Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top Ten Books We Are Thankful For



This week's topic is "Top Ten Things We Are Thankful For." 

Lindsay's Selections:

I loved to read when I was younger (totally used to hide under the comforter at night with a flashlight and a book), and that has definitely carried over into adulthood. So, with that being said, I decided to approach this topic by choosing the books that have had the most impact on me as a reader.

1.  Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I first read this book when I was in 9th grade. I instantly fell in love with the world Ms. Mitchell created within the framework of the Civil War. (it's also the first instance of me realizing how ridiculously fast I read. Even at age 14, I finished this book in 10 days). Also, Rhett Butler. 



2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This book is solely responsible for my love of historical fiction and British literature. This is my favorite book of all time (cliche, but true). The best gift I ever received was when my husband gave me a special edition printing from the 1930s of this book. I reread it at least once a year and watch the movie adaptation from 2003 often.Plus, if I ever have a daughter, she'll be named Elizabeth. Fitzwilliam Darcy-need I say more?



3. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. While I was tempted to credit Twilight with this recognition, it was really the Hunger Games that got me sucked into the world of Young Adult Fiction. And I rarely decide to leave.



4. The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I love time travel (I'm a Whovian!), and we already discussed my love of historical fiction, so this series is right up my alley. And Jamie Fraser is right up there with Darcy and Rhett Butler as my favorite male characters from literature. 





5.  Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. So I have a 3 year old, and one of the things I am already the most proud of is how much he LOVES to read. His bookshelves are overflowing, but one book we always come back to is this one. I love Max's imagination, and I love how much it inspires my little guy to imagine his own make-believe worlds.


Honorable Mentions: The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Throne of Glass & Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, The Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi, and Anna & The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I think that's all. For now anyway.



Sarah's Selections:

My love for reading began in Junior High but slowly began to wain by the end of High School. I blame the books on our required reading lists like "All Quiet on the Western Front", "Animal Farm" and "The Pearl". Which are all drab and depressing enough to turn anyone off of reading. But then the following books came along and brought the enjoyment back and reignited my passion for reading. 

1. The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon: This is the series that brought reading back in to my life. Scotland, Time Travel and above all Jamie Fraser. Need I say more?!

Great minds think alike! Yay for Jamie (~Lindsay)

2. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: It's only so often that you come across a book that touches you so deeply that it changes you. For me, this is that book.



3. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: J.K. Rowling and her ridiculously brilliant imagination sucked me in to the world of witchcraft and wizardry and I never ever want to leave. Not to mention that she has provided me with a baby name should I ever have a girl. 


4. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: Jane has given us many men to adore. But my all time favorite is Colonel Brandon. Call me crazy but Brandon is my Darcy. 



5. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: I too love a little boy very much. I read this beautiful story to my boy everyday. 




Thanks for stopping by!!



Monday, November 25, 2013

Review & Discussion: Allegiant by Veronica Roth



Book: Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #3
Released: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Pages: 526 pages (Hardcover)
Rating: 2.5 of 5




This is the 3rd book in a series. If you have not read Divergent and Insurgent, then you may want to come back after you've read them.

From Goodreads: The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.


Where to start... I have LOTS of thoughts on this book, most of which involve spoilers. I'll get to those in a minute, but for now I'll start with the things I can discuss without giving anything away for those that haven't read it yet. I'll also mention here that I absolutely ADORED the first two books. I mean, seriously loved them and recommended them to everyone.

I pre-ordered the book so when it was delivered to my kindle early that morning I couldn't wait to read it. (In fact, I read it in one day, I was so excited about it).

http://media2.giphy.com/media/zA3oCJpuXpjs4/giphy.gif
Me, when Allegiant appeared in my kindle library


This book picks up almost directly where Insurgent leaves off. I appreciated that there wasn't a lot of time set between the books that needed a lot of explanation. It's pretty straight forward. All the main (and most of the secondary) characters are there, no one is missing from the action. I actually really enjoyed the beginning of the book. But once they get outside of the fence is when the whole thing started to fall apart to me. I don't really know what else to say here that won't give anything away. So if you haven't read this book yet, now would be the time to stop reading. For those that have, continue on.



