Saturday, August 16, 2014

The evolution of my reading habits. {1}

Image: Asheley @ Into the Hall of Books


Wow! My blog has been silent lately. And it stinks! 

Some of you know that I have had a big move from one part of North Carolina to another and while it has been adventure, it came at a bit of a wonky time. I had just announced and begun my Contemporary Month Event and was SO EXCITED about it. I had read a ton of books and planned to give a ton away to clear my shelves for what I thought was an upcoming move... 

...except the move came a little quicker than I was expecting and MAN OH MAN, it was fast. Also: I've spent a lot longer adjusting (and helping my family adjust) than I had anticipated. No biggie. 

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I can't help but notice a few changes in my reading habits since the flurry of finding a house, packing, moving, unpacking, and adjusting. Throughout the upheaval of my normal routine, there were very few constants - thankfully, one was reading. However! The way that I read changed up a bit and I am both excited and surprised about how things have turned out. 

Here are a couple of the ways my reading routine has changed lately:

1. Before: I pretty much never read series books back-to-back. 
I always read books in between.
Now: I am devouring series books back-to-back. 

I can't believe this! There are a couple of series that I am currently flying through right now (this one and this one). I'm finding myself starting the next book in the series as soon as I can after finishing the book before it. I actually never thought this would happen because I was quite happy enjoying series over a long periods of time -- but I'm okay with this change! 


2. Before: I had major Series Finale Fear. I would read up until the last book and then almost never read the final book for a myriad of reasons.
Now: I don't feel afraid of series endings anymore.

 In the past, I postponed reading finales because: I didn't want bookish relationships with characters to end, I didn't want stories that I loved so dearly to end, I was scared of what would happen with characters that I was invested in, I was nervous about the outcomes of love triangles, etc etc etc. While I still feel these things, it is more an excited and anticipated fear than a bookishly-stressful fear. 
(Either is okay. EITHER IS OKAY.) 

 For those that are pretty familiar with my reading habits, HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE? How how how? If I am honest with myself, I am sure that I will see that emotional fear pop up again, but I am enjoying the freedom from it right now. 

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In reality, I believe that moving quickly through series like I am doing now and have done for the past two or three months has made changes to my reading routine inevitable. ALSO, to be fair, the major series that I have felt the fear over 
(like this one and this one and this one
are completed and I've read all of the finales! So I do not need to stress over those endings any longer. 

I'm not sure if these changes are here to stay. It's okay if they are. But it is okay if they are not too. Only time will tell. In the meantime, I have a ton of series finales to catch up on. A TON. 

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Have your reading habits ever changed 
out of necessity? 

Also: Contemporary Month will be back! I still have to clear my shelves and want to share my thoughts on a ton of great contemporary. I need to get a little more settled in before I restart my event, but I will indeed pick it back up. Doggone it. 



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Friday, August 15, 2014

Magnolia by Kristi Cook Review

Magnolia by Kristi Cook
Published by Simon Pulse
Publish Date: August 5, 2014

336 Pages
Source: Publisher
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N 


In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over
. (from Goodreads)


Magnolia by Kristi Cook

My Thoughts:  I'm such a sucker for contemporary stories and for books set in the South that when I was introduced to this book by way of Lauren from Love is not a triangle, I knew right away that I wanted to read it. 


Magnolia pulled me in with a cute cover and an even cuter romance between main character Jemma and her dreamy neighbor Ryder, the offspring of two sorority sister/BFF's that just KNEW their children would marry one day and make beautiful babies. Jemma and Ryder both come from very old Southern families, both steeped in tradition, and both starry-eyed with dreams and aspirations already in place for their children. Because of their parents's suffocating dreams - where they will go to college, what fraternities and sororities they will belong to, and OF COURSE their eventual marriage - the two merely tolerate each other. 

The truth behind Jemma and Ryder is deeper than a superficial annoyance and dislike of one another, though. There are real, actual feelings behind why these two feel the way they do about one another AND I LOVED READING ABOUT THEM. 

