Fangirl

Ever since Rainbow Rowell came onto my radar, I have been dying to read Fangirl. The very title screams HALEY YOU MUST READ ME!

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But, for one reason or another, this book has eluded me. The library holds are always astronomical, no surprise there. And of course it is NEVER on a used book store shelf. I mean, who in their right mind would ever give this one up?

No, my only option was to buy new. So when Rowell announced the Special Edition preorders 6 months ago…oh yes. I am pretty sure I ordered my copy that same day.

And a few weeks ago, I received my very own bubblegum pink copy. This was one of those moments when my husband just looked at me like “Why the hell is she screaming?”

This is the same man who gets excited over socks.

But I digress.

WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THIS WAS DRARRY FANFICTION?!?!?!

I mean, I should have expected it. I do follow Rainbow Rowell on Twitter. But, YES. Now I understand why everyone is so excited for Carry On to come out!

If you can’t tell by all the capitals in this post…I loved this book. You know…just in case. I figured I’d tell ya. Cath–she’s me, circa 2005. Completely introverted, no social skills outside of my small town universe, and a new roommate. I am not sure I was never not anxious in the dorm diners, and parties? Those were terrifying. So yep, I get Cath 100%. I’m pretty sure she even looks like me, with her glasses and her hair always pulled up.

When I write these reviews I’m always overanalyzing the plots and characters…but there’s nothing for me to criticize here really. I am going to have a major book hangover after this one. It’s the kind of book that you’re rereading in your head while you’re cutting melon in the kitchen. I know that, because that happened earlier this evening. I was CRAVING this story after my walk, but I had to get the melon breakdown out of the way first. (Damn dieting.)

I’m sure this is considered New Adult Romance, maybe Young Adult Romance, something along those lines. But it also deals with bipolar disorder, depression, alcoholism, divorce, anxiety. I’m sure I’m missing some important theme on the list. My point is, this is not fluff, though it is a book that is “easy” to read. By that I mean you will be immediately transported into Nebraska and Cath’s world, and you’ll forget about everything else.

Yes yes, yes yes, yes yes yes.

WWW Wednesday 6/3/2015

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What are you currently reading?

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The Ramayana by Ramesh Menon

 

 

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Turn of the Screw/The Aspern Papers by Henry James

 Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler (Review Tomorrow!)

 

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Shore by Sara Taylor

Paula by Isabel Allende

The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

Behind the Scenes

When I look for ARCs to request, I usually look for new authors or first books in a series. Sometimes it is painful–because I often get hooked on a run that won’t release the second book for a long time! But, it is worth it to discover the next big thing that I wouldn’t ordinarily pick up, or be way behind in a trend (which I always seem to be).

But…guys, I goofed. I accidentally picked one that was the second in a series. OOPS! Easy fix though–my library had the first book in stock, so I picked it up and took it to town. (Oh darn, I had to read just one more book, right? LOL!)

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Behind the Scenes was a quick read, too. This New Adult fiction novel was instantly addictive, just like the gossip columns that Ally so desperately tries to avoid. She just wants a “normal” life. Go to prom, graduate, fulfill her dream of a Columbia education. But that is impossible with a best friend who just got a leading role in the next big TV drama, and a dad with terminal cancer. Not only that, but the very HOT male co-star is paying a lot of attention to her off camera.

This book is so fun. It’s definitely not something I would normally pick up, but honestly, I loved it. I will say that some parts did frustrate me about Ally’s character. She would be hurting, upset jealous. She’d be thinking about her dying father–and then Liam would say “Come take your pants off,” and she’d come running, no matter what was going on at home or what he’d done to upset her. It made me what to scream at her to stand up for herself and trust her gut.

So, my Mama Bear instincts came out a bit, but that just means I really got sucked in. I am super looking forward to book #2, so I may jump right in to that next! Watch for the review soon!

 

WWW Wednesday 5/27/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories by Henry James

The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

 

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by JK Rowling

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont (Review tomorrow)

 

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne (groaaaaaan…we’ll see if I get all the way through this one)

Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly

Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler

The Hogwarts Library

I touched a bit on my excitement for expanded series when I reviewed Four recently. JK Rowling is the master of pleasing her fandom with Pottermore. She also put out The Hogwarts Library, as a nod to Hermoine. These three short books raise proceeds for Comic Relief and Lumos. None of the books take long to read, but are a marvelous edition to the original series. For us die hard fans–they definitely tickle our need for everything magical.

Quidditch Through the Ages

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To be honest…Quidditch was my least favorite part of Harry Potter. I think it is mostly because no matter what happened Griffindor ALWAYS won (or almost always). Kind of takes the fun out of the sport, doesn’t it? I mean, high school sports are always full of drama, but there was always so much nastiness in it.

