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Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Words/Subjects that Almost Kept Me from Reading These Great Books (7/23/2013)

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)  was supposed to be centered around words/subjects that deter me from picking up books. As I started compiling my list, it took on almost a negative aspect as I considered subjects outside of my wheelhouse. It felt like book-bashing, in a way, and didn’t leave me with any means to recommend titles. With that in mind, I decided to tweak this week’s topic a bit to make it more positive. Ahem:

Top Ten Words/Subjects that Almost Kept Me from Reading These Great Books!

 Keep in mind as you explore my list that most of these were not on my reading list because of their subjects but ended up being an experiment gone very, very well when I finally did read them.

#1 Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The impression I’ve always held of circuses is that they are dirty, freaky, secretive institutions where animals are abused and people go missing… I may be watching too much TV. In any case, I’d never have the desire to read about a circus before, but something about the intrigue and romance of this book compelled me to open it. It’s still one of my favorites. :-)

#2 Werewolves/Vampires

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 Now, I’ll admit that I’ve pretty much devoured as many things on this subject as I could once I got hooked, but before this book, I was a supernatural hater. These creatures were gross and I really didn’t want anything to do with them… until a love story was introduced. All I can say is, I’m grateful to Handeland for opening up such a wide range of entertainment for me.

#3 Historical

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abe

I read to escape reality, so the idea of reliving stories that I wanted to sleep through in grade school was a definite turnoff. I still can’t read totally historic novels, but have come to appreciate and even love those with a fantasy twist. 

#4 Elves in Space

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What an odd concept. This was an ultimate mix of fantasy, romance, urban fantasy, and science fiction. And you know what? It worked. I’m reading it for the second time and it’s still good.

#5 S&M

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I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable with this subject, per se, but I’m definitely glad I didn’t let it deter me from reading these novels. They are some of the most epic, rich fantasies I’ve ever read with outstanding characters. They also have an element of history, too, but I didn’t know that before picking them up.

#6 Arthurian Lore

 Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

The tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the round table has been beaten to death in my brain. I avoid anything on the subject like the plague because I am just plain tired of the story. Wings was such a new take on the subject that it was actually my favorite part of these books.

#7 Mythology

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

I don’t know if it’s my aversion to history or my undeniable need to escape reality when I read, but before this book, I had shunned everything so blatantly mythological. I viewed it as almost a copout – using creatures that already exists in history so you don’t have to create your own… Since, I’ve become much less of a snob and realize that some of the best tales come from putting your own spin on classic creations.

#8 Talking Deer

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You heard me. Much like Watership Down, this is a book about the life struggles of a deer. It appealed to my love of nature and animals as well as the classic “good overcomes evil” storyline. I don’t think there’s anything I can say that a makes this book not sound lame – ha ha. Take my word for it, it was a good read.

#9 Candy Magic

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull

I never had any intention of reading this book, thinking it couldn’t possibly be anything other than juvenile and cheesy… then Mull rocked my world with Fablehaven, so I gave it a try. Although the subject matter is geared towards a younger audience, the writing is surprisingly sophisticated and creative. It made me feel like a kid again, but in a smart way.

#10 True Story

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I don’t know if I could’ve read nonfiction unless it was animal-related. I actually have quite a collection of nature books, but they are so off subject that I don’t feature them on my blog. Instead of facts, Grogan recounts the events as if he were telling a story – filled with loads of creative embellishments that made me forget I was reading a nonfiction book. It was beautiful, and I will definitely be reading it again someday.

Well, there’s my list – I hope you enjoyed it! :-)

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Book Review: Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire

A oneTitle: Walking Disaster

Author: Jamie McGuire

Series: Beautiful Disaster (Companion Novel)

Genre: Romance/Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5 stars!

The Overview: Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.

In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he is invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees. Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.

