Top Ten Characters That Would Be Sitting At My Lunch Table

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers there at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday post has a Back to School flair, and asks us to list the Ten Characters That Would Be Sitting At Our Lunch Table. This was kind of interesting for me, because I was never one of those people to have massive amounts of people around me at lunch – I ate with a smaller group of friends – so coming up with ten names was kind of overwhelming. In the end, though, these are who I settled on; it would definitely make for some interesting lunch conversations, if nothing else!

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ttt61aJust think about all of the geeky discussions I could have with Annabeth! She loves architecture and has a good sense of humor. Plus, you know, a chance for me to wind up in her world should any mythological bad guys come a’callin’!

ttt61dNikolai is one sly dude, and I’d like to think our lunch conversations would be enlightening and funny. He’d be the one to poke fun at the others by creating drinking games (or perhaps chocolate milk games, since we ARE at school) that would be a cute inside joke the two of us share.

ttt61bSometimes a girl just wants to talk fashion magazines and lipstick, right? Susan would be a good girl friend to do that with.

ttt61fHowl is just someone I’d like to get to know. Magical ability aside, I kind of fell a bit in love with him when I read his book, you know?

ttt61cGotta have Hermione. I always did my homework, but it never hurts to have someone who could maybe help you with that class you’re struggling with.

ttt61eIf I’m gonna have Annabeth, I have to have Percy. His sense of humor and snark alone would be enough to warrant a spot at my table.

ttt61iHarper is just so down to earth and awesome that I think she’d make a fantastic friend. Plus she’s involved in everything, so would be a good source of gossip, which is always good lunchtime conversation!

ttt61gSimon is a new interest, since I just read Dissonance a month or so ago. I find him mysterious in that intriguing way, but also full of depth that he doesn’t show to very many people. It would be fun to get to know him.

ttt61jSophie is just a riot. She gets herself into trouble, but has a wicked sense of humor that would just lighten up any mood. Her quick wit and tendency to speak without thinking would make lunch all kinds of fun.

ttt61hDaniel is another new crush, but I like the fact that he’s a reporter, and so is always interested in the truth about what’s going on around him. I could see him and Hermione getting tangled up in some current events conversations, and a little friendly arguing can never go amiss!

Flergs_SpringFling_StitchedConfetti1Who made your list this week? Please link me!

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REVIEW: Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

loveletterstothedeadLove Letters to the Dead
by Ava Dellaira

Farrar, Straus & Giroux BYR, 2014
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person.

Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven’t forgiven?

It’s not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.

In a voice that’s as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl’s journey through life’s challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.

mythoughtsGoing in to Love Letters to the Dead, I was unsure what to think. I had seen a few reviews praising the book, and several others saying that it had been a bit of a disappointment. So I did my best to keep an open mind as I started reading, in the hopes that I’d wind up in the former camp rather than the latter. Thankfully, I did. There was something about this book that just worked for me, although I am well aware of why it perhaps didn’t work for others.

I want to first praise the author’s way with words, because some of the prose used in this book was just hauntingly beautiful. Laurel, our main character, has lost her sister, May, and as such is having a very hard time finding herself and figuring things out. Her story is told solely through letters to famous dead people that range from musicians, actors and poets, to Amelia Earhart. There were so many heartbreaking lines in these letters, particularly as Laurel starts letting her anger out, and several moments while I was reading that caused me to tear up a bit. I also liked the introduction of the side characters, from Laurel’s new group of friends to the guy she has a crush on.

However, my biggest complaint about this book has to do with these letters as well: I really wish the story hadn’t been told completely via letters. See, the author had entire sections of these letters that were full of dialogue, which seemed highly unrealistic to me. No one remembers conversations word for word, you know? And yet, Laurel’s letters recounted entire days at school, and conversations she had with people. I think it would have worked just as well – and possibly better for some folks – if the book had moments where you were in “real time” (for lack of a better term) and then also had the letters where Laurel could get more into her feelings and emotions. It just would have seemed more realistic to me, personally, and probably would have allowed me to rate this even higher. But obviously, I’m not the author, and she clearly had a plan of action for the book, and really for the most part it worked. I just wasn’t completely sold on the format used to tell the story.

