Books: Currently Reading and TBR

I would have including some of these books in my last Wonderful Wednesday, but I felt that I should do a separate post on here about those, since books are a HUGE part of my life. This post will be separated in two parts, the Currently Reading and the TBR (To Be Read). I wanted to do the current books first, since I’m at various stages in each book. In addition to that, I have a lot on my Currently Reading shelf, which is a non-existent shelf, and is really the floor beside my bed. I really need to get another bookshelf…The TBR portion will just be books I’ve bought recently (or not so recently) that I’m hoping to read soon. And by soon, I mean within the next few weeks. That’s a bit of a stretch for me because sometimes, no matter how good a book is, I get restless with it and have to start something else in a completely different genre, which is why I have so many books that I’m reading currently. In fact, the Current books will not even be all of them! It’s insane really! If you looked at my bookshelf and asked about several books, more often than not, I haven’t finished them. It’s just ridiculous and embarrassing and I need to fix it, which is what I hope this post accomplishes: giving me the motivation to finish what I’ve started. If we’re being honest, however, I might not even finish this post. If you’re reading it, then I quite obviously did, and in that case, please give me an applause for doing so!

So, with long-winded introductions aside, let us get started!

Currently Reading:

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  1. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

    I had found that the latest adaption of Jamaica Inn was added to Netflix recently. I watched it in one sitting, which was a long sitting. Needless to say, I was enthralled. I decided to buy the book so I could read it, and found a beautiful hardcover version of it  (see the picture of the book above). Jamaica Inn is a story about Mary Yellan. Her mother has just died, and her dying wish was for Mary to live with her Aunt Patience. Mary goes to live with Aunt Patience and her husband, Joss Merlyn, at their Inn on the moors. She comes across some dark secrets while there, and the book isn’t a light read. In fact, it’s pretty dark, and yet I love it so far. I’m almost done with it, and will be reading more of Daphne du Maurier in the future. I think Jamaica Inn may become a favorite of mine, same with Mary Yellan, who is a very strong character. I definitely recommend it, even though I’m not even done with it yet.

    Amazon Goodreads

  2. Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

    Lair of Dreams is book number two in Bray’s Diviners series. The plot of this one has to do with a strange sleeping sickness that has taken hold of New York. While the book is well written (as far as I’ve gotten), it appears to have a slower start than the first book. I like it, but am not as impressed with it as I was with the first book. I’m hoping that it picks up and gets better. We get to meet new characters, and we also get to see sides of characters we didn’t see in the first one. However, I’m a bit sad that there hasn’t been more Evie as far as I am, but maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t know.

    Amazon Goodreads

  3. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

    Mansfield Park is about Fanny Price, who is born into a poor family, but is sent to live with wealthy relatives. I’ve seen two adaptions of this novel, and loved them both dearly, as much as I’ve grown to love Fanny. There isn’t much of a reason as to why I’m not far into this book. I think it’s because it’s lower on my To Finish list, and that I’ve only brought it to work to read during lunch when I’m between books. I’ve read that it’s one of Austen’s most controversial book, mostly because of it’s take on slavery (which is Fanny Price being against it). In fact, both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility never mention slavery at all (that I can remember). I have yet to get to this part, but know that it happens later. So far it’s been an interesting read, however, it’s not as funny as the other two Austen books I’ve read. I don’t think it will be my favorite of hers, but it will have been a good read.

    Amazon Goodreads

  4. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

    I first came across this book when I found the movie adaption on Netflix. This movie took my breath away. It was beautiful. This was a few years ago. I finally purchased the kindle version of this book the other night, and proceeded to read almost half of it in one sitting. I stopped myself because, as I will explain why later, it was about to get extra depressing. The story is about yet another girl who goes to live with her relatives, except this one seems to have an entirely different plot. Daisy is an American who is sent to live in England with relatives. While there, WWIII starts, and Daisy gets stuck there. It’s any interesting read since it’s about children without supervision during a time like war time. You can see how it gets a bit depressing. I know how it ends in the movie, and I have a slight idea about the book, however the movie was different than the book, obviously. The movie has less characters, probably because I think they just combined characters in the movie. Or something like that. I don’t know. Either way, it’s a good movie and a good read (so far).

