Book Review: My Lady Jane

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My Lady Jane by coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows

Page Count: 512 (hardcover)

Published: June 7, 2016

I read a lot of books. Some of them I really enjoy, some of them I have to kind of drag myself through for one reason or another. Other books literally consume me from start to finish and I find myself gushing to people about them any chance I can get and I get a little foot stampy until they promise me they will read them. My Lady Jane was one of those books. You may think you know the tragically short story of Lady Jane Grey, but I promise you this book will surprise and delight.

5 Signs This Is a 5 Star Read

  1. It took me only a handful of days to read it despite it’s 500+ page count. I’d say on the whole it takes me about 2 weeks to read a 250-300 page book and I finished this one in about a week.
  2. I read it when I probably should have been reading my book club’s pick for the month. It was so good I couldn’t help myself once I’d peeked inside. It definitely turned me into a book junkie staying up way past my bedtime so I could finish just one more chapter. This was one of those books with so many funny lines and OMG moments that necessitated waking up my sleeping husband so I could dish on what had just happened. I’m sure he loved that.
  3. When I first got the book (through OwlCrate) I stood in the kitchen pouring over every inch of the dust jacket and squealing with delight. Most of my favorite books seem to have those 8 million little details lurking around the outside of the book, letting you know that the author and publisher was just as giddy about the book as you are about to be.
  4. I need a good character to root for and this book gave me at least five of them along with two relationships to ship. I was a little bit concerned after reading the first few chapters because I genuinely loved Jane, Edward and Gifford and I really wanted them to all have a happy ending but wasn’t sure how that was possible. Even the fact that some of the people involved occasionally turn into horses and other less than kissable creatures didn’t deter me rooting for them from page 1 to 512 and I wasn’t disappointed.
  5. There are a lot of elements to this story that sound a little absurd when you say them out loud but when you put them all together magic happens. Fiances turn into horses sometimes. Girls are basically old maids by sixteen and sometimes get married to people they have never met. The book starts out as a historical fiction novel, then goes kind of science fantasy, then goes completely off the rails but somehow ends up back in historical fiction territory as long as you ignore all the middle bits. Everyone manages to fall in love with the right person by the end and the moral of the story seems to be listen to your heart and all your problems will  go away. But despite a really crazy premise and a lot of characters to get to know, it all totally comes together and works and you do the rooting and by the end of it you kind of wish it were a true story. Horses and all.

Have you read this one yet? What did you think?

What’s the last 5 star book you fell in love with?

3 Day Quote Challenge: On Reading

Go Mama O challenged me to a 3 Day Quote Challenge. The rules are stupid simple: Just post a favorite quote for 3 consecutive days and nominate three others to do the same!

For Today’s post, I’m sharing a quote from John Green about the evangelical impulse that we readers sometimes have when it comes to our favorite books. Tell me you can’t relate to this:

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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?

 

Harry Potter Spells Book Tag.

This tag and the amazing scroll images were created by Kim @ Kimberly Faye Reads. I saw it at Mom’s Radius recently and even though it’s massively long, the Harry Potter allure and fun scrolls were so unique, I couldn’t resist. So let’s dive off the deep end, shall we?

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An Upcoming Release You Wish You Could Get Your Hands On Right Now

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I’m quite eager to read Heartless, an upcoming standalone release by Marissa Meyer (I know, right?), which is all about The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. I’ll have a long wait though because it doesn’t come out until November. Like all of her books, this story sounds as though it’s going to take a story we think we know well and then absolutely turn it on it’s head. Unlike The Lunar Chronicles though, it sounds like she’s going to tell the whole story in one book – for better or for worse.

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Favorite Series Starter

51P3SvRNdeL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_I don’t know how I could possibly choose just one – but let’s dig a bit deeper and talk about a book I haven’t mentioned 18 times in the last two months. For instance, my son just started reading The Bad Beginning, Book One in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket which made me comment to my husband, “Is it weird that I’m jealous that he gets to experience this book and this series for the first time?” This was a series that gave me major book withdrawal when I finished and the first book was excellent.

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A Book That Gave You All The Warm And Fuzzies

16081588I just finished reading Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle and it was everything you want a Christmas themed collection of young adult short story romances to be. I’d read a half dozen John Green novels before reading this collection but the other two authors were new to me. I particularly loved the first story by Maureen Johnson but all three were great and warm and fuzzy like sitting by a fireplace with a wool blanket and a hot boy.

