Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Thought-Provoking Book Quotes

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! This week, we're focusing on quotes from books. Specifically, quotes that are either inspirational or thought-provoking. I'm too cynical to get deep into inspiration, but I love a book that makes me think, so here are ten quotes from books that get my brain going.




"Does the walker chose the path, or the path the walker?"- Sabriel

"Life is fleeting. Don't waste a single moment of your precious life. Wake up now! And now! And now!"- A Tale For The Time Being

"Things can change in a day"- The God of Small Things

"Unhappiness is the ultimate form of self-indulgence. When you're unhappy, you get to pay a lot of attention to yourself. You get to take yourself oh so very seriously."- Jitterbug Perfume

"Is it really possible to tell someone else what one feels?"- Anna Karenina

“To wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect”- Sense and Sensibility

“After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished?”- Remains of the Day

“Imagination, of course, can open any door - turn the key and let terror walk right in.”- In Cold Blood

“Better never means better for everyone... It always means worse, for some.”- The Handmaid's Tale

“We speak not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is a part of thought.”- Seeing Voices

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Month In The Life: April 2019



With tomorrow being the last day of April, that means we're 1/3 of the way through 2019 already, which just does not seem at all possible. It was another busy busy month, since we're still in session and this was the month the first major deadlines started cropping up but of course, I still managed to read books.

In Books...

  • All The President's Men: This book is a legend of political journalism, and I couldn't believe I hadn't read it yet. Honestly, though, it was so dry and seemed to be assuming that I had a lot of context around Watergate that I don't have. There's an amazing book to be written about this triumph of the free press, but the reporters were too far inside it to tell it effectively.
  • Princess Masako: In just in a few days, Emperor Akihito will abdicate the Japanese throne in favor of his oldest son, Naruhito. Which means Naruhito's wife, Masako, will be empress. Her story is quite sad: a highly educated, accomplished woman, she's widely reputed to be miserable in her tightly constrained life as a royal. This book means to examine her life, but the quality you can expect is right there in the subtitle: "Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne". Thinly sourced and inflammatory, but not without entertainment value.
  • The Last Romantics: This is the kind of long-ranging family-dynamics drama that I tend to enjoy, so it should come as no surprise that I really liked this book. Tara Conklin's writing is lovely and insightful, and the tensions that drive the plot arise from skillful character development. There were a few things that didn't quite work for me as plot points that kept it from being a true standout, but mostly this is a solid, engrossing read. 
  • Lilah: I hadn't read biblical fiction in a long time, and this didn't exactly encourage me to read more...Marek Halter did some decent characterization of Lilah, but the focus seemed strongly on the world-building and I thought the book, though short, dragged through the first half and rushed the second. 
  • The Fever: When one pretty teenage girl has a sudden seizure in class, it's a mystery. When a second does, though, and a third, it starts to feel like an epidemic. The entire small town starts to fray at the seams, and Megan Abbott's thriller keeps the tension high. I did find myself feeling like the three points of view was at least one too many, but this is a very readable, compelling book.
  • The Lowland: This book tells the story of two brothers in India whose lives take divergent paths as they grow up, and a woman who they both marry, weaving through the course of their tragedies and triumphs over a lifetime. It is an elegant, accomplished novel with deft prose styling and layered characterization, but I never quite connected to it. There's a sense of remove that blunted its impact, for me. 




In Life...

  • I was on Jeopardy!: Honestly, a lifelong dream. Even though I didn't win, I'm proud of my performance. I accomplished my goals...to make sure "Nevada" was pronounced correctly and getting to play Final Jeopardy! 
  • Session continues: We're now about 2/3 of the way through, just a little over a month to go! It'll be a pretty grueling month and change though, but then there will be some nice down time over the summer.

One Thing:

Instead of linking to something outside I'm going to write a little bit more about my Jeopardy! experience. I'm of two minds about it: on the one hand, I watched James play four shows before mine since I was on the last show of the day and knew what I was getting into...not that I was intimidated, per se, but his performance on the show has been of the sort where I don't feel bad that I lost. Lots of very smart, capable players have lost to James. I didn't lose a squeaker where I'd be kicking myself over one blown answer. On the other hand, I wish I'd gotten the experience of playing a "regular" show...getting your one chance to ever play be against such a dominant player is unfortunate timing but that's how life goes sometimes. For those of you, who (like me!) love to watch from home and shout out answers, know that buzzer timing is SO much of the game and WAY harder than you think it is. I never quite got the hang of it. But I am (I think) the first person from my hometown to ever make it on, which is pretty cool, and I will never forget that Edward is the other British king's name (along with Henry and George) to be used more than five times ever again in my life.

