Thirsty Thursday: Books and Wine

I am starting a weekly post! I am sorry if I am copying anyone, but I don’t think I have seen this yet, and I thought it would be a fun way to showcase books, and let’s face it, books and wine go great together. One of my new favorite things is to curl up on the couch after a long day with a book and a nice glass of vino. So I have decided that each Thursday, I will recommend a book, it can be old or new. My original plan was to talk mostly about contemporary or romance books, because they go oh so well with wine. However, I don’t think I have read enough of those yet, so I will do whatever suits my fancy at the time.

The first Thirsty Thursday, however, is contemporary. It is Looking for Alaska by John Green. Also, if anyone is curious, tonight is a Cabernet Sauvignon night. 🙂

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From Goodreads: Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . .
After. Nothing is ever the same.
 

The reason I am starting with Looking for Alaska is because this is one of my all time favorite books. I think it is in the top 5, for sure. I have always thought my love for this book may have something to do with the time of my life I was in when I read it, because I have not talked to many people who love it as much as me. I was a college student, experiencing real life and real hardships while simultaneously trying to figure out adulthood and what I wanted to do with life. I read this book in less than a day and related so well to the story. I felt so connected to the writing and the characters.

I think this book gets overshadowed by other John Green books (cough cough The Fault in Our Stars). I’ll be honest, this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I didn’t enjoy any other John Green book nearly as much as Looking for Alaska. Like, not even close. Don’t get me wrong, I liked them all, but I just haven’t really connected with any more of them. I still, however, am looking forward to reading Turtles All the Way Down, which is another reason Looking for Alaska came to mind this week. Can’t wait to dive into that one. Maybe it will be a future Thirsty Thursday book?

I hope this is a fun little meme and I encourage you all to join in! Of course, you must be of a legal drinking age to participate. If you love books and wine and want to post about it, let me know so I can read what books (or wine) you recommend!

Happy Reading!

– Mackenzie

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5 Books That Made Me A Lifetime Reader

I have always loved books. As a child I can remember waking up before everyone else, just so I can have quiet time to read. This habit has followed me to adulthood. One of my favorite things is waking up early, and sitting on the couch with coffee and a book, and sometimes a book light, as I often wake up before the sun on a Saturday just to read. I am sure many of you can relate. Chances are if you are reading this, you love books too and have lost more than a couple hours of sleep over them. Anyway, this post is dedicated to the books that started it all for me. Here are 5 of the many books that got me into reading.

download (14)5. Madeline

When I was about 4 years old someone bought me Madeline. It was the first book I memorized and then learned to read. It led to me being able to read prior to starting kindergarten and it was my first favorite book. I still can remember the first few lines. “In an old house in Paris, that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. In two straight lines they broke their bread, brushed their teeth, and went to bed…” This one will always have a special place in my heart!

 

download (15)4. Charlotte’s Web

My mom read this to me when I was little. It was one of her favorites, so of course I loved it. Nowadays, it makes me cry, so I can’t read it anymore, or watch the movie for that matter! Maybe one day I’ll try again.

 

download (16)3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

This one is still a favorite for me! I loved literally all of Roald Dahl’s books, each one was my “favorite” at the time I read it. But this one was special. I’m not sure why, I just really loved the story and I read it SO MANY TIMES. I’m pretty sure this is my “most read” book ever. The cover fell off eventually.

 

download (17)4. The Chronicles of Narnia

I remember the day I opened this book set, it was Christmas day when I was about 10. I had never heard of the Narnia before, but the sight of them made me excited to dive right in. I spend the rest of the day reading The Magician’s Nephew. I eventually read them all and loved them. I have reread them a couple times since and it remains one of my favorite series.

 

download (18)1. Harry Potter

Is it really even a book list if Harry Potter isn’t in it? The answer is no. Not much to say that hasn’t already been said about this series. I won’t list all the things Harry Potter has done for me through the years. One of the things it did that is relevant to this post however, is that it got me out of my four year reading slump during college. College was a rough time as far as reading goes, I got lost, and Harry Potter brought me back. I’m so glad it did because I have read such great books since then!

Of course, I can go on and on about my favorite books, but these are the first 5 that came to mind that mean oh so much to me. What are the books that got you into reading? I’d love to hear your lists!

– Mackenzie

September Wrap-Up

September came and went faster than me running out of work on a Friday afternoon. It was the month I started my blog, hunkered down during a hurricane, and ran around like crazy playing “catch up” at work. Next up is October. The month where I can finally allow myself to go all out on pumpkin everything, fall-scented candles, Halloween, etc. I can be the most basic of all the girls. This is also the month I will be getting married. WHAT? If you ask me how I feel about that the truth is I’m freaking out so excited!!

