Musing: Wanting to Love a Book, and ‘Tisn’t Cooperating

    
So I’m reading an advance copy of The Dressmaker, and the premise is terrific. The characters crack me up with their sly humor, and my heart breaks for Tilly as she has been excluded and harassed for all of her life. I love the setting, too, and the eccentricities and quirks of small-town living. 

But the formatting. Argh. Take a look at the photo above. The first few pages of each chapter have formatting issues so bad that I can barely read the sentences. I’m sure I’m missing something important to the story. 

And the plot development is killing me. Get to the point already! It seems like the several subplots are going somewhere… But WHERE?! 

Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you ever started a book and it starts to disappoint you, but you hold out and keep reading? 

I’m already in 50%, so I’m going to finish it. But I so hope it improves, because so far it’s just a book I Want To Love. 

-calliope

Musing: The Anti-Best-Seller Reader

 

If you’re a reader, chances are you take a gander at book lists. You probably even look at a weekly best-seller list, whether it’s in the Sunday paper or via your favorite online book-seller. 

Now maybe you’re the type who reads a best-seller list and zips right out to the grocery store to see if maybe they have a few copies left of anything from the top five. Maybe you’re in a book club and you’re taking notes so you have some ideas for your next read. Maybe you already OWN those books because you like to be in the know. Maybe you and your friends have such awesome taste in books, you had a hand in a book appearing on the list. 

Or maybe you’re a rebel. 

Yep. Some of you look at that list and decide you won’t be reading any of those books on the best-seller list. You’re going rogue. Maybe you’ll search NetGalley for an obscure sounding author and hope that your future review will boost a new author into fame. Or maybe you’ll hope it won’t, and you can keep the awesome new author all to yourself. 

Hey, maybe you’ll just stick to your favorite authors… the best-seller list be damned. And if one day your personal fave appears on the list, you can say “I read her when… .”

You might be the reader who looks at the list and thinks you’re better than pop culture. You’re above it all! You can find better books, whether or not they make it onto The List. Bring ye to the library, or Overdrive, or your best friend’s blog, or the water cooler. You’ll browse and ponder and find a title you’ll love. 

I like to think of the best-seller lists as a guide for Everyman: if you’re not entrenched in the book world, you need some sort of direction when looking for a monthly read. The best-seller list can do that for you. 

As for the rebels, we keep searching for what fits us, and we hope it’s not on a list. 

-calliope 

Musing: Books I’ll Read on Vacation

 

I usually read Happily-Ever-Afters, or cozy mysteries, or rom com chick lit. But when I’m on vacation I like to mix it up a little. 

One year I read the first book in Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series… and then proceeded to buy the next 10 for kindle… and then read them all before the week was over. Recurring characters grew and developed over the length of the series, which was very satisfying. New characters provided novelty and intrigue. 

Another summer vacation I read some best selling literary fiction – not my usual fare, but so engrossing. And I felt fancy as I saw my popular choice on many other beach blankets. 

Last summer I read summer-y novels, some set on Cape Cod or Nantucket, some on the coast of North Carolina. I like to believe my reading experience was heightened by my literal beach surroundings. 

I’m planning another couple of weeks at the beach this year. On my first go-round I think I’ll scare myself silly with a psychological thriller that Urania recommends. And with 85 unread titles in my Kindle’s “suspense” collection, I’ll have plenty to choose from after that.  Vanished in the Dunes by Allen Retzky, or Murder on the Côte d’Azur by Susan Kiernan-Lewis are contenders. 

And maybe I’ll add in a book with a beachy title from another genre: The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis. It looks goooood. 

What do you read on vacation? 

-calliope

Melpomene’s Top 25 of 2014

What a year!!!! Seriously!!! I have read so many great books, that trying to pick only 25 nearly gave me an ulcer. Stressful. While many of these weren’t released in 2014, I didn’t read them until this year. But here it is:

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1. Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park
2. Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan
3. Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover
4. The Collectors’ Society by Heather Lyons
5. Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
6. The Deep End of the Sea by Heather Lyons
7. Bright Side by Kim Holden
8. The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon
9. Elicit by Rachel Van Dyken
10. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons

The rest are in no particular order
11. Even the Moon has Scars by Steph Campbell
12. Becoming Calder and Finding Eden by Mia Sheridan Those two go together. They’re a combo pack.
13. Jacked by Tina Reber
14. Hope at Dawn by Stacy Henrie
15. Red at Night by Katie McGarry
16. The King by JR Ward
17. Vain by Fisher Amelie
18. Greed by Fisher Amelie
19. Maybe Not by Colleen Hoover
20. Until the End by Abbi Glines
21. Burying Water by KA Tucker
22. Infinity + One by Amy Harmon
23. Until We Fly by Courtney Cole
24. Hate: A Love Story by Laurel Ulen Curtis
25. Letting Go by Molly McAdams

What are some of yours??

