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Molly is just as amazing at YA
2018-10-23 05:00 UTC by Michelle

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Initial thoughts: “Molly Harper breaks away from her adult paranormal romance stories with this adorable young adult novel about witches and magic. Ms. Harper does away with her trademark snark in favor of teen angst, but she uses the angst to create a highly credible and relatable young woman who captures your attention and earns your respect. The setting is equally charming. With the typical boarding school antics as well as Victorian socio-economic differences, Ms. Harper builds a lot of tension and create ethical dilemmas for our heroine without delving into melodrama. All this to say that Changeling is simply adorable and refreshing in its simplicity. I did not want the story to end and am going to be impatiently waiting for the second story in the series!”

Now: Yes, Molly!!! I started Changeling with much trepidation. Change is scary, after all, and it is always a little nerve-wracking when a beloved author deviates from her preferred storytelling genres and tries something new. Thankfully, I lost all fear after the first chapter and quickly found myself engrossed in this utterly charming fish out of water story. The world-building is thorough, providing readers with a clear understanding of this alternate Victorian-era universe, its history, and the social and political highlights of the time, and Ms. Harper does all this without stultifying the story. Cassandra is endearing in her attempts to navigate the unfamiliar world of magical families and boarding school and quickly proves herself to be a heroine worth admiring. I so thoroughly enjoyed Changeling that it ruined my selection process for my next book to read because I wanted something that would make me feel as happy and light as Cassandra and her antics did. I love that Ms. Harper took a chance on YA, and I am even more in love with the product of that chance.

The post Molly is just as amazing at YA appeared first on That's What She Read.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 22 October 2018
2018-10-22 05:00 UTC by Michelle

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button
Hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Here is what I read the week ending 22 October 2018. To learn more about each book, click on the book cover!

It has been a great reading week thanks to the readathon this past Saturday. I used it to delve in my library rather than catch up on review copies and was able to finish one beloved series and read the next book in another series. I enjoyed everything I finished this week and hope to keep the streak alive as I approach future reading selections.


FINISHED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE:

Changeling by Molly Harper The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum Bright We Burn by Kiersten White Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake It Ended Badly by Jennifer Wright

Molly Harper breaks away from her adult paranormal romance stories with this adorable young adult novel about witches and magic. Ms. Harper does away with her trademark snark in favor of teen angst, but she uses the anxiety to create a highly credible and relatable young woman who captures your attention and earns your respect. The setting is equally charming. With the typical boarding school antics as well as Victorian socio-economic differences, Ms. Harper can build a lot of tension and create ethical dilemmas for our heroine without delving into melodrama. All this to say that Changeling is adorable and refreshing in its simplicity. I did not want the story to end and am going to be impatiently waiting for the second story in the series!

Deborah Blum’s novel about the fight to develop food safety regulations and the beginnings of the Food and Drug Administration is fascinating if gruesome. To all the people concerned about genetically modified foods, I say that after reading this book, GMOs do not concern me anymore because our food could be SO much worse.

Kiersten White is my new hero. In her final novel of the Conquerer’s series, not only did she provide a compelling story, she did so while remaining faithful to her switched gender characters AND history. I was so worried about this, and I read most of the novel with my heart in my throat as a result. However, it is the type of story that upon finishing caused me to sit and revel in its perfection.

I swear that Kendare Blake is an evil genius. Her Three Dark Crowns series has more disturbing plot twists than would seem possible, but they all work so well. This latest novel is just as dark and gruesome as the previous novels, but it has the added benefit of allowing readers the chance to learn a bit more about the island’s history and the queens’ lineage. This glimpse into the past is fascinating, but it is the ending which made me shout with glee. While it would be easy to get upset with Ms. Blake at yet another cliffhanger, the possibilities the cliffhanger implies makes me way too excited rather than angry. I ended the story with such an adrenaline rush that it took me a good hour to settle after finishing it. That, to me, is always a fantastic sign of an excellent novel.

I adored Jennifer Wright’s snarky Get Well Soon and hoped for the same magic with It Ended Badly. Sadly, while it has its moments, lightning did not strike twice. Some of my issue with it is the narrator of the audiobook. Hillary Huber does a decent job capturing the stream-of-conscious-like asides and jabs with which Ms. Wright punctuates her storytelling. However, she is not as good at this as Gabra Zackman is. With Ms. Zackman, I feel like she is telling a story and interacting with her audience. With Ms. Huber, I feel like she is narrating someone else’s story and is uncomfortable with directly addressing the audience. This makes a big difference, especially with Ms. Wright’s writing.

