reading Winterblaze and Shadowdance). The characters are wonderful, their chemistry is amazing and hot, and it’s a book that is easy to lose yourself in.

I've reviewed this whole series: Firelight, Moonglow, Winterblaze, and Shadowdance

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Top Ten Underrated Contemporary YA Books

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

I (Jamie) consider myself to be pretty decently well read in the contemporary YA genre and I wanted to talk about some books that I think are SUPER underrated in the genre!

1. If I Lie by Corrine Jackson: OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK. Slim little thing but I SOBBED my eyes out. I raved about it like crazy after I finished because WHY HAVE MORE PEOPLE NOT READ IT?!

2. Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian: This is a book I want every teenage girl to read -- it discusses sexuality and slut-shaming and I just really saw a lot of my high school experience in this book in terms of trying to reconcile "what kind of girl I am" and what that REALLY means.

3. Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert: This book is SO under the radar! Very gritty and raw! Set near Chicago, a girl who left her hometown and never came back is actually back and she has to confront the memories of her teen years which were filled with rock music and drugs.

4. I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg-Sloan: This book was beautiful and heartbreaking and so, so cinematic. It makes me sad it isn't more well known!

5. What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton: This book tells the story about a girl and the aftermath of a rape. Resilience and emotion just pour out of these pages!

6. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: This one is super popular in the book blogging world but I am so surprised that it's not more popular outside of this space!! Good beach read with emotional depth.

7. How To Say Goodbye In Robot by Natalie Standiford: GOD I LOVE THIS BOOK SO MUCH. It's quirky and definitely different but OH MY LORD MY EMOTIONS.

8. When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney: I feel like this book got lost in the shuffle or something. Daisy Whitney really wrote a beautiful book here!

9. Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez: I was drawn to this book because of the cover to be honest but it ended up being an AWESOME book that didn't get nearly enough attention when it was published!

10. Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian: That title caught your attention yeah? It did mine plus some rave reviews. I really liked this book -- very character driven and very, very underrated!

What are some underrated books in the contemporary YA genre that you think I would like?? Have you read any of these?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tahleen reviews: "The Queen of the Tearling" by Erika Johansen, narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Publisher: HarperCollins Audio and Blackstone Audio, 2014 (print available from Harper)
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren

Rating: 4.5 stars

Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, the 19-year-old heir to the Tearling throne, has been in hiding since she was one year old. Raised by an older couple with the knowledge that she would one day rule her kingdom, the time has come for her to return to the castle and take her place as queen. Though, of course, this will not be an easy task. Many want her dead, including her uncle the regent; Arlen Thorne, a man with many tricks up his sleeve; and the dreaded Red Queen of Mortmesne, who kills and orders death easily and without qualm, and has brought terror across the kingdoms. With her devoted Queen's Guard led by Lazarus by her side, Kelsea must survive long enough to lift the Tearling from the brink of ruin.

First, let me say that I was not expecting this book to be so excellent. Kelsea is a formidable heroine, and though young and a bit naive in politics, she has a remarkable mind and is a born leader. The intrigue, action, and politics that make up the plot are all very well paced, and the shifting of perspective (all in third person, each perspective giving us insight into one of a handful of characters' thoughts) allows the readers to see what is happening around the kingdom and gives insight into what we might expect Kelsea to encounter.

I think what surprised me most was Johansen's world itself. I was fascinated. The book starts out sounding like a typical high fantasy set in a medieval world, but as the story progresses, there are more and more clues as to what this world truly is. Not a fantasy, but a science fiction novel. A dystopia. Something has happened called the Crossing, and once the old world crossed over to this new world, everything collapsed. Hints of the world as we know it pop up now and then, and I kept trying to glean more and more information. Johansen is not forthcoming with the history of how the Tearling, Mortmesne, and the other surrounding countries came to be. I am very much looking forward to the next installment so I can get some of this information!

(As a quick note, this is not a teen novel—there are some very disturbing scenes, and a lot of sexual situations. That's not to say a mature teen couldn't handle it, but I wanted to make that distinction as I normally review teen lit.)

I listened to The Queen of the Tearling on audio, and Katherine Kellgren is, as always, a master of her craft. If you've never listened to her before, trust me, she is one of, if not the, best.

I am eager to hear about the movie that is supposedly going to be made, especially casting. It seems like it might be a book that lends itself to a movie version; I hope the producers do it justice.

Disclosure: I got this audiobook from my local library.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

What I've Been Reading Lately

I read for a variety of reasons.  Occasionally, one of those reasons is "to be anywhere but here."  Usually that "here" is some event that I do not want to be at.  Lately, that "here" has been sitting with a beloved, ailing relative.  (I want to be there for my family, of course, but I am sure everyone would agree that it is not a desirable situation to be in)

My normal impulse with reading is to pick up a nice, chunky novel.  I love to disappear into a new world and learn about new things, experience new things, and get new perspectives on life.  I love immersing myself and not coming up to breathe for hours.  Unfortunately this type of reading is not conducive to sitting in a medical facility of one type or another.  So I have to be able to dive in and come up for air pretty regularly.

It took me a disappointing amount of time to realize this.  Several weeks I spent not reading.  I would stare wistfully at the lovely novel in my bag, wishing for a spare hour, even, to dive in.  Alas, no!

