Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish 

March 31st: Ten Books you recently added to your to-be-read list.

I'm going by the last 10 books added to my to-be-read list on GoodReads. Makes everything easier to figure out.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. - Goodreads

Why read it?: Many of those who I follow on GoodReads seem to like it. When I get in the mood for a YA novel I'll probably head for this one. Every once in awhile I get in one of those moods.

That's Not English by Erin Moore: An expat’s witty and insightful exploration of English and American cultural differences through the lens of language that will leave readers gobsmacked. - Amazon books

Why read it?: One of my favorite classes in college was my intro to the English Language class. I love knowing why certain people pronounce certain things and why certain groups of people use certain words the way they do. Considering I'm a self confessed anglophile and I have a love of the origins of my own accent (Appalachian) I look forward to this book.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler: Yes Please, Amy’s hilarious and candid book. A collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haiku from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers, Yes Please offers Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and “the biz,” the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a “face for wigs.” Yes Please is a chock-full of words and wisdom to live by. - Google Books

Why read it?:
I read Tina Fey's "Bossy Pants" and while I typically consider myself more of a Liz Lemon than a Leslie Knope I figure you can't have one without the other. It's about time I read Amy's.

The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz: Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fuk├║—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love. - Amazon books

Why read it?: It feel like this is one of those books you hear about a lot on the first day of English classes when they make everyone name their favorite book and I've never read it so here it is.

The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell: This eighth entry in New York Times bestselling author Bernard Cornwell's epic Saxon Tales series brings to life the harrowing and turbulent tale of a nation torn apart by sectarian and religious strife, a political struggle dominated by dynastic rivalries, and the remarkable strength that elevates some characters above their time. - amazon books

Why read it?: Gonna be honest, saw the cover in B&N and since Game of Thrones is still on hiatus and the new episode of Vikings wasn't on for a few days this got added to the list. George RR Martin praised the battle scenes so that's a bonus in it's favor. This is another that's going to have to wait for a mood shift.

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford: Few aristocratic English families of the twentieth century enjoyed the glamorous notoriety of the infamous Mitford sisters. Nancy Mitford's most famous novel, The Pursuit of Love satirizes British aristocracy in the twenties and thirties through the amorous adventures of the Radletts, an exuberantly unconventional family closely modelled on Mitford's own. - Goodreads

Why read it?: Typically I go for earlier period romance novels, but this has me intrigued. Love me a good satire.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. - Amazon books

Why read it?: I'm suspicious of another post-apocalyptic novel, but this is another one I've seen making the rounds of my goodread friends. Plus, I have a soft spot for post-apocalyptic novels set near where I live.

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi: In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman. Dazzlingly inventive and powerfully moving, Boy, Snow, Bird is an astonishing and enchanting novel. With breathtaking feats of imagination, Helen Oyeyemi confirms her place as one of the most original and dynamic literary voices of our time. - Amazon Books

Why read it?: Ever since "Wicked" I've liked the idea of "Take a fairy tale and twist it" (not to be confused with that mess known as Once Upon a Time). This is getting dangerously too modern for my typical taste but I think I've give it a go all the same.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that amazes and stimulates the crowds. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man photographing moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River. - Google Books

Why read it?: The American Horror Story fan in me is intrigued.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. - Amazon Books

Why read it?: First, that cover is really pretty. Second, I've seen good reviews on it from bookblog friends and it was listed on my library's March Madness tournament.

Any opinions on these, if you've already read them that is. Are any of these just not worth it? Any suggestions based on this that I can add to my growing pile?

Monday, March 30, 2015

How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in ItHow the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It by Arthur Herman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perhaps a better title for the book would have been "How the Scots made the modern world better." As Arthur Herman even notes in the book, a particularly Scottish characteristic was to take something already in existence and make it better.
The book offers an interesting, and often times amusing, insight to the Scottish input to the Enlightenment era through the revolutionary war. However, the more interesting chapters were those not focused on the Enlightenment era. As someone who finds the era particularly repetitive, the breaks into Scottish literature, the impact of Scottish culture in Canada and Australia, or even the Scottish breakthroughs in medicine and science were more interesting than the philosophy lecture in the middle of the book disguised as the eighth chapter. Particularly, I enjoyed the moments of light-heartedness; the scottish poking fun at themselves. Learning about the source of words like "Redneck", how people reacted to the scottish in other lands, or the lawyer who left his position at court very late in life with the words "Fare ye weel, ye bitches" were the gems you looked for and read to find.
I would think it would be interesting for Mr. Herman to reprint the book with an additional chapter on the recent attempt by Scotland to find independence (as it seems the book's concluding chapter was headed in that direction, and in search of some sort of concrete example).
In all, if you're particularly interested in Scottish culture post-1745 the book is rather interesting. (Especially for someone with Scottish heritage, it was interesting to see the first Scots in America.)

