Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Picked Up on a Whim

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is about books I’ve started reading without knowing what they’re about beforehand. This is something I rarely do. Normally I read a book’s synopsis and several reviews before committing to read a book (my reading time is that valuable to me!), but I was able to find some pleasantly surprising impulse reads to share with you today, as well as a few disappointing ones.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Picked Up on a Whim

Wives and Daughters

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell – I started reading Elizabeth Gaskell’s final novel a few months after I finished North and South. I didn’t know anything about it, not even that Gaskell never finished it! But if you’ve seen my review of it you know that I loved this novel, and the miniseries. I’m still dying to know how Gaskell would have finished it, though.

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Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill – I can honestly say that this is the novel that got me into Young Adult literature a few years ago. I found it through the digital library while searching for similar books to Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments. Both book are now two of my favorites.

Me Before You

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – I actually thought this was another book when I picked it up. I’m kind of glad that I didn’t know anything about Me Before You before I started reading it because I may not have wanted to put myself through so many heart wrenching emotions (who am I kidding? I love when stories make me cry!).

Persuasion

Persuasion by Jane Austen – Jane Austen has been my favorite author for a long time, but I hadn’t known anything about Persuasion when I randomly decided to read it while on a road trip a few years ago. It’s one of those books that was incredibly hard for me to put down. I didn’t want to be antisocial sine I was on a trip with a lot of friends, but I definitely spent a lot of time reading (and daydreaming) about Persuasion for the beginning of that trip. I love that a 200 year-old book can still have that affect!

thewonderofallthings

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott – This is a book I happened to se on a shelf at the library and decided to check it out even though I had never heard of it before. I think I liked the cover. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator’s voice bothered me at times, but surprisingly that didn’t keep me from enjoying the book. I still think about the ending sometimes, actually.

5290225_origThe Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare – I had an awesome 8th grade English teacher who introduced me to Shakespeare. We read Hamlet and As You Like It, the latter of which we also got to see performed at our local performing arts center. After falling in love with the Bard I decided to read something on my own and randomly picked up The Taming of the Shrew, and that’s when I also found out that it’s the inspiration for 10 Things I Hate About You. I need to reread the play now that I can understand it better. I hope I still like it!

510yzqD6ukL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_ The Princess Bride by William Goldman – I had seen the Princess Bridge movie when I was younger but only remembered that it had a happy ending. When I was a teenager I picked the book up at Barnes and Noble and it was one of those rare occurrences when I actually began reading it as soon as I got home. I was completely shocked by it though, because I thought it had a happy ending and then Wesley DIES. Of course it really does have a happy ending, but I was beginning to think the movie had deceived me.

Here are 3 disappointing books I happened to read on a whim…

15793306Servants’ Hall by Margaret Powell – Originally I was looking for Upstairs Downstairs when I came across this memoir at the library. Unfortunately, despite the fact that it was the basis for one of the love stories on Downton Abbey, I really couldn’t get into this book.

15815333The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – I saw this book at the library one day and remembered that I had added it to my TBR a couple of years ago, but I couldn’t remember why. Sadly I could not enjoy Wolitzer’s writing style and this book became a DNF after 75 pages.

Judge_and_Jury_by_James_PattersonJudge and Jury by James Patterson – Someone gave me a few books to borrow while I was living in France and this was one of them. It was probably my first crime novel and definitely the first book I’ve read by James Patterson. I was really into Judge and Jury until I reached the ending. I did not like the way Patterson wrapped up everything. It was very anti-climatic.

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The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill

Trouble With Destiny

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens to be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

The Trouble with Destiny by Lauren Morrill
Published December 8, 2015 by Delacorte
Young Adult
Format: e-book from Netgalley for review; 272 pages
Also By This Author: Meant to BeBeing Sloane Jacobs
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts:

If you’re a frequent visitor to my blog, and especially if you’ve read more than one of my Top Ten Tuesday posts, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Lauren Morrill. Her freshman book Meant to Be is one of my favorite Young Adult novels and I haven’t hesitated to recommend it to several friends.

So I was especially giddy when earlier this year I received a review copy of her newest novel The Trouble with Destiny! I even held on to it until just last month so I could really rave about it before its release date :)

The Trouble with Destiny reminded me so much of myself in high school and in my first years of college. I was a lot like Liza: focused (but not always on the right things), a little boy crazy, and oblivious to a lot of the things going on around me. Reading this book made me laugh (and blush a little) in remembrance of some of the embarrassing things I did years ago.

I adore Lauren Morrill’s writing style. It’s funny but heartfelt at the same time. My two favorite things about The Trouble With Destiny were the communication mishaps and the friendships. The whole “not everything is as it seems” motif that Morrill uses often in her books is the reason she’s one of my favorite YA authors. I always want to reread her books right away to see how things really happened instead of how the main character perceived them. Also, if you’re looking for a book that values friendship over everything else, this one’s for you!

