August 31, 2015

#ReRead2015 August Recap


I read a little more in August than I did in July, but not much! I did, however, make time to re-read the Throne of Glass series in preparation for the release of Queen of Shadows on September 1. My most exciting update from August was that I met my goal of 36 re-reads in 2015! I have no intention of slowing down, so I'm excited to see where I'll be at the end of the year. I'm glad I made it a priority because it's changed my reading for the better.


August Re-Reads: 3 Books

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

If you're just joining the challenge, feel free to sign up now. 
And add your re-read recap and/or re-read reviews below!


August 28, 2015

“Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination."

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Pages: 214 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles? 

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list). 

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this book featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

Thoughts on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
I believe Modern Mrs. Darcy's review of  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is what first brought the book to my attention. She discusses Kondo's basic approach to tidying, and I was so intrigued. A lot of what I was reading made sense, but I wasn't sold yet. Then, I kept seeing the book everywhere! When Rachel from Hello, Chelly wrote about her experience tidying with Kondo's method, I knew I had to try it for myself.

I like non-fiction, but I don't typically read self-help books. But I do love organization (as you might know if you read my blog), and I'd heard such great things. When I finally picked it up, I was able to finish the book the same day. It's a quick, short read - though you may find yourself referring back to it during the tidying process. After reading the book, I was very motivated to get started! I explained the process to Nick, and he was on board. We're both neat people, and I can honestly say that we didn't think we'd have much to clean out.

Well, we were wrong. While I didn't follow Kondo's method to the letter (more on that in a bit), we still ended up discarding so much. We threw away at least ten trash bags of stuff, took seven moving boxes worth of stuff to Goodwill, and I had two big boxes of clothes to donate to a local organization. It was insane! I thought I'd cleaned out before, but this book made me approach it in a new way.

Here's some of my favorite advice:

"People cannot change their habits without changing their way of thinking."
For Kondo, it's not just about her system of tidying up. She's got rules to follow, of course, but she ultimately wants to change your habits. The ultimate goal isn't just to clean up your house or get rid of stuff. She wants to change the way you think about what you own and what you acquire. I loved this aspect!

"Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved."
I've definitely fallen victim to the idea that more storage leads to better organization. Kondo totally challenges that idea, and I found myself agreeing with her. If you have too much stuff, you won't solve the problem by finding new ways to store it. You're just perpetuating the problem, and your house won't feel any tidier.

"We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of."
This was a very different approach for me! I'm usually going through stuff and trying to decide what to discard. But Kondo wants to make one simple, but meaningful, change: decide what you want to keep. Ask yourself if something sparks joy, if it still has a purpose and if it's something you want to keep in your home.

"Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest."
Kondo tells you to ask "Does this spark joy?" with every item in your home. At first, I thought it sounded cheesy. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the value of the question. If I want to be surrounded by stuff that makes me happy, I have to discard the things that don't. I don't want to keep things "just because."

"The best sequence is this: clothes first, then books, papers, komono (miscellany), and lastly, mementos."
Rather than sort by room, Kondo believes you must sort by category. I've always tidied by room, but now I understand the drawbacks of that method. I loved when Kondo explained when you needed to go through categories in a specific order. I'll explain what I mean with the quote below!

"People have trouble discarding things that they could still use (functional value), that contain helpful information (informational value), and that have sentimental ties (emotional value). When these things are hard to obtain or replace (rarity), they become even harder to part with."
Kondo wants you to start with the easiest category to tidy and then work towards the more difficult categories. For example, clothes are easy because they don't have emotional or informational value, and they aren't hard to obtain or replace. Mementos are the hardest because they're sentimental and rare, so it takes longer to sort.

"To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard the those that have outlived their purpose."
Kondo believes we do a disservice to the things that we love when they're surrounded by things that we no longer need. I knew exactly what she meant! For example, I had a bunch of clothes that had outlived their purpose - and yet I wore those more often than the stuff I loved just because they were there.

"But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future."
This was one of the most memorable parts of the book for me! If something doesn't spark joy, why am I keeping it? Kondo argues that it's out of fear. We're either too attached to the past ("I used to love carrying this purse!") or afraid of the future ("What if I need to use this again one day?"). I don't want to keep things out of fear.

