When TV Takes Over My Life

May 28, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/top ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so it makes perfect sense that I'd love this feature!

This week is a freebie edition, which means I get to list anything I want! While brainstorming what I wanted to write about, I decided to stray from being bookish this week. In addition to loving to read, I also love watching TV. I often get addicted to a show after at least a season or two has already aired and end up binge watching every available episode. And that usually means I have no desire to read or blog (as is the case in my most recent TV addiction). What qualifies the following shows to make my obsession list? I own every season of them on DVD. So, let's proceed:

Top Ten Fourteen TV Show Obsessions

[No Longer Airing]

1. Alias (2001 - 2006) - Agent Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) actually made this show my first and longest-lasting TV show obsession. A friend introduced me to the series while I was in high school, and I believe they were already on the third season at that point in time. I'll tell you what - this show is the ultimate binge-watch because each episode (in the first few seasons) ends on a cliffhanger. You literally can't turn off the TV! And those season finales? HOLY SHOCKERS! I loved so many things about this show - the relationships, the spying, the surprises, the costumes. I think it got a little off track when it focuses on the Rambaldi stuff, but this is still one of my favorites.

2. Felicity (1998 - 2002) - I didn't start watching this show until college, long after it had gone off air. And yes, it's melodramatic and Felicity has her batshit crazy moments. Despite it all, I still loved sitting down and popping in a disc of this show. I was 100% Team Ben! In some ways, Felicity prepared me for love triangles because this show definitely loved the good tug-of-war between these two leading men. I think part of my love for this show was because I watched Felicity go through college while I was in college. Not because we had similar experiences - just because it adds a touch of nostalgia when I rewatch it now.

3. Friends (1994 - 2004) - You're going to judge me when I tell you that I didn't watch Friends until a few years ago. I never watched it while it was on TV because it ended the year I started high school (and I'm pretty sure I and/or my parents considered it too adult at the time). Of course, reruns still played all the time on TV, but I never managed to catch that many until college. After realizing that I was always watching reruns, I scored all 10 seasons for a great deal on eBay. And then proceeded to spend every single day that summer watching Friends. I honestly can't even begin to tell you how much I love this show, so I won't even try. It's definitely a show I return to again and again! 

4. Friday Night Lights (2006 - 2011) - Twitter and the book blogging world convinced me to watch this amazingness. After a few trial episodes, I went all in and bought the complete series DVD set. And boy was it worth it! The characters really and truly are the heart of this show - you'll root for them, laugh with/at them, cry with them, shake your fist at them! I don't like football, so I thought there was no way I'd like a show about football. Let me just tell you, it's so much more than that. Football is just the backdrop - the characters are what take center stage! (PS - Tim Riggins, I love you.)

5. Gilmore Girls (2000 - 2007) - Good ole Stars Hollow! I remember a friend in middle school telling me about this show, but I was so not interested at the time. Fast forward a few years, and I was buying/asking for these every chance I got. From the amazing mother/daughter relationship to the crazy townies, Stars Hollow has perfected the art of zany characters. Throw in a bazillion pop culture references and lots of fast talking, and you've got yourself a winner. This show just had so much heart!

6. Gossip Girl (2007 - 2012) - This show started right when I was beginning college, and I remember thinking it seemed so scandalous. While it's the most completely unbelievable world, I still couldn't help getting addicted. The clothes, the drama, the gossip... I loved tuning in each week and did NOT want to miss it! I was so sad when it went downhill at the end, but I still loyally tuned in and stuck it out. I had to see how it all ended. Now that it's over, I still watch it now and again to see my favorite Upper East Siders making mostly dumb decisions. I just can't help myself!

7. The O.C. (2003 - 2007) - This was on while I was in high school, but I didn't watch it then. This was another binge watch for me while I was in college! I borrowed the first season from a friend, and then I was hooked. I actually remember watching it on my laptop during my Statistics class. Sorry I'm not sorry. Like Gossip Girl, it definitely floundered a bit at times but there was still so much awesome in there, too. Namely, Seth + Summer.

