Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Andi's Favorite Fiction in 2013 (Top Ten Tuesday)


It was a beastly task to pare down this year's fiction reading to 10 favorites. This has truly been a stellar year of reading. I took a page out of River City Reading's book and decided to share snippets from some of my favorite bloggers and their thoughts on my picks this year (whenever they happened to read them). Don't forget to check out their blogs!


The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

If you're one of those people (as I was) who swear they'll never read any science fiction, don't be too quick to dismiss this remarkable book. The writing is both captivating and provocative, not to mention quite funny here and there. I've yet to meet anyone who didn't love it. --Prairie Horizons

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

If you're looking for a book that you can sink your teeth into, a book of epic proportions that will make you laugh and cry, a book that you will continue to carry with you in your heart--I very much recommend A Prayer for Owen Meany. --Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Something about Jordan’s writing, the profundity and cruel sincerity she brings to the story make this novel entirely worthwhile.  No matter how many stories you’ve read concerning the South, this one will find a way to make you see things anew.  --The Blog of Litwits

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Todd and Viola grow and change so much and I love that. I love seeing the ways they react to what’s happening to them, being surprised by how they react to what’s happening to them, cheering them on and hoping for the best. --Capricious Reader

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

This is a must-read book. Not only is Shirley Jackson a literary icon in her own right, but the book is fantastic. Let me repeat that. The book is fantastic. --The Book Wheel

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

There is absolutely no boring chapter in this entire book! I loved it. I let each gorgeous phrase soak in, and though I adored it and wanted to know what happened, I took my sweet time turning the pages. --Chels and a Book

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang

These two feature heartbreaking stories and incredible illustrations. I'm definitely going to read more by Yang...and I can't wait. --The Relentless Reader

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Though at times I struggled to reconcile one Jane with the other each phase lead us to the happy Jane we encounter at the end of Jane Eyre, which makes me love those difficult sections just a little bit more having finished. --Entomology of a Bookworm

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Oh Francie! I love this girl. She loves to read, and it’s her escape from the mean streets of Brooklyn. She loves her father in spite of his alcoholism. She is met with disappointment after disappointment in her life and comes through it all to make a life for herself. I just want to hug her. --Words for Worms

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
His most recent novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, is a slip of a book, barely longer than a novella. But packed within its pages is a story of true monsters. --S. Krishna's Books


STOP THE PRESSES!!! 

Errr, publish button. 

It happened. This fabled situation CAME TRUE! The last book read in 2013 is one of the best and deserves a place on this list. I'm adding it here because I didn't want to redo the graphic up top and switch out The Ask and the Answer for this baby... 



A full review is coming, but in the meantime, Jenny from Reading the End has something to say about Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness.  "Ness basically nails everything. There is not a false note in this whole damn book."

^^^Yep! What she said!





Andi's Favorite Fiction in 2013 (Top Ten Tuesday)


It was a beastly task to pare down this year's fiction reading to 10 favorites. This has truly been a stellar year of reading. I took a page out of River City Reading's book and decided to share snippets from some of my favorite bloggers and their thoughts on my picks this year (whenever they happened to read them). Don't forget to check out their blogs!


The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

If you're one of those people (as I was) who swear they'll never read any science fiction, don't be too quick to dismiss this remarkable book. The writing is both captivating and provocative, not to mention quite funny here and there. I've yet to meet anyone who didn't love it. --Prairie Horizons

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

If you're looking for a book that you can sink your teeth into, a book of epic proportions that will make you laugh and cry, a book that you will continue to carry with you in your heart--I very much recommend A Prayer for Owen Meany. --Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Something about Jordan’s writing, the profundity and cruel sincerity she brings to the story make this novel entirely worthwhile.  No matter how many stories you’ve read concerning the South, this one will find a way to make you see things anew.  --The Blog of Litwits

