Top 5 Love Stories

The prompt for this week’s Top 5 Tuesday hosted by Bionic Bookworm is love stories or romances. This term can be applied to a lot of books and can mean different things to different people. From corset ripping to classic love stories and everything in between. Here are 5 of my very favorites.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen | This is my Gold Standard. All love stories will be compared to P&P at the end of the day. This is the classic romance I will recommend to everyone. Runners up for classic romance are Anne of Green Gables and Gone With the Wind.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell | This is my favorite young adult nerdy girl love story. I literally turn into a fangirl over this story. If you like it, you’ll want to be reading all of Rowell’s other books and anything by John Green or Becky Albertalli.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan | This book is a perfect combination of romance and wanderlust. It’s about picking up your life and starting over and has Scottish accents and bookish references for days. Colgan is a master at this genre so you can plunge her backlist for ages, then try Katherine Center for more love stories where the main character is figuring out her own life, too.

Cress by Marissa Meyer | If you are looking for a Rapunzel retelling set in a sci fi / fantasy dystopian setting (you know, like you do) then look no further! This is a couple of books into the Lunar Chronicles series that I recommend to anyone who will listen so if you haven’t read Cinder yet, start there. If you already know and love this one, then go read the Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | This a perfect sweet YA love story, perfect for fans of To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han or Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. It also falls into the Wanderlust category and is also part of a semi-connected series.


Which books would be on your list?

What I Read In April.

One of the advantages to being stuck at home has been a fairly sizeable increase in reading time. With nowhere to be in the mornings, I’ve been letting myself stay up late reading most nights, flipping through my book club picks during the day (they’ve all been too heavy to read right before bed – a lesson I’ve learned over time about myself), reading books alongside the kids and listening to audio books while going for walks.

And don’t even get me started on all the progress I’m making in Animal Crossing.

Here’s what I’ve been reading this month and what I’m reading now as we approach May.

I read The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris after my teenager finished and recommended it. We’ve had the book for awhile and I think I was avoiding it because what are the odds that NPH is an amazing actor, singer, human being and a good author, too? Well I can tell you that NPH continues to never disappoint me. The book is like a mix of A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Mysterious Benedict Society. It’s got magic lessons and life lessons and you can almost hear Count Olaf narrating it in your head while you read it.

Katherine Center is quickly becoming a sure thing for me. Love stories that have depth and multiple story arcs and tackle heavy issues without ruining your night. Things You Save in a Fire takes place in the world of firefighting. I had more in common with the main character than I was expecting despite having no experience with fire fighters. I loved the Boston ambiance and quickly got caught up in this one. My only beef is that the main love interest was almost too good to be true.

I’ve been saying for awhile now that life in quarantine feels like the movie Groundhogs Day. So it seemed very timely to be reading Pretty in Punxutawney which takes on that very premise. The main character is doomed to repeat her first day at a new high school until she gets it right. Add in John Hughes references for days and a cast of characters that do not disappoint and you’ll see why I couldn’t put this one down. The premise may sound overdone but the story kept me guessing from beginning to end.

I just finished reading Lucky Caller by Emma Mills a couple nights ago and it’s another easy reading YA book. The main character is taking a high school class on running a radio station because apparently she goes to the coolest school ever. The class breaks off into groups to run a radio show and she ends up in a group with her old best friend / crush who she hasn’t really talked to for awhile. One of the other kids in the group was giving me major Azis Ansari vibes which was fun for me. I liked this one but also found myself frustrated with the characters and had a hard time controlling that enough to settle into the story sometimes.

Okay here are the books I’m currently reading / haven’t finished yet.

My book club discussed The Lying Game by Ruth Ware this month and I still haven’t finished it though I haven’t necessarily abandoned it either. It’s a kind of mystery thriller that switches tense frequently which can be hard for me. The book is fairly descriptive and moody and I was struggling to stay the course with it but I switched to the audio book a week before the meeting and it helped a lot. I still didn’t finish in time but I’m planning to continue listening when I’m out for walks.

