Posts Tagged With: Book

The BEST Obscure Books – Read off the Beaten Path!

Look – it’s fun to read what’s hot and new, isn’t it? I do it all the time. I see that book with thousands of reviews at 4.5 stars and I know I’m in for a good read. But, how fun is it to pick up that book with only a few reviews, maybe it was written ages ago, and you feel like you found a hidden treasure?

Here is your best of both worlds! Trust me on this – these little known books (fewer than 2,000 ratings on Good Reads) are SO worth your time – pick them up to today!

Caravan
Dorothy Gilman

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I’ve read this book twice now and it is truly incredible. It has everything – every twist and turn you can imagine. It’s the story of a young girl told by an old one where you can feel the truth of it but with the knowing eye of an old woman looking back. This is a book where horrible, terrible things can happen to the characters and somehow you still want their lives. This book is magic wrapped up in one neat little package and now I can’t say anything else without just positively gushing.

And I can’t wait to read it again!

In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams
Tahir Shah

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This is the only book I have ever finished and immediately wanted to re-read. I would have; but I really want to buy a paper copy and read it that way instead. I’m abroad right now, but when I get back in the states I will own this! I’m also planning on reading just about everything Tahir Shah has written.

So why? Why am I so ga-ga over this book? One of my greatest loves in life is traveling and this book just oozes with the emotions of a traveler. Shah is an individual who is restless, who is curious, who judges people with an eye of disbelief AND understanding, who takes people what they are and, while human being are unable to completely ever fill another’s shoes, he incorporates what he can. It’s incredible – I stopped multiple times while reading to ponder or scribble down a sentence. Shah’s words described my own emotions: it’s so wonderful to feel understood.

This book is both memoir and story – it’s a mixture of tales, events, meaningful and not. His ability to tie in everything makes me believes he’s led not only a great life but also a fascinating one – I believe this book is filled with both truths and fibs and it works beautifully into one tapestry. I picked it up because I was going to Morocco to travel – I’ve never been more excited to examine a place now after having read this book.

I’d recommend this to just about everyone who is willing to ponder new ideas, cultures, adventures, etc. It’s phenomenal!

The Girl Who Could Move Sh*T With Her Mind
Jackson Ford

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I clearly picked up this book because it has the best title in the known universe. And then it ended up being great! SCORE!

It’s hysterical. I seriously laughed out loud multiple times while listening to this (btw – the audio narration is excellent). I love Teagan as a character – beautiful perks and flaws. This book is full of action and adventure and the dynamic of the characters are so much fun. The ending got a smidge long but I can definitely overlook that and am so eager to get started on book 2.

My (Underground) American Dream
Julissa Arce

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I really enjoyed this memoir – I was able to hear Julissa speak in Chicago for HACE and her story is incredible and memorable. It is so timely and brave as well – definitely one to read.

Golden Earrings
Belinda Alexandra

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Oh, this book.

Do you ever read a historical fiction and think, “This must have happened.” It was so expertly woven, the truth and tales of the times intermingled with the fiction so beautifully I thought it had to be true. The richness of the story, though certainly not all uplifting, felt like something that just had to have happened. Of course, I realize that’s not the case, but I don’t think I’ll be able to ever think about the Spanish Civil War without imagining La Rusa’s impact.

Paloma, Evelina, Celestina – Golden Earrings is a tale of strong women who are impacted by a terrible war. It’s a story about how people react when their lives are altered by others’ choices. It’s not a story about making all the right decisions. Each and every one of the characters in this novel make mistakes – very large mistakes – that send waves of impacts down the line for years. But mistakes don’t make a person, and Alexandra’s weaving of the characters shows that mistakes can be made by good people, but that good people aren’t immune to hard choices.

This is a little known novel that needs some serious love. It’s incredible via audio book and I’m sure just as good on paper. Highly recommend, and I will definitely be picking up more of Alexandra in the future.