Read This Book If…

…you were a geek in high school (Liza’s a band geek, but I feel like all geeks could relate).
…you love stories where miscommunication plays a major (and funny) role.
…you want a book that will make you forget it’s currently winter (summer cruise ship? Yes, please!).
…you enjoy books that remind you of the fun (and lightly embarrassing) parts of high school.

“And after a week of false starts, miscommunications, and misdirected emotions, falling into a pool should be right up there in things that have gone wrong. But it’s perfect.”

Final Musings:

The Trouble With Destiny is a fun read that will bring out the band geek in all of us. It reminded me so much of my high school clubs and sports teams and the fun (and sometimes embarrassing) times I had with them. Also, there’s a sweet romance that’s cute but doesn’t overshadow the deeper themes about friendship and finding yourself. Definitely pick up this book for yourself or your best friend :)

November Highlights!

I cannot believe it’s already December. Back when I was pregnant I felt like the year was dragging on but now I’m feeling like I just wrote my post about October and now the year is a few short weeks from being over. Thinking back to where I was a year ago, I can’t believe so much has happened in just twelve months!

November was my first full month as a new mom. It’s been hard. Babies are a lot of work, in case no one has ever told you. Even if you have been told before, you won’t believe it until you actually have your own infant attached to you for what feels like every hour of the day. But that’s ok, babies still bring you so much joy even while they’re sucking out all your energy (the sleep deprivation has made me a  little sarcastic lately…).

Anyway: highlights!

I read 5 books (and DNF 1)

Trouble With Destiny openroadsummer Me Before You The Truth About Forever LifeIntended

Most Popular Post:

October Highlights
Ever After’s Château de Hautefort (I can’t wait to go back one day!)

What I Watched:

BrooklynNineNine

Yeah, we binged watch this whole show between the last week of October and the end of November. After all the stress from having a baby and Thanksgiving and family visiting, this was the perfect way to relax and have a few (actually, a lot of) laughs.

Favorite character? Probably Terry, although Boyle is hilarious and I really love Jake, too.

What I Listened To:

James Morrison.jpg

I started listening to a James Morrison station on iTunes Radio last month and it’s pretty much all I listen to nowadays. Probably because his songs are relaxing and they actually went really well with the books I was reading last month.

Highlights:

  • Killian’s 1 Monthiversary! – I can’t believe my little sweet cheeks is already a month old (technically he’s 6 weeks now).
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  • Thanksgiving – We had an interesting Thanksgiving week. Killian was sick and we ended up having to postpone our actual Thanksgiving meal until Saturday. But my parents and both of my siblings were here with us so it was fun having family time :)
  • Reading some quality books – I read some books that made me cry from laughing and others that made me cry so hard it was more like sobbing (I’m looking at you, Me Before You). But I only read one book that I didn’t like, and I didn’t finish it because I just don’t have time for books I’m not into!
  • Decorating for Christmas! – We have to take down our tree before we go to France for 2 weeks (fire hazard), so we were anxious to get it up as soon as we could after Thanksgiving. We finally got to break out the Christmas ornaments we used for our wedding decorations 4 years ago, but most of our ornaments ended up being Hallmark ones that my mom and sister gift us in bulk every year. We love them :)
    You've Got Mail.png

Looking Forward in December:

  • The Broke and Bookish’s Annual Secret Santa Event!! – I’ve purchased just about everything for my Secret Santa, I just need to run to Target and buy some chocolately goodies. I’m really excited to find out who my own Secret Santa is!
  • GOING TO FRANCE FOR CHRISTMAS! – It’s been about 16 months since we left France, and 3 years since we’ve had Christmas in France! Yeah, it’ll be hard flying with a newborn, but the fondue and raclette and family time will be totally worth it. Plus, my sister-in-law just had a baby this week so I have a new niece to meet!
  • Seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 3 years ago we find out that the newest Star Wars movie is being released on our 4th wedding anniversary, so Matt decided a long time ago what we would be doing to celebrate. I’m nervous about having someone watch Killian for those few hours, though. It’s too soon to leave him!

Who else is excited about Star Wars?? I’ve already decided I like Kylo Ren, even though he’s on the Dark Side and we don’t know anything about him. The mystery makes him cooler :)

Top Ten Tuesday: Fellow Bookworms

toptentuesdayI didn’t get to do last week’s Top Ten Tuesday, so I’m doing it today in lieu of this week’s topic (favorite fairy-tales & fairy-tale retellings). This topic is all about book nerd characters.