Gratuitous Pug Picture:

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Book 178: Stay With Me



"I loved Yejide from the very first moment. No doubt about that. But there are things even love can't do. Before I got married, I believed love could do anything. I learned soon enough that it couldn't bear the weight of four years without children. If the burden is too much and stays too long, even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break. But even when it's in a thousand pieces under your feet, that doesn't mean it's no longer love."

Dates read: September 19-22, 2017

Rating: 7/10

Sometimes it seems like there are two kinds of long-married couples: those who genuinely love and appreciate each other, and those who seem to have just decided that they're sticking to it because of stubbornness, mutual resentment, "for the children", or any variety of reasons that aren't love. When I read stories about couples who've been married for decades, I find myself wondering which group that pair falls in. Are the latter something we should be celebrating, honestly? I've known people who got married only to find out later that the person they thought they were swearing forever to isn't who they've ended up with. Ending a marriage, even one that's gone sour, sounds like it's an agonizing decision, and I can't help but think that the social pressure to not make that decision keeps people together who might be better off apart.

What exactly it means to be married, and married well, is at the heart of Ayobami Adebayo's Stay With Me. When we first meet Yejide, we learn that technically, she's had a long marriage. She's lived apart from her husband, Akin, for many years, but she receives an invitation to attend his father's funeral as his guest that sends her on a reminisce about their past, and how their separation came to be. They met at university in Nigeria, and though they were both seeing other people at the time, quickly fell in love and got married. Their marriage was happy, except that even after several years, they were childless. Though Akin and Yejide were a modern couple, his parents were traditional, and if their first-born son couldn't produce an heir for the family with his wife, they had a solution: a second wife.

This is the first in a series of what come to be deep, deep cracks in Akin and Yejide's relationship. Yejide is desperate to keep her husband to herself, and knows that in order to do that, she must somehow become pregnant...which she does. The plot has several twists and turns, and while I'm usually not especially fussed about spoilers, this is one of the cases where I feel like letting the plot unfold as you read is important. Though the book is relatively short (under 300 pages), Adebayo deals with some powerful themes: love, marriage, mental health, trust, family, sex, and what it means to be a parent.

This is a debut novel, and in some ways, it shows. Some of the plot twists seemed to be a little too difficult to believe, and it sometimes felt that they were being deployed too quickly, with too little time for each to really settle and resonate before the next one came along. And while I appreciated the way she paralleled the upheavals and tensions of the central marriage alongside the political turmoil roiling Nigeria during the lives of the characters, references to it often felt shoehorned in. I felt like the book should have been longer, which could have ameliorated both issues by letting the plot breathe a bit.

At the end of the day, though, this is the kind of debut which makes me really excited for the author's follow-up(s). Yejide is a fantastic character...she's not always likable, and often makes poor choices, but remains sympathetic throughout. The perspective we get into her childhood informs the person she comes to be, and I wish we'd gotten a bit more of this with Akin. We get some, but he's less well-developed than she is and I think the book could have been even stronger if we'd gotten more of his perspective. Despite its flaws, I enjoyed this book and look forward to following Adeyabo's career. I would recommend it, but maybe not to everyone. I think it'll appeal most to readers who enjoy character-based domestic dramas and don't mind if they occasionally trend towards the implausible in their plotting.

Tell me, blog friends...what do you think are good reasons for ending a marriage, if any?

One year ago, I was reading: Rosemary's Baby (review to come)

Two years ago, I was reading: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Three years ago, I was reading: The President's Club

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: First Ten Books I Reviewed

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! My opinions on books often change over time, so with this week's subject, what I want to do is go back to the first ten books I reviewed on this blog and see how I feel about them a few years later.



Beloved

Rating then: 10/10

Rating now: 10/10

Comments: This book is a masterpiece.

Unbelievable

Rating then: 3/10

Rating now: 2/10

Comments: I stand by my low rating of this book, which I barely remember...in fact, it feels fair to lower my already low rating because I can't remember getting anything at all out of this book.


Rating then: 3/10

Rating now: 3/10

Comments: This book was very bad and I rated it as such and I stand by that rating.


