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Monday Musings: Poetry Month

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This isn’t so much a blog post as a request for assistance from my readers. I guess you could also possibly classify this as a discussion post; you are free to create discussion in the comments, but I’m mostly hoping you’ll be able to offer some input.

As I’m sure most of my readers already know, April is National Poetry Month. I know I’ve probably already mentioned this elsewhere, but I’ve never been much of a poetry reader. It’s not that I don’t like poetry, I think it’s more that I have trouble finding poetry that I can really relate to and get into the way I do novels. I’m a nerd and have enjoyed reading some of the epics (I’ve read The Odyssey, The Iliad, and Paradise Lost more than once, though Paradise Lost was for class not my own free will). I also enjoy the rhythm of Langston Hughes and one of my favorite poems is Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe simply because I love the way it sounds and rolls off the tongue when recited. However, I have yet to find a poet or poems that I really connect with.

And that’s where you come in, dear readers. This year, in honor of National Poetry Month, I would like to give poetry another chance and try to find a poet and/or poems that I can fall in love with. I just don’t know where to begin. Who should I read? Mary Oliver? Billy Collins? Someone more obscure? And which collection should I start with?

I appreciate any and all suggestions!

Recapping Reads: March in Review

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Guys, I think I’m finally coming out of my reading slump. March was so much more successful than the last couple months have been. I think I have The Lies of Locke Lamora to thank for that, as it’s the first book in several months I had trouble putting down, and it seemed to break through my reader’s block – which is a really good thing because my stack of books to read grew A LOT this month!

Books Read in March:

March2016 Reads

Books read and reviewed:

  • The Lies of Lock Lamora by Scott Lynch – This book had a little bit of everything in it: action, adventure, suspense, tragedy … in short it was a terrific novel.
  • Me Before You by JoJo Moyes – I wanted to read this before the movie came out, but now I don’t know if I can watch the movie because I’ll just cry all the way through it.
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker – This was the February read for Emma Watson’s book club. I was a little late reading it, but really enjoyed it.
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer – I don’t know why it took me so long to pick up this book, but now I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
  • Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay – This was a really good read with just the right amount of suspense and creepiness.
  • Kingdom of Scars by Eoin Macken – My review for this one should be coming next week.

Books read with reviews coming soon:

  • Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman – This one took me much longer to read than it should have, but I’m glad I finally got to it. My review should be coming soon.
  • All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks – The March read for Our Shared Shelf. I loved this book.
  • The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle – This has been on my TBR list for months now and I’m glad I finally got to it.

Current Reads:

One of these days I may actually limit myself to reading one book at a time. Today is not that day. (I discovered a couple days ago that I was actively reading 5 books at that point, which is more than I usually allow myself at once. I may have a problem.)

March 2016 Current

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – This is actually a reread, and I’m falling in love with it all over again.
  • The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle – A fantasy classic I’ve been wanting to read for years.
  • How to be a Woman by Caitlyn Moran – This is the April pick for Our Shared Shelf and I couldn’t wait to get it started.

Reading List for April:

I actually got through most of my list in March, so I can start my April TBR with a whole new list of books!

  • Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – A friend of mine has been trying to get me to read this book for over a year. I think it’s finally time.
  • The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin – This novel sounded really interesting, so I was excited when a free finished copy was sent to the bookstore and I was allowed to claim it.
  • The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston – I helped a customer find this book at the bookstore one day and it piqued my interest.
  • Tell The Wind and Fire by Sara Rees Brennan – I received this ARC about a month or so ago and it sounds really interesting.
  • The Widow by Fiona Barton – This ARC arrived just before Christmas and I haven’t had a chance to get to it yet. I’m going to try to get to it in April.
  • I Am Malala by Malala  Yousafzai – I find this young woman so inspirational and fascinating; I’ve been wanting to read this for a while and can’t wait to get it started.

My reading list for April is somewhat ambitious (given my penchant for adding books throughout the month), but since I was able to actually cross out quite a bit of my list last month, I have high hopes that I’ll be able to get to this one too. If I do, this will knock out quite a bit of my Spring TBR in one month! Then I can start thinking about what’s going on my Summer TBR (which I never seem to finish).

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Females

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is actually Ten Characters Everyone Loves But I Just Don’t Get or Ten Characters I LOVE But Others Seem To Dislike. However, since today is International Women’s Day, I thought I make a list of my favorite female characters instead.

