Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Famous In A Small Town

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

Emma Mills
Expected publication date: January 15, 2019
For Sophie, small-town life has never felt small. She has the Yum Yum Shoppe, with its famous fourteen flavors of ice cream; her beloved marching band, the pride and joy of Acadia High (even if the football team disagrees); and her four best friends, loving and infuriating, wonderfully weird and all she could ever ask for.

Then August moves in next door. A quiet guy with a magnetic smile, August seems determined to keep everyone at arm's length. Sophie in particular.

Country stars, revenge plots, and a few fake kisses (along with some excellent real ones) await Sophie in this hilarious, heartfelt story. - from Goodreads
I've loved all of Emma Mills' books, and she always has the best covers!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Morristown Festival of Books

So you may have heard me mention on the blog that Kate Morton is one of my favorite authors.  When she announced on Instagram that as part of the book tour for her new release, The Clockmaker's Daughter, she would be coming to the Morristown Festival of Books, my first thought was, OMG, that's only 30 minutes from me, I need to go!  My second thought was, there's a Morristown Festival of Books?  I can't believe I had never heard of this FREE bookish event that was so close by.

Even though Kate Morton was the obvious draw for me at the festival, the more I read about it and what other authors would be there, the more excited I got.  The Morristown Festival of Books brings dozens of authors (nonfiction, fiction, and YA) to several locations around Morristown to discuss their books and interact with readers through Q&A sessions.  After the panels, the authors immediately go to a book signing tent.  You can bring your own books to get signed, and they also sell them all right on site.

On October 13, my sister Michele and I drove to Morristown and went right to one of the first panels, which featured Fiona Davis (The Address, The Masterpiece) and Kate Quinn (The Alice Network) along with a moderator.  When we arrived, the church where their talk was held was only partially full, but it soon quickly filled up.  Both authors were great speakers and I'm looking forward to reading more of their books!

Fiona Davis (center) and Kate Quinn (right)

Afterwards, we had a bit of time before Kate Morton's panel, so we wandered around, down to the book signing tent and also Kidfest, where they had all this fun stuff for kids to do, as well as tons of books and author talks.

Book signing and sales tent

Church of the Redeemer, where we attended 3 talks

After seeing how crowded the first session was, we knew we wanted to get to Kate Morton's early.  Good thing we did, because it was basically standing room only.  Along with a moderator, Diane Chamberlain (The Dream Daughter) was also part of this panel.  Kate Morton was as lovely and charming as I'd always imagined she'd be, and Diane Chamberlain was wonderful, and funny!

Kate Morton (center) and Diane Chamberlain (right)

The church was such a beautiful setting for the panel!

After the Q&A session, we ran down to the book signing tent to get on line.  I was so nervous to meet Kate Morton, totally star-struck, I could hardly think of anything to say!  I eventually told her that I'm a huge fan and I recommend her books to everyone, including my mother, who isn't a big reader but is now obsessed with her books.  She loved that we share books together.  My sister got another of her books signed for me because I didn't want to just give her a whole stack to sign.

Because the signing was right after the session, we figured we might miss Kate Moore (The Radium Girls) speak because she was on about 20 minutes after Kate Morton, but by the time we got our books signed, we had only missed 10 minutes of her talk, so we ran back to the church.  Kate Moore talked about how she came across the story of the radium girls and a little bit of the history.  The room was packed, and everyone was just enraptured by Kate Moore.  She spoke with such passion and emotion, and you could just tell how much the story of these poor women really impacted her.  When I got my copy signed by her, I told her how The Radium Girls is my favorite book of the year and I recommend it to everyone; it's such a powerful read.  She was so happy to hear that more people are reading it.

Kate Moore

I'm so glad I finally went to my first bookish event, and now I'm looking forward to next year's!