Rating then: 2/10

Rating now: 2/10

Comments: Another one of those that I can barely remember, except that it felt like it threw a bunch of trendy YA concepts into a blender with Korean mythology (the author is white, so it's not even an own voices book). 


Rating then: 9/10

Rating now: 8/10

Comments: I really did enjoy this deep dive into linguistics, but it's very dry and technical and something I'm not super eager to re-read...though I would enjoy reading more along the same lines.


Rating then: 10/10

Rating now: 9/10

Comments: This is a very, very good memoir, but usually I reserve that 10/10 for something that feels like a masterpiece and with some time in the rearview, this isn't a masterpiece. 


Rating then: ~5/10 (varying depending on volume)

Rating now: 3/10

Comments: I spent a LOT of time slogging through the four volumes of this psychoanalytic perspective on the history of world mythology. It could have been about 1/3 the length and still would have been dense. I think I rated it higher at the time because I wanted to believe it was better than it was for all the time I invested in it.


Rating then: 7/10

Rating now: 6/10

Comments: This book is solid, but when I read it I thought it was better than I think it is now. 


Rating then: 10/10

Rating now: 10/10

Comments: This, on the other hand, is a masterpiece and continues to deserve its rating.


Rating then: 5/10

Rating now: 4/10

Comments: I don't think this book was bad, there just wasn't much there. Some images from it have stayed with me, but with very few exceptions I remember so little of it I might as well have never read it at all. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Book 177: Duel With The Devil



"This room, filled with the most distinguished legal eminences in the state, might have seemed a Gordian knot of tangled conflicts of interest: Burr’s company owned the murder scene, had employed the defendant, had rejected a bid by a relative of the deceased, had financial relationships with the court recorder and the clerk, and had political alliances and rivalries with his fellow counselors, the mayor, and the judge. In any other time or place, all this might have at least raised an eyebrow. But in Manhattan in 1800, it was just how business was done."

Dates read: September 15-19, 2017

Rating: 4/10

True crime, it seems, has never been more popular. It's always had a fanbase: look at Unsolved Mysteries, or America's Most Wanted, or Ann Rule's entire career. But ever since the first season of Serial took the country by storm (it was the first podcast I ever subscribed to, and I don't think I'm alone in that), it seems like it's everywhere, from other podcasts like My Favorite Murder to TV shows like HBO's stellar The Jinx. And there's never-ending source material: there will always be cold cases and shaky convictions all over America every day. What remains to be seen is if this is a trend that's here to stay.

One of America's oldest cold cases is the basis of Paul Collins' Duel With The Devil. Elma Sands, a young, often sickly Quaker woman who had come to New York City with her cousin, Catherine, and lived in a boarding house there, was found dead in a well in her best clothes. Suspicion quickly turned on Levi Weeks, a fellow boarder, who'd been seeing Elma and who she'd reputedly left her room the night she was killed to secretly marry. Levi happened to be the brother of Ezra Weeks, who was a well-connected businessman and arranged for Levi's defense by what was likely America's first legal Dream Team: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and Henry Brockholst Livingston. Despite the almost overwhelming public opinion that Levi had done it, the defense managed to echo (pre-echo?) the OJ Simpson case in another respect: he was found not guilty. His legal victory did nothing for his PR woes, though, so he left the city not long thereafter and ended up in Mississippi, where he lived out the rest of his life being mostly pretty boring.

Collins complies his relatively brief book by doing four things: he gives the reader tons of background and context for the New York City in which the murder transpired and fleshes out the principals, he recounts the trial, he posits his own theory of who might have killed Elma, and he wraps up with the famous duel between the one-time co-counsels and long-time political enemies that cost Alexander Hamilton his life. I found Ezra Weeks to be a surprisingly interesting figure: we've all known of those "prominent citizen" types that seem to be able to pull all the strings, and he was able to get his brother two of the foremost attorneys in the city in a way that only one of those types could do. He was a local construction guy, and he had two customers with a taste for the finer things but without a budget to support that taste, who therefore owed him money: Hamilton and Burr.

The full-on Hamilton craze seems to have peaked a while ago, but there's still a lot of interest in his story. To be perfectly honest, this book, and the case at the center of it, aren't much more than a footnote in a life that managed to encompass a great deal despite its relative brevity. Collins does what he's trying to do here well enough, but there's nothing revelatory. If you've got an interest in cold cases or you've found out about this case in particular and wanted to know more, this book tells its story with clear, informative prose and is worth your time. If, however, you're more interested in Hamilton's entire career, I'd recommend Ron Chernow's Hamilton instead, which I listened to on audio and is very long but fascinating. 