As always, this meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Fellow Bookworms

Lizzie Bennet Jo March

Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jo March – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Hermione Anne Shirley

Hermione Granger – Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Anne Shirley – Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery

Molly Gibson Catherine Morland

Molly Gibson – Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Catherine Morland – Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

senseandsensibility meanttobe mara dyer To Win Her Heart

Marianne Dashwood – Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Julia Lichtenstein Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Mara Dyer – Mara Dyer series by Michelle Hodkin
Eden Spencer & Levi Grant To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

Who are some of your favorite bookworm characters? 

Top Ten Tuesday: Romance Novels

toptentuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about what we like and dislike in romance novels. I actually wish there was another term for “romance novel,” because it automatically brings to my mind those old Harlequin paperbacks with Fabio-esque characters on the cover. In reality, the romance genre is very wide and varied, and they don’t all feature Fabio.

What I Like in Romance Novels:

  1. Hilarious and often embarrassing situations.
    Yes, I love laughing out loud, but I also love the aftermath of embarrassing situations when characters make amends and you find out how likable they really are :)
    Fiance muchado
  2. Pride-and-Prejudice-types of romances.
    Lizzie and Darcy’s relationship is classic, and I don’t care how often I see it repeated in other romances. If it’s done well, there’s a high probability that I’m going to love it.
    NorthandSouth AoGG
  3. Unrequited love and tragic situations.
    I don’t care how sad these types of books are, I love unrequited love stories (especially if it’s no longer unrequited at the end). I also feel the same way about tragic books, when a fictional couple faces a dramatic conflict and they have to recover from it. I learn a lot of lessons from those types of novels.
    senseandsensibility janeeyre
  4. Letters! (or emails or text messages)
    I think Jane Austen said it best: “Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.”
    attachments meanttobe Persuasion
  5. Character growth.
    I always enjoy a story with deep and well-developed characters. One of my biggest bookish pet peeves is trying to suffer through a novel, especially a romance, when the characters are utterly flat and unmotivated. (these books definitely show great character growth!)
    lastbestkiss sisterhoodeverlasting
  6. Deep themes and serious issues.
    I love books that make me feel those deeper emotions. When it comes to romantic books, I really enjoy the ones that deal with sad, and even dark issues unrelated to the central romance. Also, maybe I just like books that move me to tears because that means it’s some pretty powerful writing.
    secondchancesummer mara dyer Redeeming Love

What I Dislike in Romance Novels:

  1. CHEESINESS.
    I can handle one or two clichés, but a whole book full of them? Not so much.
  2. Explicit descriptions and foul language.
    Nope. I don’t finish any book, from any genre, that is overtly explicit/graphic or that includes too much foul language. Nothing turns me off quicker than seeing a dozen curse words splattered across a single paragraph, especially when they’re the weirdest and rarest ones I’ve ever heard. If an author can put THAT much creativity into which curse words their characters spew, surely they can come up with some less abusive vocabulary? (ok, rant is over–see, I told you it bothers me!)
  3. Unrealistic characters, plot lines, or dialogue.
    If it’s unbelievable, it’ll be unenjoyable for me too.
  4. Characters who are obsessed with their significant others.
    I’m talking New Moon Edward and Bella obsessed. I don’t want to read books where characters mope around and don’t know how to survive when their significant other leaves them or is gone for one day. It’s pathetic, dangerous, and in the case of Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, just plain creepy.

What’s your favorite romance novel? Do you share any of my pet peeves or favorite motifs when it comes to romances?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite 2014 Reads

toptentuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday, brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish, is all about the best books we read in 2014! I am very happy that my Top Ten is filled with so many classics! It’s not surprising, because I love classics and they usually fill up about half of what I read, but this year I read so many young adult books that I wasn’t able to read as many classics as usual. I guess this just means that I picked a few really good classics ;)

Top Ten Books I Read In 2014

robinhood secondchancesummer muchado sisterhoodeverlasting littlewomen

10. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle: Robin Hood, my love <3 Your tricks and mischievous ways never fail to entertain me :)
9. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson: This book made me bawl like a baby, and only the best books can make me do that. This was the third Morgan Matson book I read, and before that I was already convinced that I’d preorder her future books because they’re that good.
8. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare: Usually I prefer Shakespearean tragedies, but Much Ado was so funny and suspenseful that I found myself really enjoying it despite its “shallowness.” The recent film version is great as well.
7. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares: I just read the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series for the first time this summer, and I loved the four sisters so much! When I went to read this 5th, more adult book, I knew it was going to be a lot different from its predecessors. It’s darker and sadder, but also so much fuller than the other four books. Several chapters made me cry, but not just out of sadness. There’s one scene in particular involving my two favorite characters that is giving me butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it <3
6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: The beloved March family! I so wish I had read this book as a young adult. It would have gone well with Anne of Green Gables, but in any case I loved it so much when I read it earlier this year. And of course, the Winona Rider/Christian Bale movie is spot-on. I could watch that all day, AND it’s a Christmas movie so that means I will be watching it soon!