The Summer Fletcher Greel Loved Me
Suzanne Kingsbury

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I have never been to the south, at least not the “deep” south and, man, did this book make me want to go. It’s not that Kingsbury even made it seem that appealing – all she talked about was the heat, the way the sweat dripped down someone’s neck, the stifling air in the rooms, etc. But she really made me FEEL it and I haven’t really spent any time in that kind of environment…

It’s a powerful book. Kingsbury does such a great sense of having you /feel/ relationships. I could sense the tension or happiness or love or whatever they felt between the characters. It was invigorating.

Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones
Erica Jong

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This book was pretty astounding. Very rarely have I reacted to a book with as much gusto – and I’m not talking about tears and laughter here, I’m talking about flat out shock. In terms of fiction, I’ve never had a book startle me as much as this one did and I loved it all the more for it. Erica Jong wrote this in such a manner that I truly believed she was Fanny Hackabout-Jones. She said in the beginning that she would keep no modesty, and she kept true to her word. The events in this book had ways of simultaneously disgusting and arousing me but ultimately making me truly care for, and hate, the same ones that Fanny did. Fanny wanted to teach Belinda, her daughter, all the things she had learned in the world. At the very least, I think she succeeded in teaching me.

Incognito Street: How Travel Made Me a Writer
Barbara Sjohlm

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I’m a little biased as writing and travel are two of my absolute favorite things, but this is such a beautiful memoir that really takes you into her growth and self-discovery. Highly underrated and a truly beautiful book.

Death Wish (Reaper Reborn Series)
Harper A. Brooks

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Overall, this book was really engaging and interesting. A couple parts were maybe a bit of a stretch but overall I was able to get into the story. Great pacing and characterization – Jade is such a fun character to follow and Brooks doesn’t pull the punches. Great series!

Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing
Steven Luna

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I sat down to read a chapter or two, just for a bit, and now I’m done. Devoured. That’s what happened with this book. Five, five, five stars.

This one had me from the get-go. Within about thirty seconds of reading you know Tyler Mills. He’s a teenage kid pissed off about something and is blaming it on his Dad for being a different person than him. At first you want to say “boo-hoo, kid” and kick off, but in the next thirty seconds you realize his Mom, his true connection, his source of inspiration, is dead. And then you feel bad about judging him for being all emo – and then you’re hooked.

What is it about Tyler that worked so well? It’s hard to pin-point. Maybe because he acted like a total teenager but his mind recognized how stupid he was being. Maybe because he was obviously smart and wanted to make good decisions but his fear and sadness was getting the best of him. If that isn’t a good representation of the young adult mind, I don’t know what is. The story was predictable but it moved quickly. The further it gets, in fact, the more cliché, but that didn’t detract at all. I loved it. I loved how I knew what was going to happen, I loved that Tyler did what I ultimately wanted him to do, and I love how it ended. Maybe I like clichés. I’m a firm believer that there are really only so many plotlines in the world, but there are never two personalities that are the same. It’s up to the writer to see an old situation from new eyes, and Luna nails it.

Love Perks of Being a Wallflower? Love angst? Love teenagers figuring out their shizz? How about if you just love good books? I don’t really care what you love – you’ll love this one.

Wall to Wall: From Beijing to Berlin by Rail
Mary Morris

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This book was phenomenal – not only is Mary Morris probably the most self-honest person on the planet (I don’t think I could read my actions for truth like she does even if I wanted to) but she’s a fantastic writer. Her personal struggles combined with the fascinating travel events make this a truly enthralling read. It’s set in such a dramatic time in history – Morris was in China, Russia, and Germany in 1986. Seeing some of those historic events happening through her eyes is unbelievably interesting. Great read!

Categories: Debuts, Lists, Pick Ups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 12 Favorite Books of 2020 (so far)

If there can be one good thing said about 2020 (and that’s a stretch, I know) it’s that it has given me a reason to double down on my reading. I have been positively devouring books this year and am proud to say I’ve finished 78 so far. Since we’re halfway through this delight of a year, I thought I would highlight some of my absolute favorites!

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

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You’re a good man, Linus Baker. I’m so very pleased to know you.