Moreover, the subject matter of It Ended Badly is not quite as hard-hitting as in Get Well SoonAt times, it did feel like I was reading a tabloid magazine, something I try to avoid. I can see the target audience for It Ended Badly being someone who just broke up with his or her significant other and is seeking solace. For that reader, this is an excellent read because it shows just how crazy people get when it comes to break-ups, and there is a good chance he or she is doing much better than the thirteen couples in the book. For everyone else, they are amusing but tragic stories of love gone wrong that serve to provide you with interesting but useless trivia with which to impress others on trivia night.


DID NOT FINISH:

Competence by Gail Carriger

I love Gail Carriger. I adore the Parasol Protectorate series. I was in stitches over her Finishing School series. Her Custard Protocol series was already running third as a series, but I was still interested in continuing with it. Then, I hit this latest book in the series. It is the same cast of characters as in the previous books in the series; however, in this novel, Ms. Carriger chooses to tell her story through two other characters who have primarily been supporting characters rather than hero fodder. It is not that they are bad characters. It is that there is a reason why they are supporting characters. Their personalities are too one-dimensional to be anything but secondary characters. At the 25 percent mark, I found myself not caring in the least what happened to any of them, and the thought of continuing to listen to their story held no interest for me. With plenty of other audiobooks with which to while away my time, I decided to cut this particular one as a loss and find something else to occupy my ears while I work.


CURRENT READ:

Vox by Christina Dalcher Bright Ruin by Vic James

I think one day I will get back to Christina Dalcher’s novel, even if it is to skim to the end to find out what happens. I have been on a good run of books that have made it easy to forget the news and the increasing overt misogyny that is happening in the country that I am not sure I want to subject myself to reading it altogether. Skimming should work, I hope.


CURRENT LISTEN:

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I have been looking at the images from the SkyOne television series and anxiously awaiting when the series would arrive in the United States. Since we have to wait until 2019, a second re-read is in order.


NEXT UP:

I find I like waiting to see what catches my eye when going to select my next book.


So, what are you reading?

The post It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 22 October 2018 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Sunday Reflections – 21 October 2018
2018-10-21 05:00 UTC by Michelle

Sunday Reflections Button

Hello, my lovelies!

I don’t know about where you are right now, but it has been a glorious, sunny autumn day here. This is the time of year during which I am most grateful that my house is almost nothing but windows because they capture the gorgeous autumn light in a way that makes you thankful to be alive to experience it. Of course, I feel that way about this entire season, so maybe it is not my windows after all.

The readathon on Saturday was a lot of fun. I did not take it too seriously this time around, reading when I felt like it, playing games or working on cross-stitch when I did not. I managed to finish two books and almost 900 pages in about eight hours. I had more fun looking at everyone’s pictures on Instagram and enjoying how happy everyone was that day. No sad posts. No inspirational, “hang in there” type posts. No politics. Just a lot of blankets, coffee or tea, sleepy animals, and books. It was awesome and reminded me of how social media used to be before it went mainstream, and people became mean. I want that feeling to last all year long.

Not much new here. Work. School. Dance. Homework. Housework. Rinse. Repeat.

Speaking of housework, I have a load of laundry calling my name and a request to start dinner.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend, and I wish you a stress-free and speedy work week!

**********

Here are past posts from the last few weeks in case you missed them the first time:

The post Sunday Reflections – 21 October 2018 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-10-21
2018-10-21 04:00 UTC

  1. www.thatswhatsheread.net
  2. Dracula’s story is a gift that keeps on giving
  3. www.thatswhatsheread.net/feed/rss
  4. Monday Reflections – 15 October 2018
  5. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 15 October 2018

Happy Readathon!
2018-10-20 12:00 UTC by Michelle

Dewey's 24-hour Readathon

Yes, I will be participating as much as I can for today’s event. You can find me mostly on Instagram throughout the day and night. If you are also joining, have fun! If not, I hope you are having fun doing whatever it is that prevents you from reading and participating in this great event today!

The post Happy Readathon! appeared first on That's What She Read.

Fabulous Friday – 19 October 2018
2018-10-19 05:00 UTC by Michelle

Fabulous Friday Button

We should always find ways to celebrate the little things in life. What better day to celebrate these little things other than the best day of the week? So, here are the things that make this a Fabulous Friday for me this week ending 19 October 2018.

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  • READATHON – The reading gods and goddesses must have been watching over me this fall because Holly inexplicably does not have any dance rehearsal tomorrow during the readathon. With no more football on Friday nights, this means that I can feather my nest and prepare for a day filled with blankets and books. I don’t know if I am more excited about the readathon or the fact that the calendar is clear…

*********************

What makes this a Fabulous Friday for you?

