Bookish Bad Habits

December 15, 2011 About Me, Discussion 15

So, since I’ve been “professionally” reviewing books now for over a year and a half, I’ve come to notice quite a few bookish habits that aren’t necessarily good ones. Haha! As I spent more and more time compiling this list, the more things I noticed! Perhaps in 2012 I can turn some of these habits around. Consider this post a list of my 2012 Bookish New Year’s Resolutions.

– I’m a cover snob.
– All the books in a series must be in the same format. I do not have room for the hardback of Crossed by Ally Condie, but since Matched is hardback I can’t buy the Kindle version of Crossed. This is a curse.
– I spend too much time looking at how far along I am in a book, and how much I have left to read. I should just enjoy the ride and quit worrying about whether or not the book is too long or too short.
I can’t take a break from a book until I’m at a chapter break. That sucks if I’m exhausted and in the middle of a REALLY long chapter. I end up not even remembering some things because of this.
– I don’t give myself enough time to reflect on a book before I start a new one.
– Sometimes I wait months to write a review, which makes it REALLY hard. I need to start writing it the next day.
– I accept too many books to review at a time, and spend weeks reading books that are planned out. Sometimes I like to be spontaneous in my reading choices and grab a book off the shelf because it’s what I want at that very moment.
– Sometimes I judge a book too quickly, and it taints my opinion of the book before I’ve given it a chance.
– If I don’t like a book, I still make myself finish it. I need to learn that it’s ok to abandon a book for good. Reading is not a job, and I can quit anytime I want to without penalty.
– Sometimes I read too fast and don’t take the time to savor a book. This happens with books I have been anticipating for a LONG time.
– I buy more books, even though I have stacks of unread ones. I need to read what I have first!
– I stay up way too late, and end up reading the ending of a book when I’m so tired that I barely remember it.
– I have a hard time being objective if a book discusses or is centered around something I totally disagree with.
– If I get tired of a book, I set it aside and start something new. I always plan to return to the other one, but I rarely do. I’ve got 3-4 books I’m partway through that are just waiting to be finished, but now I can’t remember them!
– If I don’t read a book pretty soon after buying it, it gets mixed in with my other unreads and gets forgotten. I really should make up a list and read in that order. But again, that takes my spontaneity away from me.
– OH. If I really want to read a book, but don’t know what, I’ll go to my shelves and look for something. As I try to decide, sometimes I get so overwhelmed by the MANY choices I have, that I give up and watch a movie instead.

So what about you? Do you share some of these bad habits with me? If so, do you consider them bad ones, or should I be grateful I “suffer” with them? What are some of your bookish bad habits, and goals for 2012? Please leave a link to your blog post, and I’ll come visit you! Or comment here and join the discussion!

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Top Ten Childhood Faves

December 6, 2011 Top Ten Tuesday 10

TTT

This topic is a little tricky for me! When I was a younger, I pretty much hated reading. I went to a school that made reading really, really suck. They’d give us a reading schedule and packets and packets of in-depth questions to answer as we went. And then they tested us, and made us write essays. I could not just read for enjoyment. I had to memorize the questions and then look for the answers as I read. It was awful. I loved reading as a very young girl, but once I got into grades 4-6ish, I quit unless I was required to read for a grade. It was not until my early college years that I re-discovered my love of reading. And you’re going to laugh when you find out how! I was in a color theory class, and we were assigned to bring in products that utilized color, making them more appealing to the average passerby. A guy brought in Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. He said his wife was obsessed with this new book series about vampires. Then he went on to talk about how the cover is a very effective use of color and symbolism. When I ran across that cover again, I decided to try it. A new reader was born!

Anyway, a lot of my childhood faves are picture books, mixed in with a few middle-grade/young adult that I either enjoyed in school, or stumbled across in my school’s library while looking for books to do reports on or to supplement research papers. It’s kind of funny that I ended up as a book reviewer, because now I essentially read and analyze books… and write an “essay” on it. It’s my choice, though, so I guess that makes it ok! So, here we go!

Henry the Duck series, by Robert Quackenbush
This series features 4-6 books about a duck named Henry who is always getting himself into trouble. He floods his house, or takes on too many babysitting jobs. It’s pretty hilarious, and the pictures are adorable. I recently bought used copies of all of them so I would have my own set when I have children of my own. My mom would kill me if I took the copies I read. She’s saving them for her grandkids!

Sherlock Chick series, by Robert Quackenbush
This series was written by the same guy as Henry the Duck. These books are all about a little chick who dresses like Sherlock Holmes and solves random mysteries, like what’s making the sound in the barn… or where the gargantuan Easter egg went. Again, very cute. I bought these as well.

The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
I read this in school, and really enjoyed reading about a small family that lives in a really big home, all the while hiding from the owners and stealing their food and odds and ends around the house. I always envisioned having my own tiny family living in my house. I looked for them often, and I’m pretty sure I found evidence that the were there!

