Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Want To Start

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish is: Top New Series I Want To Start. They suggested “New” as in the last year or so, but I think I’m just going to go with series in general. There are some I’ve been meaning to start for awhile.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling Yes everyone in the book blogging world has read this series except for me. I saw one of the movies…

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. I’ve heard great things about this series and I even own the first book, I just haven’t started it yet.

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)

3. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. I complained in my review of the last book of the Mortal Instruments series that characters from the Infernal Devices made appearances and I didn’t understand the full impact of it. AND everyone says this series is way, way better than TMI.

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)

4. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. Mostly because I like the cover!

I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)

5. Jasper Dent by Barry Lyga. I think this book looks really interesting! AND I just realized there’s 3 books already published in the series!

Outlander (Outlander, #1)

6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I haven’t seen the tv show, but everyone seems to be watching it. I read a review of one of the episodes that compared it to the  book and the book actually sounded better (though the show sounded good, too).

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1)

7. Firebird by Claudia Gray. Again, the cover!

The Fine Art of Pretending (The Fine Art of Pretending, #1)

8. The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris. Because I love the fake relationship trope and this  book is taking forever to come off the waiting list at the  library!

Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow, #1)

9. Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. I’ve heard great things about this book and even hosted a guest review and a giveaway of the book and have STILL to read it!

The Return (Titan, #1)

10. Titan by Jennifer Armentrout. Despite the awful cover and my trepidation of it being NA, Seth was probably my favorite character in the Covenant series, so I need to see what happens to him!

WHAT SERIES ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO STARTING?

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Review: Definitely, Maybe in Love (Definitely Maybe #1) by Ophelia London

Definitely, Maybe in Love (Definitely Maybe, #1)

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Her theory of attraction is about to get a new angle…

Spring Honeycutt wants two things: to ace her sustainable living thesis and to save the environment. Both seem hopelessly unobtainable until her college professor suggests that with a new angle, her paper could be published. Spring swears she’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that happens.

“Whatever it takes,” however, means forming a partnership with the very hot, very privileged, very conceited Henry Knightly.

Henry is Spring’s only hope at publication, but he’s also the über-rich son of a land developer and cash-strapped Spring’s polar opposite. Too bad she can’t help being attracted to the way he pushes her buttons, both politically and physically. As they work on her thesis, Spring finds there’s more to Henry than his old money and argyle sweaters…but can she drop the loud-and-proud act long enough to let him in? Suddenly, choosing between what she wants and what she needs puts Spring at odds with everything she believes in.

Definitely, Maybe in Love is a modern take on Pride and Prejudice that proves true love is worth risking a little pride.

I have very recently written a post where I stated I was breaking up with the New Adult genre. And then I saw Definitely, Maybe in Love which is a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice! Obviously I couldn’t pass that up. I told myself that I’d start it and if it started going down the semi-erotica trail that most New Adult does, and make Jane Austen roll in her grave, I would DNF it. I’m happy to report that this is a New Adult book that I can support!

This book was very cute. It had a few eye-rolling moments, but overall, just cute. As I said, this a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice and for the most part I think it was really well done. College junior, Spring, is our Elizabeth Bennett. She’s very into the environment and is a little on the hippie/feminist side (I was totally picturing Cosima from Orphan Black).

Cosima

When her thesis advisor tells her she needs more research from an opposing viewpoint, her new neighbor Henry Knightly (our Mr. Darcy), who is the son of a wealthy land developer, volunteers to help, despite their disastrous first impressions. I was a little afraid the book was going to veer into really political topics, but this aspect of the story was pretty downplayed, thankfully, other than helping provide a cause of conflict between Spring and Henry.

In addition to our Elizabeth and Darcy inspired characters, there’s Henry’s best friend and roommate Dart (Mr. Bingley), who has an awful sister (Caroline Bingley), Spring’s roommate, Julia, who falls for Dart and then gets herself into some trouble (a combination of both Jane and Lydia Bennett), and Alex, Henry’s old high school rival who tells some suspicious stories of the past (Wickham).

