Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems

TTT-Big2

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

2595138.jpg

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

7135858.jpg

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

516dP1pz+EL._SL500_.jpg

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

23014670.jpg

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

4159015.jpg

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.

5970496.jpg

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

lostthingscover

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

25810606.jpg

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

13588444.jpg

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

23447923.jpg

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?

Advertisements

Top Ten Tuesday- Binge Worthy TV Shows

TTT-Big2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week’s topic is Top Ten Binge Worthy TV Shows.

This is pretty much the only way my husband and I watch TV.  We don’t have cable, and while I have a couple of shows I watch week to week on Hulu, we love having a series available on Netflix to veg out with once we finally get those tiny pirate monsters kids of ours to bed.

1. Marvel’s   (literally any one of the many shows)    

We are currently binging all the Marvel shows.  We got through all 5 seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Netflix (we followed this timeline for how to watch the seasons of this show along with the Marvel movies).  Then we went over to Hulu to watch Agent Carter.  Loved it.  And now we are back on Netflix for Daredevil.  Holy cow.  We actually tuck the kids in and tell them we are going to start our show…”DO NOT COME IN THE LIVING ROOM if you need to get out of bed for anything”.  Wow is it gory.  I’ve had to cover my eyes and the sounds are enough to gross me out.

2. How I Met Your Mother

We watched this entire show all at once on Netflix.  If we were to watch it over we would skip the last season.  The show’s ending actually made us so angry that we are hesitant to watch even the earlier seasons again because now we know where they are going.  But until that point…it was so funny and I loved all the running jokes.  When I think of how many years they kept a joke going (for those who weren’t binging the show), it’s really impressive that they were able to keep track of everything for so long.

3. Cheers

We are way too young to have watched Cheers back in its day… but I had seen enough of the show in syndication growing up to say ‘hey let’s put this one on’ when we saw it on Netflix.  I’m so glad we did.  It was great.  I was actually more familiar with Frasier and knew it was a spin off, but when we finished Cheers I found I couldn’t stand Frasier… he is not the same person he was in the original show.  And what a shock to go from watching young Ted Danson every night… and then to see a commercial for The Good Place.  I mean I know aging happens, obviously.  But when we are connecting to the character that is around our age for 11 seasons, and then to see him in the present…. it was kind of jarring.

4. Friends

duh.

5. Everybody Loves Raymond

I love this show so much.  And I got a kick out of Patricia Heaton’s character Deborah, and how different she is from Frankie Heck (her character in The Middle, which we mostly kept up with thanks to Hulu).

6. Impractical Jokers

On a Netflix lull, we turned to watching all the episodes of this stupid show.  It was a great show to watch when we didn’t have the energy to invest in a story line.  It is four guys from Long Island who come up with hilarious scenarios and try to out-embarass each other.  That’s it.  It’s hilarious.  Until you realize that you’ve just watched like 7 years worth of this show and these guys still have this juvenile sense of humor… it’s kind of sad.  But still so funny, who am I kidding?

7. The Goldbergs

Holy f*** is this show hilarious!  I love the crazy family dynamic and how the mom is so obsessed with her kids and always getting bleeped because she drops f bombs like it’s her job (what? that’s not me! oh wait…)

We had seen an episode here and there, because ABC is the one channel our rabbit ear antenna picked up and it came on after The Middle.  But then we put it on Hulu one day and very quickly watched 4 seasons worth.


The rest of my list is some Sci Fi/ Fantasy that I watched alone because they are soooooo not my husband’s cup of tea.

8. The Magicians

I binged the first season two seasons, and I think I’m going to rewatch them before I binge the third season.  I want to read the books but have hear they are meh.  I’ll probably love them.  The show gives me very adult Harry Potter/Narnia vibes that I am ALL ABOUT!

9. Being Human (BBC Version)

Oh man, I binged this so hard a few years ago. Never watched the US version though.  Is this still even on Netflix? probably not.  I kind of want to watch this over again.  Vampire, Werewolf, and Ghost BFFS?  YES!  The last season gave me anxiety though, because it dealt with the devil and I’m Hispanic and was raised Catholic…. so, even though I don’t vibe with Catholicism, I still have some hang ups when it comes to demons and spirits.

10. Merlin

Oh this show.  It took me a few episodes to be on board with Merlin and Arthur being the same age.  I guess I was hung up on the traditional image of Merlin being old and mentoring Arthur.  But yeah I got over that real quick!  MERTHUR is the best the ship that never happened.  I love this show so much.  Yeah some episodes are cheesy, but the show is still AMAZING! My one hang up with the show…  The chick who plays Morgana is the literal worst actress EVER. Oh and also, the last episode is too intense to watch ever again.  I skipped it the last time I watched the series through and went back to episode 1 instead.


Oh boy it’s so hard to stop here with only ten.  But I will….because otherwise I’ll go on forever.

What shows have you binged?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’ve Decided I’m no Longer Interested in Reading

Happy Tuesday, Readers.

TTT-Big2

Top Ten Tuesday is a tag hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  The topic this week: Ten books I’ve decided I’m no longer interested in reading.


This prompt has me feeling two things- proud of myself for not succumbing to the pressure to read things that are popular or classic; and annoyed at the idea of leaving a series unfinished.

1- The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I’m sure it’s a great book, but I’ve gone this long without reading it so I think I’ll be ok.  Maybe I will watch the movie someday.  I bought this from the library for a dollar, only to unhaul it a few months later when I realized I only got it because I felt like I had to read it.  The hell? I mean, I’m not in high school anymore.  I don’t HAVE to read anything… and even in high school I faked my way through like 90% of the required reading anyway.