One year ago, I was reading: Chosen Country (review to come)

Two years ago, I was reading: The Children of Henry VIII

Three years ago, I was reading: Dune

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Watery Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! This week's subject is actually "rainy day reads", but for me, those are just books that I happen to be reading when it rains. So I did a little twist on it, and went for books significantly tied to a body of water!



The Life of Pi: The bulk of this book about a boy who survives a shipwreck takes place on a boat in the ocean.

Moby-Dick: Another sea-faring book, this recounts a whaling voyage and the hunt for the legendary, titular white whale.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle: I LOVED this book as a kid, with its story of a proper young lady who becomes embroiled in sailing ship intrigue and winds up a member of the crew.

Dead Wake: This account of the sinking of the Lusitania introduced me to a whole part of history I knew basically nothing about and it was fascinating!

Many Waters: This entry in the A Wrinkle In Time series sends the Murray twins, Sandy and Dennys, back to biblical times immediately before The Flood.

La Belle Sauvage: Another flood story, this prequel to The Golden Compass features Lyra Belacqua as a tiny baby being rescued by teenage Malcom Polsted and his titular boat.

Once Upon A River: The events of this wonderful novel from last year are kicked off by a man's accident on the rain-swollen Thames, and a little girl who seems to have drowned in it, until it turns out she's alive after all.

Island of the Blue Dolphins: There's only really a ship in this one at the very beginning, but the circumstances that drive the action are rooted in people leaving on that ship and the surrounding water that isolates the island.

James and the Giant Peach: An oversized stone fruit is the most unusual aquatic vessel on this list by a long shot.

The Odyssey: The OG voyage adventure story on the ocean!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Book 176: Valley of the Dolls



"She stumbled out of bed and changed her pajamas. Dr. Mitchell was right—she was building up a tolerance to the pills. Maybe one more yellow...No, then she'd be groggy and hungover in the morning, and she had to learn those lyrics. Jesus. Today she had needed three green dolls just to get through the morning shooting. She poured a full glass of Scotch. Maybe one more red pill...yeah, they wore off faster. She swallowed it quickly. And she wouldn't drink all this Scotch, just sip at it until the pills worked."   

Dates read: September 9-15, 2017

Rating: 7/10

Lists/awards: The New York Times bestseller

Every once in a while, I realize I'm drinking just to drink. Having a drink after work just because. Or on the weekend, getting to the point where I have a happy little buzz going and then having another drink or two just because it's there. So I'll knock it off for a while, because the slope between substance use and substance abuse is slippery and I want to stay on the good side of it. Well, unless the substance is caffeine. I am 100% addicted to it and I am 100% okay with that.

As long as there have been drugs, there have been people who've gotten hooked on them. Right now, it's opioids that are the hot topic and big area of concern, but back in the day, it was barbiturates. In Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls, there are two ways to take the title. In one sense, "dolls" has long referred to women, and the book tells the story of three of them. But throughout the novel, the characters refer to their pills as "dolls" as well. The book tells the story of three young women who are briefly roommates at the beginning of their careers: Anne, Neely, and Jennifer. Anne is a lovely, well-bred New Englander who flees her hometown because she's terrified of getting stuck in a passionless marriage and never accomplishing anything besides raising children. She goes to New York City, where she finds work in the office of a well-known entertainment lawyer/talent manager. Neely has been on the vaudeville circuit since she was a small child, and is trying to break into Broadway with a group act. When the dancers get cast in a show starring one of Anne's company's clients but Neely gets cut, Anne manages to score her a new spot. And Jennifer is a stunningly beautiful but not especially talented actress cast in the chorus.

The women's stories all take different directions from there: Anne breaks off a relationship with a rich man who wants to marry her to pursue a relationship with Lyon, her boss's protegee, a veteran who's returned from war but thinks he maybe wants to be a writer instead of getting back into the rat race. She's crazy about him, but he's proud and doesn't want to marry her unless he can support her even though she's well-off enough for both of them. When they break up, she goes on to date an older cosmetics executive and becomes a TV spokesmodel. Neely goes to Hollywood to make it in the movies, where she's put on uppers so she can handle long song-and-dance rehearsals while skipping meals to lose weight, and gets herself onto downers so she can sleep. She becomes a huge star and wins an Oscar, but also turns into an addict. And Jennifer, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, chases a marriage with a successful lounge singer to lock in a source of support for her and her family...only to discover her beloved isn't who she thinks he is and winds up making "art films" overseas. She finally finds real love and security with a politican, but she also finds a lump in her breast.

