Monday, February 23, 2015
This week is Top 10 favorite heroines from books (or movies/TV). I’m going with non-action figure heroines. No Katniss or Celaena or Hermoine. These are all women or girls who I find extraordinary in their ordinary lives.
1) Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind – Scarlett is without a doubt a selfish character. But you can’t argue that she’s a survivor and she keeps her family fed and alive during the Civil War and it’s aftermath. She becomes a business woman in an era where women DO NOT DO THAT and while I do not approve of her business practices she’s a pretty amazing character.
2) Abeline from The Help – There was nothing for Abeline to gain by talking to Skeeter. It was all risk for minimal (if any) reward. But sometimes the most heroic moments come from deciding the risk is worth it if it will improve things for whoever comes next.
3) Ramona Quimby – If I have kids I want them to have Ramona’s imagination.
4) Cath Avery from Fangirl – I can’t quite put into words how much I love Cath. Rainbow managed to balance a character with somewhat extreme social discomfort with a character who likes herself enough not to compromise on what she deserves. Cath is different things to different people, but all those pieces come together as a cohesive person.
5) Judith from All the Truth that’s in Me – If you haven’t read this book you should if only because it’s written in second person and that’s different (but incredibly well executed). You should also read it because the heroine puts other people before herself and speaks up when she’s not sure it will help. Bonus – isn’t that cover cool?!
6) Veronica Mars – I don’t think Veronica requires explanation
7) Eva from We Need to Talk About Kevin – Eva is the quintessential unlikable heroine, but she’s memorable.
8) Cleo Berry from A Death-Struck Year – Cleo sacrifices her own health and safety to help during an influenza epidemic.
9) Theo from Pointe – I just finished this book so I’m a little nervous about including Theo on a Top 10 list so soon. I love characters that grow and that accomplish things that scare them.
10) Meg from Going too Far – Meg was just fun. She’s self destructive, but the perfect amount of sarcastic entertaining.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Emily M Danforth
Balzer & Bray, 2012
When Cameron Post's parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they'll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.
But that relief doesn't last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.
Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship--one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to "fix" her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self--even if she's not exactly sure who that is.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post is a stunning and unforgettable literary debut about discovering who you are and finding the courage to live life according to your own rules.
I really liked Cameron. Throughout the book she’s struggling with who she is just like all adolescences and teenagers, but I found it striking how true she stayed to herself throughout the book.
Several other reviews I’ve read have said they wouldn’t want to be friends with Cameron because she shoplifted and did pot. Those things would have scared me away in HS, and it’s a shame, because Cameron is so interesting. I love smart characters and Cameron is constantly questioning the things that adults say that are supposed to take a face value without question.
Cameron was a jock (swimming and cross country) and had quite a few guy friends. I loved Jamie. He was a great friend to Cameron even though he clearly liked her as more than a friend. I was iffy about Coley – sometimes I liked her and I could understand why Cameron was crushing, but Coley was pretty self involved.
The official summary doesn’t say what the “drastic action” her aunt Ruth takes, but mini spoiler…Cameron is sent to one of Exodus International’s schools to “de-gay” someone. I suspected this was going to happen and expected to be gut wrenched by it, but I think my reaction ended up being tempered by the fact that it was Cameron’s aunt who send her. While Cameron loved Ruth because she’s family, she never really respected her very much and this reaction wasn’t a surprise.
I liked that the book didn’t portray those involved with the school as evil, because Cameron’s Aunt Ruth, and Rick and Lydia truly believe they are doing the right thing. Ruth and Lydia lack empathy, but Rick is genuinely likeable. I think this is an important thing to note because it make me look at my life and wonder if there things I’m doing now that I fully believe are the right things that I’ll look back on and regret.
I discovered this book on a “Banned in Schools” reading lists and I tend to like books in that category. The Miseducation of Cameron Post was no exception. I loved it.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.
This week’s topic is Likes or Dislikes (or Turn offs and Turn ons if you’d rather) in Romance Novels. I picked 5 elements that will ruin a Romance novel for me and 5 that I love.
1. Instalove – Falling in love takes time.
2. Stalkery Behavior – Girl tells a guy she’s not interested and he keeps showing up where he knows she’s going to be. When we accept this in a novel or movie it makes guys thing they just need to be more persistent. Not persistence, it’s stalking.
3. Asexual female leads – You know. The ones who have never had a sexual feeling until they met THIS GUY.
4. Stereotypes – This is actually pretty specific. I read a bunch of books by a romance author this year where all the main female characters were not skinny. I actually like that. What I don’t like is that she made all the skinny girls bitches.
5. Bad boys/transformed players – It’s just completely overdone and 99% of the time have no depth.
1. Non Virgin lead characters – I love female characters who own their sexuality and don’t apologize for it. And I love the men who don’t shame them for it. I’ve really liked some books with virgin lead characters, but most of them fetishize virgins which I find gross.
2. Non perfect body/face characters – I can relate more and like the message that you don’t have to be perfect to deserve love.
3. Well done sex scenes (especially in unexpected places) – In Flirting with Disaster by Victoria Dahl, Isobelle and Tom have ladder sex. And it was hot and sad
4. Humor – Sometimes romance novels get too serious and the issues that the characters are dealing with so emotionally draining. It’s refreshing when an author is able to make me laugh. Plus is realistic because I don’t think I could fall for someone who didn’t make me laugh.
As an aside, Victoria Dahl is my favorite romance author. My turn-ons were all things I thought of from her novels, and as I was writing this I realized she’s never done any of my turnoffs.
