January Reading Wrap Up

This month year decade (woah) started with the kids and I finishing up listening to Jim Dale narrate Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I didn’t have much memory of anything Harry Potter after book 3, so I don’t know why I gave the Order of the Phoenix a 3 star rating when I first read it about 11 years ago. At the time it was my least favorite book in the series. This time I found it pretty close to perfect (I gave it 5 stars). I loved it, and I love experiencing the books with my kids; they are really enjoying the series. At 8 and 9 years old, I am sure a good amount is over their heads, but they are following pretty well so far. I meant to stop at Prisoner of Azkaban because I feel like after that point HP books get more dark and written for older audiences…but they wanted to continue, so here we are. We are about 100 pages into HP and the Half Blood Prince now…the opening chapter of this book confused them (they didn’t understand why Fudge was recounting events to the “other minister”) but overall I am impressed with their retention of detail.

My first physical read of the year was Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson. In my opinion it was just shy of hitting the 4 star mark. In my reading journal I marked it as 3.75, which is entirely arbitrary, but felt right. I found it harder to get into than Rogerson’s debut stand alone, An Enchantment of Ravens. I also found the romantic chemistry in Thorns to be completely flat, while I was enthralled by the romantic tension in Ravens. The plot in this sophomore novel was definitely more ambitious, and the lack of connection to the main characters was made up for by my adoration for Silas, the supporting demon. I also loved the bookish theme of this fantasy. All in all, an enjoyable YA fantasy read.

Next I read Sarah Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan (3.5 stars). This was a very quick read that caught my attention as I was organizing my bookshelves. I added it to our home library knowing that it was an award winning children’s book, but I couldn’t remember what was so great about it. It was fairly enjoyable, despite the robotic dialogue. For kids, this is a story about children getting a mother in reply to their widowed father’s advertisement in search of a wife. For adults, this is a story about a quite, displaced woman trying to maintain agency over her own life within the limits of her gender.

I listened to The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, narrated by Tom Hanks (4 stars). Hanks did a wonderful job reading this novel; so well I didn’t even increase the playback speed, which I usually do to match the audiobook to my own reading speed. I think the novel started off very strong with its fairytale-esque characters: the disengaged father, the evil stepmother, the beautifully charming daughter, the innocent son, and even the fairy godmother type housekeepers. The second half of the book dragged quite a bit, and I feel like it strayed away from the connecting theme of the house that was the driving force of the conflict. I’m actually surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did, because I have to admit the overall tone was rather bleak. The plot spans 50 years and it felt like it. This is starting to sound negative… but I really did enjoy this. I highly recommend it and actually want to try reading more Ann Patchett.

I found the latest release in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series, Come Tumbling Down, to be wonderfully dark and intense. I definitely prefer the books in this portal fantasy series that take place in high logic worlds. In this novella, we return with Jack and Jill to the Moors where tension between the sisters has reached a deadly high. To be honest the beginning had me questioning if I would enjoy it as much as I had anticipated, but maybe I was just distracted, because by the end I was captivated and gave it 4 stars.

I read The Story of a Goat by Perumal Murugan (translated from Tamil) on the recommendation of booktuber Russell, from the channel Ink and Paper Blog. He posted this book on his Instagram and I was immediately intrigued. What I expected was a feel-good story about a couple adopting a sickly goat and the animal in return bringing joy back to their lives. Not. the. case. There is so much to unpack from this short novel. We get an examination of humanity from the perspective of the goat, political commentary and an illustration of caste systems from the perspective of the humans, and overall themes of love, desperation, pride, and loss. (4 stars)

The kids and I listened to The Lost Heir, book 2 in the Wings of Fire series by Tui T. Sutherland (3.5 stars). I really appreciate that this middle-grade novel doesn’t hold back. It is high stakes and the consequences are real. There is betrayal, violence, and death without being gratuitous. Ultimately friendship and loyalty is rewarded. The kids have enjoyed following up the audiobooks in this series by reading the graphic novel versions (which are gorgeous).

