2019 Reading Challenge

Our first 2019 Reading Challenge from Professional Book Nerds’ List is here!

Fallon and I completed: Children’s Book You’ve Never Read

We both chose adventure novels, perhaps inspired by our own children who are about the same ages. Did you read a children’s book recently that you would recommend? Please share with us!

Fallon

Swiss Family Robinson

The Swiss Family Robinson

By Johann Wyss

Synopsis: The six members of the Robinson family survive an awful storm and are abandoned by the rest of the crew when their ship wrecks. Luckily, they float to a nearby island and never see the cowards that left them behind. Luckily, they find ample food supplies, including sugar-cane and potatoes, so they never feel the pangs of hunger during their 10 years of isolation. Luckily, they train and domesticate several types of wild animal to ease their labor. Luckily, they have shelter to get them through monsoon season (including a cave that they are able to chip windows into so they feel less like they are living in a cave). The Robinson family, from Switzerland, are lucky to be alive.

Review: I’m sorry, but what you’re about to read is not positive. I have never seen the Disney movie, so if your nostalgia of this story is connected to your memories of playing make-believe after seeing that movie, I cannot relate. I can understand as a novel written in the 18th century with many translations into and from many languages, that things get lost. My initial reaction when our protagonist (of course, the head of the family, the father) first introduces his family, he named all four of his sons, but referred to their mother as “his wife”. This continues throughout the entire novel, never once saying her name. Per Wikipedia, I see she is given the name of Elizabeth, which possibly happened in another translated version. In the version I read however, her only identifier seems to be her relationship to William. Even the two dogs, orphaned monkey, and adopted Jackal are given names. Other than that, I just don’t think this story has aged well. When it was written, and people had a very small world view; the world Wyss created would have been exciting and exotic, but I couldn’t help but “pshaw” that the island had monkeys, jackals, kangaroos, flamingoes, buffaloes, eagles, and elephants to name a few. And I can overlook one or two things, like finding a potato farm ready to harvest, without it ruining the whole experience. I wish I would have read Robinson Crusoe instead, which I still might do so I know whether to recommend it to my kids.


Christine

treasure island cover

Treasure Island

By Robert Louis Stevenson, adapted by Deidre S. Laiken

Synopsis: Jim Hawkins’ family runs a small inn, mostly catering to sailors. When his father dies, an old man seems to move into the inn, babbling about pirates and lost treasure. When Jim finds a treasure map, he and his friends decide to follow the map to recover treasure. He must outwit pirates and wild men in order to survive his adventure at sea.

Review: This adaptation is very fun and age appropriate. It is somewhat scary, just enough to be exciting, but not so much to scare children. My 6 year old has read this book at least twice and was not scared. In fact, he’s the reason I decided to read it. I’ve never read the full-length, unabridged version, so I cannot tell you the differences. However, I think if you want the broad strokes, this version by Laiken is pretty good.


Join us for our next challenge: Book by an author of a different race, ethnicity or religion than your own. Select your own book and then share what you read with us!

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Cover Reveal for New Book by Ginger Scott

Check out this gorgeous cover for BRED by Ginger Scott! BRED is a coming-of-age romance inspired by Great Expectations you won’t want to miss!



Bred by Ginger Scott

Mature Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Release day: May 10, 2019
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2TwSsER

BRED
A coming-of-age romance inspired by Great Expectations
By Ginger Scott

My life was irrevocably changed the moment I stepped foot inside Elena Alderman’s grand front doors. A lifeless tomb on the edge of Chicago’s South Side, the Alderman home sat in one of the city’s oldest and wealthiest neighborhoods, and Elena Alderman was the queen.

She was also mad.

Not the kind of madness that’s readily apparent. No, her psychopathy was far more surgical—more…insidious. She was surrounded by beautiful things—most notably her grand piano and her adopted son, Henry.

I fell in love with both.


