“It is very often nothing but our own vanity that deceives us. Women fancy admiration means more than it does.”
—Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Top Ten Tuesday – September 2nd!

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly event hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, inviting readers to list their top ten choices in a given category. This week’s theme is… 

Top Ten Book Characters That Would Be Sitting At My Lunch Table

I’m actually going to mix this up a bit, and instead of listing characters, I’m putting authors who I think I’d have been eating lunch with based on their memoirs. 

  1. Mindy Kaling, author of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
    I have often said Mindy is the tanner, more famous version of me. We have the same mind, so she’s a given in my inner circle. 
  2. Chelsea Handler, author of Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea
    I would live vicariously through her escapades, and we’d probably prank all of our other friends. 
  3. Jeanette Walls, author of The Glass Castle
    Jeanette is from the next town over from me, so we’d have the hometown stuff to talk about, as well as our mutually eclectic childhoods. 
  4. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel
    I would really benefit from her in-depth knowledge of politics and Middle Eastern history (especially with all the Islam classes I took in college)
  5. Conor Grennan, author of Little Princes
    He’s a cute guy who cares about the world, of COURSE he’d be at my table. 
  6. Noelle Hancock, author of My Year with Eleanor
    She’d be my adventure friend! I love having someone around who I can randomly call up to go out and do something crazy and exciting. 
  7. Jenny Lawson, author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened
    Her stories were completely random and hilarious, and along with Chelsea, the three of us would probably get in a lot of trouble while having a lot of fun. 
  8. Piper Kerman, author of Orange is the New Black
    Though she was a bit rowdier in her younger days, she is certainly a bookworm, and I think we’d have great discussions. 
  9. Kristen Chenoweth, author of A Little Bit Wicked
    I love Broadway, so she’s a given. 
  10. Valerie Bertinelli, author of Losing It
    My mother and I are big fans of Val, who seems like the most down-to-earth and open celebrity on the planet. 

I Give Up: Summer 2014

My friend Diana likes to post books that she couldn’t finish, and I loved her idea so much, I basically stole it. Here are the books I tried (and failed) to finish in the last couple of months. 

  1. The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker
    I tried very hard to like this book, but I just could not appreciate it. Elna is a practicing Mormon who openly makes fun of some of her religion’s most fundamental beliefs while still remaining firm in her faith, making her come off as highly hypocritical. I also couldn’t help but feel like she was a bit full of herself while reading it and a bit desperate for attention. I honestly thought this book would be hilarious and fun, so I was left very disappointed. After reading Rhoda Janzen’s amazing memoir Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, in which she recognizes she has problems with some of the principles of her childhood religion but still respects it, Elna Baker’s awkward jokes at the expense of the religion she still claims to practice just couldn’t compare. 
  2. Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
    This was the most insulting book I think I’ve ever picked up. I saw it on a friend’s bookshelf years ago, and I picked it up used a few years later on a lark. I think I was expecting a book more focused on nutrition. Instead, I got a couple of crazy vegans telling me, “coffee is for pussies,” “perhaps you have a lumpy ass because you are preserving your fat cells with diet soda,” and to “go suck on your mother’s tits.” There was more profanity in this piece of trash than in a George R. R. Martin book. Further, the government conspiracy theories, under-researched “facts,” and expletive-filled rants against anyone who does not eat a purely vegan diet guaranteed this trash would remain one of the most disgusting texts I have picked up. 
  3. The Closet’s All Mine by Dorothy Cummings McLean
    When I picked up this book, I was expecting it to be a collection of short, humorous essays about life as a singleton. While the book was a collection of essays, instead of humor, I found religion. I’m not completely opposed to religion by any means, but this book was mainly geared at young Catholics who hadn’t been married yet, about how to feel better about being single and navigate dating while remaining faithful. I can’t say if it would be a good or bad book if you were in the demographic McLean was writing to, but for me, it completely missed the mark. 
  4. Dear Jane Austen by Patrice Hannon
    I briefly touched upon my disappointment with this book in a recent post, but I’ll elaborate a little here: Dear Jane Austen might seem like a fun little read for any Austen-lover, but while her work is iconic, there are many modern cases in which Austen’s 200+ year old advice cannot apply. The author wrote Austen in a very unlikable way and dispensed VERY dated advice that - while obviously not intended to be something people would actually follow - wasn’t the slightest bit entertaining to read. Hand-holding on a first date?! TOO FORWARD! CO-HABITATION?! ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?! Altogether, it was an awkward and judgmental read that I just couldn’t get into. 
  5. Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside by Katrina Ferlik
    I tried very hard to read this book, but in the end, I just found it too dry to continue reading. Admittedly, I am not the most scientific person in the world, but I do enjoy learning, and I was expecting to learn a bit more from this book about the anatomy of the brain and how it works. Instead, I got a lot of information on how to become a neurosurgeon and how their cases and day-to-day duties usually operate. Granted, I set this book down 1/3 of the way through, but there wasn’t much compelling me to read on. If you’re looking for a career in the medical field and want a taste of what you might experience, this might be a worthy read for you. As for me, it just didn’t grab me. 
  6. Mutant Message Down Under by Marlo Moran
    I picked this book up at a used bookstore based solely on the blurb on the back cover, describing a woman who left her small town in America to wander the Australian outback with an Aboriginal tribe, totally immersed in their culture. I have an adventurous spirit that was instantly intrigued. However, when I read the note from the author on the first pages saying the following tale was nonfiction but might not be considered completely accurate by some people, I was a little concerned. A few things during my read didn’t seem to completely add up, and when I went online to see what other people were thinking of the book, I found that it was actually COMPLETELY MADE UP. Cath Ellis wrote a long blog post about it on Wordpress, which you can find here, but basically, knowing that it was in fact fiction soured my opinion so badly that I couldn’t finish the rest of my read. 

