Archives For Fiction

Yesterday, I listed some of my recent and perennial favorites for Summer Reads. Today, I’m joining the Twitterature bandwagon once again to mention what I am currently reading. Join the fun over at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

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Recently Finished:

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: A story of 60 years unfolds, involving an Italian inn keeper, a young actress, a screen writer, and one of Hollywood’s biggest movie flops Cleopatra. This is a book where I loved the themes and characters, but I know some of the content would upset my friends. Love it. Won’t recommend it.

Delicious!: A Novel by Ruth Reichl: Billie Breslin left California and her past to work at famed New York food magazine Delicious! Yet, when the magazine suddenly shuts down, Billie stays to field customer complaints and finds a new pen pal from the past. I wanted to love this book more, but I think some people just have to get their first novels out of the way to write a better one later.

The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir: I gave this book to my husband without reading it first (rare); however, when someone describes a book as “like Castaway in space,” I knew my husband would love it. And I probably wouldn’t. I was right. Tyler loved this book. He says it’s funny and interesting not because of what happens, but because of how it happens.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: I actually read this book a few months ago, but I never mentioned it on the blog. Why would reading a book about teenagers falling in love be interesting? The characters. You can’t help but cheer on these two kids as they navigate the murky waters of adolescence. (The Kindle edition is currently $5!)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green: I love John Green’s novels. I love John Green on Twitter. I love John Green on YouTube. He’s just a remarkable human. However, I avoided reading this book for over a year. Cancer hits a little close to home, so I expected to spend weeks sobbing over this book. Guess what? I didn’t. I barely teared up reading this book, but you know what? I still loved it.

Pardonable Lies: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jaqueline Winspear: I actually mentioned this book yesterday, but I did just finish it. I’ve been wanting to read Maisie Dobbs for a while now, but someone lost the first two copies at my library. I decided to go ahead and grab the third book of the series. And I enjoyed it even without reading the first two novels.

The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautifulby Myquillyn Smith: Also mentioned yesterday. Also finished it this month. Also loved it. I recommend the hardback.

In the Middle

The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley: I’m reading the second Flavia De Luce mystery, and I’m loving hanging out with Flavia again.

Jayber Crow: A Novel by Wendell Berry: My friend gave me this book months ago, and like the terrible person I am, I keep putting it on the back burner. No more, I say. No more.

What are you reading this month? Find more books to add to your stack at Modern Mrs. Darcy.

Summer time is a great time to pick up a book. I’ve had several friends ask me for some recommendations as they head to the library for story time with their kids or to the beach without their kids. So, if you need some hints, these are some of my favorite reads.

summer reading suggestions

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion: This is my recommend of the summer. It’s funny. It’s sweet. It has all the elements of a great summer read, and anyone would like it. Seriously, anyone. (A little language, a little talk of hanky-panky, but nothing explicit). A socially awkward professor of genetics decides he needs to find a wife and goes about it in the most scientific way possible, creating a 16 page questionnaire.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley: A precocious eleven-year-old turned detective in 1950s Britain sets out to solve a mysterious death in her back garden. Plenty of mystery and intrigue, Bradley’s funny and observant Flavia de Luce and her commentary on life make the novel stand out. I’m working on the second in the series called The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag. Also, just from random internet searching, I found out a television series is brewing, too. (I wrote a review for The Library Adventure here.)

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear: I’m a new reader to Maisie Dobbs novels, but I love these. Set in England in 1930 in the midst of a Depression and recovery from World War I, Maisie Dobbs serves as an Investigator/Psychologist. In Pardonable Lies, the third in the series, she’s on the case to fight for a girl accused of murder, her best friend’s brother, the circumstances surrounding a young pilot’s death in France, and, in the end, Maisie’s own life. These books came out in the early 2000s, so they should be easy to find at the library. (As of this post, Pardonable Lies is only $2.99 via Kindle).

Me Before You: JoJo Moyes: A romantic story of redemption and love between two unlikely characters: a young waitress and a paraplegic. (Warning: I cried reading this.) Also, Don’t Read With Your Eyes.

The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. This YA series is fun, sweet, and packed with adventure. It takes on fairy tales (Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel) and sets those fairy tales in a futuristic society with Lunar queens, cyborgs, and space ships. And it works. (Cinder is only $2.99 right now. Grab it!)

Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider: This is a great book if you need to scale back your life. I’ve been following Tsh for years, and I always love what she has to say. I wrote a review here.

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith: Looks like a design book, but it’s more a book about embracing where you are now and eliminating your insecurities to create the home you love, no matter the circumstance. It’s beautiful. I recommend buying the hardback for $13.32 right now.

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson: This book focuses on pivotal moments in culture during the summer of 1927 through stories about several historical characters: Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Al Jolson, Al Capone, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, and others. (I wrote a review of it here.)