There may not be as accurate of a statement than this in the entire world. This book -guys, this BOOK. It’s like a dose of rainbow, sunshine, sprinkle glitter love happiness straight to the pleasure center. It’s beautiful.

Honestly, I want to write everything and yet nothing at all. You don’t need to know anything, you just need to read this book.

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

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This is a truly wonderful book. Gah – I wish I could go back in time and read this as a young adult because it would have had even that much more POW.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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This is a fantastic book that should be read. Not only it is well written with personal stories and facts of cases, it’s properly balanced with success and failure. It’s not a story about only innocent people being released – it’s about criminals getting appropriate representation as well. I really appreciated that this didn’t just feel like a giant pat on the back, but it was the emphasis on how the broken system breaks individuals – and breaks those people of color even more disproportionately.

All in all, a great read.

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams

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Undercover Bromance is a “great big manly hug huddle” (those are Lyssa Kay Adam’s words, not mine) and it’s and amazing 5/5 star book.

These books – they just GET me. I had legit belly laughs. I mean, the man-hating rooster? The banter? Heck, I was even belly laughing from FART jokes (I kid you not). It’s fun and funny and the relationships – romantic and friendship – are SO GOOD.

Can’t help it. Love these. Want more.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

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Confession: I have never, not once, seen an episode of the Bachelor. Which I assume this book is a literary version of.

Guys – this is the equivalent of a romantic “who dun it” – you literally can’t guess who the murderer, I mean, perfect lover is! I mean, okay, I guess I could but I also couldn’t. I’m not spoiling this for you but it’s kind of amazing.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

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Heaaaaarts, rainbowsssss, and sunshine.

That’s what I feel about this book. I adored it. I giggled – a LOT. The characters are delightful, the setting adorable, there’s some very satisfying sexy time and ogling, etc, etc. Basically, it was right up my alley and I highly recommend.

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

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If Sue Monk Kidd hadn’t written this book I NEVER would have picked it up. No way, no how. I have as little connection to any religion as possible – I was raised in the US and therefore have those Christian influences to my society, but had nothing by the way of religious education. For example – it wasn’t until the end of the book that I found out Anna was fictional. Ha!

So – yes, from a topic, not typically one of interest to me. And honestly there were parts that were a bit dry in the book or that I didn’t quite “get” because my lack of knowledge. But the essence of it… the drive Sue Monk Kidd put into the story and the protagonist. Anna is a storm to be reckoned with and merged with the society in which she lived – it was beautiful. The fact that Anna really was the center of this story, and the most interesting of the characters, and she was married to Jesus is pretty outstanding for the author, I have to say.

Overall, a truly great read and another example of the artwork that is Sue Monk Kidd’s writing.

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

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Wow – this was truly excellent. Complex without being confusing, unique without being unbelievable, and horrifying without being gross. Great characters who have enough of their own issues to be interesting but not so much so that they are distracting. I truly didn’t guess the ending. All in all, I very top notch crime thriller!

Beach Read by Emily Henry

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Welp, that was perfect.

And, for the record, I usually really dislike stories where the character is a writer. And this one had two writers.

It’s still perfect.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

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Ok – yeah, I was really skeptical about this book. The premise is bizarre and, honestly, after reading it, the premise is still really bizarre.

But, man, I liked it! The style of the narration is amazing, I wanted to quote about half of it. I love the main character and just the way she IS. The way she responds and adapts to the strange circumstances she’s put it is fascinating.

It’s super quirky and it’s a book that gave me a lot of thoughts and feels. And that’s how I’m leaving that review.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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Well, I should know better than to read what is the first in what is very clearly going to be a series so soon after it is published. I want to read the next one immediately and now I have to wait 😦

This is great – it raw and unique and Alex Stern is a bada**. I had a little trouble getting into it at the beginning and, frankly, it’s a dense book. I was trying to read it quickly but it takes a lot of mind power – there is a LOT that goes on here. That’s not a bad thing, it’s actually really good, but get ready for the investment.

All in all, Bardugo hit another one out of the park.

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

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What an excellent book. I blew through this in a single day – which is no small feat in the chaos that is my life.