As far as books go, I am honestly a little embarrassed. I only got through 3 books. Terrible, I know. The best excuses I can come up with are between the wedding planning, work, and obsessing over my new blog. I have been spending more time reading other people’s blog posts than books. I should also add that I am loving it and am getting so many good ideas from all of you! Anyway, here are is the tiny list of books I read in September:

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Reviews here:

Ballad For A Mad Girl

Fairest

The Blackbird Season

It’s a small list, but it allows me to set a good goal for October! September was a busy month, and I anticipate October to be similar as I will be occupied entertaining guests, getting married, and whatnot. I am also in the midst of making my Twitter and Instagram accounts more bookish. It will take time. Life continues to move full speed ahead.

Let me know your thoughts! I welcome all tips, tricks, and advice. 🙂 Happy October!

– Mackenzie

Review: The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti

download (13)Title: The Blackbird Season

Author: Kate Moretti

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction

3 STARS

From Goodreads:

“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times…

Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”

In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.

Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.

And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.

Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.

Told from the alternating points of view of Alicia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti’s signature “chillingly satisfying” (Publishers Weekly) twists and turns.


Once I read what this book was about, I felt like it was going to have all the right elements for me. It’s character driven, it has a plot that immediately caught my attention, not to mention the overarching mystery of a thousand birds falling from the sky for no apparent reason. Whaaat? Had to know what that was about. I thought it would be a book that I fly through and finish in no time at all. But that was not the case. I found this book to be a little hard to get into at first, and I can’t put my finger on why. All I know is that each character, although very well developed, was unlikable. All four main characters had a lot that they were going through, but I didn’t really find myself rooting for anyone. It made me less excited to read. Going into this book I expected it to be chilling and suspenseful, but I didn’t really feel too much of the “suspense” part. It was exciting enough to find out what happened and read till the end, but it wasn’t a gripping-the-book-while-sitting-at-the-edge-of-my-seat kind of a suspense. Although the story did pick up during the second half, there seemed to be a few things that were left unanswered. Yes, I do understand why and what the author was going for, and I do respect her choice to do so, but I personally would have liked a tad more.

On the positive side, I thought the pacing of this book was fantastic. Even though I had a hard time getting into it, I can’t deny that the fast pace of events kept me going. The creepy vibe throughout the book was also a plus, especially with it being fall, it fits right into the season. I liked reading Alecia’s point of view and the day-to-day happenings with a child with autism. As a special education teacher, I am appreciative of parents with special needs children as well as bringing awareness to all. Another positive was the twist at the end of this book. It did feel a little rushed, but I didn’t see it coming. Like at all. The whole time I thought I had it figured out, but nope! I was wrong. I always enjoy alternating viewpoints in a book, and this was no exception. Overall, I liked this book, but I’m not sure that I loved it. I do however, love the title and the cover!

The “Books I Will Probably Never Read” Tag

Okay, so I wasn’t actually tagged in this, and I also have no idea where it started, but I saw it on Howling Libraries, and I thought it looked like a fun one. So here we go!

1. A really hyped book that you’re not interested in reading

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Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

 

I read Eleanor and Park and thought it was so cute! Loved it. However for some reason I have no interest in reading any more of Rowell’s books. I have heard such great things about Fangirl and originally I did have it on my list of books to read. But it just keeps getting pushed farther and farther down my list. Now, I am to the point that the premise just doesn’t really catch my attention. Maybe someday I will change my mind!

2. A series you won’t start/won’t be finishing

81OtBcZ-vFL.jpgGame of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I read A Song of Ice and Fire, and I liked it, but I did not like it enough to read the rest of the books in the series. I am interested in the story but the books are intimidating to me. I also am one of the 5 people that does not watch the show. I don’t know. I tried to like this series, I really did, it’s just not my cup of tea. *shrugs*

3. A classic you’re just not interested in

download (11)Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

This one is hard for me, because I love reading classics! But I will have to go with Great Expectations. They tried to get me to read it in high school, and two pages in I started snoring. I decided I wasn’t going to read it, they couldn’t make me, and somehow I was able to pass 9th grade English without having to add it to my “read” list. I consider this to be a success that I brag about to this day.

4. A genre you never read

I had to look on Goodreads at all the different genres they list on there, because I feel like I have an eclectic taste in books. I tend to enjoy almost any genre at some point or another. I realize now that I don’t typically read science, romance/erotica, or religion/spiritual. I don’t actively try to avoid these genres, but it just so happens that I have barely read any books in these categories.

5. A book on your shelves you’ll probably never read

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My fiance has an overabundance of DC comic books on our book shelves. By overabundance, I mean he gets a few each week in the mail and then at least one every time I drag him to the bookstore, which lets face it, is at least once a week. Anyway, I don’t think I will get through many of those. I have read some, and they are fine pieces of literature, but there are just SO. MANY. of them, I’m not even sure HE will be reading every single one.