I have really been feeling the Force this month. Not only did I start watching the Clone Wars animated series on Disney+, but I also got a 400 page Clones Wars graphic novel out from the library, AND downloaded the audiobook of the Clone Wars movie novelization by Karen Traviss from Overdrive. The graphic novel (Star Wars Omnibus Clone Wars volume 1: The Republic Goes to War, to be exact) was AMAZING!!! I love discussing the gray areas of Jedi ethics with my husband. Seriously, the nerd talk is intense. This graphic novel was full of Jedi questioning their role in the conflict between the Separatists and the Republic. The audiobook had full sound effects, so that was a lot of fun, and it did raise the same sorts of questions, particularly regarding the Republic’s use of clone soldiers, but I didn’t enjoy it quite as much (I gave it 3 stars, where I gave the graphic novel 5 stars).

My bookclub read Sylvain Neuvel’s The Test this month. It was a really short book that packed a HUGE punch. The story revolves around a man from Tehran in the not-so-distant future taking a citizenship test in the UK. Let’s just say that from the vague reviews I’d seen of this, I expected the point of the book to be calling out the hypocrisy and absurdity of immigration requirements, but this book took a crazy turn! I should have known, since Neuvel’s other novels are super twisty scifi, but it caught me by surprise. I gave it 3 stars, but after our bookclub discussion I think I appreciate it more.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., I read to the kids his biography in the “Who Was___” series. They actually really liked it. It presents historical and biographical information in a manner very digestible for young readers.

And finally…

I read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison this month. I had posted on Instagram that I haven’t read any Toni Morrison, and my high school English teacher messaged me to correct that, and to start with The Bluest Eye, Morrison’s debut novel. So I did. But I didn’t love it. I feel so terrible about that. While there were moments I was blown away by the evocative writing, I didn’t find the story enjoyable. I know that’s the point, but I feel like there have been books with hard subject matter that I have still managed to find the experience of reading it positive (The Story of a Goat, for example). I didn’t enjoy all the tangents the story telling took- too often the focus broke away from the main plot to introduce background characters. I don’t usually mind this; in fact, I loved the way Fredrick Backman creates a familiarity with every resident of Beartown for the reader. But for some reason it didn’t work for me in this case. I wish the progression of the plot in The Bluest Eye was more linear. I don’t always mind when the narrative bounces around in time, but I didn’t care for the way it was done here. I’m not sure what precisely missed the mark with me and this book, and I’m pretty disappointed in myself for not liking it much (I gave it 2.5 stars).

I have some books that I didn’t finish this month that I look forward to wrapping up in February… and so many more I can’t wait to pick up. In the meantime- Happy Reading!

Anxiety Can Suck It… and Other Goals for 2020

2019 was…not great.  I don’t even really want to reflect on it, just pretend it didn’t happen.

It would seem I was not alone in the Great Anxiety Flare of 2019.  Late summer/fall seems to have hit a good number of the booktubers and bookstagramers that I follow with this collective emotional knock-out punch (the only reason I don’t include fellow bloggers is because I have no idea what was going on in this community… I couldn’t bring myself to check.  Thanks anxiety).  Once I crawled out from the wreckage of my own self-sabotaging mind, it was good to know I was not alone.  What does that mean though?  I’m not very knowledgeable with astrology, but something about some celestial body in retrograde? House Ravenclaw in turmoil? (insert shrug emoji here)

But that is the past. The future is now.  Just keep swimming.

Anxiety can suck it… I want to put more effort into making the time for me and the things that make me happy.


My 2020 Bookish Goals

I posted this on Instagram at the very beginning of the year.  Here they are with a little more detail and a note of how it’s going so far.

Read from my TBR- my first goal is to put my focus on the books I own, and limit my library loans to audiobooks, graphic novels, nonfiction, and book club selections.  (This is already proving to be extremely difficult and January is not even over.  I love my library!)