confessionsofagemini88:

The good thing about reading terrible books is that it gives me hope that my terrible book will get published if this shit did. 


Top Ten Books

So recently there’s been a tag floating around my Facebook friends asking everyone to list their top ten favorite books. I was tagged by two of my more hip-n-happenin’ friends, and when it came time to actually tag people myself, I was a bit bummed because I realized how few of my real-life friends are readers. My best guy friend (I actually feel a bit bad calling him out on this - but not really because it was kind of a ridiculously horrible thing to say), when I told him that I’d signed up for my first Goodreads reading challenge, actually said, “FIFTY BOOKS?! How could you even read fifty books? Don’t they all say the same thing after awhile?” 

My work friends? Don’t read.
My sorority sisters? Don’t read. 
High school friends? Don’t read. 
Ex-boyfriends (who oddly have all hit me up in the past 2 weeks)? Don’t read. 

I ended up tagging a few of my college friends, because at that point I was majorly depressed that I have so few friends to share my love of reading with. 

But then people started participating, and seeing how alike all of our tastes are and finding new recommendations made me so appreciative of the book-loving friends I have. 

So, Tumblr-friends, here are what my real-life-friends and I have loved:

  1. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  5. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg 
  6. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
  7. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

And some books I’m going to pick up now that I know I have friends who recommend them:

  • Reconciliation by Benazir Bhutto 
  • The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison 

What are your real-life-friends reading?


Music Monday is a weekly event hosted by Total Book Geek wayyyy over in Blogspot. The idea is to choose a book or a scene from a book and pair it with a song. Since books and music are two of my favorite things, here I am. 

I know "Daniel in the Den" by Bastille is supposed to be about Daniel in the Bible, but it seems to fit so well with Game of Thrones. Every time it comes on my shuffle, I can’t help but think of George R. R. Martin’s most popular series. 


Dear Jane Austen

A Heroine’s Guide to Life and Love
by Patrice Hannon

I bought this book in the aftermath of a frenzied Austen-read-a-thon, when I was looking for anything and everything Austen-related to keep me strong after finishing some of her books.

I had tried to pick it up several times over the years, but I just couldn’t get invested in it; something about interpreting Austen’s works and trying to get them to apply to modern dilemmas just didn’t interpret well in this book, especially concerning things like cohabitation and sex (I mean really, who would even try to broach that subject in a book like this? We read Austen for FUN, not thinking about her rolling over in her grave to learn that her dedicated readers are living in a world where these questions pop up).

Anyway, it just got me thinking more of the advice-giving culture we exist in, and it left me feeling a bit ho-hum about reading in general, as it seems like so many books try pushing their own views on what is right and wrong when it comes to characters and their behavior, especially when it comes to the leading men and women.

Enter Tri, my long-distance work husband, who was giving me advice on a completely different topic when he sent me this article:

http://markmanson.net/fuck-yes/

And it really hit me hard. I have a great enthusiasm for life that just doesn’t translate well into my actions because I feel like I have the unfortunate problems of unnegotiable obligations and the ol’ Catholic guilt.

Anyway, reading that short article has me on an entirely new path with my reading (not to mention my personal life), especially as I work to pare down my book collection. I am through with sentimentality, and as a result, I will probably be posting about more books that I couldn’t get into.

Just to let you know. If the coming weeks’ posts sound negative, they’re all coming from a fresh perspective.

And I’d love to hear other opinions on the article! I’ll repost it again because I liked it that much:

http://markmanson.net/fuck-yes/


Lost in Austen

by Emma Campbell Webster
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Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
Released: 1 January 2007
Pages: 345
Buy it now!

I posted a picture of this book yesterday, and it’s a very interesting concept: a Jane Austen-themed Choose Your Own Adventure book, involving all of Austen’s classic texts. The reader is tasked to marry both prudently and for love, and by keeping both of these tasks in mind, it’s not too hard to find a favorable solution. 