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg
Any book that allows children to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is my kind of book. I love that museum, and can totally see why it would be a fun place to live.

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
I saw this book as being so incredibly adventurous. I’d never heard of a plane crash survivor living on his own on a deserted island before, and thought it was so cool! The idea is no longer groundbreaking, as plenty other novelists and tv show/movie producers have worn it out. I loved reading about the adventures, and how this boy was able to survive for so long.

Full House Stephanie series and Full House Michelle series by a whole bunch of different people
I loved Full House as a child, so when my mom gave me some of these books in desperate hope to re-kindle my love of reading, I obliged. I rembeber feeling so accomplished after finishing one of them! Haha.

The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This book scared the crap out of me, and I found it really hard to understand. However, the mystery and creepiness of the story really drew me in. This is the book that made me decide I love mysteries.

Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene
After discovering I loved mysteries, Nancy Drew was the next logical step. I loved this series.

Catherine and the Pirate, by Karen Hawkins (And all of the other books in this series.)
I loved this book so much! I found it in my school’s library (yes, my school library had romance novels!?!?!). It’s a very tame middle-grade romance on the high seas. It was the very first pirate romance I ever read, and I’ve been addicted ever since. This book is one of an entire line of young adult romance, and all of them are now out of print. Luckily I bought all of them before they were discontinued!

I think I’m going to have to stop with 9! I’m so sad that I missed out on so many years of reading as a child, but I got to read a lot of fun middle-grade books with some of my reading students. It all evens out in the end, and it’s never too late to catch up! :) What were some of your childhood favorites? What did I miss?

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Marian’s Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly (Book Review)

December 5, 2011 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 ★★★★★

Marian’s Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly (Book Review)Marian's Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly
Published by Cedar Fort on October 9, 2011
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 298
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Miss Marian Wynswich is a rather unconventional young lady. She plays chess, reads Greek, and is as educated as any young man. And she's certain falling in love is a ridiculous endeavor and vows never to do such a thing. But everything changes when she receives a Christmas visit from someone unexpected a young and handsome English lord.

The summary on the back of the book does not give you much info, so here’s just a little more. I’m not going to give away too many details, just because the story is so much fun to just discover on your own. So here are the bare essentials: Marian’s spunky, outspoken, and not accomplished in the ways that many young women are during her time period. She doesn’t sing or play the piano. She didn’t go through all the classes and training that one goes through to learn how to be a lady. No, she’d rather make ointments and work with medicines to heal all of her stray animal friends (and a few people, too). She doesn’t have curly hair and brown eyes. She doesn’t care, though! She can beat you at chess, and read Greek and Latin better than anyone. She speaks her mind whenever she feels so inclined, and that gets her into trouble sometimes. She’s also read every book in her father’s library. A bookish girl after my own heart. Speaking of her father, he passed away and left his family in a very dire situation. When Marian’s brother comes home with a rich, but unattractive and undesirable suitor for her older sister, Ariadne, Marian is determined to figure out a way to stop this awful courtship. She believes that people should only marry for love, and that it has to be a LOT of love or it’s not even worth it. As she and her brother play tricks on this man alongside the very handsome Gilbert Collinworth, Earl of Ingraham, she begins to question her decision to never marry. Perhaps love is better than she thinks!

This book was endearing, and oh so sweet! It’s the kind of sweet you hope to read during December, but not so over the top that you want to throw you Christmas cookies in the trash because you’ve reached your maximum sugar intake for the season. I loved Marian. She’s exactly the kind of personality-type I was/wished to be at the ripe old age of 16, so I identified a lot with her as I read her story. She doesn’t follow the normal trend, and manages to stand out in her own special way. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, is very mature, and won’t take crap from anyone. She’s so much more amazing at sticking up for herself and speaking her mind to authority figures than I was, though, and I envy that a little. She’s resilient, a tad emotional, and enjoys acting her age sometimes (when she’s not having to force herself to be a grown up). And Gilbert is amazing. Just like Marian, he was not created from the same mold most males of his time were. He’s a funny troublemaker who likes to stir the pot. He becomes quite an ally to Marian, making her be quiet when she wishes to speak her mind. Their banter back and forth is so much fun to read, not to mention his moments of being so tender and caring… oh, and those twinkling eyes. I kinda fell in love with that Gilbert Collinworth.

