WWW Wednesday | August 19, 2020

I thought I’d hop in on WWW Wednesday this week. This is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words, where you answer three questions:

  • What did you recently finish?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Last Read

The last book I finished was The Unlikelies by Carrie Firestone

This book was heavier than I expected, but engrossing. I thought the premise was really interesting and the characters were so inspiring. We should all be Unlikelies.

Currently Reading

Right now I’m reading three different books. My book club is sloooowwwwly discussing Calm the F*ck Down by Sarah Knight over the rest of the year. We are not exactly overachievers lol but I’m excited to discuss the first couple chapters with them at the end of the month and the book seems super timely this year.

I’m also reading The King’s Fifth by Scott O’Dell which my daughter will be reading independently next month in our reading curriculum. I’m trying to stay one book ahead of her so that we can have good discussions.

And my current bedtime story is Prose and Cons by Amanda Flower, book two of her magical bookshop series. I’m kind of obsessed with this series and planning to deep dive into her backlist.

Next Up

When I finish The King’s Fifth, I’ll start reading The Ghost of Tokaido Inn by Dorothy Hoobler. I also plan to read Stargazing by Jen Wang soon – a graphic novel that my eleven year old just put in my hands. And I’ve already got the next magical bookshop book, Murders and Metaphors, on my nightstand.


What are you reading right now?

Book Review: The Crown by Kiera Cass

26074181The Crown by Kiera Cass (The Selection #5)

Page Count: 278

Published: May 3rd 2016

When Eadlyn became the first princess of Illéa to hold her own Selection, she didn’t think she would fall in love with any of her thirty-five suitors. She spent the first few weeks of the competition counting down the days until she could send them all home. But as events at the palace force Eadlyn even further into the spotlight, she realizes that she might not be content remaining alone.

Note: If you are new to this series, make sure you start at the beginning: The Selection by Kiera Cass is where it all began. If you haven’t read the other books yet, I don’t recommend reading this review because spoilers.

You have been warned.


I hummed and hawed a long time before finally picking up the final book in The Selection series. I know I am not alone in my disappointment with book four, The Heir. How the daughter of America and Maxon could be so unlikeable was shocking. I think I actually took the blow of Eadlyn’s personality flaws better than a lot of readers, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to read book 5 if there wasn’t going to be a lot of character growth, you know? So I put it off.

But this series is so addictive and I really wanted to know how it all turned out and eventually I fell into one of those reading slumps that can only be cured by a favorite fluffy series. A series that pulls you in and owns you until the last page. The Selection has always fit that bill.

I was so relieved to find that The Crown totally delivers that character growth that Eadlyn desperately needed. She comes out of her comfort zone, grows up a lot and even falls in love.

And here’s the honest truth: I think we all have a tendency to be a little self absorbed and oblivious to the actual world around us, especially as teenagers. And usually we grow out of it and start to notice the needs and feelings of the rest of the world. Eadlyn just happened to be extremely self absorbed and grew up in a life designed to spoil her and coddle those tendencies. So let’s be real – she’s pretty normal. She just lives in the spotlight and you know how we love to judge people in the spotlight.

If anything, this character flaw made for an extremely satisfying reading experience for the last book as we get to see her grow and mature when the stakes are high and blossom into a pretty awesome person. Add to this some family drama, some political intrigue and even better: a love story.

So if you are also sitting on the fence with this one, allow me to reassure you: it’s worth the read! 

twitterature: mini book reviews for July 2014

twitterature

I’m linking up with Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy to share some mini twitter style reviews of the books I’ve been reading over the last month or so. She calls this fantastic idea Twitterature! If you want to play along just post book reviews that are roughly 140 characters or less – as if you were posting the review on twitter. I don’t think Anne actually counts them so don’t worry if you go over a little! The idea is just that they are quick and easy reviews for the busy reader (i.e. us).

I’m sharing four books today that I’ve read since my last Twitterature roundup. I’m cheating a bit because some of these books I read in late June and early July – you don’t mind, do you? I didn’t get to link up in July as we were on vacation and I didn’t want these terrific books to feel left out.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve read in the last month or two:

15844362The One by Kiera Cass

Momma’s Rating: 5 stars

This series turns me into a book junkie with a literary itch. Every. time. I read it obsessively in three sittings. There is a feeling of hope and optimism that radiates from this story, which is rare for a dystopian series but much appreciated.

