New Release: The Girls in the Picture

The new release I’ve got my eye on this week is Melanie Benjamin’s The Girls in the Picture.  Benjamin is an auto-buy author for me now, ever since I read The Swans of Fifth Avenue, and I was so pleased to get my hands on this new novel.

It’s the year 1914, and Frances Marion leaves her husband and her home to go to Los Angeles, where silent movies are all the rage.  She finds herself becoming a writer for this new sensation and befriending Mary Pickford, the sweetheart of silent movies. Throughout their journey, they encounter the kind of drama one would usually associate with Hollywood, as they struggle with working and finding love.  Ultimately, this is a wonderful story about friendship in a difficult climate.

This time period is not an era I typically read, but I just gobbled this book up.  I thought it was fantastic, dramatic, and pleasurable.  Benjamin lived up to her previous novels and has delivered a great story that perfectly places you in the glitz and glam of old time Hollywood.

Five stars.

Book Stats

Author:  Melanie Benjamin

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 448

Book Review: Fever Dream

I read Fever Dream because it’s a sure thing for the Tournament of Books short list. It won the ToB Summer Reading Challenge, guaranteeing its spot on the brackets. And it’s super short, so I thought it would be a breeze. And it was. I read it between two short readings.

What can I say about this book? It really lives up to its name. I felt like I was having some odd fever dream when I read this. I followed the story, and I was entertained, but it was all so weird and confusing at the same time. I was so confused, I honesty can’t even give you a decent plot synopsis. I really don’t even know what happened in it.

I flew through the first two-thirds of the book, but after that, I hit a wall. I kept reading because I was expecting things to be explained and for there to be some awesome ending, but it just didn’t happen. I felt absolutely no connection to any character, and I felt oddly separated from them. I didn’t really care what happened to any of them, except for maybe the narrator’s little girl.

What this book did succeed in doing for me, is thrill me, in a way. Because I didn’t know what was going on, the story seemed scarier to me somehow. Confusion and the unknown do create a good combo for instilling fear in a reader.

With this book being so short, I don’t feel like I wasted my time or anything, but I definitely would not have read this if the Tournament of Books hadn’t brought it to my attention. I will pay close attention to the commentary on this book during the Tournament, because I’m really curious on why everyone thinks this book is so great.

Two stars.

Book Stats

Author: Samantha Schweblin

Translator: Megan McDowell

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Pages: 189

2018 TBR Pile Challenge

I own too many unread books.

I have followed the Roof Beam Reader since long before I even considered starting my own blog, so I’ve always been aware of the TBR Pile Challenge he hosts every year.  It’s a simple concept with a simple goal: read twelve books that have been on your TBR list for at least one year.

With this challenge, I’m turning to all those books that I’ve been “meaning to get to” for years.  Those books that I’ve had big ambitions to tackle and have just somehow not found the time or been too intimidated to start.  While I generally suck at challenges, I feel like this might be a challenge I could succeed at. Getting rid of some of my unread books is a major goal of mine this year. And if I don’t succeed, at least I’ve eliminated a few books from my TBR.

So, here is my list of books I plan on reading for this challenge:

  1. Some Luck by Jane Smiley
  2. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  3. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  4. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  5. Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  6. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  7. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  8. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  9. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  10. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
  11. Home by Marilynne Robinson
  12. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Alternates

  1. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  2. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

I’ll be posting a page at the top of my blog for this challenge.  There you will find my list, my progress, and links to reviews of the books as I finish this challenge.

Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To (and Totally Plan to get to in 2018!!)

It’s time for my first Top Ten Tuesday of 2018! And it’s also the last of the TTTs on the Broke and the Bookish for a while.  Next week, things will be moving over to That Artsy Reader Girl, so start checking over there for more great prompts and blog responses.

Without further ado, here are ten books I wish I had gotten around to reading in the year 2017. Maybe these books will have better luck in 2018.

  1. Sourdough by Robin Sloan
  2. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
  3. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  4. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  5. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  6. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  7. The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
  8. Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
  9. The Idiot by Elif Batuman
  10. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo: A Novel by [Reid, Taylor Jenkins]The Lying Game: A Novel by [Ware, Ruth]A Gentleman in Moscow: A Novel by [Towles, Amor]Goodbye, Vitamin: A Novel by [Khong, Rachel]The Idiot by [Batuman, Elif]

What books did you mean to read last year but are finally going to get to this year?

Limiting My Book Spending

I never thought that I own too many books.  Until now.

I have never been a huge spender.  Really, the only thing I spend my money on are books and music.  So I’ve never really had to budget.  Now, though, I recently purchased a home and have to seriously think about my budget.  I’m going to stop spending as much in general, at least to start, to make sure I have enough money for my new expenses.

The first thing I’m going to limit will be my book buying.  I didn’t realize just how many books I had until I had to pack them all up to move!  I own so many great books already, that I don’t need to buy so many new books this year.  And I now have access to a really great library.  I’m hoping between the library and my NetGalley account, I’ll be able to resist the urge to buy new books this year.

I’m not going to ban myself from buying new books altogether, though.  I plan on keeping my Book of the Month Club subscription, and I’m still thinking about whether to keep my Parnassus First Editions Club subscription.  Maybe the knowledge of a new book or two a month will help prevent me from going out and and going on shopping sprees.