That being said, I didn't follow all of Kondo's advice. There were a number of things that I ignored, such as thanking your items, emptying your purse every day, not keeping anything in the shower, etc. One of the biggest categories where I broke the rules was books. Generally speaking, Kondo doesn't recommend keeping many books because 1) you likely won't re-read and 2) if you haven't read it yet, you won't. There's wisdom in what she says, and I did reduce my TBR using her method, but I didn't completely follow it. Books bring me joy!

There were a few other things I chose to disregard, but I'd still recommend this book. For me, Kondo truly accomplished her purpose. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up made me think differently about the things I own, and I have a feeling it's going to change the way I think about what I acquire. My home makes me so much happier now - it just feels like everything is where it belongs. And I plan to be smarter about what I bring into my home because of it. I want to continue to love the place I live!

So Quotable
"Too many people live surrounded by things they don't need 'just because.'"

August 27, 2015

Lights, Camera, Action!

Bounce by Noelle August

Release Date: August 25, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins | William Morrow
Pages: 304 pages
Source & Format: Publisher; ARC
Series: Boomerang #3
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Playing the occasional club gig just isn’t cutting it for twenty-two-year-old cellist Skyler Canby, who’s trying to support herself and her mother back home in Kentucky. Persuaded by her best friend Beth to accompany her on an audition for the first feature film launched by Blackwood Entertainment, she figures why not? Beth’s a shoe-in for the lead, but maybe Skyler’s newly dyed pink hair will help her stand out enough to score a small speaking part. 

Never in her wildest dreams does Skyler imagine she’ll land the lead role or that she’ll have her shoes knocked off her feet by the kiss her audition partner, Grey Blackwood, plants on her—a kiss that feels very real and not at all “acted. ” 

After throwing a party that causes thousands of dollars of damage to his older brother’s home, reckless musician Grey Blackwood gets roped into working off his debt on the set of his CEO brother’s newest project. Grey spends his days fetching coffee and doing odd jobs around the studio, but he lives for nights when he performs with his band. He knows if he can stay focused, success as a singer is just around the corner. But that’s tough with a distracting pink-haired girl occupying his every waking thought. 

Thoughts on Bounce
Last year, I bought Boomerang on a whim after reading a bunch of positive reviews. Even though I don't read a lot of New Adult, I wanted to give it a try because it was co-written by Veronica Rossi. I trusted that she would write something enjoyable, and I was right! It wasn't a favorite, but I received a copy of Rebound for review not long after finishing and decided to continue the series. While it was the opposite for many readers, I actually liked Rebound even more than the first book. Both were a little predictable, but they were still fun reads. So, when a copy of Bounce showed up at my door, I was excited to find out what would happen next!

I noted this in my review for Boomerang, but reading these books makes me feel like I'm watching a romantic comedy. They're a little predictable, but I still enjoy the experience. I loved that the second book focused on secondary characters from the first book and the fact that this continued in the third book. It's cool to get glimpses of the characters from the previous books - and to see how they're connected! While I have my favorite characters, I think they're all well developed. They have families, friends, past relationships, interests, fears and hopes for their futures. They seem like people I would know in real life!

Bounce focuses on two main characters that I grew to love: Skyler Canby and Grey Blackwood. Skyler is a talent cellist who decides to audition for an upcoming film backed by Blackwood Entertainment. She's trying to support herself and her mother back at home, and any little bit helps. Remember Mia from Boomerang? Skyler is one of her roommates! And Grey is Adam Blackwood's little brother. Adam was the founder of Boomerang and the lead in Rebound, so I was excited to see more of his family. Unlike his older brother, Grey is reckless and a little aimless. He loves his band, but that's about it. After throwing a party that damages brother's home, he ends up helping out on set to settle his debt. And there's where he meets Skyler...

Of all three books in this series, this one was my favorite! With the first two books, I found the conflict annoying at times. But that didn't really happen for me with Bounce. There was still some drama, but it kept me racing through the pages instead of rolling my eyes. I liked that most of the tension came from their family relationships rather than past romantic relationships (as was the case in the first two books). I can't really explain it, but it seemed to lessen the overall angst and made the book more enjoyable for me.

Bounce is still a sexier book than I'd typically pick up, but less so than the previous books. I liked the dynamics between Grey and Skyler, so I ended up being quite invested in their relationship. They just seemed like such a good fit together! Grey is younger than Skyler, and I liked the way the age difference was handled. He has moments of immaturity, especially at the beginning of the book, but I loved seeing Grey's personal growth and attempts to take responsibility for his life. Skyler was such a fun character, and I loved her friendship with Mia and Beth. That was one of my favorite parts of the book!