Maybe it’s just me, but I love when I come across a book where everything just works. The story is perfectly paced and snappy with action, dialogue, introspection, and magic. The character relationships are genuine and heartfelt – the main characters, Ryn and Ellis, are beautiful and flawed. The problems they face are real and unique. This is such a fascinating story that I have – and haven’t – heard before.

Oh – and it’s a zombie book, so, you know, that makes is automatically awesome.
Categories: Lists, Pick Ups | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Series Review: The Lunar Chronicles – (an enthusiastic) 4 of 5

Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and (in 2015) Winter.

There’s a lot to love about this series:

1) Cinder was born of NaNoWriMo (the greatest thing ever for those of you who don’t know about it) and, to my understanding, much of the rest of the books were drafted in November as well.  I have a special place in my heart for NaNo books.

2) While having a core plot throughout, each book focuses on one Bad-A** lady from a fairy tale.  The plot line of her story more-or-less follows the trajectory of the classic tale while holding true to the core, original, plot.  Those are some mad skillz.

3) That original plot I mentioned? It’s creative and interesting and complex without being confusing.

4) The dudes are adorable.

There’s more, but I thing those are really the main highlights.  Yes, it’s YA, and as I’m not a YA myself any longer, there is many times where I can’t stop an eye-roll at some of the young thoughts and emotions that come flying off the page. The key is to let yourself go.  Immerse yourself into what’s happening and you’ll have a great time.

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Cinder is spunky, unique, and manages to stay in line with the traditional ideas of Cinderella – the evil step-mother, the step-sisters, and, of course, that dashing, heart-throbbing prince. What isn’t traditional is that our heroine is a messy mechanic cyborg.  Sha-zam.

Admittedly, because of how well we know the classic fairy tale, it is a bit predictable, but the character development keeps any dull feelings at bay. Meyer does such a  good job of creating each character as an individual. Every character is dynamic – I particularly found the evil step-mother and the Doctor very well designed. There isn’t just one static “this person is good/bad” feel to it.  How is it that, of all the characters, I love the android Iko the best?  That’s good writing.

Oh yeah, and did you know it takes place in future China-ish? Awesome!  It’s the little nuances that really make this first book shine. 

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Where Cinder was an awkward yet confident, down-trodden yet finding herself, kind of main character, Scarlet takes it all up a notch.  This girl kicks butt left and right and doesn’t break a sweat.  She’s sassy and sweet. Scarlet forms as a great second heroine while somehow not taking the sparkle off Cinder’s own adventures.

Of the three books out right now though, it is my least favorite. It’s a good gateway to the next but it’s also the least believable.  This might get a touch spoiler-y but I had two main issues throughout – the sudden deep but really quite unnerving attraction with Wolf, and Scarlet’s dedication to the grandmother.

Let me explain.  It’s not that I don’t think both of those things aren’t good and important for the book – they are – but the way things shook out were over the top.  I know Wolf is loyal (like a dog, get it, lolz) but the way he constantly threw himself in front of Scarlet got old (mostly because Scarlet is totally able take care of herself).  And – and this will sound calloused – Scarlet’s insistence to sacrifice herself for her grandmother became exasperating. No offense to my grandmother, but I think 99% of reasonable people would realize that a young, vibrant woman shouldn’t risk everything for an already dying old lady. Just saying.  I know we needed that for forward motion but it was insane.

Even with my few irks, Meyer was really able to make the additional characters shine – and be different – from the ones in the previous book.  Our cast is growing without any harm, and that’s wonderful.

I almost forgot – Thorne.  He is hysterical.  Total favorite.  He is this year’s Han Solo.

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Now, we have Cress.  She’s the perfect next main character because she’s wonderfully different.  Don’t get me wrong – she’s still a bad-a** with her seriously impressive hacking skills but she’s not going to beat anyone up.  In fact, she’s much more apt to hide in a corner, but that doesn’t mean shes’ a damsel in distress, either.  Meyer has made such a great balance of showing how her ladies need help sometimes, but that doesn’t make them weak.

