Monday, August 31, 2015

Top Ten Characters I didn’t Click with

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.


This week is “Top Ten Characters I didn’t Click with”.

This is a topic I want to TALK about, because sometimes it’s really a mystery as to why I click with some characters and not others.  I’ve connected to some wonderfully brave heroic characters and some terribly unlikeable characters so why didn’t these characters that MANY others readers love click with me?

These are characters I didn’t connect with emotionally.  If they annoyed me or made me angry they aren’t on the list.

Mia If I stay

I have never been able to figure out why I didn’t connect with Mia.  I could relate to her relationship with her family, but I just didn’t get emotionally involved like I would have expected, ESPECIALLY because I have a younger brother with almost the exact same age difference and our relationship was very similar to theirs.

Liesel book thief

I liked the book, but when the narrator is Death it’s natural to feel a distance from the characters.  The ‘voice’ of the book is just so neutral.

Anna Moonglass

I know a lot of people love Jessi Kirby, but so far I haven’t connected with her characters.

Frances More like Her

I loved Liza Palmer’s first two books and really identified with both heroines so needless to say I was anxiously awaiting More Like Her but the book just didn’t do anything for me and I didn’t really care about Frances.

Victoria mad wicked folly

Feminist fighting for suffrage in England.  This SO should have been right up my alley, but it was a fight to finish the book.

Francesca Saving

I’m the one person who doesn’t really get Marchetta. I liked this book, but didn’t click with Francesca. 

Lina Between Shades of Gray

I’m a crier and this is such a heartbreaking topic/book, but without fully investing in the MC it ended up missing something for me and I don’t think I shed a tear.

Laureth She not invisible

I liked Laureth but never fully connected.  Again she had a younger brother that she was close to.  I almost wonder if the obsession with coincidence cause the disconnect.

Brie Catastrophic History

I think when the main character is already dead it takes some of the tension out of the story.


Another book I liked with an main character I didn’t really connect with.  Luckily I liked the plot enough to continue the series because I have loves every new book in the series more and more.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

 The Royal We[2]

Title:                  The Royal We
Author: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 454
Publication: April 2015
Book Source: Library
Recommend: Yes

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he's fated to become. Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she's sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

For the first time in her life Bex makes a decision that separates her from her twin sister Lacey - a year studying abroad at Oxford. Lacey has always been the academic overachiever, but Bex’s primary motivation is the opportunity to draw European architecture. The first student Bex meets when she arrives is Nick. He helps her with her bags, she makes an inappropriate joke about royalty. Then her roommate informs her that Nick is royalty. Specifically second in line to the throne after his father.

There are obviously similarities to Prince William and Kate, but The Royal We definitely stands as it’s own story. I was definitely skeptical about this novel when I first heard about it – it just seemed a little too cheesy, but I was pleasantly surprised. I laughed a LOT and cried. Nothing about the story was easy; no instalove, the relationship built Thermometer loved itnaturally and had all the challenges you would expect (and some you could possibly predict) in this situation. Nick and Bex were both likeable enough, but realistically flawed – they didn’t always make the best decisions, but I always felt like they loved each other.

The secondary characters all get plenty of depth and character traits. As absolutely frustrating as I found Lacey, looking at the situation from her side I could understand where she was coming from – not that excuses her behavior. Nick’s younger brother, Freddie, is great comedic relief, but you get to see glimpses of vulnerability and insecurity stemming from his role as “the spare”. I adored Bex’s dad, he was so genuine and supportive.

I’m a little torn over the end of the novel – it didn’t end fully happily ever after and while I liked the relationship challenges mid book I think I would have enjoyed a cleaner ending, but I think the way it ended absolutely fit the story.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If I Taught “History in Fiction 101”

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.


This week is “Top Ten Books that would be on my Syllabus”.  As I said last week, I don’t read much nonfiction, BUT I there are some AMAZING historical fiction novels that we can learn from so here is my syllabus for “History in Fiction 101”.

Cane River


Anna kareninaThe Help11.22.63To kill a mockingbirdMila 18east of edenExileA Thousand Splendid SunsPoisonwood Bible alt

Anyone want to take my class?

September Wish List

Anyone else look at the September book release list and wish they could schedule a few more hours into every day?  My TBR may officially topple over this month.  My count is 14 books that I REALLY want to read so if I missed any…don’t tell me.