Goodbye, October … Hello, November

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On this last day of October…

October’s Party
by George Cooper

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came-
The Chestnuts, Oaks and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

The Chestnuts came in yellow,
The Oaks in crimson dressed;
The lovely Misses Maple
In scarlet looked their best;
All balanced to their partners,
And gaily fluttered by;
The sight was like a rainbow
New fallen from the sky.

Then, in the rustic hollow,
At hide-and-seek they played,
The party closed at sundown,
And everybody stayed.
Professor Wind played louder;
They flew along the ground;
And then the party ended
In jolly “hands around.”

Tomorrow we welcome November. New books… and long, cold nights during which to read them.

-Calliope

Teen/YA books

Have you noticed lately that the YA books seem to be creeping into the NA realm?? Well, as a parent of a couple of tweens, I sure have. And let me tell you, I am not one bit happy.

I don’t want to shelter my kids too much, but I would like them to remain innocent for as long as possible. There is no reason for YA books to have excessive language or sex in them, whether or not it’s a closed door scene. I’m not trying to be a prude, but I have a real problem with this. It seems that all the books geared toward girls, have a heavy dose of romance and many go a bit overboard. Since my almost 13 yr old daughter wants to read “more YA and less ‘kids’ books” (her words), I wish there were more teen books out there. I have been reading a few with her lately and here are a couple that I think are absolutely perfect tween/YA books.

Now, a couple of these are christian romances, but they’re teen romances. These kids don’t need to read about adult feelings and emotions. They need to be kids and be silly, not be subjected to books about things they can’t possibly understand yet.

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Edenbrooke, by Julianne Donaldson

This is one of my daughter’s absolute favorite books. I had to go out and order a signed copy for Christmas last year, because she had to hold in her hands. She was in love with this book.

To quote my review, “This book was so full of sweet romance that my eyes were prickling the whole entire time. I fell in love all over again. I feel like twirling with my eyes closed.”

I think I may need a reread of this one soon. Go HERE to read my full review.

Up next is another by Julianne. This one is my favorite of hers.

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Blackmoore, by Julianne Donaldson

Is it possible to have too much love?? Well, this story surely did.

For the last 20% of the book I don’t think my tears stopped falling. This story was about love, love, and more love. Love that hurts. Love that rips you up. Love that puts you back together.

I loved the emotional turmoil and the gut retching feeling I had. Although I almost had to stop, it was too much for me.

I think my daughter even shed a couple of tears. I love books like this.

Go HERE for Clio’s full review.

Up next is my daughter’s all time favorite. She even read it twice in two days. If I’d let her, she’d keep reading this one over and over again.
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Eyes of the Woods, by Eden Fierce

This is a paranormal YA romance that was written by a 14 yr old!! So I knew it would be perfect for daughter. ANd I was right.

“The action was fantastic! My nerves did get the better of me a few times. I was so very curious to what happening, I couldn’t put it down. There were a couple of sad parts that may be hard to read. But as I thought about what these kids watch on TV or video games, they would be used to things much worse.”

Go HERE for my full review.

This is our current read.
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Matched, by Ally Condie

I read this series a few years back. So I don’t remember much of of it. I know that it’s romance, but I don’t remember any sex. So far we are up to chapter 10 and so far, she is dying to read faster. I’m pretty sure this is a safe read, but I’m not taking any chances. So as I read for myself, I am sneaking in 5-7 chapters of this each day.

It’s a dystopian book, so there isn’t any language I have to deal with. I love most dystopians, for that very reason.

I’m hoping to review this, when I am done. Meanwhile go HERE to grab a copy for yourself.

Well, I am off to read. I’ll keep you posted, if I discover any more. And if you find any, please let me know!

~Melpomene

Buy:
Edenbrooke: A Proper Romance

Blackmoore (Proper Romances)

Eyes of the Woods

Matched

Musing: Reading and Running

IMG_0209.JPGLast year I read Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run. Read my review here.

