Ten Reasons I Love Rainbow Rowell

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday they post a new Top Ten list prompt. This week’s prompt is… Ten Reasons you love “X”.

I wasn’t sure which author to base my top ten list off of so I started this post by trying to write ten things I loved about several authors like Jane Austen and Jasper Fforde and then I got to Rainbow Rowell and the list started to come more naturally and I knew I could get to ten things easily. Once I started reading old interviews with her, my list far exceeded ten things.

Rowell has quickly became a trusted entity for me. I have loved all the books I’ve read of hers to the point where I don’t even question whether or not to read her books now. They are Must Reads by default. Here are ten reasons why:

  1. She understands the heart of socially anxious girls everywhere. AKA me. Her characters are just the right amount of broken in a way that makes them feel real and easy to relate to and root for.
  2. She fangirls all over the place just like the rest of us. “I’ve always been a very fannish person. When I like something, I usually love it, and when I love something, I CAN’T GET ENOUGH.
  3. My fave novel of hers, Fangirl, was originally a Nanowrimo project! I love that this massively successful author has experienced the joys and frustrations of National Novel Writing Month just like the rest of us and actually made something amazing with it.
  4. Her take on YA literature: “A lot of people look at something popular, and they’re dismissive of it because they don’t understand it. If you think YA is simple, you probably haven’t read a lot of it. But YA is not a genre. It’s just this really loosely defined category of books. If YA had always been this popular category, a lot of books we think of as classics would be YA. The Catcher in the Rye? Without question.”
  5. Her response to the question of whether or not Eleanor is actually fat is just perfection. I couldn’t decide on a single quote to share – just go read her whole response.
  6. Nostalgia reigns supreme in Rowell’s novels. Each of her books seems to single out a generation and a pinpoint in one’s coming of age and she captures the essence of those times spectacularly.
  7. She’s a champion for so called “girlish interests”: I think anything that predominantly women like is discounted, and anything that teenage girls like is absolutely reviled. It’s the lowest of the low. If teenage girls like something, everyone feels like they can — and maybe should — hate it, even the girls themselves.
  8. Her Instagram feed looks like everyone else’s Instagram feed. Rowell actually seems like she manages to be a real person even in spite of her fame. Like you could go out for frozen yogurt or watch a Star Wars marathon with her.
  9. This quote: “I don’t think ideas are as clean and separate as we think they are. Everything is derivative in a way. What you write is often a reaction or a response to the things you’ve read.”
  10. She wrote fictional fanfiction within a novel that became so good that it ended up getting its own novel. I think this makes her a rockstar.

OK so let’s take a vote? What’s your favorite Rainbow Rowell book?

What author would you share ten favorite things about?

 

Ten (non-bookish) Websites I Love

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday they post a new Top Ten list prompt. This week’s prompt is… Ten Websites I Love That Aren’t About Books. This proved more challenging than I expected but I dug deep, so…

Here are ten of the usual suspects from my browser history and what makes them awesome:

picmonkey-logo-taglinePickmonkey.com : I use this website constantly for editing pictures for my blog or personal photos and I also use it to create things like birthday invitations and the featured image on this post. I also love their blog which features great tutorials on photography and photo editing.

CupofJo.com : Jo’s blog is a great source for fashion ideas, recipes and all the little things in between. I read her blog on the regular and even subscribe to her newsletter which is a rare honor in my life of “get out of my inbox” sensibilities. Also her blog is kind of beautiful – like her formatting makes my heart happy. Is that weird?

logoHelloGiggles.com : This is my primary source for celebrity news and other odds and ends. One of the few places where I can find a roundup of natural sunscreens and Game of Thrones fan theories in the same place. Also they were founded by Zooey Deschanel, Molly McAleer, and Sophia Rossi “as a place on the Internet to inspire a smile.”