September 1st

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon
Everything EverythingMy disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas
Queen of ShadowsEveryone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she's at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past . . .
She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die just to see her again. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen's triumphant return.
Celaena’s epic journey has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions across the globe. This fourth volume will hold readers rapt as Celaena’s story builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.
Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Vengence RoadWhen Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice.
What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there's room for love in a heart so full of hate.
In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.
The Fix by Natasha Sinel
The fixOne conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open. Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone. On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.
But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her. The Fix follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that comes with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.
Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian
Cut Both WaysWill Caynes never has been good with girls. At seventeen, he’s still waiting for his first kiss. He’s certainly not expecting it to happen in a drunken make-out session with his best friend, Angus. But it does and now Will’s conflicted—he knows he likes girls, but he didn’t exactly hate kissing a guy.
Then Will meets Brandy, a cute and easy-to-talk-to sophomore. He’s totally into her too—which proves, for sure, that he’s not gay. So why does he keep hooking up with Angus on the sly? Will knows he can’t keep seeing both of them, but besides his new job in a diner, being with Brandy and Angus are the best parts of his whole messed-up life. His divorced parents just complicate everything. His father, after many half-baked business ventures and endless house renovations, has started drinking again. And his mom is no help—unless loading him up with a bunch of stuff he doesn’t need plus sticking him with his twin half-sisters counts as parenting. He’s been bouncing between both of them for years, and neither one feels like home.
Deciding who to love, who to choose, where to live. Whichever way Will goes, someone will get hurt. Himself, probably the most.
Your Voice is All I Hear by Leah Scheier
Your voice is all I hearEverything about Jonah is unexpected. On the first day of school, he sits next to April, when he could have chosen to sit with the popular girl. He turns down an invitation to join the school team and declares he'd rather paint. He encourages April to develop her musical talent and shrugs off the bullies that torment them.
April isn't surprised to find herself falling for Jonah. The unexpected part is when he falls for her too. But the giddy happiness of their first romance begins to fade when Jonah's unpredictability begins to take a darker turn. April understands that her boyfriend is haunted by a painful memory, but his sudden mood swings worry her. She can't explain his growing fear of cellphones, electric keyboards, and of sounds that no one else can hear. Still, no matter what happens, April is sure that she'll always stand by him.
Until Jonah finally breaks and is committed to a psychiatric ward. Until schizophrenia changes everything. Though everyone urges her to let him go, April stays true to Jonah. But as the boy she adores begins to disappear in front of her, she has to face her worst fear: that her love may not be enough to save him.

September 8th

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber
Accidental SaintsIn Accidental Saints, New York Times bestselling author Nadia Bolz-Weber takes us inside the House for All Sinners and Saints, her congregation in Denver. Tattooed, angry, profane--an altogether unlikely cleric—this former standup comic stubbornly, sometimes hilariously, resists the God she feels called to serve. Yet we watch as, in her doubts and her disasters, she keeps “stumbling into holy moments” which break through her resistance and sweep her up in transforming relationships where giving, receiving, even embodying grace becomes a way of life. As her dramatic stories unfold, we begin to sense that just such holy moments are waiting for each of us.
In a time when many have rightly become disillusioned with Christianity,Accidental Saints demonstrates what happens when ordinary people meet to share bread and wine, struggle with scripture, and tell the truth about their real lives. Their faltering steps toward wholeness will ring true for believer and skeptic alike. As one reviewer writes, “This is a book for everyone who yearns to be made new.” Told in Nadia’s trademark confessional style, Accidental Saints is a stunning next work from one of today’s most important religious voices.

September 15th

Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales
Tonight the streets are outsSeventeen-year-old Arden Huntley is recklessly loyal. Taking care of her loved ones is what gives Arden purpose in her life and makes her feel like she matters. But she's tired of being loyal to people who don't appreciate her—including her needy best friend and her absent mom.
Arden finds comfort in a blog she stumbles upon called "Tonight the Streets Are Ours," the musings of a young New York City writer named Peter. When Peter is dumped by the girlfriend he blogs about, Arden decides to take a road trip to see him.
During one crazy night out in NYC filled with parties, dancing, and music—the type of night when anything can happen, and nearly everything does—Arden discovers that Peter isn't exactly who she thought he was. And maybe she isn't exactly who she thought she was, either.
Why Not Me? By Mindy Kaling
Why Not MeIn Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
In “How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet’s Confessions,” Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, (“Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn’t the land of appropriate–this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman’s traditional hair color is honey blonde.”) “Player” tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. (“I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.”) In “Unlikely Leading Lady,” she muses on America’s fixation with the weight of actresses, (“Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they’re walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.”) And in “Soup Snakes,” Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak (“I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.”)
Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who’s ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who’ve never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.
Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas
Ash & BramblePin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker.
Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her—a fairy tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after. Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.
September 22nd
Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
Walk on EarthLee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety? Rae Carson, author of the acclaimed Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, dazzles with this new fantasy that subverts both our own history and familiar fantasy tropes.
Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.
Lovable Livable Home by Sherry and John Petersik
Lovable liveable homeIn the three years since Sherry and John Petersik wrote their bestselling book Young House Love, they have bought a new house and had a new baby, and they have seen their design perspective evolve right along with their family. In their latest book, they’ve set out to prove that just because you have kids or pets doesn’t mean you’re sentenced to floors overrun with toys or furniture covered in plastic. Through never-before-seen makeovers in the Petersiks’ own house, doable DIY projects, and a gallery of other inspiring spaces, Lovable Livable Home shows how beautiful homes can be functional too.
Never Never by Brianna Shrum
Never NeverJames Hook is a child who only wants to grow up. When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child—at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up. But grow up he does.
And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate. This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan. Except one.
September 29th
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Six of CrowesKetterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...
A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Challenge: Microhistory

If you’re like me then your primary drive to read is to lose yourself in another world and that typically has me reaching for fiction.  So when one of the categories for the BookRiot Read Harder Challenge was to read a Microhistory I was a little thrown.  First of all, obviously a nonfiction category.  Second, uhm what’s a Microhistory?

