Top 5 Tuesday: Villains more interesting than the hero

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm . This week we explore books where the villain was more interesting than the hero. At first, I struggled with this but as I looked at my bookshelf I realized there are a few that I sympathized with the villain more.

Frankenstein.jpg

Growing up, all the movies depict Frankenstein’s monster as just that … a monster. But upon, reading the story by Mary Shelley, I realized that the monster has more layers to him. There is a huge nature vs. nurture theme to this book. Being treated as an outcast by his own creator, it is no wonder the monster ends up acting the way he does. This book touched me in a way  I wasn’t expecting. It’s definitely a favorite among the gothic novels on my shelf.

Phantom of the opera

I was first introduced to this story when I saw the Broadway play and I totally sided with the Phantom. Of course, I then had to read the book, which is a little different and maybe even a little darker but I still feel for the Phantom, who is the bad guy. I would totally would have stayed with him than Raul. His story is so interesting. I wanted to know more!

Wicked

There is always a story behind what people do and Gregory Maguire does an awesome job turning the classic villain of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz into a likeable character. I never really liked Wizard of Oz but then Wicked came along and I’m obsessed. Elphabah has so many layers and I don’t blame her for being the person she is. I totally like her more than Glinda, the good witch or even Dorothy. Sorry, not sorry.

American Gods

There are so many characters in this book that all intersect. Everyone is a hero and a villain. Characters you love in the beginning of the book, you end up wanting to hate in the end and vice versa. Everything is possible in this book. I definitely liked reading the history of the gods and their ongoing feud.

 

The Host.jpg

This was such an interesting story because the hero and the villain are one person. An invading species takes over the mind of the human hosts but in this case, the human refuses to go away. It’s almost a case of multi-personality disorder but they are two separate souls. Of course this only causes problems later on, which makes the story even more interesting.


Have you read any of these? What did you think? What books have you read where you thought the villain was more interesting? Let’s discuss!

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One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich was one of those authors for me that I just never got into despite seeing her books everywhere. Until now. My friend, who loves Evanovich, bought me the first book in the Plum series and said that I had to read it because it reminded her of me. Well then…

One for the MoneyIn short, One for the Money is about a woman, Stephanie Plum, who needs money and gets a job with her uncle at his bail bonding company. One of her first jobs is to catch her old high school crush Joe Morelli, a local vice cop who is wanted for murder. Plum realizes the job isn’t as easy as it seems as she runs into several characters and her life is threatened more than once. She realizes that there is more that meets the eye in her quest to nab Morelli.

As soon as I started reading it, I knew I was going to like it. Having been born and raised in New Jersey, where the story is set, I immediately felt like I was at home. I was grinning throughout this book as I recited the dialogue in my head. Stephanie’s family had me in downright hysterics because if it didn’t remind me of my own family, it reminded me of someone else’s that I knew. By far, I loved Grandma Mazur, the little firecracker. I will never forget the part where Mazur grabs Stephanie’s gun and shoots the chicken on the table. “I shot that sucker in the gumpy” had me in hysterics. I had tears rolling down my face.

The plot has some holes in it, especially surrounding Morelli’s case. Having questioned a number of police chiefs regarding homicides in my profession, I know how they handle cases, especially ones involving their own. I just felt like maybe Evanovich should have fleshed it out a little more. My journalistic brain kept asking questions that noone else seemed to be asking. But that’s just me being overly critical. Overall, the storyline works and the pace is even throughout the book. There were no dry spells or parts bogged down. I just kept turning the pages.

In comparison, the book was way better than the movie, which I had briefly started to watch a while ago when it was on TV. I love Katherine Heigl but she is not a Stephanie Plum. She was not engaging and I ended up changing the channel within the first 10 minutes.

I actually want to continue to read the series and I need to  learn more about the bad ass Ranger so I can officially pick a side in the Morelli vs Ranger debate.


Have you read One for the Money? What did you think? Let’s discuss! Post in the comments.

Summer Reading – Week 4 & 5

Hey all,

Things have been incredibly busy the last two weeks so I am a little behind on my summer reading updates. Last weekend, I was in New Jersey with my friend. I gave her the true Jersey experience – beach, bagels, boardwalk and zeppoles. 🙂 I also said yes to the dress. So one  thing has been officially checked off the wedding list. As I write this, I have only an hour before I leave to go tour my first wedding venue. Exciting times. 😀

Anyway, between last week and this week, my reading has been only so-so. For both weeks, I read/listened to 2 books and 20 articles each.