Limit book buying- I don’t buy many books new or at full price, but I want to make it a goal to only do so when I have a gift card to use.  I also want to make sure that I am only buying 1 book for every 5 that I read from my TBR.  Lastly, I will only hit up library book sales once a month!  There are weeks that the kids and I are at the library 3+ times, and I can’t help but browse the Friends of the Library Book Store every visit.  I really need to put this limit on myself!   (So far I haven’t spent a penny on books, HOWEVER I have been growing my home library with Little Free Library swaps and taking in books from friends.  So while not technically breaking my own rules… I have definitely taken advantage of my own loophole.  The intent was to not bring in more than I read, but I left that door open and ran through it! If you follow me on Instagram @stay.at.home.reader you can see my #nospend #bookhaul)

Blog more- I want to get back into the habit of posting, reading, and interacting with more blogs.  It’s something I really enjoyed doing.  An unfortunate element of anxiety is losing the desire to do even the things we love.  That really blows!  So… the goal is to get on here at least once a week with a reading check-in.  I also plan on renaming my blog for the sake of Instagram cohesiveness.  My thinking on that is it will make it easier for me to interact with fellow bibliophiles across platforms.  (This is obviously proving difficult for me since it’s taken me until the third week of January to get on here.  Hoping this first break back in is the hardest, and from here on out I can meet my weekly goal.)

Read 20 Nonfiction Titles- my goal for last year was 12 and I barely managed it.  For some reason I though 20 in 2020 would be a good idea.  It’s going to be hard, I think. (My first attempt at nonfic has resulted in a DNF…. so not off to a great start.)

No Monthly TBRs or Goodreads Challenge-  First of all, I can’t stick to a monthly TBR and it just ends up stressing me out, so why set myself up for failure?  Secondly, I really want my focus this year to be on quality and not quantity.  I spent a good part of last year binging mediocre audiobooks.  Part of that was because they were all I could invest myself in mentally, and the thrill of seeing my Goodreads numbers padded.  This year I decided I wouldn’t set a goal for the Goodreads challenge, but because I do like being able to click on the challenge link and see only books read in the present year, I went ahead and set it to 1.  Mood reading.  Quality books.  That will be my focus.  (The desire to read as much as possible as quick as possible is still brimming at the surface, but I am making a conscious effort to focus my reading more, to only have one audio and one physical book going at a time… not to have 6 or 7 books going simultaneously.)


Hopefully I will be back on here in a week’s time.  Happy Reading!

Reading Rush TBR

I am going to try my absolute best to participate in the Reading Rush readathon (formerly Booktubeathon) taking place July 22 through July 28.

If you don’t know what the Reading Rush is, find all the information for it here.

I have picked out 7 different books to go with the 7 challenges, but several of my choices can apply to multiple challenges, and I have other options on my shelves that could work for the challenges as well.  So at the end of the week I’ll check back in to see how well my reading goals aligned with my actual reading.


2019 Reading Rush Challenges:

1. Read a book with purple on the cover- The Color Purple, by Alice Walker

2. Read a book in the same spot for the entire time- Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Gabriel García Márquez

3. Read a book you meant to read last year- The Fellowship of the Ring, by JRR Tolkien

4. Read an author’s first book- Property Of, by Alice Hoffman (audiobook through Hoopla)

5. Read a book with a non-human main character- Tik-Tok, by John Sladek

6. Pick a book that has five or more words in the title- Baseball and the Color Line, by Thomas Gilbert

7. Read and watch a book to movie adaptation- The Birds, by Daphne Du Maurier (film by Alfred Hitchcock)

Bonus Challenge: Read 7 books


My focus is definitely going to be on The Fellowship of the Ring, because it is the book club selection for the month of July for The Marauders Book Club on Facebook. This book alone would cover four of the challenges: meant to read last year, five or more words in the title, non-human main character, and read + watch adaptation.

Are you participating in The Reading Rush? Let me know if you are, and what you plan on reading.  If you are using the website, here is a link to MY PROFILE where you can add me as a friend!

