Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Sociable

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

Rebecca Harrington
Expected publication date: March 27, 2018
The Assistants meets The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. in this exuberant comedy of manners set in the world of Internet media, a brilliantly irreverent novel about what it means to be young, broke, dumped, and scarily good at creating viral content.

When Elinor Tomlinson moved to New York with a degree in journalism she had visions of writing witty opinion pieces, marrying her journalist boyfriend, and attending glamorous parties with famously perverted writers. Instead, Elinor finds herself nannying for two small children who speak in short, high screams, sleeping on a foam pad in a weird apartment, and attending terrible parties with Harper's interns wearing shapeless smocks. So when Elinor is offered a job at, the digital media brainchild of a Silicon Valley celebrity, she jumps at the chance. Sure, her boyfriend is writing long think pieces about the electoral college for a real website while Elinor writes lists about sneakers and people at parties give her pitying glances when she reveals her employer, but at Elinor discovers her true gift: She has a preternatural ability for writing sharable content. She is an overnight viral sensation! But Elinor's success is not without cost. Elinor's boyfriend dumps her, two male colleagues insist on "mentoring" her, and a piece she writes about her personal life lands her on local television. Broke, single, and consigned to move to a fifth-floor walkup, Elinor must ask herself: Is this the creative life she dreamed of? Can new love be found on Coffee Meets Bagel? And should she start wearing a smock? With wry humor and sharp intelligence, Sociable is a hilarious tale of one young woman's search for happiness--and an inside look at life in the wild world of Internet media. - from Goodreads

Monday, January 15, 2018

5 Little Mermaid Retellings For Adults

I am a huge Disney fan, and when I was a kid, my favorite of the Disney princesses was (and still is) Ariel (although Belle the bookworm also holds a place in my heart!).  I loved The Little Mermaid, but it was only when I got older that I realized that original Hans Christian Andersen tale is actually pretty dark.  So today I wanted to compile a list of Little Mermaid retellings for adult fans!

The Seafarer's Kiss by Julia Ember: A mermaid falls in love with a maiden trapped on a glacier.

The Mermaid's Daughter by Ann Claycomb: An opera student in Boston feels stabbing pains in her feet, unless she's touching the sea.  I can highly recommend this one - check out my review here.

The Summer Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler: A singer loses her voice, but a potential new relationship may give her renewed hope.

Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon: Close to the original story, this retelling focuses on a love triangle between the mermaid, prince, and another princess.

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama: A mermaid's decision to join her human love echoes through generations.

Do you have any other recommendations for Little Mermaid retellings?  What's your favorite fairy tale retelling?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Review: Invictus

Ryan Graudin
Published September 26, 2017
Time flies when you're plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far's birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he's ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far's very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems. - from Goodreads
In the distant future, Farway McCarthy is a student hoping to become a time traveler, so he can explore history.  But after he fails his final test, he is recruited by a shady guy to locate and steal valuable items that were lost to history.  One such mission involves stealing a book from the sinking Titanic, where Far crosses paths with Eliot, a girl with many secrets.  Who is she, and what does she want?  When she finally reveals her reasons for seeking out Far, Far and his team are thrown into something that could affect all of time and space.

I love time travel (although I don't always understand it), and I especially loved the way the author approached it in Invictus.  In Far's time, time travelers are sent back to different times and places in order to record history - can you imagine being able to say you walked with dinosaurs or saw President Lincoln give his Gettysburg Address?  It sounds like the perfect job - one that Far wants desperately.  He assumes he'll get it, too - he's at the top of his class and everyone expects that he'll pass his exam with flying colors.  But he doesn't, which leads him to accept a black-market job as captain of the Invictus, with a crew comprised of his medic girlfriend Priya, historian cousin Imogen, and engineer best friend Gram.

I generally liked all the individual characters, although my one biggest problem with YA is that the teenagers always seem way too smart for their ages.  The characters are all around 18 years old, yet they're able to pilot this ship and plan and carry out missions like it's no big deal.  It's just a little weird to me.  Anyway... there was also some romance going on - I liked Priya and Far's relationship.  It felt real and deep, as opposed to the huge crush Imogen has on Gram.  Her "I like him but I can't tell him" utterings got old, real fast.  She seemed a bit immature.