    Amazon Goodreads

  5. True Ghost Stories by Jim Harold

    I’ve talked about Jim Harold before. His podcast, Jim Harold’s Campfire is all viewer ghost stories. Like his podcast, True Ghost Stories is a compilation of peoples stories, some about ghosts, others about aliens. All in all, it’s been a good read for this month since Halloween is coming up soon. I’m saving some of it for Halloween, obviously. I recommend it to anyone who loves ghost stories, or just creepy stories.

    Amazon Goodreads

  6. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

    It’s really hard to get into the whole plot of War and Peace. More like War and Peace and a lot of pages, ammirite? In Russian fashion, this book is long. If you’re familiar with Tolstoy and any other famous Russian author, you know that the book is going to be long and despressing. War and Peace is about several people. There’s Prince Andrei who joins the army and goes to fight Napoleon’s army (this is during the Napoleonic War). He leaves his pregnant wife with his dad and Sister, who is mentally abused by their father and is basically a shut in. Then there’s Pierre, who’s a bastard that’s just inherited his father’s fortune and house and there’s the Kuragin’s who are trying to get their hands on Pierre’s fortune. There’s also young Natasha, who is coming of age and will eventually meet Andrei and fall in love. Honestly, this isn’t even a spoiler, because there is so much more to this story. I really like it so far, but it’s over 1000 pages, so it’s kind of…hard to read. But, I will finish it, eventually!

    Amazon Goodreads

TBR:

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  1. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

    From what I’ve read, this is about a spy during WWII who gets captured by the Germans. I haven’t started it, and am excited to do so because I’ve heard several people say it was good. I didn’t even intend on buying it. I just walked by it at Barnes and Noble and realized that it was on my To Read list, so I grabbed it like the impulsive book shopper I am. I think we all know I’m really into Spies (RIP Nathan Hale, you beautiful man who was not meant to be a spy), and I’m into WWII, so of course I’m going to try reading this.

    Amazon Goodreads

  2. Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

    Book 2 of Blankman’s Prisoner of Night and Fog series. In this book, Gretchen returns to Germany, which is now under Hitler’s control (whereas in the first book, he hadn’t won the election yet) to save her boyfriend. I was really excited to read this when I first read the first book, but now I’m apprehensive. I tend to not like the second book in any series. I’m afraid that the characters will seem too different or things will happen and then I’ll have to pretend that there is only one book in the series. Hopefully I’m wrong.

    Amazon Goodreads

  3. The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

    I technically started this story a while ago, but was just…bored. It sounds promising though, and the setting sounds intriguing. It’s about a lady who goes to this really awesome old house where these spinsters (who are twins) live with their younger sister. The main character, Edie, only goes to this house because her mother was once billeted there during WWII. The stay was during a time when several things happen, such as the youngest sister being jilted by her fiance.

    Amazon Goodreads

 

Honorable Mention:

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The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Since it’s October, and you know, spooky times, I thought I should mention another book that is near and dear to my heart that I have yet to finish. Do you see a growing pattern here? I was saying this about The Three Musketeers when I hadn’t even finished it. But, The Historian is a different story. I’ve been reading/listening to this book for about two years. And why has it been two years, you ask? Essentially, The Historian is a story within a story within a story. It’s extremely detailed, intricate, and creepy. The main character is never given a name. She learns of her fathers journey to find his missing professor, who was on a similar journey. The best part about this book, and one that I know anyone who loves horror movies, will love this: It talks about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Instead of completely saying that Dracula was completely wrong, The Historian takes the story of Dracula and weaves it into the real story of Vlad the Impaler. Each character is chased by a vampire at one point, and we travel from London, to Budapest, to Romania. Anyone who loves history will love this for the amount of research and the amount it looks at research. Anyone who is bored by that kind of stuff…may not like it. However, it’s a damn fine piece of work and I think everyone should give it a try. I would have put it into my TBR section, but the truth of the matter is, I need a clear mind and a stress free time to dive back into this story. Anyway, read it!

Amazon Goodreads

That’s it for today. Try some of these books, event the ones I’m having trouble with.

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Some Book Recommendations

I haven’t been on much recently more or less because I’ve been reading so much. Every summer I have a goal to read a lot of books (the number fluctuates year to year), which usually leads into fall and winter, where I’m still on this roll and I’m still reading books in one sitting. Honestly, it’s kind of bad. Not only that, but because I have a job now, I actually am buying books left and right. Please stop me.

