Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Unearthed

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

Unearthed (Unearthed #1)
Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Expected publication date: January 9, 2018
When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race.. - from Goodreads

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Nonfiction November 2017: Nonfiction Favorites

This week's topic for Nonfiction November, hosted by Doing Dewey, is all about our nonfiction favorites.  I have to be honest, I haven't read enough nonfiction in recent years to have too many favorites, but I'll try my best!

It's hard to say what makes any book, regardless of genre, a favorite for me.  There's something about the story and the writing style that just appeals to me.  I enjoy both light-hearted and darker stories, really just depending on my mood.  There are certain topics I gravitate towards in fiction, and the same could be said for nonfiction.  I tend to read memoirs more than other sub-genres, although I wouldn't really say that any memoirs have been favorites for me, except for one.

Into Thin Air is an account by journalist Jon Krakauer of the 1996 disaster on Mt. Everest.  This book was riveting, informative, and emotional. 

I tend to enjoy nonfiction that reads like fiction, and that's probably why I enjoy Erik Larson's books so much.  Larson has written several nonfiction books on a wide variety of topics, but I am always drawn in by his writing style: although obviously well-researched, his stories are never dry.  Even if you're not a nonfiction fan, you've probably heard of Larson's Devil in the White City, about the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 interspersed with the chilling story of serial killer H.H. Holmes.  Larson has also written about the US ambassador to Germany during the rise of Hitler; the sinking of the Lusitania; the Galveston hurricane of 1900; and Marconi's invention of the wireless telegraph.


If any of these topics interest you, I would highly recommend Larson's books.  He has a huge talent for blending history, science, and great story-telling.
Have you read any of these?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Quotables #6

I hope you all enjoy the quotes I've picked out for this edition of Quotables!

Why it speaks to me:  I love weddings and everything about them.  I love when couples do all the traditional things or when they do things outside the box.  In my family, weddings are one of the few times a year when everyone can get together, so they are always really special times.  I love looking back at our wedding day and remembering all those little moments - seeing Tom for the first time, my parents walking me down the aisle, cutting the cake.  They all added up together to make a beautiful day.

Why it speaks to me:  I love this quote because in my family, food is really important.  Before any holiday or gathering, we all want to know what the hosts are making (and they will gladly tell you because they've had the menu planned for a month).  There are recipes that have been passed down from my grandparents that will hopefully continue to be passed down.  Some of my best memories are of sitting around the dining room table, laughing and talking.

Why it speaks to me:  This quote is just so relevant for today's social media-obsessed culture.  I'm guilty of it - when I see other people's awesome vacations or big houses or nice clothes, I get a bit jealous.  But I have to remember - I'm seeing what they want me to see.  You never know what's going on behind closed doors.  We can't compare ourselves to others all the time - we have to be able to recognize the good things in our own life.

Which of these quotes is your favorite?  Can you relate to any of them?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Review: The Confusion of Languages

The Confusion of Languages
Siobhan Fallon
Published June 27, 2017
A searing debut novel from the award-winning author of You Know When the Men are Gone, about jealousy, the unpredictable path of friendship, and the secrets kept in marriage, all set within the U.S. expat community of the Middle East during the rise of the Arab Spring.

Both Cassie Hugo and Margaret Brickshaw dutifully followed their soldier husbands to the U.S. embassy in Jordan, but that's about all the women have in common. After two years, Cassie's become an expert on the rules, but newly arrived Margaret sees only her chance to explore. So when a fender-bender sends Margaret to the local police station, Cassie reluctantly agrees to watch Margaret's toddler son. But as the hours pass, Cassie's boredom and frustration turn to fear: Why isn't Margaret answering her phone, and why is it taking so long to sort out a routine accident? Snooping around Margaret's apartment, Cassie begins to question not only her friend's whereabouts but also her own role in Margaret's disappearance.- from Goodreads
Cassie and Margaret are military wives living in Jordan in 2011.  After getting into a minor car accident, Margaret goes to the police station, leaving her son Mather with Cassie.  After several hours, she still hasn't returned, leaving Cassie to wonder where she is and what has happened to her.  When Cassie finds Margaret's diary, she realizes Margaret has been keeping many secrets from her.

Most of the story takes place over the course of one night, after Margaret has gone to the police station.  Excerpts from Margaret's diary fill in many blanks for both the reader and Cassie, as we learn more about Margaret's short time in Jordan and Cassie finds out what Margaret really thinks of her. 