Happy Reading!!!

T5W: Disappointing Reads of 2018

Top 5 Wednesday is hosted by Sam, of the YouTube channel Thoughts on Tomes. The group topics and links are here.


I had a pretty decent reading year overall, but there were definitely some books that didn’t hit the mark for me. I wouldn’t say theses disappointing reads are the worst I read of there, and I’m not going to include DNFs in this list either. In fact, some of these books I did actually like, just not as much as I expected to… which is almost worse. If I straight up hated them, I could just be bitter about it. But instead some of these leave me confused about how I feel and how to proceed; you’ll see what I mean.

1. The Binti Series by Nnedi Okorafor

I listened to all three novellas back to back to back. I was expecting for these books to blow my mind based on all the reviews I’d seen of it. While I enjoyed the world and the plot, I was really let down by the speedy resolution of the conflict. Every book left me thinking ‘Seriously?! How anticlimactic.’ There is a point towards the end of the third novella where even Binti says the same exact thing! Is this just the nature of novellas? The world was built well, and the tension was developed well… but the resolution was just… ugh…

So where do I go from here? Before reading these I really wanted to read Akata Witch, and since reading these I’ve seen good reviews for her other novels and learned that Nnedi Okorafor is authoring graphic novels based on the Dora Milaje warriors from Black Panther which I kind of want to give a try. But will she just let me down again? What to do, what to do?!

2. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

I was one of the few people who actually kind of liked Leah in Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I saw a little bit of myself in the character and was excited to get to read from her POV. THIS BOOK SHOULD NOT EXIST. It ruins the characters from the original book. Leah is the worst. The absolute worst. And yet…. I still enjoyed how Becky Albertalli portrays anxiety in her characters, and just like when I read Upside of Unrequited, there were lines from Leah that really resonated with highschool me.

3. Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

So I’m still reading this actually. Slowly. But this was quite the disappointment because I bought it to be a Christmas-y read. It. was. not. In all fairness, I don’t actually know much about the original Nutcracker story (Hiddensee is a retelling of this), just that it’s associated with Christmas. I had to put it aside to read more holiday theme books which is what I was in the head space for in December. I went back to it shortly after the new year because I knew if I put it off longer than that I wouldn’t ever finish is.

My experience with every Gregory Maguire book I’ve read (Wicked, Son of a Witch, Mirror Mirror, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), has been that I struggle through them… not quite sure of what’s going on… but then once I finish it, I decide it was really good. What does that mean? Do I enjoy his writing or not? Is it weird that I can’t tell?

4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Have you ever put off reading a book because you know you’re going to love it, so you may as well get some other books out of the way? That’s what I did with Uprooted. Even when I saw negative-ish reviews of it, I brushed them aside because I was sure I would be on the absolutely infatuated side of the spectrum. Imagine my disappointment when I just didn’t love it. I liked it…. I just didn’t love it. It took me FOR-EV-ER to finish, just about the entire month.

Now what? Do I read Spinning Silver? Even people who loved Uprooted were ‘meh’ about Spinning Silver. I already have it on my nook, though, so should I just go for it? I most likely will, but not anytime soon.

5. The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

Unpopular opinion time…. this series was just good. Not great.

Don’t get me wrong. Points in the second book had me screaming “Whaaaaaaaaaat?!?!” in my car while I listened to it on the drive home. I really loved the magic system and the fact that everything you thought you knew…. was WRONG! What a ride.

However…. the characters were the literal worst! So annoying. And the books were just too long, especially the third one. How many times can you say THE SAME THING, Brandon?! I actually came to really dislike Sanderson because I got the feeling he wrote such long books just to be able to say he writes long books. You know, page count bragging rights.

But I liked the world, right? So do I go on and read the Alloy series? Should I give The Stormlight Archives a try? What do I do? I just can’t decide. Because I listened to them all back to back over the summer, I am glad that I took a break from Sanderson and not go right into Alloy of Law, which I thought about doing at one point. If I do decide to read more from him it will be another major time investment, so I’m not in any rush.


