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: September 4th

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.


Soulless by Gail Carriger

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Soulless cover; links to goodreads

When I read it: August 2013

Genres: fantasy; steampunk; paranormal; romance

Recommended for: If you haven’t read much in the steampunk genre, but you want to check it out, I recommend giving this series a shot. I would also recommend it for people who like PNR, especially if you feel like they’re all blurring together because the stories, characters, etc. are so similar.

 

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

 


What it’s about:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. 

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?


I’ve only read the first two books in the Parasol Protectorate series (I think), but I really liked both of them. I read Soulless in about a day and a half (not super impressive, but it usually takes me a few days to read a book) and immediately bought the second one so I could keep reading. I’m not sure what kept me from continuing on with book 3, but it wasn’t because I’d lost interest in the series.

My experience with steampunk is limited, but I loved this as my intro to the genre and I recommend it a lot.


Have you read it? What did you think?

 

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.

Must Read Mondays: July 17th

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.


We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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cover; links to goodreads

 

When I read it: November 2016

Genres: non-fiction; essays; feminism

Recommended for: Pretty much everyone.

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

 


What it’s about:

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-viewed TEDx talk of the same name—by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun.

With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.

Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.


This isn’t totally perfect, but it was still good. It’s a short, quick read, and I think it’s something important that more people should read, especially if you’re a baby-feminist or having a difficult time articulating ideas about feminism to non-feminists. I know it helped me be able to better explain some things after reading it, because I have a hard time putting a concept that I understand into words while talking sometimes, without babbling and losing people along the way.

However, as I said, it wasn’t perfect. I’m not going to try to go into the details about what was wrong or missing, because I don’t have a copy to reference and I don’t want to give false information. But, I think I remember this being far less intersectional than I expected it to be. It wasn’t groundbreaking for me, and I remember picking up on a few issues while reading (trans exclusion, like “genitalia=gender” ideas I think, and I’m pretty sure it was very hetero-normative). If you haven’t read it yet, and you’re considering reading it but want to know some of the ways it wasn’t great, I would recommend skimming over some lower than 5 star reviews or doing some googling first.

So, I recommend this, but I also know it could have been better and far more intersectional.

 

Must Read Mondays: July 3rd

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.


The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (book 1 in the Millennium trilogy) by Stieg Larsson

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cover; links to goodreads

When I read it: January 2012

Genres: contemporary; Scandinavian lit; mystery; thriller; crime

Recommended for: This is a tough one to recommend because I know so many people with different tastes in books who all loved it. So, I’d say just give it a shot and see if it’s for you, but it might take a while to get into it.

Trigger warning for: rape, sexual assault, violence (I think…it’s been a while since I read this so I’m not 100% sure when things happen in the series. Please let me know if I missed something.)

 

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble


What it’s about:

Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into a complex and atmospheric novel.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of iniquity and corruption.


I read this over 5 years ago, so it’s really fuzzy in my memory, but I do remember that it took me for-ev-er to become invested, and I loved it by the end. My mom (who isn’t much of a reader) was the one who kept pushing me to keep going, insisting it would get better, and she was right. I think it took something like 40-60% and about a week of reading for me, but after that I flew through the rest of the book in like a day.

This isn’t a light book. It isn’t fluffy. It isn’t easy to read at many points. But, it was a very good book (and series as a whole), and I do recommend it quite often when someone asks me about it or for mystery/thriller recommendations.


Did you read it? What did you think of it?