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Todd and Viola grow and change so much and I love that. I love seeing the ways they react to what’s happening to them, being surprised by how they react to what’s happening to them, cheering them on and hoping for the best. --Capricious Reader

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

This is a must-read book. Not only is Shirley Jackson a literary icon in her own right, but the book is fantastic. Let me repeat that. The book is fantastic. --The Book Wheel

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

There is absolutely no boring chapter in this entire book! I loved it. I let each gorgeous phrase soak in, and though I adored it and wanted to know what happened, I took my sweet time turning the pages. --Chels and a Book

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang

These two feature heartbreaking stories and incredible illustrations. I'm definitely going to read more by Yang...and I can't wait. --The Relentless Reader

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Though at times I struggled to reconcile one Jane with the other each phase lead us to the happy Jane we encounter at the end of Jane Eyre, which makes me love those difficult sections just a little bit more having finished. --Entomology of a Bookworm

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Oh Francie! I love this girl. She loves to read, and it’s her escape from the mean streets of Brooklyn. She loves her father in spite of his alcoholism. She is met with disappointment after disappointment in her life and comes through it all to make a life for herself. I just want to hug her. --Words for Worms

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
His most recent novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, is a slip of a book, barely longer than a novella. But packed within its pages is a story of true monsters. --S. Krishna's Books


STOP THE PRESSES!!! 

Errr, publish button. 

It happened. This fabled situation CAME TRUE! The last book read in 2013 is one of the best and deserves a place on this list. I'm adding it here because I didn't want to redo the graphic up top and switch out The Ask and the Answer for this baby... 



A full review is coming, but in the meantime, Jenny from Reading the End has something to say about Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness.  "Ness basically nails everything. There is not a false note in this whole damn book."

^^^Yep! What she said!





Monday, December 30, 2013

It's Monday! The Reading is GOOD!

Top o'the mornin' to ya! I don't have to go back to work until Thursday, so I'm enjoying this last stretch of lazy days. Greyson came home from Chuck's last night, and we've been relaxing and doing whatever we feel like. For him, that means playing with Christmas toys and PocketGod on my tablet, and for me it means cracking the spine on a few more books before the new year rolls around.


Right now I'm reading Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness. Most likely I will polish it off today. It was really important to me to finish off the Chaos Walking series before year's end because it's one of those series that really deserves to be gobbled up and not stretched out over time and forgotten. 

This will probably be the last book I can squeeze in to 2013, so my first book of 2014 will probably be one of these...


I resolved my little issue of not knowing what to read for Jazz Age January! I have Libba Bray's The Diviners waiting on my Nook along with Bright Young Things by Anna Godberson. I think I'm in the mood to read a book set in the 20s rather than written in the 20s. Right now I'm leaning toward The Diviners, based on the sample I whipped through. I've become interested in books about Spiritualism since I read Affinity, by Sarah Waters, earlier in the year. 

And of course I'll be reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins for the upcoming Wilkie in Winter discussion. I'll shut up about it as soon as it's over. Promise!

There are also several books I have left to review from 2013. 



Stay tuned for my Best of 2013 posts coming later this week! In the meantime, are you cramming in a book or two more before the end of the year? 


Hosted by the illustrious Sheila from BookJourney!






It's Monday! The Reading is GOOD!

Top o'the mornin' to ya! I don't have to go back to work until Thursday, so I'm enjoying this last stretch of lazy days. Greyson came home from Chuck's last night, and we've been relaxing and doing whatever we feel like. For him, that means playing with Christmas toys and PocketGod on my tablet, and for me it means cracking the spine on a few more books before the new year rolls around.


Right now I'm reading Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness. Most likely I will polish it off today. It was really important to me to finish off the Chaos Walking series before year's end because it's one of those series that really deserves to be gobbled up and not stretched out over time and forgotten. 

This will probably be the last book I can squeeze in to 2013, so my first book of 2014 will probably be one of these...