8. Veronica Mars (2004 - 2007) - This was another show that I watched because of Twitter and book bloggers. They've clearly never steered me wrong! Like a modern Nancy Drew (but darker, smarter and funnier), Veronica Mars was such a joy to watch. Is there anything better than a teenage sleuth? The final episode was a heartbreaker - so many loose ends and unresolved feelings. That's why I'm so pumped about the upcoming movie. Gotta love the power of the Internet + fandoms!

[Currently On Air]

9. Downton Abbey (2010 - Present) - I remember tuning in to PBS for this first episode of this show and making it about 30 or 40 minutes before I just changed the channel. I love a good costume drama (see also my love for historical fiction), but this one just wasn't holding my attention at first. After the first season ended, I started hearing about this show everywhere I turned. I decided to give it another chance, and now holy cow I love the Granthams! I just there were more episodes each season and that Julian Fellowes would stop tearing my heart into pieces (aka people would stop wanting off the show).

10. Grey's Anatomy (2005 - Present) - Why yes, I am someone that still watches Grey's Anatomy. And I totally discuss it with my coworkers the next day. As with most of the shows I mentioned, I caught up on this one when I was in the fourth season (I think). And it's been a journey ever since. I just can't stop watching this medical drama! While there have been characters and plotlines I found completely ridiculous, I'm still tuning in every week to see the crazy medical cases and the relationship drama. I can't help it - there are all just so damn good looking.

11. Hart of Dixie (2011 - Present) - I originally tuned in because of Rachel Bilson and almost tuned out because it's quite over-the-top and cheesy at times. I feel like the show is finally hitting it's stride, and I just can't quit it. Does it still have it's eye roll moments? Certainly. But I'm still dying to see what happens in Bluebell each week and who Dr. Hart chooses next season. Clearly I'm a sucker for The CW!

12. Nashville (2012 - Present) - After falling love with Connie Britton on Friday Night Lights, I knew I wanted to give this show a try when I saw all the promos for it last year. I love how music is incorporated into the show each week, and I love all the up-and-coming versus established artist drama between Juliette and Rayna. I really loved the first season, and I can't wait to see where it goes next!

13. New Girl (2011 - Present) - I can't think of another show that makes me laugh as hard as this one. I come into work every Wednesday dying to talk about the funniest moments from the night before! This is one of the only shows (in addition to Nashville) that I've watched from the moment it aired. I love how each character is getting their time on screen, and Jess is no longer the focus of every episode. I think that's made it a stronger show because I look forward to every story since I truly love every character!

14. The Vampire Diaries (2009 - Present) - Finally, we are ending with my most recent TV obsession. I think I started watching this because I noticed it on Netflix Instant and thought, "Well, why not?" My husband was out of town, and I was bored. That's the perfect recipe for a new TV show addiction. I started out completely in love with Stefan - and completely unable to turn off the damn TV. I kept thinking, "Just... one... more..." Well, four seasons later and I'm still hooked. But I've changed sides. Sorry, Damon has won me over and I'm SO PUMPED about next season. I have no idea why I didn't watch sooner, but I know I'll be obsessively watching every week (and mad that I can't binge watch anymore). Waiting a week for a new episode (and a whole summer for the new season) is going to be a killer!

So, now that I've overwhelmed you with my list of favorite TV shows, I'm dying to hear your thoughts! Which shows make your list - and which ones have I left off? Also, comment or tweet me if there's a show I should be watching. I'm clearly all set for a summer binge watch!

Covered Up

May 21, 2013

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

Top Ten Favorite Covers of Books I've Read

New Looks for Old Books

1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Penguin Threads Edition) - I cannot even tell you how much I love this cover in real. It looks like it's embroidered and is amazingly detailed. Do a Google image search to see for yourself!

2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (White's Fine Edition) - While this cover may not look like much here, there's just something I love about it. It looks so lovely in person and on a bookshelf. Just trust me! And it's like fabric/clothbound which is obviously amazing.

3. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Penguin Deluxe Edition) - I have almost all of the Ruben Toledo illustrated Penguin Deluxe Edition classics, but I think this is one is my favorite. It has such an eerie feeling. Plus, I love that it looks classic but also has a modern feel to it.