Still, reading about the history of Quidditch was pretty interesting. I have a better grasp on the teams now, when they go to the big cup game, and I am firmly against baskets! My favorite part was reading about the cranky old witch who wrote the first game down in her diary. Damn idiot boys throwing leather balls into her garden!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

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The middle book in the set is pretty much just an encyclopedia of the different creatures in the wizarding world. While the descriptions of some of the beasts are interesting, there’s really not much to it. (Although someone’s been up to some mischief with a quill…) I am curious to see how they will turn this A-Z reference guide into a movie, and how many of the critters will make it!

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

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Being the great lover of fairy tales that I am, this book was my favorite of the three. How amusing to read stories where the witches are the protagonist, instead of the evil ones like in the fable we grew up with! Of course, The Tale of the Three Brothers was familiar, but The Fountain of Fair Fortune was the one I loved the most. It was such an uplifting story.

The commentary by Dumbledore added so much more to the book too. Like all the others in The Hogwarts Library–it’s sometimes easy to forget that these aren’t genuine nonfiction. More than once, out of habit, I started to add one of the notated books to my Goodreads, only to blink into reality and facepalm myself. Those aren’t real reference books! For hardcore Harry Potter fans like myself, the Library only extends our world just a bit further…and our madness too. It just can’t be helped.

I would encourage any fan of the original series to pick these up. They are cute, look great on a shelf, and support great charities for kids in need. And that’s something Dumbledore would have been pretty proud of.

 

Under the Lake

Can I just tell you, it feels REALLY good to be caught up? I’m writing this post way ahead of time–I already have a post scheduled every day this week, and so you’re going to be reading this almost a week after I finish the book! That almost never happens! I’m so glad my slump is over.

My latest library pull was from the very oldest TBRs. We are talking from back before Goodreads, when I kept everything in an Access Database. I got pretty suave at using that program because my TBR list was so crazy detailed. Do you know how happy I was when Goodreads came along? Phew. So much easier. It basically saved my life. Or at least my sanity.

Two of the books didn’t make the cut. Sometimes, a book is on your TBR for so long you really don’t remember why you added in the first place. And they were pretty bad. But, Under the Lake was just the thing for this week, when I was starting to catch my stride in my reading come-back.

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Under the Lake is a thriller from the 80s…which can either be really great or really terrible. This, thankfully, is one of the great ones. It has all the hits:  small town sheriff, rich guy who runs that town, newspaper man down on his luck, spooky mystic old lady, and a mystery that everyone tries to dust under the rug. Or in this case…UNDER THE LAKE! *badaching*

Here’s the thing. This is a bit of a man’s man fantasy. As in, the main character gets everything he ever wants.

  • Easy escape from a lame marriage. Check.
  • Hot friend sex with no strings attached. Check.
  • Hot sex with mystic woman’s sexy mystic daughter. Check.
  • Isolated cabin in the woods with boats and unending supply of booze and chili. Check.
  • Easy writing gig where he makes money but you never see him do any work. Check.

All this for a middle age balding guy with a bad back? mmmmmk….

Some of it does seem a little flat, I will admit. But, I took it with a grain of salt, that it was a guy thriller set in the mid 70s (published in 87). Let’s face it. This isn’t the most modern of books. However, once I got beyond that thought, I really enjoyed the mystery of the town of Sutherland, and what was going on under the lake. Digging around in history always gets me interested, so the story itself was very intriguing, even if I found the characters themselves lacking a bit.

I’m giving this a 3. It’s not perfect. I’m not jumping up and down, but this was “quality entertainment” for a couple of days, and it was an easy thing to read.

 

Red Queen

Everyone has been reading Red Queen lately. It is the new it cover right now. Of course it is–it’s gorgeous!

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I’ve seen mixed reviews, but I knew I had to get my hands on this story. It took me a little while to get from the library, but yay! Just in time for our last minute road trip.

The structure of Aveyard’s book is familiar, and I think that might be the cause for the mixed feelings. It’s another combat dystopian:  female main character, relying on two males for help, which of course leads to the inevitable love triangle. (There’s actually a third mixed in there too–can’t tell if he’s just buddy buddy or what that relationship is meant to be yet.) So, yes, the framing is nothing extremely unique. I’m ok with that though.

I very much enjoyed the world Aveyard created. There are two types of humans–Red blood (lower class) and Silver blood (upper class). The Reds are forced into a kind of serfdom society and mandatory military service at 18. Life means desperate poverty and misery. Silvers have special abilities–like manipulating minds or throwing fire, and they battle each other for power and notoriety. Reds lack this power and so they are held down by the stronger Silvers.