 

tokillamockingbird sinceyouvebeengone meanttobe NorthandSouth attachments

 

5. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee: This is one of those classics that is usually assigned in school, but it wasn’t for me, and after reading it I totally wish it had been! But maybe not, actually, because there’s always that dreaded assigned reading curse that can destroy books for us =P It doesn’t matter what age you are, this book will touch your heart.
4. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson: This book is perfect for summer reading. It made my heart smile with giddy happiness and it’s a Morgan Matson book so obviously it’s amazing.
3. Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill: This book was so cute! I seriously could not put it down. I love books that mix in multiple communications platforms, and this one deals a lot with texting mishaps. Plus, if you love travelling, especially to the UK, you’ll love this one. The whole book takes place in London and Lauren Morrill makes you feel like you’re actually there. I’ve been dying to see all the places that were mentioned in the book ever since I read it.
2. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell: I just finished this book a few days ago and I am still on the book hangover. Some people might think it’s weird to rave about a book that’s been around for over 150 years, but right now all I want to do is rave about North and South. The last time I felt like this was when I read Jane Eyre for the first time last September. My best friends can attest to it, I talked their heads off about that book (but I even converted my BFF into liking it after she HATED the movie!).
1. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: This has been my favorite read of the year so far. I’ve talked about it so many times, I don’t know what else to say besides IT’S WONDERFUL!

 

There you have it! That was a lot easier than I thought it would be, actually. I rated all of these books 5/5, and there were around 6 other books I also gave a 5 star rating this year. It’s been a good reading year for me :)

 

What has been your favorite read of the year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite New-To-Me Authors

toptentuesdayToday’s Top Ten Tuesday meme, created by the lovely ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish, is all about authors we read for the first time in 2014! This was actually a fun and easy post for me since I read a whole bunch of “new to me” authors this year, and I got to meet some of them too! :)

Top Ten “New To Me” Authors in 2014

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Meeting Rainbow Rowell at YALL Fest was DEFINITELY one of my highlights from 2014!!

Rainbow Rowell – By far my favorite author of the year. I read Attachments back in January after seeing so many recommendations from fellow bloggers. I LOVED IT. I know it came out a few years ago, but I talked about that book to all of my friends because it was so wonderful. Since then I’ve read Fangirl and Landline, and I’ve decided that I prefer Rainbow Rowell’s adult fiction to her YA fiction, but I’m still waiting to read Eleanor & Park :)
Veronica Roth – This year I also read the Divergent series. It wasn’t my favorite series, but I did like the world Veronica Roth created (and I really liked the first movie!).
Lauren Morrill – My second favorite author I discovered this year! She wrote Meant to Be and Being Sloane Jacobs and if I could give her an award it would be for prettiest book covers one & two.
Ann Brashares – This year I read the entire Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, and I especially loved the most recent 5th book. When I met Ann Brashares at YALL Fest (and totally fangirled), I got to chat with her a bit about it and she was really happy to know that I enjoyed the last book since so many people don’t want to read it because it’s sad. I had her sign a copy of her new book, The Here and Now (which also has a gorgeous cover), and I’m excited to read it soon!
Louisa May Alcott – I still don’t know why I waited so long to read Little Women, but I’m so glad I finally did this year! I’m looking forward to reading Alcott’s other novels as well.
Morgan Matson – After hearing so many good things about Since You’ve Been Gone, my book club voted to read this earlier this summer and we all fell in love! Since then I’ve read all of Matson’s other novels, I’ve laughed & cried, and now I can’t wait for her to publish more!
Jennifer E. Smith – It is very rare for me to read a book by an author, not really like it, and then decide to give out a second chance and read another of his/her novels. I’m glad I did this with Jennifer E. Smith. I read The Geography of You and Me a few months ago and felt “Ehh” about it. But then I checked out This Is What Happy Looks Like on audiobook and I actually rather enjoyed it. I think I’ll give The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight a chance next.
Cindi Madsen – I won a copy of Madsen’s Falling For Her Fiancé a couple of months ago and adored it! I speed read it and then bought the two sequels and finished them in roughly two days. If you like clean, funny, romances, Cindi Madsen writes some pretty great ones :)
Harper Lee – I was never assigned to read To Kill A Mockingbird, but maybe that’s a good thing, because when I finally felt like reading it this year, I loved it. I wrote all about my feelings on the novel here.
Huntley Fitzpatrick – I had been eyeing My Life Next Door for months and maybe it was delayed gratification, but I loved that book so much more than I thought I would. It’s definitely not all that it seems; it’s better :)

What are some authors you read for the first time this year? I’d love some recommendations!