You don't have to read Boomerang or Rebound before picking up Bounce, but I was glad I did. I liked checking in on characters from the earlier books! But if you were only going to read one book from this series, I'd make it Bounce. It was still a little predictable, but it was just so much fun to read. I couldn't put it down, and it perfectly fit the mood I was in. I wanted something that would make me happy, and this fit the bill! If you're a fan of New Adult, I think you'll find a lot to enjoy in this series. And if you're more like me and hesitant to try the genre, this is a great place to start! It's funny, sweet and has just the right amount of swoon.

So Quotable
"It's not that he makes me strong or whole. It's that with him, I remember how strong and whole I am."
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

August 25, 2015

An Introduction to Jane Austen

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic and invite everyone to share their answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so I obviously love this feature!

Top Ten Books That Would Be On My Syllabus 
If I Taught "Jane Austen 101"

I know it sounds nerdy, but I've always been fond of school. I enjoy learning, and I had fun picking out my classes each semester in college. There were professors who made me love subjects that I'd been ambivalent about before... and the ones who made me hate a subject even more than I already did. But my all-time favorite was a class I took with an excellent professor about a subject that I was so obsessed with: Jane Austen. It was a busy class - we read all six of her novels (and some of her juvenilia), a biography, some Austen retellings and wrote several papers about it all. But I LOVED it! So, I decided to share my version of that class today:

Jane Austen Course Syllabus

Class Information: MWF / 1:00-2:00 p.m. / 305 So Obsessed Hall

Film Screenings: T / 9:00 p.m. / 305 So Obsessed Hall

Course Website: www.soobsessedwith.com

Office Hours: I'm available immediately after class for questions. Additionally, you can chat with me via Twitter (@soobsessedblog) if you'd like to continue our Austen-inspired discussions.

Course Overview:

Unit 1: Selected Works of Jane Austen
We'll start the course by reading a selection of Austen's works so you familiarize yourself with her writing style and subject matter. To see her growth as a writer, we'll begin with her earliest novel - Northanger Abbey - which was published posthumously. My personal favorite, Pride and Prejudice, will be next. And we'll conclude with Persuasion - Austen's last full-length novel and another personal favorite.
Unit 2: Jane Austen's Life and World
Once we've journeyed into Austen's work, it will be time to find out more about her life and the world in which she lived. We'll read a short biography first, and then we'll dive into a book exploring the customs and culture of England during Austen's time. The first book will help you better understand Austen, and the second will help you approach her work with new eyes.
Unit 3: Jane Austen's Influence
There's no denying Austen's fame! We'll explore her influence on one individual through a memoir that celebrates the transformative power of literature, and then we'll expand our view and examine the Jane Austen fandom. What makes Austen so popular today? Let's find out!
Unit 4: A Twist on Austen's Tales
Next, we'll turn our attention to contemporary books that offer a twist on Austen's tale. They take the story that you know (and hopefully love) and present it from a different perspective. In the first, we'll see Pride and Prejudice through Mr. Darcy's eyes. And in the second, we'll visit Longbourn belowstairs.
Unit 5: Modern Austen Retellings
Finally, we'll end with modern Austen retellings. These book look at Austen's plot and/or characters in entirely new ways. The first is a contemporary adult title with a number of subtle nods to Pride and Prjeudice - see how many you can spot! And the second is a futuristic young adult take on Persuasion. We'll have lots to discuss!
Welcome to my class, and please let me know if you have questions.
I'm excited to begin, and I hope you'll love Austen as much as I do!

August 24, 2015

Time Travel To: World War II

"Ordnance Survey One-Inch Map" by bull_de is licensed under CC BY 2.0
I'm really excited about teaming up with Alexa from Alexa Loves Books and Kelly from Belle of the Literati for Time Travel To, a feature celebrating our love of historical fiction! Each post will highlight a historical place, time period or event that we find particularly fascinating. We'll post on the same day, but we'll often be focusing on a different time period. In each post, we'll tell you why we love a time period (Departure), recommend a few books we love (In Transit) and share some from that time period on our TBR (Arrival). Enjoy this first edition!