The books/audiobooks included:

Technically I also listened “Oh the Place You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss but since I already handed in my sheet to the library it will have to go on for next week. I feel like I cheated this week with the children’s books, especially since reading/listening to a children’s book takes only minutes. But I guess a book is a book.

I didn’t complete any bingo lines or reviews for either of those weeks so I only got 2 raffle tickets each. I put in for a free Kindle and the restaurant gift card package. The bingo is harder to fill than I originally thought, mainly because they basically have the same activities for every week just in different order. Well often does one go to the museum or a concert in a month? However, looking ahead, I may have better luck next week.


What are you reading this summer? Are you participating in any summer reading programs/challenges? Let’s discuss!

 

Children’s Book Readathon Week 1

James J. Cudney over at This is My Truth Now is holding a Children’s Readathon through August. Each week we read the books that are listed and then write a review by Friday.

This week is picture books, of which we were to read “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss and “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. I am so glad I was able to participate because I felt like a kid again.

(Covers are from goodreads)

Goodnight Moon

I actually had to listen to this on audiobook. When I went to the library, they gave me the wrong version. They gave me Goodnight Moon 1,2,3 the counting book and I realized it after I read it that it was wrong. (I had never read Goodnight Moon as a child, at least I don’t remember it) but I had heard about it over the years. Since I didn’t see the other version at the library, I downloaded the audiobook.

The rhyming to this book was easy to follow and the pace of the book is perfect for a bedtime story. In the beginning, the pace can be read quicker as the author introduces “the characters” but then as they begin to settle in for the night, the pace gets slower. It is a relaxing read and the rhyming is soothing.

It is a good story to teach children that all things, whether bears, or kittens or cows jumping over the moon, have to stop what they are doing at the end of the day to get some sleep. This is a book that should be read early on to create a type of routine for kids.

Since I had to listen to the audio, I didn’t get to look at the pictures but I did have the artwork in the counting book, which is done by the same illustrator. It was colorful and fun and kids can easily point out the objects and animals that are described in the book.

Oh the places youll go

OK so here is a secret that not many people know. I have never read a Dr. Seuss book! (GASP!) I know, I know, what childhood did I have? I had heard about them obviously. I mean I only watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” every year. And I have heard “Green Eggs and Ham” recited countless times. But no I had never flipped through a book.

Unfortunately, I had to listen to the audiobook for this one as well since the library couldn’t seem to find their copy. I wish I could have because just the cover art looks colorful and fun. Fortunately, my audiobook was read by John Lithgow and he totally acted out the parts. It made it so much fun. Coincidentally I listened to it while I was making pancakes for dinner.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by how inspiring this book is. Dr. Seuss is preparing young readers for the life that is ahead of them and the places they will go and the things he will see.What was even more surprising was how Dr. Seuss doesn’t try to sugarcoat it. He tells his little readers that they are going to come across some challenges like … waiting. But he tells them that they can get past that. They don’t need to wait for anything. Dr. Seuss tells his readers that anything is possible. They can do anything they want. I seriously can’t wait to read this to my kids someday.

Honestly though, I think adults should reread this book from time to time to find their inner child and remember their enthusiasm for life. I am an adult and I feel so refreshed after reading this. I feel like I can conquer the world.

Where the Wild Things Are

I was so glad that this was a pick for the readathon because it took me back to my childhood. I can still remember finding this book in the school library and being drawn to the cover. I knew that it was supposed to be a monster but it didn’t look so bad. As an adult, I remembered the illustrations more than I did the story, so it was good to reread it.

Basically, Max misbehaves, causing his mother to call him a “wild thing” and send him to his room without supper. There he imagines traveling across the ocean to where the wild things are and becomes king. But, he soon realizes its a lonely place and wants to be where he is loved.

I still love the illustrations in this book. It’s not your typical picture book that is simplistic but rather each page is a scene. You almost don’t need the words to follow along with what is happening. While many picture books use bold, simple color, Sendak blends color to create different tones and shadows. Sendak’s art is descriptive and full of action. Some of the pages, I could see the scenes moving like a film.

I think this book will always hold a special place in my heart and will definitely be a permanent fixture in my household.


Have you read these books as a child? Have you read them as an adult? What did you think then and now? Let’s discuss!