*****SPOILERS BELOW*****DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED THIS BOOK*****




***SERIOUSLY. DON'T READ ANY MORE IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY READ THIS BOOK***


http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-vrlJYttAL7Y/UMpYSD3F9lI/AAAAAAAAD8E/5FCN6nshy2g/s1600/shall-not-pass.gif

****I'M NOT KIDDING. THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO REMAIN UNSPOILED****

Okay then. Here it goes. I'll start with the 3 nice things I liked about the book.

A) Tris and Tobias actually talk to each other. He tells her about the secret meeting, which I didn't expect him to do. I really figured he'd do what he always does and keep it from Tris. Tris leaves the message with Caleb before she dies, at least she was considerate when leaving him. They definitely showed some growth at least in that aspect.

B) the epilogue-even though I didn't agree with the ending. I'm glad Tobias faced his fears-particularly his fear of heights when he went zip-lining off the building.

C) good or bad, this book made me feel something. I didn't quite lose it when Tris died. But when Tobias found out? I cried. A Lot. I don't often cry at books, so well done by Ms. Roth for moving me to tears. Great writing in that scene in particular.

And now for the things I didn't like about the book:

1. Let me start by saying I didn't hate the ending. I get it. Roth was going for the shock factor (I guess?) and she got it. I understand why she killed Tris. But to survive the death serum an then to get shot? Seemed a little ridiculous. To further make this point: I read this on BookRiot and it summed up exactly why I didn't like HOW she died: Think about Lord of the Rings. What if Frodo makes it past Shelob, gets caught by the orcs, rescued by Sam, makes it to Mount Doom, changes his mind about giving up the ring, survives the attack from Gollum, only to get shot and killed by an arrow from an Orc? Really?? That's how your hero dies? Not okay. Dies sacrificing himself to get rid of the ring-totally fine. Arrow from an orc-sucks. It wasn't that Tris died, it was the HOW, at least for me.

Plus I feel Caleb needed the redemption. I would have much rather seen the aftermath of her decision to let him go and how it may alter future relationships (including the one with Tobias).

2. The entire resolution between Evelyn and Tobias was a major WTF moment. She makes decisions throughout the other books where she leaves her son, uses him for her own means, etc. and then all of the sudden he's gives this ultimatum and she takes it! Huh?!? Where in her character from the previous books was that ever shown?!? I don't get it. But I guess it was a way to resolve the issue with the Allegiant.

http://replygif.net/i/1081.gif
Me, after Evelyn agreeing to Tobias' plan

3. The entire GD and GP plot. that was something that needed to be introduced in the final book? I also didn't really like that that was what being divergent was. I expected more. All being divergent was, was basically being normal? Okaaaaay then. Way to build something up for 2 books only for it to basically become a non-entity.

4. Tobias. He ended up joining a revolution without really knowing the entire reason. For someone who always looked out for himself (and Tris) he certainly followed Nita blindly. His entire character became convoluted and his personality seemed to change a lot during this last book. He has always been one of my favorite book boys based on the first two books, but after this one, not so much.

5. I felt the whole world that Roth built inside the fence was completely disregarded in the final book. It was hardly even mentioned. Once they leave (which was WAY too easy, even though Tori died. Evelyn sends no one after them? Really?!) it's hardly mentioned. It was weird.

6. The secondary characters. People that we'd come to know seemed ignored. Uriah is hardly mentioned until he's put in a coma. Tori is shot really quickly and just left. It just felt so "off" from why happened in the first 2 books, with minor characters being developed.

7. The whole Bureau/Government stuff. If they'd previously helped removed a few divergent people, when why let them try to mass-kill all of them? And if Tris' mom knew Tris was divergent and in danger-then why didn't she try to get Tris out? None of the Bureau and government issues felt fully fleshed out to me.