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I discovered the trick.  Essays are good.  I was very surprised at how quickly I was able to read An Everlasting Meal.  Novellas are also good--all the taste, half the calories--I was able to devour a re-reading of Breakfast at Tiffany's.  Non-fiction seems promising, though I haven't tested this theory.

Here are a few of the books I've been reading:

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett  I love this collection!  At least, what I've read of it.  Patchett's collection includes a variety of topics--writing, houses, pets, and others.  This collection of essays makes me want to try out Patchett's novels.  I've bought a couple, but I haven't had time to dive in yet.  I totally love her essay on her writing career, which covers how she got started, how she made ends meet, and how she finally got her big break.  It was very inspiring and eye-opening.  I need to go back and do a closer reading of it so I can learn and make my own path.

The Most of Nora Ephron by Nora Ephron  I've only read part of this one.  This is a wonderful collection of Ephron's writing--pieces on journalism, feminism, portraits of celebrities, a screenplay, and one of her novels.  Her pieces on journalism are absolutely fantastic.  She lived such a wonderful life.  She saw a lot of interesting things and wrote some fascinating pieces.  I am really excited to read the wide variety of pieces, including the novel--though I probably won't read that terribly soon.  It is a really large volume that won't fit into all of my purses, so I can't always bring this one with me.

The Break of Day by Colette  I haven't started reading this one yet.  It's in my purse to start today.  Apparently, this book is very lyrical.  More vignettes and thoughts, though the volume is classified as a novel.  But I am really excited to see what it holds.  Colette is one of those writers whom I know I will love once I really get into their work.  She was truly revolutionary for her time.

I may try some short stories the next time I run home.  I am not typically good with short stories, but maybe the right collection will do the trick.  I'm thinking the short stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  (Or maybe his collection of novellas)

I'm also going to take the plunge and try a biography.  Those have the magic quality of being easy to get into and out of because you don't have to remember a plot or characters.  But of course you have to find the right subject.  An online acquaintance and I recently discussed reading Secrets of the Flesh, a biography of Colette, in the near future.  I am looking forward to it!

What do you read when you are short on time?  I'd love some suggestions!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Top Ten Characters Who Would Have Sat At Jamie's Lunch Table In High School

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

A while ago on my blog I introduced you to YA Jamie -- in all of her awkward glory! One of the things we talked about was my high school social status so to speak. I was the girl who was kind of friends with everyone. I didn't really have a GROUP and I kind of just talked to mostly everyone. Honestly most of my closest friends weren't in my class at school. I was kind of a little more quiet in general but still pretty friendly and would talk your ear off when I felt comfortable around you. Despite kind of being friends with a lot of different people, I definitely had one group I sat with at lunch. It was a group of girls and guys who were a lot like me (it's kind of funny because outside of school all my best friends were guys and in college it was pretty much ALL guys I was friends with..but DURING school I really did try to fit in with the girls). They were kind of friends with a lot of people. They weren't identified as "the popular ones" but were often times friends with that group. Some of them were quiet and some of them were outgoing and we were just a good mix of different personalities and interests.

I always talk about the guys in YA that I love so I'm just going to focus on the ladies who would have totally fit in at my lunch table!

1. Anna from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: She is funny and friendly and just a really down-to-earth girl! Every time I read this book I'm more convinced we would have been best friends!

2. Amy from Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson: There's just something about Amy as the novel progressed that have always made me really feel like I KNOW her. She would have definitely fit in at my lunch table from what I can tell!

4. Allyson from Just One Day by Gayle Forman: I think Allyson was me. I'm not sure. Just something about her just makes me know we would have gravitated to the same lunch table.

5. Parker from Golden by Jessi Kirby: Our table didn't include the valedictorian but we definitely had a good mix of smart ladies at the table. The Parker that comes out in the novel is the Parker who would have sat at my lunch table. She had that spark in her but she was always too afraid to take risks. Especially looking back now, I see a lot of those girls who I was friends with were holding back in high school. Not taking risks to be who they were. I WAS THAT GIRL. Sometimes I still AM that girl.

6. Cricket from Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: Well, I played lacrosse in high school (wasn't that good) and a few of the lacrosse girls did sit at my table so she would have probably fit right in!

7. Frankie from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: I think my table would have totally been down with her stick it to the man attitude and, with a little persuading, would have pulled off an epic prank with her.

8. Audrey from Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway: Audrey and I, man. We would have had good times. Watching the way she dealt with becoming the object of a popular song made me know we would have good friends. Plus we kind of cursed like sailors so she'd fit right in.

9. Natalie from Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian: I think a lot of the girls at my lunch table could have identified with Natalie from what I remember of our talks about sex and such. We all pretty "good reputations" and we kind of judged "those girls." But, like Natalie, I think we were all trying to figure out the sexuality thing. I remember some of the girls were starting to casually have sex and the rest of us were all wide-eyed like WHAT NOT READY I DON'T THINK.

10. Jessica Darling from The Jessica Darling series: I would have MADE her sit at my lunch table, okay. I don't care if she didn't fit in or WANT to sit with me...in my dream land she WOULD.

So tell me...which characters would have sat at YOUR lunch table?

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