Monday, February 9, 2015
A wonderful heroine - Ismae is essentially sold by her “father” to a pig farmer at fourteen to be his wife. Spared an abusive wedding night by a local potion brewer (the herbwitch), she’s whisked away to a convent. But the convent is a little different. They train female assassins, who serve the god of death, Mortain. Ismae is strong without arrogance and she struggles to serve her loyalties while staying true to herself. There’s a strong element of coming of age in this novel as she figures out who she is outside of the convent.
The white washing of mythology into Christianity - Grave Mercy has a fascinating representation into how the gods pre-Christianity were woven into the present day church as saints. Not the exact gods/saints represented in this book, but it was easier to get people to accept Christianity if they saw some of their own mythology within it. (ergo gargoyle's on churches to ward of evil spirits, Christmas lining up with Winter Solstice, etc).
Slow building romance - Duval and Ismae are initially suspicious of each other. It’s actually more than initially, because as they start to feel an attraction for each other it makes them question everything even further. Once they finally decide to trust each other their relationship has had time to build into something beautiful and believable.
Excessive Intrigue – While I believe the amount of intrigue and betrayal to be an accurate reflection of the era, it still slowed down the pacing of the book and resulting in pages of Ismae questioning herself as to who to trust.
I put the book down several times when frustrated by the constant questioning, but was compelled to pick it back up quickly because I wanted to know how it ended. It dragged a bit in the middle as a result, but overall I really enjoyed it.
For those who like star ratings – 3.5 out of 5 stars
Thursday, February 5, 2015
2012, 376 pgs
Bianca has been cheated on in every relationship she’s ever been in. Add parents who are still married but haven’t spoken directly to each other in a decade since her father had an affair and Bianca is seriously jaded about men and relationships. When her sister, Gwen suspects her husband is stepping out, Bianca investigated and found a ridiculous porn stash and a girlfriend. After this “success” she changed her private accounting business into a Private Investigator business specializing in cheating men working exclusively by word of mouth.
One evening she’s decompressing at the local bar and meets Drew.
Here’s where I have to stop summarizing because I can’t summarize anything about her relationship with Drew in a neutral way. Basically Drew suppose to be a nice guy who Bianca is rebuffing because she believes all men are cheaters. Unfortunately, after Bianca declines his offer to walk her home he decides the nice guy thing to do is follow her – for her own safety of course. Honestly the relationship was doomed in my mind from that moment on so I don’t know why I kept reading. Following someone home who doesn’t want you to is not caring, it’s STALKING.
There are moments in the book that I think the author intended to be funny – PI Bianca in a disguise hitting on a guy and Drew stepping in to “rescue” her against her will. Not funny to me.
And the biggest irritation in this books for me…substituting the word “fuck” with “flip”. Frequently. Its totally believable that Bianca’s character would cuss a lot. It’s not believable that she would use the word flip as a filler and it was distracting.
I’ll probably vaguely remember this books for awhile mostly because it annoyed me, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Amazon has been recommending Lindy Zart books to me lately so I decided to give one a shot, but won’t be trying any others.
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
I can’t believe January is over already! After two weeks of crazy warm January weather for Nebraska we ended the month with below zero wind chills and 9 inches of snow.
On the reading/blogging front I had a pretty good month. Nine books read, eight blog posts, only 2 reviews so I need to do a little better there.
Keep Calm and Carry a Big Drink by Kim Gruenenfelder
Step Brother Dearest by Penelope Ward
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M Danforth
Dating Husbands by Lindy Zart
When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning
Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann
Wild Child by Molly O’Keefe
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (audio)
Flirting with Disaster by Victoria Dahl
I’m attempting to complete the Read Harder Challenge from Book Riot this year. The link will take you to a list of the categories and the books I’ve read for each. I completed 6 out of 24 categories in January. Sounds great except 4 of those were easy ones for me.
As I mentioned I’ve been traveling a lot for work and I travel with my Roku so I have lots of time catch up on TV. I’m four episodes into Jane the Virgin and I LOVE it. OMG it’s hilarious and Gina Rodriguez is just adorable. The Flash is still way high on my list. And I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve been gorging on early seasons of ANTM.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.
This week’s topic is “Top 10 Books I can’t believe I haven’t read”. It’s funny that this topic came up this week because I was over at my aunt’s house last week and she’s let me choose a bunch of books (she’s donating hers). When I picked up “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold she said, “You haven’t read that yet!”. There are so many great books, but there are always a few that we’re never quite in the mood for so they get missed. Here are my top 10 books THAT I OWN that I haven’t read yet. Not exactly a genre, but it’s a good reason to go through books I was excited about at one point or another and maybe pick one of them up.
1. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
I’ve read the first chapter and loved it, but never picked it up again.
2. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Stout
3. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Loved “Code Name Verity” and thought I’d read this the second it came out, but just haven’t gotten to it yet.
4. Mudbound by Hilary Jordan
I have a physical copy and the ebook. How have I not read this yet?
5. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
6. Beloved by Toni Morrison
7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and Barrows
8. Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardulo
Yep I have two #8’s. I devoured “Shadow & Siege” in November and immediately ordered the next two books. Then I got sidetracked by “Throne of Glass” and haven’t gotten back to these.
8. Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardulo
9. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
I love Barbara Kingsolver, but I need to be in the right mood to fully appreciate her books and I haven’t been in the mood for this one yet.
10. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
Which of these should I push to the top of my list?