4-Aguamenti

A Book That Made You Ugly Cry

16068905I related to the main character in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell like a lot a lot so when stuff was going bad for her, I felt it deep in my bones, you know? Also Rainbow Rowell has a magical way of owning your heart with just a handful of words. This is my favorite Rowell book and you should read it right now. Like don’t even keep reading this post, go read that instead.

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Bookish Hero Or Heroine You Want Around To Protect You In Real Life

107390I’ll gladly have Thursday Next from The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (and the rest of the series) serve as my personal body guard. It’s comforting to know that even if I cease to exist or she ceases to exist or I find myself in another universe or time line or my personal motive or backstory gets rewritten, I can still always count on Thursday to fight for me if I’m important to her. I’m important to her, right?

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A Book You Intentionally Spoiled For Yourself

51v1t48NzmL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_I’m not sure if intentionally spoiled is how I would phrase it, but I knowingly watched the movie before reading The Martian by Andy Weir even though I know I have a history of being unable to get into a book if I’ve already seen the movie adaptation. And even though it’s tremendously well written and engaging and utterly readable, I can’t seem to get past it long enough to finish reading it.

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A Book You Wish You Could Make Everyone Read Because You Loved It So

book one of the Lunar ChroniclesYou guys know I pretty much walk around in a permanent state of “Have you read The Lunar Chronicles yet?” There are a lot of books that I recommend highly but lately this is the first one I mention if a person expresses any interest in reading something new. If Cinder by Marissa Meyer were a drug, I’d be a dealer. This series is amazing but it can take a tiny amount of coaxing when you mention to someone for the first time that this young adult dystopian Cyborg Cinderella story is really, really, really good I swear. But it’s sooooo good.

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A Book Series You Wish Never Ended

Harry Potter Illustrated Book 1I have to agree with Kate, I frequently wish the Harry Potter series hadn’t ended. Despite knowing that there is definitely such thing as too much of a good thing, the end of the series just left me wanting more and I know I’m not alone. We’ve all been kind of sitting her wondering, “What do you think Harry and Ginny are up to right now?” And with only watching the movies and rereading the books and taking the Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore to keep us busy… Luckily, it looks like our prayers are  going to be answered.

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A Book With An Uplifting Message

10507293This might sound strange but one of my favorite things about The Selection series by Kiera Cass was the feeling of hope that radiated in the last book especially, but the series as a whole. It rarely felt like a wallowing in despair thing and when the series was over, the main characters weren’t broken and bitter by everything that had happened – they were excited for the future. In this kind of story, that is rare.

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A Book You Wish You Could Forget You Ever Read

6834410I’m pretty sure that by the time I finished reading The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, I wanted to throw it in a fire and cancel my nonexistant newspaper subscription out of spite. Everything about the premise of this book sounded right up my alley but the execution, characters and ending all left something to be desired. It was impossible to get attached to anyone and nobody got a happy ending as far as I could tell. And if I don’t move on, I’ll start ranting again, so…

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An Author Whose Books Always Get You Out Of A Reading Slump

2202049Jen Lancaster is one of my go to book slump authors. I like pretty much every book I’ve ever read of hers and try to make sure that I’m never at a shortage of new material for when books disappoint me in the future. Such a Pretty FatSuch a Pretty Fat was the first book of hers that I read and it pretty much sealed the deal for me. She’s funny and witty and says everything the way you wish you had said it.

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A Swoon-Worthy Hero Or Heroine

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I’m pretty sure every girl is in love with Westley from The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Or was it Carey Elewes we’re in love with? Hmmm… Even if you have seen the movie, this book is worth reading. Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

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A Book That Caused You To Stop Doing All Other Things Until You Finished It

15749186I’ve already mentioned a couple but To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny  Han is also definitely worth mentioning. This was one of those books that had me parked on the couch all day, only moving to let the dog use the bathroom or feed my children because apparently they won’t survive without food. The jerks.

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A Book That Was Painful To Read (For Whatever Reason) Or Broke You

6948436I’ve heard that Little Bee by Chris Cleave is ah-mazing but I read one chapter and then backed away slowly. I’m a little bit of a baby when it comes to books about parents or children or spouses dying and though I’m sometimes able to get past it, this one stopped me in my tracks. I think I also had a VERY young child at the time and was probably chock full of extra hormones but I’m still avoiding this one indefinitely. A book can be amazing even if I don’t read it.