My daughter and I decided to start a little mother daughter book club together where we read a chapter book and discuss in real time. So she’ll read a couple of chapters, pass me the book and then I’ll read said chapters and then we’ll discuss. She just finished reading the last few chapters and I’ve really enjoyed the process of discussing it this way. It doesn’t hurt that we’re reading one of my favorite BSC super specials, Starring the Baby-sitters Club! I loved this series when I was her age as well as Mary Martin’s Peter Pan so the whole book is nostalgia for days.

In May my book club will discuss Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng which was just turned into a series on Hulu. I’m only a couple of chapters in but it looks promising so far. Maybe I’ll finally finish a book in time for the meeting next month!

What have you been reading lately?

How to Celebrate the “Icelandic Book Flood” with your family on Christmas Eve.

black-and-white-books-design-34627.jpg

I think everyone on the internet is familiar with the Icelandic  jólabókaflóð or the Christmas Book Flood. Since WWII, Icelanders began a tradition born of necessity really, in which they exchange books on Christmas Eve and then spend the remainder of the evening reading at home. Obviously the introvert in me is obsessed with all of this. I’m sure that social media has greatly romanticized and exaggerated this holiday but I’m there for it all the same.

This year we are celebrating jólabókaflóð in our home because it’s literally on my birthday and I said so. I ran the idea past my family and the kids were immediately on board. We decided that each person would buy a book for one other person so everyone is both buying and receiving a book.

Since we are a two kids + two adults situation, I decided that the kids would pick out a book for each other and Dan and I would do the same. I encouraged them to go to a used book store for their purchases but otherwise left them to figure out the rest. Dan and I had to take the kids to a bookstore to shop for each other because apparently 9 and 12 year olds can’t drive.

Because I’m literally obsessed with books, naturally I thought I’d share a few suggestions for the book lovers in your life. It’s not too late to pick up a book and start a Christmas book flood in your home, too.


10 Book Suggestions for Your Book Flood

Books for The Littles

 

Anne of Green Gables: A BabyLit Places Primer because you’ve gotta start them young.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen because it’s one of my all time favorite read alouds.

Books for the Kiddos

 

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild because Kathleen Kelly told us to.

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta because “interdimensional demon slayer”.

Books for the Teens

 

The Only Pirate At The Party by Lindsey Stirling because she’s a classically trained musician gone rogue with a story to tell.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman because Thor and Loki and also Neil Gaiman.

Books for Mom

 

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama because we all love her, right?

The Dinner List by Rebecca Searle because we all like to plan imaginary dinner parties.

Books for Dad

 

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks because he’s America’s Favorite Dad Type Person.

Fire and Blood by George R. R. Martin so he can learn about Targaryen history.


I could go on but I know you’ve got this.

Who else wants to celebrate jólabókaflóð this year?

The 5 Books from Owl Crates Past That I Want To Read Next

Confession time: I have too many books. I know, this is a shocking revelation. Despite my efforts to keep my book collection in check, there always seems to be more books coming in than getting read. This afternoon I decided to look through all of the Owl Crate books that I’ve received over the last two years that I haven’t read yet.

My goal was to see which books I should donate, which books I want to read soon, and whether I want to continue subscribing to their service in the future. As much as I love getting books and bookish goodies in the mail, it’s only worth it if the books are good, right?

I gathered all of the books onto my bed and read the first couple of pages of each book. Initially I was going to read the first chapter of each book but there were simply too many to go through.

Photographic Evidence Of My Ridiculous Situation:

00100lPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20181217115635290_COVER.jpg

Seriously guys, what is wrong with me? At first I looked at this stack and thought, “Hmmm… if I’m really not going to read these books, maybe I need to reevaluate this situation.” But after flipping through the first few pages of each of them I was pleased to find that I am genuinely interested in reading almost all of them! Seriously there were only 3 or 4 that I’m thinking of just donating outright and that’s because I tried to be picky.

If anything, this little experiment just showed me how much I need to commit myself to reading more of the books I already own. I’m not going to tell you that I won’t buy any new books next year. I know I won’t actually commit to that goal. But I am planning to keep better track of how many books I’m buying in an effort to reign it in a bit. And yes, I definitely think it’s time to work on that huge pile of books up there.

I thought I’d share with you the five books that I found most compelling. They are pretty diverse in terms of genre and a nice glimpse into the types of YA books you might expect to receive from Owl Crate if you were thinking of subscribing. (BT Dubs, this is not a sponsored post, just thought I’d share my findings after an afternoon of attempted book purging).