I resolved my little issue of not knowing what to read for Jazz Age January! I have Libba Bray's The Diviners waiting on my Nook along with Bright Young Things by Anna Godberson. I think I'm in the mood to read a book set in the 20s rather than written in the 20s. Right now I'm leaning toward The Diviners, based on the sample I whipped through. I've become interested in books about Spiritualism since I read Affinity, by Sarah Waters, earlier in the year. 

And of course I'll be reading The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins for the upcoming Wilkie in Winter discussion. I'll shut up about it as soon as it's over. Promise!

There are also several books I have left to review from 2013. 



Stay tuned for my Best of 2013 posts coming later this week! In the meantime, are you cramming in a book or two more before the end of the year? 


Hosted by the illustrious Sheila from BookJourney!






Sunday, December 29, 2013

TSS - Current Good Things!

Good morning, friends! There are so many great challenges and events coming up in 2014, I thought I'd take a few minutes to share a few of them with you. I'm still keeping my challenges down to a minimum, but there are a few I just can't resist. 

Vasilly is carrying on with the Chunkster Challenge this year, and there are two major developments: e-books and audiobooks ARE allowed! Woot! 


Here are some of the books on my "potentials" stack. 


Leah from Books Speak Volumes is hosting the irresistible Jazz Age January. I don't have many jazz age books left on my shelves unread, so I'm not sure yet exactly what I'm going to pick up for this one. I thought about Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, but that takes place on the very tail end of what qualifies as "The Jazz Age," so we'll see if I can find something more suitable. 


The Estella Society and Fig and Thistle are discussing The Frozen Deep on January 7! I've already finished it, and it was a quick, fun, melodramatic read. 


Finally, The Estella Society is tweaking #Estellagram for the new year. Instead of daily prompts, come up with as many creative incarnations of the word of the month as you can! And remember to go ahead and tag them #estellagram! In January we're having fun with PAPER!

Are there any other swingin' events that I need to know about? 












TSS - Current Good Things!

Good morning, friends! There are so many great challenges and events coming up in 2014, I thought I'd take a few minutes to share a few of them with you. I'm still keeping my challenges down to a minimum, but there are a few I just can't resist. 

Vasilly is carrying on with the Chunkster Challenge this year, and there are two major developments: e-books and audiobooks ARE allowed! Woot! 


Here are some of the books on my "potentials" stack. 


Leah from Books Speak Volumes is hosting the irresistible Jazz Age January. I don't have many jazz age books left on my shelves unread, so I'm not sure yet exactly what I'm going to pick up for this one. I thought about Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, but that takes place on the very tail end of what qualifies as "The Jazz Age," so we'll see if I can find something more suitable. 


The Estella Society and Fig and Thistle are discussing The Frozen Deep on January 7! I've already finished it, and it was a quick, fun, melodramatic read. 


Finally, The Estella Society is tweaking #Estellagram for the new year. Instead of daily prompts, come up with as many creative incarnations of the word of the month as you can! And remember to go ahead and tag them #estellagram! In January we're having fun with PAPER!

Are there any other swingin' events that I need to know about? 












Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013 Goodies!



It's been a very bookish Christmas, friends! Thanks to my blogging buddies, that is. The fam never really knows what to buy for me by way of books, but you guys really helped make it a bookish Christmas! You can view the video above, or here's a little commentary about the goodies I received!


Heatheroo hooked me UP! A box of goodies arrived today with...
  • Sleep Pale Sister by Joann Harris
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  • Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of my Appetites by Kate Christensen
  • AND a gorgeous gold braided scarf, "You Rock" magnet, and bookmark!
Lydia from The Literary Lollipop also made my season with a box of curated books just for me! She was inspired by Book Riot's Quarterly and Powell's Indispensible. After giving it some thought, she picked three perfect books for me...
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte is totally appropriate since I read Charlotte Bronte earlier in the year. I need some Anne in my life. 
  • Kamouraska by Anne Hebert is a Canadian classic that falls right in line with my wish to read diversely in 2014. 
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion is the only book I've read from this collection, but I'm eager to re-read!
Allison from The Book Wheel participated in a Secret Santa exchange with me and sent not only a copy of The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom, but also three GORGEOUS Penguin postcards!