DudeMom.com : Several of the recipes I cook my family regularly (this might be my husband’s favorite meal) were found at Dude Mom but she isn’t really a food blogger. She’s a keeping it real mom of three boys who was once on What Not To Wear and shares fashion tips for real woman bodies and delivers the funny always.

downloadThe Lazy Genius : Kendra is basically my hero. She is all about not trying so hard and figuring out how to rock at life with minimal effort because our time is precious and we’re worth it. She writes about things like bullet journaling and meal planning and celebrity face mashing.

Modern Mrs. Darcy : Admittedly Anne blogs about books a lot, but I swear I read her blog for more than just books so it counts, right? And I can’t round up a list of my favorite websites without mentioning her because she’s literally one of my favorite bloggers, period. In addition to book recommendations, I love her posts about personality types, bullet journals and even just life in general. She’s my bloggy role model and perhaps my biggest book pusher. (Her daily kindle deals email is one of the first things I read each morning.)

laws_of_physicsXKCD.com : Continues to be one of my favorite comic strips. I wanted to mention unshelved but that comic is definitely about books so it would be breaking the rules. XKCD is my other regular comic that I read and it’s all nerdy references and surprisingly intricate stick figure drawings.

GeekandSundry.com : This is where I get the majority of my geek news and board game recommendations. It’s also home of Will Wheaton’s table top video series. I link to posts from Geek and Sundry often here because, relevant.

giphyGiphy : Because if a picture is worth a thousand words, a gif is worth a thousand feels. This is my favorite source for finding fun gif images to liven up a blog post.

Bloglovin.com : Lastly, the website that is home to all the websites – this is my feed reader of choice that keeps my lengthy list of favorite websites organized and easy to keep up with. They have a good mobile app and a friendly interface and they encourage bloggy friendships in a way that makes bloggers look like people and not just urls. I like that.

What are some of your favorite websites?

Top 10: Bookworm Delights

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday theme is bookworm delights – things that make your little bookworm heart warm up and sing. Let’s squeal and say, “me, too!” together okay?

  1. Perusing the older antique book section at my local used book store. There are the really pricey leather bound volumes behind glass but also just little books in older bindings, with the pages kind of starting to yellow and the cover art that brings you full on nostalgia and some of the titles are infamous ones you know and love and others you have never heard of before but they make you feel kind of small to think about how a couple dozen years ago these books were new and beautiful to someone.
  2. Bookish references to other books in the book you are reading. When the protagonist mentions one of your favorite books off hand or when the plot of the book is clearly (or subtly) taking cues from classic literature. I love finding Darcy types in modern books.
  3. New bookmarks! I love a gorgeous wooden bookmark or handy point to a specific line bookmarks, cheap bookmarks offered for free at the register or perusing the carousel of bookmarks in the check out lane at Barnes & Noble.
  4. Etsy shops that sell jewelry and coffee mugs and candles and tea based off books.  So that I never have to stop thinking about books.
  5. The point in a book where you won’t be putting it back down until it’s done. Where you go from being able to read a chapter a night to being absolutely resigned to the fact that you’ll be staying up all night until you finish because you are at that part now.
  6. roryThat bookish smell. The scent that puts you at ease the second you walk into a bookstore. Your heart beat slows down to a purr as you walk up and down the aisles, touching the books just because you have to touch them. Because obviously they won’t know that you are one of them unless you run a hand across the spine or flip the pages .
  7. When the movie gets the casting just right. This is like a unicorn phenomenon. It’s rare. You’ll usually be disappointed or if you are lucky you will be completely neutral about them. But sometimes it’s like the character literally comes to life – sometimes the casting is so good that the character actually gets better than they were inside your head.
  8. When you start to think that you are probably destined to be BFFS with the author. You laugh at all their jokes, you like them on Facebook and follow them on Instagram and you sometimes wish you were reading the book while skyping with them so you could let them know your thoughts immediately about certain lines and plot developments because you tried telling your husband and he just stared at you and said something about it being three AM and he was sleeping.
  9. When you finish an amazing book by a new to you author and find out that they’ve written like a dozen other books. Bonus points if the kindle version of one of them is magically on sale that day.
  10. When that mom at the school playground references a book you love in a way that only other  fans would pick up on. “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you for saying that!!!” There is nothing better than finding a new person you can let your geek flag fly around.