I plan on using another motivator to limit my book buying this year: the promise of a shopping spree next year. For every 100 pages I read from a book I didn’t purchase in the year 2018 (from a book I already own or a library book), I will set aside $1.  At the end of the year, I will take the money I’ve saved and spend it on books!  This will also be a great motivator to read a ton.  The more I read the more money I will have to spend!  I will be sure to update my progress and my page total on a fairly regular basis.

Is there anyone else trying to curb spending?  What motivators are you using?

January TBR

I’m usually not one for TBRs.  I am a huge mood reader.  But, I’m willing to give it a try, because there are a lot of books I really want to get through in the next couple of months.

Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau.  For my Classics Goal.

Vulgar Favors by Maureen Orth.  I’d love to finish this before the new American Crime Story comes out this month all about the assassination of Versace.

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris.  I have started this interesting and different graphic novel already, and it shouldn’t take long to finish.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.  Getting to this because it made the Tournament of Books Short List.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich.  See above.

And finally, I’m going to start Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.  I have no dreams of finishing this month, but it’s a book I’d like to finish by the end of the year.

What are everyone else’s plans for the month?  Got any good reads in line?

Picking a Classic

With the new year, I’m going to start making a big effort to read from my Classics List.  I plan on adding a classic or two to my TBR stack every month, while still reading whatever new releases and backlist books speak to me at the time.

When I scanned my list, looking for the perfect read to kick off this project, I found myself stuck.  How do I choose?  What if the book I pick is a dud?  What if I hate the experience so much it discourages me from continuing with this project?

Finally, after stressing and indecisively weighing my options, I chose a book I’ve already read and know I like.  This is a safe choice.  I know I’ll enjoy it, and I know I’ll feel satisfied after reading it, thereby encouraging my continued pursuit in this reading journey.  I also chose a very short book.  I think a few quick reads to get some books under my belt will build some momentum, make me feel accomplished early, and encourage further reading.

So the first book from my classics list I chose was….

 

Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau.

 

I took a class on Thoreau in undergrad and adore all of his writing.  It’s been a number of years since I’ve read any Thoreau, though, and would love to see how my thoughts have changed as I’ve grown.

It is a really short read, so I’ll be finished quickly and plan on reporting back soon on my thoughts.

Reading Challenges

The start of every new year brings new reading challenges.  I’ve never had too much luck with challenges.  I love looking up reading challenges to do and watching everyone else’s progress, but for some reason, I’ve just never been able to commit.  I’ve made list upon list of books to complete various challenges, but I’ve never actually tried to follow through with a single one.

This year, I am going to watch some of my favorite challenges and keep track of my progress, but I’m not going to actively attempt to finish any.  If I finish one, fantastic; if I don’t come close, I really don’t care.  I’m really just curious how diverse my reading normally is.

Maybe next year I will be inspired to complete a challenge.

So which challenges am I tracking this year?

PopSugar’s 2018 Reading Challenge

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge

What’s our stance on reading challenges?  Love them? Hate them? Obsessed?

Top Ten Books I Read in 2017

It’s that time of the year for best of and most anticipated lists, and and this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about the best of 2017. When looking at the list of books I read this year, I have to say, I’ve had a pretty disappointing year. I struggled to find enough to fill this list! Here’s hoping 2018 will be a better reading year.

We’re Going to Need More Wine. I absolutely loved this memoir. It wasn’t at all what I thought it would be, but it was so much better.

Morning Glories. I blew through this comic series in about a week and only have a couple trades left to be all caught up.

Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore. The narrator made this audiobook.

The Year of Living Danishly. I now want my own year living Danishly.

Modern Romance. Informative and funny. A great combo.

Fitness Junkie. I blew through this book in a weekend. I want this duo to write a new book every year.

Difficult Women. So hard to read, but so, so worth it.

Lumberjanes. I wanted a reread so I could catch up, and it was delightful.

The Bookshop on the Corner. Another audiobook I blew through. I couldn’t get enough of the cuteness!

Hello, Sunshine. I read this on vacation, and it was the perfect read at the time.

Looking at my list, there is a lot of fluff but not much substance. I’m hoping for more quality books next year.

What books made your Best of list? What should I add to my TBR for next year?

Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR

Winter is such a lovely reading time. Curling up under a thick blanket with a cup of tea and a good book, all nice and cozy, while it is anything but cozy outside….it’s pretty heavenly.

In order to achieve such a picture perfect scenario, a truly superb reading list is required. Here’s my top ten books I want to read this winter:

  1. Huck Out West. I found this when looking through the Tournament of Books long list, and it just seems so cool.
  2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I feel like I need to read this before I get started on #1.
  3. A Christmas Carol. A Christmas tradition!
  4. The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place.  I love this series, and I can’t wait to read the newest.
  5. The Dark Dark.  A nice set of short stories.
  6. Force of Nature.  A sequel to the fantastic book The Dry.  A thriller is great for those cold winter nights.
  7. Lincoln in the Bardo.  A read/listen with both the book and the audio version.  I’ve been dying to take on both mediums together.
  8. Winter.  The Ali Smith series is coming out with its next season, and winter is the perfect time to read the winter segment.
  9. Surprise Me.  A cute Sophie Kinsella to brighten those dark winter nights.
  10. Origin.  I haven’t read the latest Dan Brown yet.  How could this be?

 

I feel like I’m missing a nice, long epic story to get lost in while hiding under a thick blanket.  Any suggestions?