On My Bookshelf: Landlines and Lifelines

Landline

I’m back to share more from my bookshelf with you today.  When last we left our heroine, she’d put herself on the wait list for Rainbow Rowell’s Landline because she’d pulled it out of her TBR jar.  And then she waited.  And waited.  And finally, the day came when the email arrived saying her book was ready to pick up!

I started Landline on May 9th (remember this is 2016 we’re talking about – because our heroine is behind on her blogging) and finished it on the 14th.  I really enjoyed this book.  Rainbow’s books are always so well-written and enjoyable.  And, they are all so different. This book reminded me more of Attachments and less like Fangirl or Eleanor & Park. I love her complex but relatable characters and this storyline. Well worth a read!

After finishing up Landline it was time to pull another book from my TBR jar.

Landline and TBR Jar

And out of the TBR jar came…one of my wildcard free slips.  So, since I had checked out Feverborn (read my review of it here), I went ahead and counted that as my wildcard.  Then I decided that since I was on such an awesome reading streak, maybe I should try to read some of the books I have sitting at home.  So, I picked up a book that had been luring me – A Café on the Nile.  I started it on 5/24.  The author is a member of The Explorer’s Club, which I am fascinated by, and the book is set in Egypt.  What could be better?

Cafe on the Nile

Well, yeah.  Notsomuch.  I tried.  I really did.  My reading slowed down to a snail’s pace.  So slow in fact that I think I’d pretty much given up reading.  So, after a couple of weeks I decided to give something else a try.  Maybe I just wasn’t into this book?

So, I picked up another book on my bookshelf at home – Beyond Desire.

Beyond Desire

I started it on June 8th and attempted to read it for about a week.  This book was supposed to take place on the Orient Express, it was supposed to be steamy, it was supposed to be good.  Well, I ended up taking a break (more on that next time) and then picked this back up around the 29th of June.  Finished it on July 7th.

Once I picked it back up, re-energized, I enjoyed the story and it kept my attention. I enjoyed the journey by Orient Express and eluding the followers and the search for clues about the bracelets. I think this book would have been much more enjoyable without the sex scenes. They were ridiculous, and overburdened with words like transmogrified, termagant, profligate. I also found that I occasionally had a hard time following whose thoughts and feelings she was describing because they flipped back and forth. I think Thea Devine’s writing would be better served with more attention to how the erotic scenes fit within the whole of her story.

If there’s one thing that these last two books taught me, it’s that my reading appetite is voracious, when given a good book.  When given a book that isn’t doing it for me – I’d rather not read.  But, I have found over the past months that reading for me is indeed a lifeline – I need it.  It keeps my brain working and my creativity flowing.  It keeps me well-fed.

More next time on the books I cheated on Thea Devine with.

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On My Bookshelf: Library Love

Library

In April, it occurred to me that I was getting nowhere fast on my TBR jar or on my Goodreads Challenge to read 25 books in 2016.  Four months into the year and I’d read…three.  And while I love buying books, I have way more than I really need and hate to just continue adding to the problem.  And then, it hit me.  What about going to the library?  I’d half-heartedly looked into the possibility of being able to check out ebooks through my libray, but didn’t really understand how it worked and it looked suspiciously like my library wouldn’t actually be able to do that.  But, surely I could check out actual books, right?  So, off I went.  I got my first library card in like twenty years and went directly upstairs to the YA section to see if I could find any Rainbow Rowell books.  And lo and behold, they had some!  And lo and behold they had Eleanor & Park!  Woohoo!

Library Books

 

I came home with two books that day.  I wanted to check out all of the things, but figured if I’ve only read three books in four months I should probably assume I can’t get through more than two books in the three weeks I had to read them.  Of course I started with E&P first.  I’ve read a couple of Rainbow Rowell books before (Fangirl and Attachments) and loved them.

Eleanor

“Eleanor was right: She never looked nice.  She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

I read this book in basically three days. Rainbow Rowell may well be one of my favorite authors. I love her writing, I love her characters, I love that she makes me feel like I felt at sixteen. I love that she made me dig out mix tapes I haven’t listened to since high school/college. I love that although her books are shelved with the YA books and that at first glance they appear to be nothing more than a simple romantic love story – it’s the complexity of her characters and their inner thoughts and feelings and struggles that speak to me. Each book I read of hers becomes my new favorite. If you haven’t read her books, you should start one today.

Eleanor and Park

 

After finishing Eleanor & Park, I started Anna and the French Kiss.  So many people had recommended this book to me (probably because of my love of all things Paris and romances), so I was happy to find it at the library.

Anna and the French Kiss

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in about three days because I had a hard time putting it down. A story of an American girl sent to the American School in Paris who begins to fall in love with the city and a boy. I loved her passion for cinema (a passion I share) and the exploration of Notre Dame, the Latin Quarter, etc. made me long to return there.  I have so many regrets about my time in Paris – so many things I didn’t see or do – and this book just made the city come alive for me again.  This one was well worth a read and I’m looking forward to reading her others.

