The Courtship Book Tag


stolen from The Lonely Book Lover!

Phase 1 – Initial Attraction: A book that you bought because of the cover

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And I loved it.

Phase 2 – First Impressions: A book that you got because of the summary

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I loved, loved this book. Here’s the summary:

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

Phase 3 – Sweet Talk: A book with great writing

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There’s a reason why The Great Gatsby is a classic. I never quite found another book like it.

Phase 4 – First Date: A first book of a series which made you want to pursue the rest of the series

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Phase 5 – Late night phone calls: A book that kept you up all night long

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Phase 6 – Always on my mind: A book that you could not stop thinking about

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Phase 7 – Getting Physical: A book in which you love the way it feels

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I love books with two covers–you lift the first with the pumpkin, and inside see the full illustration of Cinderella and the Prince.

Phase 8 – Meeting the Parents: A book in which you would recommend to your friends and family

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The book is creepy, but we are a family that grew up on ghost stories. :)

Phase 9 – Thinking about the future: A book or series that you know you’ll re-read many times in the future

The Harry Potter books are never going to get old.

Phase 10 – Share the love!!! Who would you like to tag?

I stole this tag, so anyone may do it, honestly. But I’m interested in what y’all have to say, Adriana, Brett, Heather and Alex!

Review: The Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows


Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

find on Goodreads

The Orphan Queen is an intense book, driven with action from the first chapter. We follow Princess Wilhelmina as she embarks on a quest to retake her throne and avenge the deaths of her parents. On the way she struggles with personal haunts, making it difficult to get the job done cleanly.

It’s one of those books where I prefer the villains or shadier characters. Though Wil has good intentions, I feel she kept acting too fast. She’s brave and caring, but impulsive as well, which tended to make things precarious.

I enjoyed reading her tentative friendship with the vigilante Black Knife. Moments spent with him brought out a new side of Wilhelmina, where she had a mystery before her eyes that no one could solve for her. She’d found an equal who could counter her in battle, and no matter what, he wouldn’t reveal his name. For once, someone was just as secretive as her.

It’s a great fantasy novel, though the ending left me bristling (I can’t spoil why!) I’m eager for the next book. The Orphan Queen is set in a restless world, giving Wil a ton of responsibility for its fate; I’m interested in seeing how she’ll manage her responsibilities in harsher circumstances. I hope she can save her people and achieve victory!

Review: Every Last Promise by Kristin Halbrook


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Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Gayle Forman, Every Last Promise is a provocative and emotional novel about a girl who must decide between keeping quiet and speaking up after witnessing a classmate’s sexual assault.

Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn’t supposed to. But she hasn’t told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night—about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.

Now Kayla’s coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything—and everyone—she ever cared about.

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I can’t remember the last time a book left me reeling like this one.

Every Last Promise is haunting and beautiful. I felt for the main character, Kayla; she carries a heavy secret on her shoulders, living in fear because of it. She was the driver in an accident where one boy died and the other survived…but that’s not the whole story.

The boy who survived recovered from his injuries, and yet there’s still someone hurting. Will Kayla be brave enough to step up and help the other person involved?

Reading the novel, I sometimes wanted to be mad at Kayla for how she handled things–until I remembered how her “friends” treated her when she returned home.

Living in a small town meant doing the right thing would drop a bomb on everyone. I really felt for Kayla, seeing the shame and abuse she endured for a great deal of the novel.

I absolutely loved Every Last Promise. A fast read with a great hook, its chapters switch in time from Spring–before the accident–to Autumn, when Kayla returns from Kansas City. I liked how the chapters took readers back and forth.

This book reminded me of the dangers that come with power–and what powerful people will do to keep their reputation clean, no matter what. It also illustrated fear, how it can be strong enough to make a person walk away from friends or lie because they don’t want to be alone.

This book was spectacular. Give it a read.

Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa


This series is fascinating. The characters and concepts surprise me every time I visit.