  1. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series) – Of course she’s at the top of my list. Whenever I think of awesome female characters, I think of her. Hermione made a love of books and knowledge cool. She taught us that girls can be smart and that sometimes that intelligence is what saves the day.
  2. Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice) – Elizabeth has always been one of my favorite heroines. She’s intelligent, witty and knows her own mind. She’s fiercely independent and doesn’t depend on men for her happiness. From Elizabeth I learned that it’s okay to be yourself – whoever that may be – and the people who are meant to be in your life will appreciate you more for it.
  3. Celaena Sardothien (Throne of Glass series) – One of the things that drew me to the Throne of Glass series was how great a character Celaena was. She is complex and interesting, intelligent and seductive and she’s a girl. One of the things I loved most about her character was how kick ass she could be, but that she still loves girly things – pretty dresses, chocolates, etc. She teaches readers that you don’t have to be not-girly in order to be fierce and strong. I really like that about her.
  4. Phryne Fisher (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) – I have never actually read the Phryne Fisher novels, but I absolutely adore the series and if you ever get a chance check it out on Netflix. Phryne is a strong-willed independent woman in 1920s Australia. She doesn’t follow conventional social norms of the times, but she is wonderful. My favorite part of the series is the fact that she is never a damsel in distress – she always gets herself out of trouble instead of waiting for a man to save her.
  5. Yelena Zaltana (The Study Series) – Yelena is intelligent, clever, compassionate, and strong. I loved her character almost immediately and she will forever remain one of my all-time favorite female characters. I just love independence and loyalty.
  6.  Daenerys Targaryen (Song of Ice and Fire) – It may be the character in the show more than the books that I love (and I still haven’t read the A Dance with Dragons), but Daenerys is just so interesting to me. She’s overcome so much in her short life, and she’s still willing to fight. However, she’s compassionate and kind as well.
  7. Claire Randall (Outlander) – For part of the book I had some real issues with Claire, as I felt sorry for Jamie and how much her attempts at escape hurt him. However, by the end of the book (and in subsequent books, though I haven’t read them all) I began to really appreciate her strength of character. It takes a strong woman to be able to live the life she lives, and to adjust to the differences and the dangers of the 18th century.
  8. Beatrice (Much Ado About Nothing) – I know I’ve mentioned before that Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite Shakespeare play, mostly because of how much I love Beatrice. She is clever and witty, and able to hold her own against all the men around her. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and doesn’t let Benedick push her around. She’s definitely one of my favorite Shakespeare characters.
  9. Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) – I just loved Scout’s perspective on life, and how innocent her point of view was about everything going on in her town. It was refreshing to read about the tensions of the time from her perspective.
  10. Nancy Drew (Nancy Drew mysteries)– I wanted to be Nancy Drew when I was younger. Her life seemed so much more interesting than mine, plus there were mysteries to solve. I always wanted my life to be more mysterious. I was a big fan of Trixie Belden as well, for the exact same reasons.

So there are some of my favorite female characters; I’m sure I’m forgetting some pretty amazing women of literature in this list. Who are your favorites?

Top Ten Tuesday: Love is in the Air

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a Valentine-themed freebie, so I decided to go with a list of some of my favorite literary couples.

You’ll probably notice there aren’t a lot of YA couples on this list. I was trying to stick to couples who I feel are timeless and I will love always; as much as I enjoy YA lit, I don’t feel like any of those couples fit that qualification.

  1. Henry and Clare (The Time Traveler’s Wife) – This is one of my favorite books ever; I loved it immediately the first time I read it. I love Henry and Clare, and the way their story is told.
  2. Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) – Of course this one had to make the list. Elizabeth and Darcy are one of the greatest couples of all time.
  3. Yelena and Valek (The Study Series) – If you like fantasy novels and haven’t read the Study series yet, do yourself a favor and pick up Poison Study now. These books are wonderful, and you’ll fall in love with Yelena and Valek too.
  4. Ron & Hermione (Harry Potter) – I don’t care what Rupert Grint thinks (who, by the way, is officially not allowed to write any fanfiction). Ron and Hermione were perfect for each other from the start.
  5. Claire and Jamie (Outlander) – I avoided these books for so long because I don’t like straight romance books, and I thought these would walk that line a little to closely. I’m very glad I gave them a chance, as Jamie and Claire are now one of my favorite couples of all time.
  6. Beatrice and Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing) – This is my favorite Shakespeare play of the ones I’ve read so far (some day I’ll read them all). I really love the verbal sparring between Beatrice and Benedick, and I love how strong a woman Beatrice is. They’re a fascinating couple, and certainly equally matched.
  7. Westley and Buttercup (The Princess Bride) – Not only is The Princess Bride one of my favorite movies of all time, it’s also a fun book. Westley and Buttercup will forever be one of my favorite fictional couples.
  8. Odysseus and Penelope (The Odyssey) – I love the romance of the Odyssey – the story of a man who takes 20 years trying to get home to the woman he loves, and the lengths Penelope goes to in order to avoid remarrying because she believes her husband is still alive.
  9. Noah and Allie (The Notebook) – I am actually not a Nicholas Sparks fan, and I enjoyed the movie much more than the book (I actually enjoy all his movies more than the books – I think I can take the predictability and sappiness better in visual form than book form), but you can’t deny these two are a great couple with a great love story.
  10. Beren and Luthien (The Silmarillion) – I love Arwen and Aragorn, but the story of Beren and Luthien always got to me for some reason. I love the “Lay of Luthien.”

