Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Best Books We've Read So Far in 2017

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

Before we get to the topic at hand -- Jamie here with a little admin note. I know many people have noticed that the Top Ten Tuesday schedule hasn't been updated. As a group we've decided that Top Ten Tuesday is going to take a little break until August 15th.  I'm officially on baby watch (my due date is July 11) and Kimberly is right behind me so in July we will have 3 itty bitty Broke and Bookish babies that will have been born in the past few months (you might remember Daisy had her baby recently!) and the other ladies have a lot going on that would make it hard without all of us to contribute (plus I'm typically the one who makes sure TTT happens behind the scenes as well). So feel free to make your own lists while we take a break but there won't be any official Top Ten Tuesday's happening here. I'm on maternity leave as of Friday so I will be getting some topics ready for our return in August and hope to have them up soon so you have them well ahead of our return!

Jamie's Picks

1. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord: Emery is one of my all time favorite authors and her latest just really really hit me on a personal level and was just all around amazing.

2. Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han: I haven't read a series ending that made me as happy as this one! READ THIS SERIES IF YOU HAVEN'T.

3. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli: Oh man, I knew Becky would deliver with her sophomore novel. I absolutely loved this book!

4. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne: This romance was EXACTLY what I needed!

5.  Windwitch by Sysan Dennard:  An amazing sequel to a series that I am just so ridiculously excited to continue on with!

Lori's Picks

6.  The Green Mile by Stephen King:  I just finished this weekend.  I know I am late to the party on this one, but I LOVED IT!

7.  The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan:  This was such a lovely collection of short stories and essays by a gal who tragically died 5 days after her college graduation. I would have loved to see what else she would have produced.

8.  Sex Object by Jessica Valenti:  Valenti wrote a very raw and vivid account of all of the ways sexism has shaped her life.  It was very eye-opening and made me angry and ggggrrrrrr!

9.  Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple:  From the author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette? Who hasn't vowed to be better and different starting today?  And who hasn't had those very plans burn around them?  This is a great book about that very occurrence.

10.  South and West by Joan Didion:  FINALLY! Something new by Didion!  I loved reading her notebooks about a trip she took throughout the South with her husband and the trip she took through California.  This volume is full of keen insights, which still (unfortunately, in some cases) ring true today.

Tell us the best books you read so far this year!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Nora Ephron

Today marks five years since Nora Ephron passed away.  She was such an amazing writer that I wanted to share some thoughts on her.  She wrote a bit of everything during her long and successful career.  She began as a journalist.  She moved into film, giving the world When Harry Met Sally and You've Got Mail.  She turned the breakup of her second marriage to Bernstein into a humorous novel, Heartburn, which was also turned into a movie.  She wrote about food.  She became an essayist and blogger.  Literally, she did it all.  But I don't want this to be a type of obituary.  The New York Times already wrote one.  Rather, I want to talk about what all she's meant to me.

Without really realizing it, I first encountered Nora Ephron when I watched You've Got Mail at age 11.  Four years ago (has it really been that long? Apparently!), I wrote a post gushing over that film.  In so many ways, it's the book lover's dream of the romantic ideal.  At least, it was this book lover's epitome of the romantic ideal for so long.  I loved the way Nora used language throughout the plot.  Little did I know that this film was a remake, with an original starring James Stewart and a musical starring Judy Garland.  But it felt so original and was an excellent commentary on the burgeoning world of email.  How many friends do I have now that I first encountered online?  Too many to count.  I've met a few of them in person.  But that doesn't matter.  It's really all about the power of technology to bring people together.

Shortly after she passed, The Most of Nora Ephron came out.  This volume puts together a sampling of all of her writing, including the screenplay to When Harry Met Sally and the entirety of her novel.  I pre-ordered the book.  And like most books that I buy, it sat on my shelves for quite some time.

No matter.

The proper time to read the book appeared about ten months later.  At that time, my full-time job was sitting in my beloved papa's hospital room.  Unfortunately, the months of him being in one facility or another had taken their toll and he was no longer the best of conversationalists.  There was little else for me to do but read most of the time.  But my reading had to come in spurts because there were always so many interruptions.  So I picked up this and took it with me.  It was perfect.  There were so many short pieces, but there were also longer pieces for the evenings when I did have longer stretches to read.  And she wrote with such humor and honesty that I didn't feel overly sappy and sad.  (I've compared this period in my life to Faulkner's novel As I Lay Dying because of the tragicomedy that ensued)  I was reading this book when I learned about the deaths of Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall and just didn't understand.

Bottom line, she helped get me through that time.  She helped me be able to see the genuine humor in the little moments.  She helped me see the humor in the tragic moments.  She gave me a wonderful book to read.  She gave me something to aspire to.  She gave me a lot to think about.