4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (Vintage Classics Edition) - This cover hasn't been released yet, but I really love it. Something about all the green just makes me so happy and seems so fitting for this book. I can't wait to have a copy for my shelves!

I've Got the (Silvery) Blues

5. Pivot Point by Kasie West - Okay, this is probably not in my top ten favorite covers if I was going to spend more time thinking about this prompt, but it still came to mind when I was compiling my list. Seeing this cover at my library prompted me to snag this book off the shelves - it had such a neat silver look with just a tiny touch of blue.

6. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - I think there are mixed opinions on these covers, but I love them. They are just so eye-catching (pun intended) - I just think they are perfect for the book!

7. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (UK Edition) - I don't own a copy with this cover, but I'm going to. I seriously love the shimmery feathers. Tell me you're not intrigued by the story just looking at this cover!

Perfectly Styled (+ Red)

8. There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones - I love their outfits, the rain boots, standing on the edge of the water... I just think it's styled really well, and it definitely made me want to read the back cover. And then I ended up loving the book so that was an added bonus!

9. The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum - I initially picked this book up at Borders because I saw the cover out of the corner of my eye and had to go check it out. I just love the way she's sitting on the steps, and I really like how the title looks. 

10. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham - For a book where New York is central to the story, I think this cover is perfect. I also really love the colors - and the pop of red from the heroine riding on her bicycle!

Long Books & Blogging Ruts

May 20, 2013

What Katie Does - Etsy Shop
I've always loved the quote above by C.S. Lewis. What reader doesn't share his sentiments? I love settling in on the couch with my blanket and a cup of tea - ready to dive in to the adventure on the pages before me. As for the second part of his statement, I used to agree. Sadly, I think this is one side effect of blogging that isn't what I'd qualify as a positive change.

Jamie at Perpetual Page-Turner has a fantastic new Before & After Blogging feature where she talks about bookish habits that have changed since she's started blogging. I think most readers who now blog can identify with many of the things she'd listed. I've been thinking about a post about this for a bit, and recently saw that she already wrote about this topic for that feature! While I don't necessarily expect to spark a new conversation on this topic, I still wanted to share some of my own thoughts and feelings.

I used to have no second thoughts about picking up a chunky book. None at all! And I since I barely read young adult before blogging, we're talking adult fiction, classics, non-fiction... chunksters that often took even more time to read than a chunky YA book! If I liked the sound of a book and was in the mood for it, I just started reading. It could take me a few days or a few weeks - I really wasn't concerned. But that changed when I started blogging. Setting a Goodreads goal, tracking my reading and having new reviews all became more important than slowing down and picking up a thicker book.

Y'all, this makes me sad! I know that I've let so many books just sit on my shelves that I would probably love if I just gave them a chance to win my heart. I'm a really fast reader, and I can often finish a book in an afternoon. If a long book really grabs my attention, there's still a chance I'll fly through it's pages. But if it's a long book that's also potentially going to be a slower read (like a biography), I'm way less likely to start reading it. And if I do, I'm likely reading a chapter here and there because I'm juggling another shorter/easier/faster book that I'm giving most of my attention.

There can be such a pressure associated with blogging, even though it's usually just the pressure you put on yourself. From trying to read review books in a timely manner to having enough content for blog posts, it's easy to fall into this weird GO GO GO blogging mindset.

I've lately been on a major L.M. Montgomery kick, and I bought what is considered to be the definitive biography of her life. It arrived at my door, and I excitedly tore open the package to discover that the book was almost 700 pages. Cue a wide-eyed stare and the book being shuffled to my shelves. Then, a week ago, I couldn't stop thinking about how much I wanted to read the book. Y'all, that was the only thing that I was interested in!

Instead of just picking it up, I tried to talk myself out of it. I couldn't stop thinking about how long it was going to take to read, how many other books I could read in the meantime, how I might need to pick something fun to read at the same time... You name an excuse, I probably thought it.

I started the book a little over a week ago, and I just finished it this weekend. So, despite its length, it still only took me a week to read. A WEEK!  That's really not that long for a 700-page book, and I loved every minute I spent reading it.