There were also some twists on some of the iconic Pride & Prejudice scenes. There’s a party where Spring overhears Henry say unflattering things about her and Julia and Dart instantly hit it off. There’s the letter Henry writes to explain to Spring the real story between him and Alex. There’s Spring showing up at Henry’s childhood home, unaware that he was there. And there was Henry rushing to Julia’s rescue when she’s in a compromising situation with Alex. I loved all of these, but it also made things pretty predictable. There were some parts  that I think would have been predictable even if  I wasn’t familiar with the original source material.

Overall, I really enjoyed Definitely, Maybe in Love. It was very cute and was a well done re-telling of one of my favorite books. I also very much appreciated that it’s an NA book that isn’t borderline erotica. It still dealt with growing up, future careers, first loves (and all that goes with it), but without going into the crude or graphic. Some NA fans might think it reads more YA than NA, but I’m ok with that. I would definitely recommend it to fans of re-tellings, Jane Austen, and non-graphic NA. The next book in the series, Someday Maybe, is a take on Persuasion, and I’m really looking forward to it.
Overall Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)

Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

The Dress Shop of Dreams: A Novel

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

There is actually a lot more going on in this book than the synopsis suggests. The heart of the story centers at Etta’s dress shop, where she can magically enhance her couture dresses to help women accomplish their hopes and dreams. Her granddaughter Cora is a scientist and has little interest in dresses and love. Walt, who runs the book store next to Etta’s shop and moonlights at a local radio station reading books on air, has been in love with Cora almost all his life. Etta decides to work her magic on Walt so he can confess his love to Cora, but since Cora hasn’t received the same magic, it does not go well.

In addition to these three main characters, the book also focuses on Walt’s boss at the radio station, Dylan, Walt’s new girlfriend Milly, a priest named Sebastian who Walt sees for confession, despite not being catholic, Etta’s former lover from 50 years ago, police detective Henry who is investigating the 20 year old case of Cora’s parents death, and his ex-wife Francesca. There are a lot of loosely connected threads that binds them altogether. While it could be difficult to keep up with all the characters and their storylines, I think Van Praag pulls it off.

Though she’s the main character, I didn’t really care for Cora. She had completely repressed memories of her parents and closed off her heart until Etta’s sewing magic helps her remember the past and start to notice Walt. I found her un-relatable and it wasn’t really until the very end of the book that I began to find her at all likable. However, I did like her grandmother Etta, and Henry, the detective. Though I didn’t at first the appreciate the extra storyline involving Henry, he ended up being my favorite part of the book.

Overall, I mostly enjoyed The Dress Shop of Dreams. It has a unique concept with a wide variety of characters, though I wished some of them had been a little more developed. I felt the multiple storylines worked, having a bit of a Love Actually vibe. At times it didn’t always hold my attention, but I think fans of contemporary and magic would enjoy it.

Rating (out of 5):
Plot: 3
Characters: 3
Readability: 3.5
Enjoyablity: 3
Overall Rating: 3.125 Stars

 

Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman: Dispelling 10 Common Myths by Allison K. Flexer

Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman: Dispelling 10 Common Myths

I received a copy of this title from NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Single women are neither unloved nor forgotten. Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman: Dispelling 10 Common Myths combats the lies that destroy the joy and confidence of unmarried women.

In her groundbreaking book, Allison Flexer dispels the following myths surrounding single women:

1. Because no one has chosen me, I’m not valuable.

2. God has forgotten about me.

3. Sex outside of marriage is okay.

4. My past can’t be forgiven.

5. I’m not beautiful.

6. Getting married will solve all my problems.

7. There is something wrong with me.

8. The church values married people more than me.

9. It’s too late for God’s plan to work so I should settle for less.

10. My life is on hold until I find a spouse.

Single women will gain practical steps to accept and believe God’s truth and why Flexer says the question, Who am I? is best answered by asking, Who is God?

I don’t normally read non-fiction books and especially not those that appear to fall into the self-help category. When I saw this on NetGalley it reminded me of some posts I saw on Facebook not too long ago about this very topic, so I thought I’d check it out. Also, I am almost 31 and chronically single.

What I liked best about this book is that it was not, “10 lies keeping you from finding a spouse” or “stop believing these lies and you’ll get married!”. It focused on 10 lies/myths that single women may believe about themselves and the harm these lies can cause to our psyches and then the truth that we should believe to live a fuller and happier life. AND this full and happy life does not necessarily involve marriage.