FFF: What book can you read a thousand times?

Fun Fact Friday is a weekly meme by Book Admirer with the purpose of getting to know fellow book bloggers. If you have an idea for a future FFF, please comment below!

We all have that one book that becomes our favorite. That one book that you continuously go to when there is nothing else to read or when you want something familiar.

Little WomenI hate to bore everyone but “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott still holds that top spot. I used to read it at least once a year. I feel like I am so familiar with the characters that I am one of the March sisters. Growing up, I totally related to Jo, probably because I was a fellow writer, but also because of Jo’s spirit and independence. She didn’t follow the societal trend of her sister Meg and get married and have children. Well not right away. She went to go live by herself and explore her passion. Reading this growing up, I couldn’t wait to go do just that.

Meg was that loving, protective older sister that can be annoying in her fussiness but you know it’s just out of love. You know that you can go to her to talk to her when your mother is not around.

Beth. Ahh poor Beth. I have lost count on how many times I have read this book and Beth’s story always makes me cry. I just can’t get over it. Maybe because I relate so much to Jo and can feel her emotion in those pages.

Amy is that annoying, younger sister that is always traipsing along. Just GO AWAY! Yet my heart still pounds every time Amy falls through the ice. You can’t help but love her for her vanity and selfishness. I loved reading her story and how she matured into a young woman.

Laurie is the next door neighbor that you grow up with but nothing ever happens. When I first read this I was so rooting for Laurie and Jo’s relationship but in the end I am so glad that Alcott weaved a new route for the two of them. Besides, I am totally gaga over the professor. So much more Jo’s (my?) style. I guess I had a thing for older men but I seriously think the professor is Jo’s match intellectually. Laurie sometimes annoyed me in his frivolous adventures.

And of course you have the loving parents. Who wouldn’t want parents like Mr. and Mrs. March? They love their children but know when to be stern with them. Although Jo is closer to her father, I like her relationship with her mother and her mother helps Jo through her faults. As mothers do with their daughters. It always reminded me of my relationship with my mother.

Ok this is turning more into a review of the book than a simple answer so I will stop. But these are just some of the reasons why I always have Little Women close by.  I do also enjoy Jo’s Boys and Little Men, the second and third book, but Little Women will always be close to my heart.


What book can you read a thousand times? Why? Let’s discuss! Post in the comments

Invisible Monsters Remix by Chuck Palahniuk

Holy crow. What a ride! This book was CRAZY! Or as my book club organizer started the discussion, “Seriously WTF?

Invisible monsters remixI had heard Palahniuk was a very unique writer but I just had no idea. I am so glad that I finally had an excuse to finally read him.

The remix version is framed like a magazine, making the reader jump around to get to the next part of the story. For example, from Chapter 1 you jump to Chapter 40, just like when a story in a magazine jumps to the middle of the magazine. You have to flip through to find the rest of the story. Along the way you may find little hidden gems. For those people who like to cheat and read the last page to find out what happens, this book might not be for you. You can’t do that because the ending might not be the ending. Even when you finish the story, you get the feeling that you didn’t finish. So you are forced to flip through to find out what you missed. But the Palahniuk designed it this way.

“No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen-heart feeling that you rush right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention.Well get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel someday. This is just practice. None of this matters. We are just warming up….”

The plot of this book involves one crazy thing after another. In short, a fashion model has a sudden “accident” that leaves her disfigured and unable to speak. While in the hospital, she meets Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme. Through their adventures together, you learn who they were, who they are and who they want to be. But at each discovery, the reader just stops and is forced to flip back, pondering how the hell they missed that.

What I thought was ironic and pretty clever was, not only does Palahniuk lay out the book like a magazine but the plot is essentially all those things you find in a fashion magazine. It’s all about your vanity and selfworth, shallowness and selfishness. While some don’t want to admit it, Palahniuk throws it right in your face. Essentially this book is about the extremes people will go to look the way society deems they should look. But are they really happy? They think they are until they realize the truth. But at what cost.

Yes, Palahniuk is an eclectic writer and spins a crazy tale, but his underlying message strong and he isn’t afraid to show it. I think that’s what I liked most about this book. I can’t wait to read more of him. I can’t wait to read Fight Club, but as the San Francisco Chronicle said about this book, “Makes … Fight Club seem like a leisurely buggy ride.” We’ll see about that.


Did you read this book? Have you read anything else by Chuck Palahniuk? What did you think? Let’s discuss!

