Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Characters Names I’d Use If I Changed My Name

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten Character Names I’d Use If I Changed My Name

I really love names, and I don’t know why, but I’ve always wondered what it would be like to pick my own name.  And naming characters is one of my favorite things about writing.  If I did change my name, here are my top choices.

  1. Hermione from Harry Potter.  I love Hermione and she’s one of my favorite characters of all time, so naturally, I’d want to have Hermione as my name.
  2. Aria from Pretty Little Liars and Under The Never Sky.  I don’t know why I like it, but I do.  It’s pretty and different.
  3. Seraphina, from Wander Dust by Michelle Warren.  I LOVE this name.  It’s pretty and different and sort of old-timey.
  4. Scarlet from The Lunar Chronicles.  I don’t know if I’m necessarily a Scarlet, but that’s not going to stop me from loving the name.
  5. Eadlyn from The Selection series.  I might not be the biggest fan of Eadlyn (the character), but she does have a really great name.
  6. Willow from Dream Chaser by Angie Stanton.  I sort of like nature names, and Willow is really pretty.
  7. Rowan from Me Since You by Laura Weiss.  Speaking of nature names, Rowan is a pretty name.  I fell in love with the name after reading the book.
  8. Ellie from Guardian Of The Dead by Karen Healey.  Like most of the names on my list, I really like the name, even if I don’t know why I like it so much.
  9. Livie from One Tiny Lie by K.A. Tucker.  I was reminded of myself, at least a little bit, and I think maybe that’s why I like the name.  Well, the one reason I can actually identify.
  10. Luna from Harry Potter.  Luna is another one of my favorite Harry Potter characters (and all-time favorite characters when you take all books into consideration), and I would be honored to have her name.

Book Review Round-Up: World War Z, A Torch Against The Night, And Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

I have a lot of books I want to talk about, so I thought I’d do some shorter reviews of a few of them!

world-war-zBook #1: World War Z: An Oral History Of The Zombie War by Max Brooks, Narrated by Full Cast

Published May 2013 by Random House Audio|Length: 12 hours, 8 minutes

Where I Got It: I borrowed the audio cd’s from the library

Series: None

What It’s About: World War Z: The Complete Edition (Movie Tie-in Edition): An Oral History of the Zombie War is a new version of Max Brooks’ episodic zombie novel. The abridged versions of the original stories are now joined with new, unabridged recordings of the episodes that were not included in the original (abridged) version of the audiobook. These additional episodes feature a star-studded cast of narrators to coincide with the upcoming release of the film.

New narrators include Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, Spiderman star Alfred Molina, The Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont, rapper Common, Firefly star Nathan Fillion,Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg, and members of the casts of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes and more! Max Brooks will be reprising his role as The Interviewer.

The original abridged edition, released in 2006, won an Audie Award for Best Multi-Voiced Performance. Original cast members include Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, Carl & Rob Reiner, and John Turturro.

In this new classic of apocalyptic fiction that feels all too real, the Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. The documentary-style oral history records the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time.

Featuring five more hours of previously unrecorded content, this full-cast recording is read by F. Murray Abraham, Alan Alda, René Auberjonois, Becky Ann Baker, Dennis Boutsikaris, Bruce Boxleitner, Max Brooks, Nicki Clyne, Common, Denise Crosby, Frank Darabont, Dean Edwards, Mark Hamill, Nathan Fillion, Maz Jobrani, Frank Kamai, Michelle Kholos, John McElroy, Ade M’Cormack, Alfred Molina, Parminder Nagra, Ajay Naidu, Masi Oka, Steve Park, Kal Penn, Simon Pegg, Jürgen Prochnow, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Henry Rollins, Jeri Ryan, Jay O. Sanders, Martin Scorsese, Paul Sorvino, David Ogden Stiers, Brian Tee, John Turturro, Eamonn Walker, Ric Young, and Waleed Zuaiter.

What I Thought: I randomly picked up World War Z at the library one day- I remember watching the movie, and I think that’s why I picked it up.

I think it worked really well as an audio book, considering how the book is told.  I like that it’s an oral history of the Zombie War, and I think that lends itself well as an audio book.  It was something that I only listened to sporadically in the car, and there were so many different stories that none of them really stood out.  I don’t know that I would have finished it had I read it, but at the same time, maybe I would have had better luck in remembering more of the stories.  It does seem like almost all of the actual fighting took place in the U.S., while all of the chapters that took place in other parts of the world were about trying to figure out what was going on, and how we ended up with a Zombie outbreak.

