Top 10 Tuesday: My Spring TBR

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Girl, is focused on the books on our spring reading list.

It is hard for me to put together this list because I’m not a seasonal reader. With my required reading for book clubs, I normally go month to month so I can see what TBR titles I can squeeze in. However, that is a separate post. So for this, I am going to list the newer/hyped up books that are on the top of my TBR list I want to get to sooner rather than later.

The Glass Castle

I had seen this book around but didn’t hear much about it until the movie came out. Then it seemed like everyone had read it. So of course now, my curiosity is piqued.

Lincoln in the Bardo

I saw the review for this at work and it immediately caught my fancy. I love historical fiction and the summary sounded interesting.

The Hazel Wood

This one goes out to all you book bloggers who have reviewed this book. There have been mixed reviews on this. I want to find out once and for all what kind of book it is. LOL.

Ready Player One

I probably won’t get to reading this one until late in the season as it seems everyone is reading it. The movie does come out this week after all. I have heard nothing but good things about the book.

Sharp Objects

I had almost forgot about this one. I love Flynn and this is one of the last ones I have to read.

The Underground Railroad

Another historical fiction book. It’s gotten some good reviews. It’s also on Oprah’s Book Club list, which is another list I want to start following more.

A Secret Sisterhood

I love reading about relationships of authors and how they interact when they aren’t writing. Austen and Bronte are two of my favorites so of course this is a must read.

Turtles All The Way Down

I am still trying to form an opinion about Green. I have only read The Fault in Our Stars, which was good but I don’t think as good as some make it out to be. Yet, my opinion of Green is not firm so I wanted to read more of him. Turtles definitely caught my attention when it came out. Now, if I can only get it at the library.


Backman has recently become one of my top 10 authors, and is quickly creeping into my top 5. A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry were absolutely amazing. I am so looking forward to this one.

After You

Everyone is hyped up about Still Me that it has caught my attention. I just have to read After You first. :/

What books are planning to read this spring? Share in the comments below.


Audiobook: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Rating 5/5

This is a beautiful story that everyone should read, especially children.

From Goodreads:

WonderI won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
“Wonder is the best kids’ book of the year,” said Emily Bazelon, senior editor at and author of Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. In a world where bullying among young people is an epidemic, this is a refreshing new narrative full of heart and hope. R.J. Palacio has called her debut novel “a meditation on kindness” —indeed, every reader will come away with a greater appreciation for the simple courage of friendship. Auggie is a hero to root for, a diamond in the rough who proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

Even though this is a children’s book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did happen to see the movie first but was pleasantly surprised that it was adapted rather closely to the book.

I didn’t read the book but rather listened to it via audiobook and it just added to the experience. I would have devoured this in a day if I had read it but since I listened only to and from work (40 minutes each way), I was forced to absorb it slowly.

The main plot of the story is very well done. Even though I am now an adult and I don’t have a deformity, I could still relate to Auggie. As some of us know, middle school in general can be a hard time in our lives. Maybe not so much now, because so many states have enacted anti-bullying laws, but when I went to school, bullying was a part of your middle school experience and unfortunately I was a target.

Each step of Auggie’s journey in fifth grade was like a time capsule back to my own childhood. The fear of going to school, the effort to pretend that what people did and say didn’t bother you, taking the high road, being strong.

I liked how Palacio broke up the novel with different characters points of view from someone who was immediately close to him to a stranger. So it wasn’t just Auggie describing what happened to him.

I also especially liked how this wasn’t just a platitude of how you should treat others. It was a story about how to deal with what hand we are dealt with. I loved watching Auggie grow to accept who he is.

Since I listened to this in my car, I am sure other drivers must have thought I was a nutso. I laughed with Auggie, cried with Auggie and even cheered for Auggie.

He definitely is a wonder

Did you read Wonder? What did you think? What are other great children’s novels you read? Let’s discuss. Share in the comments. 🙂

Fun Fact Friday: Do you prefer paperbacks or hard covers?

When it comes to buying a book I prefer paperbacks. They are softer, lighter to carry, are easier to work with and CHEAPER. Yet, most new books come out in hard cover, which is so infuriating but if I don’t want to wait months for the paperback, I will suck it up.