When Eliot appeared on the scene, I was anxious to find out what her deal was.  I wish the author had gotten to it a bit faster; the reveal was pretty cool, but it took so long to get there and the mystery surrounding Eliot just confused me.  After her reveal, the story became tense and action-packed.  I don't want to give too much away, because it's a really fun but also unexpectedly dark and emotional ride.

I loved Graudin's writing; I've never read anything by her before, and I found her writing to be elegant in a way I don't necessarily expect from YA books.  I appreciated where she went with the story in the end; I think it was risky to have the events play out the way they did, but I was very satisfied with the choices she made.

4 stars

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Family Next Door

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

The Family Next Door
Sally Hepworth
Expected publication date: March 13, 2018

A gripping domestic page-turner full of shocking reveals, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty, Amanda Prowse and Kerry Fisher.

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It's the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street.

Isabelle Heatherington doesn't fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

But Ange, Fran and Essie have their own secrets to hide. Like the reason behind Ange's compulsion to control every aspect of her life. Or why Fran won't let her sweet, gentle husband near her new baby. Or why, three years ago, Essie took her daughter to the park - and returned home without her.

As their obsession with their new neighbour grows, the secrets of these three women begin to spread - and they'll soon find out that when you look at something too closely, you see things you never wanted to see. - from Goodreads

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: 2017 Releases I Haven't Read Yet

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.  This week's topic is books we meant to read in 2017 and didn't get to, but seriously plan to read soon.  Even though I read a ton of new releases last year, there are still a bunch on my TBR (too many books, not enough time!).  Here are just a few I'm hoping to read soon!

What 2017 releases are you still planning to get to?

Monday, January 8, 2018

2018 Nonfiction Reading Challenge Sign-Up and TBR

After having a lot of fun participating in Nonfiction November last year, I set a goal for myself of reading more nonfiction in 2018, specifically at least one book per month.  The Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted by Katie at Doing Dewey is the perfect fit to help me reach my goal!  The rules of the challenge are pretty flexible - participants set their own reading goals, and there will be Twitter chats and quarterly group reads throughout the year (all optional!).  My plan is to read at least 12 nonfiction books this year.  Here is my tentative TBR for this challenge:







Friday, January 5, 2018

Nonfiction Review: Death In The Air

Death in the Air: The True Story of a Serial Killer, the Great London Smog, and the Strangling of a City
Kate Winkler Dawson
Published October 17, 2017
London was still recovering from the devastation of World War II when another disaster hit: for five long days in December 1952, a killer smog held the city firmly in its grip and refused to let go. Day became night, mass transit ground to a halt, criminals roamed the streets, and some 12,000 people died from the poisonous air. But in the chaotic aftermath, another killer was stalking the streets, using the fog as a cloak for his crimes.

All across London, women were going missing-poor women, forgotten women. Their disappearances caused little alarm, but each of them had one thing in common: they had the misfortune of meeting a quiet, unassuming man, John Reginald Christie, who invited them back to his decrepit Notting Hill flat during that dark winter. They never left.

The eventual arrest of the "Beast of Rillington Place" caused a media frenzy: were there more bodies buried in the walls, under the floorboards, in the back garden of this house of horrors? Was it the fog that had caused Christie to suddenly snap? And what role had he played in the notorious double murder that had happened in that same apartment building not three years before-a murder for which another, possibly innocent, man was sent to the gallows?

The Great Smog of 1952 remains the deadliest air pollution disaster in world history, and John Reginald Christie is still one of the most unfathomable serial killers of modern times. Journalist Kate Winkler Dawson braids these strands together into a taut, compulsively readable truecrime thriller about a man who changed the fate of the death penalty in the UK, and an environmental catastrophe with implications that still echo today. - from Goodreads
When I was watching season 1 of The Crown on Netflix, a whole episode was devoted to the deadly smog that covered London in December 1952.  It piqued my interest, and I knew I had to read this book.  In Death in the Air, Dawson weaves two stories together: how the smog affected the city and how a serial killer became a media sensation in the months following the dissipation of the smog.