I was hesitant about the full cast, but it worked really well for the book because it was easier to distinguish between the different stories that were being told in the book.  It is quite the cast, and unfortunately, while I recognized some of the names, it was hard matching up the voice with the character, especially when I don’t know what their voices sound like.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I did like hearing all of the stories and global the book was, but the stories started to blend together after awhile.

a-torch-against-the-night-coverBook #2: A Torch Against The Night by Sabaa Tahir

Published August 2016 by Razorbill|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: An Ember In The Ashes #2

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: Elias and Laia are running for their lives.

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf – the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison – to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars’ survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene – Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own – one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape… and kill them both.

What I Thought: I was really looking forward to this book after reading An Ember In The Ashes last year, and it didn’t disappoint!  I really wish I had read the first book again, just because I could not remember anything from the first book, and I had a little bit of a hard time getting back into this world.

Like An Ember In The Ashes, I didn’t particularly care for Laia’s story, and for me, Elias was much more interesting, especially with how his story went.  His narration went in a direction I wasn’t expecting- though the same thing happened with Laia, but not to the same degree as Elias.  I also liked the addition of Helene, and her narration gave perspective on the what things were like for the Empire.  I liked seeing both sides, and the obstacles that Laia and Elias had to face.  I also liked seeing how hard it was for Helene, and the horrible position she was put in.  She went through quite a change by the end of the book, and I’m curious to see if she’ll ever go back to the character we see at the beginning of the book.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I really liked it, and I’m glad that there are more books in the series.  I wish I remembered more from the first book, and while Laia’s story was a little more interesting, I thought Elias and Helene were much more interesting.

miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-children-coverBook #3: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Published June 2013 by Quirk Books|382 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from a co-worker

Series: Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1

Genre: YA Fantasy

What It’s About: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered inMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that Miss Peregrine’s children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

What I Thought: I really liked it- a lot more than I thought I would.  Seeing the trailer for the movie made me want to read the book, so I was really glad when a co-worker let me borrow her copy.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with it, and I really liked how creepy and mysterious everything was.  I also LOVED the photographs throughout the book, and they somehow made the book more interesting.  Especially since so many of the photographs went so well with the book and the characters and what was going on.

I think maybe part of me was expecting the story to be more about Jacob’s grandfather, and I was actually a little surprised by how it was more Jacob’s story.  It’s not that we don’t learn about his grandfather, because we do, at least a little.  I wish we got a little more about the children, and why they can do what they do, but perhaps that will be explored in the rest of the series.  Speaking of the rest of the series- even though I really like this book, I’m not sure if I want to keep going with the series.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I think I expected more with Jacob’s grandfather, and I wanted to know more about why there are people who are so peculiar, but I also loved how creepy the book was.  And the photographs- they were really cool and interesting and added something special to the book.

Book Review Round-Up: Always Running, The Vegetarian, and Sister Of My Heart

I’ve read quite a few books recently, and thought I’d do some shorter reviews on a few of them!

always-running-coverBook #1: Always Running by Luis J. Rodriguez

Published October 2005 (originally published 1993) by Touchstone|288 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction, Memoir

What It’s About: The award-winning and bestselling classic memoir about a young Chicano gang member surviving the dangerous streets of East Los Angeles, now featuring a new introduction by the author.

Winner of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award, hailed as a New York Times notable book, and read by hundreds of thousands, Always Running is the searing true story of one man’s life in a Chicano gang—and his heroic struggle to free himself from its grip.

By age twelve, Luis Rodriguez was a veteran of East Los Angeles gang warfare. Lured by a seemingly invincible gang culture, he witnessed countless shootings, beatings, and arrests and then watched with increasing fear as gang life claimed friends and family members. Before long, Rodriguez saw a way out of the barrio through education and the power of words and successfully broke free from years of violence and desperation.

Achieving success as an award-winning poet, he was sure the streets would haunt him no more—until his young son joined a gang. Rodriguez fought for his child by telling his own story in Always Running, a vivid memoir that explores the motivations of gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that inevitably claim its participants.

At times heartbreakingly sad and brutal, Always Running is ultimately an uplifting true story, filled with hope, insight, and a hard-earned lesson for the next generation.