As Jamie has pointed out, blogging really does bring so many changes. Some are good, but others I could do without. And some of those changes are my own fault! Who says I can't read a long book? Who says I can't re-read my favorites? NO ONE! There are no blogging rules, no guidelines to follow, and no reason I can't read what I want.

If you compare blogging to exercising, sometimes I feel like I'm just running on a treadmill. I'm doing the same things, the same way, and often at the same pace. Sure, I might be achieving my goals, but I'm not necessarily loving every minute of it. The only time I've ever enjoyed going to the gym was when I mixed things - maybe lifting some weights, spending some time on the stationary bike, maybe getting on the elliptical if I felt really motivated. So, my goal for blogging is to get off the treadmill. I want to infuse a little more variety in my reading life - whether that means I'm reading longer books or just reading from more genres.

Spending a week reading a book - and a biography at that - has helped me realize just how much blogging has changed my reading habits. Regardless of whether you're a blogger or not, I think everyone can relate to that feeling of being in a little bit of a rut. This is my way of acknowledging it, working through it and hopefully starting to make some behind-the-scenes changes. You might not notice any difference on the blog, but I'm excited about what the future might hold!

Hope for the Future

May 17, 2013

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

Release Date: April 2013 (US)
Publisher: Candlewick press
Pages: 516 pages
Series: The Lumatere Chronicles #3
Source & Format: NetGalley / Bought; Paperback
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
There's a babe in my belly that whispers the valley, Froi. I follow the whispers and come to the road...

Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi must travel through Charyn to search for Quintana, the mother of Charyn's unborn king, and protect her against those who will do anything to gain power. But what happens when loyalty to family and country conflict? When the forces marshalled in Charyn's war gather and threaten to involve the whole of the land, including Lumatere, only Froi can set things right, with the help of those he loves.

Thoughts on Quintana of Charyn
After being somewhat disappointed by Finnikin of the Rock and then enjoying Froi of the Exiles a little more, I was really curious about how I'd feel after reading Quintana of Charyn. Would it make me love the series more or less? In some cases, the final book in a trilogy can make really fall in love with a series. Once I see everything tied together, I sometimes have more positive feelings about previous books (if I hadn't loved them). In other cases, the third book can leave a bad taste in my mouth about the entire series. Thankfully, Quintana of Charyn was BY FAR my favorite book of this trilogy.

There was just so much to love in this final book! Froi of the Exiles ended with so many loose ends. I don't want to call it a cliffhanger ending, but it definitely leaves you wanting to immediately pick up the next book so you can find out what happens next. When I started Quintana of Charyn, I was excited to see how all of the different stories would be resolved since these books involve so many characters.

One of my biggest complaints about the first two books was the romance aspect. I thought the romances in both were underdeveloped and a little lackluster. There was something about them that rang a little hollow - it's like I couldn't understand why the characters liked each other. One of my favorite things about Quintana was the way this element was developed and expanded. The final book delivered exactly what I was looking for from Finnikin and Froi! Although I wanted more information about Trevanion and Beatriss, I did love the developments between some of the other couples in this series.

I thought the pacing and length were perfect. There were several times when I thought the previous books got too bogged down in the fantasy or political elements of the story. What made me love Quintana of Charyn so much was that Marchetta really focused on relationships. The heart of the book was the characters - and that has always been my favorite aspect of her stories. Marchetta can write some incredibly memorable characters, and that was really evident in this conclusion.

There was a lot of darkness and sadness in the first two Lumatere Chronicles books, so I was really surprised by how everything ended with this series. It's definitely got a happier ending than I'd expected! Some may find it a little too perfect, but I loved it nonetheless. I smiled a little as I turned the last page and closed the book. Although we didn't get off to the best start, I really did enjoy the time I spent in Lumatere. Quintana of Charyn was the best kind of farewell.

So Quotable
And through all the misery, she said that some of us in this lifetime experience a moment of beauty beyond reckoning. I asked her what that was, and she said, "If you're one of the lucky ones, you'll know it when you see it. You'll understand why the gods have made you suffer. Because that moment's reward will make your knees weak and everything you've suffered in life will pale in comparison."