Microhistory is the intensive historical investigation of a well-defined smaller unit of research (most often a single event, the community of a village, or an individual).

Since I knew this was going to be a stretch for me I immediately began researching Books went to Warpossibilities.  I found a few options that sounded somewhat interesting and then discovered When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning.  Slam Dunk, it’s a book about books.

During World War II boredom was a problem for the troops.  Wars come with significant downtime and pre-internet/Television you could go a little stir crazy.  When the problem first became apparent during training here in the States, Librarians around the country organized a massive book drive to restock Fort libraries.  While it helped, the books were hardback and didn’t travel well.  They also struggled to collect books the soldiers were interested in reading. 

To get books that could easily travel with the soldier, Armed Service Edition were born.

Armed Services Editions (ASEs) were small, compact, paperback books printed by the Council on Books in Wartime for distribution within the American military during World War II.

Working with the major book publishers, two versions of ASE’s were created each designed to fit into a uniform shirt or pant pocket.  By the time the war was over, more than 1200 titles had been printed.  During WW2 Hitler burned 100 million books.  The US printed 120 Million.

Just a few fun facts about the ways these books impacted life post war:  The Great Gatsby was a failure until it was revived as an ASE.  Most of us never would have read it.  Post war soldiers were readers.  They came back very prepared to take advantage of the GI Bill and get college educations.  And third the Mass Market Paperback book market was born, making books more accessible to more people.

This ended up being the third challenge I completed this year, and eight months later I still bring it up if the opportunity arises in conversation (yeah I’m that person). This book is the perfect example of why I’m doing the Read Harder Challenge – I loved it, but never would have read it without the Challenge.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Read Harder Challenge Update

I intended to do this update midyear…oops it’s mid August.  But late is better than not at all.

Of the 24 categories in the challenge I have completed 16.  Sound great in theory right?  Not done with August and I’ve essential maintained a 2 challenge book per month pace which should put me on track to finish by the end of the year.  Unfortunately, I have hard categories left.

To see what categories I’ve finished check out my main Challenge Page.

What’s Left

A collection of short stories
I’ve barely attempted this one, but I didn’t think it would be this hard.  I just haven’t seen any options I’m excited about so I would love suggestions.

A book that takes place in Asia
When I started the challenge I thought I’d read And the Mountains Echoed because I’ve loved his other books and already own it, but I just haven’t been in the mood for it.  I have The French Connection checked out from the library and I’m hoping to tackle this one over my vacation week from work.Ladies detective agency

A Book by an Author from Africa
I’ve started 3 books for this category and none have kept my attention.  I’m currently, slowly reading The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith.  I’m enjoying it, but in a different way – I don’t feel COMPELLED to read it, but it’s interesting when I choose to.

A Book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture
I have Tracks by Louise Aldrich check out from the library right now.  Fingers crossed it keeps my attention.

A Book that was originally published in another language
Zero ideas I’m excited about.  I have Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier on Kindle so maybe I’ll be feeling that soon.  I could also finish The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larsson.

All the Light we cannot seeA National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade
Pretty sure I’ll check this one off the list soon.  I’m reading and really enjoying All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  It’s beautiful, I just put it down for a little while every time it gets sadder and considering it takes place during WWII there’s plenty of sad.  There’s hope too, but I take a break from time to time.

A book published before 1850
I knew I would struggle with this category. I started Jane Eyre at the beginning of the year planning to read it slowly, but I just haven’t gotten back to it.  I might give it a shot in audio.

Anyone else doing this challenge?  What categories are you struggling with?  Any suggestions for me?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Top Ten Authors I've Read The Most Books From

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.


This week is “Top Ten Authors I’ve Read the Most Books From”.  Awkward phrasing aside – and I couldn’t find a better way to phrase it either - I thought it was an interesting topic.

I’m not counting childhood series like Sweet Valley Twins or Babysitter’s Club.  These are all books I read in high school or later.  That said most of these are authors I started reading pre-blog.  Pre-blog when I found an author I liked I read their whole backlist.  I’m aware of so many more authors and books now that it’s rare for me to read several from the same author except maybe trilogies.

John Sandford 2

Harlan Coben 2

Victoria Dahl 2

Stephen White 2

Meg Cabot 2

Sophie Kinsella 2

John Grisham 2

Patricia Cornwell 2

Janet Evanovich 2

J K Rowling 2

Richard North Patterson 2


Which authors take up the most real estate in your brain?  Any that surprise you?