Have you had similar experiences with these or any other book? Let me know.

Did you have the opposite experience with any of these books? Let me know that too!

Happy Reading!

Spookathon Readathon Day 3 & T5W

Well, I feel like I haven’t done too much reading today… and I’m already yawning watching game 4 of the ALCS (Go Sox!)… so I don’t know how much more I’ll get done for day 3 of the readathon.

I read a little bit more of My Plain Jane when I woke up, then found the audio for The Graveyard Book on hoopla to listen to while I made lunch. It’s narrated by Neil Gaiman himself! I love his narration.

This afternoon I also started a middle grade graphic novel called Estranged. It is about changelings and the artwork is beautiful.

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On Wednesdays we library, and this Wednesday we did playground first. I got to squeeze in another few pages waiting for friends to meet us there.

The kids wanted to watch a movie when we got home….not just a movie.. my movie… so I cuddled up with then to watch and sing along.

Which brings us to today’s Spookathon IG photo challenge (candle), which I would have forgotten all about had my 8 year old not reminded me.


And now we move on to Top 5 Wednesday.

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Check out the Goodreads group for topics and links.


This week’s topic is favorite Monsters/Mythological Creatures. This is hard, because just when I have 5 cool creatures to list, I think of something else.

1. Let’s kick this list off with my hometown monster: The Jersey Devil. Not gonna lie, I could use a refresher of his story/origin. But as a New Jersey native I gotta include it. That said… when it comes to hockey, I actually hate the NJ Devils. Go Rangers!

2. Goblins. Love ’em!

3. Dragons. Especially of the Luck variety, but Draco from Dragonheart and Dragon from Merlin are probably my two all time favorite dragons. I really need to read Seraphina… and feel free to send me more Dragon recommendations (but no GoT please, at this point it’s just not gonna happen).

4. Gargoyles. Architecturally I’m actually more a fan of grotesques, but I think that most of the time the terms are used interchangeably. My heart belongs to one Gargoyle in particular- Goliath. Oh my.

5. And finally, Chimera. Not so much in the Greek mythology portrayal (okay, them too), but the kind from the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy… they are so freaking amazing!


 

Here is an update on my pages/challenges for the readathon:

My Plain Jane

  • Readathon challenge: Purple cover, Set in a different time
  • Currently on page 179 of 464

Estranged

  • Readathon challenge: Has pictures
  • Currently on page 61 of 224

The Graveyard Book

  • Readathon Challenge: Has Picture, Spooky word in the title
  • Currently on page 35 of 307

Spookathon Readathon Day 1

Hellooooo! I’m still here!

Been busy, been away, been reading…but have not been blogging.

I have been having a great time participating in the Spookathon Photo Challenge over on instagram, though. Let me just say… I WISH I had them sick bookstagram skills. But, alas, I do not.

The readathon portion of Spookathon, which is hosted by Books and Lala, started today (Oct 15) and I had every intention of participating, but so far today the only reading I’ve gotten done is listening to Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3) while getting to some housework. I’ll probably grab one of the books from my readathon tbr to crack before calling it a night, because I’d hate to fail completely straight out of the gate!

I based my TBR for the readathon on the challenges:

  1. Read a thriller
  2. Read a book with purple on the cover
  3. Read a book not set in this time period
  4. Read a book with a spook word in the title
  5. Read a book with pictures

Is any one else participating in Spookathon? Or doing any other October theme readathon?

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books That You Rarely Hear About.


The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

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Once upon a time, I didn’t use Goodreads, or Youtube or blogs to find books to read. I browsed tables for featured books in stores and got emails from Barnes and Noble about up and coming releases. One such e-mail featured this book, and I was quite interested in it. Then nearly forgot about it. Such is life. Maybe a year later, a co-worker recommended this book to me and I remembered how amazing it sounded. I found it in the bargain section of Barnes and Noble and was both happy that it was a $6 hardcover, and sad that it apparently didn’t do so well to land itself there so soon (imagine my heartache years later, after falling in love with this book, to see it in the Dollar Tree).