What I Thought: I really liked Always Running!  It’s very honest, and I’m actually really glad I read it.  It’s a very raw account of his life in east L.A. and his life on the streets, and how he broke free from that life.

It was hard to read, and I was especially saddened by how people were placed in certain classes based on their race, and yet, it wasn’t that surprising, especially given the time.  It’s as much his life story as it is the history of the factors that led to the rise in gangs.  His parents came to the U.S. from Mexico in search of a better life, and it seems like they tried to give him (and his siblings) a good life.

I liked the snapshots we got of his life, but at the same time, it was a little hard to follow because as far as timeline went, he did jump around a little bit.  I also had a bit of a hard time keeping track of who was who, but overall, it’s still worth reading.  You do a clear picture of why he joined a club- for protection, because it was the only way to stay safe.

My Rating: 4 stars.  It’s very vivid, and it’s still very relevant to current events.

the-vegetarian-coverBook #2: The Vegetarian by Han Kang, Translated by Deborah Smith

Published February 2016 (originally published 2007) by Hogarth|192 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

What It’s About: Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.

A disturbing, yet beautifully composed narrative told in three parts, The Vegetarian is an allegorical novel about modern day South Korea, but also a story of obsession, choice, and our faltering attempts to understand others, from one imprisoned body to another.

What I Thought: I’m not sure what to think about The Vegetarian.  It’s a very weird book, but in a good way.  It is interesting that she gave up meat because of a dream, and that dreams played a big role in becoming more plant-like. In a way, it seemed like becoming vegetarian was Yeong-hye’s way of gaining some sort of control over her life.  It also goes in a direction that I did not see coming, and it’s interesting that you see it through the eyes of her husband, her brother-in-law and her sister.  Part of me wishes that we saw Yeong-hye narrate even a small portion of the book, but at the same time, I liked seeing her through the eyes of the people around her.

One thing I wondered was how people in South Korea view vegetarians, and if it’s something that’s very specific to her family.  I honestly assumed her family would be okay with it, and I’m not sure where that assumption came from. But something about how they reacted rang true.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I did like the first two parts, which focused on her marriage and being a muse for her brother-in-law, but I wasn’t as interested in the last part, which focused on her sister.  It’s still worth reading.

sister-of-my-heart-coverBook #3: Sister Of My Heart by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Published January 1999 by Doubleday|336 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: Anju & Sudha #1

Genre: Adult Fiction

Where I Got It: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni made an indelible impression on the literary world with her first novel, The Mistress of Spices, a magical tale of love and herbs. Sister of My Heart is less reliant on enchantment but no less enchanting as it tells the tale of two cousins born on the same day, their premature births brought on by a mysterious occurrence that claims the lives of both their fathers. Sudha is beautiful, Anju is not; yet the girls love each other as sisters, the bond between them so strong it seems nothing can break it. When both are pushed into arranged marriages, however, each discovers a devastating secret that changes their relationship forever.

Sister of My Heart spans many years and zigzags between India and America as the cousins first grow apart and then eventually reunite. Divakaruni invests this domestic drama with poetry as she traces her heroines’ lives from infancy to motherhood, but it is Sudha and Anju who give the story its backbone. Anju might speak for both when she says, “In spite of all my insecurities, in spite of the oceans that’ll be between us soon and the men that are between us already, I can never stop loving Sudha. It’s my habit, and it’s my fate.” Book lovers may well discover that reading Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is habit-forming as well. –Margaret Prior

What I Thought: I liked Sister Of My Heart.  I really liked the bond that Sudha and Anju had, and that they are more sisters than cousins.  There were times where their bond was so strong I honestly forgot they were cousins, and not sisters.

They definitely learned things that will completely change their relationship, and it’s hard to tell which secret will change their relationship more.  I have the feeling that both secrets will come out at some point.  I didn’t realize that this was the first book in a series, and at the end of the book, I was slightly disappointed that there was not more resolution.  Once I realized that it was part of a series, the ending made more sense.  It makes me wonder what will happen next for Sudha and Anju.

I will say that I found the arranged marriages to be interesting, but also hard to imagine.  Even though it’s something I know exists, it’s hard to wrap my head around it, and this book was a really good glimpse into what is one of many reasons why there are arranged marriages.  It’s also a really good look at families and the family dynamic in a different part of the world, and how different things are for people in other parts of the world.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it, and I may continue the series, but not anytime soon.  I did love the relationship between Sudha and Anju and how much it changed.