With a writing style that draws me in, I’m off on an adventure to a place with beautiful things–magical creatures, dragons, beautiful courts, and people who hold to promises no matter what.

Don’t make a promise in the land of faery unless you really know what you’re doing. These creatures may be unpredictable and wild, but promises are kept.

This honesty gave them an odd, pleasant quality–I can’t describe it–like, expect them to eat you. Expect them to turn you in to their king or queen with a broad smile. But also, expect them to do what they say they will.

The creatures, characters, places here are wild–but this honest quality gives them something I can respect, compared to other books where they just do what they want.

Meghan Chase is looking for her little brother, Ethan, who’s been replaced with a changeling. Finding him isn’t going to be easy, and on her way to Ethan, she finds herself in new messes and battling new obstacles. Her best friend is a faery, and there’s a talking cat named Grimalkin who doesn’t tire of reminding her that she’s human and he is a cat.

Grim is an interesting character. I liked him most! The talking cat who’s shamelessly more intelligent is a nice change, an original character that someone needed to come up with.

This was my second read of The Iron King. I will never tire of this world and the people we encounter.

It’s definitely one of my favorite Young Adult series, funny and creative and engrossing. Give it a try–meet characters who will stick with you for a very long time.

I can’t wait to get to Book 2–my heart’s still in the Nevernever.

Find The Iron King on Goodreads!

PARIS by Edward Rutherfurd


This book was 800 pages long.

It had been years since I even tried to read something so big. Even better, it covered different periods of time in Paris, following the same families and places. It is fantastic and completely swallowed me up.

My mind is blown–how does one become patient enough to write something like this? How long does the project take, from research to revising? A writer lives in the world they create, so Edward Rutherfurd has definitely spent a long time immersed in Paris.

The most exciting part of the book, in my opinion, was the beginning–where he covers Paris at the time the Eiffel Tower was being constructed.

Gustave Eiffel is a character in this novel, and so bold! He is not loved by everybody, but they all know his name. Everyone knows he’s going to build a tower many consider ugly. Very few believe in it, and there were repeated attempts to bring it down after it was completed. Now it's iconic–irony, right?

There is some adult content you could skim over, and language to make it gritty.

As a whole the book is powerful and I miss it already. If you want a read that'll cover your entire summer, I highly suggest this book. I've really got to find his other work…

Find it on Goodreads!

 

Paper Towns by John Green


Spoiler Alert!

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When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.

I started Paper Towns on the plane to Vegas and finished it on the way back.

The book has such an undertone of melancholy to it. Even in humorous scenes, like when Ben is doing something crazy, we can feel that the author has an ache in his heart. Something’s missing in the character’s life and we, the readers, feel it as well: The void Margo left. We don’t care about the other kids having a good prom; we don’t care about anything except solving this mystery because we feel Q’s emptiness if he doesn’t. The main character is so real that we feel his pain.

When Q starts finding clues Margo left behind—or at least, we presume it was her—we go with him on a thrilling, heartbreaking journey. I watched Q crack the codes she left, discovering new leads. He’s in love with this girl and wants to find her, even if he doesn’t find her alive.

It’s not a happy kind of love: It’s a quiet, powerful, broken love. Margo fascinates him because she goes out of the box to live her life in ways he’d be scared to do himself. The first nine chapters made me smile because she has a whole plan to wreak havoc on town, and though he sometimes tries halfheartedly to talk her into sense, Q enjoys every bit of her craziness. He thinks it’s beautiful, and this is what causes him to fall in love—becoming one of the only kids in school obsessively searching when she vanishes.

I loved the book, but towards the end I did not like Margo. Compared to the first chapters detailing the adventure they had, Margo later on seems tired and out of character. Like Q’s other friends, I question if it was worth all the trouble they went through to find her. Perhaps for Q it was, since love is love, but she took the whole thing so calmly–as if she didn’t expect anyone to follow her, an unfair reaction. The ending in general didn’t satisfy me, but as a whole I would read this book again.