The post Fabulous Friday – 19 October 2018 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Robert Jackson Bennett does it again
2018-10-18 17:00 UTC by Michelle

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Initial thoughts: “Robert Jackson Bennett became an author to watch with his stunning City of Stairs trilogy. With his newest series, he entered my automatic read list. Mr. Bennett’s world-building is superb, and his stories are intense and complicated and exciting in all the best ways. However, it is with his characters where he truly shines, and Sanchia is one of the best heroines I have read in a while. She is feisty, fierce, more than a little capable, and intensely vulnerable. You cannot help but fall a little in love with her, even though she would probably punch you in the throat for doing so. Her supporting cast is equally impressive, and I am excited to see where their stories take them. Mr. Bennett’s stories are not the types for quick reading. Instead, I savored every sentence and will now wait patiently for the rest of the series.”

Now: My initial assessment still stands. Foundryside is a fantastic story. There is magic. There are legends. There is science. There are the human interactions which fuel the drama. There are the socio-economic strata that will always cause strife.  There is a larger-than-life cast of characters which not just support but enhance Sanchia’s role as the hero. Nothing is black and white. The myriad shades of gray not only add action and drama, but they also serve as cautionary lessons that define and develop Sanchia as a character. The story is creative and intense, with the stakes being much higher than they initially appear to be. With a classic style of storytelling that takes its time, Foundryside solidifies Mr. Bennett’s place among my all-time favorite authors, and I eagerly anticipate the next book in the Founders series.

The post Robert Jackson Bennett does it again appeared first on That's What She Read.

Dracula’s story is a gift that keeps on giving
2018-10-16 05:00 UTC by Michelle

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Initial thoughts: “Goddess bless the Stoker family. Bram’s Dracula story is a gift that keeps on giving. There is nothing I did not love about this collaboration between Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker. As a prequel, it has everything I love about the original Dracula story without messing with it. As a stand-alone, it is cleverly and convincingly portrayed to be the real story behind the story with the reasons for the 102 missing pages of Bram’s original manuscript abundantly clear. Creepy, intense, gory in the right places, great characters – it is the perfect blend of storytelling elements. Plus, like his previous novel, the Stoker family authorizes this prequel. I am most definitely a fan!”

Now: I stand by my gushing. Dracul is a genuinely entertaining and scary story that works for both Dracula fans and those who may have never read the original story. Personally, because I am a superfan, I love the idea of Bram Stoker meeting vampires and that his personal experiences are what fueled his novel. I love that a distant relative attempted to fill in the gaps of the missing manuscript. I love the “Is it true?” aspect of the authors’ notes. I especially love how formidable Bram’s sister is. Seriously, that girl did not let convention dictate anything she did. I adore how Mr. Stoker and Mr. Barker turned on their head the characteristics of the original cast of characters and played with all of the roles. Plus, I had way too much fun with the little nods to the original; it felt like my own Easter egg hunt. Still, I do think that someone who is not as familiar with the original tale will find Dracul intense and enjoy it just as much as I did.

(I loved this format of shorter, less formal reviews so much I think I am going to adopt it for the near future. Much more manageable and fun – for me at least. What do you think?)

The post Dracula’s story is a gift that keeps on giving appeared first on That's What She Read.

Monday Reflections – 15 October 2018
2018-10-15 17:00 UTC by Michelle

Sunday Reflections Button

Hello, my lovelies!

It is a beautiful sunny autumnal day here in southwestern Wisconsin, which means I have absolutely no desire to work today. We have waited too long for this type of weather. Plus, we need at least a month to dry out from all the rain.

We are keeping on keeping on around here. Holly had her last Football Poms routine this past Friday. She now gets a week break before she heads into Competition Poms practice and season. Competition dance rehearsals keep her busy during the weekend, and her regular dance classes keep her away from home almost every night of the week. So far, she is doing an excellent job of juggling her time, even if it means she has had one or two late nights in order to do so. I never hear her complain though, which is not only a good sign but important because it shows us that she recognizes that she is the master of her own schedule. It will be interesting to watch her reactions as the winter season approaches and her free time dwindles even more due to dance competitions.