All in all, I found Love Letters to the Dead to be a beautiful, haunting tale of a girl’s coming of age and the steps she took to find her place in her new sister-less world. I loved the people she surrounded herself with, and the journey she went on to figure things out. While the format of the story didn’t completely work for me, I did love seeing her letters, especially as she tied her and May’s life to the situations and things that ultimately took the lives of the famous people she was writing to, and am very glad I gave the book a chance.

3.5stars

An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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August in Review

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August was another good month for me blogging wise! I participated in a read-a-thon, managed to stick to a fairly consistent blogging schedule, and also started back to work. September is going to be the biggest test for me, because it was while I was trying to juggle work and reading and blogging last year that I really started to fail at everything (except work, because, you know, priorities), so we’ll see how it goes. But, anyway, here is August in Review!

BOOKS READ IN AUGUST:

starling fiendish loveletterstothedead sistersfate opheliaandthemarvelousboy

REVIEWS POSTED:

Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne
Starling by Fiona Paul
Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff

CURRENTLY READING:

winnerscurse fallingintoplace

OTHER NEWS AND/OR POSTS OF INTEREST:

I once again participated in Top Ten Tuesday throughout the month of August, sharing my Top Ten Books I’d Give to Readers New to Mythology Retellings, the Top Ten Books I’m Not Sure I Want to Read Anymore, the Top Ten Books People Tell Me I MUST Read, and the Top Ten Books I Really Want to Read but Don’t Own Yet. I also signed up for the Bout of Books 11.0 Read-A-Thon and shared my goals.

I accomplished my Bout of Books goal of reading three books, and participated in two challenges: the Book Chain and Spell It Out Challenges.

In more meme-ish news, I also participated in Waiting on Wednesday, sharing my anticipation for Hellhole by Gina Damico, The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan, This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner, and Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay.

Other posts of interest include my August TBR Pile (I strayed pretty significantly from this list, reading three of the shown titles as well as a library book that wasn’t listed), my monthly State of Me post, pictures of my classroom, my musings on secondhand embarrassment and the fact that I am a total peek-er when it comes to looking ahead in books, and also shared some of my favorite Book Photo Challenge pictures from my Tumblr and Instagram in my new weekly(ish) feature called A Week in Bookstagrams.

ANTICIPATING IN SEPTEMBER:

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Other Things I’m Anticipating: What I’m most looking forward to this month is getting settled into the work swing of things and getting to know my new students! I’ve only spent a week with them so far, but I already think it’s going to be a good year. They are full of smiles and are hard workers and I just adore them already!

Goodbye, August! Hello, September!

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A Week in Bookstagrams

bookstagramsbannerSo I’ve decided that, on the weeks I don’t do a Merin’s Musing post, I’m going to share my favorite Book Photo Challenge posts from my Tumblr with you all. I’ll include the picture  and a note about what topic it covered for the challenge. Since August is nearly over, I’m going to share my favorites from the month, but usually it will be a week’s worth of pictures, hence the title for this new feature. Here we go!

[NOTE: Click the pictures to see them at full size!]

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Row 1: Bookshelf | Bookmarks
Row 2: Favorite Cover | Favorite Author
Row 3: Reading Outside | Back to School Reads
Row 4: Favorite Fandom | Coffee or Tea?
Row 5: Book Recommendation | A Book Set in Your State or Town
Row 6: Me Reading

So those are my favorites! If you’re curious, you can see all the rest of my Book Photo Challenge posts – dating back to July, which is when I started participating in the challenge – by checking out my tag HERE on my Tumblr!

What one do you like best? Do you take part in any bookish photo challenges? If so, please link me to your entries!

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Waiting on Wednesday #86

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

This week I’m Waiting on Wednesday for Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay (Delacorte):

princessofthornsGame of Thrones meets the Grimm’s fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora’s throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it’s too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

[ADD TO GOODREADS]

Why I’m looking forward to this book:

I love fairy tale retellings, and this one, which not precisely retelling the story of Sleeping Beauty, has added enough new elements to make it sound fresh and different. I like retellings with twists, and having this dive into the actual tale of Sleeping Beauty (complete with the ogre – YES!) makes this right up my alley!

Release Date: December 9, 2014

What are you waiting on this week? Please link me!