Marian’s brother, Alistair, is a really awesome brother. I wish I had one just like him. He teases Marian non-stop, but when she needs him to lean on, or to cry on his shoulder, he’s sensitive and very caring. I can just picture those two bantering over chess or at the breakfast table. They have one of those sweet brother/sister relationships that I hope my future son and daughter have one day (long, long into the future!). We don’t get to know the rest of her family extremely well. Her mother is pretty high maintenance and snobby, and Ariadne (seriously, how on Earth do you pronounce her name!?) is pretty spineless and quiet. She clams up and goes with the flow–a great contrast to Marian. Percy (the oldest brother) is firm, but you can tell he doesn’t want to be. He became the man of the house, and with that comes a great responsibility. He’s a softy, though, and ends up making you smile as well. You can tell that the entire family is very loving and cares about everyone deeply. Of course, I object to the arranged marriage, but that’s all part of the the time period. A poor family marrying their daughter off to an old rich man, whom she will never love is something we read a lot about in regency romance novels.

I did not mean to do such a thorough character analysis, but the characters are what make this story so enjoyable! I mean, when you come right down to it, this storyline has been done before. A little suspense and mystery is thrown in (which I loved, by the way), but for the most part it’s been done. The characters are what set this book apart from all the others, plus the fact that it’s during Christmas, so it’s much more magical already! Bottom line, when I think of the story, I think about the people before the plot. That’s a big deal. The descriptions of lovely snowy scenes and intense moments of danger also make this book something special. Oh, and the kissing scene is pretty dang cute too!

While I did see this book on a shelf at a local Christian bookstore, I would not mark this as strictly Christian fiction. The Christmas service at the church is only a few paragraphs, and there’s really no other talk of religion. So, if you’re a bit leery of this book for that reason, don’t worry! You won’t be preached to. I also wouldn’t mark this as young adult fiction. Girls during this time period were forced to grow up early, so even though Marian is only 16, she’s where many of today’s mid-twenties to even late-thirties women are.

So, I can happily add another adorable Christmas romance to my list of keepers! This December is turning out to be a month of great finds so far! Thanks again to netgalley and Cedar Fort Publishing for giving me this complimentary copy, in exchange for my honest review.

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Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, by Cohn & Levithan (Book Review)

December 1, 2011 Book Review, Young Adult 11 ★★★★★

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, by Cohn & Levithan (Book Review)Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan, Rachel Cohn
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 26, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 260
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought it!
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Happy first day of December! This month, it is all Christmas books for Jana! I love Christmas books, and this one was my first choice. I had heard the Dash & Lily buzz everywhere, and I was waiting until the Christmas season to start it! It was a tough wait, seeing as how I found out about it on Christmas Eve last year! I had to wait a long time! It was worth the wait, though, and I dove into it as soon as I was in bed on Thanksgiving night.

This book is a fun little gem that is the kind of book everyone will end up reading eventually. I loved the uniqueness of the story. I would absolutely love to discover a little red notebook full of dares in my favorite bookstore! The dares were fun and unique, and put both Dash and Lily in weird positions–more so for Dash than Lily. I’ll say two words about it and then leave it at that: fresh Santa. Haha! Loved it. These two were running all over New York City doing tasks, and then leaving the notebook for the other one to find. The anticipation and the mystery behind this cute exchange was incredibly fun and heartwarming to read about! The book alternates back and forth between Dash and Lily, just like the notebook does. According to the authors blurb and the end of the book, Cohn (Lily) and Levithan (Dash) e-mailed the chapters back and forth to each other and then continued writing the story as they got new content. I love that the book was created essentially the same way that the red notebook IN the book was. Pretty brilliant, if you ask me. In doing this, each author gave their own character a distinct voice. I loved the result!

Dash and Lily are very quirky characters. Dash hates Christmas, and lies to both of his divorced parents, saying that he is spending the holiday with the other. That way he can spend it alone. He’s a bookish, hipster nerd whose biggest wish in life is to own his own 22-volume Oxford English Dictionary. Other than being very bookish herself, Lily is the complete opposite. She’s a perky Christmas lover, but is abandoned by her parents who go to Fiji, and her brother who ignores her to spend time with his boyfriend. The exchange with Dash is the only thing that keeps her grounded. She’s pretty unique. The descriptions of her outrageous outfits match the descriptions of her funny nature. Even so, she seems pretty mature for her age. Her rambunctiousness and uniqueness is a nice contrast to Dash’s rather mundane existence. He’s deep, and has funny things to say, but Lily is definitely the part of that duo that grabs attention just by walking down the street. I love that Dash is amused by her. It’s so sweet. I love that the notebook strips them of their hiding places, and brings them out from behind their walls to really get to know each other in a way that they might not have if they had met under different circumstances.

They experience a lot of feelings and emotions together: loss, loneliness, curiosity, happiness, sadness, hope, worry, self-doubt, and they laugh a lot. They think about each other often, and try to imagine what the other one is feeling. They find themselves concerned about the other pretty much all the time. They pose important questions in the notebook, not just, “What’s your favorite color?” Together, they realize that they care about each other a lot more than they thought they did. Sometimes that’s a scary thing to realize, and they both know it. I enjoyed reading about a deep relationship that is so important to each of them, they spend time worrying and doubting themselves. As they wrote more to each other, they reflected on their responses. It was a quick development, but they did it with finesse. I can totally see how they fell for each other so quickly. They learned more about each other in that short time than some people learn in a year. Neither of them was perfect, but that actually ended up making them perfect for each other.