Lost in Austen is undeniably unique, and it’s nice for a short, fun activity, but obviously, it’s a bit unfulfilling as an actual book. With multiple categories in which you must record running counts of your scores, it can be a bit tedious, and there are times when the author is very insulting when you make the wrong choice. 

That being said, it is a fun little lark for any Austen-lover. It’s not a life-changer, but it’ll keep you entertained for a couple of hours. 


Eleven on Top

Stephanie Plum #11
by Janet Evanovich
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Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 2.5/5
Released: 1 June 2005
Pages: 321
Buy it now! 

I really have been on such a kick with Stephanie Plum lately. I’m attributing my recent bout of speed-reading to my upcoming move, in which I hope to only pack up half of the books that are currently on my shelves. Janet Evanovich’s books are plentiful, quick, and fun, making them very easy to rip through and throw in the “donate” pile. 

So you’ve probably heard me talk about Stephanie Plum being a clumsy but still bad-ass bounty hunter living in New Jersey with a couple sexy love interests, a hilarious hooker for a side-kick, and a family that is as funny as it is crazy. Her cars have the tendency to get blown up, her hair has the tendency to get destroyed, but miraculously, she seems to always get her guy.

(Minor spoilers ahead for people who haven’t yet read the series)

In this edition, otherwise to be titled (by me) as The One Where Stephanie Quits, Stephanie has finally had it with the bond enforcement job, but she will soon learn that while you can take the girl out of bounty hunting, you can’t take the bounty hunter out of the girl as she finds herself being pulled into crazy cases by her friends. While Joe is initially happy to have her out of the business, her continued work with Ranger has him a bit on edge. When a ghost from Stephanie’s past resurfaces intent on revenge, she soon learns that being out of the biz’ doesn’t count for much when it comes to homicidal killers. 

This book felt more like a filler to me. The characters didn’t really evolve, there wasn’t as much humor, and I didn’t really feel like anything major happened in the plot to really cause much effect in subsequent books, making it just ‘okay’ instead of fantastic, as most Stephanie Plum books usually are. Altogether, I still recommend the series, but this installment fell a little flat for me. 


Yes, you’re reading that right: this is a Jane Austen-themed Choose Your Own Adventure book. YOU CAN BE YOUR OWN HEROINE. 

Yes, you’re reading that right: this is a Jane Austen-themed Choose Your Own Adventure book. YOU CAN BE YOUR OWN HEROINE. 


Ten Big Ones

Stephanie Plum #10
by Janet Evanovich
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Genre: Chick Lit
Rating: 5/5 
Released: 22 June 2004 
Pages: 312
Buy it now!

Stephanie Plum is a lingerie-saleswoman-turned-bounty-hunter living in Trenton, New Jersey, with her pet hamster, Rex. She’s got a former hooker as a sidekick, a sexy cop and a guy she calls “batman” as love interests, and a wacky group of friends and family who are there to bail her out in all of her adventures. Most of these books are arranged as mysteries (which are pretty easy to solve), but they’re also hilariously fun and great, quick reads for an instant pick-me-up. 

You know when you’ve read a ton of books in a series, and they start to blend together until you can only differentiate them by plots, saying, “The one where…?” I think I’m getting to that point with these books. I enjoy them immensely, I always end up laughing, but at this point, I feel like I need to subtitle them.

This book is now going to be referred to as the one where Stephanie is pursued by a hitman.
(minor spoilers ahead for people who haven’t read the series yet)

Stephanie’s in trouble, as per usual. Happening upon a stick-up in progress, she becomes the sole witness tying a known gang member to a series of robberies in the area, leaving her looking over her shoulder as a hit is put out on her. While overprotective Joe just wants to keep her locked up and safe, independent Stephanie has other plans, and she runs away from their relationship and takes up residence in Ranger’s vacant apartment while he’s out of town. 

This book was, if not the funniest, then definitely in the top 3 Plum books I’ve read. It also delved a bit deeper into some of the characters’ backstories and personal lives, which was fantastic for the series, as things seemed kind of stagnant for awhile. The minor characters, too, had a lot of interesting things going on, with Valerie getting married and Sally Sweet making another appearance. 

Altogether, this was another great installment of Stephanie Plum’s adventures. 


Music Monday is a weekly event hosted by Total Book Geek wayyyy over in Blogspot. The idea is to choose a book or a scene from a book and pair it with a song. I used to kind of do this when I could think of something relevant while reviewing a book, but I like this weekly idea so much more, so I’m jumping in! 

"Bang Bang" by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj has been a favorite of mine for the past couple of weeks, and since I’ve been reading the Stephanie Plum series more frequently in the past couple of weeks, they just seemed to really pair together really well. I can just picture Stephanie and Lula rocking out to this as they drive around Trenton. 