So there are some of my favorite literary couples. What couples would make your list? Anyone you think I should have included?

Top Ten Tuesday: History and Future

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. There are a lot of ways you can interpret this week’s category. I chose to go with some of my favorite historical fiction and futuristic novels.

I don’t read a lot historical fiction, mostly because while I’m interested in history, I have trouble finding historical novels that can really keep my interest. I’ve also realized as I’m thinking about this Top Ten that although I read a lot of scifi/fantasy most of my interests lie more towards fantasy/urban fantasy and I haven’t really read many books taking place in the future either (with the exception of dystopian novels).

Since I don’t really read a lot of either, I decided to split this Top 10 and share some each of historical fiction and futuristic fiction that I have read and enjoyed – though I discovered while writing this list that it was easier to come up with historical titles I’ve read and enjoyed than futuristic ones (I was trying to avoid the obvious YA dystopian novels).

Historical Fiction:

  1. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak – I think everyone needs to read this book at least once. It was so well done, and I loved how Death was the narrator of the book. This is just a terrific book and I can’t recommend it enough.
  2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Of course. I was hesitant to read these books for a long time simply because I’m not a big fan of historical fiction, but I finally decided to give them a chance and I’m glad I did. I really loved the first book with it’s 18th century Scottish setting.
  3. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – Technically Austen’s works are not historical fiction, as the time period was contemporary when she was writing them, but I really enjoy her writing. I’m just not sure if it’s because I actually like the time period, or if it’s because I like her writing style.
  4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen – This book kicked off a fascination with circus stories that eventually led me to discover The Night Circus, which is another terrific read if you ever get the chance. But I just loved the writing style and the tone of this novel; I couldn’t put it down.
  5. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick – It’s been years since I read this book, but I remember that I couldn’t put it down. It was intriguing and dramatic, suspenseful and well-written.

Future

  1. The Martian by Andy Weir – It doesn’t take place very far into the future, but far enough that we’ve made several successful voyages to Mars. This is definitely my favorite read of 2015, and is near the top of my list of favorite books ever.
  2. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – A novel set in the future, where most of the pop culture references are from the 1980s. That’s probably why I loved this book so much – I’m not a big video game person, but I couldn’t put this book down. Like The Martian it’s not set that far into the future – it’s the year 2044 – and it’s a really bleak future, so I’m not sure I’d want to live in that future, but this was a fun read.
  3. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury – Obviously this is a classic and a little dated at this point, but I really enjoyed Bradbury’s take on what life might be like if we colonized Mars. I found this book really interesting.
  4. Lock In by John Scalzi – This book fascinated me. Once again, it doesn’t take place in the far future, but the idea of someone being locked inside their own bodies and needing artificial bodies in order to interact and movie throughout the day was interesting. This was a quick read and I really enjoyed it.
  5. Feed by M.T. Anderson – This was another interesting read. Granted, it kind of falls into the YA dystopia category and I was trying to avoid that for this list, but I think this one stands apart from the rest. It really speaks to what happens when we become too addicted to our social media and constant internet “feeds.” It was a really interesting look at a possible future.

As I looked through lists of Historical Fiction and Futuristic Fiction on Goodreads while I was making this Top 10, I realized there are actually a lot more books that I’ve read that are historical fiction than I originally thought. However, in my mind I don’t think of them that way. So I guess I do like historical fiction, if it’s written well enough. Also, there are a ton of popular futuristic novels that have been on my TBR for a long time, but I just haven’t gotten to them. I could have made an entire Top 10 just based on those books.

What are your favorite historical and futuristic novels? What is it that attracts you to one or the other?

Recapping Reads: January in Review

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I’m still kind of getting back into the swing of things here. I only finished three books in January, which is kind of shameful given my usual pace. However, that’s three more than I finished in December, so I’d say I’m doing much better. I still haven’t written reviews for the books I read this month; I hope to get around to that soon for at least one or two of them.