Top 5 Tuesday: Books I read in book club

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm . This week’s post is about the five books we read as ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies). However, since I have never read an ARC, I decided to spin this post to the top 5 books I read in book club.

As you all know, I am part of three book clubs and the following list is a reason why. If it wasn’t for book club, I would have missed out on some seriously good books that I had never even heard of.

Underground Airlines

What if the Civil War never happened? In this altered history, it is modern day and there is still slavery in some states. I loved this book because it gave you some realistic answers to the question of ‘what if’. I seriously never heard of it until it was assigned in book club. You can read more of my thoughts in my review.

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The Kept was a pick for local authors month and I am so glad that I got to read this. I am sorry to say but I normally don’t go out of my way to read local authors, but I seriously need to. This book sucked me in from the opening lines and left my mouth hanging at the last line. Read my review here.

In the Garden of Beasts

I had heard of Erik Larson before but had never gotten around to reading him. That is until book club. I thought this book was going to be dense with facts but was pleasantly surprised by how much Larson weaves those facts into a story. You can read my thoughts here. After this read, I went out and purchased Devil in the White City.

The Left Hand of Darkness.jpg

I had never heard of Ursula Le Guin before and at first when we started reading this book for book club I was completely lost. It is so out there. Yet, once I got used to who all the characters were and what was going on, I devoured it. It’s such a good book with so many underlying themes. Le Guin’s other books are on my TBR. You can read more of what I thought here.

 

As I Lay Dying

I had to put a classic on the list and this is my favorite that I read so far. While it is about death, this is a powerful read that resonated with me.


Have you read any books on this list? What did you think?

Audiobook: Hunger by Roxane Gay

This was my introduction to Roxane Gay and I am so glad that I went with her memoir, which was heartbreaking and empowering at the same time.

HungerI thought this book was going to be about a women’s struggle with food and weight loss but I was sooo wrong. It is so much more than that. Gay does talk about her lifelong struggle with food and her body, using a childhood trauma as a starting point to what would be an emotional and psychological journey of self image and self worth. But this book is more about the hunger of finding oneself, through the good and the bad, and finding that medium where you can live with yourself at your own terms and not everyone else.

Gay is candid in this book right from the opening lines when she tells the reader that this book is not meant to be inspirational. It’s simply HER story. From then on, without trying to sugar coat things, Gay talks about how an act of physical violence would turn her life around and shape her to be the women she is today.

“I was swallowing my secrets and making my body expand and explode. I found ways to hide in plain sight, to keep feeding a hunger that could never be satisfied — the hunger to stop hurting. I made myself bigger. I made myself safer.”

Gay isn’t afraid to use the word “fat” or explore the lines of race and what it means to be big and a black woman. There were times in this book, I felt my heart absolutely breaking for her, especially her descriptions of how she thought of herself. I wanted to shake her and say ‘NO, NO, NO, don’t think like that.’ But then I would think about what she said about writing this book. She didn’t want pity or advice. She tells the reader straight up that she isn’t brave or heroic or strong. She is just “one women who has experienced what other women have experienced.”

There are so many powerful lines in this book that would stop you short and slap you right in the face. There were times I wanted to  pause the audio so I could reflect on what she had just said. But even though there are a number of passages I could highlight, I think the one that hit me the hardest was when she said that her “no” didn’t mean anything. It’s not a line that is new or should be surprising. How many stories have we heard about this? Yet, hearing the emotion in Gay’s voice as she says it, just seemed to strike a chord with me.

Gay is a strong and powerful writer that can easily resonate with the reader. I can’t wait to read more of her.

August TBR

Here we are. August. Only a few more weeks and it will be back to school, which means works will be getting busier again and I will be swamped. The fact that I am already getting events to post in the paper that are for September and even November makes me sigh.

So I am trying to focus on the present. This weekend is going to be exciting as my maid of honor and I are heading to my hometown in New Jersey tonight. We are going to do some fun stuff together tomorrow (either Six Flags Great Adventure or the beach, pending weather), and then on Saturday, I’m trying on wedding dresses! I still can’t believe it. I’m getting married!

Anyway, that doesn’t leave much reading this weekend but come next week, it’s back to the spines. I have a lot of reading to get done this month.