Book Review: All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

all-the-ugly-and-wonderful-thingsBook: All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Published August 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books|353 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from a co-worker

Series: None

Genre: Adult Contemporary, Adult Romance

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As the daughter of a drug dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. It’s safer to keep her mouth shut and stay out of sight. Struggling to raise her little brother, Donal, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible adult around. Obsessed with the constellations, she finds peace in the starry night sky above the fields behind her house, until one night her star gazing causes an accident. After witnessing his motorcycle wreck, she forms an unusual friendship with one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold.

By the time Wavy is a teenager, her relationship with Kellen is the only tender thing in a brutal world of addicts and debauchery. When tragedy rips Wavy’s family apart, a well-meaning aunt steps in, and what is beautiful to Wavy looks ugly under the scrutiny of the outside world. Kellen may not be innocent, but he is the fixed point in Wavy and Donal’s chaotic universe. Instead of playing it safe, Wavy has to learn to fight for Kellen, for her brother, and for herself.

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I heard about this book from a co-worker, and I’m actually glad I read it!  I was unsure of the romance, because there is a HUGE age difference between Kellen and Wavy.  But I ended up rooting for them, and I thought it was really well done.

If anything, this book broke my heart.  The relationship that Kellen and Wavy have in the book is very unusual, and you can tell that he really cares for her.  It really seems like he’s the only one looking out for Wavy, and making sure she’s okay.  Even when other people have good intentions (like her aunt), you can tell that he has her best interests at heart, and it was no surprise that it turned into something.

I would also like to point out that they don’t have sex until she’s 18, and this book definitely isn’t for everyone.  I can see why people would have a lot of issues with their friendship, and later on, relationship.  There is domestic violence and drugs in the book, so keep that in mind if you’re considering reading this book.  It does take place over the span of 15 or so years, so that is another thing to keep in mind.

I really like that we’re never told how to feel, and you really go through a range of emotions throughout the book. We can draw our own conclusions about the book, and I finished the book not knowing how I felt while also loving the book.

Wavy is very much influenced by everything going on with her parents, and it is through everyone else’s eyes that we see things unfold between Wavy and Kellen.  It’s uncomfortable and graphic, and I think everyone will have a strong reaction to it, whether you think Wavy and Kellen are both victims or Kellen took advantage of Wavy and should have known better.

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5 stars.  I loved this book, and even though it was uncomfortable to read at times, it was worth it.  I definitely finished the book questioning so many things!

Book Review Round-Up: Homegoing, The Shadow Of The Wind and So Far From God

I have quite a few books I want to talk about, so I figured I share some quick thoughts on some of them!

homegoing-coverBook #1: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Published June 2016 by Knopf|305 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction, Adult Historical Fiction

What It’s About: The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoingtraces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

What I Thought: I really liked Homegoing, and if you haven’t read it yet, you should!  What struck me the most about this book was how differently their lives turned out, and how differently things turned out for their families.  Their stories eventually came together over the centuries, and when I realized each chapter was going to be told by a different person, I wasn’t sure about it at first.  But it worked really for the story, and you get alternating chapters between someone from Effia’s family and someone from Esi’s family.  You see how much the slave trade affects people, particularly Esi’s family, and even though you’re getting snippets of each person and each family, there is such a connection between each family and the reader.  I was glad there was a family tree at the beginning of the book, because I referred to it constantly to make sure I was keeping up with where we were at in the story.

It’s such a complex book, and yet it never felt that way.  You see how things change, both in Ghana and in the U.S., and all through these two families.  Something about it felt very honest and objective, and it was hard to read at times, but for me, it would have been a very different book without those scenes.  It’s necessary to understand how much of an impact slavery had on people.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I think, had I read the book at a different time (when I wasn’t distracted by other stuff going on whe I read it), it would have received a higher rating.  Still, I recommend it to EVERYONE, and it is a fantastic book. I am definitely looking forward to reading anything else she writes.

the-shadow-of-the-wind-coverBook #2: The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Translated by Lucia Graves

Published April 2004 (originally published 2001) by The Penguin Press|487 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Historical Fiction, Adult Mystery

What It’s About: Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

What I Thought: I started off really liking the book and being really interested in what was going on.  I did lose momentum with it by the end of the book, and I basically finished it just to say that I finished it.  Which is unfortunate because I really wanted that to not happen.  I think I may have to re-read it at another time, because I liked it enough to give it the attention it deserves.