The things they said or thought were often hilarious, but they also had some very deep thoughts that made me think. One quote in particular that I just loved was thought by Lily, “You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here’s a hint—ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn’t just the women. It’s the great male fantasy—all it takes is one dance to know that she’s the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face. And right away you know—this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don’t want a very long courtship. They want to know immediately.” LOVE that. It’s so profound, and so true! We girls are not the only ones looking for a fairytale. 

My final thoughts: Dash and Lily is a pretty adorable book about a Christmastime romance between two unsuspecting teens who are a lot more mature than is to be expected. Throughout the red notebook’s journey, these two learn things about themselves and each other. As they learn more, they grow closer. They realize perfection is not necessary, and that girls aren’t the only ones who dream of fairy tales. It was a magical read for me that took place in my favorite city in the USA. I definitely recommend this to those of you who enjoy Christmas romances, but hardly ever read any because they are all SO cheesy and cover every possible emotion all at once. This book is nothing like that, and you’ll love it. :) 

And on that note… It’s time for me to scour the shelves of the local bookstores to see if Mr. Right has caught on to this awesome idea yet.

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Forbidden by Syrie James & Ryan James (Book Review)

November 30, 2011 Book Review, Young Adult 2 ★★★★

Forbidden by Syrie James & Ryan James (Book Review)Forbidden by Ryan James, Syrie James
Published by HarperTEEN on January 24, 2012
Genres: Paranormal, Paranormal Romance, Romance
Pages: 410
Format: ARC
Source: From the author
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
She should not exist.

He should not love her.

Claire Brennan has been attending Emerson Academy for two years now (the longest she and her mom have remained anywhere) and she’s desperate to stay put for the rest of high school. So there’s no way she’s going to tell her mom about the psychic visions she’s been having or the creepy warnings that she’s in danger.

Alec MacKenzie is fed up with his duties to watch and, when necessary, eliminate the descendants of his angelic forefathers. He chose Emerson as the ideal hiding place where he could be normal for once. He hadn’t factored Claire into his plans. . . .

Their love is forbidden, going against everything Alec has been taught to believe. But when the reason behind Claire’s unusual powers is revealed and the threat to her life becomes clear, how far will Alec go to protect her?

I was SO excited when Syrie wrote to me and told me that I was the first ever recipient of a Forbidden ARC! I read this book back in August, and was very happy when Syrie asked that I post this review now, rather than wait for the month of the release. Put this on your Christmas lists, guys! I think you’ll enjoy it. :)

First off, I really loved the story. The premise was interesting, and I like how I had to keep guessing and trying to figure out what was going on. I liked the tactic the authors used–to not tell us what Claire or Alec are for quite a while. All these crazy things start happening, and people are not who they say they are. I felt like I was just as lost as Claire was, which was exciting. I wish the back of the book did not mention angels. It would have been more fun to not have had any clue at all.

Alec is an amazing character, and I’m not going to tell you what he is. It’s fun to discover that on your own. He’s a mix of bad boy and sweetheart, which I love. He is so sweet with Claire. He’s also mysterious and dangerous, yet soft and romantic. He’s at Emerson Academy to escape his old life and create a new one… if that’s even possible. He enjoys his isolation. As soon as Claire pops up on the radar as someone the Elders should be investigating, his hiding place is discovered and he ends up having to take drastic measures to protect her from those who wish to destroy her.

I’m not going to tell you exactly what Claire is either, but she’s something forbidden. Haha. Her entire life should not even exist. She starts noticing changes and has to learn as she goes, because not many have ever been in her position. There’s no manuals on how to be herself. Man, this is painful to explain without spoilers, so I’m moving on! She’s sweet and wishes to be noticed by this one guy she’s had a crush on for years. Of course, he barely notices she’s alive. When Alec comes along, though, she begins to gravitate towards him right as this crush starts to gravitate towards her. She’s torn. She doesn’t embrace the love triangle, like so many YA girls end up doing in books. (Like… did Bella have to act so upset to be marrying Edward, but fling herself into Jacob’s arms when he showed up late at her reception? Sorry… I just saw Breaking Dawn yesterday.). She does a lot of thinking, and follows her heart. She seems smart. She also uses her talents to help people, like a classmate who needed a push in the right direction. Those are two main reasons why I like her. She didn’t bug me, which often happens to me with YA heroines. I feel like I’m saying this a lot lately. Maybe authors are starting to write better heroines in general?

I liked Claire’s friends a lot. They looked out for each other, and spent a lot of time sitting and chatting about all kinds of things. Friends usually end up bugging me too. They can so often be petty, catty, etc. I wish I had good friends like them when I was in high school.