(Covers are from Goodsreads)

Book Club titles

My Capital District Book Club is reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for August. This is actually a reread for me but since I can’t remember this one, it will be worth it. The Golden Bowl is for the Modern Classics Top 100 Book Club for September. Considering I didn’t finish the August read, I am kind of hesitant about this one but we shall see.

Classics Club

Atlas Shrugged

The Classics Club is currently doing a spin read for August. The number that was picked was 9. On my list, the number fell on Atlas Shrugged. I haven’t read a 1,000 page book in some time so this might be a feat, considering all the other books I am reading. We shall see.

Audiobooks

Still Foolin’ ‘Em is my transition audio from June. I have only about an hour left so I should finish it by next week, if not sooner. My next one will be Wishful Drinking, which I keep seeing everywhere so I think it’s meant to be.

Personal reads

Brooklyn.jpg

Brooklyn is another transitional read from June. Started this last week but haven’t finished it. But I am loving it so far.

Six seems to be the magic number of late. I have been falling between six and seven each month, except for those random good months I can read a little more. I’m kind of bummed because James Cudney at This is My Truth Now is doing a Children’s Readathon this month and he has some really good titles picked. I’m hoping I will have some free time to participate in at least one of those weeks.

This is definitely going to be an interesting month. This weekend is wedding dresses. Next Sunday (12th) is my Fitness Challenge which involves running a 5K with obstacles every half mile (pushups, burpees, situps, etc). Last year I finished in 34 minutes but I’m hoping to be closer to 20 minutes this time around. Then it’s back to New Jersey the weekend of the 18th. A lot of traveling and events during the time I set aside to read.

I will keep you all updated on how I’m doing with my reading. That is if I don’t die during my fitness challenge. LOL.


What are you reading in August? Have you read any on this list? If so, what did you think? Let’s discuss!

Reading wrap-up

Is summer almost gone already? I refuse to believe it. It just can’t be. I’m not ready for this yet. NOOOO!!!

Besides this realization, July has been a pretty good month but it usually is. I just come alive in the summer and it’s amazing how much reading I can get done, even with everything else going on.

Another good motivator is the fact that I am participating in my local library’s Summer Reading Program, in which I set a goal to read 2 books and 15 articles a week, a goal I have met thus far. In total I have 7 books and as of today, 69 articles. There are two weeks to go.

So here are the books I read in July:

the way of all flesh

This was my Modern Classic’s Top 100 Book Club read for July and I surprisingly liked it. Especially because it’s not your typical classic in that it was anti-Victorian. In fact, the book was published only after Butler’s death. You can read more of what I thought in my review.

After you

I finally got it over with and finished the sequel to “Me Before You”, both of which I started in June. While I LOVED the first book, this one just didn’t do it for me. I’m told the third is better so I’m hoping it lives up to the hype. You can read my thoughts on the first two in my joint review.

Hunger

This was my audiobook for the month and my first introduction to Gay. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Gay just seems so genuine and puts so much emotion in her writing. There were a few times, I teared up listening to this and others where my heart broke. Such a moving memoir and one that had to be very painful to write. I will having a review soon.

Invisible monsters remix

Oh man, I so can’t wait to write a review for this one. This was one helluva ride. This was my first introduction to Palahniuk thanks to the Capital District Book Club. My friend had warned me about his writing but I just had no idea. Despite the absolute craziness of this book, I loved the themes Palahniuk raises and how he just lays it out there, like it or not. This book was written to make you uncomfortable but in a good way.

One for the Money

Coming off some more serious reads, I needed something just fun and quick. My friend had bought this book for me because it reminded her of me and I am so grateful. I had heard of Evanovich but just never seemed to get into her….until now. Having read this, I want to continue reading the series. A review will be coming soon.

Everything I Never Told You

I bought this during one of the spring library sales. While the result of this book was predictable, I still enjoyed it. This book is more about the events that lead up to the end result and Ng did a good job of dropping just enough information to keep me engaged. A review is coming.

The autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man

I seriously picked this one up simply because I needed a second book to meet up my reading book for week 3 of the Summer Reading Program. It was short, therfore, quick. I am glad I did. I had this book on my shelf since college. We were supposed to read it for my literature class but we never got to it. Almost 10 years later (wow, really?!), I’m just getting around to it. I will definitely be writing a book on this one.

I am still putting together my reading list for August but that will be posted later this week. Stay tuned.

Yours truly,

Book Admirer


What did you read in July? Have you read any on this list? What did you think? Let’s discuss!