Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on The Bear and the Nightingale

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  I have to admit that the comparison in the book blurb to Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, one of my all-time favorite books, is what initially drew me to The Bear and the Nightingale. But then I had the opportunity to preview an excerpt from the book and became more excited than ever. I think this is going to be a truly exciting read and I wish I didn’t have to wait until January to get my hands on it!

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

bear-and-nightingale-th

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

From Amazon:

A magical debut novel for readers of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman’s myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.
 
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles nearer, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

* * * * *

 

Check out this advanced praise for The Bear and the Nightingale!

“An extraordinary retelling of a very old tale . . . A Russian setting adds unfamiliar spice to the story of a young woman who does not rebel against the limits of her role in her culture so much as transcend them. The Bear and the Nightingale is a wonderfully layered novel of family and the harsh wonders of deep winter magic.”—Robin Hobb

“A beautiful deep-winter story, full of magic and monsters and the sharp edges of growing up.”—Naomi Novik

“Haunting and lyrical, The Bear and the Nightingale tugs at the heart and quickens the pulse. I can’t wait for her next book.”—Terry Brooks

The Bear and the Nightingale is a marvelous trip into an ancient Russia where magic is a part of everyday life.”—Todd McCaffrey

“Enthralling and enchanting—I literally couldn’t put it down. A wondrous book!”—Tamora Pierce

* * * * *

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Fantasy Reads

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books Of X Genre.  I had a hard time with this topic because I have an impossible time trying to narrow down to my all-time favorites when it comes to books.  I decided to go with Fantasy mainly because that’s the genre I’m just really getting into which meant fewer titles for me to waffle back and forth between, haha! I’ve not tried to divide this out into subgenres or anything fancy like that. Maybe I’ll do that some day when I have more titles under my belt to choose from.

As of this moment, this is my Top 10 All Time Favorite Fantasy Reads.  Quite a few of these are favorites from when I was a kid that have really stuck with me over the years, but there are also several  newer favorites though as I’ve been delving more and more into Fantasy lately.  If you have some MUST READ fantasy titles you think I might like, post them in the comments below because I’m always looking for new fantasy novels to read and you guys always give me the BEST recs. 🙂

Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Fantasy Reads 

1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

01

Goodreads Synopsis: Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!   (Read more…)

* * * * *

2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

05

Goodreads Synopsis:  ‘They say Aslan is on the move. Perhaps he has already landed,’ whispered the Beaver. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delightful strain of music had just floated by. And Lucy got that feeling when you realize it’s the beginning of summer. So, deep in the bewitched land of Narnia, the adventure begins.

They opened a door and entered a world–Narnia–the land beyond the wardrobe, the secret country known only to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. Lucy is the first to stumble through the back of the enormous wardrobe in the professor’s mysterious old country house, discovering the magic world beyond. At first, no one believes her. But soon Edmund, Peter and Susan, too, discover the magic and meet Aslan, the Great Lion, for themselves. And in the blink of an eye, they are changed forever.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

3. The Once and Future King by T. H. White

06

Goodreads Synopsis:  Once upon a time, a young boy called “Wart” was tutored by a magician named Merlyn in preparation for a future he couldn’t possibly imagine. A future in which he would ally himself with the greatest knights, love a legendary queen and unite a country dedicated to chivalrous values. A future that would see him crowned and known for all time as Arthur, King of the Britons.

During Arthur’s reign, the kingdom of Camelot was founded to cast enlightenment on the Dark Ages, while the knights of the Round Table embarked on many a noble quest. But Merlyn foresaw the treachery that awaited his liege: the forbidden love between Queen Guinevere and Lancelot, the wicked plots of Arthur’s half-sister Morgause, and the hatred she fostered in Mordred that would bring an end to the king’s dreams for Britain–and to the king himself.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

4. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R. Tolkien

02

Goodreads Synopsis:  Frodo Baggins knew the Ringwraiths were searching for him—and the Ring of Power he bore that would enable Sauron to destroy all that was good in Middle-earth. Now it was up to Frodo and his faithful servant Sam to carry the Ring to where it could be destroyed—in the very center of Sauron’s dark kingdom.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

5. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

game of thrones

Goodreads Synopsis: Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun.