Monday, October 15, 2018

TBR Expectations

One day my sister Michele and I were having a chat about our TBRs.  She had just added a bunch of new books and lamented that she would never get ahead, because she was always adding more than she was reading.  I told her that she would always have a good selection to choose from and asked if she thought that she would finish her TBR someday.  Michele said no, but that she wanted to feel like she was making progress and also not forget about books she added at the beginning.

That got me thinking - as readers, do we have expectations for our TBRs?  When I started this year, I had 158 books on my TBR; at the time I'm writing this post, there are 123 books on it.  Even though I've read A TON of books this year, I'm always adding new titles.  If I stopped adding books, I could probably finish my TBR in about a year. 

But that's unrealistic, right?  I don't think most readers actually expect to read their entire TBR and get it down to zero.  New books are coming out all the time and then there's all those backlist titles that you find out about.  However, is it realistic to have some sort of expectations for your TBR?

There are a few things I want out of my TBR:
  • A manageable number.  I do try to keep the actual number of titles on my TBR pretty small.  There are already books that I've put off for a couple years, and I want to at least have the possibility that I will see these books, remember I wanted to read them, and then actually pick them up.  I feel like I'm too picky sometimes, though, and I haven't added enough to my TBR.  Even with over 100 books, there are some days where I feel like there's nothing to read.
  • Routine purging.  I go through my TBR every once awhile and get rid of those books that I'm no longer interested in, wonder why I put them on in the first place, or have seen too many poor reviews of.  I don't want the books I'm really interested in to get lost among those I'm not.
  • Read my unread physical books.  Although there aren't a ton of these, I do sometimes have a bad habit of buying books and then not reading them.  One way to cut down my TBR would be to actually read some of those books!  Likewise, instead of constantly getting new books from the library, one month my sister only read the books that were already on her e-reader, and that really helped her focus and cut down her TBR.
When I think about all the books that are out there in the world, and all the ones that will be released in the coming months, it can be overwhelming to know that there's so much I want to read and not enough time!  But, there are worse problems to have, right?  ;-)

How big is your TBR?  How do you manage it?  Do you ever purge your TBR?  Do you have any TBR expectations (i.e. getting it down to a certain number or finally reading all those unread physical books on your shelf)?

Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: The Other Side of Lost

The Other Side of Lost
Jessi Kirby
Published August 7, 2018
Girl Online meets Wild in this emotionally charged story of girl who takes to the wilderness to rediscover herself and escape the superficial persona she created on social media.

Mari Turner’s life is perfect. That is, at least to her thousands of followers who have helped her become an internet starlet. But when she breaks down and posts a video confessing she’s been living a lie—that she isn’t the happy, in-love, inspirational online personality she’s been trying so hard to portray—it goes viral and she receives major backlash. To get away from it all, she makes an impulsive decision: to hike the entire John Muir trail. Mari and her late cousin, Bri, were supposed to do it together, to celebrate their shared eighteenth birthday. But that was before Mari got so wrapped up in her online world that she shut anyone out who questioned its worth—like Bri.

With Bri’s boots and trail diary, a heart full of regret, and a group of strangers that she meets along the way, Mari tries to navigate the difficult terrain of the hike. But the true challenge lies within, as she searches for the way back to the girl she fears may be too lost to find: herself. - from Goodreads
Mari Turner is a social media influencer; she's beloved by thousands of followers, but in reality, she's all alone.  She and her cousin Bri were very close as kids; they grew apart over the years and Bri has recently passed away.  Bri had planned to hike the John Muir Trail on her 18th birthday, but after quitting social media in spectacular fashion, Mari decides to take her place, in an effort to help her rediscover herself.

Right from the beginning, I felt so sad for Mari, as she created meals just for the photos and bought a birthday gift for herself and pretended to her followers that it was from her boyfriend.  Her life is consumed by how many likes and followers she can get.  When Bri's box of hiking supplies shows up on Mari's doorstep, she takes a wild leap and heads to the trail.  I was surprised Mari even lasted a day; she had no experience, no training, she didn't even know how to use most of the equipment.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster!