I got it picked as the read for the book club I was in at the time and dove in.

The story starts with a man who has been in a terrible car accident. He was driving drunk and had spilled alcohol on the crotch of his pants, which accelerated the fire from the accident and focused it on this area of his anatomy. I’m pretty sure he is a porn star, and actually loses his money maker…. he is severely burned all over his entire body, but this is the injury that really stands out and shatters his sense of self.

A woman visits him in the hospital and ends up bringing him home to help him recover. As she ministers to him, she tells him all about their intense and tragic love from another lifetime. The book goes back and forth from their past life together to the present- he can’t help but think she is crazy, but is drawn to her none the less.

I LOVED THIS BOOK! My book club…. hated it.

“That would make her hundreds of years old…. it doesn’t make sense….”

IT’S A BOOK, KRISTA! LET REALITY BEND A LITTLE WOULD YA!?

I’ve actually only read this the one time, but whenever I look at it I have a swelling of emotion and fall back in love. I’m planning to re-read it this October, specifically the week of Halloween, as my wedding anniversary is 10/31, and this is one of the most intense love stories I’ve come across… even if it is incredibly dark and tragic. I always go into re-reads nervous…. what if I don’t love it anymore?

I’m reading Goodreads reviews now… apparently this was a very hyped debut release and didn’t live up to it… well I loved it, so *shrugs*

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

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Similarly, this book also deals with a tragic love story, and the reunion of the lovers lifetimes later.

From Goodreads:

Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has “the memory”, the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he’s previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

I gave this 4 stars, its Goodreads average is 3.7, so I’m not too far off. I was easily able to fall into the story and become invested in the characters. I’m a sap, what can I say? A tragic love story is my kryptonite. At the same time…. I was able to put the book down for days at a time, so, take that as you will.

The ending though…. It really sets you up for the story to go on, and then it leaves you hanging. From what I understand this was intended as a trilogy but didn’t do as well as publishers wanted it to.

The Kulipari Series by Trevor Pryce

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As my kids and I watched this Netflix original series, I thought to myself: “I would read the shit out of this!” Imagine my joy when I actually paid attention to the opening credits and saw that it WAS based on a book series. We hit up the library so fast! The books, in order, are: An Army of Frogs, The Rainbow Serpent, and Amphibians’ End.

It was such a great read aloud for us. And so timely- it made current events accessible to my kids. The series focuses on the importance of access to water (Standing Rock pipeline), and touches on the treatment of refugees (45’s Muslim ban) forced from their homelands.

The illustrations are beautiful, and there are a lot of references to aboriginal mythology. I am looking forward to reading more in this world. There is a fourth book due to be released, as well as some comics we have to check out.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

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From Goodreads:

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler’s gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

This is a dual timeline story, following the character in the present as well as his grandparents (great grandparents? I don’t remember). I really enjoyed the old traveling circus element of this book, and the mystical symbolism (horseshoe crabs, man. Who knew?)

The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott

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I saw this in the juv-fic section of the library and picked it up to read to my Red Sox obsessed kiddo. I didn’t realize how much of a fantasy book this would be. We loved it. There was a lot of Irish folklore mixed in with baseball history, and the book also dove into racism and identity. It was a really unexpected gem. The story centers around the 2004 World Series, when the Red Sox broke their 86 years long curse of the Bambino. But were the Sox actually the ones to break it? Or was it Oscar, the mixed race orphan who gets caught up in a hidden world of real curses and creatures?

Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

I will always associate this book with the pain of a severely sprained ankle. But personal memories aside… this book was really well written and thought provoking.

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Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the United States to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn’t the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village–they’ve all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men–her own “Siete Magníficos”–to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over.