As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robert bestows on him the office of the Hand. His honour weighs him down at court where a true man does what he will, not what he must … and a dead enemy is a thing of beauty.

The old gods have no power in the south, Stark’s family is split and there is treachery at court. Worse, the vengeance-mad heir of the deposed Dragon King has grown to maturity in exile in the Free Cities. He claims the Iron Throne. (Read more…)

* * * * *

6. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

08

Goodsreads Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices plastered on lampposts and billboards. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.

Within these nocturnal black-and-white striped tents awaits an utterly unique, a feast for the senses, where one can get lost in a maze of clouds, meander through a lush garden made of ice, stare in wonderment as the tattooed contortionist folds herself into a small glass box, and become deliciously tipsy from the scents of caramel and cinnamon that waft through the air.

Welcome to Le Cirque des Rêves.

Beyond the smoke and mirrors, however, a fierce competition is under way–a contest between two young illusionists, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood to compete in a “game” to which they have been irrevocably bound by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

As the circus travels around the world, the feats of magic gain fantastical new heights with every stop. The game is well under way and the lives of all those involved–the eccentric circus owner, the elusive contortionist, the mystical fortune-teller, and a pair of red-headed twins born backstage among them–are swept up in a wake of spells and charms.

But when Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, they begin to think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration. With no knowledge of how the game must end, they innocently tumble headfirst into love. A deep, passionate, and magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

Their masters still pull the strings, however, and this unforeseen occurrence forces them to intervene with dangerous consequences, leaving the lives of everyone from the performers to the patrons hanging in the balance.

Both playful and seductive, The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern’s spell-casting debut, is a mesmerizing love story for the ages. (Read more…)

* * * * *

7. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

03

Goodreads Synopsis:  Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

Officially, Kell is the personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see, and it is this dangerous hobby that sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to take her with him for her proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save both his London and the others, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — a feat trickier than they hoped.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

8. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

07

Goodreads Synopsis:  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

9. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

04

Goodreads Synopsis:  The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

10. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

10

Goodreads Synopsis:  When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she knows about only from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.  (Read more…)

* * * * * *

Question:  Are any of these fantasy reads your favorites too?   What was your TTT topic this week?  I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on The Wangs vs. the World

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang.  I’m excited for this one because it just sounds like it has the potential to be a wild and entertaining ride.

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

wangs vs world

Publication Date: October 4, 2016

From Amazon:

Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride.

Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China.

Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America—and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could.

* * * * *

Check out this advanced praise for The Wangs vs. the World!

“One of the best debut novels of 2016″—Elle.com

“[A] jam-packed, high energy debut . . . Head-spinning fun.”—Kirkus

One of Entertainment Weekly’s Most Anticipated Titles of 2016
A Fall 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Pick
A Publishers Lunch Fall 16 Buzz Book
A The Millions Most Anticipated Book
One of Library Journal’s “Five Big Debuts” for Fall 16

* * * * *

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on “The Mothers” by Brit Bennett

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is The Mothers by Brit Bennett.  Why am I so excited for this novel?  Well, as if the blurb below isn’t enticing enough on its own, I was lucky enough to read an excerpt of The Mothers in Buzz Books 2016: Fall/Winter catalog.  As I was reading, I was just instantly struck by how beautiful, powerful, and honest Bennett’s writing is.  As soon as I finished the excerpt, I immediately wanted more.  I’m glad I don’t have too much longer to wait because I think The Mothers is going to end up being one of my favorite reads of 2016.

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

mothers th

Publication Date: October 11, 2016

From Amazon:

A dazzling debut novel from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community – and the things that ultimately haunt us most.

Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.

* * * * *

Check out this advanced praise for The Mothers!

One of Buzzfeed’s “21 New Books You Need to Read this Fall”

One of The Millions‘ “Most Anticipated” for the second half of 2016

“Brit Bennett is a brilliant and much-needed new voice in literature.” -Angela Flournoy, author of National Book Award-finalist The Turner House

* * * * *

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday: My Top Ten Favorite Books That Are Set at a School

top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is “Back To School Freebie — anything “back to school” related like 10 favorite books I read in school, books I think should be required reading, Required Reading For All Fantasy Fans, required reading for every college freshman, Books to Pair With Classics or Books To Complement A History Lesson, books that would be on my classroom shelf if I were a teacher.”

