Top Ten Tuesday: One Book, One Author, and Needing to Read More

Top Ten Tuesday, a concept started by The Broke and the Bookish, is a themed post that connects bloggers to bloggers, bloggers to readers, and readers to readers. Every Tuesday has a special topic, and this Tuesday is Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From but NEED to Read More.

top ten tuesday

I feel like this is just going to turn into “top ten authors whose books I own but haven’t read more of” or “top ten authors who are one-hit wonders and where’s that next book gosh darn it.” Once I find an author I adore I tend to follow them to the ends of the earth.

Charles Finch — His semi-autobiographical novel The Last Enchantments was apparently vastly different from his usual style in his mystery series. Considering his series is set in Victorian Oxford, I’m surprised I’m not already drooling over them. Gotta step up and read them!

Erin Morgenstern — One of those “one-hit wonders” I mentioned, because why isn’t there another book by her? Seriously, Night Circus is still one of my top favorite life-changing books of all time. All. Time.

David Nicholls — Another top favorite life-changing book of all time, One Day, was by this man and yet I haven’t read anything else. Does he have anything else? I know another book is coming out (Us, October 2014) and I’m planning on reading it.

Victoria Schwab – I’ve only read The Archived, such a brilliantly slow-building book. I own The Unbound (signed, too!), and I’ve read fantastic reviews of her adult SFF books. Basically, I need to hop to it.

Maggie Stiefvater – Once again, I’ve only read Raven Boys, and I’m genuinely curious to see how this series pans out. The quasi-King Arthur plot feels so mythical, and I enjoy that.

Natalie Standiford — She writes for many age levels, but I’m mostly curious about future YA titles. Her Boy on the Bridge book was so simple, yet it brought such strong memories of my time in Russia that I really want to see what else she’s write (or even if they were along that vein! I really enjoy Russian themes).

Rachel Hartman — Because Seraphina holy WOW! If she writes like this all the time, I’ll follow her books to the ends of the earth. Love her style, her voice, her plotting and construction. It’s brilliant. She’s brilliant.

Elizabeth LaBan — MOAR BOOKS PLZ! Her writing style and plotting and storytelling was so wonderful in The Tragedy Paper.

Ruta Sepetys — Simply because I own Out of the Easy and haven’t read it yet. I’m curious to see if I’d like it as much as Between Shades of Gray!

Jessica Brockmole — Because, hello, Scotland and epistolary writing style and war romance. Come on. I need more books from her! She’s excellent! Go read Letters from Skye if you haven’t already!

 

Which authors made it to your list? Do we have any overlaps?

Book Review: “A Little Something Different” by Sandy Hall

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall 20757526

Publisher: Swoon Reads
Published: August 26
Genre: young adult, romance
ISBN: 9781250061454
Goodreads: 3.84
Rating: 
★★★★

Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese good, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is a little aloof, Gabe is shy, and it looks like they are never going to work things out.

But something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at the local Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV series. The bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes Lea and Gabe were meant to be together.

Fourteen points of view, and none of them are Lea and Gabe’s. Like watching a TV show or living vicariously through friends, join a barista, bus driver, bench, brother, three friends, two classmates, a squirrel, a professor and her wife, a Chinese take-out guy, and a waitress as they observe the nervous Lea and shy Gabe circle around one another for an entire year. Mixed signals, misunderstood words and body language, and near misses capture the hilarity and innocence of first love.

I have to admit, I read this book at just the right time. I needed something light and quick and adorable — this was just the ticket. (Plus, seriously, there’s a squirrel’s POV in this book. Bingo!)

While at times it seemed ridiculous these two could be so shy and awkward around one another, the friends and observers were incredibly understanding to their situation. Here’s this freshman girl, excited and nervous about college but ready for something new — and along comes this tall, awkward older guy who seems interested in her but incredibly shy. She has next-to-no experience, so her friends offer words of encouragement and advice that backfire when Lea puts it into action. Now, here’s this shy older guy, once a baseball star but no longer on the college team and without a scholarship. He seems to have trouble hearing the people around him, and has gone through some tough stuff in the last year that’s pulled him out of school. Top it off with being a shy, quiet guy, and his friends completely understand why he’s not making any moves.