Remember the Past

May 16, 2013

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta

Release Date: October 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 593 pages
Series: The Lumatere Chronicles #2
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Blood sings to blood, Froi...
Those born last will make the first...
For Charyn will be barren no more.

Three years after the curse on Lumatere was lifted, Froi has found his home... Or so he believes...

Fiercely loyal to the Queen and Finnikin, Froi has been trained roughly and lovingly by the Guard sworn to protect the royal family, and has learned to control his quick temper. But when he is sent on a secretive mission to the kingdom of Charyn, nothing could have prepared him for what he finds. Here he encounters a damaged people who are not who they seem, and must unravel both the dark bonds of kinship and the mysteries of a half-mad Princess.

And in this barren and mysterious place, he will discover that there is a song sleeping in his blood, and though Froi would rather not, the time has come to listen.

Thoughts on Froi of the Exiles
With Finnikin of the Rock, the prologue really set the tone for the rest of the book. In the same way, the prologue for Froi of the Exiles sets up the conflict and revelations that are to come. Despite being only half a page, I found it so interesting just how much Marchetta packed into those few paragraphs.

Lumatere's curse kept the people trapped inside the city's walls, but the Charynite curse keeps its people from reproducing. While Lumatere had hope that one day their people would be reunited and their kingdom restored, Charyn will cease to exist if they cannot have children.

One of my favorite things about Froi of the Exiles is the way Marchetta takes an extremely flawed and dishonorable character and really transforms him. You could see the seeds of Froi's growth as Finnikin of the Rock went along, but this is the book where you finally get to see him blossom. He has been educated, and he feels true remorse for the mistakes of his past.

When Froi is sent to Charyn to meet the Princess Quintana, he sets himself apart from everyone else just through his interactions with her. He wants to do what's right and to please the people who saw him at his worst and believed in his future. I just loved seeing this new side of him! He stole my heart in a way Finnikin never could - just seeing all the tension warring inside him.

There is such a shift in his attitude. Whereas before he cared only for himself and his own survival, he has now learned to care for others. He legitimately cares for the people who need his protection, for those who have been used and abused. It's interesting to see Marchetta really excel with his characterization and to see the way she redeems him from his past.

We also meet two characters, Lucian and Phaedra, who absolutely became my favorite characters of the entire series. While most of that happened in the last book, I love how Marchetta sets up their relationship and its problems in Froi of the Exiles. It was also nice to see a woman character that was admirable. While Evanjalin and Quintana have positive qualities, there are prickly woman. They lie and manipulate to suit their needs and agendas. So it can sometimes be hard to love them - because everything they do kind of pushes you away (as a reader). With quiet and unassuming Phaedra, you get to see a character come into her own. You see her discover her own strength and courage in a way that made me want to give her standing ovation.

As with Finnikin of the Rock, I felt that the love story in this book was its weakest element. There is just SO MUCH going on that the development of the relationship between Froi and Quinanta was lacking. However, I still enjoyed this book more than Finnikin of the Rock. Despite being longer, I thought it moved quicker and was a more gripping read. I had a hard time actually stopping each week for the read-along - I just wanted to keep going.

If you read Finnikin and loved it, you'll obviously want to come back for more. If you read Finnikin and felt a little blah on continuing this series, I'd absolutely recommend picking up this book and sticking with this series. You can truly begin to see Marchetta hitting her fantasy stride in this book. Even better? Just wait for my thoughts on the conclusion to this series!

So Quotable
"'If we forget who we lost,' Lady Abrian would tell Froi and her children, 'then we forget who we once were, and if we forget who we once where, we lost sight of who we are now.'"

Honor the Living

May 15, 2013

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Release Date: September 2008
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 416 pages
Series: The Lumatere Chronicles #1
Source & Format: Bought; Paperback
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Finnikin of the Rock and his guardian, Sir Topher, have not been home to their beloved Lumatere for ten years. Not since the dark days when the royal family was murdered and the kingdom put under a terrible curse. But then Finnikin is summoned to meet Evanjalin, a young woman with an incredible claim: the heir to the throne of Lumatere, Prince Balthazar, is alive.