A lot of things go down in Cress and they are all interesting.  One thing, after reviewing Game of Thrones, is that I do wish I could have believed a little bit more that bad things were actually going to happen. Sure there are cliffhangers and worries and the like but it was hard to ignore the fact that it is a YA book and, despite the dire circumstances, things were obviously going to work themselves out.

So, I maybe didn’t worry as much as I should have, but I still liked what I saw.  Emotions get deep in Cress – there’s insanity, near-fatal and irreparable wounds, deserts, disease, death, maiming, kidnapping, genocide, and the list goes on.  I don’t mean to say it’s depressing through.  How can it be when a character like Thorne is on so many pages?  He’s adorable and  he and Cress are a fantastic duo. Even more, when we do get back to the rest of the group, they still hold true to their own character traits.

Well, except for maybe Wolf.  You know, for being a “big, bad, wolf” he is a sally.  Seriously.  Whimper a little more, why don’t you? Suck it up and get the job done, bro.

*Cough* Anyway, as I was saying, like the rest, the story follows the trajectory of  a fairy tale, this time Rapunzel. The core plot is at the forefront and it’s intense.  Cress is set up beautifully for another book and I’m definitely ready for it.

All in all – a slow clap, high five, jig, and kudos to Marissa Meyer!

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2013 End of the Year Book Survey

The Perpetual Page-Turner‘s 4th annual End Of The Year Book Survey

Jamie, a wonderful person and amazing book blogger, has posted a survey for the end of the year.  Once I saw it I immediately started making my list.  I can’t help it – I freaking love filling out surveys!

Seriously, though, if you’ve never checked out her blog, you have to.  She puts my blog to shame.

This year I read 70 books – here are some of my selections!

1) Best Book You Read In 2013?

This, of course, is a really hard question to answer.  I want to cheat and put down a couple but I’m going to get my focus together and make a commitment. Drum roll please….!

inarabiannights

This book just gave me so many FEELS.  It touched me, it fascinated me, and it made me really believe in the idea of traveling (not that I didn’t before) for the sake of meeting people but also for meeting myself.  Tahir Shah is a man who really understands the written word and it humbles and excites me all at the same time.  Not to forget just how beautiful the stories in this book are as well.

2) Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

This one was much easier to choose.

wayofkings

Man. I took me forever to commit to this book.  I had heard such good things but it’s so LONG that I never felt like I had time to read it. So when Eric and I went on a 40 hour road trip we thought this would be perfect.  But the end of the trip it was torture.  This book is just so long winded!  It could be half the length.  Even though the story is good and the writing is interesting the length just ruined it.  So disappointing.

3) Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

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I know very few people have read this, will want to read this, or will ever read this, but it’s the best answer for this survey.  This book is about a bombing that happened on the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus back in the ’70s. I had this book on my life forever but never got around to reading it.  When I finally got it from the local library I almost choked – it is over 400 pages long!  Dullsville, I assumed.  I still checked it out, however, thinking I would just skim the interesting parts and return it.  I didn’t though. I ended up finding it fascinating and learned so much about the school I call home.  I found myself talking about it and recommending it.  It totally surprised me!

4) Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

Unbroken

It’s hard to say, because I recommended quite a few, but I think this was the most likely.  I loved this book and I think it’s one of those books that I lot of people could like.  It’s fascinating because of its truth but it’s also just an incredible story.  As a memoir buff I realize that not everyone gets the same kick I do when truth-sounds-like-fiction but I think the popularity of this book shows that the author really did it right.

5)  Best series you discovered in 2013?

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Hands down.  I put off reading this forever because it was so daunting.  Not only are the books long in of themselves but the series is long – and still going!  I didn’t want to make a commitment to something that would take up so many hours of my life.  But I don’t regret it one bit. I’ve been power-reading these books on audible and I don’t often do the one-after-another read when it comes to series. I have had one of these books in my currently reading list for the majority of the year and I’m not even close to being sick of Davina Porter’s voice.  Love it!

6) Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

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Okay, so I’ve only read one book by her so it’s hard to call her a favorite author for the year but I really loved I’ve Got Your Number.  It was so damn FUN!  You can just tell she’s good and she really gets the whole chick-lit scene. I would love to be able to write books like her and I fully intend to make my way through others by her.

7) Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

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This was out of my comfort zone for a couple reasons – one being, as you can see, it was written in Spanish.  My Spanish is pretty competent but I still read with a dictionary and it takes some time.  Pair that with it being a mystery and my first Agatha Christie novel this was definitely not a typical read for me.  I loved it though and will definitely be getting more of Christie’s books under my belt- probably in English next, though. 🙂

8) Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

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There a lot of books that I power-read but “thrilling” is an entirely different category.  Gone Girl is pretty dense and I still ate it up.  In the end it didn’t hold as being a favorite book of mine but it still did the trick in the moment.

9) Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

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I’m not the kind of person that re-reads books very often.  Even my favorite book of all time, The Catcher In The Rye I’ve only read two or three times.  Caravan was a re-read for me this year, actually, and I freaking loved in.  Gilman is a master writer and Caravan is a story of such twists and such a strong protagonist.  I love it and will likely read it again, if not next year, sometime in the next couple years.

10) Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

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It’s just cool.  I like covers that not only are pleasing to the eye but also tell you a little about a story – Cinder’s cover is just perfect.  You know it’s a Cinderella re-telling but you also know it’s totally different but any other retelling you’ve heard!

11) Most memorable character in 2013? 

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The Darkling (Shadow and Bone)

I don’t want to say much since The Darkling’s character is, in of itself, a kind of spoiler.  Let me just say that I loved how dynamic The Darkling is – I also love how he has no name.  It’s kudos to the author that this character kept me guessing.  As a reader I definitely find him arousing and terrifying all at once.

12) Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

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This book was just really well done, such an interesting story and when it got exciting it got really  exciting.  I love when you’re reading a book and you can just take a deep breath and think, “This.  This is a book of beauty.”  This is one of those.

13) Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

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Somaly Mam – she knows how to tell you like it is.  Because I really like to read memoirs I think I already knew more about the sex trade than a lot of people in the U.S. do and this still shocked me. Maybe what shocked me even more is how Mam has survived.  This is a book that people can’t read without feeling it’s impact, I believe.

14) Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 

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I’m very much a read-such-and-such-book-before-you-die kind of person. When I hear from the masses that something is good or a classic, I tend to pick it up.  As much as I disdain the public opinion sometimes I still can’t withstand the curiosity of picking up a well-known book.  I picked up Slaughterhouse Five probably 10 years ago, read a few pages, got confused, put it down, and never picked it up again.  I finally got around to reading it here.  I was no less confused, but I definitely appreciated it more.

15) Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

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“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” – Tina Fey, Bossypants

16) Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013? 

christmas finebalance

All I want for Christmas was just a fun little novella.  A Fine Balance was polar opposite of that.  A Fine Balance was truly a wonderful book that I would never wish upon anyone. (Don’t think too hard about that. Just trust me.)

17) Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

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This is the fourth book in the Outlander series.  My husband is reading all the Outlander books after me, but he’s one book behind.  Something happened in this book that I was positive couldn’t happen and I almost exploded for wanting to talk about it.  But, of course, he’s not to this part yet so I am STILL waiting!

18) Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)

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Jamie and Claire from Outlander

I know, Diana Gabaldon is taking over this survey but Jamie and Claire are the reason why those books are what they are. Seriously, so good.  It’s so believable and real and for one of the first times in a series I can see a parallel between my relationship with my husband and the characters.  No, Eric is not a 7 foot tall Scotsman, but I do really love him.

19) Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

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I’ve actually read a lot of new authors this year so this is a bit hard.  That being said, Lola and the Boy Next Door is just adorable and I had loved Stephanie Perkin’s Anna and the French Kiss too.  I’m excited to get my hands on Isla, too!

20) Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

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I never in a million years would have picked up this book (okay, that’s not true, but I doubt it would have crossed my path).  But I kept seeing it pop up on my GoodReads feed from friends and decided to give it a true.  I’m so glad I did!  This book is heartbreakingly beautiful.

21) Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

ifistay

Young Adult

I think I’ve read more Young Adult this year than I have since I was a young adult.  One of the reasons is because there are so many new young adults out there and a lot that have excellent ratings. The other was that I decided to write young adult for my NaNo novel this year and I wanted to do some “research” 🙂

22) Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Divergent

Four/Tobias

Let’s face it – Four is a lovely brooder.  When it comes to real like I love it when men are sweet and cuddly.  But when it comes to a novel I’m more than happy to find someone who is totally scary.

23) Best 2013 debut you read?

Print

This book is so good.  She’s balls to the wall about how she talks about her experience, which is so brave.  I know that Lundhout had a co-author as well but I’ll still give her a lot of credit for telling us so much about her incredible ordeal.

24) Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

night circus

It’s not very often that I am excited for a book to be made into a movie – normally I’m pretty nervous about it.  This book, though, is going to be an incredible movie.  The writing is so vivid and there are so many wonderful things happening.  It’ll look great with real visuals.

25) Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

number

I cracked up over this book.  Giddy, maniacal laughter in public, the lot of it.  It was just a blast to read.  Literary books that are all deep and stuff are good, too, but this stuff is just awesome.

26) Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

This is a book about kids with cancer and I don’t have a heart made of stone.  ‘Nuff said.

27) Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

caravan

Can’t help it – this book has always  been overlooked.  It is SO good.  All must read!

28) One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

worldafter

I know that Angelfall is popular in its own right but I never really hear much about it. I feel like I’m getting ahead of the bandwagon curve which is a pretty new location for me and I’m excited to stay there.  Angelfall left off in such an interesting spot, I am so curious to see what Ee does next!

29) Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

cress

It feels like so long since I’ve read Scarlet!  I love Meyer not only for her books but for being a NaNoWriMo author.  So curious to learn about the next step in this series!

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

YA Book Review: Wild Cards – 4 out of 5

Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles

WildCards

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m just not going to argue with a book I read so fast. Whenever a book makes me flip page after page after page, it has something going for it. That’s how I have been with everything Elkeles has written. When I go back through and analyze afterwards I can usually identify things that bother me, that I wish were different. But I’m not going to ignore the fact that in the moment I was there and loving it. That’s what I really want in a book in the long run.

So, we have Derek and Ashtyn. Don’t be fooled – this isn’t a book about plot. Yes, there is one, since you need one in a book but that’s not what this is about. It’s about these two characters and how they fall in love. There’s no suspense or question that this will be how them book ends. Derek and Ashtyn are going to be together and we’re just reading a book on how that happens. If you want some kind of suspense about that when you read a book then this is not for you.

Elkeles does a really good job of making these two characters exist in real life. They have plenty of their own baggage and they are definitely teenagers. This is one of those books where the characters act their age. They are young, hormonal teenagers and because of this they sometimes do stupid things. You can see them learning and faltering along the way and as a reader you can’t help rooting for them. You want them to figure out their life because you hope if they can, then maybe you can, too.

Okay, that might have just been me. What I’m saying is that it’s easy to connect.

There were two things that bothered me about the story.

1) Ashtyn’s main character flaw. She projects herself as such a strong, independent young woman, a football player who, despite living with her father seems to have raised herself. For all of that, though, she can’t seems to handle herself and it’s bothersome. I wanted her to figure out about Landon on her own. For all the time she spent around guys I just don’t see how she or even her guy friends would have let her be with someone so negative to her life. I don’t see why Derek had to point out as many of these things to her as he did. I wanted her to do more on her own – but it wasn’t a deal-breaker on how I liked then.

2) Derek’s grandmother lives in Texas and the football clinic is in Texas and miraculously they are located withing CABBING distance? Texas is huge – what were the chances of them being in the same exact place?!

I’m kidding about that last point – kind of.

If you love cute, fun, YA RomCom, you’ll love this. That’s all you need to know.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

YA Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman – 4/5 stars

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

ifistay

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let’s keep this short and sweet.