I’ve been out of school for more years than I care to think about and so I always get a little nostalgic for my own school days as soon as I start seeing all of those school supply displays and ‘Back to School’ sales popping up in the stores.   Because my school days — K-12 as well as college — were such wonderful times in my life, I’ve always enjoying reading books that are set in schools – whether it’s boarding school or on a college campus, or even, let’s say, a school of witchcraft and wizardry 😉

And so, on that note, I bring you…

My Top Ten Favorite Books That Are Set at a School

 

1. Harry Potter (the complete series) by J.K. Rowling

01a

Seriously, is there anyone out there who has read these books who isn’t waiting for an owl to deliver their acceptance letter to Hogwart’s?  Just truly one of the most wonderful series I’ve ever read.

Goodreads Synopsis: Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard! The first book in the “Harry Potter” series makes the perfect introduction to the world of Hogwarts.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

2. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

02

A beautiful, gut-wrenching and important read that is set in a school and deals very powerfully with the subjects of mental illness and teen suicide.

Goodreads Synopsis: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.  Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

3. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

03

I actually just finished reading this book over the weekend and it immediately made its way onto my list of favorites.  It’s a really cute read that will take you right back to your own high school days and you’re pretty much guaranteed to fall in love with Oreo-obsessed Simon Spier from the very first page.

Goodreads Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

4. The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy

04

This is probably a more intense read than the first three titles, but this is one of my all-time favorite books.  It’s set at a military school in the South and is just filled with drama and scandal. It’s a real page turner and one that I’ve re-read numerous times because it’s just that good.

Goodreads Synopsis:  In this powerful, mesmerizing, and highly acclaimed bestseller, Pat Conroy sweeps us into the turbulent world of four young men–friends, cadets, and blood brothers–and their days of hazing, heartbreak, pride, betrayal, and, ultimately, humanity.  We go deeply into the heart of the novel’s hero, Will McLean, a rebellious outsider with his own personal code of honor, who is battling into manhood the hard way. Immersed in a poignant love affair with a haunting beauty, Will must boldly confront the terrifying injustice of a corrupt institution as he struggles to expose a mysterious group known as “The Ten.”   (Read more…)

* * * * *

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

05

The confused and introverted teenager narrator, Charlie, is why this book if such a stand-out for me.  It feels like you’re really in his head as he is struggling to find his place in the world and I just found him so completely relatable.  A wonderful coming of age story.

Goodreads Synopsis: Charlie is a freshman.  And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.  Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

06

An introverted writer goes off to college?  I can’t even express how much I loved and related to this book.  When I read it, it felt like Rainbow Rowell had written it with me in mind.

Goodreads Synopsis: A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.  Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.  Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.  Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?  Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?  And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?  (Read more…)

* * * * *

7. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

07

The reviews on this one tend to be mixed, but I found it to be a compelling read about a young woman at boarding school. Definitely a flawed character that I wanted to strangle a few times as I was reading, but still an addicting read nonetheless.

Goodreads Synopsis:  Curtis Sittenfeld’s debut novel, Prep, is an insightful, achingly funny coming-of-age story as well as a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition.

Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when her father drops her off in front of her dorm at the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. She leaves her animated, affectionate family in South Bend, Indiana, at least in part because of the boarding school’s glossy brochure, in which boys in sweaters chat in front of old brick buildings, girls in kilts hold lacrosse sticks on pristinely mown athletic fields, and everyone sings hymns in chapel.

As Lee soon learns, Ault is a cloistered world of jaded, attractive teenagers who spend summers on Nantucket and speak in their own clever shorthand. Both intimidated and fascinated by her classmates, Lee becomes a shrewd observer of–and, ultimately, a participant in–their rituals and mores. As a scholarship student, she constantly feels like an outsider and is both drawn to and repelled by other loners. By the time she’s a senior, Lee has created a hard-won place for herself at Ault. But when her behavior takes a self-destructive and highly public turn, her carefully crafted identity within the community is shattered.

