Must Read Mondays: September 25th

Must Read Monday is a (usually) weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed.


Love, and You by Gretchen Gomez

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When I read it: May 2017

Genres: poetry

Recommended for: People who like poetry (or are looking for collections to find out if they like poetry), anyone whose heart has been broken.

(Reviewed here)

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

 


What it’s about:

one day i met a guy
who stole my heart,
we created a world
for ourselves.
and another day
he broke my heart
and shattered
my soul.

i took the tattered
pieces of this
broken soul and
became anew.

– here lies the hurting, the healing, and the learning


I definitely cried, or at least teared up, a few times when I read this. It was an emotional, sometimes difficult, book to read, but I loved it and I keep recommending it to everyone, so I thought it was time to finally use it as a Must Read Mondays book (the only reason it took so long is because I thought I’d used it already).

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Must Read Mondays: August 28th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


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Garden Spells; links to goodreads

When I read it: July 2014

Genres: magical realism; fantasy; romance

Recommended for: If you liked the movie (or book), Practical Magic, or if you generally enjoy magical realism, check this out.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

 

 


What it’s about:

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.


I adored this book, and I think it was my first Sarah Addison Allen read. I actually put off reading any of her books for a while because they were compared to Practical Magic, which I liked, but didn’t love (I thought the movie was better, I’m sorry). In my opinion, Sarah Addison Allen’s books are way better and I recommend them anytime I come across someone else who enjoys magical realism.

It’s been a few years, so the specifics of this book are kind of faded in my memory, but I still think about the Waverly family all the time, and I’ll probably re-read this at some point.

 


If you’ve read this one, what did you think of it? And if you’ve read some of her other books, what’s your favorite?

 

Must Read Mondays: August 14th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


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cover; links to goodreads

When I read it: July 2014 and June 2016

Genres: YA; contemporary; romance

Recommended for: This is probably  the only contemporary I’ve liked enough to recommend to lots of people. I’d suggest it for older high school/early college students, especially if you have anxiety and/or are into things like fan fiction.

Trigger warnings: alcoholism/alcohol abuse (I think); mental illness. Let me know if I should add to this, please!

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


What it’s about:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


Eeeek, I’m so late posting this!

I’m not a great lover of contemporaries, so finding one that I actually adored was kind of a surprise for me. I got the Kindle edition of this back in ’14 because it was on sale and I’d never read any of Rainbow Rowell’s books before, and ended up loving it so much I bought the special edition hardcover.

Even though I don’t have a twin and I didn’t have the typical college experience, I related to this book (especially Cath) so much, and I wish this book had been out when I was younger.

Now, I recommend this a lot to people, even people who–like me–don’t really get into contemporary novels ever/very often.

Must Read Mondays: July 31st

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

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cover; links to goodreads

 

When I read it: June 2017

Genres: fantasy

Recommended for: I’ve been recommending this to everyone I know who reads fantasy at all.

My review

 

Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

 


What it’s about:

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Guests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.


This was one of those books I finished and then talked ad nauseam about for weeks. Actually, I’m still talking about it, every chance I get, and I might even gift it to a couple of people. I love that it’s a novella, I love how unique it was, I loved the characters, I loved the writing…I just loved it. I borrowed it from the library, but ASAP I’m getting a copy because I think this is one I’ll definitely be re-reading.

The second book in the series, Down Among the Sticks and Bones is out now, so I’ll be getting it, too. (I’m actually probably more excited about it than I was about this one because I think it focuses on my favorite character–Jack–and I need more!)

While it it part of a series, I think you could absolutely read Every Heart a Doorway as a stand-alone. It was complete by itself, and I think the other books are all going to be companion stories, not necessarily sequels.

T5W: Favorite Children’s Books

top-5-wednesday

T5W is a weekly meme created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, now hosted by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. You can check out the goodreads group to learn more.

July 12th: Children’s Books
–This can include Middle Grade (but try to recommend more than just Harry Potter and Percy Jackson!) Feel free to talk about your childhood faves or more recent reads.

This one was way harder than I expected because there were/are so many children’s and middle grade books I’ve loved. 


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cover; links to goodreads


Doll Bones
by Holly Black– I read this somewhat recently, and I think I would have liked it a lot when I was about 7. I still liked it as an adult, but I think I would have enjoyed it more at a much younger age, but at either point I would have been disappointed that it wasn’t really a horror story like I’d been led to believe. It was still a good story, though, and one of the better children’s books I’ve read as an adult.

 

 

 

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Roald Dahl’s children’s books– Ok, I couldn’t decide on a favorite. The Witches and Matilda are probably my top 2, but I love them both equally, but for different reasons, and I love several of his other books, so I’m just using him instead of a specific book for this one. (All the covers link to goodreads.)

 

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cover; links to goodreads

 

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White– This is the first book-book I can remember reading on my own. And it’s also the first book I had to argue with people about, because no one around me believed a 4 year old could have read and comprehended this book 🙄 Basically, this was the book that made me realize how important books were going to be to me, and it’s still an all-time favorite of mine.

 

 

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cover; links to goodreads

 

Lily’s Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff– I had to put this on the list even though I haven’t seen or read a copy of this in almost 20 years. Why? Because I must have read this book over a dozen times in 4th grade. I don’t even know why I loved it so much back then, but it meant so much to me I’m still thinking about it all these years later, and I’m probably going to buy a copy for my kid soon.

 

 

I’m cheating and calling a tie between these last two! I’m sorry, but I can’t choose between these two great loves of my early childhood.

 

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cover; links to goodreads

 

Scary Stories Treasury by Alvin Schwartz– Back in my day these were three individual books that I obsessively checked out probably 30 times in the three years I was at the elementary school that had them. Now, I own this bind up and I still re-read it a lot, and even share some of the mildest with my kid who kind of likes horror, but not as much as I did/do.

 

 

 

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cover; links to goodreads

 

Goosebumps by R.L. Stine–lived for these books before Harry Potter, and I had a decent collection. Everyone in my family knew how much I loved them and even bought me some of the VHS tapes, which I also obsessively watched when I couldn’t sneak a real horror movie into my VCR. (There are like 5 million of these, so I just grabbed one cover.)

 

 

 


Did any of your favorites make my list? Tell me about some of your favorite children’s and/or middle grade books!

Must Read Mondays: June 19th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.


Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

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When I read it: March 2012

Genres: non-fiction (more specifically: science, medical, a touch of history I think, and death); humor

Recommended for: I recommend this to almost everyone when I recommend non-fiction. But, if you’re very bothered by corpses, death, body disposal, funerary practices, etc., you’ll probably want to skip this one.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


What it’s about:

Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.


I read this book more than five years ago, and I still talk about it at least monthly, I think.

I’ll be completely honest here: I like morbid stuff. Blame it on my little goth heart, or whatever, but I’ve always been more fascinated than frightened of things like death and bodies, and what happens to said bodies after our consciousness departs them. I strongly considered becoming a mortician after I gave up the dream of anthropology (forensic, specifically, and no it wasn’t because of Bones because by the time the show aired, I’d already ditched that dream).

This book, from what I remember, covered a bit of history about how bodies were dealt with from possibly ancient times all the way to the present. Mary Roach also researched a lot of different body disposal methods, and explained how they worked, where they originated, etc. I think she even took a trip to “The Body Farm” in Tennessee, which I think is awesome. (Am I creeping anyone out yet?) At the end of the book, I believe, there’s even some info on how you can donate your body to science when you die, which really excited me because that’s what I want to do.

While the subject matter is serious, the entire book is pretty funny. Mary Roach seems to have a great sense of humor, and it made this a very enjoyable read, as well as informative.

While this is about death and what happens to bodies, I don’t remember it being super gory. Maybe a little, but it was all pretty technical, I think. This isn’t like reading about a crime scene or a murder in a thriller/mystery/horror novel, but more like a textbook, if it was written in the most light hearted way possible by someone with a sense of humor.

So far this is still the only one of her books I’ve read (and I plan to re-read it eventually), but I have one other on my shelf, and I want to read most of her books.


Have you read this, or any of Mary Roach’s other books?

 

Must Read Mondays: June 5th

must-read-mondays

Must Read Monday is a weekly thing I do here to recommend books I’ve read and enjoyed. I might sometimes throw in something I gave 3 stars to, but for the most part they’re books I gave a 4-5 star rating to. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily amazing literature, but it does mean I liked them enough to recommend them to other people.

 

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

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cover; links to goodreads


When I read it:
May 2017

Genres: mystery; thriller; contemporary

Recommended for: People who love Shakespeare, theater, mysteries…Ok, seriously, I keep recommending this to everyone.

My review is here

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

 

 


What it’s about:

Enter the players. There were seven of us then, seven bright young things with wide precious futures ahead of us. Until that year, we saw no further than the books in front of our faces.

On the day Oliver Marks is released from jail, the man who put him there is waiting at the door. Detective Colborne wants to know the truth, and after ten years, Oliver is finally ready to tell it.

Ten years ago: Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.

Part coming-of-age story, part confession, If We Were Villains explores the magical and dangerous boundary between art and life. In this tale of loyalty and betrayal, madness and ecstasy, the players must choose what roles to play before the curtain falls.


I can not, in words, express my feelings about this properly. It was just too good, and I think I talk about it every day. I actually listened to the audiobook (which isn’t usually my thing because I have a hard time focusing) because I won it in a goodreads giveaway, but it was still so amazing I wanted to immediately get a hardback copy and re-read it. This book has definitely made my list of favorites this year, and it’s currently competing with V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic (well, the second and third books) to be my actual, top favorite. And V.E. Schwab is the first author I think of these days when I’m asked who my favorite author is, if that tells you anything.

I still can’t believe this is a debut because the writing was so good, and the characters so life-like, and the plot so freaking amazing. I think even if this hadn’t landed on my radar, I still would have picked it up because the cover would have immediately caught my attention. I’m actually planning to get a US hardback and the UK edition, because a) I need this book on my shelves because I will definitely be reading it again…and again, and b) the cover for both is amazing and I know if I only get one I’ll be lusting after the other forever. I mean, look at this UK cover

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cover; links to goodreads


Have you read it? What did you think?