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Top Ten Books I Really Want to Read but Don’t Own Yet

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they will post a new Top Ten list that one of the bloggers there at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday post asked us to list the Ten Books We Want to Read but Don’t Own Yet. I actually had some trouble with this – while there are obviously books out there I’d like to read, I am not actually slow to purchase and/or borrow titles upon their release if I am really interested in them. So I broke this down a bit, into five books I’d like to read that are already released, and five books I want to read that aren’t released yet. Hopefully that wasn’t cheating! I just really couldn’t come up with ten books that were already available that I don’t yet own and/or am not able to borrow from the library.

Here we go!

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These come highly recommended, and are high up on my to-read list. I just haven’t found the time to actually get them read yet!

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1) Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

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2) Eon by Alison Goodman

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3) The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

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4) The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long

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5) Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

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These are the upcoming releases that have me most excited!

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6) This Shattered World (Starbound #2) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

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7) Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

bloodofolympus8) Blood of Olympus (Heroes of Olympus #5) by Rick Riordan

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9) The Wondrous and the Wicked (The Dispossessed #3) by Page Morgan

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10) Invisible (The Twixt #2) by Dawn Metcalf

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What made your list this week? Please link me!

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REVIEW: Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff

fiendishFiendish by Brenna Yovanoff
Razorbill, 2014
[Goodreads] [Book Depository]

Clementine DeVore spent ten years trapped in a cellar, pinned down by willow roots, silenced and forgotten.

Now she’s out and determined to uncover who put her in that cellar and why.

When Clementine was a child, dangerous and inexplicable things started happening in New South Bend. The townsfolk blamed the fiendish people out in the Willows and burned their homes to the ground. But magic kept Clementine alive, walled up in the cellar for ten years, until a boy named Fisher sets her free. Back in the world, Clementine sets out to discover what happened all those years ago. But the truth gets muddled in her dangerous attraction to Fisher, the politics of New South Bend, and the Hollow, a fickle and terrifying place that seems increasingly temperamental ever since Clementine reemerged.

mythoughtsI have not been shy about proclaiming my love for Brenna Yovanoff’s books. Knowing how much I loved Paper Valentine and The Space Between, I went into Fiendish fully expecting to love every single second of it, and was ready to recommend the heck out of it. And, for the most part I still am, even though I didn’t like this one quite as much as the previous two. That’s not to say that this book didn’t have just as many things to love as the others. It was just that, for me personally, this one took a bit longer to hook me, and as such I can’t give it as high of a rating as I did her previous books. Of course, I am well aware that each book should be judged individually – and I think I’m doing that here, even knowing what my pre-reading expectations were – so don’t want to come across like I’m seriously comparing all of her books to each other. That would be pointless, as they don’t connect with each other in any way, shape or form, and are in fact quite different from each other. But there’s still a part of me that just wanted Fiendish to grab hold of me from the start and never let me go, and it didn’t quite do that.

Let me start off by saying that Fiendish is set in a small town in the modern US, with a paranormal flair. I’ve seen the term “magical realism” thrown about before, and would say that’s probably an accurate description here as well. Clementine, our main character, has been locked away in a cellar in a destroyed house for ten years until she’s rescued by Fisher. Clementine can’t remember much of anything, including how she got down there in the first place, so the start of the book is a bit muddled and confused. This is most likely the reason I wasn’t immediately hooked – it’s hard to grab a reader when their main feeling at the start is pure confusion – but it fit with the narrative and made sense for the book. Once things got going a bit more, and some of the truths about Clementine’s time before the cellar are revealed, things started to flow a lot more easily as the suspense and tension amped up.

I have to say that I loved the type of magic seen in the pages of this book. It was different while still being familiar, and I loved the way the characters became linked together. I also liked the look at this small town, where very little has changed in Clementine’s lifetime, and prejudices run rampant towards anyone who’s a little different. There was a lot here about hiding your true self away for fear of others finding out, as well as Clementine’s own personal journey towards finding herself and discovering the truth behind her imprisonment. All of this really helped me get to know the characters and feel for their situations. There is also an amazingly sweet first romance in Fiendish, and I loved that sort of grasping, fumbling look at two people who like each other and are trying to figure out what to do with it. And I have to say that I give massive props for the awkward first kiss which made me “aww” like mad.