There were several plot twists that made me go, “Whoa! I definitely wasn’t thinking THAT would happen!” I’ve noticed that as I read more and more of one genre, books begin to become pretty predictable. I mean, how many love triangles do we see? How many evil villains do we see? How many cliche plot twists do we see. A lot, a lot, a lot. These twists were not something I foresaw. I enjoyed being outsmarted by a genre that I’ve pretty much figured out.

Of course, the sweet kissing descriptions were just as good as the ones I’ve read in Syrie’s other novels. I love romance!

My only possible constructive criticism… I’m not sure if it’s because the book is part of the YA genre (which I’ve never read from Syrie), or if it was because she co-wrote it with her son, but there were parts of the novel that were totally Syrie, and other parts that did not sound like her. I could tell that two people wrote it. I’m not sure if it’s because her writing style and Ryan’s were not blended seamlessly, or if it was just that I’m used to reading adult fiction from Syrie instead of YA. In either case, it’s not a huge deal… just an observation. If I had not read other works of hers, I doubt I would have noticed anything at all. I’ve just come to recognize Syrie’s literary voice because I like it so much!

I asked Syrie if she and her son were planning to write a sequel, and she said that in their minds, it’s a trilogy. However, HarperTeen only committed to one book. They have great ideas for the next two, though, so hopefully Forbidden is well-received, and they can continue the story. I’d love to know more about what’s in store for Alec and Clair. Actually, I’d love a prequel, too. Throughout the story, we hear little bits about Claire’s parents. I’d love to read about their story as well. It has the potential to be a pretty beautiful story.

I definitely think that the book will appeal to more than just YA readers, and I think a lot of that is due to the fact that the characters are not annoying and certainly don’t fit into the stereotypical high school student formula. I think it also helped that Alec had a certain maturity that seemed to influence the other characters, and that brought on more mature conflicts and issues. I’m 24, and a lot of YA novels I read make me feel pretty old. Haha. I know I’m not old, but in a totally different place than most YA characters. I didn’t feel like this while reading Forbidden, and I forgot they were all highschoolers. It was refreshing.

In short, it was a wonderful book. I quite enjoyed it, and only took about 2 days to read it. Hopefully this team gets to continue the story! While it can totally stand on its own, there are plenty of ends that are just a tad loose, that could use some tying up!

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Top Ten Books On My TBR List For Winter

November 29, 2011 Top Ten Tuesday 26

TTT

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
I love Christmas and NYC, so this is definitely a must-read for the holidays!

The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Trisha Ashley
This is a cute-sounding Christmas romance that takes place in a remote town on the Lancashire moors in England. The heroine does not like Christmas much, and jumps on house sitting to get away. While she’s there, the town gets snowed in and she meets a guy (obviously!). I bet love is involved. I love Christmas books!

Fairytale of New York, by Miranda Dickinson
This is part of my fall/winter reading challenge with the Goodreads college students group. The cover is snowy and cute, and I can only assume the story will be the same! And I seriously love NYC (had I mentioned that before?) :P

Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances, by John Green, Maureen Johnson, & Lauren Myracle
Do I need to explain this? Three stories written by three great YA authors? I’m so there. I tried to read this last Christmas, and got really busy… and then Christmas was over, and I refuse to read Christmas books after December 25th.

The Snow Bride, by Debbie Macomber
During the holidays, I need some corny in my life (name the movie that inspired this quote!), and Debbie Macomber always delivers some of that. :) This one sounds pretty good, though! Internet dating… an Alaskan Christmas to go randomly marry him… BUT on the flight over, she meets another guy who does not approve of her insane idea to marry this guy. So… he changes her plans for her and takes her to his own cabin. And again, a blizzard happens. And again, love probably does too. Haha. What is it with blizzards and love stories? Maybe I need to find some hunky man in a Colorado ski lodge and pray for a lot of snow.

The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman, by Louise Plummer
A reader from another blog I write for, The Broke and the Bookish, recommended this book to me. I read the description on the back cover, and ordered it. It sounds funny, cute, and like a great pick-me-up for a cold, wintry day!

Crossed (Matched #2), by Ally Condie
I’ve asked for this for Christmas, and it has been so hard waiting so long to find out what happens next (after Matched).

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
This is also part of my Goodreads winter challenge, and I am completely determined. I love P&P fan fiction, but have not read P&P! I know I will appreciate all of it more once I read this. Plus, I have the sexy Barnes and Noble leather bound classic. It’s so pretty!

Pure, by Julianna Baggott
I got an ARC for this from netgalley, and am pretty excited about it. It’s a dystopia that sounds pretty good! Look out for my review here sometime in January!

Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
I also got this from netgalley. A cyborg Cinderella? It’s a brave storyline, and I’m hoping I’ll enjoy it! It comes out on January 3rd, so my review will be posted here around that time.