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Also, it is very rare that I buy books any more. I frequent my local libraries and hardcovers are the majority. Which I totally understand. Hardcovers last longer. There is a paperback section at the library that I can go to but either they don’t have the book or if they do, the book is so beat up that I just get the hardcover.

Trials and tribulations of being a picky bookworm.

Do you have a preference? Post in the comments below.

If you have an idea for a future Fun Fact Friday or something you want to know about me, please share and I will be sure to use it with a link to your blog in a future post.

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Rating 5/5

I am going to keep this short because there have been a number of reviews on this one since it is so new.

I will say this, for those of who like Alfred Hitchcock and like a good suspense/thriller, than this latest book is up your alley. This book had me on the edge of my seat till the very last page.

In short (from Goodreads):

woman in the windowAnna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Right from the title of this book, I knew the plot was going to pay homage to the great Alfred Hitchcock, but knowing this didn’t ruin the story line at all.

There were so many twists and turns in this book that it will make you guess everything you think you know. Then when you think you figured it out, something will happen to blow that theory out of the sky.

Finn has developed a strong plot that definitely lures the reader in and makes you feel as paranoid as Anna. So even though she is an unreliable character, you can’t help but be on her side since you are going through the same thing as her.

Finn definitely knows how to give the reader drips of information to give a clue to what is going on at just the right time. It’s not everything at once. Rather, it’s a blend of that keeps the reader on tethered hooks.

It’s been awhile since I read a thriller like this and it was so enjoyable. I am so glad I purchased this and it sits on my bookshelf. I will definitely revisit it in the future.

Have you read A Woman in the Window? What did you think? What other thrillers would you recommend? Let’s discuss. Post in the comments section.

Local author day and other bookish news

So for all my New York blogging friends, I am super excited because there are some good events that are coming up in April in the Capital Region.

The Barnes and Noble at Colonie Center, Colonie, NY is having a local author day April 21 from 1 to 4 p.m. Authors are all from the immediate area and will be available for book signings and discussions.

They are as follows:

  • Daniel J. Barret, Death but No Taxes
  • Peter Bogyo, Broadway General Manager
  • Wanda Burch, She Who Dreams
  • Don Carswell, Look at the Sun
  • Marina Cramer, Roads
  • Chris Gibson, Rally Point
  • Stephen Gottlieb, Unfit for Democracy
  • David A. Kelly, Ballpark Mysteries Series
  • Kate D. Mahoney, The Misfit Miracle Girl
  • Gail Sokol, Baking for Success
  • Doris Washington, This Day Today
  • Karen McGrath, Regina Luttrell, M. Todd Luttrell, and Sean McGrath, Brew Your Business

I have been wanting to go to an author signing for so long and this is just going to be a doozy. I can’t wait! I better make sure I put some money aside because I am sure I am going to be browsing the shelves as well purchasing some of these authors’ works.

On April 13 (I know these are out of order) there is going to be a book signing at Fulton-Montgomery Community College with Diana Oakley, author of “Intended Harm”, which sounds like such an interesting but frightening story.

Here is some other book news that appeared on the news wires:

Malala Yousafzai’s book about refugees is coming out Sept. 4

Malala Yousafzai who is known for her memoir “I Am Malala” is working on a new book about refugees.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers told The Associated Press on Monday that Yousafzai’s “We Are Displaced” will come out Sept. 4. The book will combine her own experiences with accounts she has heard while visiting refugee camps, according to the AP.

English edition of Pope Francis book coming in August

St. Martin’s Press told The Associated Press on Tuesday that “A Future of Faith: The Path of Change in Politics and Society” will be published Aug. 7 in the U.S. and the U.K.
Pope Francis’ other books include “Happiness in This Life” and “The Name of God Is Mercy.”

Atahereh Mafi’s novel ‘A Very Large Expanse of Sea’ coming out in October

According to the Tribune News Service, Atahereh Mafi, the 30-year-old writer of the bestselling young adult fantasy series “Shatter Me” is branching out with her next novel, “A Very Large Expanse of Sea,” which will be published by Harper Collins in October.