On the one hand, this is delightfully campy melodrama: Anne's terror of being "frigid" and desperate desire for Lyon, Lyon's refusal to be a "kept man", Neely's marriages and pill popping and downward spiral into addiction, Jennifer's secret white trash past and doomed marriage and soft-core porn career. Y'all, there is an actual scene in which a wig is snatched and flushed down the toilet. I found myself actually giggling out loud while reading it. But there's also a very real story there about how the entertainment industry chews women up and spits them out. Two of the three major characters are clearly based on real people: Neely's story has too many similarities to Judy Garland's to be mere coincidence, and Jennifer's is less clear but still obviously reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe. All three women are scared of aging, terrified of losing their looks and therefore their value.

While Anne is the main character (the book begins and ends with "her" sections), perspective switches to Neely and Jennifer often enough to keep things interesting. The characters aren't necessarily super deep, but they are each flawed in their own way and so are at least well-rounded and generally sympathetic (although Neely takes a turn towards villainy near the end). There's definitely plenty of fluff, like I talked about above, but there's enough reality and pathos to balance it out so it doesn't feel like the book equivalent of a Twinkie. It's an entertaining, enjoyable read, and I'd recommend it...particularly to those interested in the entertainment industry and classic Broadway/Hollywood.  

One year ago, I was reading: The Color of Water (review to come)

Two years ago, I was reading: Big Little Lies

Three years ago, I was reading: Dead Wake

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I’ve Done for the Love of Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! This week, we're looking at the maybe a little over-the-top things we've done because we love books so much!



Collected far more of them than I have room for: Just ask my poor husband, who deals with piles of books on virtually every surface in our apartment.

Started a book blog: I mean, I love books and reading so much I created a space on the internet to talk about it.

Started a book newsletter on top of my book blog: A little less than a year ago, I decided that there might be people who can't get into the idea of checking a book blog but who might be able to get into a monthly newsletter in their inbox, so I've got that going on too.

Literally carry one with me 100% of the time: I carry two things with me no matter what...a koozie for my beer and a book for my brain.

Gone to a midnight release event: My sister and I went to a party for the release of the final Harry Potter book at our local Borders (RIP).

Go to a bookstore whenever I visit a new city: Anytime I go someplace new, the first thing I do is find an independent bookstore, make plans to go, and buy a new book!

Joined a book club: Speaking of indie bookstores, mine runs a book club that meets once per month and I've loved having a place to talk about books with people in real life!

Indulge in bookish merch: I've got candles, shirts, tote bags and more that were inspired by books!

Turned my insta into a quasi-bookstagram: It's not a formal booksta, and I don't pose anything all pretty and accessorized, but I do share what I'm reading and it's become at least half of what I post anymore!

Got into audio: I never thought I'd be a person who listens to books, but it turns out it's a great way to liven up my walks/drives, and get my re-reading in!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Book 175: The Sisters Chase



"The Chase girls stayed the next morning until it was time to check out, lying on the bed and basking in the infinitude of being nowhere. The motel served Saran-Wrapped Danish, hard-boiled eggs, and orange for breakfast, and Mary and Hannah ate them in their room, Hannah feeling the optimism of going somewhere, Mary feeling the relief of having left. The Chase girls were always happiest in those brief moments of in-between, when neither of them was sacrificing, neither of them being sacrificed."

Dates read: September 6-9, 2017

Rating: 2/10

To be honest, I was not very excited about my sister when she arrived. I'd been perfectly happy as an only child, thank you very much. When she was about 6 weeks old (I was 4 and a half), my mom caught me carrying my sister towards the kitchen. She asked me what I was doing, so I told her that I was throwing her away because all she did was cry. When I was informed that I couldn't actually toss her in the trash, I tried to bargain down to returning her to the hospital. No dice. We fought like crazy growing up, but now that we're all grown up, she's someone I love and cherish. Thanks for not letting me bin her, Mom.