One valuable nugget I took from the book was that people who ran barefoot – and who were raised running barefoot – had fewer injuries than westerners running on super-cushioned shoes.

Even in my 20s when I was in the best shape of my life and ran half-marathons, I still felt pain when running. Shinsplints and knee pain attacked the most. I was slender, strong, and young. I couldn’t imagine why running was so painful sometimes.

Fast forward 15 years, three childbirths, and five pounds… and the book Born to Run.

I decided to try barefoot running shoes to help me shorten my stride and land on the balls of my feet. (I’ve since learned this is called “running forefoot.”) I picked out some cute Vibram FiveFingers. See some Vibrams here. My husband calls them my Himalayan mountain shoes. And hey, if it helps me run like the guys running 20 miles a day in the Himalayan mountains… Awesome.

Guess what? On my very first longer-than-a-mile run, NO SHIN SPLINTS. I haven’t had shin splints or lasting knee pain from running in the entire year I’ve been running “barefoot.”

I recently trained for 8 weeks for a race. Just 8 weeks. I finished the half-marathon (13.1 miles) wearing barefoot running shoes. My stride is more natural and I am pain free. I even recovered twice as quickly as my sister who has been training longer and further than I have.

I credit Christopher McDougall, Born to Run, and Vibram with my success. Thank you!

To you readers out there I say, Give Born to Run a read. Even if you’ll never run in your entire life, it’s a work of science and anthropology followed by a fantastic, inspirational story.

-Calliope

buy VIBRAMS
buy BORN TO RUN
buy more by journalist CHRISTOPHER MCDOUGALL

Fall In Love tour: A Day in the life of a fangirl

fall in love tour 062To say I had fun this past weekend, is a complete understatement. I am still fangirling all over the place. My family is ready to kick me out. I just can’t stop talking about Saturday.

For those who don’t know, Colleen Hoover, Jamie McGuire and Abbi Glines went on a 10 city tour and I got to see them in Dayton. Meeting them doesn’t sound quite right, since I’m in all their fan clubs and get to talk to them, every so often. Seeing them, sounds better. It was like going to see old friends. Except, when I see old friends, I’m not nervous. I’m also not applying deodorant in the bathroom, before they come out either.

The weekend didn’t start very smooth since I never even packed til about a half hour before we were supposed to leave. And when we got to the hotel, I realized that I didn’t pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, straightener or blow dryer. This was not a good sign. But a trip to Target would rectify the situation. *sigh*

Anyways, at least I had all my books and things. So that’s all that really matters.

I’m gonna give you the photographic highlights, since so much happened. I can’t possibly say it all.
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I arrived at 8:40 am, event though the signing wasn’t until 2. I really wanted to get a good seat. So I had plenty of time to chat with those around me. It’s kinda wild to meet people in line, that you’ve seen of FB, but have never met yet.

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It was so nice reconnecting with people you met last year, when all three were here last. Who knew book signings would make friends out of strangers??

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Thanks to my obnoxious, I mean enthusiasm, over these authors, I had people coming up to me and saying my name like we’re old friends. It was CRAZY!! But I loved meeting everyone. It made me realize how small this world really is. And it was soooo nice to see everyone leave their drama at home and just enjoy being surrounded by people who love the authors as much as you do.

By 1pm, when the numbers were about to be handed out, the place looked like this.
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INSANE!!!!

And when the bus pulled up, let me tell you, the room hit a whole other level of craziness. Squealing and camera clicking were all the sounds you could hear.

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Can I say how it makes a person feel when someone, who you admire, looks you in the eye and smiles or waves? Well it feels pretty darn good. You could different people squealing over that fact. It made me smile. They truly love their fans.

By the time we were sitting upstairs, I was seriously ready to freak out. I was so excited, but very nervous. They had a camera crew there and I was in the front row. Normally I’m a super chatterbox, shocking, I know, but with a camera there, I was silent… until they called me out.

That’s right, they called little ol’ non important me, out. I about died. Lately there have been quite a few Q&As with these authors and I tend to go all in and ask a million questions. But since I’m at home, at my computer, the questions tend to come fast. But when I was called out, I froze. Again, I died. It was wild. But I gotta say, to have your favorite authors know you by name and joke with you, like old friends, I almost started crying. I was so touched. I don’t think they realize the impact they have on us. They even started a singalong for some girl’s birthday. I bet she died in her seat. 🙂 I mean seriously, we all fangirl, and snapshot any and all “comments and likes” we get from them. I know I’m not the only one who does that. But when they call us by name, we light up. I saw it happen many times. It was magical.