And of course… Pandemonium, by Lauren Oliver and Fever, by Lauren DeStefano. SO excited for both of those!

So, what are you must-reads for the winter season? I’m always on the lookout for cozy reads. This is seriously the best time of year to always be found with your nose in a book. :)

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The Bastard/Honor Bound, by Brenda Novak (Book Review)

November 18, 2011 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 ★★★★

The Bastard/Honor Bound, by Brenda Novak (Book Review)Honor Bound by Brenda Novak
Published by Self on October 23, 2011
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 374
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Note: This story was previously titled The Bastard

To some men honor is just a word...

Jeannette Boucher, a young French beauty from a family left penniless by the revolution, must marry against her will to save them all from ruin. But almost immediately after the vows are spoken, she learns that her old English husband is impotent—and in his desire for an heir, he plans to compromise her in the worst way. Determined to escape such a fate, she stows away on one of His Majesty’s frigates. But a woman alone is in constant danger.

To Lieutenant Treynor, honor means everything...

Born a bastard to a wayward marquise, Lieutenant Crawford Treynor was given to a poor farmer to raise and was maltreated until he ran away to join the Royal Navy. Treynor is determined to prove he’s as good as any other man and rise to captain his own frigate. But once he finds Jeannette aboard The Tempest he must decide whether to return her to the man he knows would abuse her—or risk everything, even his life, to keep her safe.'(

The story was exciting! We enter the story right as Jeanette is marrying this ugly old man that she is really rather repulsed by. She’s doing it to help her family, though. By marrying him, her family will want for nothing, but she will always want true love! While awaiting her new husband’s arrival to their bedroom, her brother barges in with some scary news. Her husband is impotent, and plans to have his male friends sleep with her to get her pregnant so he can have an heir. Jeanette decides to flee. When she discovers a Royal Navy ship in port that will be leaving for London soon, she decides to pose as a thirteen-year-old boy and sign on as one of the crew. In doing so, she runs into some dangerous situations. Lieutenant Treynor figures out her secret, and takes care of her until they can get her back on dry land. Of course, love happens… along with some adventure.

I really enjoyed this story. I appreciated the fact that, as far as romance novels go, this one was a little on the tamer side. It’s definitely not a book for youth, as steam happens, but there’s not a ton of time or pages devoted to it. It’s very easy to skip if you’re so inclined.

Jeanette is one of those characters that easy to not really know how you feel about her. Do I like her? Do I not like her? There’s a fine line between the two in this book. At times, I really liked her. I mean, she had self-esteem. She knew she did not deserve the life her husband was going to give her. She had a sense of honor because she married him to help her family. She was brave posing as a boy and becoming part of the crew. She had a certain level of values, and was very ladylike. However… so many of the times she was in danger were because she was an idiot. She kept doing things she was told not to do, thereby putting herself and Treynor in danger. It happened all the time. I can’t stand heroines who lack common sense.

How could anyone not like Lieutenant Treynor? He’s described as being nothing short of a Greek god. He came from a very difficult background and ran away to join the Royal Navy at a very young age. He climbed the ranks, and gained a ton of respect from the people he works with. He has an incredible sense of duty and does everything he can to protect Jeanette in secret, as well as do his job. He respects women. At one point, Jeanette gt a little tipsy drinking rum with the boys one night, and tried to seduce him. He sent her away because he felt wrong taking advantage of her current state of mind. He never forced himself on her. He is compassionate. Even when he thought she was a boy, he protected this young thing and took “him” under his wing. He’s also very gentlemanly and well-spoken. I really liked him. Definitely one of my favorite males in romance, and the very best part of this book.

The supporting characters were great. There were not too many to keep track of, but enough to convince you that the ship was full of a crew that mattered. We even have a villain, as pretty much all books do. He bugged me, but he was supposed to! I found myself enjoying the company of many of the characters. I’m not used to that, but I suppose it’s because these were Navy men and not ruthless, cold-hearted pirates.

I loved the descriptions. I could picture the wedding, the town, the port area (with taverns and seedy inns), the ship, the ocean, all the different cabins and rooms on board, etc. I could picture the crew doing tasks that I’ve never seen done before. I pictured everything wonderfully. I understood everything, and even learned a little about what went on aboard ships in days gone by, not to mention French and British history.

I’m not used to books of this genre covering so much adventure. Many authors could have turned this in to two books. I loved how fast-paced it was. Just as I thought we were winding down, ready to tie everything up into a nice bow, something crazy happened. AND every loose end imaginable was tied up. I was not left really wanting anything. I was happy with the ending.

I’d recommend this book to people who love romance on the high seas, adventure, strong male leads, likeable heroines, interesting and amusing supporting characters, and happy endings.

I’ll definitely be looking into more of Novak’s books. I hear she writes a lot of romantic suspense, which is another favorite genre of mine. Happy reading!