8. Dual points of view. While it was interesting to read both sides, their "voices" often sounded the same and blended together. A few times I had to go back to the start to the chapter to see who was narrating.

9. The pacing. The first half felt off. I felt not enough time was given to the trials of traitors, forming of the Allegiant, and then their escape. It went super fast. And then once they got outside the fence I felt it dragged on. So slow. Had to remind myself to keep reading on a few occasions. And then once the action started it definitely picked up and held its pace until the end.

10. The Allegiant. Based on the fact that the book is named "Allegiant," I expected more out of the group. Other than helping Tris, Tobias and the other escape, and apparently fighting against Evelyn (even though we don't really read anything about it...), that's all they are there for. I just think it was a strange title for the book. Something like "Resurgent" would've been better, but oh well.

http://mashable.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Dr.-Who.gif
Me, upon finishing the series

Sidenote: I heart David Tennant. So glad he was on my TV Saturday for the Doctor Who 50th



So basically, I was hugely disappointed with this book. I expected a lot more. I know that Roth doesn't necessarily owe the readers anything, but after the amazing job she did in the first two books, this is not at all what I wanted for the end of this series. There just seemed to be such a huge disconnect between the first two and this one. It almost felt like a different author wrote Allegiant. I'd be curious to know what you all think, so leave me a comment and let me know!


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Book: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman 
Released: June 18, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 159 pages (Nook)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
 Goodreads



"You do not pass or fail at being human, dear."

A middle aged man attends a funeral in the town where he grew up. There he is drawn to the old farm house at the end of the lane, down the road from his childhood home. This is where he meets the extraordinary Lettie Hempstock, along with her mother and grandmother, when he is just seven years old.  

   He hasn't thought of Lettie in over a decade, though he sits outside the old farmhouse, in front of the pond that Lettie claimed was an ocean. It's then that his forgotten memories come flooding back. Memories that are so strange and frightening that they couldn't have really happened to a seven year old boy, could they?

Some forty years earlier and man commits suicide outside of the old farmhouse. This action unleashes a darkness that is unimaginably scary to a seven year old boy. But there's Lettie, the extraordinary girl from farmhouse who promises to protect him no matter what. 

Let me start off by saying that I really, thoroughly enjoyed this short novel. However, I couldn't give it a full five stars. The reason I only gave it four stars is simple, it's marketed as an Adult Fiction novel when to me it read much like Gaiman's children books. I found it to be much more along the lines of "Coraline" or "The Graveyard Book". I just never saw the adult content that would classify it as Adult Fiction. 

That small point aside, I really thought this book was fantastic. This is the third Neil Gaiman book I've read and so far I've never been disappointed with his work. His writing style is wonderfully vivid and imaginative. He's incredibly talented in drawing the reader in and keeping them engrossed the entire time. "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" is a relatively short read (just what a mom with a four month old needs!) The characters were charming and endearing. However, I would suggest reading it during the day. Some parts made my spine tingle and my hair stand on end. The story was magical and scary, beginning to end! 

If you're looking for a quick, entertaining read then look no further. Pick this one up and I promise you will not be disappointed.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

To celebrate the movie release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire today, I made cookies! One of my part-time jobs is decorating cookies, so what better way to combine my love of books and cookies than making some to celebrate today's movie release!?

Here's the photo:

The mockingjay from the Catching Fire book cover & the logo for the 75th Hunger Games


The full post: Catching Fire cookies

And the cookies I made for the first Hunger Games movie: The Hunger Games cookies


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Kindle Daily Deal: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Today's Kindle Daily Deal is Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta!



Both Sarah and I absolutely LOVE this book! In fact, it's the first one Sarah reviewed, which you can find here!

And HERE is the link to purchase it from Amazon. 

Happy reading!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top Ten YA Books We'd Recommend to People Who Don't Read YA

Hosted by: The Broke and the Bookish

Welcome to our first ever Top Ten Tuesday!