Dawson starts the book by talking about some of the social, political, and meteorological factors that contributed to the smog.  London was still recovering from World War II and cheap, dirty coal was in abundance.  Fog wasn't an uncommon occurrence in London, but this smog was much worse than previous fogs, filled with dangerous chemicals and held in place for days.  The weather was also colder than normal, which meant people were burning more coal, contributing further to the deadly conditions.

Dawson mainly focuses on an overall picture of the smog and its effects, but she chooses some individuals to focus on, which gave a more personal feel to the story: a police officer, a young girl who loses her father, and a politician who is outraged after the smog finally lifts.  Dawson also provides an overview of the government's reaction (or lack thereof) to the smog.  It was pretty appalling that the deadly phenomenon wasn't at the top of their list, considering literally thousands of people died during and in the months following the smog.  Unfortunately, the government's slow reaction wasn't surprising to me.

The second part of the book focuses on serial killer John Reginald Christie, a creepy and depraved man who was physically (and probably mentally) ill.  He murdered his wife and hid the bodies of several other victims on his property.  The tie between the smog and Christie was a bit tenuous at times, as Christie didn't commit the murders during the fog, but the way his trial dominated the media afterwards was fascinating.  His conviction also changed the course of the death penalty in England.  The timeline of Christie's story was sometimes confusing, flashing back to murders and other events that happening before the smog.

I enjoyed Dawson's writing style; it was straightforward and easy to read, reminiscent of nonfiction author Erik Larson (if you've read The Devil in the White City, you'll probably find a lot of similarities). 

4 stars

Thursday, January 4, 2018

2018 Blogging & Reading Goals

I like having goals to work towards, so here are my blogging and reading goals for 2018!  I'm trying to keep things a bit simple this year, but I still wanted to set at least a couple.

Blogging Goals
  1. Participate in at least two reading challenges.  This one could go under either section, but I put it here because to me a lot of reading challenges are about the blogging community and fostering interaction between bloggers.  I've already signed up for the 2018 Beat The Backlist challenge (go Team Book Bards!).
  2. Come up with new or different ways to present our travels.  I like talking about the different hikes we go on and I'll still showcase them, but incorporating travel in general, not just limited to hikes, may be something I start doing this year.
  3. Learn more about the technical side of blogging.  Yes, this is a carryover from last year, where I utterly failed at this goal!
  4. Start doing monthly recaps.  I really enjoy reading other blogger's monthly recaps, so I'm thinking about starting to do my own.  My hope is to work on it a little bit all month long.

Reading Goals:
  1. Read or reread at least six classics.  I have so many classic books on my shelves, and I just keep reading the same ones over and over (Gone With the Wind, mostly).  I want to reread some other stories and try ones I haven't read before.  Any suggestions?  What's your favorite classic?
  2. Read at least one nonfiction book per month.  While I gravitate more towards fiction, I do enjoy a good nonfiction book once in awhile, and I don't read them enough.  Whether it's a memoir or a historical topic I'm interested in, I want to read more.
  3. Listen to more audiobooks.  When my commute got longer at the end of last year, I decided to try audiobooks for the first time.  So far, I've been listening to books by comedian Jim Gaffigan - they're funny and kind of mindless, as in I don't need to be paying super-close attention lest I miss an important plot point.  Do you have any recommendations for audiobooks (something easy and not too plot-heavy)? 

What are your blogging and reading goals for the year?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Silent Companions

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

The Silent Companions
Laura Purcell
Expected publication date: March 6, 2018
When newly widowed Elsie is sent to see out her pregnancy at her late husband's crumbling country estate, The Bridge, what greets her is far from the life of wealth and privilege she was expecting . . .

When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But with her husband dead just weeks after their marriage, her new servants resentful, and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her husband's awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure--a silent companion--that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of The Bridge are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition--that is, until she notices the figure's eyes following her.

A Victorian ghost story that evokes a most unsettling kind of fear, this is a tale that creeps its way through the consciousness in ways you least expect--much like the silent companions themselves. - from Goodreads

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Top New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is our top authors we read for the first time in 2017!  I found some new great authors this past year, and I'm excited to read more from all of them!