I thought I would do a post on the books  I’ve read recently and am really into because there’s quite a few. And by quite a few, I really mean a lot. I won’t get into a review of the books because if I plan on reviewing the books, it will be a longer, more in-depth post. That and I just don’t have any time these days. I will however try to give you a summary and my rating of the book/ quick thoughts.

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  1. Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman:

    The first book in a series about a girl, Gretchen, who grows up in post WWI Germany, right before Hitler comes into power. Gretchen’s father was friends with Hitler, until he sacrifices his life for Hitlers. She grows up close to Hitler and even refers to him as her Uncle Dolf. This means that Gretchen has been taught to hate the Jewish/anyone who is not “pure”. That is, until she meets a reporter who tells her that everything she knows about her fathers death is wrong. This leads Gretchen down a path of mystery and adventure as she learns that her friends are not really her friends and that she is living a lie.

    While that is probably a really crappy summary (you can find better on the amazon or goodreads pages for it), you can see where my interest in this book comes into play. It’s historical fiction (with some truth), that involves a mystery. Gretchen is also relatable since she has her flaws and grows as a character. There were other made up characters, too, that I enjoyed reading about. In addition to the fictional characters being well-written, it’s also an amazing character study of Hitler. Because it’s historical fiction, you have to take the “accurate” parts with a grain of salt. That sounds like the author got everything wrong, and I’m not trying to say that at all. I’m just saying that while everything about Hitler and the events surrounding him and this time seem well researched, you still can’t just use it as an actual history book, so while it’s an interesting character-study, one would be better off using J-Store for any research on Hitler. That being said, it’s still an interesting read, and halfway through, I was so enthralled, I bought book two of the series, Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke.

    Amazon Goodreads

  2. The Diviners by Libba Bray:

    The Diviners is about Evie O’Niell, a teenager in 1920’s America, who has landed herself in hot water in her hometown, while at a party. This trouble is only because she was drunk enough to tell everyone about her hidden talent. Evie is special because she can touch an object and tell you a whole bunch of things about the person who owns it. She lets some secrets about someone slip, which leads to big consequences. Her parents send her off to live with her eccentric uncle in New York City, which is supposed to be a punishment, but Evie thinks it’s awesome. Her uncle owns a museum on the paranormal, and because he’s considered an expert on the occult, the town asks for his help in solving a murder involving occult symbols. Evie realizes that her power can be of use in this case and helps out.

    You may know Libba Bray from her book A Great and Terrible Beauty. While I haven’t read that one, yet, that is where I recognized her name from when I first heard of The Diviners, since I’ve heard a lot about her other book series from a lot of book reviewers on Youtube and Tumblr. Bray’s prestige was not the reason I decided to read this book. It was mostly because it was historical fiction involving ghosts and murders. Two of my favorite topics. Not only that, but I had heard some really good things about it and was dying for more flappers. Overall, I really enjoyed it, and found myself buying the second book in the series (Lair of Dreams) like the previous book.

    Amazon (the kindle version appears to be on sale right now!) Goodreads

  3. The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James:

    Similar to The Diviners, The Other Side of Midnight is a story involving the paranormal. This one involves a psychic named Ellie, who is hired by the brother of her enemy/former best friend, Gloria, to solve Gloria’s murder. Throughout the story, we meet several interesting characters with powers (and no powers), and we spend most of it wondering whodunnit.

    And, once again, like The Divners, St. James’ novel takes place in the 30’s, however, this one is set London, England. I own all of St. James’ books, and before reading this one, Silence For the Dead was my favorite. She writes really awesome ghost stories, ones that do give me shivers, which I’ve stated before, can be hard. While The Other Side of Midnight isn’t as creepy as her other books, it has it’s moments. In my opinion, this is St. James’ strongest book. I’m currently reading her most recent, Lost Among the Living. It’s a good book (so far), but I’m a bit let down by it. I suppose I should have read it before I read The Other Side of Midnight because I enjoyed it so much. However, Lost does provide more ghost moments than Midnight does. Both are worth the read, but I really recommend Midnight.