Anna and Eiffel Tower

I’ll be back next time with more books!

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On My Bookshelf: My TBR Jar and First Finishes

TBR Jar

At the end of 2015 I started thinking about my plans for my 2016 reading and decided I would try something new and fun.  Enter the TBR (To Be Read) jar.  I’d seen this marvelous invention on Instagram and loved the idea so much I had to do it too.  I’d set my annual Goodreads challenge at 25 books for 2016 (we won’t talk about that’s been my goal for the last several years and I’ve not even come close), so I wanted to keep my TBR jar selections around the 15-20 range.  I chose a mix of books that have been sitting on my shelves forever (including one that I’ve started but never finished), books I don’t own but really want to read, and I gave myself a **Free** selection (meaning I can pick any book I want to read whenever that one gets drawn).  My plan was to draw my first book on January 1st and get started.  Oh, and I made myself a fun Harry Potter-inspired jar too!

On My Bookshelf: My TBR Jar and First Finishes

I ended up holding off on pulling my first selection from the jar on January 1 because Eric bought me Lara Casey’s book for Christmas, which I’d been dying to read.  As you already know from my previous posts, I worked my way through this book and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I actually started it on January 1 and fully expected to zip through it because it’s not a very lengthy book. This book, as Lara says herself, is an action book rather than a reading book. It took me awhile to work my way through it because it does require a lot of introspection, questioning, actioning, and praying. This book is part autobiography, part guidebook to really focusing on what matters. What makes Lara’s guidance so valuable is that not only has she been where you are, but she shows you how she started to make things happen in her own life – making changes that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. Her authenticity and continued journey that comes through on her blog and on Periscope really strike a chord with me. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to start making things happen in their own life. Not only did this book help me define what matters most to me, it also provided me with clear and actionable steps to move toward those things.

Story of Awkward

I took a small break from Make it Happen to read something light.  Despite being a freebie ebook, I really enjoyed this. It reminded me a bit of Rainbow Rowell’s writing. A story about being awkward, which I think we can all relate to, and learning to love what makes each of us unique.  Once I finished up Story of Awkward, I decided to go ahead and pull the first selection out of my TBR jar.  My first draw was Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Since it wasn’t a book I own I was going to have to procure it, so I wouldn’t be able to start it immediately.  I sat that aside and went back to Make it Happen.

After going back to Make it Happen and finishing it up – more about that book in my other posts – I picked up The Lake House by Kate Morton.  Lake House wasn’t a book that was on my list to read and I actually hadn’t ever heard of it.  I was watching a knitting podcast (Fiber By Design) and this was the Feb/March book for the Oh Loops! book club on Ravelry. I decided to jump in and thought it would be fun to discuss the book, so I grabbed the kindle edition and got started.  I haven’t read any Kate Morton previously, but I will definitely be reading her other books. This book kept me guessing, as all the best mysteries should, while carrying me along with the storyline. I loved that the story was woven between the 1930s and the 2000s, with Alice fusing the two timelines together. I really really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

So, those are the three books I started off my 2016 with.  I’ll share more next time!

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On My Bookshelf: My 2015 Reads

Cozystyle 2015 Books I Read Image

Happy 2016!  I can hardly believe we’ve started a new year, much less that it’s almost the middle of January.  It’s been awhile since I posted, so I wanted to pop in and also share that I will be posting on a regular basis going forward.  I have tons of things to share, but I thought I’d start the year off by posting about what I read in 2015.

So, last year I set a goal (Goodreads challenge) of reading 25 books, basically the same goal I’ve set the past few years.  But, I really wanted to focus on good books – books I really enjoyed and wasn’t feeling like I had to slog through.

During the holidays (2014) we watched The Red Tent on tv.  I’d had the book on my bookshelf for years, literally, and had never read it.  I’m so grateful that the mini series reminded me that this book had sat for far too long unread and I decided to pick up the book and start it on January 1st.  A friend was going to read along as well so that we could discuss the book.  The book is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.  I loved this book. I loved Dinah’s “voice”. I loved the small details like the Taweret pitcher Benia gives her, the lapis ring of Rachel’s, the widemouthed frog idol, etc. Overall I loved the pivotal role that the community of women plays – sharing, teaching, loving, comforting, grieving with each other.  This book left me with a similar feeling as from The Mists of Avalon or The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I highly highly recommend it.

The next book I read was the complete opposite end of the spectrum – Fifty Shades of Grey.  This was actually a re-read for me.  I wanted to read it again before seeing the movie on Valentine’s Day.  I enjoyed visiting Christian Grey again and if you’d like to check out my previous post on this series, you can find that here.  As for the movie, I’m glad I went to see it and thought it was well done.  My only comment is that I wanted Christian to have a little more…something.  More fire to him?  I only re-read the first book, I imagine I would re-read the others if/when movies are released.