2- Emma by Jane Austen

I started this and did not make it far at all.  It’s obnoxious and there are so many other classics I’d rather read. Plus, I’ve seen Clueless countless times, so that should be good enough.

3- Pretty much anything by Cassandra Clare

I know right? Crazy.  I’m actually hiding right now from all the Mortal Instrument fanatics coming at me with their pitchforks.  I did read the first three books, oh so many years ago, and did not enjoy them as much as I was told I would.  And here I am today, discovering BookTube and reader blogs and realizing that these books are kind of a big deal.  Maybe I should give them another try.  Nah.

4- The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan

This is the third book in the Red Pyramid trilogy, and I tried to listen to it, but the audiobook cds from the library were in such bad condition and skipped so terribly that I couldn’t.  And honestly, I didn’t care all that much.

5- The End of Oz by Danielle Paige

Maybe I’ll listen to this one, but (again) I kind of don’t care anymore.  The story is fun and entertaining, but the writing is not nearly good enough to sustain this series for so long.  I listened to the third book after much hemming and hawing over whether I cared, and only decided to go ahead with it because I thought it was the last of the series.  So when it ended on a cliffhanger and I had to commit to a fourth, I was actually kind of pissed.  But maybe I’ll go back to it when I need something I don’t have to put much effort into absorbing.

6- King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard

I loved Red Queen, but I just really hated Glass Sword so much that I just can’t. Too many books, too little time to waste on something I feel so ambivalent toward.  You lost me Vicky, bye.

7- The Millenium Series by David Lagercrantz

Read that closely: by David Lagercrantz.  I do actually want to revisit the first three books in the series by Stieg Larsson, but  I have no interest in reading the series continued by anyone else.  I loved Lisbeth and Mikael, and was not satisfied with were Larsson left them before he passed away and could, obviously, no longer write their stories; but the idea of someone else continuing the series, just doesn’t feel canon to me.  I don’t know.  There’s plenty more to read… moving on.

8- Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

At this point, I’m just not going to get to it.  Probably.  Never say never.  But most likely.

9- The Daughter of Smoke and Bone- by Laini Taylor

Again, I’m sure it’s good.  The consensus seems to be that it’s a decent read.  But, meh.  It doesn’t excite me.

10- The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien

This isn’t so much that I’m not interested in it anymore, but I’m being realistic.  Odds are I wouldn’t even understand it if I did read it.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Have Been On My TBR the Longest and I Still Haven’t Read

TTT-Big2

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.  This weeks topics is “Books that have been on my TBR the longest and I still haven’t read.”

d441a33c316704a1d3f883d5373664dc

According to Goodreads, the books that have been on my to-read list the longest are:

  1. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, by Philip Pullman
  2. Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
  3. Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  4. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  5. Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull
  6. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan
  7. Nocturnes, by John Connolly
  8. The Eyre Afair, by Jasper Fforde
  9. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
  10. Daphne, by Justine Picardie

I’m not even sure I still want to read all of these.  I can’t even for the life of me remember adding ‘Daphne’.  What is that? And honestly, I don’t know that I have much interest in ‘Farenheit 451’ anymore, except that it’s one of those books that EVERYONE reads.

If I were to have made this list without checking Goodreads I would have included:

  • The Child Thief, by Brom
  • The City of Dreaming Books, by Walter Moers
  • The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins
  • Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
  • The Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys

And of course, some classics that I always mean to get to, yet somehow never do:

  • Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
  • Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Can’t Believe I’ve Read

This tag hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl looked fun, so I thought I’d play along. Here are 10 books I can’t believe I’ve read:

Not all of these books are on the list in a bad way. The top 3 books: ‘The Signature of All Things,’ ’11/22/63,’ and ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ are on this list based on page number alone. Woah! I can’t believe I tackled those large books. I loved two of the three of them, but I may or may not have thrown ‘The Signature of All Things’ across the room when I finished it. I hate that book….all that work reading it and nothing ever happened!

The next four books are on here because they were outside of my comfort zone/ not my usual genre.

‘Station Eleven’ was a book club choice that I was nervous about reading… because super viruses wiping out nearly all of mankind is my biggest fear! But I read it and enjoyed it…not as much as every one else in the world seemed to, but more than I thought I would.

‘An Unseemly Wife’ was a Barnes and Noble impulse buy. I had a couple dollars left on a gift card and wanted to grab something I knew nothing about. It was so sad. I can’t believe I didn’t bail on the ending. I can’t believe I was able to sleep after finishing it. I did get it out of my house and into a donation bin the very next morning, though. I couldn’t stand it’s nearness. Not a bad book though…just too sad for me.

‘Geek Love’ was a thrift store buy. I had no idea what it was about, or that it had such a cult following. I thought it would be a nerdy romance. NOPE! I still don’t know what to think about it. I gave it to my sister in law and she had the same reaction. The weirdness of the first half of the book was enjoyable, but then the second half got really crazy.

‘Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand’ was a book club choice I can’t believe I read simply because I would never have picked up myself… but isn’t that the point of a book club sometimes?

The next three are my WTF books:

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and ‘Twilight’ are two series I enjoyed while I was reading them, but very VERY soon after had a total change of heart.

And last on my list is ‘The Haunted Vagina.’ I cannot believe I read that. It was so bizarre. This book came up as a joke in a Facebook group, but reviews of it made it sound like it was actually a worthwhile read. It is so short that I read it on one sitting, and the next day I kept thinking about it- the imagery and symbolism in it. Still, don’t think I’ll be trying any more from this author.