Jim loves work, and so does Cletus. Jim takes him almost every day, and he comes home absolutely exhausted from a busy day of playing with other dogs, running around the yard, begging for treats, and napping. It is actually quite cute to see. Plus, he has SO much energy that this means he is actually manageable in the evenings. There is a definite difference in Cletus when he stays home versus when he goes to work. As a 100+ pound puppy, I much prefer exhausted Cletus. He doesn’t know his own strength, nor does he have any spatial recognition when it comes to body parts. Tallulah is not a fan of work. She gets too anxious whenever Jim has to leave her for a meeting. Neither does she show any interest in socializing with the other dogs. For her sake, she stays home and guards the house – an important role in and of itself.

As for me, I’m hanging in there. Work is still crazy. Changes are coming but until upper management announces them, we are all in holding patterns, and that is one of the biggest points of frustration right now. It never ceases to surprise me though how mentally exhausting being a proponent of change or a keeper of secrets is. I go home every night completely wiped from the strain. I am also heading into my busy season, which is never fun. Still, we manage to have fun in the office, and my coworkers are a great group of people.

For now, all three of us relish the limited downtime we have while enjoying everything as it comes, which is all Jim and I can do as Holly hits her stride and starts stretching her wings. We know that this craziness that is our life right now will end all too quickly, so as tired as I am and as stressful as it can be to balance home, work, dogs, and daughter, we don’t wish these days to pass too quickly. The idea of being an empty nester in four years is too freaky right now anyway.

I hope everyone is staying sane and enjoying the weather if possible. Don’t forget to double-check your voter registration status so that you can vote on November 6th! Every single vote counts!

**********

Here are past posts from the last few weeks in case you missed them the first time:

The post Monday Reflections – 15 October 2018 appeared first on That's What She Read.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 15 October 2018
2018-10-15 05:00 UTC by Michelle

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button
Hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Here is what I read the week ending 15 October 2018. To learn more about each book, click on the book cover!

Both novels I finished this week were long, complicated, and deliciously good, proving once again that quality outweighs quantity every single time.


FINISHED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE:

Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Goddess bless the Stoker family. Bram’s Dracula story is a gift that keeps on giving. There is nothing I did not love about this collaboration between Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker. As a prequel, it has everything I love about the original Dracula story without messing with it. As a stand-alone, it is cleverly and convincingly portrayed to be the real story behind the story with the reasons for the 102 missing pages of Bram’s original manuscript abundantly clear. Creepy, intense, gory in the right places, great characters – it is the perfect blend of storytelling elements. Plus, like his previous novel, the Stoker family authorizes this prequel. I am most definitely a fan!

Robert Jackson Bennett became an author to watch with his stunning City of Stairs trilogy. With his newest series, he entered my automatic read list. Mr. Bennett’s world-building is superb, and his stories are intense and complicated and exciting in all the best ways. However, it is with his characters where he truly shines, and Sanchia is one of the best heroines I have read in a while. She is feisty, fierce, more than a little capable, and intensely vulnerable. You cannot help but fall a little in love with her, even though she would probably punch you in the throat for doing so. Her supporting cast is equally impressive, and I am excited to see where their stories take them. Mr. Bennett’s stories are not the types for quick reading. Instead, I savored every sentence and will now wait patiently for the rest of the series.


DID NOT FINISH:

Nothing


CURRENT READ:

Vox by Christina Dalcher Changeling by Molly Harper


CURRENT LISTEN:

Competence by Gail Carriger


NEXT UP:

I am trying to take my advice and stop being so structured with what I read. I will get through my backlog of review copies eventually. It hurts no one if I read them out of publication order.


So, what are you reading?

The post It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 15 October 2018 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Weekly Top Posts: 2018-10-14
2018-10-14 04:00 UTC

  1. www.thatswhatsheread.net
  2. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 8 October 2018
  3. www.thatswhatsheread.net/feed/rss
  4. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 1 October 2018
  5. www.tumblr.com

Fabulous Friday – 12 October 2018
2018-10-12 05:00 UTC by Michelle

Fabulous Friday Button

We should always find ways to celebrate the little things in life. What better day to celebrate these little things than the best day of the week? So, here are the things that make this a Fabulous Friday for me this week ending 12 October 2018.

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  • JUST BECAUSE – I do not have anything specific to celebrate this week. Today is Friday. Holly performs tonight for her last home football game. The weekend is upon us. I don’t have to go anywhere this weekend. I am working my way out of my backlog thanks to work and dance. Holly’s schedule, and therefore mine, eases a bit for the next week. I feel like, for the first time in at least two weeks, I can finally catch my breath, and that is a great feeling.

*********************

What makes this a Fabulous Friday for you?

The post Fabulous Friday – 12 October 2018 appeared first on That's What She Read.


 

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