Evanjalin is determined to return home and she is the only one who can lead them to the heir. As they journey together, Finnikin is affected by her arrogance... and her hope. He begins to believe he will see his childhood friend, Prince Balthazar, again. And that their cursed people will be able to enter Lumatere and be reunited with those trapped inside. He even believes he will find his imprisoned father.

But Evanjalin is not what she seems. And the truth will test not only Finnikin's faith in her... but in himself.

Thoughts on Finnikin of the Rock
I started Finnikin of the Rock with high expectations. After falling in love with Melina Marchetta's writing style, I was excited that an author I loved had tackled a genre I'm not as familiar with. I'm not a huge fantasy reader, but that's slowly begun to change over the last year or so.

Finnikin of the Rock opens with a prologue that sets up the story as one that is being told "so they will never forget." I really love when books have a recounting the past for future generations vibe. Add to that a group of friends making a pledge to each other, and you'll really get a feel for the tone of the rest of the book from the first few pages.

It took me a while to hit my stride with this book - mostly because there were so many different names and locations. To be honest, it really slowed down my reading at first. There are several maps in the front of this book, and you'll absolutely want to reference them while reading. There's a lot thrown at your very quickly in this book!

Lumatere has suffered a terrible loss - its royal family murdered, its people trapped within its walls and the ones outside the walls forced to roam and settle in refugee camps. What's so interesting about this book is that there are so many important elements that play a role in the story. You've got politics in the interactions between the different countries. There are supernatural elements with the introduction of curses.

But, at its heart, Finnikin of the Rock is about community and identity. It's about honoring the dead AND the living. It's about hope and finding the courage to go on when everything tells you to give up. It's about who you are, how you define yourself and finding the strength within yourself to survive. The story may be fantasy, but it tackles the questions of everyday life. One of my favorite moments in the book was a conversation where the characters discuss measuring loss:
How does one measure it, Finnikin? Does a man who's lost his family to famine suffer less than one who's lost them to an assassin's knife? Is it worse to die of drowning than to be trampled under the feet of others? If you lose your wife in childbirth, is it better than watching her burn at the stake. Death is death and loss is loss."
For some reason, this really struck a chord with me. It's a question and conversation that isn't bound to the fantasy world of Lumatere. It's just a relevant in the real world - in our own attitudes to others - as it is in this story. Grief and pain are universal, and you can't compare and measure one loss to another.

I will be honest, there were things I didn't love about Finnikin of the Rock. From the occasionally  confusing storyline to the lackluster romance, I did not love this one as much as I expected. I didn't really believe in the love story, and I found the main female character incredibly frustrating. However, I still saw Marchetta in every word and on every page. Her characters are difficult, real and raw. This is no glittery world with happy people. It's a place where things have been torn apart and will be slow to heal.

But it's a rewarding story and one that I'm happy to have read with some lovely ladies for the Lumatere Chronicles Read-Along!

So Quotable
"You list the dead. You tell the stories of the past. You write about the catastrophes and massacres. What about the living, Finnikin? Who honors them?"

Why So Serious?

May 14, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/top ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so it makes perfect sense that I'd love this feature!

Okay, so I don't think I really read that many books that deal with tough subjects. And the ones that I have will probably make an appearance on everyone else's list today so.... I decided to mix it up and do something unexpected with this prompt. Hope you enjoy!

Top Ten Books Dealing with Tough Subjects

1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - The Reign of Terror, the threat of the guillotine, political prisoners, that girl will never love you... It doesn't get tougher than that!

2. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy - Lose your virtue, your baby, the man you love... Let's just say that's serious business back in the day. It's a line you aren't supposed to cross, and it's even sadder when it isn't your choice.

3. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - A war, going hungry, no new dresses, can't have the man you want, and your city is burning. In Scarlett's eyes, it doesn't get much worse.

4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith - You're poor and your dad's an alcoholic. But at least you've got your imagination (like that's any consolation)!

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - You thought you found happiness, but what you really found were the skeletons in the closet. Also, your childhood really sucked.

6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott - You cut off your hair for money, your sister burns your manuscript, and everyone knows you end up with the wrong guy. That's rough.

7. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier - You basically live in a haunted house. Woo! It's Halloween every day at Manderly.

8. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - You hate your husband, so you have an affair. And at what point did you think that was going to end well?

9. Persuasion by Jane Austen - You lost your mom, and your dad and one sister don't like you. The other sister is a pain. Oh, you also rejected the only man you ever loved. Regrets? You've got them.

10. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas - Falsely imprisoned and lose everything. So, is anyone really shocked when you come for your revenge?

P.S. I legit like all of these classics - just  in case my descriptions lead you to think otherwise.

April: On My Shelves + Recap

May 2, 2013

Sarah Hearts
Oh, April. For some reason, I just didn't really feel like blogging (or even reading) much this month. I'm finally coming to the realization that I can blog as little or as much as I want. I know it sounds like a given, but it's really easy for me to get caught up in the "I must post every day" frenzy. Yes, sometimes I will have a post for every week day... but not all the time. And sometimes, I may just post once a week. I've decided to fully embrace a more relaxed attitude around here.

One thing I definitely did not take a break from this month? Buying books! I don't know what got into me. Maybe the spring weather got me a little too excited about spending afternoons in the sun with a book in my hand. Either way, I'm so excited to share what was added to my shelves in April!

On My Shelves

Bought on Sale for Kindle: Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler, Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, The Works of L.M. Montgomery by L.M. Montgomery, Clockwork AngelClockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

From First Library Visit: A Brief History of MontmarayThe FitzOsbornes In Exile and The FitzOsbornes At War by Michelle Cooper, Gilt by Katherine Longshore, Bloom by Kelle Hampton

From Second Library Visit: The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma, On Rereading by Patricia Meyer Spacks, One for the Books by Joe Queenan, The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon

"Brand New & Can't Wait to Read" Purchases: Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer, The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn, Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers, L.M. Montgomery: The Gift of Wings by Mary Henley Rubio

"Already Read But Had to Own" Purchases: Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Books I Read

43. Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare
44. Secrets Over Sweet Tea - Denise Hildreth Jones
45. A Noble Groom - Jody Hedlund
46. Bloom - Kelle Hampton
47. The Turncoat - Donna Thorland
48. Anne of Windy Poplars - L.M. Montgomery
49. Anne's House of Dreams - L.M. Montgomery

On The Blog

I reviewed: Bloodlines, The Golden Lily and The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead, Jennifer by Dee Henderson, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund, Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

I confessed: Payday Presents

Good Things Grow

May 1, 2013

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Release Date: April 2011
Publisher: Penguin | Plume
Pages: 323 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Kindle e-book
Amazon Goodreads

Summary (from Amazon)
"Hi, I'm the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . "

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say...?

Thoughts on Attachments
I first heard about Attachments when two smart ladies, Estelle from Rather Be Reading and Elena from Novel Sounds, recommended it to me. When they BOTH told me to read it, I knew that I had to listen up and put this one on my TBR.

As soon as I started reading it, I absolutely couldn't put it down. I was flying through, flipping pages frantically, and alternating between smiling and sighing over it. I cannot begin to tell you how refreshing this book was for me! 

So, here is a list of five reasons you should drop everything and read this book:

1. The Format.
Attachments has a really unique format that alternates from chapter-to-chapter. About half of the chapters are email exchanges between friends, Beth and Jennifer, while they are at work. The other chapters focus on Lincoln, whose job as an "internet security monitor" requires him to read all emails that are flagged due to certain criteria.

I'm going to be honest and say that I typically hate when books have emails or text message conversations included. I think it's because I often feel that it breaks up the flow while I'm reading and they feel like they're just thrown in with no purpose. What I loved about Attachments, however, is that the email concept was central to the story and made sense. I legitimately looked forward to reading Beth and Jennifer's conversations - but I also couldn't wait to spend more time with Lincoln! It wasn't like I preferred one over the other, which was so nice.

2. The Friendship
As I mentioned in the previous bullet point, Jennifer and Beth's emails to each other are a huge part of this story. Because of that, we really get to know them. I was so invested in their friendship! And I absolutely loved the way they joked with each other but were there for each other in the serious moments, too. 