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If you know me at all, you can guess that I really liked the Southern vibe to this book. I liked the little things that made me laugh about the South: the author wastes no time in the beginning of the book lightheartedly mentioning the church-to-fast-food-restaurant ratio (high, which is often true, and this made me laugh loud and hard because my current "town" has several churches and ZERO fast food restaurants, no kidding). There was some Southern phrasing that I loved (this also made me chuckle because I sometimes say these things but they look funny when I read them). The old tradition in the families was familiar despite the fact that I am not sitting in the Deep South, which is where this story was set. And oh yes! the hurricanes and The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore were also things that made this book feel comforting to me given my location near coastal North Carolina. 

I think that the attraction to this book is simple, really: Jemma and Ryder have a long history together that comes from their families' friendships, which have spanned multiple generations. Their mothers want them to get together, so naturally the two rebel against this. They spend years acting cool around one another and by the time they are ready to talk about their real feelings, a giant hurricane comes and forces them to not only spend time together, but work together. Under the stress of the storm and facing danger, their true feelings come out. Naturally, along the way, there are other issues that pop up here and there that threaten the integrity of Jemma and Ryder, both in friendship form and in romantic form. 

The hurricane scenes were a great way to twist and turn Jemma and Ryder into something more than neighbors-and-sometimes-friends. I love that their hand was forced and that they caved under pressure and some big truths came out. I also loved that the scenes were so doggone accurate and that they made my heart pound, what with the wind and the tornadoes and the debris and the fear. 

Besides the hurricane, I loved the family and sibling relationships that were present in this book, even though they were tested and strained a little and manipulated. I thought this was a great middle-ground from the "fantastic family relationships" that we often see and the pretty awful family relationships that are a YA trope. These parents are present and great, but they are a little controlling and this story is basically how Jemma and Ryder overcame that. I like how the author presented this. There are plenty of families that aren't one extreme or the other, and these families are great examples. 

Magnolia was a quick read. It was easy and fun to read. I think I actually visualized this story like a show that would play on the CW network or ABC Family, especially since it was pretty stereotypically Southern with the stereotypical young Southern girl and football and all. I would recommend Magnolia by Kristi Cook to readers that are looking for a young adult contemporary romance that has a great setting, readers that enjoy stories with natural disasters, and readers that enjoy light, quick romances. 

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Magnolia will appeal to fans of:

Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: No triangle. 

Great setting: Mississippi
Standalone

Magnolia by Kristi Cook
is currently available for purchase. 

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I think I would like to discuss this book with 
someone that has read it! 


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Monday, August 11, 2014

Something Borrowed & Something Blue by Emily Giffin Review




Something BorrowedSomething Blue by Emily Giffin
Series: Darcy & Rachel #1 & 2
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publish Date: June 1, 2004 & March 21, 2006
322 Pages & 338 Pages
Source: Books - Borrowed, Audio - Library
Find Something Borrowed: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N 
Find Something Blue: Goodreads / Amazon / B&N

I THINK THAT these books are basically all about right vs. wrong, about relationships (all kinds), and whether or not different types of relationships can withstand different types of hurt and betrayal. There are happy times and sad times and, really, I suppose it is fair to say that these relationships are accurate in terms of life for some people. 

My Thoughts: I amaze myself sometimes that I am able to go into books that have been around for a long time and not know anything about the story. I could tell when I started these books pretty much the main idea of the tales, but I really didn't know the story synopses. (Also I had never seen the movie trailer for the first book.) 

Since so many people have already read these books
I don't want to review them, 
but I do want to share my thoughts in list form: 

1. Okay, first of all, I am pretty sound in my ability to see past a flawed character or when a character does bad things. I also tend to really like unlikable and unreliable characters. I know that not everyone can or will read certain types of books and/or unlikable characters. This series combined both of those things. 