We're doing something special for today's post and all focusing on World War II. The war was fought from 1939 to 1945, though the tension that led to it started earlier. It involved numerous countries around the world and was characterized by two military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. And I believe it was the deadliest war in history with an estimated 50 million to 85 million fatalities. Here are a few photos from the time period:

Clockwise from Top: 1, 2, 3 and 4
Even as a kid, I was always drawn to books set during this time period. I think non-fiction sparked the interest - reading Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl and Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place is an experience I'll never forget. There were so many lives lost - millions of stories that will never be told and voices that will never be heard. Because the war involved so many countries, I think I'm drawn to how much there is to learn about it. There were so many different experiences during the war, and I've found that reading historical fiction set during this time period helps me understand what led to it, what life was like during it and how people were changed because of it. It's a time when the world saw the both the best and the worst in humanity.



Under a War-Torn Sky by L.M. Elliott - This is one of the earliest World War II books that I remember reading. It's a YA book about a nineteen-year-old American whose plane is shot down above occupied France and attempts to rejoin his unit with help from members of the French Resistance. I loved the action!

Good Night, Maman by Norma Fox Mazer - This is another childhood read! Karin had a happy life in Paris before the Germans overtook her city,   but everything's changed now. She and her brother are sent to America, but they must leave their mother behind. So, Karin writes her letters... I think I loved the emotion of the story.

Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian - I didn't remember that this was set during WWII until I started looking up books for this post, and then I was shocked I'd forgotten it! This story of an elderly man and the young evacuee he houses was one of my favorite books growing up. And I'm pretty sure my mom loved it, too.


Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein - Kelly is writing about Code Name Verity, but I had to write about this one. In some ways, I think this book hit me harder. It's the story of young pilot who is shot down, captured and sent to Ravensbrück, a women's concentration camp. It gutted me, especially knowing these things really happened. 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - If I could only feature one book in today's post, it would be this one. I love everything about this story! It's narrated by Death and tells the story of a German girl who moves in with foster parents during WWII. I've read it three times at this point, and I find more to love with each re-read.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - This was a recent read for me, and I'm so glad I didn't miss out on it! It focuses on two main characters - a blind girl in France and a young German man who joins the Nazis - and it cleverly and expertly weaves their two stories together. The writing was absolutely gorgeous!



Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum - I'm pretty sure I added this book to my TBR after Jamie recommended it. For years, Trudy's mother refused to talk about her life in Germany during WWII. Wanting to know more about her heritage, Trudy starts investigating the past and discovers the heartbreaking truth. It sounds moving!

The Time in Between by María Deuñas - I can't remember where I heard of this book, but I ended up snagging it one day when it was on sale for Kindle. Originally published in Spain, it tells the story of a seamstress who passes information to the British Secret Service during WWII through a code stitched into the hems of her dresses.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - I bought this book when it was released because I loved the cover, and it's past time for me to finally read it. The Nightingale tells the story of two sisters during WWII and is said to focus on women's experience during that time. I've read rave reviews from friends, so I can't wait to read it for myself.

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen - I found this book while researching for this book, and I can't remember whether or not I read it growing up. It seems familiar, but I'm not sure! The main character, Hannah, is mysteriously transported back to 1942 on the night of her family's Passover Seder. It sounds unforgettable.

August 21, 2015

Favorite Factor: August 2015

Cassie and I are still talking about our love for adult fiction, but in a new way! Every other month, we will be sharing four books with you: two recent favorites (and the factors that made us love them) and two upcoming reads (and the factors that have us interested). We hope you'll find the perfect adult fiction for you!
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Release Date: June 2015
Genre: Contemporary
Factor I Loved: Writing + Characters

Reason You Should Read:
I've been raving about this book ever since I read it, and I knew I had to include it as one of my picks today. Backman made me fall in love with his quirky characters, lose myself in his touching story and want to move to his creative world. This was a story about fierce love, family bonds, second chances and the power of stories. I was so emotionally invested in this book, and that's due to Backman's writing and the characters he created. I can't tell you the last time I laughed this hard or got this choked up while reading. Backman wowed me, and I was so glad that I didn't overlook this book. A publicist brought it to my attention, and I've since fallen in love with Backman's debut, too. But this one remains my favorite, so it's the one I'll push on you if you love contemporary fiction. I loved pretty much everything about it!