My gift blossomed when my fingers touched her black and white keys. But my life began when I became haunted by the boy. Henry Alderman was a handsome blend of arrogance and seduction, and as we grew up together, I found it more and more impossible to separate him from my thoughts. I envied his life. I imagined how my name—Lily—would look with his. I became his closest friend…and more. I gave him my kiss, locked away his secrets, and loved him even when it was hard to.

But we were just a game. Elena Alderman made the rules. And when she decided to change them, she broke everything.

Almost.


About the Author:

Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, The Hail Mary, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless, In Your Dreams, The Hard Count, Hold My Breath, A Boy Like You, A Girl Like Me, Memphis and Cry Baby.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).

Social Media Links:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GingerScottAuthor
Twitter: @TheGingerScott
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/thegingerscott/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/GingerScottAuthor
Google: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+GingerScottAuthor/posts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/GingerScott
Website: http://www.littlemisswrite.com

A Secret Sisterhood Revealed!

A Secret Sisterhood: The Literacy Friendship of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf by Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney

Non-fiction/History

A Secret Sisterhood

Overall Rating: 3.5

Quick Summary: Popular conception of many beloved female authors is of them working away in solitude on their books. Midorikawa and Sweeney complicate this picture by revealing correspondence between the authors with other female authors. Jane Austen corresponded with Anne Sharp, Mary Taylor corresponded with Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot corresponded with Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Virginia Woolf corresponded with Katherine Mansfield.

This is a very interesting book, especially within the context that the authors establish in the introduction (hint: read the introduction). Being a female author at this time was difficult. There was a lot of social pressure to be a certain kind of (respectable) woman. The fellowship and friendship between female authors is fascinating and inspiring.

There are some serious problems with the first chapter in the book on Jane Austen and Anne Sharp. If you only read this chapter, I think you’ll be disappointed. It is weak on the historical evidence and the conclusions the authors draw are not very compelling. But, if you press on (or skip that chapter all together), the book is very worthwhile!

I really enjoyed the complexity in which the authors present the literary friendships. They aren’t magical, perfect friendships. The women are not perfect individuals. There isn’t an attempt to whitewash the women to prove how great they are, which is terribly important in recounting history. My favorite chapter is the last chapter because of this reason.

Also, please read the conclusion. It’s interesting and it’s worth it.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $9.99)

If you’re like me, you’ve probably read books by all of these authors. If this is the case, then I think you’ll enjoy the book. It’s great to get some background on what was going on personally for the authors as they were writing their books. This is saying in a long about way, yes, buy it or borrow it from the library.

Something else you might enjoy:

I don’t have any suggestions. Do you?

Brave, Not Perfect

Brave Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani

Self-Help

I received a copy of this book. I liked this book and think it’s important for others to know about it and read it.

Brave Not Perfect

Overall Rating: 4

Quick Summary: Reshma Saujani asserts that we are raising boys to be brave and girls to be perfect. This means boys are more likely to take risks than girls. By pointing at ways in which girls hold back in their quest for perfection, Saujani suggests ways we can help girls and women shift from a quest for perfection to a quest to be brave.

I’m not a scientist, however I safely say that if you’re a scientist and you’re waiting for some powerful evidence to prove that girls are raised to be perfect, you’re going to be disappointed. There are interesting points to this idea, but it’s not strong. The argument that girls are raised to be perfect is less than compelling, except in an anecdotal way.

What is compelling is a larger social focus on perfection. I’m not convinced it’s a gendered problem, but I do think it’s a problem. It may be generational, it may be that just the people I know are like this, but I know so many people who strive for perfection. I am definitely one of those people.

This book is worthwhile for the tips on how to be braver, whether you’re a man or a woman. It is a powerful message to tell people that it is okay to fail in today’s world of photo filters and 4.6 GPAs. A lot of us are pushing back about being social media perfect, now it’s time to take the next step to be brave and try and (potentially) fail and this book helps in this quest.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $12.99)

Amazon link

I think this price is very, very steep. The book isn’t terribly long. Saujani did a TED Talk on this subject, which I watched. There is a lot more information in the book. If this is something you’re really passionate about, then by all means, by the book (other formats may be cheaper). But, even if you’re not passionate about this issue, perhaps even skeptical, you should read this!! Borrow it from the library and see what it’s all about.