So after that, the signing started. And every person was able to get a picture with them, if we wanted. That was the best part. The signed books are great, but having them pose for a picture was perfect. I can’t wait to put mine in a frame with the photo matte I asked them to sign.

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This is all of the things I asked them to sign. Some will be gifts and giveaways. That’s another thing I like, they’ll sign anything. Too bad I forgot to ask them to sign my shirt. I’m so forgetful, when I get up there.
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I waited around til the end, with some of the girls I met in various fan clubs. And were lucky enough to get group and individual pictures with each of them. They are so great to their fans. I am so lucky to have met them. Not many people get to meet their favorite authors. I am truly blessed.

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I also may have gone a little crazy over the bus. I can’t help it. Sometimes I act like a child. I’m not ashamed.
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And a few of us may have been invited to tour the bus, with Colleen. *faints*

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Thank you, Atria Books for sharing our favorite authors with us. Thank you Colleen, Jamie and Abbi, for being the kindest authors out there. As I sat there and watched you guys greet each person, you did it with a smile. Even though you were on your millionth city, you treated us great and always smiled when you heard 3,2,1. 😉 Please come back and visit us. I promise to have a list of questions ready and waiting.

~Melpomene(AKA Crazy Jenn)

Listen to this!!!

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Do you listen to books?? I must admit, up til a year ago, the only audible books I listened to were Hank the Cowdog, with my kids. I’m dead serious. They’re funny as heck, but when you find yourself listening, in your car, ALONE, it’s time to be a grown up and listen to grown up books.

Around this time last year, I grabbed a ton of the classics, which were free at the time. But have I listened to them?? That would be a big fat NO. However, around this past March, a friend gifted me Maybe Someday, by Colleen Hoover. Since I already read the book, I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it. But, I stinking loved it!! I fell in love with Zachary Webber, during this book. Seriously. That kid can read me the phone book and I would sit and listen to it.

Since then, I’ve found myself buying more and actually wanting to walk my dog and go grocery shopping alone, just so I can listen to some books. So far this year, I’ve listened to Flat-Out Love, by Jessica Park, Red Hill, by Jamie McGuire, Hopeless, by Colleen Hoover, and Divergent, by Veronica Roth. I started The Fault in Our Stars, but never finished and I’m currently listening to Outlander: A Novel.

But by far, the BEST BEST BEST audible I’ve listened to is The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay. I’ve read the book a couple times and it’s in my top 5, but when I listened to it, I lived it. The guy who does the guy’s voice, Kirby Heyborne, did an amazing job!! He had such emotions I seriously thought he was crying. He sounded so believable. If anyone asks what audible they should try, I always tell them this one. Talking about it now, kinda makes me wanna go and listen again.

Sometimes the book is read by a single person, which can be good or bad. I’ve tried to listen to a few and found them quite annoying, but some I find, very enjoyable. My first experience was with Flat-Out Love. At first I wasn’t so sure I was going to like it, but after a little bit, I actually forgot it was only one person. That book was so sweet and funny, I actually startled a few people, in the grocery store, when I was listening to it.

Some books are read my numerous people. Red Hill, for example, was read by three different voices. Zachary Webber *sigh* was one of them. I actually had my hubby listen to this one, on our way to Chicago, in June. The story was so well written, that I was on the edge of my seat listening. My poor hubby kept getting shushed, even though I read the book before. I just wanted to listen to them, not him. The voices were so smooth I felt like I was in a trance.

So far I’ve only listened to books that I’ve already read. I think I enjoy the story more that way. For me, if I never knew the story, I think it would be hard to pay attention. I know I would miss things. My life isn’t always silent and I get distracted easily. So I think I’ll keep to previously read books. Up next, on my audible list, Ugly Love, by Colleen Hoover.

If you’ve never tried audible, I encourage you to do so. They’re always running deals. In fact, if you’re a new subscriber, I think you get 2 free books. That’s great!! And even paying monthly, is sometimes half of what an audible costs. It’s so worth it. And if you do try, let me know which ones you get.

~Melpomene

Buy Flat-Out Love

The Sea of Tranquility: A Novel

Red Hill

Maybe Someday

Hopeless

Divergent

The Fault in Our Stars

Outlander: A Novel

Ugly Love: A Novel

The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog