Summer Bookworm

Summer is prime time for reading! On the beach, by the lake, snatching a chapter on break at the Dairy Queen, up way past your bedtime (just one more chapter!) Here’s what I’ve been reading this summer.
What about you? Any recommendations?
Summer Bookworm

 

May Bookworm

May Bookworm
For those of us who were distraught about The Mortal Instruments series wrapping up, and next year can’t arrive too soon so we can dig into The Dark Artifices, Cassandra Clare, along with a who’s who of popular YA authors, offers us a short story e-book series based in the Shadow Hunters universe.
There are going to be ten stories in all, one released each month January – November of this year.
So far I’ve read the first four. I could jabber on and on but fans of the original series only need to have one word: Simon! For those who haven’t read The Mortal Instruments this is a stand alone series so you don’t have to.

And here’s a fun thing, the covers are a surprise until the day they are published. They fit together to form a mosaic of Simon drawing his bow!

“Simon Lewis never thought he’d become a Shadowhunter…and now he has the chance. After living as a Mundane and a Vampire, Simon never thought he would become a Shadowhunter, but today he begins his training at Shadowhunter Academy.”
“Simon learns the worst crime a Shadowhunter can commit: desertion of their comrades. 
In the early nineteenth century, Tobias Herondale abandoned his fellow Shadowhunters in the heat of battle and left them to die. His life was forfeit, but Tobias never returned, and the Clave claimed his wife’s life in exchange for Tobias’s. Simon and his fellow students are shocked to learn of this brutality, especially when it is revealed the woman was pregnant. But what if the child survived…could there be a lost Herondale line out in the world today?”
“Jack the Ripper stalks through London, and only the Shadowhunters can stop him. 
Simon learns the truth behind the Jack the Ripper murders—“Jack” was stopped by Will Herondale and his institute of Victorian Shadowhunters.”
“Simon learns about James Herondale’s time at Shadowhunter Academy.
It’s hard to be a Shadowhunter when you’ve got demonic powers. Simon learns about the school-time struggles of half-warlock James Herondale in this prelude to The Last Hours.”

April Bookworm

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Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard
If you love a good story plus recipes, I would sincerely suggest you read Picnic in Provence.
Her journey continues in France as she and her husband say jusqu’à ce qu’on se revoit to their life in Paris and start anew in the idylic Provencal village of Céreste.

Though I loved her first (Lunch in Paris), this one I related strongly to. The book goes deep into her relationship with her Father, as well as the difficulty she had bonding with her Son. The serene book cover belies the soul-searching Bard’s pilgrimage takes. It’s not a fluffy travel memoir…and yet, her sharp wit and dexterous turn of phrase keep you smiling through out.

“Ten years ago, New Yorker Elizabeth Bard followed a handsome Frenchman up a spiral staircase to a love nest in the heart of Paris. Now, with a baby on the way and the world’s flakiest croissant around the corner, Elizabeth is sure she’s found her “forever place.” But life has other plans.
On a last romantic jaunt before the baby arrives, the couple take a trip to the tiny Provencal village of Céreste. A chance encounter leads them to the wartime home of a famous poet, a tale of a buried manuscript and a garden full of heirloom roses. Under the spell of the house and its unique history, in less time than it takes to flip a crepe, Elizabeth and Gwendal decide to move-lock, stock and Le Creuset-to the French countryside.”

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The Martian by Andy Weir
I’ve been pestering everyone I know to read this. Been driving them nuts so I could have fan-crazed discussions about how much we love this book!

I’d heard about Weir’s debut novel from the internet nerd/sci-fi community {Spoilers} as a must read last year and filed it away in my head to check it out. Then last month standing in the checkout at the grocery I grabbed it off the rack and read the first page (The first line actually) and was sold.

“Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him & forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded & completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—& even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—& a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?”

The story starts with Watney’s first person mission logs; they not only highlight the pure genius of the man, but also that he’s just plain hilarious.

“I need to ask myself, ‘What would an Apollo astronaut do?’ He’d drink three whiskey sours, drive his Corvette to the launchpad, then fly to the moon in a command module smaller than my Rover. Man those guys were cool.”