The titular sisters of Sarah Healy's The Sisters Chase couldn't be more different. Fourteen years older, Mary has dark coloring and a corresponding dark personality...she's ruthlessly pragmatic, manipulative, proud and ungovernable. Hannah, however, is blonde and takes after the nursery rhyme in that she seems to be made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Their single mother owns and runs a hotel in a seaside town on the East Coast and has a night shift at a nearby casino to keep their family going during the off-season. But when she's killed in a car crash, Mary and Hannah find themselves on their own. Back taxes on the hotel and no life insurance mean that they're broke, and so Mary takes Hannah and leaves the only home they've ever known to try to take care of her.

After Mary successfully prises some seed money from wealthy relatives in Florida, she and Hannah (who Mary calls "Bunny") connect with an old acquaintance of hers in New England. Things seem stable, and even like they might end up happy, but Mary's past shows up to bite them and they leave. As Hannah grows up, they continue to travel, Mary refusing to put roots down anywhere for too long, until they wind up in California. Hannah, now on the cusp of her teenage years, wants desperately to stay in one place and so several months pass, but the idyll can't last and eventually tragedy strikes.

All of that is super vague, I know, because I do try to avoid spoilers and this book is very much "about" its plot and its mysteries. You'll notice above that I've rated this book quite poorly, and part of that is that is just because the kind of book that it is: plot-over-character is not my cup of tea, but this was a book club pick after a couple months of heavier, slower material so I gave it a shot. Turns out, I still don't get a lot out of this style of novel, and that's okay. Not every book is for every person, and my ratings are intended to be a reflection, at least in part, of my own experience of reading the book and the enjoyment I got out of it. But my ratings are also informed by my opinion of the quality of the book and how well it did what it was trying to do, and this is where The Sisters Chase really took a nosedive.

One of the reasons I tend to be personally pro-spoiler is that I feel like if "the twists" are all you have, you don't have a story. The Sisters Chase indulges heavily in one of the ways I find most irritating of shielding "the twists"...it deliberately hides information known to the characters from the reader. It's not that this can't be done well (the way Gone Girl "hides" that Nick Dunne's mysterious calls are actually from his mistress because he's a bad husband, not from a conspirator because he's a murderer, for example), it's that this book doesn't do them well. I guessed the big twist long in advance and I'm awful at guessing the twist. And I had a huge issue with characterization, too. The book actually has very few characters it spends any significant amount of time with (primarily Mary and Hannah), so should be able to round them out more fully. Instead, both the girls are flat. Mary is the kind of "she's beautiful...but wild" stereotype I've always found deeply irritating, and Hannah is so milquetoast that she's barely there. I've always thought that the three most important elements of a novel are plot, character, and writing, and a book needs two of three better than average to be good, and all three to be truly great. This book was not successful, for me, in any of those areas. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

Tell me, blog friends...do you try to rate books? If you do, are your rankings purely objective or is there subjectivity there too?

One year ago, I was reading: Sophia of Silicon Valley (review to come)

Two years ago, I was reading: Moonglow

Three years ago, I was reading: Suspicious Minds

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl! This week, we're talking about things that make a book jump out and say "pick me!" when we're browsing, so here are ten things that help a book find its way into my hands.


Royalty: I'm a sucker for anyone with a crown, both in fiction and nonfiction.

Sisters: As a sister myself, I'm always ready for books about the relationships between them!

Friends Over Time: I love a book that follows a group of friends over time as they grow and change and their bonds get weaker and stronger.

Based on Folklore: I love folk and fairy tales, so if I find out a book is based on myth/legend, I'm intrigued!

True Crime: I started with Ann Rule anthologies in high school, and I've still got a weak spot for a book telling me about the investigation of a crime.

A Historical Event: Either fictional or real, I enjoy reading accounts of major parts of history that give me more context or a new perspective for understanding.

Trusted Author: If I've read and liked work from a writer before, I'm much more likely to pick up something else by them, either a new one or a backlist selection.

Connection To A Place I Love/Have Lived In: If a book is about Michigan, Tuscaloosa, Reno, Florence...I'm automatically curious to see how it's depicted.

Coming-of-Age: Even though I'm well on my way to my mid-30s, books about teenagers growing up still get me right in the feels.

Boarding School: Either high school or dorm life in college, a group of inevitably very different people thrown into a tightly packed living arrangement makes for the kind of drama I usually like reading about!