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

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I love this dark book so much. Maybe it’s not a hidden gem, I don’t actually know. But I never hear anyone talk about it. This is another one that pre-dates my Goodreads, Booktube, and blogger days.

The writing is beautiful and haunting. It is a dark, fantasy, coming of age story embellished with grim fairy tale elements.

I also loved The Gates, by the same author, which I never hear anyone mention either.

The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J Church

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This book kept me up reading all night. I was so swept up in the realness of it. Heartwarming love story? Happy ending? No, and no.

It is the story of a highly intelligent woman (in the 60s I think) who marries an older academic and makes sacrifices for the sake of his career; constantly reevaluating what she wants and what it’s worth. There is romance and loss and betrayal and science all written together beautifully.

Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but this left me emotionally exhausted…in the best way.

A Working Theory of Love by Scott Hutchins

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Remind me of this book whenever I mention unhauling books from my shelves. I thought I would be okay letting this one go. I read it, I liked it, I needed the shelf space. But I’ve thought about it several times since saying goodbye and I wish I still had it around.

This story follows a man who is transcribing his father’s journals to be used in creating an artificial intelligence program. It’s not scifi-y or anything, but I learned a lot about the standards for evaluating AI (basically, the computer has to consider itself a real person).

I found it fascinating that by giving the computer his father’s language and some logic programming (now I’m just pulling comp sci terms out of my ass… I don’t know) he was able to relate to and connect with his father posthumously, in a better way than he ever had when his father was alive.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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This book doesn’t get as much love as its predecessor, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. And while I do agree that Ari and Dante is the better book… this one is just as beautifully and emotionally written. This is another one that kept me up way too late. I had to wipe my tears at 1 am and force myself to put it down.

I just love the way Sáenz creates these characters that I want to wrap up in a hug and comfort. I connect with their emotions so deeply- the way they feel lost and confused and angry and sad, without necessarily knowing why. I really feel like this is YA written for adults. I can read his books from a (slightly) more stable emotional state and think… YES! I felt that. Beautiful.


Some other mentions:

  • The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
  • I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak
  • Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks
  • The Paper Magician (series) by Charlie N. Holmberg

Have you read any of these? What made your list this week?

Fall Reading Plans

I have so many books that I’ve been putting aside to read close to Halloween that I have to make September through November my spooky reading time frame. October alone just would not cut it.

As I was considering my TBR shelves and which reads I would prioritize for this reading period, I realized that I could easily pair up books that had similar sounding premises, or that gave me a similar feeling from what I think they are about.

So, my plan is to pick books off of my shelf in pairs and do a versus style reading and reaction post. The pair will (for the most part) be a newer, more recently released book and an older classic/modern classic/well known book.

Here’s a rough idea of the match ups I’m planning and why I think they will go together:

The Wicked Deep vs Practical Magic

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  • When I first heard of the Wicked Deep it was compared to Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic
  • Both books (I think) have the theme of centuries old curses, specifically targeting male love interests.
  • Witchy, coastal, small town atmosphere

The Wicker King vs The Bell Jar

  • From what I understand, both books follow the character’s decent into mental illness.

See What I Have Done vs We Have Always Lived in the Castle

  • I have read We Have Always Lived in the Castle before. It’s been three years, and I would love to re-read it and look out for clues.
  • I think See What I Have Done (a fictional account of the Lizzie Borden case) will have a similar patricidal tone.

The Island of Dr. Moreau vs ???

  • Dr. Moreau would be a reread for me, but I was definitely way too young when I read it the first time.
  • My choices to pair up with it are:
    • Jurassic Park– similar theme of scientists breaking the laws of nature and it biting them in the ass (literally). I’ve been wanting to read this for so long, and I remember the movie scaring the crap out of me when it came out a million years ago.
    • The Madman’s Daughter– This is an imagining of what Dr. Moreau’s daughter would face in the wake of her father’s experiments. This is actually the first in a series. I don’t expect this to be an amazing book, but I can’t help but be intrigued by it.