There are times when I read a YA book and I am overly aware of my own age. (For the record, I am 25 years old and married. I’m old). If I Stay made me feel that way. As I’m thumbing the pages, turning quite quickly, I might add, I felt hyper aware of how perfect her family was, how I knew what he ending was going to be, how it all just felt so obvious.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t cry. I was totes tearing up on the Metra (ahh, the life of a commuter – crying on the train).

What I mean is that this really is a great book, it’s a fantastic book if you’re 16. It feels a little funny when you’re older because you start identifying with the mother more than the child (whoops).

I don’t think her life had to be perfect for this accident to be so traumatic. I don’t think each part, in that respect, had to be so obvious. This is why I rated it as I did – but really, it’s a fast read that, depending on the person could really move you. Me? I might forget it. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like it, it just means it wasn’t for me.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: How Not To Write A Novel by Howard Middlemark

How Not to Write a Novel: 200 Classic Mistakes and How to Avoid Them–A Misstep-by-Misstep Guide by Howard Mittelmark

notwrite
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book, a book about writing, had me laughing aloud on the commuter train. Yup, I was that person going to crazy-town, the kind of person you aren’t sure you want to sit next to (though, I’m starting to realize that can be a good thing for others to think… it can mean a seat all to myself!) Back on subject now – this is a gem of comedy. At one point there is a quiz to help you identify just how stereotypical your characters are and there’s a part about “grandma” and, well, I don’t want to spoil it. Just trust it’s good. Comedy in of itself is a good reason for this book to be part of your life. Add that to the fact that it gives some lovely advice and you have a truly excellent piece of work.

This is a quick read. It’s laid out in a number of quirky little essays that give you a blunder (which, occasionally, made me cringe as I remembered these mistakes being my own) and then tell you just why this is a problem and why you should do to avoid it. Usually the advice was just not to do it. If the solution wasn’t that simple then it gave a couple more examples, all remaining tongue in cheek. It’s a brilliant and easy to read book that is a good reminder of some novel best practices.

Still, this didn’t quite earn top marks just because I hold writing books to a high standard. I want the book to be hard to get through because I’m constantly setting it down to fix something or compose something new. While this book did get me to jot down a couple notes to improve my current work, it didn’t draw me away enough. In fact, to a certain extend, the book was a distraction because it was so darn funny.

What a paradox! It’s a strange thing to downgrade a book for, but there it is. I think all kinds of people, even the casual writer, will benefit from the easy suggestions of the book. More importantly, everyone can value a good chuckle on the train, even my slightly weirded out seat-mate.

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Book Review: First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria by Eve Brown-Waite

First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and A Third World Adventure Changed My Life by Eve Brown-Waite

malaria
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Man. What a good title. It’s catchy, it’s nimble, and it’s accurate. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Brown-Waite knew what she was doing when she wrote this book. Her writing style just flows; her pacing is done exceptionally well. I’ve found that somewhere in a memoir things can start to drag and, while Brown-Waite is no exception, she knew how to keep the process moving. I found that pretty impressive considering how many years this spanned with really no large breaks in between.

It’s also nice to read a book where a young woman really goes somewhere with some adventure. Brown-Waite spends part of this book in Ecuador and another part in Uganda. She integrates the beauty and extreme poverty of the locations she experienced along with her own life. Sometimes I felt like she did a great job with this – sometimes she would tell a story that showed her own emotions right alongside with what life is like there.

However there were other times when Brown-Waite got in her own way of the storytelling. She relied heavily on self-deprecation for her humor which, while often funny, sometimes became redundant. She talked about her whining and inability to figure out how to cook, or really exist, in Uganda a lot. Believe me, I would have been terrible about it, too, but it wasn’t until the very end that I realized maybe she was more self-reliant than she led us to believe. I think I missed some of the parts where she is a woman who has the ability to live and make decision on her own… something I would have liked emphasized.

Still, overall it’s a quick read for its size and interesting to boot. Another good travel memoir to add to the list!

View all my reviews

Categories: Debuts, Pick Ups, Travel, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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