“I can’t wait till I have grandchildren. When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!”

“Actually, I was the very lowest ranked member of the crew. I would only be “in command” if I were the only remaining person.”
What do you know? I’m in command”

“I’m calling it the Watney Triangle because after what I’ve been through, shit on Mars should be named after me.”

Any more and I’ll spoil it for you, but trust me, there is an overflowing treasure chest of gems like the above!

Anyone read this yet? Where my sci-nerds at? Comment below if you have!

March Bookworm

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The Bad Mother by Esther Walker

Having read Esther’s “The Bad Cook” I was looking forward to her latest effort. She, of course, didn’t disappoint.
She’s certainly not calling herself a bad mother, nor you either! Instead she examines her own stint as a mother so far and offers anecdotes of her successes, failures and hard won wisdom.
Sleep
“Parents of young children are always thinking about sleep…Sometimes they are actually having semi-sexual fantasies about sleep.”
Eat
“Now from the lofty position of having two children both past the recommended breastfeeding stage…I don’t care what you do with your kids. Feed them breastmilk, or formula, or a McFlurry! It’s nothing to do with me.”
Poo
“‘What have you tried?’ people would say. ‘Have you tried bribery?’ Ha!…Yes…I have tried bribery. I would give her a puff on a fuc*ing crack pipe if she’d only crap on the potty.” …If the the kid doesn’t want to do it they just won’t do it. She. Doesn’t. Want. A. Fuc*ing. Sticker.

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The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson
The third book in the “Shades of London” series.
The ending of the second book “The Madness Underneath” left us with a lot of FEELINGS about “The Thing that HAPPENED!” Fans (me) were salivating for this continuation of the story. Johnson picks up right where she left off and takes us all on a crazy ride.
Things get weird, y’all.
“Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.”

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Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

Evanovich’s plus sized heroine is refreshing. The take on the Pygmalion myth isn’t a new concept, but she writes the woman in transition/transformation story with realism. Holly doesn’t go from overweight to model thin in the span of a makeover montage. She struggles and fights her way to healing.

“Holly didn’t expect to be a widow at thirty-two. She also didn’t expect to be so big. After her husband’s death, food was the one thing she could always count on. Now, those extra pounds make flying coach feel like medieval torture—especially when she’s squished next to Logan Montgomery. A personal trainer to famous pro athletes, her seat mate is so hot that he makes Holly sweat in all the right (and so embarrassingly wrong!) places.
Though Holly doesn’t make the grade on Logan’s first-impression meter, he finds himself intrigued by her sharp wit and keen insights—a welcome change from the high-maintenance models he dates—so he impulsively offers to get her back in shape. A little skeptical but ready to make at least one positive change in her life, Holly agrees.”

Note: Some light S/M play and dominance between the characters are depicted.

February Bookworm Part 2

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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Ever since I read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, I’ve been hankering for more of Holly Black’s magical and scary stories. I love this new tale about Hazel and her brother and the town of Fairfold.

“Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.”

“Down a path worn into the woods, past a stream and a hollowed-out log full of pill bugs and termites, was a glass coffin. It rested right on the ground, and in it slept a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives.”

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Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
I love anthologies, especially when they are by all one author. Gaiman builds upon his themes of seemingly unrelated short stories that draw you in and capture the imagination you had when you were a child. Up late telling spooky stories.
Among my favorites in this go ’round are: “A Lunar Labyrinth”, “The Thing About Cassandra”, “The Sleeper and the Spindle” and “A Calendar of Tales” (of which the ideas for each story was given to him from suggestions via Twitter).

But lets get down to the reason why we all really bought the book:

“Black Dog”
The final short story of the anthology reunites us with Shadow from American Gods. Still tramping around Europe and further south now in the U.K than when he checked in during “Monarch of the Glen.” He spends a few days in a seemingly idyllic village at the house of a seemingly charming couple. Old places have old Gods, old ways and many secrets.

“The old religion is what gets the crops up and keeps your c*ck hard and makes sure that nobody builds a bloody great motorway through an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Gateway stands, and the hill stands, and the place stands. It’s well, well over two thousand years old. You don’t go mucking about with anything that powerful.”

Dude really needs to shy away from quaint villages for a while. I’m just saying…

Recently Gaiman commented on Tumblr that Shadow is headed for London next and after that back to the U.S. for another American Gods book.
(internal fan-girl squeeing)

February Bookworm Part 1

Now that the Christmas rush and New Years is over I’ve been a reading machine so, I’m going to spread out February’s Bookworm over two posts.

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Anna and French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Last year I read the last book of this series (Isla and the Happily Ever After) and loved it! Her characters contain all the quirks of people I know over here in reality.

“A few months ago, my father enrolled me in boarding school. His air quotes practically crackled over the phone line as he declared living abroad to be a “good learning experience” and a “keepsake I’d treasure forever”. Yeah. Keepsake. And I would’ve pointed out his misuse of the word had I not already been freaking out.”

Anna’s fish out of water journey is great. We get to see Paris through the eyes of an absolute beginner, that’s always a fun plot point for me.
Etienne St. Clair is a treat of a character. He’s all swagger and charm but it hides some very deep wounds.

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Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Number two in the (French Kiss) series, brings us back stateside to San Franciso and Lola Nolan who would like her parents to approve of her older hunky, rockstar, boyfriend. Not gonna happen. Lola, however, has a bigger problem now, the boy who broke her heart and then moved away is back.

“…But I’m jogging now, hauling Betsy down the hill. Something’s not right. And I’m positive it’s happened—that Max has left or my parents have cornered him into a heated argument about the lack of direction in his life—when I reach my street and everything clicks into place.
The moving truck.
Not the brunch.
The moving truck.”
“..I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. What are the chances?
Except . . . there’s always a chance. The movers lift a white sofa from the back of the truck, and my heart thumps harder. Do I recognize it? Have I sat on that love seat before? But no. I don’t know it. I peer inside the crammed truck, searching for anything familiar, and I’m met with stacks of severe modern furniture that I’ve never seen before.
It’s not them. It can’t be them.”
“…Max examines me with an unusual curiosity. “Your parents say you know the family.”
No. NO.”

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All Fall Down by Ally Carter
First books in a new series can tend to be all about world building and establishing characters, usually to the detriment of the story. That’s some what true with All Fall Down. There’s a lot crammed into the first two chapters, but then the adventure starts for Grace and her friends and it’s a fun one that leads to a game changing ending. And now I get to drum my fingers impatiently for book two. Please write faster Ms. Carter!

“Three years ago, Grace Blakely witnessed her mother’s murder, but no one else seems willing to even acknowledge that it was a homicide, so this daredevil decided that she will have to solve the killing herself. It doesn’t take long for Grace to realize that none of her Embassy Row connections will help a jot; in fact, her powerful ambassador grandfather and his cohorts badly want her to stop ruffling feathers and return to her place as a just another pretty face at the government receptions. An intriguing new series by the author of the Gallagher Girls series.”

“…First lesson.”
Noah broadens his stance, taking his place firmly on the embassy side of the threshold. “in the United States,” he says. Then, with both feet, he leaps on to the sidewalk. “Out of the United States.” Quickly, he jumps back toward me. “In the United States.” Another jump across the threshold. “Out of the United States. In. Out. In –”

“Is this the part where I hit you?”

January Bookworm Part 2

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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

A much recommended book by just about everyone I know. It’s a short book (only 124 pages) but packed with the how to of Marie Kondo’s (KonMari) method of de-cluttering your home. As a practicing minimalist, I smugly read about methods I’m already using, however, I was definitely surprised by the reason people de-clutter and then months later they’re back to where they started.
*Raises hand* Yep that’s me!
Read cautiously, severe tidy mania ensues after reading!

“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”

“people who can’t stay tidy can be categorized into just three types: the “can’t-throw-it-away” type, the “can’t-put-it-back” type, and the “first-two-combined” type.”

“the best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.”

“I recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely.”