What would be on your list?

toptentuesday
Check out The Broke and The Bookish for more Top Ten lists!

10 Funny Picture Books for Kids

I’m linking up for another Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Every Tuesday they post a new prompt. This week’s prompt is… Ten Books To Make You Laugh. I’m stealing Kate’s idea of listing 10 funny picture books because after my suggestions for tween girls and 10 year old boys, picture books seems like a natural progression. And being a mother to a six year old and ten year old, I have read a LOT of picture books. Here are some of our favorites:

  1. 415zyRA-22L._SX400_BO1,204,203,200_The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak should be breaking the rules because as the name suggests, there are no pictures. But for picture book style reading where you are curled up with your kiddo for story time, this one can’t be beat and it’s so funny that your face might turn blue and you might spit on someone. And you have the added delight of reading a picture book by that guy from The Office so you know it’s funny stuff.
  2. 51BI6F3MRlLDon’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus by Mo Willems and pretty much anything else by Mo Willems to be honest. His Elephant and Piggy series was another big favorite around here and is a fantastic series for early readers. This book is the classic you must read title though and makes for a fantastic read aloud.
  3. 5984611Tickle Monster by Josie Bissett is guaranteed to make your kids laugh because it comes with built in prompts to tickle your children and more importantly the build up of threatening to tickle which in my experience makes kids laugh even more.
  4. 41ZYeUkW0wL._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_Olivia by Ian Falconer is an oldie but a goodie that always makes me laugh. I love the illustrations and Olivia’s antics. Her expressions and reactions to things are great. Any of the books in the series are great but if you haven’t read any of the books yet, obviously start at the beginning.
  5. 61yGpMELl4L._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_Eloise by Kay Thompson is kind of the natural progression after mentioning Olivia. If you like Olivia, you are going to love Eloise. She’ll make you wish you could live at the Plaza Hotel and have a pet named Skipperdee. Also your own children will likely seem tame by comparison so bonus points. If not, I’m sorry.
  6. 616-hr5kSqL._SX388_BO1,204,203,200_The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka is another long time favorite that both my kids loved. I love any book that takes a well known story and turns it on its head and this one is a prime example. And honestly Scieszka can do no wrong in my eyes.
  7. 61g8cli07XL._SX425_BO1,204,203,200_The Monster At The End of This Book by Jon Stone is a picture book that I read as a kid and had full nostalgia reading to my kids. This is iconically funny stuff and amazingly fun to read out loud. If you haven’t read this one yet, you are in for a treat.
  8. 51qqiOXCo2L._SX431_BO1,204,203,200_If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff is one of my daughter’s favorites right now. She has a big collection of these books and thinks they are pretty much the funniest thing ever. Honestly I’m not sure I’ve ever met a kid who didn’t love reading or listening to this story.
  9. 51DE6fFNKLL._SX454_BO1,204,203,200_I Am Absolutely Too Small For School by Lauren Child is one of many books in the Charlie and Lola series. I love these books – funny and fantastic illustrations with excellent attention to all the little details which I think is super important for picture books where kids will pore over them multiple times. I especially like this series for kids who have a bigger sibling – they’ll definitely be able to relate to Lola.
  10. 51K6FH6+E4L._SY454_BO1,204,203,200_We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury is one of the books that I buy just about every new mother. It’s one of our all time favorite read alouds and perhaps more quietly funny than laugh out loud funny – it definitely deserves a place on this list.

What books would be on your list?

toptentuesday
Check out The Broke and The Bookish for more Top Ten lists!

 

10 Book Suggestions: For 10 year old boys

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt from The Broke and the Bookish was to make your own Top 10 Must Reads For… your choice. Awhile back I wrote a post suggesting books for the reluctant tween reader. I had a lot of fun with that and have been meaning to write more posts like it so today I’m tackling a new list of suggestions – books for 10 year old boys (though honestly, your daughters will probably love these books, too) – based off the reading habits of my own ten year old boy.