A buddy of mine from work is a fellow reader, and he treated me to a copy of In the Woods by Tana French

In addition to the books, my family REALLY hooked me up!
  • David upgraded my laptop hardware so it boots up in 42 seconds as opposed to 20 minutes. He also got me two beautiful scarves...one purple and one royal blue. 
  • My mom gave me a humongous bottle of Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau de Fresh perfume, an owl iPhone cover, and an owl statement ring. 
  • Chuck, Michelle, and their family gave me an owl journal, owl clips, and a scarf. And yummy Christmas treats!
And if there's anything else, I am having a brain drain moment and can't remember. Eeek! It's been such a blessed Christmas in so many ways. The gifts are just the cherry on top. :) 

Did you receive any great books this holiday season? 








Christmas 2013 Goodies!



It's been a very bookish Christmas, friends! Thanks to my blogging buddies, that is. The fam never really knows what to buy for me by way of books, but you guys really helped make it a bookish Christmas! You can view the video above, or here's a little commentary about the goodies I received!


Heatheroo hooked me UP! A box of goodies arrived today with...
  • Sleep Pale Sister by Joann Harris
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
  • Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  • Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of my Appetites by Kate Christensen
  • AND a gorgeous gold braided scarf, "You Rock" magnet, and bookmark!
Lydia from The Literary Lollipop also made my season with a box of curated books just for me! She was inspired by Book Riot's Quarterly and Powell's Indispensible. After giving it some thought, she picked three perfect books for me...
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte is totally appropriate since I read Charlotte Bronte earlier in the year. I need some Anne in my life. 
  • Kamouraska by Anne Hebert is a Canadian classic that falls right in line with my wish to read diversely in 2014. 
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion is the only book I've read from this collection, but I'm eager to re-read!
Allison from The Book Wheel participated in a Secret Santa exchange with me and sent not only a copy of The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom, but also three GORGEOUS Penguin postcards!

A buddy of mine from work is a fellow reader, and he treated me to a copy of In the Woods by Tana French

In addition to the books, my family REALLY hooked me up!
  • David upgraded my laptop hardware so it boots up in 42 seconds as opposed to 20 minutes. He also got me two beautiful scarves...one purple and one royal blue. 
  • My mom gave me a humongous bottle of Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau de Fresh perfume, an owl iPhone cover, and an owl statement ring. 
  • Chuck, Michelle, and their family gave me an owl journal, owl clips, and a scarf. And yummy Christmas treats!
And if there's anything else, I am having a brain drain moment and can't remember. Eeek! It's been such a blessed Christmas in so many ways. The gifts are just the cherry on top. :) 

Did you receive any great books this holiday season? 








Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Personally: Many Blessings for Christmas


I was just sitting here scanning back through blog posts, when I stumbled upon this one. This time last year, I was starting my new job as PR Director at my alma mater and coming off of one of the most professionally and personally difficult years of my life. . What a difference time makes, as 2013 proved to be full of profound blessings. 
  • A continually strengthened faith
  • A thriving little boy
  • A wonderful fiance and upcoming marriage
  • A wonderful mom and family
  • A healthy relationship with Greyson's dad, stepmom, and siblings
  • A year of wonderful reading
  • A year of fruitful blogging
  • Plentiful bloggy and #BookTube friendships
I am thankful every day for you and you and you. 