It is a really interesting mystery, and I love that it’s a story within a story.  You have Daniel finding a book, and then he starts discovering more about the author and his story, and it is such a cool (but also slightly dangerous) thing to try to figure out.  I also like that it takes place in the 1940’s in Spain- something about the time period and place add to the mystery of what was going on, and I don’t know that it would have worked nearly as well in another time and place.

It also reminds me that I really need to read more translated works- if I hadn’t have looked for translated books, I certainly would not have come across it, and I’m glad I did.

My Rating: 3 stars.  It started off really well, but I just sort of lost interest and had trouble focusing on it.  I do plan on re-reading it, though, when I’m more able to focus.

so-far-from-god-coverBook #3: So Far From God by Ana Castillo 

Published May 1993 by W.W. Norton And Company|251 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

What It’s About: Sofia and her fated daughters, Fe, Esperanza, Caridad, and la Loca, endure hardship and enjoy love in the sleepy New Mexico hamlet of Tome, a town teeming with marvels where the comic and the horrific, the real and the supernatural, reside.

What I Thought: This is another one that I read at a really bad time, but I don’t know that I liked it enough to give it another try.  It’s an odd book, but in a good way.  It did take some time getting used to the writing style- and I may need to re-read it just because I feel like a lot of the book was lost on me.  This book is just one of quite a few books that I had trouble focusing on when I was reading it, and I cannot, for the life of me, remember most of what happened.  I remember a few things, but not much, and even though it’s a book I finished recently, it didn’t really stand out to me.

I mostly remember that things were a little all over the place, but I honestly don’t know if it’s me not paying attention to the book and what I was reading or if it was really the book, and it seemed like we got random snapshots of the family and things that happened.  It didn’t feel like a linear narrative to me, but again, I’d have to re-read to be sure.

My Rating: 2 stars for now, but if I re-read it, it might change.  I had too much trouble focusing to remember most of the book.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I’ve Read Because Of Recommendations

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten Books I’ve Read Because Of Recommendations

I think most of the books I’ve read are because of recommendations, whether it’s from Goodreads, a blogger or a friend,  These are ten of my favorites that I’ve read because it was recommended to me.

  1. The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger.  I read this based on the recommendation of my friend Heather, and I’m glad I did, because this series (and the other two series set in this world) are really fun reads.
  2. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.  I just finished this a couple of days ago, and a co-worker was nice enough to lend me her copy.  I really liked it, and the photographs made the book more interesting.
  3. Wallbanger by Alice Clayton.  I saw this book mentioned on either Book Riot or Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, and it was absolutely hysterical.  I
  4. Stiff by Mary Roach.  I know I first heard about Mary Roach on Book Riot, and her books are really different and quirky but also fun.  This one is my favorite of hers, though.
  5. A Moment Comes by Jennifer Bradbury.  This is another book I read because Heather recommended it, and it’s such a good book!  I loved it, because I had no idea the Partition of India was an actual thing that happened, and you get to see all sides of it.
  6. All The Ugly And Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.  I read this one because of a co-worker (a different one than the one earlier) and I loved it a lot more than I thought I would.  The romance was actually really well done, and that’s the thing I was unsure about at first.
  7. Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  I read this book because of my friend Mollie- I had heard about it, but I really trust her, and that’s why I read it.
  8. Mouse Guard by David Petersen.  This is such an adorable graphic novel, and I’m really glad Heather recommended it!
  9. The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  If you haven’t read this book yet, you really need to! I first heard about it on Book Riot, and then it came up in a conversation with some friends.  I knew it had to read it, and I’m glad I did.  It’s an interesting look at medicine and ethics.
  10. Ash by Malinda Lo.  I really like this book, and it’s one of my favorite re-tellings, especially where Cinderella re-tellings are concerned.

Book Review Round-Up: Boxers, One Night For Love And City Of Night

I have quite a few books I want to talk about, so I figured I share some quick thoughts on some of them!

boxers-coverBook #1: Boxers by Gene Luen Yang

Published September 2013 by First Second|325 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: Boxers And Saints #1

Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction

What It’s About: China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.

Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers–commoners trained in kung fu–who fight to free China from “foreign devils.”

Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of “secondary devils”–Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.