Top 10 Tuesday: Books that surprised me

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s post is books that surprised us (in a good or bad way).

I have decided to split this one up and provide five good surprises and five bad surprises.

The Good

The Magus

I just finished this book and was pleasantly surprised. As I have said in a previous post, I hesitantly started this book but from the first page I was hooked. The mystery of the characters and the outcome of the overall “experiment” was too much to ignore.

Oliver Twist

I don’t know what it is about Dickens but he intimidates me. Ever since I tried reading “Great Expectations” unsuccessfully, I always thought I would never read a Dickens novel. Oliver pulled me in. I had to know what happened to him. I ended up liking the book and now look forward to other Dickens novels in the future.

To Kill a Mockingbird

I can still remember reading this book for summer reading entering freshman year of high school. I have the old copy with the blue cover and a picture of a bird in front of a tree. I had no clue what I was getting into but I absolutely fell in love with Scout’s spirit and loved the overarching theme of the book. Suffice it to say I was the only one to do the summer reading, which is too bad because this book is definitely a must read.

A passage to India

I first read this my senior year of high school as per an assignment for my AP World History class. We had to read a book about colonialism and write a paper on it. I had no clue what to read so my teacher recommended this one. I LOVED IT and got an “A” on my paper.  I was so glad that this book popped up on as a Modern Classics Book Club read a few month ago. It was a different reading experience but I still loved it.

Little Women

I have to add this one because it is my favorite book of all time. I bought it when I was in middle school on a trip to the mall because I liked the cover. Then it sat on my book shelf for awhile before I finally picked it up. It was the first book that when I finished, I immediately flipped to the beginning and reread it.

The Bad


I have liked historical fiction in the past so I was really surprised when I couldn’t get into this one. I did finish it but I was really disappointed.

It Ends with Us

This was a book club read that I just didn’t enjoy.  It is a story about abuse but I felt that the author just touched the surface when it came to the abuse part. It seemed like she didn’t want to get too close.

Go Set a Watchman

Since I loved “To Kill a Mockingbird” I thought I would love this one too. This was a DNF for me. It was disappointing. There was a reason Harper Lee never wanted to publish it.


I loved the first two books of the Hunger Games trilogy but this one fell short, which was so disappointing because it was supposed to wrap it up. I just felt like it didn’t add anything new that I didn’t already know.

Mr. Penumbras 24 hours bookstore

I thought I was going to love this book and I ended up not finishing it. It moved sooo slow and I just lost interest in it.

What books surprised you (good or bad)? Were any on this list? Let’s discuss. Post in the comments. 🙂

Busy, Busy, busy … reading and other things

This week is going to be a cluster in the reading department.  Of course, the week where I have to get three books in is a busy week for me.

Daylight savings time definitely didn’t help today. I woke up way later than I wanted to so that little time I get before work to get some reading done was pretty much non-existent. I am hoping to get out of work on time tonight so that I can get at least a few chapters in.

As you can see, this post is a little late because… yea.. I didn’t have time to write this morning between eating breakfast, getting dressed and preparing lunch and dinner for work. I am currently using some down time at work to write this post. I also have a book in my bag to sneak in a little reading. Luckily, Sundays at work are my easiest days.

So here is what is on the radar for the week:

(All covers are from Goodreads)

Book club reads are a must

The Magus  woman in the window Boy Erased

So because of the nor’easter last week, my Modern Classics Book Club got pushed to this Wednesday, which is the same day as another book club I had signed up for weeks ago. Thus, I not only have to finish the “The Magus” by John Fowles, which I have about 200 pages left but I have to read all of “The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn. Then, I have my Capital District Book Club next week so I have to also get started on “Boy Erased: A Memoir” by Garrard Conley. It doesn’t help that today through Tuesday I work 10-12 hour shifts. Oy vey. Definite planning is involved here.

Audiobooks are my fun time

I am almost done with “Wonder” and set to start “A Wrinkle in Time.” It appears that the audiobooks are going to be my fun reads for the week.


Monday — Unless something comes along, I am going to take a day off.