The friendship between Margaret and Cassie is at the center of the story.  While the two women have some things in common (both are having issues in their marriages), they are very different from one another.  Cassie, having lived in Jordan for two years, feels she knows the area and culture well; she is very much a rule follower and takes seriously the parameters set up by the embassy.  At times, though, she seems overly suspicious of people around her.  She is controlling and prickly and comes across as almost desperate for a friendship with Margaret, or anyone really.

Margaret, however, is more of a free spirit.  She is very open with new people and wants to fully experience life in Jordan.  At times I couldn't tell if she was willfully ignorant or just na├»ve - no matter how times Cassie warned her about her behavior or clothing choices, especially around men, Margaret didn't seem to get it.  She didn't seem to understand the ramifications her actions could have, or maybe she didn't really believe anything bad would happen, that Cassie was just being overly cautious.  I wasn't necessarily surprised by what happens to Margaret at the end of the book, but the route it took to get there and what was revealed did surprise me. 

The setting of Jordan was a unique one for me; I don't read too many stories set in the Middle East.  Fallon did a great job in educating the reader on the nuances of the culture and people of Jordan, most likely inspired by her own experience living there as a military wife.

4 stars

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Prince in Disguise

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

Stephanie Kate Strohm
Expected publication date: December 19, 2017
Someday I want to live in a place where I never hear “You’re Dusty’s sister?” ever again.

Life is real enough for Dylan—especially as the ordinary younger sister of Dusty, former Miss Mississippi and the most perfect, popular girl in Tupelo. But when Dusty wins the hand of the handsome Scottish laird-to-be Ronan on the TRC television network’s crown jewel, Prince in Disguise, Dylan has to face a different kind of reality: reality TV.

As the camera crew whisks them off to Scotland to film the lead-up to the wedding, camera-shy Dylan is front and center as Dusty’s maid of honor. The producers are full of surprises—including old family secrets, long-lost relatives, and a hostile future mother-in-law who thinks Dusty and Dylan’s family isn’t good enough for her only son. At least there’s Jamie, an adorably bookish groomsman who might just be the perfect antidote to all Dylan’s stress . . . if she just can keep TRC from turning her into the next reality show sensation.
- from Goodreads

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Nonfiction November 2017: Seeking Stories of Female Heroes

This week's Nonfiction November prompt is "be the expert/ask the expert/become the expert," hosted by Sophisticated Dorkiness.  Since I am a self-admitted expert of nothing, today I'm seeking out your recommendations!  History books are filled with stories of men doing heroic and important things, but it's only been in recent years that there has been a push towards the female contribution.  I want to read the previously untold stories of women who have done amazing things, who have made great contributions without recognition, who worked behind-the-scenes or performed tasks you wouldn't normally have thought women would do.

I have three books currently on my TBR to help me with my quest:
So now I throw it to you, fellow readers - what are some of your favorite nonfiction reads about unsung female heroes?  What women do I need to know about?

Monday, November 13, 2017

#sorrynotsorry: I Read The Last Page First

We're all friends here, right?  So I can confess to what some might consider to be a reading sin without being judged too much, right??  Here goes...

I read the last page of the book first.  #sorrynotsorry

I first made this confession when I did The Blog Squad Tag awhile back, and I got a bit of a mixed reaction, so I thought it would be a great discussion post to talk about WHY I spoil books for myself!

First, I should start by saying that this desire to know the ending first doesn't just apply to books, it spills over into other areas of my life.  If we're streaming a movie on Netflix, five minutes in I'm on Wikipedia reading the entire plot synopsis.  *Spoiler alerts* mean nothing to me; it will almost never deter me from reading an article, review, or blog post about a tv show, movie, book, anything really.

So why do I read the last page first?  I think it started out innocently enough.  I always check the number of pages a chapter is before I start reading it, because I hate stopping in the middle.  I think this naturally progressed to checking how long the entire book was and, well, sneak peeks happen.  I'm also the type of reader who enjoys reading the acknowledgments, which often happen to fall at the back of the book, and for some reason I typically read them first - so I may or may not come across the last page of the book while searching for them! 

Now, part of the reason I read the last page first is that I have no willpower.  If I come across the last page, sometimes I can't stop myself from reading it.  I'm also really impatient, and I just want to know how the book ends NOW.  I don't like surprises - for instance, if the book features a love triangle, I want to know ahead of time who the main character is going to pick.  Or if something sad is coming up, I want to be prepared.  I like being "in the know" - if for some reason I DNF the book, I still want to know how it ends.

So, I'm sure there is someone out there who will say, "What good is knowing the ending if it won't make sense without the context of the rest of the book?"  I say it's fine, because I can read the book knowing what the end goal is, what the author is working towards in the story, and I still get to experience the journey.

Be honest - who else reads the last page first?  Why do you spoil books for yourself?  What are some of your bookish confessions?