Ultimately, Lee’s experiences–complicated relationships with teachers; intense friendships with other girls; an all-consuming preoccupation with a classmate who is less than a boyfriend and more than a crush; conflicts with her parents, from whom Lee feels increasingly distant, coalesce into a singular portrait of the painful and thrilling adolescence universal to us all.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

8. A Separate Peace by John Knowles

08

A dark and powerful book about loss of innocence and wartime, I never understood why this book was a required reading assignment.  I distinctly remember not liking the book when I was in school because I didn’t appreciate its themes and just saw it as a dark and boring book where not much happened.  I’m happy to say that I see its beauty and power now as an adult reader.

Goodreads Synopsis: An American classic and great bestseller for over thirty years, A Separate Peace is timeless in its description of adolescence during a period when the entire country was losing its innocence to the second world war.

Set at a boys boarding school in New England during the early years of World War II, A Separate Peace is a harrowing and luminous parable of the dark side of adolescence. Gene is a lonely, introverted intellectual. Phineas is a handsome, taunting, daredevil athlete. What happens between the two friends one summer, like the war itself, banishes the innocence of these boys and their world.

A bestseller for more than thirty years, A Separate Peace is John Knowles crowning achievement and an undisputed American classic. (Read more…)

* * * * *

9. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks

10

This book is set at a very conservative boarding school for girls in Scotland and school teacher Miss Jean Brodie takes it upon herself to give six of her students a bit of an ‘advanced’ education.

Goodreads Synopsis:  The classic bestselling book the subject of a play, a movie, and a song that tells the darkly fascinating story of a young, unorthodox teacher and her special, and ultimately dangerous, relationship with six of her students. (Read more…)

* * * * *

10. Frindle by Andrew Clements

09

Frindle is a children’s book that I read aloud with my son last year as part of a school-wide assigned reading project called One School, One Book.  Let me just say that this one is of the funniest school-based books I’ve ever read. Watching Nick Allen try to best his teacher in a battle of wits is hilarious fun, which is then followed up by a very heartwarming message at the end.  Such a fun book that my son still keeps it on his nightstand for the occasional re-read.

Goodreads Synopsis:  From bestselling and award-winning author Andrew Clements, a quirky, imaginative tale about creative thought and the power of words that will have readers inventing their own words.

Is Nick Allen a troublemaker? He really just likes to liven things up at school — and he’s always had plenty of great ideas. When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he’s got the inspiration for his best plan ever…the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it a frindle? Things begin innocently enough as Nick gets his friends to use the new word. Then other people in town start saying frindle. Soon the school is in an uproar, and Nick has become a local hero. His teacher wants Nick to put an end to all this nonsense, but the funny thing is frindle doesn’t belong to Nick anymore. The new word is spreading across the country, and there’s nothing Nick can do to stop it.  (Read more…)

* * * * * *

Question:  Have you read any of these titles?  Or do you have any other favorite school-based series that I haven’t mentioned here?    I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday – Spotlight on We Are Still Tornadoes

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen.  Okay, so I have to confess that what first piqued my interest in this book was learning that both of the authors graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law. Being a Virginia girl myself, I couldn’t help but be a bit curious.  Once I read the synopsis and the advanced praise though, I knew that beyond the initial Virginia connection, this book would be a must-read for me because it is a story of friendship and I’m a sucker for a good story about friends. Also, “set to an awesome 80’s soundtrack”?  Heck yeah!

We Are Still Tornadoes by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen

We Are Still Tornadoes th

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

From Amazon:

Growing up across the street from each other, Scott and Cath have been best friends for most of their lives. Now they’ve graduated high school and Cath is off to college while Scott stays at home trying to get his band off the ground. Neither of them realized that their first year after high school would be so hard.

Fortunately, Scott and Cath still have each other, and it’s through their letters to each other that they survive heartache, annoying roommates, family dramas and the pressure to figure out what to do with the rest of their lives. And through it all, they realize that the only person they’ve ever wanted to turn to is each other. But does that mean they should think about being more than friends? One thing is clear: change is an inescapable part of growing up, and we share an unbreakable bond with the friends who help us navigate it…

This funny, extraordinary and deeply moving book―set to an awesome 80’s soundtrack―captures all the beautiful confusion and emotional intensity we find on the verge of adulthood…and first love.