He is a voracious reader and would probably have his own list of ten to add to this but I’m sticking to books that I have also read that I thought were excellent and can vouch for. Some are more complex than others – I tried to give you a varied list so that you can find something for your ten year olds regardless of reading level. And there aren’t any Diary of Middle School Zombies in Underpants here. You’re welcome.

  1. gregor the overlander by suzanne collinsMy son’s favorite: I couldn’t start this list with anything except my son’s self proclaimed favorite book ever. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins (yes, that Suzanne Collins) was probably the first book that made him cry – the first book that he came to me somewhat distraught over because a beloved character was clearly in real danger (but ended up being ok). This series captured his heart and consumed his mind and he’d insist that your ten year old read it immediately.
  2. 3980My favorite: One of my favorite books growing up was From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankeweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. This was a hide under the covers with a flashlight book and I still think of it today. My son read this in school this year and also really loved it so I can vouch for modern day kids still enjoying it. Read it together and dream of running away to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  3. Harry Potter Illustrated Book 1The Modern Classic: I shouldn’t have to tell you to read Harry Potter but if your son hasn’t read the books yet, this is a good time to dive into the series. At ten, the boys are nearly the same age as Harry who turns 11 in the first book, so the characters will be easy to relate to. This book series is coming of age meets magic and fantasy and adventure and should really be required reading.
  4. 65645The Old Classic: Another book my son read this year in school is The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. (They actually read The Magician’s Nephew first which comes first chronologically but was published later. I personally think you could start with either.) He loved both books just like the rest of the world. Filled with fantasy and adventure and childhood antics, this one is a classic for a reason.
  5. 78411A shorter pick: If these are all feeling too literary or stuffy or just too long, I recommend The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket. These books are both short and sweet and hilarious. These are a great introduction to a reluctant reader that are likely to turn your kids into avid readers. And if they like this, there are at least twelve more books to enjoy not including Snicket’s other books outside of the series.
  6. 83369For your budding brainiac: Be sure to check out The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart which is like Hogwarts for Geniuses. If your son likes brain teasers and has ever felt like he doesn’t fit in – or even if he does – he’ll enjoy this book. It’s another series that’s excellent from beginning to end. You’ll want to read this one with him, it’s that good.
  7. 16131058The surprising hit series by that kid from GleeI was so pleasantly surprised by The Land of Stories by Chris Coelfer. I was not expecting much but it was excellent. I really loved his re-imaginings of various fairy tale characters and the story as a whole. My son loved this one and is eager to read the follow up stories in the series.
  8. 394363The Slightly Less Well Known Fantasy Series: The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman was excellent and despite having a terrible movie made for it it’s managed to stay somewhat under the radar. This one has gotten passed around most of the family and loved by all. It has such rich imagination and fantastical adventures. This is one to pass on to your kid when they loved all the other fantasy books I’ve already mentioned. It’s slightly lofty in writing style so maybe don’t start with this one if they aren’t already voracious readers. Instead I’d recommend trying…
  9. 769483For When You Can’t Get Enough Harry Potter: Magyk by Angie Sage and the rest of the books in the series are fantastic. There are definitely some similarities to Harry Potter but in my opinion the series holds up well on its own and has a unique premise. It also boasts six more books in the series which is awesome. I think series books are excellent for readers this age because it keeps them reading, reading, reading and gives them an obvious next title to check out.
  10. 30119For when they don’t want to read a whole book: Allow me to be the 1 millionth person to recommend Shel Silverstein to your reluctant readers. Where The Sidewalk Ends takes everything your kid thinks he knows about poetry and turns it on it’s head. Hysterical, silly and easy to read for ten minutes here and there. If he doesn’t already know about these books, it’s time to change that. Silverstein has more than one collection of poetry but this one is probably his best.

What books am I forgetting?

Share your favorite recommendations for this age range in the comments section!

toptentuesday
Check out The Broke and The Bookish for more Top Ten lists!