Next up I decided to pick up Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  I was gifted this book in December and after reading Attachments, I was really anxious to read Fangirl.  I loved this book.  I loved that it was about writing fan fiction, particularly since I’d just finished reading Fifty Shades (originally fan fiction) and I’d spent a good amount of time immersed in the world of reading fan fiction.  I can’t say enough good things about her books, her characters, and specifically in this one her stories within a story. I really enjoy Rowell’s writing and will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.

After Fangirl, I moved on to a book that Eric had picked up on one of our trips and enjoyed so he recommended it to me, particularly since it had to do with art and archaeology.  He was right, I did enjoy it.  This book is actually part of a series and I haven’t read the other books in the series, but I think this book can stand on its own.   I didn’t feel I was missing anything from not having read the others.  I enjoyed this book and following the story from the Vatican to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and all the twisting turns in between.  Coincidentally, at the same time I was reading this book we were watching a show called Dig that was excellent and had a lot to do with some of the same subject matter and focused on the Temple Mount.  If you missed the show when it was on, I highly recommend it.  Anyway, I will probably read more books by Silva in the future, likely circling around to read the other books in this series.

Next up I read Sublime by Christina Lauren.  I have read several other books from them (the Beautiful series and Sweet Filthy Boy, the first book in their Wild Seasons series), in the adult romance genre and thoroughly enjoyed them, so I was anxious to see how their first YA book was.  Sublime is a beautifully haunting and romantic ghost story, and it did not disappoint!

Sublime

After finishing Sublime, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to read.  I dug around on my shelves and came across the last book that my friend Missy had loaned me/recommended.  So far from her I’d read a couple of the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series, the Stacia Kane Downside Ghosts series (my post on those here), and Stacia Kane’s Megan Chase series (no post yet – coming soon!).  I’d put off reading Kushiel’s Dart because it was the lengthiest of the stack.  But, I decided I was ready for something a bit more substantial.  I ended up picking this book up, reading it for awhile, and then setting it aside.  Mostly it was because I was not getting much time to read and this book was involved enough that it did not lend itself to reading it in 5 minute increments.  So, I set it aside for a couple other ebooks that I’ll get to in a minute.  I took a trip to Michigan mid-November and had a flight and a LOT of time in the airport at both ends, which for most folks would be annoying but I was thrilled.  It felt so decadent to do nothing but sit and read for hours.  And because of my long reading stint, I was able to really sink my teeth into the book and really enjoyed it.  Never was I bored with it, never was I uninterested, but the intricacies of the plot, characters, and intrigue required a fair bit of focus which I did not have in great supply. Even after setting it aside for days or weeks at a time though, I never lost the thread of the story. Carey’s debut novel is impressive, and detailed, and shockingly not on every best seller list. I am sure that this book has been passed over by readers due to Phedre being not only a courtesan, but more predominantly an anguisette (deriving pleasure from pain). I think that’s what makes her a much more complex character and understanding her nature is exactly what makes her memorable. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, and I am sure it will not disappoint.  If you like Game of Thrones, I think you would enjoy this book.

Ok, so I mentioned that I set Kushiel’s Dart aside at a couple of points to read some ebooks.  One was a free ebook called Club Shadowlands.  Meh.  The other was Iced by Karen Marie Moning.  You may have read my post on the Fever series (here if you haven’t), and Iced is a spin off of that series.  Same world, but you are now following Dani O’Malley rather than Mac.  I didn’t love Dani as a character previously, so I honestly never had any interest in reading Iced.  But, the quickest way to get me to read a spin off focused on a character I’m not that into?  Tell me that there’s a new book featuring Mac and Barrons that this one leads into.  KMM surprised me with this book.  It was an enjoyable read and Dani didn’t bug the crap out of me like I thought she was going to.  I feel like I understand her a bit better having been in her head now.  I’m also very curious to see where KMM is going to go with Dani’s character.  She’s far too young for her possible suitors to become anything at this point, but I feel like that’s where we’re headed.  So…maybe she’ll go through some sort of time shift and age several years miraculously?  Who knows, but it was enough to keep my attention anyway.  So, I’d recommend reading Iced…particularly if you want to get to Burned.  *evil grin*

Iced

The last book I read in 2015 was A Discovery of Witches.  I’d had this one on my to be read list for awhile and sitting on my bookshelf for far too long.  I was immediately hooked by “the combination of magic and history” as a friend put it.  As an Art History major, I found Diana’s studies about alchemy and ancient texts (which crosses over into the art history realm) fascinating.  As Diana struggled to learn more about her own history and explore her powers, I found that it was echoing a similar process I’ve been going through (not magical, obviously!) with finding and reacquainting myself with my authentic self.  I cannot wait to read the next book in this trilogy!  This one was another I would highly recommend.

092

So, that’s my 2015 year in reading and I’ve got a fun plan for my 2016 reads that I’ll share soon.  Happy reading!

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