My nominations

I am new to the blogging world so I nominate anyone who sees this. 🙂 I have been having so much fun reading posts from this tag. Let me know if you have written one I’d love to see your responses too!

Fall TBR!

It’s officially fall, (yay!) the season everyone has come to know and love. On this lovely first fall weekend, I decided to put together a list of some of the books I want to read this season. Some have been on my TBR for so long, but then I get an urge to read another book out of order, and then of course I have to read the sequel, and so on and so forth, I’m sure if you are reading this, you know how it goes. Anyway, these are the books that I am planning on reading while the leaves start to change and the weather starts to get a little chilly, which for us here in the south may take a little longer than most places. Either way, hoodie season, I’m ready for you!

download (5)Winter by Marissa Meyer

The time has come. I have read Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, and now for the finale. I have had so much fun with this series, I’m a little sad the end is near. But I am excited to see how it all comes together (hopefully).

 

download (6)The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

This is one that has been on my mind for some time now. I can’t wait to dive into this one, I just know I will love it. I bought it so long ago and it has been staring at me from on the bookshelf ever since. Why haven’t I read it yet? I have no clue!

 

download (7)IT by Stephen King

I have been listening to this on Audible for quite a while now, getting through about 40 minutes a day during my commute to and from work. However, this book is long. 48 hours of listening to be specific. I am liking it but I have needed to take a short break, I find myself starting to zone out and we don’t want that! Hopefully I can bust the rest out this fall.

 

download (8)Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

I have heard such wonderful things about this book, and I have loved reading the reviews. I already bought it, now I need to read it. I will probably love it.

 

download (9)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Am I the only person who hasn’t read this series? I have been meaning to for a couple years now, and now I think I’m finally ready. I feel like I will need a new series to fangirl over, especially since I’m about to finish The Lunar Chronicles. Here’s to hoping this series will fill my fangirl needs!

 

download (10)Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Again, another super popular series I have yet to read. Basically, my goal this fall is to come out from under the rock I’ve apparently been living under.

 

Yes, this is a short list, but I want to give myself some wiggle room. These are just the ones that I have been thinking about the longest, plus I love that a few of them just so happen fit the “fall” theme. Clearly, I am in the mood to read some YA. It is the genre that made me fall in love with reading and continues to be one of my favorite genres. Work and life tend to take over sometimes and I just don’t get around to reading everything under the sun like I want to. Here’s to continuing to try! Let me know what you think!

– Mackenzie

The 5 Best Books I Read This Summer

Yes, I know this post is too late, as we are now as close to fall as I am from eating one of these chocolate chip cookies sitting next to me. But I am pretty proud of myself with the number of books I was able to get through this summer. I want to look back and give a shout out to the BEST books I read in June, July, and August of 2017.

download (1)5. Caravel by Stephanie Garber

I received this book months ago in an Owlcrate box and I saw people raving about it so I decided to finally pick it up and read it, and it was so addicting. I finished it the same day I started and got completely swept away. There were some things that bothered me, for example, the ending infuriated me. But I just had so much fun reading it, and I will absolutely read the next book when/if it comes out.

81UrhozeUeL.jpg4. Tie between Scarlet and Cress by Marissa Meyer

Okay, so I can’t pick one of these and really if you think about it Cress is just a continuation of Scarlet, so I can count them together as one. Right? Anyway, I am seriously enjoying the Lunar Chronicles (with the exception of Cinder, but that’s a different post). I just finished Fairest and I haven’t read Winter yet but you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll be reading that one soon. I adore all the characters and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together. I get the feeling that Cress is the gen. pop. favorite, probably because of her leading man, Thorne, but if we are being honest, I prefer Wolf.

download (2)3. Persuasion by Jane Austen

I’m a big Jane Austen fan, so this one is a given. It’s a story about second chances, thinking for yourself, and to not judge a book by it’s cover. Jane Austen is the master of wit and romance. I love this era because love is not portrayed as the obvious touchy-feely, sexual tension stuff that we read now days. It is portrayed through subtle glances, and gestures that you really need to pay attention to. It’s refreshing. This was my second time reading Persuasion and it was just as romantic as I remember it.

download (3).jpg2. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

THIS BOOK. I just loved it. I loved MOST of the characters, (we all know the one I didn’t like), it was super fast paced. It was tragic. It stuck with me long after it was over, and it made me think about an event in history that no one really knows about. And now I’m questioning how much information is out there that isn’t included when we learn about these important events such as WWII in school? I believe most of Ruta Sepetys books shine light on these “secret histories” and I can’t wait to read more of them.

download (4)1. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Apparently, I had a WWII thing happening this summer. This book was beautiful. I listened to it on Audible and it didn’t lose my interest not one time, which is quite rare for me, as I am not the greatest listener. I was so wrapped up in the story and the writing style was perfection. I loved how the different stories intertwined. I also like how the ending wasn’t very predictable, it wasn’t to me anyway. If you are looking for a standalone book isn’t necessarily a light-hearted quick read, but a book that has a lot of detail and gets you involved emotionally, this is the one for you.