This summer I picked up that volume again and read almost everything in it over the course of about four days.  I was again reminded of the wit and wisdom in her writing.  It inspired me to think about my own writing.  And it again inspired me to look for the humor, even in the humorless moments.  It's there.

I want to leave you with two very powerful pieces from the book, which were originally included in her 2011 book of essays, I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections.  These two close out her collected volume and they've always stuck with me in their smallness and bigness:

What I Won't Miss 
Dry skin
Bad dinners like the one we went to last night
Technology in general
My closet
Washing my hair
Illness everywhere
Polls that show that 32 percent of the American people believe in creationism
Fox TV
The collapse of the dollar
Joe Lieberman
Clarence Thomas
Bar mitzvahs
Dead flowers
The sound of the vacuum cleaner
E-mail. I now I already said it, but I want to emphasize it.
Small print
Panels on Women in Film
Taking off makeup every night

What I Will Miss
My kids
The concept of waffles
A walk in the park
The park
Shakespeare in the Park
The bed
Reading in bed
The view out the window
Twinkle lights
Dinner at home just the two of us
Dinner with friends
Dinner with friends in cities where none of us lives
Next year in Istanbul
Pride and Prejudice
The Christmas tree
Thanksgiving dinner
One for the table
The dogwood
Taking a bath
Coming over the bridge to Manhattan

Thanks, Ms. Ephron.  You are missed.

Friday, June 23, 2017

How My Reading Habits Have Changed

My reading habits have changed a lot over the years.  This post reflects on some of those changes...

Initially I was all about the classics.  If it wasn't a classic, I really kind of turned up my nose.  Then somewhere along the time of the great reading slump that lasted for the better part of a few years, where for every one book I read, I had started and discarded twenty (maybe an exaggeration, maybe not), I started branching out.  I've read so many wonderful contemporary books!  YA, sci-fy/fantasy...those still aren't my thing.  And that's OK.  But I'm not as wholly opposed to them as I once was.  If I started a good book and it happened to be YA, as long as it stayed good, I'd read it.  No need to be a snob.

Further, I've stopped stressing about the slumps.  I'm crazy-assed busy!  I do not always have time to read.  I still carry a book with me (almost) everywhere I go (mostly in case of a hostage situation), but if I don't have time to read for a few days, I usually wind up switching books because my interest has kind of petered out.  If I hit a string of books that I'm just not feeling, I don't bemoan my fate or wonder whether my reading days are over.  I just keep trying.  Eventually, I'll find something that grabs me and keeps me.

I stopped reviewing books.  I just didn't see the point in it.  Books were either classics that had been talked about to death (or no one but me was interested in) or new and already super hyped, so my saying anything--especially in the book community--wasn't going to sway anybody.  I'll definitely post a pic with my current read on Instagram, maybe even including a sentence about my current perception of the book.

I also talk about books differently.  My boyfriend is not a reader, so I'll tell him a snippet about what's driving me crazy about the book or what I'm liking.  Then, based on his follow-up questions, I go into way too much detail explaining the plot, complete with ALL THE BACKSTORY!  Then I think he regrets asking any questions about the book.  But I move on, he moves on.

My best friend will get the books I like or am feeling conflicted about thrust at her with a sentence--usually "Hey, read this; it's really effed up, but I kind of like it."  She'll read it and send me a text saying, "WTF, Lori!  This book is really effed up! But I kinda like it."  To which I respond, "I know, right?! That's why I'm making you read it."

As I've gravitated toward contemporary fiction, it's less often that I'll tell my dad to read something because there are fewer books that I think he'd be interested in reading.  But, interestingly, I'm more apt to tell my grandma to read things.  Books that include homosexual characters (The Nest) and the c-word! (Atonement)  She reads these books without much comment ("I liked it" or "That was hard to read") and returns them to me.

Like I said, nowadays I don't review books.  I don't even track them on Goodreads or in a notebook.  No, I sign my name and write the date I finished it on the inside cover.  Then I put the book in a cardboard box in the hall closet to make room for more books.  Some, however, like my Joan Didions, return to their shelves because I can't quite quit Joan...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cocktail & Conversation

Pour yourself a drink and pull up a seat!  This week's question for the Broke and Bookish Ladies is:

Water park or amusement park? Why?

Bridget says:  Amusement park! I hate being all wet and squishy walking around the park. Plus I always just feel slimy with all that gross water, and awkward walking around in a bathing suit all day. Gimme a roller coaster over a water slide any day!

Jana says:  Amusement park! I'm with Bridget, I hate being wet all day and walking around in a swimsuit. I also fry and end up looking like a lobster after 30 minutes. I love roller coasters and other rides, though, and I've spent many summer days hanging out at various amusement parks. So many memories!