What I Thought: I liked it, but not as much as I liked Saints.  I think reading Boxers before Saints will help you understand what’s going on in Saints, because it goes into greater detail about what the Boxer Rebellion actually was. I really like the idea of history being told in the form of a graphic novel.  It’s been a while since I’ve read it (over a month), and now I’m finding that I’m having a hard time talking about the book and what I thought about it.  It’s definitely worth reading, though, and it does make me want to learn more about it. Whether I actually do so remains to be seen, but maybe one day…

It is a good introduction to the subject, though, and I think if you’re new to graphic novels (like I am), Boxers (and Saints) is a really good place to start.  I also liked seeing the other side of the story, and that there are many sides to one event.

My Rating: 3 stars.  Mostly because it’s a good introduction to the Boxer Rebellion and the format makes it different. But it also gets 3 stars because I don’t remember enough to give it a higher rating.

one-night-for-love-coverBook #2: One Night For Love by Mary Balogh

Published January 2012 (originally published 1999) by Dell|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: Bedwyn Saga #0.5

Genre: Adult Romance, Adult Historical Romance

What It’s About: One reckless man…One passionate woman.

Enter the world of Mary Balogh—the glittering ballrooms and vast country estates of Regency-era England, where romance, with all its mystery, magic, and surprises, comes vibrantly alive.

It was a perfect morning in May…

Neville Wyatt, Earl of Kilbourne, awaited his bride at the altar—when a ragged beggar woman raced down the aisle instead. The cream of the ton saw him stare, shocked, then declare that this was his wife! One night of passion was all he remembered as he beheld Lily, the woman he’d wed, loved, and lost on the battlefield in Portugal. Now he said he’d honor his commitment to her—regardless of the gulf that lay between them.

Then Lily spoke her mind…

She said she wanted only to start a new life—wanted only a husband who truly loved her. She had to leave him to learn how to meet his world on her terms. So Lily agreed to earn her keep as his aunt’s companion and study the genteel arts. Soon she was the toast of the ton, every inch a countess fit for the earl, who vowed to prove to his remarkable wife that what he felt for her was far more than desire, that what he wanted from her was much more than…One Night for Love.

What I Thought: This is another one I don’t remember a lot about.  I vaguely remember liking it, but not being super-into the romance.  I do remember not being surprised by the fact that she wasn’t really dead, and that he never told anyone about it.  Other than that, nothing stands out.

My Rating: 2 stars- mostly because I remember nothing, and I don’t remember enough to dislike it, but I also don’t remember enough to actually like it.

city-of-night-coverBook #3: City Of Night by John Rechy

Published January 1994 (originally published 1963) by Grove Press|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Fiction

What It’s About: When John Rechy’s explosive first novel, City of Night, was first published in 1963, it became a national bestseller and ushered in a new era of gay fiction. Bold and inventive in his account of the urban underworld of male prostitution, Rechy is equally unflinching in his portrayal of one hustling “Youngman” and his restless search for self-knowledge. As the narrator careens from El Paso to Times Square, from Pershing Square to the French Quarter, we get an unforgettable look at a neon-lit life on the edge. Said James Baldwin of the author, “Rechy is the most arresting young writer I’ve read in a very long time. His tone rings absolutely true, is absolutely his own; and he has the kind of discipline which allows him a rare and beautiful reckless.”

What I Thought: This was a really hard book to get through, and I really struggled with it.  I can see why it was such an important book when it was published, considering what the book is about.  But I had a hard time with it, and it felt really dry.  I know it’s loosely autobiographical, and it really read that way.  It’s not a bad thing, but it just didn’t work for me.

It is a glimpse into what life was like during that time, but it seemed to drag on.  It also seemed really repetitive, and I’m sort of doubting why I took the time to finish the book.  It just seemed like an endless cycle of the same behavior for the main character, but I suppose it goes with the lifestyle that the character is living.

My Rating: 2 stars.  It’s definitely not the book for me, and it was a struggle for me to get through but I can see why it gets a lot of praise.

Top Ten Tuesday: All About Villains

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten Villains I Love To Hate

Villains.  They’re the ones we love to hate, and I totally thought this one would be really easy.  It turned out to be harder than I thought, and I’m not sure why.  Here are 19 villains I love to hate!