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A Book That Had You Laughing Out Loud

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I don’t think it’s physically possible to read something written by Amy Poehler and not laugh out loud. These comedic celeb memoirs are all the rage right now, some better than others. Yes Please was outstanding and all the things. Sometimes it was also insightful and moving but mostly it was hilarious from beginning to end.

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A Book That Made You Want To Send It (Or Your E-Reader) Flying

8968323I read Radioactive by Lauren Redniss with my book club four years ago and I still turn into a petulant child if it’s mentioned now. Mostly I just take offense to it being called a book. A coffee table picture book perhaps. If you have extremely low standards for the word picture. There were parts of this book that were interesting, but those were the parts that the author gave absolutely no time to fleshing out because she was busy scribbling another dumb sketch that added nothing to the story. Unless Lauren Redniss happens to be six years old. Then I suppose it’s impressive. Sorry, that was mean.

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A Bookish World You Wish You Could Visit

I mean there are several, but at the end of the day – yeah I want to go to Hogwarts. Just like every other muggle with a dream. I’m hoping to take my kids to Universal Studios someday or even better, go to London and visit Kings Cross. Actually, that’s not really better so much as an “in addition to, can we also” sort of request. For now we’ll have to settle for this cheesy display hanging out in one of my husband’s employer’s buildings because when you work for a company of giant nerds, this is bound to happen eventually.

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A Book With A Shocking Twist Or Ending

18222740I guess not everyone in my book club was surprised by the ending of Bellweather Raphsody by Kate Racculia, but it sure took me by surprise. This was a book full of twists that kept on getting twistier where nothing was quite what it seemed which is a great description for a murder mystery. This book is kind of like Girl on the Train meets Glee meets Pretty Little Liars.

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A Character Death That Destroyed You

7260188I’m still not entirely over certain events that went down in Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins aka the woman who broke my heart into a million pieces. I’ve put off seeing everal of the movies in this series because they put me uncomfortably close to the end of this book. I’m only one movie behind now but that’s still a bit too close for comfort.

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Best Series Conclusion

13125947Reached by Ally Condie was so good it was actually better than the other books in the series which to that point had been kind of a solid B series. Then Condie pulled out plot details that just blew everything into a new orbit and took my breath away and me going, “What the what now?” I still think about this book often. I’d say more but I don’t want to give anything away.

So what would your answers be? Let me know if you are playing along in the comments section.

5 Books for the Reluctant Tween Reader

My friend asked me a few weeks ago for book suggestions for her tween niece – her  words were “something that isn’t Divergent” which is apparently the only book that exists in this girl’s world and I know she isn’t alone even though ::shudders:: it’s one of my least favorite YA dystopian novels. I thought I’d share the books I suggested here and open the floor to you guys – what books would you suggest for a tween who doesn’t read much?

Suggestion #1 : The Dystopian Series

book one of the Lunar ChroniclesIt’s probably not surprising to you guys that my first suggestion was The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer since I can’t go more than twelve minutes without mentioning it to someone. I might have impulsively half shrieked it to her immediately and then, embarrassed, pretended my shoes were fascinating.

But the truth is, this series would be high on my list of suggestions for tweens, teens or adults and I think it’s perfect for the reluctant reader because it’s so effortlessly readable and highly prone to binging. You will devour this world once you enter it. And it was an obvious suggestion for a girl who loved Divergent. This is a similar genre but a thousand times better.

I love that all the main characters are the kind of girls you want your girls to emulate. They are not vapid self centered tweetie girls with nothing on their mind but shoes. They are mechanics and hackers and girls who know how to work hard and yes they are boy crazy like woah but they mostly try to keep those feelings in check and mostly they are just about “Do you think he likes me?” and “I bet he’d be fun to kiss,” and not much more. And if they like the first book, there are a half dozen more and short stories to keep them reading.

If they like The Lunar Chronicles, they should also check out: The Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, The Selection by Kiera Cass, and A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Suggestion #2 : The Sweet Love Story

15749186I was hooked on To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han from pretty much the first page. This one is for the boy crazy niece or the painfully shy girl. The one who eats up romantic comedies like it’s her job. And even though it’s cliched, it also feels fresh. And even though the main character is boy crazy, she’s also wonderfully naive and innocent. So you probably won’t get in trouble with your sister for suggesting it.