Lauren says:  I choose... both! For now I'd rather go to an amusement park because I am on my weight loss journey and I don't quite feel comfortable wearing swimwear yet. Plus I LOVE roller coasters!

Julia says:  I enjoy both water parks and amusement parks, but I usually go to amusement parks over water parks if I am looking for a vacation or a break. In fact I am heading out to one today to ride all of the roller coasters! Let's hope for good weather.

Lori says:  WATER PARKS!!!!!  I love chillin' in the lazy river (although kids have NO CHILL and constantly bump into my tube), but I also love riding the water rides.  I like being able to be outside, getting some sun, and staying cool at the same time.  Where's my fruity umbrella drink?  :)

Kimberly says:  I really like both, but I feel like I get bored with water parks faster. It could be because the only actual water park I've been to is Lagoon here in Utah. It's fun, but once you've done a few of the slides you've done it all. But I do love amusement parks! It's something I've missed this summer being pregnant, I could go walk around but I'd have to skip all the rides and who wants to do that?

Your turn!  Water park or amusement park?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't

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

Lori's Pick

1. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman:  This kind of book normally isn't my thing, but I've heard such wonderful things about the third book! I feel weird just reading the last book of the series, so I'll have to push through the first two. Haha.

Jana's Picks

2. The Fire and Thorns Trilogy by Rae Carson
3. Lucky Harbor Series by Jill Shalvis

I don't really have anything to say about them except that people love them and I think they sound awesome!

Kimberly's Picks

4. The Shopaholic Series by Sophie Kinsella: I've heard so many good things, and I love Sophie Kinsella. I think I even own the first book. I just haven't started it yet.

5. Anything Terry Pratchett: I feel terrible that I haven't read any of his stuff! My husband isn't the bookworm that I am, and even he has read Pratchett!!

6. The Program by Suzanne Young: I've actually read the first book, but haven't continued on to the rest. I liked it! I just haven't picked up the others yet.

Jamie's Picks

7. The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater: Every since I started blogging in 2010 I have meant to read this series (I even own them) but still have not even read the first book! OOPS.

8. Shades of Magic series by Victoria Schwab: I hear amaaaazing things about this series and own the first two books but haven't gotten to them yet. STORY OF MY LIFE.

9. Heir Chronicles AND Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima: A friend gave me the whole Heir Chronicles series and I keep meaning to reading but ALSO everyone who is a fan of this author says the Seven Realms series is their FAVE so I keep meaning to grab that from the library.

10. The Selection series by Kiera Cass: Everyone I know talks about how this series is the ultimate book crack that you can just binge right through. I think I'm defintitely going to binge this while I'm out on maternity leave.

What series have you been meaning to start? Have you read any of the ones we haven't started? 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Best & Worst Dads We've Come Across In Literature

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

We are talking dads in literature -- the good and the bad!

 Jamie's picks: 

I honestly picked books I've read recently....not an OF ALL TIME sort of thing because I wanted to talk about books I read recently.

1. BEST: Lara Jean's dad in Jenny Han's To All The Boys I've Loved Before series: Oh man how I love Lara Jean's dad. LJ's dad is so wonderful and I love how he tries to uphold all the Korean traditions of their mother after she passes away. He's just seriously the best and such a caring dad.

2. BEST: Lucy's dad in The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord: Lucy's dad really reminded me of my stepfather in how he took care of my mom when she was sick. He's such a great dad to Lucy and I really enjoyed both of her parents.

3. BEST: Starr's dad in The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: OH MY GOD I LOVE HER DAD SO MUCH. Her mom too. I honestly would just read a book about her mom and dad because they are just so great.

4. BEST: Kate's dad in My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella: Kate's dad...oh I just loved him. He made me laugh sometimes with the whole glamping business thing and how grumpy the city made him (honestly kind of reminded me of my dad in some ways). He was such a caring dad and wanted his daughter to succeed but, like all dads, doesn't always show it in the most perfect of perfect ways. Loved their relationship.

5. WORST: Savannah's dad in All in Pieces by Suzanne Young: Her dad was seriously terrible. I wanted to kick him so many times. STOP BEING SO SHITTY.

6. WORST: Both Dill and Travis's dads in The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner: Two best friends with two awful dads. HAAAAAAATRED RUNS THROUGH MY VEINS WHEN I THINK ABOUT THEIR DADS.

Bridget's Pick

7. BEST: Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice: He knows it's BS that Elizabeth is being pressured to marry Mr. Collins and defends her against her crazy mother. Seems like a chill dude who I'd like to have in my life!

Who are your picks??

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Cocktail and Conversation with the Broke and Bookish Ladies

It's been a while since we've done a Q&A post, so we decided to give it a shot.  This week's question is:

What do you miss most about being a kid during summer break?