Books Read in January:

JanuaryReads2016

  • My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem – This was the first book chosen for Emma Watson’s new book club, and I really enjoyed it.
  • Night Watch by Sergei Lukyenko – The January read for my book club. I had read it years ago, but enjoyed it more the second time around.
  • Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? by Stephen Dobyns – This book was a refreshing change of pace from what I usually read.

Current Reads:

CurrentReads 1-31-16

  • Truthwitch by Susan Dennard – I have heard so many great reviews of this book that I couldn’t wait any longer to read it. I haven’t gotten very far yet, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what it’s like!
  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – This is another book that I heard a lot of good things about, even from friends who may not usually enjoy YA books. It took a while, but I finally started to get into it about halfway through.
  • Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey – This is the February read for my book club. I had read it and really enjoyed it several years ago, but now I’m rereading to refresh my memory before our meeting.

Reading List for February:

Honestly, I haven’t given a lot of thought to what I’d like to try to read in February. I’m just excited I’m finally getting into my groove again, albeit slowly. Here’s a few that are pretty high on my TBR pile:

  • Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay – I picked up an ARC of this when I saw it laying on a table at the book store, and one of my managers told me it was really good (and he loves these kind of books) so I’ve been looking forward to reading it. I just haven’t been able to get to it yet. I hope soon, because I’m so curious about it and I’ve heard so many good things.
  • The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle – The ARC for this has been sitting on my TBR pile for months and I meant to get to it before Christmas, but then I got super distracted and barely read anything for two months. Hopefully I’ll be getting to this one soon.
  • Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman – I know. I KNOW. How can I call myself a Neil Gaiman fan when I STILL haven’t read all of Trigger Warning? This needs to happen soon. I am ashamed.
  • Kingdom of Scars by Eoin Macken –  am a big fan of Eoin Macken, whom Merlin fans will recognize as Gwaine (He’s also on NBC’s Night Shift). The Irish actor released his first novel last year, and I cannot wait to finally read it.
  • Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1) by Marissa Meyer – I have had so many people tell me that they really enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles, so I’m going to try to finally check out the first book of the series.

Will I get to all these books this month? Probably not. But you’ll have to check back throughout the month to see.

Top Ten Tuesday: 2015 Releases I Missed Reading

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s category is a freebie, so I’ve decided to go back and do one from a couple weeks ago I had missed: Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn’t.

There are a lot of books I really wanted to read last year, but just never got around to them, especially after things started getting so busy around the holidays. I’m sure there are many more I’m forgetting about that didn’t make it onto this list. Most of the books listed here are books that I am very interested in reading as soon as possible, so hopefully it won’t be long before I get to them.

Top 10 2015 Releases I Meant to Get to But Didn’t:

  1. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – I honestly know very little about this book, I have just heard so much about it that I’m now at the point where I really want to read it just to satisfy my curiosity. I know the second book is coming out soon, and I’ll probably want to read that as well.
  2. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – About 8 months ago someone recommended I read The Martian, and now I read everything she recommends (and I’ve been happy with them all so far). This was her latest recommendation and I’ve heard many other good things about it as well. I hope to get to it soon.
  3. Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – Given how much I love Maas’s Throne of Glass series I can’t believe I haven’t gotten to this one yet. I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it and I can’t wait to read it, I just haven’t seemed to find the time yet.
  4. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – This wasn’t very high on my TBR list until a friend read it several months ago and told me I really needed to get to it.
  5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates – I heard a lot about this book last year, and it sounds so powerful. It’s a very short read, I just need to make the time to read it.
  6. Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay – I picked up an ARC of this when I saw it laying on a table at the book store, and one of my managers told me it was really good (and he loves these kind of books) so I’ve been looking forward to reading it. I just haven’t been able to get to it yet. I hope soon, because I’m so curious about it and I’ve heard so many good things.
  7. The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle – The ARC for this has been sitting on my TBR pile for months and I meant to get to it before Christmas, but then I got super distracted and barely read anything for two months. Hopefully I’ll be getting to this one soon.
  8. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman – I know. I KNOW. How can I call myself a Neil Gaiman fan when I STILL haven’t read all of Trigger Warning? This needs to happen soon. I am ashamed.
  9. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari – I’ve been really missing Parks and Rec lately. Plus, I picked this up one day while working in the book store and just read the first few pages and loved it, so I really need to take time to read the entire book because I’m pretty sure it’s going to be good.
  10. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson – I still haven’t even read Lawson’s first memoir, but every time I look at this book on the shelf I just want to grab it and start reading. I love the cover so much.

So there is my list. What books from 2015 are still on your TBR list? Which books should I start with? What Top 10 lists did you create today?