(Notes for those concerned about sensitive content: (Some may consider these spoilers, so be careful in reading.)
– Foreplay happens, but the actual act of sex never does.
– Any steamy scenes are kept to a paragraph or two (with the exception of maybe one).
– There is a rape attempt at Jeanette by someone on the opposing side of the war. Nobody on her ship’s crew is involved with that.
– There is war violence. People die.

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Bookish Finds: My Christmas Shopping Spree

November 17, 2011 Bookish Finds 6

Bookish-FindsOriginal
Bookish Finds is a feature here at That Artsy Reader Girl, where I highlight awesome bookish things I come across during my exciting life.

Hi friends! So, I was online tonight looking for cool bookish Christmas presents, and I came across some awesome ideas of things I can buy and make! Look at this cool stuff!

 

 

Can I please have this bag to cart around all my library/bookstore/thrift sore finds? I’d probably get a few looks, and maybe a giggle or two, but I don’t even care.


Look at these book plates! I’m not sure what I’d do with them if I got them, but I’m sure I would not eat off them. Maybe buy one or two for display purposes, or to catch all the jewelry and odds and ends in my room? They are so cute! I wish I knew where to buy them!


Look at this cool nightstand! I love the hidden drawers.


 
This bookish charm bracelet is adorable. I may need to buy my own! It’s only $36 over at A Likely Story.In fact, they have a whole bunch of cute bookish bracelets! – http://www.alikelystory.com/category/bracelets.

I love these bobby pins made out of book pages! Find them for only $6 @ – Bits and Barley etsy page.


Hahahahahahaha. I know so many guys who need this shirt. Find this for $10 @ – Brookish etsy page.


Handmade, mini books for your ears! You can open them and write on the pages! I think it’s kind of romantic. Men, you could buy these for your lady and write a love note on the pages! I know I’d cry.

These are $15.85 at Keepreading’s etsy page.

Ok, well that’s all for tonight, but I’m sure I’ll find more! I might be buying my own Christmas presents this year! Have any of you found fun bookish presents for crazy readers? I need ideas for my letter to Santa this year. :)

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Carrie Goes off the Map, by Phillipa Ashley (Book Review)

November 16, 2011 Adult Fiction, Book Review 1 ★★★★

Carrie Goes off the Map, by Phillipa Ashley (Book Review)Carrie Goes Off the Map by Phillipa Ashley
Published by Sourcebooks on December 1, 2001
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Romance
Pages: 376
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Carrie Brownhill lets her best friend talk her into a scenic European road trip as the perfect getaway from a nasty breakup with her fiancé. Unexpectedly along for the ride is the gorgeous and intriguing Matt Landor, MD, who sorely tests Carrie’s determination to give up men altogether. Careening through the English countryside in a VW camper van, these two mismatched but perfectly attuned lonely hearts find themselves in hot pursuit of adventure and in uncharted territory altogether…

This book was lovely for several uncommon reasons: 1. The characters are my age! I’m so used to reading about tweens, teenagers, and middle-aged adults. I rarely read about characters who are mid-to-late twenties. It was refreshing. 2. This book is an amazing book to help you feel better after a nasty break-up. I wish I’d had this book a few years ago when I went through one of those. 3. Traveling!!!!! I love books where people travel, and what’s better than driving through England in a camper van named Dolly?

So, Carrie is engaged to her business partner: a farmer guy named Huw. One night he comes home from a stag party and tells her he can’t marry her anymore. Of course, she’s heartbroken. Who wouldn’t be? THEN… just 4 months later, Huw is getting married to the woman he cheated on her with! She finds out on the day of his wedding, and runs to the church to crash the ceremony and call him out. She chickens out, though, and just ruins a very expensive flower arrangement outside the church. At this point, her best friend Rowena is pretty worried about Carrie, and decides the two of them need to go on a roadtrip to Italy and beyond. Things are all set and ready to go, when Rowena gets a job on a soap opera and has to back out of the trip the morning of. She mischievously calls on Dr. Matt Landor, an old friend from college to go with Carrie instead. Matt’s currently home from a small island where he works as a doctor for a charitable organization, and has absolutely nothing to do. His passport is also expired, and so they can’t leave England. Carrie is mortified at this change in plans, but Matt finally talks her into going on a trip with him. They spend just over a month traveling around the English countryside meeting new people, and getting to know each other far better than they expected. Love blossoms among several different sets of characters. There’s even a bit of a scary twist that makes you worry for the characters! Mix all of this together with a lot of British slang that I had a hard time understanding at first, and you have a very cute romantic comedy on your hands.