    Amazon Goodreads

  4. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas:

    This book is a classic, and it is for a good reason. It’s about a young man named d’Artagnan, who has set off to become a Musketeer. While he doesn’t become one until well into the story (not really a spoiler when the book is over 100 years old), he finds himself in many misadventures, especially once he meets the three men who are the name sake of the book, Musketeers, Athos, Aramis and Porthos. The three were already best friends, but they take the young man in, and become a loyal (to the death!) group of friends. The main plot of this story is the kidnapping of d’Artagnan’s love, Constance. This leads the men into an interesting mystery involving corruption and politics (because those two seem to go hand and hand). And while almost all of the characters (especially the Musketeers, looking at you d’art!) are disagreeable, Dumas was so good at writing witty stories, you can’t help but cheer the “good” guys on. Even though it was written so long ago, it’s a book that is relatable at some points, even now in 2016. For instance, there is a part where the Musketeers are poor (one of many), and d’Artagnan’s servant complains that there is no food to eat. D’Art just tells him to take a nap. I can’t tell you how many times I took a nap in college because I was hungry and didn’t have food. I’ve even brought this up to several people and they all have said that they too have had instances like this.

    The Three Musketeers is a book I started a while ago and only just finished this summer. And by a while, I mean, I was a junior in college when I started it. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the book, it was more that I wasn’t able to pay attention in good old Sara-like fashion. Sometimes I get in these periods of reading blocks where I just cannot read anything. However, from the first chapter onward, I fell in love with this book. It’s strange that it took so long, because I now call it my favorite and I actually intend on getting a Musketeer themed tattoo at some point this year.

    Oh, and if you are looking for a good adaption of this book, the 2011 version is NOT the one.

    Amazon Goodreads Project Gutenberg (free!)

  5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:

    I’d be a bit surprised if you didn’t know the basics of the plot by now, but here they are: a really rich guy buys a manor in the countryside near Elizabeth Bennet’s house, and her mother immediately sets out to get one of her daughters betrothed to this rich guy since the Bennet’s are not rich. Bingley (said rich guy), falls fast for Elizabeths oldest sister, Jane. Bingley also has a friend named Darcy who is really grumpy and immediately clashes with Elizabeth, however, he kind of falls for her right away and so during most of the book you read a lot about his confusion for his feelings towards someone with so little of a fortune. Elizabeth maintains her hatred for him throughout the novel, and doesn’t change her opinion until very late in the story. We all know they end up together, so don’t yell at me for saying that. Also, some things get in the way of Bingley and Jane’s relationship, so a lot of the book is trying to get them to get engaged. There’s also a really obnoxious cousin named Mr. Collins who wants to marry Elizabeth at one point, but gets turned down by her because she seems to be the only lady in the book with sense. Wow. I’m really glad this isn’t a book report for school or something, because that was probably the worst description of Pride and Prejudice to ever be written.

    This summer, I finally got around to reading this book. I’d seen many adaptions of it, so I knew how the story went (almost by heart), so it was nice to finally get myself to read the actual novel. I’d just finished Sense and Sensibility, so I was in an Austen mood when I started the book, and while it did take a little over a month for me to read, I really enjoyed the book. It was probably one of the best romances I’ve ever read, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get into classics, mostly because it’s not a hard read, and while it’s long, it’s not that long (look at the Musketeers if you want long, or even War and Peace by Tolstoy because that is LONG). It’s a sweet story, and I find that Austen was really witty. Her characters are all interesting in their own way, and it’s not hard to fall in love with Elizabeth and Darcy, who are both deeply flawed, but very lovable.

    Amazon Goodreads Project Gutenberg

  6. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen:

    While not her least known work, Sense and Sensibility is not as well know and as often adapted as Pride and Prejudice. It’s about two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, who have lost their fortune after their father’s death and have to live in a cottage with their mother and little sister in the countryside It basically deals with how they find love. Both sisters are the complete opposite, Elinor the Sense and Marianne the Sensibility.

    I’m not sure what about this book makes me prefer it over Pride and Prejudice, but I do. While I love Elizabeth Bennet very dearly, I love the Dashwood sisters even more. I think it’s because Austen wrote it in such a way that you feel as though your apart of the Dashwood family, more so than how you feel about the Bennet family. In addition to that, there are more characters to love. I found it funnier than Pride and Prejudice too. But, because I read Sense and Sensibility before Pride and Prejudice, therefore, it was 4 months ago, I can’t really explain my preference of this book as well.

    Amazon Goodreads Project Gutenberg

    I do want to point out that all of Austen’s books are available for free in many places, including Project Gutenberg. But you can also read her books here.