However, a rebellion is rising up among the Reds and one young girl is caught between the two societies.

This is only the first book in the series, and of course now I’m dying for the continuation. I had a hard time putting Red Queen down. Even though the tropes were familiar and somewhat predictable, I like this kind of book, and it was a fantastic addition to the genre.

 

Fulfills PopSugar #31:  A book with bad reviews

Washington

Every once in awhile, I have a book that I know is going to be a beast to read. It is long, it is dull. It is more like a text book than entertainment.

But…I make myself read those kinds of books every now and then. I feel they are important. And I don’t mean that to sound pretentious. They are important for me. I could care less if you read them. But my brain craves expansion–so even while I yawn and scan and swear that I’m going to quit…I force myself to read one more chapter, until I reach the end.

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Washington was such a book for me. A massive biography on our first president. 900+ pages kind of massive. It was a lot of Washington to take in. I was sure ready to be done by the end.

Ok. For the sake of review, I should stop and say this:  Chernow clearly did a great deal of research. And for fans of political/historical figure bios–they are probably going to find this fascinating. It would take my husband a year (or more) to read this ,but he would like it.

There’s a reason I stuck with it for all 900 pages. The information was interesting. Washington is kind of a ghost figure in our history–he’s there, and we know he’s important, but we don’t learn that much about him. Not like we do Lincoln or FDR or JFK.

Chernow covers everything in his book–childhood, his courting days, the entire scope of Washington’s military career, and of course–the founding of country and his resulting presidency. There’s a lot to read and learn about here, and while yes, it was long, I’m better for it.

I did find it dull and dragging, but I think that is more because I prefer books with plots than because the actual writing was bad. There was just so much information to take in. I’m also taking into consideration that I was reading this during a pretty crappy family moment, and I was trying to get it done before I had to go home to Indiana. I will say that it was a great book to absorb while not being able to devote myself entirely to a storyline, so there’s that.

If you enjoy this sort of book, and/or are interested in our country’s beginnings, I would say pick this one up. It definitely has merit.

WWW Wednesday 4/29/2015

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What are you currently reading?

The Turn of the Screw, The Aspern Papers and Two Stories by Henry James

Roots by Alex Haley

 

What did you just finish reading?

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy:  A Handbook for Geeks by Sam Maggs

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Five Night Stand by Richard Alley

Washington by Ron Chernow

Bring Up the Bodies

Henry VIII. No matter your opinion of the man, no one can deny that he and his court are immensely fascinating and dramatic. If only there were reality TV in the 1500s–could you imagine the Real Housewives of The Tower? THAT would be worth watching. (Hey spoofers…someone please do this. Please!)

I fell in love with Henry’s court when I first watched The Tudors on Netflix several years ago, and while there were several dramatic liberties taken, it let me down a rabbit hole of information hoarding. I started reading everything I could get my hands on about the period.

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Somewhere in there, Hilary Mantel published Wolf Hall, her first book from the perspective of the formidable Thomas Cromwell. I was completely enthralled. Cromwell is like all of the Lannister’s in one brain. Jaime’s weary eye, Tywin’s crazy intelligence, Cersei’s power hungry ambition, and Tyron’s book sharpened wit. Not to mention Littlefinger and Varys’ connections and abilities to find out really just about anything about anybody.

In Wolf Hall, you see Anne Boleyn’s utter domination over Henry and his court…and Katherine’s subsequent demise. And now in Bring on the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s second Thomas Cromwell book, you get the same sneaky ambition as we watch Anne Boleyn’s scheming come to a bitter end.

Mantel’s second book is just as well written as the first. Cromwell has always been an intriguing character to me. Not quite villainous, but definitely Slytherin in nature. He is out for his own skin, furthering his own cause, even using his son to do so. He is normally a background character in every other rendition of this court’s history, but Mantel brings him to life. I love the stream of consciousness narration that she gives him–not quite third person, but it’s all in his head, talking to himself.

If you like Game of Thrones, you will like this book. As I’ve mentioned, I draw a lot of parallells in the court and Cromwell to Martin’s characters (although I have read that he wrote it about the War of the Roses, which was before this period). Also, if you like Philippa Gregory, then you probably already know this storyline, as told by the women. You’ll really like this book, if you’re interested in a different perspective. Just be sure to read Wolf Hall first. There are some nicknames in Bring on the Bodies that will make more sense if you do.

I really hope Mantel continues this series! I look forward to reading them!

 

Fulfills PopSugar #46:  A book written by an author with your same initials