Check out this advanced praise for We Are Still Tornadoes!

“Sweet, funny, & heartfelt!” ― Susan Elizabeth Phillips, New York Times Bestselling Author

“Scott and Cath’s letters perfectly capture the richness of their relationship. Their unflinchingly honest voices as they navigate the transition to adulthood create the book’s emotional resonance. A love story to best friends everywhere. Smart, charming, and delightful.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Cath has a rare combination of self-confidence, spunk, and sarcasm. I love, love, love her character! A realistic look at a teen friendship and growing pains. Go out and get this fun book!” ― Generation G Books

 

* * * * *

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top 10 Books that have been on my TBR pile for way too long

top ten tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Ten Books That Have Been On Your Shelf (Or TBR) From Before You Started Blogging That You STILL Haven’t Read Yet.

Oh boy, this one is embarrassing.  Not that I have been blogging for all that long, but I will confess now that some of these books have been in my TBR pile for a LONG time.  I’m talking years!  I actually keep looking at a few of them thinking I should just ditch them and thin out the TBR, but they have such great reviews that I don’t want to miss out.  I don’t really even have a good excuse as to why I haven’t tackled them yet except that I keep getting distracted by newer purchases and these just keep getting shifted further and further down the pile.

Now, on to my list…

Ten Books That Have Been On My Shelf (Or TBR) From Before I Started Blogging That I STILL Haven’t Read Yet

 

1. Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Hall #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

10

Goodreads Synopsis:  For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.  Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.  Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

2. A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire #3) by George R. R. Martin

03

Goodreads Synopsis:  Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever, as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey, of House Lannister, sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, the victim of the jealous sorceress who holds him in her evil thrall. But young Robb, of House Stark, still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Robb plots against his despised Lannister enemies, even as they hold his sister hostage at King’s Landing, the seat of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. . . .

But as opposing forces maneuver for the final titanic showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost line of civilization. In their vanguard is a horde of mythical Others–a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

3. IQ84 by Haruki Murakami

01

Goodreads Synopsis:  The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.  A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.  As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

4. The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson

02

Goodreads Synopsis:  An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master’s Son follows a young man’s journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world’s most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea.  Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.  Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”

Part breathless thriller, part story of innocence lost, part story of romantic love, The Orphan Master’s Son is also a riveting portrait of a world heretofore hidden from view: a North Korea rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love. A towering literary achievement, The Orphan Master’s Son ushers Adam Johnson into the small group of today’s greatest writers.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

5. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

04

Goodreads Synopsis:  Shadow is a man with a past. But now he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life with his wife and stay out of trouble. Until he learns that she’s been killed in a terrible accident.  Flying home for the funeral, as a violent storm rocks the plane, a strange man in the seat next to him introduces himself. The man calls himself Mr. Wednesday, and he knows more about Shadow than is possible.  He warns Shadow that a far bigger storm is coming. And from that moment on, nothing will ever be the same. (Read more…)

* * * * *

6. The Giver by Lois Lowry

07
Goodreads Synopsis:  The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

7. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

05

Goodreads Synopsis:  “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, drama, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

8. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers

09

Goodreads Synopsis: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is the moving memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother. Here is an exhilarating debut that manages to be simultaneously hilarious and wildly inventive as well as a deeply heartfelt story of the love that holds a family together.  (Read more…)

* * * * *

9. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

06

Goodreads Synopsis:  Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.  Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill-prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.   (Read more…)

* * * * *

10. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

08

Goodreads Synopsis: “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license…records my first name simply as Cal.”  So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.  (Read more…)

* * * * * *

Question:  Have you read any of these aging titles in my TBR pile?  Are they worth hanging on to or should I purge the pile?  And what books have been in your TBR pile for way too long?    I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday: The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is The Animators: A Novel by Kayla Rae Whitaker.  What actually first drew me to this book was the quote below from Emma Donoghue.  I really love Emma Donoghue’s books and so when she says that she wishes she had written this book, it immediately went on to my book wishlist.  I also love books about art and the creative process so I think this one would be right up my alley.