So many books that involve female friendship make me sad because they show the bad side - cattiness, gossip, etc. I just adored how you could just see how much they cared for one another just by reading what they typed back and forth.

Even Lincoln recognized the depth of their friendship:
He may as well admit that, to himself. He was never going to send them a warning. Because he liked them. Because he thought they were nice and smart and funny. Really funny— sometimes they made him laugh out loud at his desk. He liked how they teased each other and looked out for each other. He wished that he had a friend at work he could talk to like that.
Don't we all want to have at least one friend like that? I just loved this aspect of Rowell's book!

3. The Fella.
Here's the thing - Lincoln is a nerd. He's still living at home, and he lets his mom make his lunch. When he's not reading comics or wasting time, he plays Dungeons & Dragons. He had his heart broken by the only girl he ever loved, and it's like he never quite recovered after that. He's stuck in a state of limbo, and just needs that extra push. Lincoln is the heart and soul of Attachments - and it's one I found myself cheering for over and over again!

When he finally starts making progress, he admits to his sister that he's overwhelmed by how far he has left to go. I just loved her advice:
“So, what if, instead of thinking about solving your whole life, you just think about adding additional good things. One at a time. Just let your pile of good things grow.” 
And that's exactly what he does. His pile of good things starts growing, and he absolutely steals your heart in the process. As he starts caring about these girls he's never met, you can't help but sit on the edge of your seat just waiting for what comes next. He may not be your typical swoony romantic lead, but he's the kind that feels things deeply and quietly wins your heart. Just trust me. You want to get to know him.

4. The Funnies.
There were so many moments in this book that had me laughing out loud. While it's certainly a book with heart, it's also got a great sense of humor. To support my case, here is one of my favorite email exchanges from the very beginning of the book.
< < Jennifer to Beth > > It’s here. Return to your usual programming.

< < Beth to Jennifer > > It?
< < Jennifer to Beth > > You know  … it, the thing that tells you you’re not pregnant.
< < Beth to Jennifer > > It? Do you mean your period? Your monthly? Did your aunt Ruby arrive for a five-to seven-day visit? Is it … that time? Why are you talking like you’re in a feminine napkin commercial?
< < Jennifer to Beth > > I’m trying to be more careful. I don’t want to trigger one of those red flags and send some company watchdog computer into a frenzy, just because I sent an e-mail about it.
< < Beth to Jennifer > > I can’t imagine that any of the company’s red-flag words involve menstruation.
< < Jennifer to Beth > > So you’re not worried about it?
< < Beth to Jennifer > > About your period?
< < Jennifer to Beth > > No, about that note we got. The one that warned us not to send personal e-mails. The one that said we could be fired for improper use of our computers.
< < Beth to Jennifer > > Am I worried that the bad guys from Tron are reading our e-mail? Uh, no. All this security stuff isn’t aimed at people like us. They’re trying to catch the pervs. The online porn addicts, the Internet blackjack players, the corporate spies …
< < Jennifer to Beth > > Those are probably all red-flag words. Pervs. Porn. Spies. I bet red flag is a red flag.
< < Beth to Jennifer > > I don’t care if they are reading our mail. Bring it on, Tron! I dare you. Try to take away my freedom of expression. I’m a journalist. A free-speech warrior. I serve in the Army of the First Amendment. I didn’t take this job for the bad money and the regressive health care coverage. I’m here for the truth, the sunshine, the casting open of closed doors!
I know, right? You better be dying to read it now!

5. The Feelings.
Finally, this book has some serious feelings. I don't even want to tell you too much, but I want you to know they exist. Honestly, I was hardcore gripping the edge of my Kindle while reading at one point. I had legit bookish anxiety about the ending - I didn't even know how my nerves were going to take it if certain things didn't happen in the end. I'll say no more. Just read this book!

So Quotable
"There are moments when you can’t believe something wonderful is happening. And there are moments when your entire consciousness is filled with knowing absolutely that something wonderful is happening. Lincoln felt like he’d dunked his head into a sink full of Pop Rocks and turned on the water."
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