  7. Cloak and Dagger by Nenia Campbell:

    This is a book I recently re-read in order to read the third of the series (the IMA series). The book centers around two main characters: Christina and Michael. Michael is a mercenary in a group called the IMA who is tasked with kidnapping Christina. Christina is the daughter of a man who hacked the IMA’s system, hence why they want her kidnapped: for leverage. Some things go wrong, and eventually the IMA turns on Michael. Soon, both Michael and Christina are on the run from the IMA who wants both of them dead.

    Cloak and Dagger is a really good thriller. I first got it for really cheap off of amazon for my kindle. I had my doubts because it was so cheap, but found that I did really enjoy it. It’s a little raunchy compared to the other books on this list, but it wasn’t over-the-top raunchy. In fact, the romance in this book is an interesting topic because it isn’t your ordinary run-of-the-mill romance. It differs in many ways, especially because it’s something like a reverse Stockholm Syndrome. In addition to that, we’re given deeply flawed characters, none of which are all good and all bad. Each of them are in the grey area, and I find that enjoyable. While Christina is portrayed as a bit of a damsel-in-distress, it isn’t over the top. In fact, it’s an interesting thing to compare to the next books in the series because we get to see her grow up. I do recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good thriller with romance. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for only a thriller.

    Amazon Goodreads

  8.  Armed and Dangerous by Nenia Campbell:

    Armed and Dangerous is the second book in the IMA series. Because it’s the second book of the series, and I just recommended the first book, I’m going to only give a very brief summary of the book. Basically, it picks up a few months after the first book. Christina is going away to college, but is suffering PTSD and is trying to live a quiet life. Of course, this doesn’t happen because Michael is quite literally forced onto her doorstep, and then the two are on the run again. I won’t give you details, since it would be kind of spoilery for both books.

    What I like about Armed and Dangerous is that we get to see Christina grow more. She isn’t a damsel-in-distress anymore. At least, not as much as before. She’s grown, and while it may not be for the best in some cases (she’s a lot colder), it’s still helpful for her in certain situations. Michael, on the other hand, seems to have regressed in this book. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. If anything, it’s really interesting that this has happened. Their relationship is really frustrating, as it was in the first book, but I think that just adds to how interesting the book is, because we get to see the relationship grow both close and further apart. I do think you should read this book, obviously after you read the first book, but both are really cheap. You can buy the whole series for really cheap. They aren’t necessarily quick reads, but they’re definitely quicker than the classics listed above.

    Amazon Goodreads

I also want to point out that I wrote reviews of both books 1 & 2 of the IMA series a few years ago. They are not good reviews, but they may give a clearer picture of the books. I can’t say they’re spoiler free, but I think they’re kind of fun. Crappy, but fun.

Book  1
Book 2

Wow, that sure was a long post. Sorry about that! I do want to apologize for the lack of posts/regularity. I’ve been so tired and busy with work, that even sitting down and writing a short blog post has been daunting. I did start a review post of Prisoner of Night and Fog, however, reviews seem to be really hard for me. Another thing I’m going to try and post is another Wonderful Web Wednesday. It will either be a belated one for this week, or for next week. I have some youtubers I want to talk about (which means I have a new crush. oops.), and I still have to post about the Twenty One Pilots concert from July, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to get the videos on here without getting a paid account on here.

So, anyway, I hope you find my book recs helpful and you read at least one thing on the list. If you do, please let it be The Three Musketeers because IT WILL CHANGE YOU.

Venetian palaces, masquarade balls, cute men, glass factories! What could go wrong for Nancy? A review of Nancy Drew #78: The Phantom of Venice

Every once and a while, I pick up one of my Nancy Drew books. Today, not wanting to waste away on the computer like usual, I decided to read. I’m currently trying to finish Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates. That sounds like I absolutely hate the book, but I really don’t! I just have been having trouble finishing them the past year or so (you can imagine how being a history major can be difficult because of that). A book with the word “wordy” in the title can be a bit hard to finish. While I’m still on the subject, you should read it because it’s about the Puritans and it is really interesting. No really!

ANYWAY, I wanted to read, but not something really heavy in historical facts, so I picked up The Phantom of Venice. It should be noted that I was playing the video game of the same name the other night, so it was partially because I was curious to see the differences between the two. To be honest, they’re almost not even the same story!

Read on if you know the endings for both, or if you don’t care for spoilers! You have been warned by me AND Nancy!

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