Carrie is hilarious. She destroyed a flower arrangement with a hose! I hope that if my fiance dumps me for a skank named Fanella, I will have the guts to do something like this. I like her sense of adventure, and her determination. Not only does she get over Huw, but she has fun doing it. Matt is the brooding sexy type. Carrie compares him to Mr. Darcy, and I have to agree. He’s tall, dark, handsome, troubled, and covers up his love for Carrie with witty banter and silly arguments. He and Carrie have great chemistry. Some of their conversations and flirtatious moments had me laughing. I enjoyed the supporting characters, which included some pretty funny hippie surfer dudes who end up lying on the beach stoned more than they actually surf, and a stuck up gaggle of socialites who add the word “darling” to the end of every sentence.

While you pretty much know how everything will turn out, you don’t know how everything will be wrapped up. There were twists, turns, misunderstandings, and some lovely character development. The timeline of the book covers more time than I’m used to (over a year), which was nice. I loved the setting of the book. Carrie and Matt spent a lot of time along the water, and the author wrote some lovely descriptions.

Overall, this was a great read! I really enjoyed the plot line and the writing, although I would have appreciated fewer f-words. I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy travel, England, quirky characters, and romance. I’ll definitely be pursuing more Phillipa Ashley books.The release date is December 1st of this year, so you don’t have to wait too long to get your hands on it! It’s definitely a nice, happy read that will warm your heart during these chilly, wintery months. Happy reading!

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Top Ten Unread Books on My Bookshelf

November 15, 2011 Top Ten Tuesday 14

TTT

This week was actually my week to post at The Broke and The Bookish, but I wanted to post here too! I can’t miss my very first Tuesday as a solo blog owner, now can I?

If only I had more hours in the day. If only I had more money in my bank account. If only my only responsibility was to read books. Those three little things would make my to-read list much less ominous and overwhelming. Do you ever sit in front of your collection of books and want to read so many of them all at once that you just give up and do something else? I do. Or… I’ll look at all my books and decide I’m not feeling any of them, and hop on Amazon to buy something new! The following is a list of books I’ve been wanting to read for so long, but other books (or life) has continually gotten in the way.

Juliet: A Novel by Anne Fortier
A great friend of mine on Goodreads posted her love of this book over a year ago. I’d had my eye on it for a while, but it was really expensive so I decided to wait for a few months until I found it cheaper. She loved it so much that she sent it to me! I was ecstatic! Why have I not read it yet? This is the story of modern-day ancestors of Romeo and Juliet, who believe they are victims of a curse that has plagued the families for 600 years, ever since Romeo and Juliet were not allowed to be together. Conspiracy… romance… Romeo and Juliet. I should have read this forever ago.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Two words. Richard Armitage. I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I saw BBC’s mini-series. I’ve heard the book is just as amazing as the show. I wonder if Elizabeth’s Thornton will live up to sexy Richard.

Heat Wave (Nikki Heat #1) by Richard Castle
I absolutely LOVE the TV show Castle. It’s one of my favorites, and I own all of the seasons so far. The main guy in the show, Richard Castle, is a writer who assists the NYPD with their cases so he can gather information for his latest crime fighter book series. This book was written by someone the studio hired to write under the pen name of Richard Castle. Every season, a new book is released. I love that the books he spends the different seasons writing can be purchased! It makes the show seem more real to me. I can only assume this is as wonderful as the show, and book 3 was just released! I have to get moving on this!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Ok, shoot me. I know, I know. I claim that Austenland is one of my favorite books, yet I have never read the INSPIRATION for it. I even bought the sexy Barnes and Noble leatherbound classic! I feel like I have sinned for not reading this yet.

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley
Magical. I love Beauty and the Beast retellings, and I feel bad that I read Alex Flinn’s (Beastly) first. This has been collecting dust on my shelf for years, and I don’t know why.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Gah. Not only does this book sound amazing, and have a reputation of being pure awesomeness, but it’s a historical romance/mystery! MY FAVORITE.

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder
Ok, I read Poison Study forever ago and I swear I have forgotten the entire thing. I don’t even know the main girl’s name now. I should have read this sooner, because now I’m going to be really confused. This might never get read.

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
I’ve been hearing great things about this series for years now. Again, historical romance/mystery. MY FAVORITE!

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan
Christmas and New York are my two favorite things. If you put them together, I’m basking in celestial glory. Why have I NOT read this romance that takes place in NYC at Christmastime? Ugh!

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Other than the Beach Boys, this story provided some of the most beloved music of my childhood. I remember dancing to this in my living room as a wee thing. Why have I not read the book that inspired Andrew Lloyd Webber to be a genius and create one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever tuned my ears to? I love this show!

So, what books are really desirable to you, yet you haven’t picked them up yet? Do they intimidate you? Do you have too many other book-reading commitments that you have no time to read what you really, really want to read? Are they out of print, so you’re attempting to find a used copy in some second-hand store? Let me know what your choices would be! I love reading other peoples’ lists. It’s so much fun to discover new books to read!

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