Personally: Many Blessings for Christmas


I was just sitting here scanning back through blog posts, when I stumbled upon this one. This time last year, I was starting my new job as PR Director at my alma mater and coming off of one of the most professionally and personally difficult years of my life. . What a difference time makes, as 2013 proved to be full of profound blessings. 
  • A continually strengthened faith
  • A thriving little boy
  • A wonderful fiance and upcoming marriage
  • A wonderful mom and family
  • A healthy relationship with Greyson's dad, stepmom, and siblings
  • A year of wonderful reading
  • A year of fruitful blogging
  • Plentiful bloggy and #BookTube friendships
I am thankful every day for you and you and you. 


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

A bookish meme from The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a list of books we wouldn't mind Santa bringing! I've been sharing a few of my wishlisty items in recent weeks, but this is the MOTHER LOAD of Christmas wishlisty goodies. The best of the best. The cream of the crop. In absolutely NO order whatsoever. 


Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton is a foodie non-fiction book. Surprise surprise after this list

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang is the only book on this list that I've already read. And it's two books, actually. Clear as mud! I loved it, a lot. I need to own this heartbreaking set about the grey area within revolution and ideologies. 

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown looks super freaking fun. Check out this VERY short Goodreads paragraph: A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship. YES PLEASE. 


Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African American Literary Societies  by Elizabeth McHenry. My brain exploded a little when I saw this one pop up over at A Striped Armchair. I neeeed to know more about this topic, especially since I've been on a kick of reading about the antebellum south and multicultural issues lately. 

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett is the second book in the Tiffany Aching series. I loved The Wee Free Men so much that this one is a no-brainer. 

Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar has been on my radar for a LONG time. This rise in domesticity is especially interesting to me as I used to be totally NOT domestic and now I...am. Curious to know what this book has to offer on the subject.  


Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon because DOWNTON ABBEY! I'm fascinated with English life and big ass estates. So yes! 

We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger's Daughter by Rachael Hanel just sounds amazing. I have a fascination for these niche topics. Especially the slightly morbid ones. 

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane came up on a trusted BookTuber's channel, and it sounds really odd and interesting and dark. Just watch the video to learn more. 


Saga, volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan. I haven't started a new-to-me graphic novel series in ages, but this one might be the ticket. A sf drama, this was another BookTube recommendation

What books are you jonesing for? 




Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

A bookish meme from The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a list of books we wouldn't mind Santa bringing! I've been sharing a few of my wishlisty items in recent weeks, but this is the MOTHER LOAD of Christmas wishlisty goodies. The best of the best. The cream of the crop. In absolutely NO order whatsoever. 


Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton is a foodie non-fiction book. Surprise surprise after this list

Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang is the only book on this list that I've already read. And it's two books, actually. Clear as mud! I loved it, a lot. I need to own this heartbreaking set about the grey area within revolution and ideologies. 

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown looks super freaking fun. Check out this VERY short Goodreads paragraph: A gripping adventure, a seaborne romance, and a twist on the tale of Scheherazade—with the best food ever served aboard a pirate’s ship. YES PLEASE. 


Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African American Literary Societies  by Elizabeth McHenry. My brain exploded a little when I saw this one pop up over at A Striped Armchair. I neeeed to know more about this topic, especially since I've been on a kick of reading about the antebellum south and multicultural issues lately. 

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett is the second book in the Tiffany Aching series. I loved The Wee Free Men so much that this one is a no-brainer. 

Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar has been on my radar for a LONG time. This rise in domesticity is especially interesting to me as I used to be totally NOT domestic and now I...am. Curious to know what this book has to offer on the subject.  


Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon because DOWNTON ABBEY! I'm fascinated with English life and big ass estates. So yes! 

We'll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger's Daughter by Rachael Hanel just sounds amazing. I have a fascination for these niche topics. Especially the slightly morbid ones. 

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane came up on a trusted BookTuber's channel, and it sounds really odd and interesting and dark. Just watch the video to learn more. 


Saga, volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan. I haven't started a new-to-me graphic novel series in ages, but this one might be the ticket. A sf drama, this was another BookTube recommendation

What books are you jonesing for? 




 
Images by Freepik