My Plain Jane vs ???

  • Ideally I would pair this new release with a re-read Jane Eyre, but that book is quite the chunker. I won’t totally dismiss the idea, but not sure how realistic this would be.
  • Jane Steele– another reimagining of the same source material
  • I would also consider reading The Madman’s Daughter against this book, because the are both YA twists on classic books.

The Hazel Wood vs The Book of Lost Things

  • Both books feature dark fairy tale elements and (I think) kidnapped family members.
  • I LOVE The Book of Lost Things so freaking much! This would be a third reading if I get to it.

Undead Girl Gang vs Frankenstein

  • I’m not actually thinking these are aligned at all, but…
  • Necromancy.

Will I get to all of these? Doubt it. I would be so surprised if I did. But I had fun thinking up these pairs to keep me motivated in my reading. There are some books I want to get to that don’t really fit in with this versus style either, so I guess we will just see what sort of reading mood I end up in.

Friday 56: ‘The Wicked Deep’

Friday 56 is a linkup hosted by Freda’s Voice


RULES:

*Grab a book, any book.

*Turn to Page 56 or 56% on your e-reader.
If you have to improvise, that is okay.

*Find a snippet, short and sweet.

*Post it, and add the url to your post in the Linky below.

Also join in the fun on Instagram using the hashtags #Instagram56 #Friday56


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I just finished reading The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw.  I loved it.

Page 56 happens to blank, so this excerpt is from page 57:

“From the black waters of the harbor, their song sinks into dreams, permeates the brittle grass that grows along steep cliffs and rotting homes.  It settles into the stones that hold up the lighthouse; it floats and swirls in the air until it’s all you can taste and breathe.

“This is how they do it– how the sisters are freed from their brackish grave.  They steal three bodies and make them their own.  And this season, they do it swiftly.”

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This book was well written without being to flowery.  It was dark and macabre without being scary or morbid.  It left me with a lot to think about in terms of love, loss and identity.

Let me know if you participate in The Friday 56.

Hope you have a great weekend ahead of you!

T5W: Favorite Friend Groups

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Visit the Goodreads group for the topic schedule and to share your link.

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I love this weeks topic of favorite friend groups. While I don’t always love multiple 1st person POVs, I do love ensemble casts with amazing chemistry.


Here are my favorites books with some kick-ass awesome crews: (featuring fanart I found on Pinterest/Google)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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Pretty sure this is on every T5W this week. There’s a reason- these characters are so well written and their chemistry is perfection. Every character has their own motivation in working toward a common goal, and they all have vices/issues to work through making them so real and dynamic.

Crooked Kingdom, though. Have I mentioned before what that book did to me? I think I may have brought it up once or twice.

***breaks down sobbing***

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

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This series is amazing…. I will accept no other opinions. I love it puts totally unique twists on fairy tale characters. I love all the ships. I love all the interactions. I love that their story continues in graphic novel format, and you get to see how close they all remain after all the crap they went through. Thorne and Cinder’s closeness is my absolute favorite. I also like the scenes with little Cress and Wolf interacting one on one. And Jacin is hilarious in the way that he doesn’t really fit into their group dynamic, but he is one of them anyway.

The Heroes of Olympus Series by Rick Riordan

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These kids are just too cute. I love the age that they are in this follow up series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians; it makes their relationships among the group that much more meaningful. They are at that point in life where they are figuring out where they want to end up (if they survive long enough that is), and they are still young enough not to take things too seriously. Percy and Leo are so good at breaking tension and lightening the mood.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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I really loved the crew from this book. Leah on the Offbeat destroyed them, in my opinion. And I was so looking forward to more adorableness.

Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

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Maybe it’s just because it’s my most recent read… but I think these guys were great. If you can still find something to laugh about when planning on overthrowing an evil lord and are sure you won’t actually survive… then yeah, you have some good friends by your side.


Who are some of your favorite friend groups?

Let me know.