Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: My Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is our fall TBR.  I want to try to read some creepy/scary books to fit the season, so I have some of those mixed in with other books I want to read:

Have you read any of these?  Where should I start?

Monday, September 17, 2018

5 Ways To Make Book Reviews More Fun To Read (& Write!)

One big hot topic issue in book blogging is reviews.  Does anyone actually read them?  Why do they get fewer views and comments than other posts?  Do we even need to write them?  I personally feel that writing book reviews is a big part of book blogging, but I can admit I don't read every blogger's review of every book, and sometimes writing them can be a chore.  I still write and read many traditional book reviews, but sometimes I want to switch it up, so today I've come up with some ways to make book reviews more appealing to read and more fun to write!

I'll be honest, sometimes I just don't have the patience to read (or write) a review that's several paragraphs long.  But lists - those are easy to read!  Whether it's pros and cons, things you liked or didn't like, or bullet points, list reviews get right to the point.  I did this this in my five reasons you'll love "Something Like Happy" review, and other bloggers who are awesome at list reviews are Sam at We Live and Breathe Books and Marie at Drizzle and Hurricane Books.

This is a tactic I've started to use more and more.  Sometimes you just don't have a ton to say about a book, but you still want to review it.  It's a good way to get in the highlights, plus you can review more books.  My sister, who is a reader but not a blogger, says she often prefers reading mini-reviews to longer reviews because she can get impressions of more books in less time.  Grace at Rebel Mommy Book Blog is just one blogger who does a great job of incorporating mini-reviews.

What were you thinking?
Instead of getting into all the particulars of plot, character development, and writing style, tell the reader your impressions of the book as you were reading it.  Using your Goodreads updates or tweets, list your WTF moments, places where the story was dragging, or when you wanted to give a character a hug - without giving away too many spoilers, if possible!  I think this makes the review a lot more personal.

Write a love letter
I often find when I dislike a book, it's easy to write the review and rant about the things that didn't work or I didn't like, but for some reason, when I love a book, it's hard to articulate why.  Writing a love letter to the book, the author, or even a character may help you get some of those fangirl feelings out without the formal structure of a regular review.

Things you learned
I've been reading a lot more nonfiction this year, but sometimes I find it hard to review those types of books.  Listing some interesting facts you learned or lessons you took away from the book is a fun way to talk about the book and get readers interested.  I did this with five takeaways from "The Year of Less," which was a memoir/self-help book about spending less money, among other things.

What are some ways you get creative with your book reviews?  What makes you read a book review?

Friday, September 14, 2018

5 Reasons Why You'll Love "This Could Change Everything"

This Could Change Everything
Jill Mansell
Published June 5, 2018
All it takes is one email to end her relationship, get her kicked out of her apartment, and just about ruin her life. Essie Phillips never meant for her private rant about her boss to be sent to everyone in her address book, but as soon as it goes viral, her life as she knows it is over. Solution: move to a new town, find a new job, make new friends. If only it were as simple as that... - from Goodreads
While drunk one night, Essie decides to write one of those Christmas brag letters - except instead of writing about all the fun things she did during the year, she lets loose a rant that somehow then gets forwarded to all of her email contacts.  Since the rant was about her boss, who just happens to be her boyfriend's mother, she loses her job, relationship, and home in one fell swoop.  This Could Change Everything follows Essie as she tries to start over, with the help of her best friend Scarlet and some new acquaintances.  Here are five reasons why I think you'll enjoy this book!

1. Zillah.  Zillah is Essie's landlady at her new home.  At 83, Zillah is still going strong - she loves people, loves going out, and dresses to the nines.  She was so upbeat and charming!  I think my favorite thing about her was her project to grant wishes for other elderly people, kind of like Make-A-Wish but for adults.  I teared up each time she created a magical memory for someone who didn't have a lot of time left.

2. The romances.  I have to admit, romance is not necessarily something I seek out in books, but there were a couple in this book that were just so sweet.  Even though it was obvious from the beginning who would end up with who, I liked the routes they took to get there.  Mansell plays with the idea that a relationship that seems perfect on paper may not actually be one's destiny.

3. The writing.  I love Mansell's writing - it is comfortable and easy-to-read.  For me, her signature is introducing a bunch of characters and then having them come together in some twist of fate. 

4. The character development.  I typically like plot-driven books more than character-driven ones, but I actually enjoyed that there was less action in this book.  I loved getting to know the characters and watching their journeys.  Even though Essie is the main character, the supporting characters played roles that were just as large.  Each had hidden layers that were slowly peeled back, revealing more depth.  I think you'll love finding out about Scarlet's hidden talents and learning why Conor (Essie's neighbor) quit a successful career as a lawyer.

5. The ending.  Minor spoiler - if you enjoy a "happily-ever-after," this is the book for you.  At the time I read this book, I really needed something happy and charming and cozy, and this hit the spot.  Was it predictable?  Yes.  Did I care?  No.

4 stars

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Love à la Mode

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Stephanie Kate Strohm
Expected publication date: November 27, 2018
Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent's school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn't all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.

Henry Yi grew up in his dad's restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent's school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie's growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.

Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.

Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other. - from Goodreads
Paris, food, and Stephanie Kate Strohm (also the author of one of my favorite books of the year, Prince in Disguise) - I'm in!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is hidden gems.  I went through my Goodreads "Read" list and chose some books I really enjoyed that didn't have a lot of reviews or ratings.  These books are all wonderful, so I'm hoping to get the word out there about them!


Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon: Time travel, love, family, forgiveness - this book has it all. 

Rutherford Park by Elizabeth Cooke: If you like Downton Abbey, try this book out.

Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton: A quiet yet powerful "end of the world" story.


 The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice: A quirky coming-of-age story, for fans of I Capture the Castle.

The Windy City Magic series by Crystal Cestari: This YA series with a dose of magical realism is so adorable, I'm really surprised I haven't seen more love for it!


 A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott: If you enjoy historical fiction and Gone With the Wind, you'll love this one.

How to Disappear by Sharon Huss Roat: Other bloggers have talked about this book, but I really think more people should read it, for its messages about social media and self-confidence.

The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro: A grand English estate, a decades-old mystery - love this one!

The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard: This well-plotted, slow burn murder mystery is a must for anyone who likes character-driven suspense.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Some Bookish Memories

A little while ago, the Top Ten Tuesday topic, hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl, was about books with sensory memories: books that are linked to very specific memories (where you were, what time of year it was, who you were with, what you were eating, what you were feeling, what you were seeing, etc.).  Even though I've read a ton of books in my life, I didn't think I had many specific memories of individual books that really stood out, so I didn't participate that week.  However, after reading so many other bloggers' lists and memories, it sparked something in my memory and I was able to come up with a few of my own.  So, here's the list I should have had that week! 


Behind the Attic Wall: This is one book I distinctly remember reading as a kid, and more than once.  I loved it so much I named my pet cat after one of the characters!

Nancy Drew: My aunts read Nancy Drew when they were younger, and my grandmother kept a lot of their old books.  When we would visit, she would let my sister and I read them!

The Selection series: I brought this series on vacation with me when we went to Las Vegas last year.  I thought it would be a fun, light reread.  I didn't get much reading done on our trip, but figured I would get some reading time in on the flight home.  Our flight stopped in Denver for what was supposed to be a short time (we weren't even supposed to get off the plane), but something happened, they made us all get off the plane, and we ended up being stuck in the Denver airport for HOURS.  I ended up reading quite a lot during that layover!


Anna Karenina: When I went off to college, I didn't bring many books with me, assuming I wouldn't have a lot of time to read for fun, but I brought Anna Karenina, I guess thinking that because it was so long, I wouldn't need any other books.  I distinctly remember sitting on the couches in the student center on a Friday night, reading it.  Now that I think about it, I was kind of pretentious - I swear, I had friends!

The Almost Archer Sisters: I decided to switch careers in my twenties and attended my local community college at night to get my paralegal certificate.  I would often get there really early because the parking situation was so bad, and I would either sit outside or in the library, eating Pop-Tarts for dinner and reading before my class.  I didn't have many books at home, so I reread a lot, and I remember reading this book at least twice in one semester.

Playing the Game: Tom and I were in Baltimore for a long weekend, and we browsed for a bit in the Barnes & Noble at the Inner Harbor.  I ended up buying this book, but the highlight of the weekend was Tom proposing!  Even though I ended up not liking the book very much, I held onto it for years because it brought back a lot of happy memories from that weekend.

What is your favorite bookish memory?

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Check Out Literary Book Gifts!

I know it's only September, but it's never too early to start thinking about the holiday season.  Books are always a great gift for the book lovers in your life (and yourself!), but there are plenty of other unique bookish items out there!  I was recently contacted by Melissa of Literary Book Gifts, and she invited me to check out her site that's full of literary-inspired items, including men's and women's t-shirts, tank tops, and sweatshirts and (my favorite) tote bags. 

Featuring classic authors and books, the clothing items come in several sizes and colors, and for people like me who can never figure out what size they are, there's a handy sizing chart.  Here are just a couple of the fun clothing designs to show off your love of reading:

https://literarybookgifts.com/collections/mens-book-t-shirts/products/beowulf-t-shirt-mens  https://literarybookgifts.com/collections/mens-book-t-shirts/products/ulysses-tank-top-mens

https://literarybookgifts.com/collections/womens-book-t-shirts/products/pride-and-prejudice-t-shirt-womens  https://literarybookgifts.com/collections/womens-book-t-shirts/products/moby-dick-tank-top-womens


I'm a firm believer that you can never have too many tote bags, and Literary Book Gifts has some really cute designs (and they come in three sizes).  These are some of my favorite designs:

https://literarybookgifts.com/collections/book-tote-bags/products/j-m-barrie-peter-pan-tote-bag https://literarybookgifts.com/collections/book-tote-bags/products/alices-adventures-in-wonderland-tote-bag


If you see anything you're interested in, Literary Book Gifts is offering the following promo code MUSINGSOFALITERARYWANDERER20, which is good for 20% off anything in the store, no minimum, and it doesn't expire!
Happy shopping!

Disclaimer: I did not receive anything in exchange for this post.