“Hello, I also have a book blog! And your blog is incredible. What are you currently reading?”

books-and-butterflies

Hey girl! I am currently on a book-reading MISSION, so I’m ripping through Eleven on Top by Janet Evanovich and Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. I’ll be moving pretty soon, so I’m on a renewed mission to get as many books out of my apartment as possible before then (during my last move, I had about 20 boxes/bags full of books, and the three strapping college guys from my moving company HATED me for it and cursed me as they lugged them up to my top-floor apartment). I’m also planning on getting tough with the books I just haven’t been able to get into despite numerous attempts to read them, so hopefully I get a lot of books shifted out of here pretty quickly. 

How about you, what are you reading? : ) 

Also your blog is really incredible, too!! 


The Zombie Apocalypse Tag!

I was tagged by my book blogging bestie Sylvia from ifyougaveagirlabook, who always has the absolute BEST tags EVER. 

For the rules, watch here!

I chose 5 random books from series that I’ve read and loved, so hopefully I get some good variety here! 

The booksA Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R. R. Martin, Eleven on Top (Stephanie Plum) by Janet Evanovich, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce) by Alan Bradley, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, and Dead Ever After (Sookie Stackhouse) by Charlaine Harris

Your Zombie Team:

First book: A Storm of Swords

1. The first person to die

  • Sam Tarly — Obviously I’m not very far in the series, so this very well might happen, we shall see! 

2. The person you trip to get away from the zombies

  • Stannis — I’m not feeling too bad about this. 

Second book: Eleven on Top

3. The first person to turn into a zombie

  • Morelli — He would be one viscous zombie. And, for an in-shape, bad-ass cop, we’d probably all be in trouble with him on the lookout for brains. 

4. The person that trips YOU to get away from the zombies

  • Morelli - All that tripping for NOTHING, you still become one, Joe! 

Third book: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

5. The idiot of the team

  • Tully — I’m glad I didn’t see one of the main characters’ names, they’re all brilliantly smart. 

6. The “brains” of the team

  • Dogger - He’s a good one! Though he does have his ‘spells’ :/

Fourth book: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

7. The team’s medic

  • Dumbledore - Heck yes, I feel safe with a top-notch wizard patching us all up.

8. The weapons expert

  • Hagrid - Ohhhhh yeah. You know, I picked the books out in random order, but this is working quite well! 

Fifth book: Dead Ever After 

9. The brawler

  • Sookie - She’s certainly killed enough people (or, well, “creatures”). I’m down with that. 

10. The Team Captain

  • Pam - As perhaps one of my most favorite characters ever, I am so totally excited she’s made captain. This actually turned out brilliant. 

I am going to tag… violinwaist, lectrice-vorace, bodaciousbookbabe, elainewillread, booksanddiaries, and anyone else who wants to join in on this super cool tag! 


One Thousand White Women

The Journals of May Dodd
by Jim Fergus

Genre: (Historical?) Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5
Released: 1 January 1998
Pages: 302
Buy it now! 

May Dodd is a modern-thinking American woman living in the late 19th century who is committed to a mental facility by her well-to-do parents for living with (and mothering the children of) a man of inferior birth. Left to rot in a sub-par institution with no mental stimulation, May is afraid she’ll never leave. So when a team of mysterious government representatives shows up asking questions about her fertility and offers her a ticket to freedom, she accepts with only minor qualms. Before she knows it, May is on a train headed to the western frontier, traveling with an eclectic group of women on their way to become government-sponsored brides. 

With white settlers moving West and Native Americans attacking the trespassers encroaching on their territory, the US government has a major problem on their hands and calls tribal chiefs in to talk. When a Cheyenne chief offers to trade 1000 horses for 1000 white women, it creates a scandal throughout the east, but it also gets the president’s advisers thinking. All the Cheyennes ask for is 1000 women to marry, impregnate, and live with for 2 years. After that, they are free to return to their homes with their children, mixed-race ambassadors who will help bridge the gaps between the two cultures. 

The government begins rounding up volunteers for the secret mission in the most seedy of places: street corners, prisons, even mental hospitals. With freedom fresh in her mind, May joins the group on their quest for a second chance at life. 

This book was not well-written. The premise was interesting, the characters were diverse, but I really had to suspend my disbelief more than I usually do when reading something I would consider historically-based fiction. I didn’t feel invested in the characters. I couldn’t picture the setting. The book is supposed to tell May’s story through diary entries, but rather than sound genuine, it just felt like Fergus was trying too hard, and I couldn’t buy it.

The premise was interesting, and the book was very plot-driven, making it a not-too-horrible read for those who aren’t going to dive too deeply into the historical inaccuracies and like to give their characters the benefit of the doubt, but for me? One Thousand White Women is a book I’m not feeling bad about parting with. 


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