  1. Umbridge from Harry Potter.  As much as I hate Voldemort, and as horrible as the things he did were, I hated Umbridge more, and thought she was completely horrible.
  2. Queen Levana from The Lunar Chronicles.  I understand why she acted the way she did, but she’s a really good villain.
  3. Tamlin from A Court Of Thorns And Roses.  I’m not sure if he’s officially a villain, but he is in my book.
  4. The Library Of Alexandria in Ink And Bone.  They are great villains, because of how they try to stamp out new inventions, and the control they have over books.
  5. The Shadow from Whirl by Emma Raveling.  The Shadow- which is his official name- is such a good villain, and it’s because of why and how he became The Shadow.
  6. Sebastian and Valentine from The Mortal Instruments.  Valentine, for trying to take over the Shadowhunter world, and Sebastian…honestly, I just feel like he should be on the list.  It’s been a while since I’ve read the series, so I’m super fuzzy on the details (as in, I don’t remember them at all), but I’m going with the fact that they’re pretty good bad guys.
  7. The Darkling from the Grisha Trilogy.  This is hard, because I actually like The Darkling, but still.
  8. Akito from Fruits Basket.  Akito is not a good guy, because of the things that he’s done.  And that’s why Akito made my list.
  9. A from Pretty Little Liars.  I liked the books less and less, and eventually gave up- I think I gave up around book 9 or 10, but I LOVE the t.v. show.  A is pretty villainous with the blackmail and horrible stuff that A does.
  10. President Snow from The Hunger Games.  I hated Snow, but found him interesting at the same time.

Currently Obsessed With: September 2016

Currently Obsessed With is a once-a-month (but sometimes more) feature where I talk about my favorite things from the last month.

Currently Obsessed With


Not a lot of crocheting has been going on, except for my blanket.  It’s still hot but it’s cool enough that I feel like I can sit under a blanket.  Once I finished the blue, I knew I had some decisions to make about how much bigger I wanted it to be.  I had 4 skeins I wanted to use, and with each color getting smaller and smaller, I decided it was time to finish the blanket.  The neon green/yellow/pink/orange was the last main color, and then I started the border, which was the really pretty pink and blue and the green and blue.  I like the color changes, and everything goes well together, but I kind of wish I had alternated between variegated and solid colors, just because I think the contrast would have been a lot nicer.

I had a fun time picking out a border, and this book of crochet borders is actually really helpful.  I had to pick a border once I made the decisions to finish the blanket so I would know how many more rows I needed to do, and I really liked the one I picked.  I’ve found with granny square blankets that a single crochet base row doesn’t work too well, just because the corners don’t lay completely flat, even with other rows.  Half double crochet works pretty well, so that’s what I ended up going with for the 1st row of the border.  The 2nd row was a puff stitch, and it wasn’t until I finished that row that I realized I did 2 puff stitches in the corner instead of 3, but it looks fine and I’m the only one who’s going to know. Considering it’s for me, it doesn’t really matter, and it’s too big to completely undo that entire round.

Since I used Red Heart Super Saver for the whole blanket, it’s super scratchy and itchy, and it definitely needs to be softened, so I still need to do that, especially if I’m not going to be using on my bed.

As for my next project, I’m not sure.  I am dressing up as Sadness for Halloween, so I’m going to make a hat and a scarf or cowl as part of my costume.  That will definitely be my main project for the month, but I don’t think it will take too long.  I also started ANOTHER blanket.  I have a lot of yarn I’m not sure what to do with, and I’ve done enough blankets this year that I’m kind of hooked on them now.


This was not a big book buying month.  I got the two new Nightvale books, which are just the scripts from the 1st two years, but there are forwards from different people and artwork throughout the book.  I haven’t read them, but I have flipped through them and they really cool.  I might read them while listening to the podcast, and might be a fun way to revisit the old episodes, which I haven’t listened to in a while.

I also got Veil Of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald from Audible.  I still have a couple of audio books from the library I need to get through, but once I do, I really need to start listening to the books I have from Audible.


I haven’t made it to the movies, but I’ve watched Season 3 of Blacklist now that it’s up on Netflix.  And fall T.V. is back, so I’m watching my usual stuff, plus a few new shows!  I really like Designated Survivor so far, and there are a few other shows that look good/interesting but I haven’t had a chance to watch them yet.  I’ll probably talk more about it if/when I do.

Around The Internet:

Romance novels as feminist texts.  I really like to see positive stuff about romance.

I’ve seen a lot about the Bullet Journal but I never thought about using it for blogging/reading.  I’ve never considered using it, but now I might have to check it out.