 

So there we have it, my super-late post about the best (6) books I read this summer. Tell me your thoughts!

Review: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5) by Marissa Meyer

22489107Title: Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles, #3.5)

Author: Marissa Meyer

Genres: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction

4 STARS

I have been having a lot of fun reading The Lunar Chronicles, and Fairest did not disappoint! I generally enjoy reading a good villain’s backstory and finding out how they got to be so evil. Books like this can be a little tricky, because the purpose can either be to make you sorry for the villain and portray them as “misunderstood”, OR, the purpose is to make you love to hate this person even more. In Queen Levana’s story, Marissa Meyer did a great job of making you feel sorry for Levana because of her tragic past, while at the same time, it lets you continue to hate her. You really just learn the facts. I still do not understand why Levana does what she does, mostly because it is impossible to understand the mind of a psychopath such as her, but I was able to sympathize with her to a certain extent, because she really did get dealt a bad hand in life. However, she is still evil. I was able to maintain my hatred for the woman. Throughout this book she does unspeakable acts and has no regard for other people and their feelings whatsoever, and when it was finished I came out thinking worse of her than before I started. I think that is what Meyer was going for, and it worked. I also like that it is meant to be read between Cress and Winter, I think it is a good bridge of the two, even though the setting takes place years before Cinder. I now have more background knowledge going into the final book in the series, which I am really looking forward to reading.

Why Did I Start a Book Blog?

screenshot_20170912-135348.pngI have entertained the idea of starting my own book blog for some time now, and I am sure my people are all like “why?”. Here are 2 reasons. If you don’t feel like reading the long version, the short version is: “because I want to.”

  1. Basically, I have found that I enjoy reading book reviews almost as much as I like reading the books themselves. (Thanks, Goodreads!) I have also discovered that there is a whole corner of the internet that revolves around books. Stumbling across a number of book blogs, Youtube (booktube) channels, bookstagrams, etc. has become a go-to activity in my free time. They have made me see that it’s okay to be a nerdy-book-obsessed adult and I want to join in the fun.

2. Although I do not under any circumstances claim to be a “good writer”, I do enjoy it. I have tried blogging before, but I hated that I didn’t have something specific to write about. But books? Now that is a topic I can talk about all day.

As for the name of my blog: I came home one day and told my fiancé that I am starting a book blog so start thinking of catchy names. We made a list of over 30 potential blog names. They were mostly popular book titles that we changed into something punny and bookish. It actually turned into a fun activity for us. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Library” was the one that stuck. I thought it was clever, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is so well-known that I figured most people would get the reference.

My love of books started at such an early age, I don’t remember the specifics. I do however remember being the weird girl at play dates who always brought a book with them. I also quickly discovered that “reading” was not an acceptable activity during sleepovers. This blog will be my little section of the internet where I can geek out over books and not be judged. I find it is a little scary putting myself out there and sharing something that has been mostly personal up until now, but the urge to have a place to talk about bookish things is overwhelming at the moment, so here I go!

Review: Ballad for a Mad Girl by Vikki Wakefield

downloadBook Title: Ballad for a Mad Girl

Author: Vikki Wakefield

Genres: YA, Contemporary, Mystery

3 STARS

Ballad for a Mad Girl was slightly confusing, moderately spooky, and very mysterious. I liked that I could not for the life of me figure out how it was all going to come together. Honestly, I am still trying to figure it out. Was it mental illness? Or was there real paranormal stuff going down? The world may never know. I liked most of the characters but I had a few problems with Grace. She started out okay, an angsty, rebellious teen acting out after the death of her mom. I sympathized with her. However, throughout the book she isolated herself and became somewhat selfish because she just figured no one would understand what she was going through. Also, she kept talking about how funny she was but I felt like I never got to really see that. The middle section of this book was a little confusing for me. I found it hard to keep up and since we were seeing things through Grace’s point of view, we don’t really get the full picture and it seemed like there were too many pieces missing. With that being said, this book had a really good ending. I completely did not see it coming. It was able to answer so many questions, but then opened up a whole new set of questions to keep us wondering and thinking about the book after we are finished. Overall, there were a couple things about this book I would change, but I enjoyed reading it and I flew through it. Not to mention I love ghost stories. This author will certainly be on my radar in the future.