The Animators:  A Novel by Kayla Rae Whitaker

animators th

Publication Date: November 29, 2016

From Amazon:

“An engrossing, exuberant ride through all the territories of love—familial, romantic, sexual, love of friends, and, perhaps above all, white-hot passion for the art you were born to make . . . I wish I’d written The Animators.”—Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder.

She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever.
 
At a private East Coast college, two young women meet in art class. Sharon Kisses, quietly ambitious but self-doubting, arrives from rural Kentucky. Mel Vaught, brash, unapologetic, wildly gifted, brings her own brand of hellfire from the backwaters of Florida. Both outsiders, Sharon and Mel become fervent friends, bonding over underground comics and dysfunctional families. Working, absorbing, drinking. Drawing: Mel, to understand her own tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.

A decade later, Sharon and Mel are an award-winning animation duo, and with the release of their first full-length feature, a fearless look at Mel’s childhood, they stand at the cusp of success. But while on tour to promote the film, cracks in their relationship start to form: Sharon begins to feel like a tag-along and suspects that raucous Mel is the real artist. When unexpected tragedy strikes, long-buried resentments rise to the surface, threatening their partnership—and hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

Check out all of this advanced praise for The Animators!

“[An] outstanding debut . . . Whitaker skillfully charts the creative process, its lulls and sudden rushes of perfect inspiration. And in the relationship between Mel and Sharon, she has created something wonderful and exceptional: a rich, deep, and emotionally true connection that will certainly steal the hearts of readers.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A compulsively readable portrait of women as incandescent artists and intimate collaborators.”Elle

The Animators is a heartbreakingly beautiful, sharply funny, arrestingly unforgettable novel about love and genius, the powerful obsessiveness of artistic creation, and the equally powerful undertow of the past. Kayla Rae Whitaker writes like her head is on fire.”—Kate Christensen, PEN/Faulkner Award–winning author of The Great Man

“Every artist must come from somewhere; this is something you try to outrun, even as home fuels the creative engine. The Animators is a novel about a pair of cartoonists, but it’s also about the complexity of creative friendship, about balance and jealousy, growing into yourself and living with your talent and trying to actually, impossibly get along in this cracked and unjust world. The result is unapologetic and raucous and compulsively readable; it is potato-chip-friendly and deeply, generously wise.” —Charles Bock, author of Alice & Oliver

* * * * *

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂

Top 10 Books Set in New York City

take a walk

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books With X Setting (top ten books set near the beach, top ten book set in boarding school, top ten books set in England, etc).  I selected for my ‘X Setting’ my favorite city in the whole world, NEW YORK CITY! Oh, the sights, the sounds, the diversity, the endless possibilities for entertainment and culture!  I don’t even have the words to convey how much I adore New York City, but if I were ever to win the lottery, one of the first things I would do is get myself an apartment in the Big Apple.

To tie my love of NYC to books, let me just say that I have been known to buy books that I know absolutely NOTHING about aside from the fact that they are set in New York.  That said, below is my current list of Top 10 Favorite Books Set in NYC, subject to change as I have several potentially amazing books in my TBR that are also set in New York.

My Top Ten Favorite Books Set in New York City

 

1. Jazz by Toni Morrison

04

Goodreads Synopsis:  In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, middle-aged door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At the funeral, Joe’s wife, Violet, attacks the girl’s corpse. This passionate, profound story of love and obsession brings us back and forth in time, as a narrative is assembled from the emotions, hopes, fears, and deep realities of black urban life.

Jazz is the story of a triangle of passion, jealousy, murder, and redemption, of sex and spirituality, of slavery and liberation, of country and city, of being male and female, African American, and above all of being human. Like the music of its title, it is a dazzlingly lyric play on elemental themes, as soaring and daring as a Charlie Parker solo, as heartbreakingly powerful as the blues. It is Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison at her best.  (Read more…)

2. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

03

Goodreads Synopsis:  Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952.  A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.  The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of “the Brotherhood”, and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.  The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.  (Read more…)

 

3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

07

Goodreads Synopsis:  A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one. It cuts right to the heart of life … If you miss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn you will deny yourself a rich experience … It is a poignant and deeply understanding story of childhood and family relationships. The Nolans lived in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn from 1902 until 1919 … Their daughter Francie and their son Neely knew more than their fair share of the privations and sufferings that are the lot of a great city’s poor. Primarily this is Francie’s book. She is a superb feat of characterization, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child. And Francie’s growing up and beginnings of wisdom are the substance of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  (Read more…)