Kimberly says:  I miss summer days with my Grandpa. I spent a lot of time with him as a kid. I remember very distinctly the smell and feel of mornings at his house. (Freshly brewed coffee. ) We'd go on adventures and do crafts. It was paradise for a kid!

Jana says:  I miss how valuable and precious summer used to be to me as a kid. School was out, and I had a few months of freedom. The sky wasn't even my limit, and I loved living every summer day like it was a gift I was given. :)

Jamie says:  I miss endless pool days with my sister, eating ice pops all day long, bare feet, the ice cream truck coming around after dinner....I just really miss not having any structure. My sister and I had so much fun during summer break -- from playing games we made up when we were little to sunning ourselves and reading by the pool when we got a bit older.

Lori says:  I miss how the summer just seemed endless.  Each day seemed like an opportunity for something huge and exciting to happen.  I also miss the summer reading program at the library.  (Why don't they have those for adults?!)  I miss going to the pool all day and not having to worry about the tab I was running up at the snack shack.  Basically, I miss the freedom to just do.

Bridget says:  I miss not hating the heat! I used to live for summer, like a lot of kids, but now I hate it. This could be due to the fact that I live far more south than I did when I was growing up (grew up in New York, currently live in North Carolina) and the heat here is just unbearable. I truly miss looking forward to summer rather than dreading it! Give me crisp fall weather any day and gtfo with your heat and humidity!

Daisy says:  I miss having the whole summer off and just getting to spend it having fun and being lazy! No responsibilities and not having to figure out what to have for dinner or actually make said dinner. All those endless days in the sun, swimming and reading piles of books were amazing!

Lauren says:  I miss hanging out with my grandparents and following them around all day. I miss running through the sunflowers that were taller than me, chasing butterflies, picking up baby birds that have fallen out of their nest and putting them back. Out of all of the memories I can sweep up, I miss sitting on the swing with my grandma. We'd talk about anything and everything, or we'd just swing and enjoy the country life. Oh... and I miss running around barefoot. :)

Julia says:  Reading all your answers. I agree with with them all. I'm so nostalgic for summer!

There you have it...What do you miss about being a kid during the summer?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Jana's Request for Romantic Suspense Recommendations

Hi all! I went on a cruise to Mexico a few weeks ago and read Till Death by Jennifer Armentrout. LOVED IT. It was amazing, and my new favorite romantic suspense novel. I got quite a hankering for more, but I'm coming up empty. I tried a Barbara Freethy one afterwards, and DNF'd it because it was so bad. I am so unfamiliar with this genre and I've only read a handful of romantic suspense novels, even though they always end up being my favorite kind of books.

So I thought I'd take this to all of you, our ever faithful readers. I'm in desperate need of some good romantic suspense. I really only have two wishes for these recommendations:

1. No paranormal stuff. I just don't like it. lol. And this seems to be hard because all the RS novels I'm finding have paranormal elements to them.
2. No erotica. (Some sex is fine, but it needs to take a back seat to the story.)
3. (Wait, I lied.) I'm not a fan of gangs and drugs in books.

Other than that, I'm pretty open and I'm not kidding when I say that I probably have not read anything you're going to recommend to me because I'm such a newbie to this genre. So throw a TON of them at me. I will take all you have to offer! I was gifted Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard after getting recommendations from some friends on Twitter, so that's happening. I've heard it's super popular.

Anyway, help a girl out!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Ten Contemporary Books We've Added To Our TBRs Lately

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

Jamie's Picks

1. Stay With Me by : A story of a marriage that is set in Nigeria.

2. Calling My Name by Liara Tamani: This sounds like a beautiful coming of age story!

3. You Bring The Distant Near by Mitali Perkins: Tells the story of an Indian-American immigrant family. It sounds soooo good.

Lori's Picks

4.  The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid:  This is my Book of the Month Club pick for June.  An aging Hollywood star hires a reporter to tell her life story.  Super juicy, from what I hear!

5.  Marlena by Julie Buntin:  This is the story of two teenagers who become friends and one of them goes off the rails and dies.  The other is still haunted by their friendship decades later.

6.  The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo:  A guy and a girl meet while in college and fall for each other, but life kind of keeps them apart.  It's been compared to Love Story for the new generation and as One Day meets Me Before You.

Jana's Picks

7. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda: I love mysteries and suspense novels, especially in the summer so I'm excited about this one. Two women who disappear 10 years apart?? Told in reverse?? YES.

8. Diving Into Trouble by Shona Husk: I also read a lot of contemporary romance, and this one takes place on a submarine! Super unique.

9. The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody: I love airport stories! And New Years Eve. And Jessica Brody. And blizzards.

10. You Say It First by Susan Mallery: Susan has a new series coming out about a destination wedding company owner. It sounds cute.

What contemporary books have you added to your TBR lately? 

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