One of my favorite things about this book, aside from the sweet romances, was the very strong family dynamic – Lara Jean is really close with her father and sisters and it shows. Also – the food – I don’t know many teenagers who cook as often as Lara Jean and have such a sophisticated palate. I would not mind my daughter picking up said traits.

If they like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, they should also check out: the sequel or any of Han’s other books, anything by Jennifer E. Smith or Judy Blume, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Suggestion #3 : The Series About a Group of Friends

517y761mL0L._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_I’m impatiently waiting for the day I can hand over The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick to my daughter. These are kind of the Babysitters Club or Sweet Valley High of the current generation – centered around a group of friends who each have their unique personality type, talents and family issues to deal with – the girls are in sixth grade when the stories start and progress through middle school.

This one is also a great read for the moms of daughters. It’s cool from a mom perspective to see the girls grow and change with each book. And you’ll want your daughters to be like these girls – I’m not saying they never get into trouble but they always mean well – you know? Also the book club mentioned in the title? The girls and their moms start a club to read one classic novel a year with each other and discuss it. At first there are eye rolls galore but the girls all grow to love the club and they READ the books and that often leads to reading other books and the author does a great job at making whatever book they are reading set the tone for the book.

If they like The Mother Daughter Book Club series, they should also check out: The Babysitters Club obviously (check out the new graphic novel format), Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (splurge for a gorgeous edition), Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster (mentioned in one of the MDBC books ; free on kindle)

Suggestion #4 : The Book That’s Really Poetry

11527309This is one for the girl who just really doesn’t have the interest in reading a whole book – but happens to like poetry. May B. by Caroline Starr Rose is actually written in poetic form but it’s not stuffy about it like those awful epic poems you had to read in high school. Beautifully written, it’s also #allthefeels with a Little House on the Prairie vibe. And it’s a quick read so it’s not a huge time investment.

If they like May B., they should also check out: Little House in the Big Woods if they were all about that early pioneers vibe ; Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai if they want more poetry ; The Princess Diaries or I Capture the Castle if they are interested in the whole nonconvential book writing styles thing – these two are written like diaries, or you could call them epistolary novels if you want to give a vocab lesson.

Suggestion #5 : The Books That Aren’t Books At All aka Web Shows Based on Classic Novels

Yes, you can trick your tween or teen into experiencing Pride and Prejudice without picking up a book at all. I know, there are movies that are super, but this web show provides the experience in four minute increments, perfect for the short attention span – and it’s a modernized retelling – and it’s funny – and the cast is amazing – and watching Jane Austen retellings is an excellent way to get your kids obsessed with Jane Austen and often leads to them tripping and falling into the actual books. Studies have shown. Probably. If you are like dead set on this being a books only excursion, get the book based on the web show. But if they are super reluctant to even leave the safe confines of youtube, point them this way. And then watch with them. And prepare to laugh and swoon.

If they like the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, they should also check out: Anne With An E, Emma Approved, the actual Pride and Prejudice or movies that are also modern interpretations of classic novels like Clueless (Emma) or 10 Things I Hate About You (Taming of the Shrew).

OK: Your turn! What books would you suggest for the reluctant tween reader?

Book Review: A Knight in Sticky Armor (Doc McStuffins)

Continuing my new video book review series (or: in an attempt to be fair to my children), here is a review for a book that my daughter, five year old BB, read recently. She would like to tell you more about:

13642690A Knight in Sticky Armor (Disney Junior: Doc McStuffins) by Andrea Posner-Sanchez, Mike Wall(Illustrator)

BB thinks this book is hilarious because every time something touched the sticky part of the titular knight, said thing got stuck to him and it was “really funny.”

Savvy parents will notice that this is a story straight out of the Doc McStuffins tv show series so if you have been forced to watch the series, you probably already know who Doc is and what she’s all about.

For the rest of you, a brief description from Amazon:

Doc McStuffins doesn’t just play with her toys—she heals them! Girls ages 2-5 will love getting to know this super-smart six-year-old doctor with her own backyard clinic. This Little Golden Book is based on the new Disney Junior show, Doc McStuffins.

And now, the moment you have all been waiting for, Miss BB’s review:

In summary: You’re guess is as good as mine.

Have you read this book (or seen the tv show)? What did you think?