Note: If crude language bothers you, there’s quite a bit of it here, but all in character.

It was my first John Green novel, and I see why people enjoy his writing. It isn’t super complex, yet has a depth characteristic to him only. Soon I’ll get around to reading The Fault in our Stars. I’ve avoided that book for long enough!

THE GODDESS TEST by Aimee Carter


*SPOILER WARNING.

So there are a lot of ‘fresh takes’ on Greek myths. I like Cassandra Clare but she wouldn’t be the first author I like to promote a fictional book about Greek mythology that’s just way overrated. I didn’t really expect much when I bought this book, but I was giving it a shot. Hopefully, some good books had been published since I was last an avid reader–and, thank goodness, this time I lucked out. The Goddess Test was an enjoyable read and really helped bring me back into happy reader mindset. I’d been writing for so long that I forgot what a good book was like.

Granted it took me a few weeks to go past the first chapter, though I blame this on the simple fact that I wasn’t that good at being a reader when I picked it up. That, and the prologue was a little hard to grasp; it wasn’t confusing persay but the characters were very difficult to relate to. I couldn’t picture them or what was going on. Maybe it’ll be different when I go back to read it again, but it did take me quite a while to make it past the prologue. Once I actually did I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I liked the main character. She isn’t a crybaby and she isn’t a damsel in distress. She’s just a normal girl pulled into a weird story. I think she might have believed everything a little too fast, but that’s just my opinion, I’m used to writing long and heavily detailed stories after all. Maybe it was longer as a first draft but to get published they made the author speed it up? Anyway, overlooking that she believed a little quickly for my taste, the rest of her was believable–right down to her emotions. Aimee Carter nailed it with this character, I liked her immediately.

Henry is sweet at times but I think it might be the way he speaks, a little bit forced, that made it difficult for me to visualize him. He is a powerful character and I like him, but I think he is ironically the rustiest character in the book, description-wise. There’s just something forced about him, though once again, it might get better when I read it a second time. It’s really no big deal and doesn’t take much from the story.

The romance isn’t too cheesy, nor is it dirty–when they do slip once, I appreciated that the author didn’t make it look like a good thing. No, slipping into the sin of lust was a very bad thing here, and it almost had grave consequences. Also it wasn’t really their faults either, but I won’t get into a deep discussion of what happened. Just know that it isn’t described, you don’t have to worry about your eyes falling out or even having to skip a page. I love the author forever for this and if she lets me down regarding this in the next books…I might burn them… It’s just refreshing to be able to dream without closing your eyes! Aimee Carter, don’t ruin this!

The world building and storyline was amazing. I like how she described locations. Even if I occasionally had trouble picturing a character, I never struggled with a scene. Great detail was put into location! The escapist in me approves. You can bet that I look forward to buying and reading the next books. I hope they live up to this one, it would be difficult but if they do, I have a new favorite author! Definitely give this book a try, it is worth your time!

A Disgruntled Englishman on Biscuit Dunking


Right, ok, I’ve told you how to make the perfect brew, here, so it is only proper that you are taught the correct accompaniment to this magic potion, the dunked biscuit.

Before we begin you are now English, it is a biscuit, not a “cookie”.

Right onto business. Get your cuppa (If you haven’t got one, why did you read this far?). Ok now for the biscuit – the perfect dunking biscuit is the rich tea biscuit (this also happens to be another miracle thing, as with the tea, but that is a lesson for another time) after that it is the chocolate digestive biscuit, luckily they dunk very similarly, so get one or the other.

Now take the biscuit and see if it will fit into your cup, I doubt it will. If I am correct then snap the biscuit in half, actually, just snap the biscuit in half either way, gives you more dunks.

Right, now the really important part. Time to dunk the biscuit. Take the edge of the biscuit (one of the corners where you snapped) between your thumb and forefinger and dunk it into your tea, you should hold it in for about 3 or 5 seconds, then gently pull it out. If you don’t leave it in long enough the biscuit will still be crunchy on the inside, if you leave it in too long it falls into your brew and you have to fish it out with a spoon while shouting “Mum me biscuit’s fallen in me brew” (Peter Kay reference, well done if you spotted it).