What I loved most about this book was the fact it’s never — not once! — told through Lea or Gabe’s perspective. The reader is forced to be a third-party observer just like everyone else. I loved that! It felt just like watching my friends (and complete strangers!) tip-toe around one another, the small steps towards love. Each section was just long enough to get a good scene in, and just short enough to make you want to read more and into another’s perspective. I blew through this, I enjoyed it immensely.

For a first Swoon Reads publication, this is incredibly fun, adorable, lovely, and sweet! Well done!

Book Review: “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon 10964

Publisher: Bantem Dell
Published: 1991
Genre: historical fiction, romance, adventure, fantasy 
ISBN: 9780440212560
Goodreads: 4.14
Rating:
 ★★★★★

In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon–when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire’s destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life …and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire…and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

Claire and her husband Frank and finally reunited after years of separation during WWII. They decide to have a second honeymoon in the Highlands, and traipse about the countryside to learn more about Frank’s ancestry and the local botany. One afternoon, Claire travels to an ancient stone circle she and Frank visited previously, and ends up traveling back in time to 1743. She’s stunned beyond belief and struggles to comprehend what has happened to her, especially when her life is in the hands of the MacKenzie clansmen at Castle Leoch. She takes on the role of healer in an effort to fit in, and is drawn to an unlikely friendship with Scots warrior Jamie Fraser, who has a tumultuous history of his own. Before long, Claire is torn between her life in the Highlands, set in a time of turmoil for Scotland, and her comfortable life in 1945 to a man she loves yet hardly knows.

Why? Why did I read this before the TV show came out? I was told time and again I should read these books as I’d love this series, but it wasn’t until I saw the first episode of Outlander on Starz that I convinced myself to pick it up and read ahead of the episodes. It’s so well written and completely indescribable. It’s accurate historical fiction. It’s romance (steamy, too). It’s adventurous (and bloody and terrifying and a whole host of other suitable words). It’s fantasy (time travel!). It’s philosophical. It’s spiritual. It’s so many things!

I’ve shared my thoughts with booksellers and bloggers privately (and extensively) on this book, and I’m quite excited to read the rest. But I’ll stick to two major points I felt I should include in the review.

The violence. Particularly to Claire, and between Claire and Jamie. All the men versus Claire: it seems historically accurate. Women were treated like scum and furniture and property. The general devil-may-care attitude and violence towards Claire bothered me but I went in knowing that was common. She knew too. She hated it, and she’d lash out, but she also had to adapt to the times in order to save her neck. On the other hand, there’s a scene between Claire and Jamie I did not like one bit. I wasn’t sure if it was because it seemed slightly out-of-character for Jamie, or because I’d put him on a pedestal (or Claire did), or because of my own personal history — but it certainly tore me to pieces and broke my heart. It certainly shook things up. It revealed the times even more, that Claire’s situation was a real one, not play-acting, and that not everyone is perfect. But still. It bothered me. That one scene.

Claire. Talk about an intelligent woman! Even while her mind was jumbled and afraid and confused, she was able to step back and observe her surroundings. She adapted quickly to this war-torn era, and put her combat nursing skills to good use while she tried to make sense of her situation. I would not have been able to hold my head if I were in her shoes. I was also thrilled to read about her independence, her progressive thoughts, and her sexual empowerment. She knew she didn’t belong in 1743 and stuck out like a sore thumb in many ways, but she still asserted her feminist beliefs in every available opportunity. She is warm and witty and loving, deeply philosophical and immensely brave. Bravo. (And bravo to Gabaldon for writing such wonderful and intimate love scenes between Claire and Jamie. It wasn’t instantaneous, it wasn’t rushed; it built upon trust and friendship and camaraderie, making Claire’s decision between Frank and Jamie all the more realistically difficult.)

I’m really looking forward to reading the next book!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Characters Sitting at my Lunch Table

Top Ten Tuesday, a concept started by The Broke and the Bookish, is a themed post that connects bloggers to bloggers, bloggers to readers, and readers to readers. Every Tuesday has a special topic, and this Tuesday is Top Ten Book Characters That Would be Sitting at my Lunch Table (Back-to-School Theme!).

top ten tuesday

Oh gosh, the first three are so easy. Nerd alert! (1) Hermione from Harry Potter, (2) Cather from Fangirl, and (3) Jane from Jane Eyre. Those ladies are intelligent and bookish and nerdy and thoughtful and curious. I love surrounding myself with those people.