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins THE FEELS: liked, suspenseful, gritty, bingeable

For the self proclaimed “people watchers” – everyone who has ever found themselves making up stories about strangers on the train or in the park. For anyone who has suffered from substance abuse or known someone who has. For you over there in the corner who just got out of a long relationship and aren’t feeling entirely “over it” – and for the rest of us who maybe just love a good mystery novel or thriller.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins has been the media darling “it book” of the last several months. Everyone is talking about it. Due to the crazed hype, my book club decided to read it last month and see what all the fuss was about.

First, a description from goodreads.com:

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

This book was like a roller coaster that a friend talked you into riding and you keep wondering if said friend is possibly going to get you killed. Hawkins does a great job of constantly making you suspect basically everybody. Just like the best crime dramas on tv, she tells you what she wants to tell you, when she wants to tell you – making excellent use of her unreliable narrator, she carefully peels away her story with precision timing.

This book was probably too dark for me. It sucked me in and would’t let me go and was just “realistic” enough that it was easy to find myself relating to characters that I’d rather not. But once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. Hawkins’ writing is kind of like cocaine – addictive, riddled with poor life choices and prone to making you jumpy (are coke addicts jumpy? I’m just guessing here, having never been one). You’ll feel like that rubber necker on the side of the road who can’t seem to look away from that horrific accident (much like the main character) even though you should probably knock  it off and get to work already.

Some of my fellow book clubbers were less enamored with this one. I don’t blame them, really. Is the prose stunning? Not really. Are there amazing, heroic characters to root for? Nope. Is there a satisfying and happy ending? Ehhhhh. Life lessons to be learned? I suppose we could call the entire book a “don’t do this” manual for a happy life. i.e. if it’s in the book: Don’t do that. 

In spite of these details, I still over all enjoyed it in spite of myself. I totally understand why it’s getting so much hype and I would cautiously recommend it. If you like mysteries and are game for some seedy behavior – proceed with caution and enjoy.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Book Tag | Elements Book Covers

The Elemental Challenge: Should You Choose to Accept it:

Water:
1. Find a book with water on it.
2. Find a book with blue on it.

Fire:
1. Find a book with fire on it.
2. Find a book with red on it.

Earth:
1. Find a book with something related to earth on it.
2. Find a book with green on it.

Air:
1. Find a book with air on it.
2. Find a book with white on it.

Spirit Bonus:
Find a book with the colors blue, red, green, and white on it.

water
Water: 1. Find a book with water on it. 2. Find a book with blue on it.

I spotted The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion a mile away and knew I wanted it to represent blue / water right away both because of the gorgeous blue and the fact that I’m extremely anxious to read it having adored The Rosie Project. I’ve had Fluke by Christopher Moore on my shelves for years and still haven’t finished it. Unlike some of his other books (Lamb continues to be one of my all time favorites), this one didn’t grab me right away and I have a tendency to pick it up only to put it back down again. Someday…

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Fire: 1. Find a book with fire on it. 2. Find a book with red on it.

I don’t think I have any books that are more vibrantly red than Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel which my book club discussed last month. I didn’t finish the book though I kinnnnda enjoyed it. Honestly, it just seemed to drag a bit too long and too often for me despite some really great writing and wonderful moments. Of course for an actual symbol of fire, I knew I was going to need something dystopian. Divergent by Veronica Roth definitely does the trick, visually, and is also a fantastic book to boot.

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Earth: 1. Find a book with something related to earth on it. 2. Find a book with green on it.

I probably have more green books than The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown but I loved the vines shooting out of the letters and thought it fit the concept of “earth” brilliantly. I haven’t read this one yet but I’m looking forward to it. Then of course there is the terribly literal interpretation of “earth” – A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson is one of those books that I feel I must read at some point but keep putting off for unknown reasons (probably that aforementioned sense of self obligation – I don’t like it when I tell myself what to do).

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Air: 1. Find a book with air on it. 2. Find a book with white on it.

This might have been the hardest one. I have books that are more literally white but they are kind of boring to photograph. And what is more iconically white than a wedding dress? Thus American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld wins for sure. I read Prep but haven’t read this one yet – time will tell if it’s equally brilliant.  And then there is the idea of “air” being present in a book. I mean technically any book with a picture on it also has air in the picture, right? I finally settled on The Fault in Our Stars by John Green because of the clouds on the cover and further justified the choice because it’s such a fantastic book.

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Spirit Bonus: Find a book with the colors blue, red, green, and white on it.