5 Books I Got From Owl Crate that I Haven’t Read Yet But Want To Read Soon

33275690Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills | December 2017 Crate (an unboxing post from Beach Bookworm)

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.“

This one sounds so cute! I’m not even sure I flipped through the description of this one at all when it came. I’m guessing I was in the thick of Christmas prep and got distracted and just shoved it on my bookshelf. To be fair, as pretty as the cover is, I don’t really feel like it does enough to draw the reader in. I wonder if it ties into the story in some way?

31931941Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia | May 2017 Crate (unboxing post from Pretty Geekery)

“In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.”

I’m honestly a little ashamed by how long I’ve had this book and still haven’t read it. The premise is completely right up my alley. It feels very Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell but with illustrations. I’m going to make it my mission to read this in 2019.

C1400929_1-1.pdfThe Apprentice Witch by James Nicol | Owl Crate Jr August 2017 (unboxing post from YAY OMG)

“Arianwyn has flunked her witch’s assessment: She’s doomed. Declared an apprentice and sent to the town of Lull in disgrace, she may never become a real witch– much to the glee of her arch-rival, Gimma.

But remote Lull is not as boring as it seems. Strange things are sighted in the woods, a dangerous infestation of hex creeps throughout the town, and a mysterious magical visitor arrives with his eye on her.”

This one actually came in an Owl Crate Jr. box, but it sounds awesome. I subscribed to Owl Crate Jr. over the summer in 2017 and 2018 as a fun reading incentive for the kids and the books were awesome. I seem to have commandeered this one and then never got around to reading it – whoops! Even bigger whoops because the first few pages were great and the premise sounds right up my alley and probably the kids’ alleys as well.

26032825.jpgThe Cruel Prince by Holly Black | January 2018 Crate (unboxing post from All Booked)

“Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.”

The first few pages of this book honestly should have been enough to make me put off reading this book indefinitely – the girls’ parents are murdered within the first three pages. This is the kind of thing that usually constitutes a write off for me. But there were clearly mystical elements at play and I was left with lots of questions. Plus it’s written by Holly Black so I’m there for it.

36070854The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones | August 2017 Crate (unboxing post from Coffee, Cocktails and Books)

“When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.”

The premise for this one wasn’t really what grabbed me. It actually took reading the first few pages for me to get on board. I like the author’s writing style – it’s very conversational and I found myself flipping even farther into the first chapter than I’d originally set out to. A solid start.

Have you read any of these books? Which one should I read first?

Summer Reading 2018: Choose Your Own Adventure (Free Printable)

A couple of years ago I started making summer reading challenges for my kids because I found the programs at the library a little lacking / redundant for a family of bookworms. My kids don’t need encouragement to read in the summer so keeping track of pages and titles seemed unnecessarily tedious for us and not really a challenge tbh. No shade, I think the programs are a great idea for kids who need that encouragement, it just wasn’t my jam personally.

This was back in 2016 – I read this post at Kate’s blog and was like YES. I had to copycat and create a challenge for my own kids – and thus our Summer Reading Bingo was born. It went over really well with my kids. You can steal mine or make your own if you want – just click this link.

Last year I felt the need to simplify the challenge because of a particularly busy summer and probably just because I like change. So I made a summer reading challenge that fit on a bookmark! This was great for a busy summer and my kids loved it, too. Again, feel free to go steal that one if you need something super quick.

This year, I continue to need to shake things up because I have too much time on my hands or something. I was thinking about those Choose Your Own Adventure novels from when I was a kid  – did you love them, too? I was also thinking about how sometimes kids need to feel like they are in control – they don’t want to be told what to read or even what genres to read. We all like to make our own choices, right?

And so, I present to you our reading challenge for 2018:

I’m pretty excited and just in case you are hoping to shake up your summer reading, too – feel free to steal my idea – you can right click and save this or make your own in a word document – or picmonkey.com, my fave place to make cute graphics. (This isn’t some sneaky sponser post btw – they have no idea who I am, I’m just sharing and caring like that.)

Do you do summer reading challenges with your kids?

Book Review: My Lady Jane

22840421

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?