#theendingfeltrushed #Iloveditanyway #TeamMaxon4sure #thedystopianroyalbachelor

18209454Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas

Momma’s Rating: 4 stars

Read just like an extended episode of Veronica Mars, but it didn’t feel like you had to have seen the show to enjoy the book. A natural transition from the screen to the page and the story really pulled me in. I definitely plan to continue reading the series.

#butseriouslybringtheshowback #marsmallow4life #imisspiz #somuchsnark

13538873Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan

Momma’s Rating: 4 stars

Read like a Rainbow Rowell book from a male perspective with lots of computer programming / social media stuff – good character development. I thought the contrast of old technology and new was really interesting and the story itself was compelling. Parts of the story felt formulaic but not in a bad way.

#mybookclubwassplitonthisone #notsureifilikedtheendornot #longhashtagsarehardtoread

8131227One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde

Momma’s Rating: 5 stars

6 books in and the author is still able to surprise and delight me – amazing. There are so many elements to this book (and this series) that it seems impossible to describe but I particularly loved the descriptions of Bookworld and also the description of experiencing the real world for the first time through a Bookworld character’s eyes.

#willtherealthursdaynextpleasestandup? #confusionabounds #clevercleverclever

Right now I’m reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, finally!! Why did nobody tell me to read this book yet? LOVE!

What have you been reading lately?

I Read: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen This book caught my eye immediately and I knew I had to read it, knew I would adore it. Of course, I’m already a huge fan of Anna Godbersen after devouring her Luxe series and I was eager to read the first installment in her newest series which takes place in the roaring twenties.

By the summer of 1929, when the weather was just getting warm enough that girls could exhibit exactly how high hemlines had risen, Prohibition had been in effect for so long it had ceased to bother anyone much. The city had a speakeasy per every fifty souls, or so the preachers liked to exclaim on Sundays, and sweet-faced girls from the hinterlands were no longer blinded by wood alcohol, for the real stuff had become plenty easy to get. The Eighteenth Amendment had converted us all to grateful outlaws.

-from the prologue of Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

There were so many things that I loved about this book. It deftly rotates between the stories of the three main characters – Cordelia, Letty and Astrid – and presents each character in an honest light that is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. You find yourself rooting for all three characters regardless of their flaws while daydreaming about olden times. Historic New York is described in such beautiful detail from the gorgeous gowns to the older architecture and way of life.

I also really liked the contrast of life in the 20’s compared to life at the turn of the century in the Luxe novels. Having read both it really allows you to see just how quickly life changed in just twenty short years – all of the new liberties that girls growing up in the 20’s had compared to their mothers and grandmothers. To then think about how much life has changed even since kind of blows my mind. I don’t think the girls from the Luxe series could have even imagined how much life would change in such a short time.

I love historical fiction and have been a fan of a lot of the new young adult novels coming out and this book combines both of those genres brilliantly. I wish I could learn all of world history through Anna Godbersen’s eyes as she is such a talented story teller and really makes these times come alive in her writing. And like her previous books, Bright Young Things boasts all of the same mystery, intrigue and suspense that you’ll come to expect in her books from the beginning to the cliff hanger of an ending. Can’t wait to read book two!

If you loved the Luxe series or are a fan of historical fiction, you won’t want to miss this new series! Bright Young Things was a fantastic, indulgent and addictive read from beginning to end!

I Read: Friendship Bread by Darien Gee

Friendship Bread by Darien Gee
Friendship Bread by Daren Gee available April 5, 2011

 

“One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.”

This seems like the beginning of a light hearted, delicious summer read, but don’t be fooled by the charming cover and seemingly easy going premise. This is a book that packs quite a punch and offers a lot more than laughs, though laughs are present and accounted for.

Julia Evarts is a deeply depressed mother, still trying to recover from the death of a child five years ago. But through the small, unexpected gift of this loaf of bread and starter kit, which she would have simply thrown away if her daughter had not begged her to bake it – Julia is able to finally begin to heal, as much as you can heal from a tragedy like that.

This is a story about more than just Julia Evarts though – you meet several other people, dozens in fact, though only a few are what you might call “main characters” – the small circle of women that become friends with Julia, and her family and theirs. You meet Hannah, the beautiful retired Cellist reeling from a sudden divorce, Madeline the widow who moves into town on a whim and buys an old bed and breakfast which she turns into a tea salon, Julia’s sister Livvy who has been cut from her sister’s life since the death of Julia’s son and Livvy’s friend and coworker Edie the brilliant reporter with a heart of gold but not much love for baking.

This is a book of healing and a book of friendship. It’s a book I almost didn’t think I had the strength to read. The premise of Josh’s death is so tragic and brought me to tears several times. I wasn’t sure my heart could handle reading a story like that, but I am so glad I finished it. I’m glad to find that I’m stronger than I thought and I’m grateful to have made it through to the happy ending. I normally shy away from books and movies that involve tragedies like that, but I’m glad that I pushed through with this one because it was so worth the tears.

I loved the way this book branched out, introducing more and more characters as the starter begins to get passed around the small town of Avalon, Illinois. This is a town where everyone knows your name and by the end of the book you feel like you know everyone’s name, too, and the town really begins to touch your heart as you see what all these characters are made of. You’ll want to pick up and move to a town just like Avalon or feel a sense of pride if you are already blessed to live in a similar place.

And even better – this book will make you want to bake, possibly to the detriment of your waist line and the protests of your friends. The book includes several recipes for bread, pancakes, brownies and more – dozens of variations on the original recipe and endless uses for the small bag of starter which seems to just keep on growing. By the end of the book over 7,000 loaves of bread are baked – all from one original bag of starter!

Have you ever had or made Amish Friendship Bread? I’d love to hear about your experiences with it! Want to start an AFB tradition? Check out this Facebook fan page for recipes, tips and more!

This post was written for Family Review Network & Mia King who provided the complimentary book for review in exchange for my honest opinions. Friendship Bread by Darien Gee will be released in hardcover on April 5, 2011, but you can pre-order it at Amazon.com now!

I Read: Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire They say there are two sides to every story and Gregory Maguire has made a literary career out of sharing some of those other sides to stories we know well. Turning classic fairy tales and children’s stories on their head, revealing a gritty underbelly to the romantic, optimistic versions of the tales we grew up with.

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister tells the story of Iris and Ruth, stepsisters to the beautiful, spoiled but generally good hearted Clara, aka Cinderella. While I can’t say that Ruth and Iris are heroines in this book, as honestly there is no true heroine to be found here – all of the characters have their good and bad sides, their own usually selfish motives and crosses to bear – they are presented in this story in full detail. They are fleshed out, real characters who existed before and after the brief tale of Cinderella.

And not just the three stepsisters, but the stepmother, Clara’s parents, friends, acquaintances, even the Prince is given more of a realistic back story. Maguire creates a scenario in which the basic events of Cinderella might unfold realistically and how that fairy tale version could be construed from a story that is much sadder and with no clear heroines and no one enemy (though the Stepmother definitely gives the job of Evil-Doer a fair shake!) to despise.

While there is no definitive magic happening in this story, the subject of magic flits through the book from beginning to end, but in a much darker, grittier way. The characters in this story are each haunted in one way or another, by their past, their talents, their looks whether good or bad. As young girls, Clara, Iris and Ruth seem convinced that imps, witches and other nefarious dark creatures walk among them, hide in rafters and change the course of their lives at a whim. As they get older, they begin to see that these imps are imagined manifestations for the bad things that have happened to them.

I liked all of these things about this retelling of Cinderella. I like that Maguire acknowledges the fact that Clara and her not-so-evil stepsisters each suffer and that Clara was not the sweet, innocent girl of perfection that Disney makes her out to be; each have afflictions of their own and each try to be good and kind in spite of their misfortunes in life. They don’t always succeed and they often do bad things, but usually for relatively understandable reasons.

In spite of being fascinated with the story of this book and the character development which is absolutely superb, this was not a perfect book. That gritty, descriptive language that Maguire is so well known for also comes across as a bit… tiresome. This is not a light, fluffy read (not that I really wanted it to be) and I occasionally found myself skimming through paragraphs when he went a little Nathaniel Hawthorne on me with descriptions of things which seemed wholly uninteresting and unimportant.

But at the same time, he’s painting you a picture of a story, of all the angles – all the details which you might miss if you only glance. It’s kind of the whole point. The theme of looking and seeing and knowing and understanding are crucial to this story, so I can forgive it these faults because on the whole – I think Maguire told this story exactly as he intended to with far more talent than I could give him credit for as a somewhat lazy reader.

So while I would not call myself a raving fan of all things Maguire, I was glad to have read this story which made me think, captured my imagination and even managed to pass as a good example of a coming of age story. Self confidence, overcoming great losses, motherhood, love and learning to really look at each side of a story are all themes which are excellently ruminated on in this story. Plus that creepy cat, Lusifer, is blessedly nowhere to be found in this book!