All in all, Brenna Yovanoff has another winner with Fiendish. There’s a lot to like here, whether it’s character development, magic, or small town politics and prejudices, and the mystery is solid enough to keep you engrossed in its pages. There is darkness here – the magic that rules these characters isn’t exactly light and fun – but it all just further drives home the author’s talent for writing. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

4stars

An e-galley was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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Bout of Books :: Spell It Out Challenge

boutofbooks11The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

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spellitoutYay, my second Bout of Books Challenge! My goal was to participate in two of them, and since this makes my second one, I can now devote all remaining Bout of Books time to reading. I have only read one and a half books so far – my read-a-thon goal is to read three – so I need to get cranking! Today’s challenge is hosted by Kim at Kimberlyfaye Reads and asked us to use our book covers to spell out a word. I chose to spell out my name, since it’s different and unique and I kind of loved the way the covers all came together.

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Masque of the Red Death
Eleanor & Park
[The] Raven Boys
Incarnate
Nameless

Did any of you do this challenge? If so, please link me to your post!

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Bout of Books :: Book Chain Challenge

boutofbooks11The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.

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I always seem to miss the challenges attached to Bout of Books, but wanted to actually take the time to participate in a few of them this go around. So today, I decided to check out the Book Chain Challenge, hosted by Melanie at Christian Bookshelf Reviews. The goal was to create a chain of four books by linking the last word of one title to the first word of another. And here’s what I came up with!

Truth or Dare (by Jacqueline Green)
Dare
You To
(by Katie McGarry)
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (by Jenny Han)
Before I Fall (by Lauren Oliver)

Did any of you do this challenge? If so, please link me to your book chain!

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Merin’s Musings #5: Are You A Peek-er?

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I want to take a moment to talk about something that makes me rather uncomfortable when I stumble upon it in books: secondhand embarrassment. I have a massive secondhand embarrassment squick; it makes me uneasy and unnecessarily nervous, considering the people causing it aren’t even real. But, when those moments happen in books – and they happen in pretty much every single book ever – it can actually be bad enough to make me set the book aside for a while because I just feel so BAD for the character dealing with whatever caused said embarrassment. My reaction towards their embarrassment is actually a physical response, and it’s hard for me to turn that off.

Which ties directly into today’s musing topic: I am a peek-er. As in, I will actually go ahead to the next chapter (and yes, sometimes even the end of the book!) to make sure things are going to ease up before I can bring myself to continue reading. It’s like I just HAVE to know that things for this (nonexistent, imaginary) character are going to get better before I can bring myself to continue reading their story. I actually did it in the book I just finished (Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff, if you’re curious), although it was mild and just necessitated me going ahead a few paragraphs and not, you know, an entire section of the book.

Am I the only one who does this?

I mean, I know I’m not. I’ve seen others talk about this. I’m just kind of curious as to WHY I do this, and maybe see why you all might (or might not) have this habit as well.

Personally speaking, I think it’s because reading is such a visceral, gripping thing, and I get so caught up in the story (which is a testament to the author’s writing, let’s be real) that, when something happens to upset or embarrass the character I’ve become emotionally invested in, I can’t help but to feel what they’re “feeling”. And sometimes, if the feelings are strong enough, it just makes me such a nervous, anxious wreck that I just can’t help myself. I have to know, right then, that things will sort themselves out, and the only way I can do that is to skip ahead a bit. Usually I don’t skip ahead that much – just to the next chapter or so, but sometimes – particularly if we’re in the climax of the book and it’s almost over – I’ll skip to the last page. Sometimes this habit has come back to bite me in the butt and I’ve been spoiled for some big plot twist or whatever, but I’ve actually never minded that because the peace of mind of knowing that whatever it was that embarrassed them or whatever was gone was such a relief that I didn’t even care that something else may have been revealed before it was time. Knowing how a book ends has never actually impacted my enjoyment of the story, which might also be strange, I guess, but that’s how I roll. For me, the pros just far outweigh the cons.

So now I want to ask you: Are you a peek-er? If you’re not, how do you get through those moments when the secondhand embarrassment – because that’s generally what triggers me – is just ratcheted up so high that it’s physically uncomfortable? Or am I just weird to have such a physical response? Inquiring minds would like to know, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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