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The Review:

After reading this novel, I’m convinced Jamie McGuire is someone I’m eager to read more from in the future. Her writing style makes you want to stay up all night devouring and her characters make you feel like you’ve known them for years. Walking Disaster was grabbing, and that’s saying something considering I already knew what was going to happen (for those of you who don’t know, it is meant as a companion novel to Beautiful Disaster, following the exact same storyline but from the male lead’s perspective).

Both novels illustrated McGuire’s exceptional writing skills. Not only was the voice in this one a complete contrast, but the observations and emotions she chose to highlight gave it a totally different spin. Even though it was the same basic plot, each character went into situations with different sets of perspective and inner turmoils. All of the issues I had with Abby’s conflicts in the first book were practically nonexistent here because Travis was focused on different things. McGuire managed to make it just as fresh and exciting as the first one, if not more. It kind of blows my mind.

Character development was probably my favorite element of the book. She doesn’t hit you over the head with matter-of-fact statements of each character’s temperament but rather lets them develop organically through their actions. It was really subtle, and she achieved it through compelling dialogue mixed with superb body language and facial expressions. It sounds odd, but the little nuances of physical description really spiced up the characters and overall story.

This is probably the best companion novel I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read the first book, however, it would not be near as compelling. Readers got to know Abby intimately in book one and were able to understand her rationale behind her actions. Not much of that inner dialogue is represented in this book, however, which makes her come off as a self-centered brat. If I didn’t already know and love Abby from her story, I would’ve had a difficult time trying to figure out why Travis found her so appealing.

Recommendations: these books are a little more robust than your average romance novels but I would probably still recommend them to fans of that genre. I would also hand it to anybody looking for a fun, fast read. Fair warning: these books contain a great deal of language and sexual content.

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like:

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Book Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

b1Title: Beautiful Disaster

Author: Jamie McGuire

Series: n/a

Genre: Fiction / Romance

Rating: 4.5 stars

The Overview: Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

The Review:

I haven’t been so enraptured in a book since I read The Night Circus two years ago. The stars really aligned for me on this one and I  found myself considering cancelling plans so I could stay home and read it (Oh, the hazards of befriending a booknerd). It was perfect: great pacing, great characters, and great plot…until about halfway through. 

I’m not a fan of senseless turmoil, and I felt the end half of the book had that in abundance. She almost would’ve done herself a service to end the book sooner and focus more one lengthening the bits at the beginning that were working so well for her. Without going into specifics, let’s suffice to say she climaxed a fantastically building conflict a bit too premature, then she introduced another conflict that I thought was a bit silly. The dark moodiness of the cover and the book’s description led me to believe that there was something really dark and twisted in this girl’s past (which ironically is not usually my cup of tea), and honestly I think that’s really what the story needed to keep going. Don’t even get me started on the profound unhealthiness of the relationships in the book. Although I guess it’s difficult to have senseless turmoil without that element.

Even though I had some gripes with the plot, I have to give the author kudos for her character creation. Her focus on physical description – particularly mannerisms and facial expressions – made for some awesome characters. Each one came across as a real person, and I haven’t seen many authors who pulled it off better. She really brought them to life for me, and that’s the main reason why I still rated the book so highly. When the plot turned, I still found the characters wildly entertaining and that was more than enough to keep my attention. Another more subtle strength to her writing was in setting. I found myself reliving my own college experience countless times throughout the book, and I imagine others will do the same. McGuire wrote without specifics, and I think it was a deliberate tactic to make the story come alive for each individual’s experiences.

Overall, I consider McGuire and exceptionally talented writer, I just wished she’d taken the basic story in a different direction. I enjoyed her writing style and characterization so much that I will definitely be picking up anything else she writes.

Recommendations: Although the novel wasn’t incredibly graphic, there were a lot of sex scenes. There was also a fair bit of language and a hint of violence. All-in-all, subject matter considered, I thought it was very tastefully done. because of this, though, I would recommend this book mostly to women who are comfortable with the romance genre but also enjoy works of fiction. I’m creating a new category for this book: a robust romance!

by Niki Hawkes

Other books you might like: