I've mentioned it many times before ... I'm a reader and I LOVE books. I read quite a lot and people ask me frequently about what I am reading and if I have any suggestions. To make it easy on everyone, I've decided to do a general review every few months. I will discuss what books I have read and their general genres. I will attach links to their GoodReads page for easy reference. (Please note I am not being compensated by GoodReads. I have patronized their website for several years now and I love it .. therefore I'm just passing it along....) Now down to booky business:
I read 40 books this quarter. Here are my "Top 10" of those forty. In no particular order...
DESIGN / ART / HOME
With several projects on my to do list, it only seemed natural to do my homework.
Domino: The Book of Decorating by Deborah Needleman, Sara Ruffin Costello and Dara Caponigro
This book is a room-by-room guide to creating a home that makes you happy. Written in a sort of textbook/manual format, this book will give you tips, tricks and advice for almost any room in your house. I LOVED this book (and in fact bought it!). The photography is gorgeous and I kept wanting to bookmark ideas! There are several pages in the very back devoted to educating the reader on things like design terms, furniture styles, and great buying sources. This is a must read for anyone with an eye for design. It makes a great coffee table book, too.
Design*Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney
This home decor bible is the child project of the Design*Sponge blog. It is a mecca of ideas that any DIYer would LOVE! This book features 70 real-life tours of different artists/designers, 50 DIY projects, 50 before-and-afters, as well as sections on floral arranging and tutorials. The projects covered range from a few dollars to several hundred. The realistic approach makes this the perfect companion for someone revamping their home on a budget... Loved. It.
CHICKLIT / PARANORMAL / ROMANCE
This genre seems to be an easy go-to lately. They are fast, entertaining reads and there are a ton out there.
Smolder by Penelope Fletcher
I discovered this author a couple years ago when I received one of her books for free with my Nook. She is a young writer out of the UK and generally camps in the paranormal romance genre. Whereas most people jumped on the Twilight-bandwagon, Fletcher takes a different approach. Her characters are typically of a more obscure affliction and tend to have larger dramas. I really enjoy her writing and find her not as predictable as most. Smolder was the first (and currently only..) in a new series and I am very much looking forward to her second installment. Below is an excerpt description from GoodReads:
Wounded, a dragon drops from the sky to crash in front of Marina in an explosion of fire. She does the only reasonable thing a girl can do... she saves his life. Marina knows any moment may be her last, yet she cannot deny the connection between her and the alluring creature. When two more dragons appear and lead a dangerous assassin to their hiding place, the truth about her dragon is unveiled. The consequences of falling for a creature gifts Marina wonders never before seen... in this world.
Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich
Evanovich is the author of the ever-popular Stephanie Plum series. I have not read that particular series but it has been floating around my "to read" list for a while. During a recent stay at a friend's home, I came across Wicked Appetite on her bookshelf. I picked it up and read through it in only a couple hours. The story involves Lizzie and a cast of characters as they search to destroy relics that represent the Seven Deadly Sins. Gluttony is the focus in Wicked Appetite. This is the first book in the series, with the second installment coming soon. Below is an excerpt description from GoodReads:
Life in Marblehead has had a pleasant predictability, until Diesel arrives. Rumor has it that a collection of priceless ancient relics representing the Seven Deadly Sins have made their way to Boston’s North Shore. Partnered with pastry chef Lizzie Tucker, Diesel bullies and charms his way through historic Salem to track them down—and his criminal mastermind cousin Gerewulf Grimorie. The black-haired, black-hearted Wulf is on the hunt for the relic representing gluttony. Caught in a race against time, Diesel and Lizzie soon find out that more isn’t always better, as they battle Wulf and the first of the deadly sins. With delectable characters and non-stop thrills that have made Janet Evanovich a household name, Wicked Appetite will leave you hungry for more.
Highlander Series by Karen Marie Moning
Moning (rhymes with 'awning') is, so far, my favorite fiction writer. Her Fever Series is my favorite fiction series of all time. She creates these characters that just get under your skin and you can't.stop.thinking.about.them. She could pretty much publish her grocery list and I would read it. Moning got her start with the Highlander Series. I'm just going to warn you .. it definitely falls in the half-naked-dude-on-the-cover-unrealistic-romance-novel genre. Fever is more modern-day paranormal so I wasn't expecting this when I picked it up. If you like these kinds of books then take a look at this series. Highlander deals with time-travel, the Scottish Highlands, Druids, fae, and lots and lots of sex. There are seven books in the series (#5 was my favorite!) but you don't have to read them all together. I would pair 1 & 2 and 4 & 5 though.
Night Huntress Series by Jeaniene Frost
This is a (so far) six book series and I loved it. The story focus on Catherine "Cat" Crawford. She is a half-vampire who kills other vampires. One night, she falters and is captured by bounty-hunter-vampire Bones. They realize they both have the same goal of killing vampires so they team up and wreak havoc. If you enjoyed the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris or books such as that, then check this out. The series covers several years and the many adventures of the duo.
FICTION / HISTORICAL / MYSTERY
Poison Study by Maria Snyder
Yelena lives in a world where, during peace times, killing for any reason is punishable by death. The story begins when Yelena, who killed a man out of self-defense, is dragged from the castle dungeon to face her sentencing. She's unexpectedly given a choice though; a quick death at the noose, or a possible slow death by poison as the King's taster. She chooses life and becomes the throne's guinea pig. The story is full of intrigue, mystery, and action. Below is an excerpt description from GoodReads:
Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…
About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.
And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly's Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.
As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can't control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren't so clear…
DYSTOPIA / YOUNG ADULT / SCIENCE FICTION
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
I already had a heart for dystopian novels before I came across Unwind but this took it to an entirely new level. It's creepy and thought-provoking in its realism. Usually the "World War 3"s of dystopian novels are so futuristic, and the results so drastic that, although disturbing, they leave a considerable gap that can be a stretch to bridge sometimes. Unwind was different in that it hit a little closer to home. This story is set in the not-so-distant future. "World War 3" in this instance was a Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice war called the Heartland War. The result was a "compromise" that resulted in parents being given the 'right' to unwind their troublemaker kids if they didn't want them anymore; but at the age of 16 and not at birth .. so the pro-life camp "won" because they count on parents growing to love their children and the pro-choice camp "won" because parents still have a 'way out'. Basically unwinding means the chosen kids are dissected because they would be more useful to society in a divided state versus whole. This story is fascinating and disturbing. The part that gave me the most pause was when we experienced an unwinding through the senses of a patient. This is technically a YA novel but it has a message that anyone should read. I loved this book and I won't soon forget it. Below is an excerpt description from GoodReads:
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.
PSYCHOLOGY / CHRISTIAN / MARRIAGE
Sheet Music by Dr. Kevin Leman
Whether you have been married for 20 years or 20 minutes, you need to read this book. Seriously. Everyone pretty much knows how to have sex. The mechanics aren't complicated. The thing is, it is way more than just the mechanics. Dr. Leman certainly covers the "how to" for those that need to know but most of the book is geared to those that have been doing it awhile (pun intended). It discusses His design for what it should be like. It exposes the thoughts and feelings of your spouse. It pretty much points out all the little details that add up to make a huge difference. If you are married, even if everything is absolutely perfect, go out and get this book. It will shed a light on areas that could be shaded and you didn't even know it. Below is an excerpt description from GoodReads:
With his characteristic warmth and humor, Dr. Kevin Leman offers a practical guide to sex according to God's plan. This frank and practical book is a perfect resource for married and engaged couples. Dr. Leman addresses a wide spectrum of people, from those with no sexual experiences to those with past sexual problems or even abuse. Using frank descriptions, this book has a warm and friendly tone that will help couples overcome awkwardness in discussing an issue important to all married couples.
MEMOIR / HUMOR / NON-FICTION
My Fair Lazy: One Reality Television Addict's Attempt to Discover If Not Being A Dumb Ass Is the New Black; Or, A Culture-Up Manifesto by Jen Lancaster
Jen Lancaster is hilarious. After being laid off in the post-9/11 recession, Jen found herself jobless and having to make major changes in her life. Her hysterical chronicle began with "Bitter is the New Black" (see below) and continued through four other books. My Fair Lazy explores what it means to be "classy" and if this is something that can be learned. With her idol Eliza Doolittle in mind, Jen enlists the help of several friends and associates to see if she can smarten up her dumb ass. If you like memoirs with a heavy does of humor, this is for you! Below is an excerpt description from GoodReads:
Readers have followed Jen Lancaster through job loss, sucky city living, weight loss attempts, and 1980s nostalgia. Now Jen chronicles her efforts to achieve cultural enlightenment, with some hilarious missteps and genuine moments of inspiration along the way. And she does so by any means necessary: reading canonical literature, viewing classic films, attending the opera, researching artisan cheeses, and even enrolling in etiquette classes to improve her social graces.
In Jen's corner is a crack team of experts, including Page Six socialites, gourmet chefs, an opera aficionado, and a master sommelier. She may discover that well-regarded, high-priced stinky cheese tastes exactly as bad as it smells, and that her love for Kraft American Singles is forever. But one thing's for certain: Eliza Doolittle's got nothing on Jen Lancaster-and failure is an option.
!!! BOOK GIVEAWAY !!!
Now what you've all been waiting for! This quarter's giveaway is going to be the first book in Jen Lancaster's memoir series: Bitter is the New Black : Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass, or Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office. In this book we meet Jen while she is a hot shot VP in a Fortune 500 company. We are there for her when she loses her job. And we are by her side when she walks into the unemployment office for the first time .. completely overdressed. We witness her discovery that she is, in fact, a total bitchy snob stuck in the 80s. We also discover that, at the end of the day, you really wish you were her best friend. All those things you are secretly thinking? She says. All those things you wish you had said? She did. So welcome to the world of Jen Lancaster! And in case you still aren't convinced .. below is an excerpt description from GoodReads:
This is the story of how a haughty former sorority girl went from having a household income of almost a quarter-million dollars to being evicted from a ghetto apartment... It's a modern Greek tragedy, as defined by Roger Dunkle in The Classical Origins of Western Culture: a story in which "the central character, called a tragic protagonist or hero, suffers some serious misfortune which is not accidental and therefore meaningless, but is significant in that the misfortune is logically connected."So here's how the giveaway will work: If you want this book, leave a comment that says "PICK ME!". As a bonus question, you can tell me what book you suggest for ME to read! What's your favorite book of all time? What about just at the moment? The winner will be drawn Friday, April 13th using random.org.
In other words? The bitch had it coming.
The winner will have the choice of "Bitter is the New Black" or "Sheet Music". I've decided to throw in Sheet Music as a choice because I am that serious about your need to read it....