While this book is obviously focused on singledom/marriage, the lessons can also be applied to many other areas of life. Not having the job, lifestyle, or friendships that we want can also cause us to believe things like “God has forgotten about me”, “There is something wrong with me”, or “It’s too late for God’s plan to work so I should settle for less.”

Basically the Truths to combat these lies all fall under the umbrella of trusting in God. The author acknowledges that this is often much harder than it sounds. But by building a relationship with God we can learn to give up control and recognize that He has a plan for our lives, and there is a reason that we are going through the things that we are, or not having the things that we want. Flexer uses scripture to back up all of her claims, as well as help guide the reader into how exactly to go about accomplishing this.

For me personally, the following excerpt had the greatest impact:

During some of those darkest times, I was often drawn to these verses in Psalm 30: “Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last though the night, but joy comes with the morning” (vv. 4-5, NLT).

Honestly, that last promise made me angry. I didn’t understand it. After nights of sadness or weeping, I woke up expecting joy – sometimes demanding joy – but it wasn’t there. God, why do you keep giving me this promise of joy in the morning when I can’t find my way out of the darkness?

Over time, I learned that God’s definition of “night” is different from ours. Our night of weeping may go on for months or even years. His timing is not our timing, and his ways are not our ways. On those dark days when life doesn’t seem very abundant, God is with us in the darkness and through the weeping. “Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light” (Micah 7:8b).

And God will bring joy in the morning. It’s a promise and you can cling to it…

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I struggle with depression and anxiety. I’ve been told basically that I suffer from these things due to the sin in my life and God is punishing me. My faith in God has been denounced by others because of it. Not the best way to help one get over these things, let me tell you. But this passage helps to explain what I feel and believe. God does not promise a perfect life. He does not promise that there won’t be weeping or dark times. However, He does have a plan for our lives and He promises joy. Whatever I’m going through, He will eventually bring me through it – even if it may take months or years. And just like someone’s current state of singleness, it’s part of God’s plan.

Overall, I found Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman to be an interesting read. It is obviously a faith based read, so those that do not believe may not enjoy it, but I think that regardless of ones faith, we all believe these lies some times and it would be helpful to realize that you’re not alone. While this book is geared towards women who struggle with the idea of always being single, it offers insights into many other aspects of life and it really spoke to me in regards to my depression and anxiety. I would recommend this book to those who are struggling with being content with where their lives are currently at. I think I would give this book about 3.5 stars.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Secret of Pembrooke Park

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine that focuses on books you are eagerly anticipating.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park

Synopsis from Good Reads:

Julie Klassen Is the Top Name in Inspirational regency Romance

Abigail Foster fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry to improve her charms and the one man she thought might marry her–a longtime friend–has fallen for her younger, prettier sister. When financial problems force her family to sell their London home, a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play . . .

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem to know something about the manor’s past, the only information they offer Abigail is a warning: Beware trespassers who may be drawn by rumors that Pembrooke contains a secret room filled with treasure.

Hoping to improve her family’s financial situation, Abigail surreptitiously searches for the hidden room, but the arrival of anonymous letters addressed to her, with clues about the room and the past, bring discoveries even more startling. As secrets come to light, will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

I’ve read a lot of Julie Klassen books and have enjoyed many of them. While her last couple of books have been a bit of a disappointment for me (especially The Dancing Master), I’m looking forward to her next book and hoping it’s as good as the first ones I’ve read.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park is available December 2, 2014.

WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU WAITING ON?

Monday’s Minutes

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Monday’s Minutes is my weekly post where I share what I’m reading and what I’m reading next.

WHAT I’M READING

Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I finally got to see the movie yesterday! It was good. There were obviously some differences between the book and the movie, but for the most part it was a pretty faithful adaption. I wanted to re-read the book before seeing the movie, but I only got about 3/4 way through, so I’m still finishing it up.

WHAT I’M READING NEXT

Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1)

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard. I started this a little while ago and couldn’t get into it. I still have it another week from the library so I think I’m going to try it again.

What are you reading?