These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner

Release Date: February 1999
Genre: Historical
Factor I Loved: Characters + Relationships

Reason You Should Read:
These is My Words sat on my shelves for a while before I finally picked it up, but I like to think that I read it at the exact right time. I've loved reading about American history through historical fiction ever since I was a little girl, and this book reminded me why. I felt like I was right beside Sarah Agnes Prine as she faced the harsh frontier and fought back with every ounce of strength inside her. The setting came to life, but that was largely due to the characters inhabiting it. Turner introduced me to a heroine I'll never forget! Sarah's got gumption and grit, and I loved seeing her come into her own in this book. And I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the romance. This couple earned a spot on my list all-time favorites, but you'll have to read it for yourself to see why. If you love historical fiction, character-driven books or epic love stories, pick up this book!
Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier

Release Date: October 2009
Genre: Fantasy
Factor of Interest: Writing

Reasons I Want to Read:
I could say that I'm interested in Heart's Blood for the plot (because that is true), but it's really on my TBR because I love Marillier's writing! Ever since I read her Sevenwaters series (and Wildwood Dancing and Cybele's Secret duology), I've been craving more. And it doesn't hurt that this is a Beauty and the Beast retelling! Fall always feels like a good time to read fantasy, and this is one I'm hoping to read as the weather cools. I want to get lost in gorgeous prose and complex characters, and I know that's what I'll get with Marillier.

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

Release Date: June 2015
Genre: Historical
Factor of Interest: Plot

Reasons I Want to Read:
I loved The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, so I was excited to learn that Barrows had an adult fiction novel of her own coming out. I bought it soon after it released, though I haven't gotten around to read it yet. I'll admit that I was first drawn to the gorgeous cover, but it was the summary that convinced me this book was up my alley. I like stories about small towns and the people who live, work and love there. And if there are family secrets to be uncovered, that's just so much the better. I'm hoping this is a home run for me!

Want more? Check out Cassie's post!

August 19, 2015

"It is hard to see what we are."

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Release Date: July 14, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 278 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch -- "Scout" -- returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past -- a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience. 

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision--a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic. 

Thoughts on Go Set a Watchman
It's been more than a month since Go Set a Watchman was released, and I feel like the online fervor over it has died down. I pre-ordered the book several months ago after debating if I really wanted to read it. I love To Kill a Mockingbird and was thrilled by the idea of more, but I was also troubled by reports that it was being published against Lee's will. And honestly, I truly hope that she wasn't taken advantage of with this release.

By now, you've probably read the complicated reports regarding the history of this book. Based on what I've read in the news, I believe that this manuscript was what Harper Lee first submitted for publication years ago. An astute editor realized that there was more potential in the story, and she helped Lee craft this manuscript into what became To Kill a Mockingbird. Although HarperCollins has marketed this as a "new" novel from Harper Lee, it's not. It's the precursor - the germ of an idea for this place and these people - but certainly not the sequel. The characters in this book became the people we meet in To Kill a Mockingbird, and not the other way around. Atticus didn't grow into the man in Go Set a Watchman - that's where he started and he ultimately became the version readers now know and love.

I say this because I almost canceled my pre-order after reading the first early review of Go Set a Watchman. The claim that Atticus was a racist made me hesitant to read the book. I was afraid it would lessen my love for To Kill a Mockingbird, but I realized I needed to decide for myself. Here's the thing - the two books are intrinsically linked, but I don't think you have to let your feelings for one book influence the other. Before I write anything else about Go Set a Watchman, I want to say that this book didn't change my feelings for To Kill a Mockingbird in the least bit. And honestly, I think it's because of the way I approached this book.

I didn't read it as a sequel, because it's not, or as a first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, because it's not that either. I read it as the place Lee started - and nothing more. It gave me a deeper appreciation for Lee's editor. How incredible that she was able to recognize that there was a stronger story hiding in these pages! And I admire Lee for being able to take that advice and write a true masterpiece. Go Set a Watchman is worth reading to see Lee's growth as a writer and the influence a remarkable editor can have on a story, but I doubt it would have become a classic if it had been published originally instead. It's a weaker plot, and the climax and ending felt a bit unresolved. The characters don't have as much life, but the spark is there.

It's been a month since I read Go Set a Watchman, and I needed that time to sit on my thoughts. My first reaction when I finished it was somewhere between "I'm so glad I read it" and "I wish this had never been published." It was a difficult read, but it was also thought provoking. The tone is angry and bitter, and you can tell that Lee is wrestling with her own complicated feelings. Knowing that this book is semi-autobiographical made me look at it with different eyes. I read it as Lee's attempt to work through her reaction to her family and the South after coming home from New York. I understood how you can look at your hometown and the people in it differently after going away. If you've gone away to college, surely you can relate in some way.