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Friday, March 27, 2015

BeowulfBeowulf by Unknown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Of the three different translations I've read of this epic poem (two of which were in school) this was the most easy to read. I wish I had a more academic mind when it came to linguistic work because I would have loved to have read more of Tolkien's commentary at the end, but found it too confusing for myself. The addition of Tolkien's Sellic Spell and two other songs (because what's a work of Tolkien without at least one song) are also entertaining and interesting to see the depth of his interest in the text. For fans of Lord of the Rings there are many lines from these three addition works that could easily be linked to his better known work.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale EndingsPrincesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Incredibly entertaining! For anyone interested in history or just bad ass chicks this book is a fun and easy read. The brilliant narration of the book is just as entertaining as the context Linda Rodriguez McRobbie's prose is like a friend talking to you in a coffee shop about a story she heard. She's sympathetic, logical, with the right amount of sass to point out how most of these women got a bad rap from their husbands (while some did in fact earn it on their own).

While famous "rebel" royals are mentioned like Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth I, the real focus is on lesser known princesses. Perhaps the most famous princess with her own chapter is Lucrezia Borgia (popular only today because of the not historically accurate television show about her family), but many virtually unknown princesses get their time in a spot lot.

With this book now read I plan to seek out further writing on a few of my choice favorites. (And while I borrowed the book from the library, I plan to add it to my personal collection.)

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Current book reading
Reading Quirks 
Reading Preferences 
Top 5 Favorite books 
Top 5 favorite authors 
Favorite childhood book 
First “real” book 
Comfort Book 
Guilty pleasure book 
Book you think is underrated 
Book you think is overrated 
First book that made you cry 
Book that’s been on your to-read list the longest 
Book you have lied about reading 
Book you own with most editions 
Favorite book from last year 
Favorite book based movie 
Book you wish had a movie 
Book you didn’t think you’d like but loved 
Book that let you down 
Book you love that people dislike 
Book you couldn’t finish 
Least favorite tropes 
Favorite title 
Favorite genre 
Favorite spine on the shelf 
Favorite character type 
Keywords that get you hooked 
How your tastes have changed

Considering how long it took me to compose the list and make the banner, who knows how long this will actually take me. I intend to do this in order no matter if there's a few days between each. Please credit if using in it's entirety.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Guynd: A Scottish JournalThe Guynd: A Scottish Journal by Belinda Rathbone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was hesitant in picking up "The Guynd A Scottish Journal" despite a recent infatuation with Scottish history it was not my ideal read by all accounts of what was presented to me. Why would I wish to read an American's perspective? Let alone an American's "Journal". Not to mention it takes place in the 90's and I'd rather read about when the Georgian house, of which the novel gets its name, was originally built. Fortunately, the extent of my library's Scottish section is half a column of shelf space before quickly transitioning to works on Ireland.

The author/narrator is quickly sympathetic to the avid reader. To the women of the church of Jane Austen, the appeal of marrying a man who happens to be a Laird of a large estate in Britain is the thing of daydreams and overly thought out schemes. And just as Elizabeth Bennet could not love Mr. Darcy until arriving at Pemberly, so to is this a tale of a lady and her house.

"The Guynd..." is a Harlequin romance for the logic minded with a heart for British literature. Just as any affair of paperback novels unfolds so to does the relationship between Ms. Rathbone and The Guynd. It would be easy for any avid anglophile to spend a lazy Sunday flipping the pages of this woman's Scottish Fling with the landed class of the lowlands and feel satisfied.

Although the ending does come abruptly, the reason for this can be explained by the secondary relationship of the novel; Ms. Rathbone's marriage to her husband. As their marriage evolves and changes so does her relationship with The Guynd, leading to her revelation at the end of the novel.

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