 

4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

02

Goodreads Synopsis:  The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.  The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.   (Read more…)

 

5. The Chosen by Chaim Potok

10

Goodreads Synopsis: It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before. In effect, they exchange places, and find the peace that neither will ever retreat from again….  (Read more…)

 

6.  Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote

06

Goodreads Synopsis:  It’s New York in the 1940s, where the martinis flow from cocktail hour till breakfast at Tiffany’s. And nice girls don’t, except, of course, Holly Golightly. Pursued by Mafia gangsters and playboy millionaires, Holly is a fragile eyeful of tawny hair and turned-up nose, a heart-breaker, a perplexer, a traveller, a tease. She is irrepressibly ‘top banana in the shock department’, and one of the shining flowers of American fiction.  (Read more…)

7. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

05

Goodreads Synopsis:  It begins with a boy. Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.  As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love-and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch combines vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and suspense, while plumbing with a philosopher’s calm the deepest mysteries of love, identity, and art. It is an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.  (Read more…)

8. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

08

Goodreads Synopsis:  Patrick Bateman is twenty-six and he works on Wall Street, he is handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent. He is also a psychopath. Taking us to head-on collision with America’s greatest dream—and its worst nightmare—American Psycho is bleak, bitter, black comedy about a world we all recognize but do not wish to confront.  (Read more…)

9. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

09

Goodreads Synopsis:  Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.  (Read more…)

10. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

01

Goodreads Synopsis:  “…the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.”

Since his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical adolescent.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days in his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expelled from prep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even today and keeps this novel on banned book lists. His constant wry observations about what he encounters, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are not mutually exclusive) capture the essence of the eternal teenage experience of alienation.  (Read more…)

* * * * * *

Do you have any favorite books that are set in New York City?

 If so, I’d love to hear from you, especially since I’m always looking for new NYC-based reads 🙂

Waiting on Wednesday – A Shadow Bright and Burning

New WoW“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, which encourages fellow bloggers to spotlight upcoming releases that we’re excited about.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday selection for this week is A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess. What first attracted me to this book honestly is that stunningly gorgeous cover. Once I was able to tear my eyes away from the cover long enough to read what the book is actually about, I immediately knew it was going to be a must-read book for me. A badass heroine who can burst into flames, sorcerers, bloodthirsty demons, epic battles, betrayal, and romance all rolled into one book? Definitely count me in!

A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

shadow bright and burning thumb

Publication Date: September 20, 2016

From Amazon:

I am Henrietta Howel.
The first female sorcerer in hundreds of years.
The prophesied one.
Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames.
Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the chosen one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta Howel is not the chosen one.
As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, what does it mean to not be the one? And how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

Exhilarating and gripping, Jessica Cluess’s spellbinding fantasy introduces a powerful, unforgettably heroine, and a world filled with magic, romance, and betrayal. Hand to fans of Libba Bray, Sarah J. Maas, and Cassandra Clare.

Check out all of this advanced praise for A Shadow Burning Bright!

“Cluess gamely turns the chosen-one trope upside down in this smashing dark fantasy.”
–Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Unputdownable. I loved the monsters, the magic, and the teen warriors who are their world’s best hope! Jessica Cluess is an awesome storyteller!”
–Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author

“A fun, inventive fantasy. I totally have a book crush on Rook.”
–Sarah Rees Brennan, New York Times bestselling author

“Pure enchantment. I love how Cluess turned the ‘chosen one’ archetype on its head. With the emotional intensity of my favorite fantasy books, this is the kind of story that makes you forget yourself.”
–Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

“A glorious, fast-paced romp of an adventure. Jessica Cluess has built her story out of my favorite ingredients: sorcery, demons, romance, and danger.”
–Kelly Link, author of Pretty Monsters

* * * * *

I’d love to hear what upcoming book releases you’re waiting on this Wednesday? Leave me your link in the comments below and I’ll stop by and check out your WoW selection for this week. 🙂