Finally place in mouth and enjoy.

Repeat with as many biscuits as wanted, drink the brew and become English.

By appointment of Their Regular Noones,
The Lonely Recluse.

P.S. This is a totally tongue in cheek post, Mariella had no control over me, except to ask that I wrote something. All insult is totally your fault for not having a sense of humour good enough to take it, but if complaints wish to be made, you may make them to me here. I repeat, Mariella is not to blame for my sense of humour, or your lack of one.

Boring Legal Bit:
Their Regular Noones (TRNs) had no real input and infact did not appoint The Lonely Recluse as anything, especially not The Even Lower Biscuit Dunker, in fact TRNs do not exist and there is no such role as The Even Lower Biscuit Dunker.

PARIS, MY SWEET by Amy Thomas


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Complete with a cover that’s pure eye candy (I must admit that the cover is why I first bought it,) this little memoir is vivid. Amy Thomas painted the city and people in it so I could feel a breeze on my face, or smell the Nutella crepe that she described with such enthusiasm.

It also opened my eyes to a truth we often forget: There is such a thing as adventure in the world. Often, you just have to venture far in order to find it–and we like our comfort zones too much. We deny this, and complain later about how our lives are so boring. Stories appear out of nowhere like wisps of smoke (or in this case, the warm steam of perfect hot chocolate,) but you won’t see them unless you’re looking. Give something up, and only then will your heart be light enough to travel.

Amy did, indeed, sacrifice much to go on her adventure to Paris; with all its bubbly cheer, the book tells us she went through nostalgia and loneliness. Missing her family, having very few friends, regret–there’s always going to be that glance over your shoulder, hesitation to close the door behind you. I appreciate the author mentioning these very human emotions, so I could better relate.

Her writing style is conversational and easy to follow, at times resembling a blog post (after all, she is a blogger.) Inserting the words in French here and there gave it just the right dash of color, not so blinding that you could not see, but bold enough that you wanted to look. The cultures and how they differ were painted well, a plus for those of us who have never been there. Certainly, every person’s impression of Paris will be different,. That’s what books are for–to take us there.

There were only a few downsides, and they don’t even really count as such. In the blurbs where Amy recommended restaurants in Paris and New York, I felt a little resentful reading them and knowing I’ll probably never get to visit (the key word here being probably.) Also, the ending was rather abrupt–for some reason, it took me a few seconds to realize I was staring at the last paragraph. Somehow she managed to make the ending not an ending, in a good way–after the initial shock had faded, I realized the last chapter left us on an optimistic high.

I am very pleased with this book, and how she took me with her to Paris, describing her adventure in a very warm and personal manner. It made me excited for life, and hopefully someday I can experience the City of Light as well.

meeting Faith


Yesterday I met Faith, a lovely fellow blogger who has been my pen pal for years. I have a drawer full of snail mail letters, and we’ve known each other for a long time, but even though we live in the same state–we’d never met before!

We went to a Starbucks at the grocery store and talked about things that it usually takes a writer to understand. I think the person at the table next to us was giving us strange looks. Editing was a dominant topic, then bad books and Rick Riordan, and I think we talked about characters cussing and hair dying…it was epic and totally random.

Every time I meet a friend who’s also a writer, I notice how different we are. We see the world in a deeper way; those doors to the unknown? We’ll go to all lengths to open them.

I appreciate my other friends who don’t write as well, but…it’s just different. They wouldn’t care about a lot of this stuff. They’d probably get bored hearing me go into a rant about my novel. Which is okay–when I say rant, I mean it. I can go on and on, then feel bad because I’m doing all the talking and the listener is too nice to admit I’m boring them.

If you can sit down, listen, and actually be interested–then you’re just awesome.

It’s a blessing to be able to meet all these people. I definitely have some of the greatest friends!

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