Something else you might enjoy:

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin is a nice addition to this conversation, mainly because it’s about one woman’s quest to finding what makes her happy. There’s no sense in being brave if you aren’t going on your quest for something amazing on the other side.

2017 Book Challenge: An Author You’ve Never Read Before

Hello! You may be wondering why the title of this post is 2017 Book Challenge, but it’s Feb. 17, 2019. Gosh I can’t believe it’s been that long since Fallon and I were doing our first book challenge. Well, as you can tell, we let our original book challenge fall by the wayside (I more than Fallon). In fact, I know I read a book by an author I’d never read before in 2017, but who that was and what book it was, I don’t remember! But, since Fallon did her part, I wanted to make sure to post it. I also to announce we are trying again. We have a new Book Challenge we will do in 2019. Our first category will be a Children’s Book We Never Read. You can guess that Fallon’s already read her book and I have yet to read mine, but we will complete the challenge!! There’s only 10 challenges for 2019, and here’s a sneak peek, two of them are audiobook challenges. So stay tuned…

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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A dystopian novel written before dystopian novels were “a thing”, The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the present date nation of Gilead. There, a woman’s sole purpose is to reproduce, and we meet Offred (once a Boston resident known by another name). Offred is a handmaid assigned to a high-ranking Gilead officer’s home to hopefully give the Commander and his wife a child. If she fails, she may be shipped to the colonies where the life expectancy is not so great.

It seems like I was the only person not assigned The Handmaid’s Tale as a required reading in college. How did my liberal arts education fail me? I never took a specific course on gender studies, but come on! I actually became aware of the novel after some podcasters were talking about the show and comparing to its source material (thank you The Broadcast). Like the television show, the novel is a slow burn, in so much that not a lot happens. The style makes you want to keep reading however, if only to find out more about either what happened that led to the creation of Gilead or what will happen. I credit Atwood with the realism of the story (and the epilogue is classic, very meta) in so much that you don’t get all the answers and everything is not tied up in a nice bow. I would have liked Offred to have had a mic drop moment before the ending though. This book is made for reading group discussions.

 

Motion: New Release By Penny Reid

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Motion, the first in the all-new Laws of Physics Trilogy from Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author Penny Reid, is available now!

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One week.

Home alone.

Girl genius.

Unrepentant slacker.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Mona is a smart girl and had everything figured out a long time ago. She had to. She didn’t have a choice. When your parents are uber-celebrities and you graduate from high school at thirteen, finish college at seventeen, and start your PhD program at eighteen, you don’t have time for distractions outside of your foci. Even fun is scheduled.

Which is why Abram, her brother’s best friend, is such an irritant.

Abram is a talented guy, a supremely gifted musician, and has absolutely nothing figured out, nor does he seem to care. He does what he feels, when he feels, and—in Mona’s opinion—he makes her feel entirely too much.

Laws of Physics is the second trilogy in the Hypothesis series; Laws of Physics parts 1 (MOTION) & 2 (SPACE) end with a cliffhanger.

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Download your copy today!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2T5iZto

AppleBooks: https://apple.co/2QYvTaB

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/Motion

Nook: http://bit.ly/2R1mpvn

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2ASuOfq

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2DoH8pv

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2T4ebo9

Add to GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2U1pnSv

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Pre-order the rest of the series today!