I actually found two and coincidentally they are both written by Jasper Fforde. Leave it to Fforde’s all encompassing all consuming imagination to produce covers that contain every possible color. I’m OBSESSED with the Thursday Next series and seriously adored One of Our Thursdays is Missing. I haven’t read Shades of Grey yet but I’m expecting great things.

What books would you have chosen?

If you are already thinking about your answer: YOU, my friend, are tagged.

Book Review: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

bookreview-geekmomgeekkid

When my son, currently eight years old, requested that I read the first book in The Underland Chronicles, a series by Suzanne Collins (yes, that Suzanne Collins), I couldn’t resist. He has become something of a Fan Boy where this series is concerned and pretty much eats, sleeps and breathes it. A kid after my own heart.

gregor the overlander by suzanne collins
FEELS: liked, good role models, obsessable

Gregor the Overlander tells the story of eleven year old Gregor who  falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building in an attempt to rescue his 2 year old sister, Boots, who had crawled inside.

When I say ‘fall’ I mean they both literally ‘fell’ into another world called The Underland which exists directly below our world. In this world there is no sunlight, no moonlight. No real communication with the upside world, except for the occasional overlander that might fall through – a fall that most wouldn’t survive.

Gregor and Boots luckily do survive, only to meet a host of giant versions of pests and creepy crawlers that would make most grown men tremble. Gregor doesn’t love the huge talking rats, cockroaches, bats and spiders initially – nor the human village that has been thriving in the Underland for years – but thanks to his diplomatic two year old sister, an ancient prophecy and a lot of luck, he finds his courage and goes on an epic adventure to help save the Underland from war and get him and his sister back to his family in New York City.

It was hard to read this book and not be coming at it from a mother’s angle. I was often fretting over whether or not Gregor and Boots would ever get home to their poor mother. I cheered whenever Gregor showed bravery or compassion that was well beyond his years – he is a terrific brother and brave when it counts, without being foolish. I loved Boots (everyone loves Boots) and how she might have been the bravest and most impressive character in the story.

I loved the continual theme of not judging a book by it’s cover, not judging an entire race based off one member (or vice versa), on learning to walk a mile in each other’s shoes and the benefits of diplomacy over brute force. There were a lot of great lessons to be learned in this story and it’s a great introduction to fantasy and adventure for kids.

My eight year old is a pretty advanced reader and the kind of kid that will hide under the covers with a flashlight to read into the wee hours of the night so he tends to finish each book in one or two days. I read for about a half hour at night and finished it in about a week.  There are 5 books in the series that each sell for roughly $5 so it’s a decent bargain but if you have voracious readers, they’ll burn through them quickly. We’ve been letting my son get one a month to make it last a little longer.

At the end of the book there are questions with the author as well as a fun code for learning to speak like Boots and a writing exercise so kids (or adults) can create their own Underlands. I’m definitely going to encourage my son to try that out if he hasn’t already!

What is your child’s favorite book right now?

Book Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

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FEELS: liked, moody but modern, shippable

downloadMy book club is discussing The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe this month. It’s been on my To Read list for several years so I was glad to have an excuse to get a copy. As a descendant of Ann Putnam, I’m a sucker for books about the Salem Witch Trials – I devoured books like Tituba of Salem Village as a kid and I thought the concept for this novel by Howe was really cool.

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest–to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.

As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Description from Goodreads.com.

I liked the contrast of the modern day story mixed with the historical stuff. The chapters featuring Connie read like a young twenty somethings chick lit novel complete with love story featuring a Type A girl who studies too much and probably wears her hair in a too tight pony tail and a tall, lanky laid back guy who teaches her to relax and have fun. When she isn’t falling for him, she spends time roaming the halls of Harvard and the streets of Salem and the descriptions of each made me miss my New England home and college days often.

In contrast, the chapters telling the stories of Deliverance and her family were warm and descriptive, drawing you into the time period and the stories of these women. They read very authentically and would be well enjoyed over a cup of warm tea and dimmed lighting. As the book went on, the two plots become more and more entwined and the “modern” chapters become gradually more and more magical.

Occasionally I felt the book bordered on unrealistic, not because of the mystical elements so much as the character’s reactions to things – when things started to get more and more supernatural in Connie’s world, I found it strange that she wasn’t freaking out more and even stranger that her friends and love interest weren’t freaked out either. But putting that skepticism aside, I did enjoy the story and looked forward to spending time with it each night – the real mark of a good book in my opinion.

What have you been reading lately?

fangirlingjen