But I would also have friends who are quiet and musical, like (4) Mia from If I Stay. I’d love to sit with travelers, too, and swap stories with (5) Allyson from Just One Day, (6) Anna from Anna and the French Kiss, and (7) Laura from The Boy on the Bridge.

Some witty ladies I’d include are (8) Rory from Name of the Star, (9) Vicky from A Mad, Wicked Folly, and (10) Ava from Blythewood.

Note: Obviously some boys would be at the table too (Jase from My Life Next Door, Matt from Open Road Summer, Stephen from Name of the StarLevi from FangirlJosh from Isla and the Happily Ever After), but I decided to stick with YA ladies I love and adore. Men and women from non-YA books I can’t even see sitting at my lunch table, though I’d love to be in a break room or office cafeteria with so many of them!

 

Who would sit with you at your lunch table? Do we have any overlapping friends? 

Book Review: “The Caller” by Juliet Marillier (ARC)

The Caller by Juliet Marillier 19507634

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: September 9
Genre: young adult, fantasy
ISBN: 9780375869563
Goodreads: —
Rating: 
★★★★

Neryn has made a long journey to perfect her skills as a Caller. She has learned the wisdom of water and of earth; she has journeyed to the remote isles of the west and the forbidding mountains of the north. Now, Neryn must travel in Alban’s freezing winter to seek the mysterious White Lady, Guardian of Air. For only when Neryn has been trained by all four Guardians will she be ready to play her role in toppling the tyrannical King Keldec.

But the White Lady is not what she seems. Trapped with Whisper, her fey protector, Neryn is unable to send word to her beloved Flint, who is in danger of being exposed as a double agent. When a new threat looms and the rebellion is in jeopardy, Neryn must enter Keldec’s court, where one false move could see her culled. She must stand up against forces more powerful than any she has confronted before, and face losses that could break her heart.

Neryn has two more Guardians to visit before using her skills as a Caller at the midsummer Gathering. But as she enters the White Lady’s wintry territory, the whole rebel plan falls to pieces. Her training is cut short when she spies King Keldec’s forces rounding up Good Folk and young farmers to form a new army — and if he has the Good Folk, then he has a Caller of his own. Meanwhile, Flint is near to snapping, and struggles to find a way to make the captured Good Folk work alongside his men. From one obstacle to the next, Flint and Neryn must be careful now more than ever not to expose the rebel cause before the final battle.

This is the conclusion to the beautiful and quiet Shadowfell trilogy, my favorite Celtic-inspired YA fantasy by a wonderful, talented, established fantasy writer. See my reviews of Shadowfell and Raven FlightThat said, beware this review may contain spoilers!

Marillier has a brilliant way of reminding the readers of the backstory without filling the first chapter with info dump. Neryn needs to explain to the warriors at Shadowfell the training she needs to complete, and when she does so she gives the reader background information. It’s perfect. From there, the entire story is filled with twists and turns. I had no idea what would happen next — for Neryn or Flint — and my stomach was in knots. I genuinely felt concerned for their safety and the outcome of the cause.

The way Marillier was able to express that tension is through her wonderful suspense. Each book in this trilogy was quiet and slow, the perfect pace for an underground cause in a kingdom long-silenced from magic. Because each book had that establishment, it didn’t seem out of place with each passing month in Alban. Even down to the battle, we’re given every single detail — every thought and feeling and observance of Neryn’s. The ending was excellent, and I loved every precious moment Neryn and Flint exchanged.

Quiet and powerful, Marillier’s Shadowfell trilogy is not one you want to miss.

Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from Knopf Books for review!

Advance Excitement at a Glance VIII

arc posts

 

This year, in an effort to blog more, to become more involved with the blogging community, and to keep up with the latest publications, I thought I’d create a monthly post about the ARCs I’ve received. These ARCs will be read and reviewed a month prior to the publishing date. The Advance Excitement at a Glance posts will feature one or two (or more, depending on what happens this year) books to look forward to, and it will motivate me to keep my to-read list on track.