Space

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2SL7P09

AppleBooks: https://apple.co/2WOXsrj

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/SpacePR

Nook: http://bit.ly/2I1Rekw

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2GzSvwS

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2RRny94

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2tfBT5C

Time

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Gk59Aq

AppleBooks: https://apple.co/2MYQ73J

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/TimePR

Nook: http://bit.ly/2TFwsIH

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2RTODZD

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2Sm1Zmu

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2WSQbXe

Meet Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Connect with Penny:

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2AXQQxj

GoodReads: http://bit.ly/2sCQ1pi

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2W67eow

BookBub: http://bit.ly/2U3dKdW

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lakzsD

Twitter: http://bit.ly/2FDLziw

Pinterest: http://bit.ly/2sDBr0u

Stay up to day with Penny by joining her mailing list: http://bit.ly/2szN34G

www.pennyreid.ninja

 

Review of What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

Contemporary Romance

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I have decided to review it because it’s a great book, despite my preconceived notions.

What the Wind Knows

Overall Rating: 4.5 (xoxo)

Quick summary: Anne Gallagher is adrift without her loving grandfather. His last request is to visit Ireland and spread his ashes, but Anne is devastated she’s making her much-longed-for trip without her grandfather by her side. When Anne is lost at sea, she finds herself back in Ireland in 1921. As she recovers in the home of her rescuer, Dr. Thomas Smith, she realizes there’s more to her grandfather’s wish than she could have imagined. Now Anne must decide whether she’s willing to tie herself to a man fighting for Irish independence, especially when she knows the violence that will come next.

I need everyone to know before they read my review that I dislike time travel. It’s a trope I don’t really care for and I tend to avoid at all costs. Case in point, I’ve never read Outlander. Diana Gabaldon is a wonderful writer, I did read the first 20 or so pages of the book, but I have a mental block regarding that particular plot line.

Lucky for me, I didn’t realize it was a time travel book at first. I thought it was going to be told through flashbacks, which I can handle. By the time I realized my mistake, Anne had already traveled to Ireland and I was already in love with her grandfather.

I’m really glad that I read this book. For one thing, I love the characters. Anne is lovely. She’s a strong, ethical, creative, loving woman that I would gladly have as my mom. She stays true to herself throughout the novel, despite being in tough situations. I love Dr. Smith too. He’s the perfect hero; he’s not overly handsome, not overly charismatic. He’s just a solid, smart, faithful man who thinks with his head and his heart.

The second thing I love about this book is the way Ireland serves as the driving force for character development. Usually it’s the hero and the heroine who push each other to change, and Dr. Smith does evolve as he gets to know Anne (that’s part of why she’s so kickass). But the issue of Irish independence really challenges the characters to evaluate their decisions in ways that I’ve never faced before. I’ve heard about the NRA and Irish Catholics vs Protestants, but this brought the conflict into such sharp detail. I cried over these fictional characters especially because Harmon tries to make sure there are no “good guys” and “bad guys” in this book. Everyone is desperately trying to build a better future and country for themselves and their children and they go about it in different ways.

Thirdly, I love the beginning and end of this book. It takes a good amount of plotting in order to get a novel to loop around like it did and provide a satisfying happily ever after. The difficulty in ending a time travel novel with a true HEA is probably a good portion of the reason why I don’t like them. They usually leave me a little dissatisfied or unsettled. Not with this book! There was something incredibly beautiful about this book. When I think of the beginning and the end, it feels so epic.

Is it worth buying? (Kindle $5.99)

I kind of cringe when I think about spending $6 on an ebook. I know authors put a lot of time and effort into each book, regardless of the format, so I’m sorry for thinking that, but it’s how I feel. I think it would be well worth the $6 if: 1. $6 on an ebook doesn’t make you cringe. 2. You love historical romances and don’t mind time travel. 3. You love Outlander and can’t get enough of it. 4. You’ve never read Outlander (like me) and will happily never know if there are similarities in the plot line or not.

Something else you might enjoy:

Try Serpent’s Kiss by Thea Harrison. It has a unique take on the issue of time and time travel. It’s one of many books in a series, but it stands alone well. You can read my review of the book here. I’m sorry for the typos.