Diversity and mythology– I haven’t looked at any of the links, but it seems like a pretty good list.  I feel like I’ve been saying this for a while, but I like when non-European mythology is in a book.  There are so many different myths and stories, and yet Greek seems to be really common in stories.

These photos taken by a pilot are amazing.

As are these photos of the Northern Lights in Norway.

I really like these tips from a butcher…even though I don’t go to one, and just get what I need at the grocery store.

September Stuff:

  • The Welcome To Night Vale book tour.  They stopped at Mysterious Galaxy for a Q&A and signing, so of course I went.  It was fun, and I loved hearing them talk about Night Vale.  Like, I had no idea that they take turns writing and editing each episode- I assumed they wrote the episodes together.  And they don’t give Cecil a lot of direction.  Instead, they just let him do his thing.  Sometimes, he does a different voice than what they expected or imagined, but it seems like they just go with it.  There’s a lot I could talk about, but those really stuck out. (I do like this blog post, which is written by the person who moderated the event).
  • My grandma went into the hospital last month, and she was there for a few days, but she is having trouble swallowing, so most of her food has to be blended/pureed and everything she drinks has to be thickened.  And she has pneumonia right now, but she’s okay otherwise.  I just haven’t had a lot of mental energy, so even though I read like crazy at the beginning of the month, it soon evolved in re-reading because I just couldn’t handle new books.  For the most part, anyway, but I think I’ll be back to my usual reading life soon.

Stuff To Look Forward To In October:

  • Getting ready for NaNoWriMo!  I have around 6 or 7 ideas, and I’m not sure which one I want to.  There’s the one I’ve been working on the last couple of Novembers, but have done no other work on, an original idea that has a 30 day outline, plus another original idea that has two chapters outline.  Plus 4 ideas for Harry Potter fanfics- one is outlined enough to get me through November, should I decide to write it.  One has about 10 chapters outline, one has a couple of chapters outlined, and one just sort of came to me recently, so I still need to outline it.  I’ll definitely be talking about it more sometime this month, and knowing me, I’ll probably pick closer to November.
  • Getting back into blogging.  I took an unplanned break, and most of what I’ve posted was already scheduled (which I’m glad I did, looking back).  But I have a bunch of reviews I still want/need to write, and I really miss blogging regularly!


I’ll leave you with a couple of songs that I’ve been listening to a lot.

  • SOS by Joseph.  I love Joseph, but this is the only song I have from their new album..for now, but that should change soon.

  • Closer by The Chainsmokers and Halsey.  I don’t know why I can’t stop listening to this song but I’m just going to go with it.

Have a good October!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely folks over at The Broke And The Bookish.  Every week, bloggers share their own bookish top ten lists based on the topic of the week.  You can check out Ten Tuesdays here.

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Top Ten Books On My Fall TBR

I can’t believe it’s almost fall!  It doesn’t feel like fall yet, but maybe in a month or two, it will start to feel as fall as it can get.  Here’s what I want to read this fall.

  1. When Reason Breaks by Cindy Rodriguez.  I’ve wanted to read it for a while.
  2. Midnight Bites by Rachel Caine.  I absolutely LOVE the Morganville Vampires series, and yet, I still haven’t read this short story collection.
  3. Outrun The Moon by Stacy Lee.  I’ve been looking forward to her next book ever since I read Under The Painted Sky, and I can’t wait to read it!
  4. Imprudence by Gail Carriger.  It’s Gail Carriger!  And I’ve had it for a while, but I still haven’t read it.  Which I’ll definitely need to do this fall, because I need to catch up with Prudence and her friends.
  5. Queen Of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas.  I still haven’t read it, but I need to!
  6. Court of Fives by Kate Elliott.  I heard about this book when I went to the book signing for Imprudence, and I was intrigued enough that I knew I wanted to read it.
  7. Mostly Void, Partially Stars and The Great Glowing Coils Of The Universe by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.  I am a huge Night Vale fan, and I’m really looking forward to reading the scripts of the first couple of years of the podcast.
  8. Tell Me Something True by Katherine Owen.  I LOVED the first two books, and I really need to read this one.
  9. The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows.  I keep telling myself I’m going to read it, but I never seem to do that!  I hope I can read it this fall!
  10. The Wrath And The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.  I’ve wanted to read it for a while, but when I saw that the audio was narrated by Ariana Delawari (who did a wonderful job narrating The Secret Sky), I knew I had to go with the audio book.