2. GOOD GRIEF, you guys. Rachel and Darcy. Darcy & Rachel. These two best friends need serious therapy. HELLO UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP. I'm sure that at some level, I was supposed to feel emotional attachment or sympathy for these two girls during the course of these two stories, but they made it extremely difficult. There is an exception for both of these girls and I will get to that in just a bit. One is a "good girl" and one is a spoiled, rich, jealous girl, but they are horrible friends to one another. No spoilers here, but WOW. 

3. There is a love triangle, for those that do not love triangles. There is cheating, for those that do not like "cheating" books. 

4. In my own personal opinion, the only likable character is Ethan. Neither Rachel nor Darcy is likable, nor is Dex or Marcus or any of the other secondary characters. I am not bothered by unlikable characters, but this is certainly noteworthy. 

5. Walking away from this series, the thing I will remember most is: I found myself wondering why all of my friends liked these books so much. I felt like there was something that I was missing in some huge way as I was reading because I just was not connecting at all as I was nearing the end of both of these books. But then I got to the last part of both books...
  • In the case of Something Borrowed, I found myself wishing and cheering and rooting for an ending that I would never want in real life. I spent the majority of the book not really liking the characters, but there was a point toward the end of the book that I just wanted happiness for somebody-please-somebody - the only problem is that in wishing for happiness for some, there would be inevitable pain for others. (This was stressful!)
  • In the case of Something Blue, I had come to terms with where all of the characters were in their lives and I was hopeful that things would end up well for everyone. GOSH WHAT A TORTUROUS BOOK. But I am thankful that I stuck with it because it ended well. It felt rushed and neat and wrapped up...BUT! I feel less stressed about all of these people now and I can return these two books to the shelves and move on knowing that everyone is going to be okay. 
Ultimately, I spent the better part of both Something Borrowed and Something Blue wrapped up in the drama-filled lives of these poorly-behaved characters (with the exception of Ethan, who I LOVED) waiting for some sort of character redemption or development. There is one major character did that have some big change (thankfully!) but it came so late in the series that it did very little to make me feel much differently toward her. This makes me so sad! HOWEVER, I am so thankful that the second book ended the way that it did - I actually exhaled and celebrated with a piece of cheesecake (this is not a joke). 

Do you remember when I mentioned that I would talk about how there was an exception to feeling emotional attachment or sympathy for these characters? It really only came for me at the very end of each of these books - one, of course, is Rachel's book and one is Darcy's book. So I guess you could say that I felt a twinge of hope or something like it for each of these girls at the end of her book even though I never loved how the stories unfolded at all. I think it is true a testament to this author, that she can make me feel positively, that she can make me cross my fingers for these girls' wishes to come true, even if I know that it isn't something that is a good thing were it to happen in real life. Does that make sense? I felt empathy, but in situations that surprised the heck out of me. It was not enough to make me revisit this series, but I will certainly consider reading more books by this author. 

I would recommend Something Borrowed and Something Blue by Emily Giffin to readers that enjoy women's fiction/chick-lit and adult contemporary romance. Based on what I can see of my reading community on Goodreads, I am in the minority with my confused feelings on these books WHICH IS TOTALLY OKAY. There are some interesting relationship dynamics in here and the way they unfold and mend and in some cases, don't mend, is probably very true to life and I can appreciate that very much. However, if you're one of those readers that are hardcore anti-cheating and do not like love triangles, you may want to avoid this series. 


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Something Borrowed & Something Blue will appeal to fans of:

Women's Fiction/ChickLit
Adult Contemporary Romance
Romance: All types of romances. Cheating is involved.
Love Triangle(s).
Great settings: New York City, London

Something Borrowed & Something Blue by Emily Giffin
are both currently available for purchase. 

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SO MANY people have loved these books! 

If you're one of the readers that loved these books, was it the entire story or the ending that made you love it?

If you didn't love it, why? 

Can you recommend other books by this author? 
I'd like to try more by her. 


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