Top 10 Tuesday: The Unusual Suspects

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and The Bookish) asked bloggers to pick 10 books we’ve enjoyed that weren’t our usual genre/type of book. I had to dig back a few years to find ten titles that fit the bill, and  what I realized while digging is that some of the best books on the list, and the ones that were least similar to my usual genres, were all book club selections. Which is one of the main reasons I love my book club – it gets me out of my comfort zone, usually for the better.

Here are some book club picks I’ve loved that were atypical in genre for me.

527040(1) Freakanomics by Steven Levitt is a nonfiction book about economics – which sounds like the exact opposite of a book that I would like, but much like many of the people who have read it over the years, I did really enjoy it. It’s surprisingly accessible and had a lot of subject for fodder at our book club’s discussion.

6071159(2) The Red Tent by Anita Diamant is sort of historical biblical fiction, telling the story of Dinah who is basically a footnote in the actual bible. This was another  genre that isn’t a typical read for me but it’s probably one of my favorite books of all time, so. I’d say this book sparked an interest in a genre that didn’t hold much appeal before so I’m glad my group read it.

the girl with all the gifts(3) The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey is a book I probably never would have read if I had known what it was about. It was heart breaking and intense and #allthefeels and not at all what I was expecting. I’m glad I didn’t know the entire premise which is why I’m being vague here on the off chance that you don’t know what it’s about either and want to take a chance on it, too.

22557272

(4) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins got a lot of good press so maybe I would have picked it up even if my book club hadn’t, but a thriller / murder mystery is not my usual cup of tea as I tend to do most of my reading before going to sleep and thus avoid books which might give me the willies. And it definitely had it’s moments of making me ask, “Why am I reading this right before bed?” but I could not stop reading it, so…

348225(5) These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner is a book I would have abandoned if it weren’t for my book club because the main character’s narrative style / dialect and lack of grammar was bordering on over done for me initially. But I’m glad I stuck it out, because I ended up really loving the book and still think of it often. This is one reason that writing with a thick dialect can be polarizing though – if I hadn’t had club members to hold myself accountable to, I would have passed on this great book.

23418947(6) Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is both fascinating and depressing – hopeful and heart breaking. And being nonfiction, it was occasionally dry enough that I wouldn’t have finished it if my group wasn’t discussing it – I might not have even picked it up. I’m not sure that I’d call this a favorite book of all time, but it was an important book that I’m glad to have read and I think other people should read it, too, and deal with the depressing heart break stuff that happens that is so easy not to think about.

16181718(7) Life After Life by Kate Atkinson was so, so many things. It was a very complex book that evolved as it went until the end result was so far from what it had started out as that it was hard to recognize. And it what it had started out as was a book that frequently made me want to chuck it at a wall and scream at being asked to read it. There is a lot of death in this book, usually involving children, that I wasn’t sure I could handle initially – it’s a category I would usually avoid reading about – but somehow I stuck it out and I’m glad. I think this book thickened my skin in a way that was probably needed and it led to a lot of really interesting discussion.

6314763(8) Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman is a nonfiction book about a woman going to prison and what her life is like on the inside. A kind of fly on the wall deal that while interesting, I probably wouldn’t have read if my book club hadn’t picked it – and now it’s a freakishly popular television show on Netflix. So. I might be the only person on the planet who will say that she liked the book better than the show (in this one instance, the world seems to have gone nuts for the Netflix version) but I’ll say it anyway. Very different, very good.

17704370(9) A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is Asian historical fiction with magical realism and heart breaking grit thrown in. It was so many things that it made my head spin sometimes – my original review gets it right: “This was one of those books that makes you think and then makes you think harder and then makes you think that maybe you don’t know very much after all. It’s a sort of story within a story within a story that seems to be constantly changing the rules and making you question what you thought you understood. Basically, it’s brilliant.”

9529(10) Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is another historical fiction fantasy book set in Barcelona that was amazing but I’m not sure it would have even made it to my radar if it hadn’t been for my book club. Also I’m a sexist weirdo and I don’t normally read books where a man is the main character so that might have deterred me alone. Another book that I often think of as an all time favorite.

What books would be on your list?

Are you in a book club?

Has it encouraged you to read outside of your comfort zone?