Young Adult (or YA) is the go-to literature for both of us. Be it fantasy, contemporary or otherwise, it's what we like to read. We've decided to list a few books each, and hopefully it'll give you a good cross-section to chose from for your next (or first!) YA selection.

Lindsay's Selections: 

1. If you like fan fiction, family, friends and a dash of awkwardness: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell




2. If you like Paris and cute boys: Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins 


3. If you like fairy tales, royalty and pretty clothes: Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick 




4. If you like fantasy, a female assassin, a dreamy prince and a swoon-worthy soldier: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas




5. If you're a Jane-ite, an adaptation of Persuasion: For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund


Lindsay's Honorable Mentions: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Basically, anything by Rainbow Rowell...), Lola & the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, and The Girl of Fire and Thorns Series by Rae Carson

Sarah's Selections:

1. If you like dystopian futures and rebellion, try: The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins


(Seconded by Lindsay!!!)

2. If you like award winning drama with self-discovery, a little mystery and romance thrown in the mix, try: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta


Ditto to this one too!--Lindsay

3. If you like Nazi era historical fiction, try The Book Thief by Markus Zusak



Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: Finnikin of The Rock

 Book: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Series: Lumatere Chronicles #1
Released: September 29, 2008
Publisher: Viking Australia
Pages: 416 (Paperback)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars




"Be prepared for the worst, my love, for it lives next door to the best." 

   Finnikin is just a boy during the Five Days of the Unspeakable. His beloved country of Lumatere is invaded by soldiers who assassinate the royal family and place an impostor king on the throne. During the five days of the unspeakable many of the people of Lumatere flee before the borders are magically sealed and the land is cloaked darkness.  

Finnikin, the son of the Captain of the Guard and best friend of the murdered Prince Balthazar, escapes with Sir Topher, the first man of the assassinated king. Now, ten years after the Unspeakable, Finnikin and Sir Topher have been traveling to the surrounding kingdoms to find the Lumaterran exiles and locate a piece of land for the cursed people of Lumatere to settle. But when Finnikin is summoned to a convent by a messenger they come across Evangelin, a novice who claims to have been walking the sleep of Balthazar. Convincing Finnikin and his mentor that the heir of Lumatere is alive, Evangelin leads then on a path towards home and hope.

But is Evangelin really what she seems? Will she lead them to the heir who will save their people? When the startling truth is revealed it will not only test Finnikin's faith in Evangelin, but everything he's known to be true since the five days of the unspeakable. 

After reading Jellicoe Road (another of my faves) I knew that Melina Marchetta is an author that I would follow anywhere. So when I found that she had a written a fantasy novel, I couldn't resist. "Finnikin of the Rock" was Melina's first foray into the fantasy world. She has since written two sequels, making "Finnikin" the first book of "The Lumatere Chronicles." This trilogy is my favorite, even before, *gasp* "The Hunger Games." Why, you ask? Because of the characters.

   Melina writes this entire cast of characters that are complex, real and surprisingly easy to relate to. Each character is memorable and unique. It's what keeps me coming back to this novel. I've read Finnikin of The Rock twenty times, if not more, and I'm still thinking about them all.

   Then there is the world in which the characters live. Every single place mentioned, every culture is important to this book. Sometimes it becomes confusing to keep it all separated. However, the little details that Melina weaves into her bigger picture storyline is phenomenal, so soak it up! It also helps that there is a map at the front of the book to reference when you forget where our characters are. 

Finnikin of the Rock is a beautifully written epic fantasy, about the meaning of home and the power of holding on to hope.

Kindle Deal: A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan



A Long Long Sleep is only $2.99 on Amazon right now! I read this a couple of weeks ago and LOVED it. I'll review it soon, but go ahead and pick it up while it's cheap!


A Long Long Sleep

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Review: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen



Book: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Series: Scarlet #1
Released: February 14, 2012
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Pages: 287 (Kindle Version)
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Scarlet (Scarlet #1) 

From GoodReads: 
Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance.

Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in.

It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

     I've never really been a huge Robin Hood fan. I know the basic story, but beyond that I've never had a lot of interest in the story. When you say Robin Hood to me, this is the first thing that comes to mind:

http://robinhoodrevived.weebly.com/uploads/1/4/5/2/14522962/7926980_orig.jpg?0
I like when Fiona punches him. He deserves it.

     With that being said, I was hopefully optimistic. I generally love historical settings, and this definitely fit the bill. Even not knowing a lot of the background of the story, I still knew the major locations discussed like Sherwood Forest and Nottingham, which helps constructing a map in your head of locations mentioned throughout the book. (sidenote: I LOVE when authors include maps in books. It makes me happy and automatically adds half a point to the rating.)

     The story moves at a fairly quick pace, which I really enjoyed. At only 287 pages, it was a really quick read for me. More importantly, I never felt like it was dragging on, nor did I feel like I was missing any details. There's enough world-building that you don't miss out by not knowing the history of the story. I was immediately engrossed in the storytelling, and it definitely drew me in right from the beginning. There's some mystery surrounding Scarlet, which I did figure out rather quickly, but it was still interesting to read the details of the how and why. She's a strong and complex female character, not a doormat, which I always enjoy.

     And Robin Hood? I adore how he's written. Strong, responsible and good looking. Everything a hero and love interest should be. I like the choice Gaughen made of having all the characters younger (Rob is only 21), but faced with seemingly insurmountable tasks of taking care of the villagers. The other two members of the Hood's band are Much and John. We don't get a whole lot of information about their backgrounds, Much in particular-I'd really like to know more about him-but they still feel like fleshed out and fully-realized characters. You can't help but want them to succeed.

     My only *slight* complaint is the grammar and syntax used in the story. Reading incorrect grammar and spelling absolutely drives me crazy (I'm looking at you facebook!). Scarlet commonly uses "were" instead of "was" and other grammar mistakes, it was clearly intended to be that way and it serves the author's purpose of Scarlet sounding uneducated and like a thief. I didn't mind it as much by the end, but it definitely took me a while to get used to reading it.

http://memecrunch.com/meme/1022B/grammar-errors/image.png
    
     So to sum up there were lots of things I liked: Pretty cover? Check! Historical Setting? Check! Strong female character? Check! Gender bending? Check! Swoon-worthy love interest? Check! Drama & Intrigue? Check!



Epic Reads November Deals

There's some fantastic books on Epic Reads Epic Deals right now.

Especially Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (also known as one of my favorite authors to follow on twitter). It's the second book in the series, so you'd need to read Shatter Me first, but DO IT DO IT DO IT!! One of my favorite series ever you guys.


http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m6m3yuk9IJ1rxc156o1_500.gif
Me, telling people to read the Shatter Me series

Also on deal is Everneath by Brodi Ashton. I've heard great things about this one, and it's currently on my TBR list and already downloaded on my Kindle.

There's two more books listed, so go check them out now!

Epic Reads Epic Deals

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Welcome!

Welcome to The Broke Book Girls! We're so glad you're here!

Both Sarah and I love to read, and we can't wait to share what we're reading with you. You can always check the right side of the screen to see what we're each reading. Hopefully every couple of months we can schedule to read the same thing together and then host a discussion on the book with everyone. I have lots of fun ideas to incorporate, and I cant wait to share them with you all!

I'll try to post reviews once or twice a week as I'm reading, and I plan to participate in The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday each week, so make sure and check back then. I'll also pass along Kindle Daily Deals as needed so you guys can also grab some amazing books for cheap!

I plan on reviewing some of my favorite books I've read in the past year, as well as those that have sequels or finales coming up in the next few months.

But mostly, I'm just excited to share my love of books with you all!


PS. Sarah and I share a deep love of New Girl. So get ready to see lots of things like this:
http://busyteacher.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/nick-new-girl-dance1.gif