Tuesday — Top 10 Tuesday

Wednesday — Experience with Audiobooks.

Thursday — Review

Friday — Fun Fact Friday

Saturday — Another review because I am going to be ahead in my reading.

Daily Life

Besides all of this, I have to squeeze in a doctor’s appointment, gym time as well as meal prep, weekly household chores and errands and whatever else decides to pop up.

If I can accomplish all of this, I will be amazed. Here is to a busy week.

Yours truly,

Book Admirer

What do you have planned for the week? What books are you reading? Let’s discuss! 

March Book Haul

We are 10 days into March and I think I finally have my reading list down for the month. It was a challenge to narrow down what I wanted to read, especially because my initial reading list for March was thrown a curve ball when I found all the books were either checked out with a wait list or they just didn’t have them.

So after some rearranging and actually caving into buying some books, the reading list is as follows:


“The Magus” by John Fowles

This is my Modern Classic Book Club read for March and I am about three quarters through it. I will be honest, I went into this book with trepidation. After “The Ginger Man” and the fact that this book is 850 pages, I was hesitant to even start this one. But I am glad that I did. It is so good. Our book club meeting got pushed to this week due to the nor’easter on Wednesday but I am glad to have the extra week so I can take it all in.  A review should be coming on Thursday.

“The Woman in the Window” by A. J. Finn

This is an impromptu book club read. A group I am part of does a book club every so often and they decided to do one for March. I figured why not. However, because it is so new, the library was out of all their copies. I had to buy this one, hence the sticker still on the jacket. I hope it is worth the buy. The book club is also on Wednesday so I have a lot of reading to get done this week.

“Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity Faith and Family” by Garrard Conley

My Capital District Book Club is reading is nonfiction for March and this is what the group picked. Another one that I had to buy. This will be my third nonfiction read for the month. Wow. The other two were good so I hope this one keeps the trend going. Stay tuned for a review next week.

“The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey

This is a leftover from February because I hate not reading books I selected. I renewed it and should be getting to it before the end of the month.

“The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame

As promised, I am trying to narrow down my personal TBR list with a pick each month. Given my other serious reads, I figured this one might be an easy, fun read, especially since its a children’s book.

Other reads

Not pictured is the book I read at the start of the month, “The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan.” See my review here.

Also, I started my first audiobook. YAY! After some advice from friends and my followers, I went with an easy one to start. “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio. I’m on the last disc but I have already downloaded my next audiobook “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle. I should have reviews soon along with a post about my experience venturing into audiobooks. Stay tuned.

Yours truly,

Book Admirer

Have you read any books on this list? What did you think? Post your comments below. 🙂


What inspired your blog name?

This isn’t an either/or question but I felt like mixing it up a little this week because I need to resolve my curiosity. It amazes me every day how many of us book bloggers are out there and how unique each of the blog names are. So I am curious, how did you come up with that name.

Mine is by far not as creative as others I have seen but I have my own reasons for my name.

Upon entering high school, I already knew I wanted to be a journalist when I grew up but was dismayed to learn the high school didn’t have a school newspaper. Taking action, I wrote a letter to the principal explaining why the school needed one. I remember him reading it right there during my lunch period. When he was done, he looked my way and motioned me over. He asked me if I had written it and when I nodded he said it was well done. I vaguely recall saying something to the effect that I was an admirer of the written word. He was impressed. Suffice it to say, next school year, we had a budget for a school newspaper.

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That simple line helped propel me on a path that would lead to where I am today. So when I started this blog, I tried to think of something catchy or play on words but then realized I wanted to pay homage to what started it all. Because in fact, I am an admirer of the written word.

I remember as a kid, always being excited to get a new book and reading the first lines of the book and how they skipped across the page. I liked reading aloud because I liked to hear how the words sounded in a sentence. I remember, at an early age, writing short stories for fun because I liked creating my own sentences and paragraphs.

Even now, so many years later, there are times I still get giddy with excitement when I read a new book. There are times, when I will stop to admire how an author just expressed a particular point or described a scene. I don’t think it will ever get old.