But fortunately for Mari, she meets people along the trail that help her out, eventually joining a group of friends as they make their way down the trail.  I understood why Mari kept some secrets from them, but I wish she had told them earlier about Bri and who Mari really was; they were so friendly and understanding, I know it wouldn't have mattered to them.

Mari's growth was one of the best parts of the book.  She gained confidence along the trail and learned to live beyond her phone screen.  She also worked through her grief over losing Bri.  Speaking of Bri, she sounded amazing and I could see why everyone loved her.  She was so courageous and full of life in her journal entries.  I could feel her presence during Mari's trip.

Kirby did a really great job setting the scene.  The descriptions of the trail really made me feel like I was there, and Kirby's writing is just so warm and enveloping that I got swept away in the book.

I did have a couple issues with the book.  The ending felt really rushed and although I knew Mari had changed, I kind of wanted an epilogue or something to see where Mari goes next.  There were also hints of a romance that I thought were unnecessary. 

4 stars

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Forget You Know Me

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

Jessica Strawser
Expected publication date: February 5, 2019
In this riveting domestic thriller, Jessica Strawser takes readers deep into the intimate friendship of two women and the distance, secrets, and lies that threaten to break them apart.

Liza and Molly are life-long best friends—or at least they used to be. Ever since Liza moved to Chicago to pursue her career, leaving Molly behind in Cincinnati with a husband and two kids, the distance between their two lives has grown more and more insurmountable. In a last-ditch effort to save their friendship, they arrange a “girls night” over webcam, wine in hand, catching up like they used to. But when Molly runs upstairs to check on a crying toddler, Liza watches, horror-struck, as a masked man enters the home of her best friend.

After calling the police, Liza frantically tries to reach Molly, but when she finally responds, her message is icy and terse, insisting that everything is fine. Liza is still convinced something is wrong—that her friend is in danger. But after an all-night drive to rescue her ends in a brutal confrontation, Liza is sure their friendship is over.

Meanwhile, Molly finds herself wondering whether she’s dodged one ruinous mistake only to make another in its place. Did she sacrifice her oldest friendship to save her marriage? Or has she inadvertently sacrificed both?

Liza and Molly can’t avoid each other forever, and soon, they’ll face a reckoning that will force them to decide just how much weight a shared history can carry. - from Goodreads

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Longest Books I've Ever Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is longest books I've ever read.  I went through my Goodreads list and found 10 books (actually 11, but I wanted to stick to the Top Ten!) that were over 1,000 pages.  And many of them came from just two series!

What's the longest book you've ever read?

Monday, October 8, 2018

5 Books To Read Before You Take A Trip To Disney World

I love Disney World - it's one of my favorite places to visit, even as an adult!  I thought it would be fun to put together a list of books inspired by the rides and atmosphere at Disney World (particularly the Magic Kingdom), so here are my five recommendations to read before you visit!

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller: The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is one of my favorites in the Magic Kingdom, and this book will definitely get you in the swashbucklin' mood, with its awesome cast of lady pirates!
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells: Tomorrowland was meant to be Walt's Disney vision of the future and a glimpse towards the advances society would make.  I chose this classic novel because it helped pioneer the concept of time traveling, and within its pages, H.G. Wells imagined what the future of our planet would look like.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer: I could have done a whole post about retellings related to Disney princesses and their original fairy tales, but I chose Cinder because Cinderella Castle is arguably the most iconic part of the Magic Kingdom.  Plus, it was just a really awesome book!
The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel:  In this book, two sisters take a trip around the world, which perfectly pairs with the ride "It's a Small World"!  You know you love those singing dolls!
The Truth About Happily Ever After by Karole Cozzo:  The main character in this book plays Cinderella at a Florida theme park that shares a lot of similarities with Disney World.  I love this book because it includes some fun behind-the-scenes stuff into the inner workings of a theme park.
What books remind you of Disney World?  What would you read to get excited about a trip there?