It was hard to read about what was going on in the South in the 1950s, but it would be worse to pretend it didn't happen. One of my favorite quotes in Go Set a Watchman is when Uncle Jack tells Jean Louise, "As sure as time, history is repeating itself, and as sure as man is man, history is the last place he’ll look for his lessons." I was sad reading this book, but it made me think about history and the ways it's being repeated today. I saw and was disappointed by the racism in Atticus (and Jean Louise), but they must also be read in the context of that time. It doesn't excuse it, but it does explain it. And maybe it can help us understand where we are today.

Go Set a Watchman didn't read like a fully fleshed-out story, and I can understand why it wasn't originally published. Lee's writing style is lovely, but there's a lack of finesse and clarity in this story. I'm still not convinced that this should have been published, but I don't regret reading it either. I'd suggest checking it out from the library if you're curious and approaching it as the birthplace of To Kill a Mockingbird - but not its resting place.

So Quotable
"Remember this also: it’s always easy to look back and see what we were, yesterday, ten years ago. It is hard to see what we are. If you can master that trick, you’ll get along."

August 18, 2015

No Matter What, I Want to Read It

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic and invite everyone to share their answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so I obviously love this feature!

Top Ten Auto-Buy Authors

I spent quite a bit of time debating what authors to put on this list. There really aren't that many authors who I would consider auto-buys - and it's a status that can change with just one book. I looked back at my list from 2013 and realized that many of the authors that I considered auto-buys at the time have since lost that status. Whether it's my changing taste or a negative experience with a more recent book, only two from that list appears on my list today. And of those two, I'd say only one is a legitimate "I'll literally buy anything you write" and that's Melina Marchetta. But let's talk about all ten that I currently consider auto-buys!


1. Jane Austen - You might be wondering why Jane Austen made my list, since she's not going to be publishing any more books. But if they published a lost Austen manuscript, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. And I can't deny that I'll buy almost anything associated with her, so that's practically an extension of the auto-buy status.

2. Mindy Kaling - Kaling didn't come to my mind immediately, but I couldn't deny her spot on this list once I thought of her! I adored her first series of essays, and I've already pre-ordered her second book. I love pretty much everything about her, and I seriously wish we were friends. No matter what she writes, I want to read it.

3. Emery Lord - I've fallen in love with Lord's writing during the last two years, and I think she's going a bright future ahead of her. It feels like she writes about people I know (or sometimes wish that I did). I don't just enjoy her books - I relate to them! She writes with such honesty, and I love the emotion in them.

4. Sarah J. Maas - In my review for Heir of Fire, I wrote: "There is a land called Perfection, and Sarah J. Maas is its Queen." And I stand by those words! I'm currently re-reading the Throne of Glass series (in preparation for Queen of Shadows, of course) and am falling more and more in love with Maas' characters and creativity.

5. Melina Marchetta - When I think of auto-buy authors, Melina Marchetta tops my list. I adore her contemporary and fantasy, and I have no doubt that she'd make me fall in love with anything else she wrote. There's meaning and intention behind her every word, and I admire that she writes with so much purpose.


6. Juliet Marillier - I almost didn't include Marillier since I still haven't bought (or read) a number of her books, but I decided it counts because I purchased the majority of her backlist after finishing Daughter of the Forest. I'm slowly working my way through them, but only because I want to savor the experience. It's worth it!

7. Mhairi McFarlane - I read my first McFarlane book last year, but I didn't truly fall in love with her writing until I binge read her other two books a few months ago. They were exactly what I needed in the middle of a reading funk, and I only wish there were more for me to devour. I love her sense of humor!

8. Liza Palmer - Nowhere but Home was my first read from Palmer, and it's remained my favorite. But I've loved everything else I've read by her since - and I know I'll love the two I'm hoarding solely because I hate the idea of having no more books by Liza to look forward to! I can't get enough of her characters and her writing.

9. Stephanie Perkins - Perkins is the second author that's remained an auto-buy since I wrote this list two years ago. She's released one full-length book since (which I loved), as well as a collection of short stories from YA authors (her contribution was my favorite). I don't know what's next for her, but I can't wait to find out!

10. Taylor Jenkins Reid - I'm so glad that Estelle's recommendation led me to this author last year! Her second book, After I Do, is one of my all-time favorite books, and it was the kind of reading experience I'll never forget. But I loved her first release - and her most recent one - too! If only there were more...

Are any of these authors on your auto-buy list?
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