Yours truly,

Book Admirer



The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan by Jenny Nordberg

Two nonfiction books in a row. I am on a roll. Honestly, I wasn’t going to review this one because it could be a touchy subject but then I changed my mind.  There have been many books written about Afghanistan and women in Afghanistan, but I thought this one was one of the better ones.

Rating: 5/5

Summary and cover from Goodreads

Underground Girls of KabulAn investigative journalist uncovers a hidden custom that will transform your understanding of what it means to grow up as a girl.
In Afghanistan, a culture ruled almost entirely by men, the birth of a son is cause for celebration and the arrival of a daughter is often mourned as misfortune. A bacha posh (literally translated from Dari as “dressed up like a boy”) is a third kind of child – a girl temporarily raised as a boy and presented as such to the outside world. Jenny Nordberg, the reporter who broke the story of this phenomenon for the New York Times, constructs a powerful and moving account of those secretly living on the other side of a deeply segregated society where women have almost no rights and little freedom.
The Underground Girls of Kabul is anchored by vivid characters who bring this remarkable story to life: Azita, a female parliamentarian who sees no other choice but to turn her fourth daughter Mehran into a boy; Zahra, the tomboy teenager who struggles with puberty and refuses her parents’ attempts to turn her back into a girl; Shukria, now a married mother of three after living for twenty years as a man; and Nader, who prays with Shahed, the undercover female police officer, as they both remain in male disguise as adults.
At the heart of this emotional narrative is a new perspective on the extreme sacrifices of Afghan women and girls against the violent backdrop of America’s longest war. Divided into four parts, the book follows those born as the unwanted sex in Afghanistan, but who live as the socially favored gender through childhood and puberty, only to later be forced into marriage and childbirth. The Underground Girls of Kabul charts their dramatic life cycles, while examining our own history and the parallels to subversive actions of people who live under oppression everywhere.

As a fellow journalist, I went into this with a critical eye. I read a similar book a few months back, “The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe” which delved into women in Kabul who makes dresses and sell them to raise money for their family. While a good read, the story was a little subjective and only focused on the viewpoints of that one family.

Nordberg, however, provides stories of several girls/women who dress as boys or used to dress as boys but she doesn’t stop there. She not only tells their story, but also investigates the impact that has on the family as well as the individual who becomes a “bacha posh.”

Where “Dressmaker of Khair Khana” alludes to the dangers of what they are doing, Nordberg cites specific scenarios where the women were in danger of being found out.

She also delves also into Afghanistan’s philosophy about women and the patriarchal society that is so dominant there. While it is universally well known, it is still shocking to learn how deep it runs.

“Regardless of who they are, whether they are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, Afghan women often describe the difference between men and women in just one word: freedom.”

Nordberg explores everything from how women are given a higher status based on how many sons they birth and what is expected of a female as she grows up, to women’s roles in the household and domestic abuse.

I was particularly shocked when Nordberg describes the rape culture and how the victim can be arrested and charged because of something she allegedly did to elicit the rape, from exposing a little skin to some other outlandish accusation.

“The responsibility for men’s behavior, indeed for civilization itself rests entirely with women here, and in how they dress and behave. Men’s animalistic impulses are presumed to be overwhelming and uncontrollable. And as men are brutal, brainless savages, women must hide their bodies to avoid being assaulted. In most societies, a respectable woman, to varying degrees, is expected to cover up. If she doesn’t she is inviting assault.”

SERIOUSLY?!! While our own country has it own issue when it comes to believing rape victims, it is by far not as bad as this and really makes me appreciate what we have in this country.

If there was something I would criticize Nordberg for it was that she seemed to get judgmental in a few areas. However, she either backs it up or proves how she is wrong with sources. Not only does she interview the women who are directly involved, she also interviews doctors and professionals and occasionally men.

Yet, while based on facts, the book is not boring as one would expect. Nordberg creates a story that is more than interesting and vivid, while at the same time raising points that makes you think.

“We know what it’s like to be men. But they know nothing about us.”

If you want to understand more about Afghanistan society and about how women deal with living in that society, this is definitely a book to consider.

Yours truly,

Book Admirer

Have your read this? What did you think? Let’s discuss! Post in the comments below.