Last month I previewed two ARCs that were published fairly recently, Deliverance (the conclusion to my favorite dystopian trilogy) and The Secret Place (the next installment by one of my favorite authors). I also shared Isla and the Happily Ever After (so so so perfect) and Secrets of the Lighthouse (a completely new author to me and enjoyed it). September and October are going to be big publishing months — and I can already tell I can’t get to all the ARCs I’ve received!

Because of that, here are four books to hunt for in the stores or watch out for in my reviews. Let’s hope I get to most of these so that I can share my thoughts with you!

The Jewel by Amy Ewing (September 2, HarperTeen) appears to be similar to The Selection series. There’s a lot of hype building around this book, and I’m curious to see why.

The Caller by Juliet Marillier (September 9, Knopf Books for Young Readers) is the final installment to the Shadowfell trilogy, a quiet but powerful YA fantasy.

Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White (September 9, HarperTeen) is a Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare YA fantasy, and it was highly recommended by Stephanie Perkins. So soon! So excited!

Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh (September 23, Random House Books for Young Readers) is another great fantasy, recommended by Juliet Marillier. Sounds like if you enjoy folklore (and Shadowfell!) you’ll enjoy this!

 

Which ARCs did you receive for September? What books are you looking forward to reading?

Book Review: “The Secret Place” by Tana French (ARC)

The Secret Place by Tana French 20821043

Publisher: Viking Adult
Publishing Date: September 2
Genre: mystery
ISBN: 9780670026326
Goodreads: —
Rating: 
★★★

The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says, I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. The Secret Place, a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

But everything they discover leads them back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique—and to the tangled web of relationships that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen’s links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda’s will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined.

When Detective Frank Mackey’s teenage daughter Holly brings a card to show Detective Stephen Moran, it alters the course of his career and her private girls’ school forever. At St. Kilda’s, there’s a giant bulletin board tacked with cards full of secrets, creatively pieced together and revealing the boarders’ most hidden thoughts anonymously. But Holly spotted one pertaining to a murder that happened a year ago, and thought the Dublin Murder Squad ought to reopen the case. In doing so, she’s brought her friends back into a pool of suspicion, and their enemies become more vicious.

I’ve enjoyed French’s writing. She has a way of getting into your head with her language — and her writing differs depending on the perspective she’s using. From psychological thrillers to cold cases, French gets deep into the mind of the protagonists and takes you on a journey analyzing every single detail of a case till the surprising end. That’s the beauty of her style. And I really appreciate it. But Moran and Conway were not detectives I wanted to follow. Moran’s language was filled with incomplete phrases and thoughts. Scattered, fragmented. Like I just demonstrated. Throughout. Conway had an incredibly foul mouth and such a negative work style that I’m nervous to think she may be the next protagonist for Dublin Murder Squad #6. But while I didn’t enjoy the detective portion of the story, I liked the boarding school side.

On that side of the story, we follow Holly and her three close friends to their first full year together at boarding school. Two of them were previously day-people only, but now the four of them spend their nights at St. Kilda’s and do everything together — eat, study, sleep, shop. They promise one another they’d never let a boy get between them, because they have enough love to give for each other. But there are many Colms boys — the boy boarding school just down the road — and one of Holly’s friends becomes involved. And when one starts, the others follow. Two of the four girls make a desperate attempt to keep their friendship picture perfect, while another group of vicious girls point and laugh and bully and continuously try to tear them apart. All the while, these groups are wrapped up in the eventual murder of Chris Harper, and Holly and her friends are desperate to bring the police back to close the case completely.

It was difficult for me to rate this because I did like it over all, but not as much as her past work. I loved the subject, I loved the boarding school portion, and I loved that French’s writing stayed true. But because half the book is told through the detectives’ point of view, and I didn’t enjoy those parts, I’m left a little sad. This is definitely worth the read for French fans, and it echoed a lot of great storytelling as seen in Endeavour, which was interesting. Give it a whirl, tell me what you think!

Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from Viking for review!