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty: I read this book last summer and loved it. It’s breezy reading, but it has some meat to it, enough to leave you wondering and thinking.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton: The opening scene of this book is chilling and jarring. The rest of it is also fabulous.

Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham: I’ve talked about this book before at The Library Adventure. I recommended it on my Christmas Gift List, and I’m recommending it again. It’s funny with Gilmore Girls-esque banter.

My Go-To, Always Recommend First Before Just about Anything Else Read:

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: A memoir of compelling depth, warmth, and fascination. Follow Walls and her remarkable journey through childhood with her nomadic family, led by her unconventional parents. If this girl can survive childhood and live to tell the tale, then there’s hope for all of us. The reason why I love this book: Jeannette Walls is absolutely grateful to her parents and feels genuine love and affection for them, despite their flaws.

What are you favorite books to read in the summer?

Photo Credit: nicadlr via Compfight cc

5 Classics Worth Revisiting

October 7, 2013 — 1 Comment

booksandbabies

 

I’m over at the Quirky Bookworm today, chatting it up about 5 Classic Books Worth Revisiting. Come see if you agree with me.

 

 

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Check out My Recent Reads from this Month:

The House at Riverton

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton: Haunting, mysterious novel. Must read for fans of Downtown Abbey or Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca. #British #WWI #FamilyTroubles #secrets

Someday, Someday, Maybe

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham: A young actress seeks her lucky break in New York City in the 1990s. Gilmore Girls fans will love the banter. 90s kids will love the pop culture and fashion references. #fun #light

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)

Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith: In the spotlight recently as J.K. Rowling’s stab at the crime novel. Cormoran Strike, the private detective main character, is sure to please. Well-crafted with nods to crime fiction standards, Rowling’s adult fiction still pushes boundaries to move away from Potter expectations. #SeriouslyWeKnowYouCanCussNowRowling

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: My favorite book of all time. I have to reread it every year or so. This book holds such a special place in my heart – much like a childhood friend. #classic #worthit

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Ralph S. Mouse, #1)

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary: Our current family read aloud. What’s not to love? Little talking creatures, an old hotel, one curious boy and motorcycles. #clever #kidclassic

On My Nightstand:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Engagements

The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

What are you reading this month? Go check out other Twitterature entries at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting KellyWiggains.com.

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This post is part of a monthly link-up with Modern Mrs. Darcy, where bloggers share short and sweet book reviews. This month, I was on the hunt for an engaging mystery, a classic I’ve never read, and some brain-building non-fiction. I discovered a stack of duds (except for my non-fiction pick).

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This block-buster novel from last year was sure to please, but I abandoned it after 100 pages. I just couldn’t find a way to like Amy or Nick, the novel’s narrators, and I struggle reading books with stupid people running a marriage. #undeservedhype

2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Part mystery, part comical, part PTO politics to extreme, this novel is a quick read, but not a favorite. Anne warned me in her Summer Reading Guide. I should have listened. #meh

3. Watership Down by Richard Adams

I know as a high school English teacher, I should love this novel. I ended up returning it to the library after about 100 pages (that’s my cutoff for giving a novel a shot). All in all, I couldn’t get past the basic premise that bunnies have a political agenda. #bunniesdon’tseethefuture

4. Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip and Dan Heath

I saved the best for last. My non-fiction pick is a winner, and although I’m still in the middle of it, I’m already wanting to buy a copy to mark up passages and sticky tab sections. #practical #informative #entertaining

Have you ever read a string of duds? What’s your cutoff for reading a book, or do you always plod through to the end?

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Thanks for supporting KellyWiggains.com!

Bread & Wine: Finding Community and Life Around the Table

Bread & Wine: Finding Community and Life around the Table by Shauna Niequist

I’m in the middle of this beautiful book about food and home and community. Shauna wants us to welcome people into the mess of our lives and not be ashamed about it. I love the writing, and I want to eat all of the food. #BuyThisNOW

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defiance (Defiance, #1)

Defiance by C.J. Redwine

My friend Lauren has been babbling about this book for ages. It’s coming-of-age. It’s monsters. And sword fights. And government corruption. Love and family. Romance. #HardToDescribe #ReadItAnyway #YA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I re-read this in anticipation of seeing the new movie. I gushed about Gatsby more in this post. It deserves the gushing. #BookIsBetterThanMovie #always

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Requiem (Delirium, #3)Requiem by Lauren Oliver

The last book in Oliver’s Delirium trilogy. The book is well-written. I just didn’t love it. #disappointed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simple Blogging by Rachel Meeks

I received this book in a mega-eBook-bundle giveaway this past month. It’s a great guide for making blogging manageable. #StepAwayFromTheScreen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post is part of a link up with Modern Mrs. Darcy, where we share short reviews of books we are reading every month. Go check it out!

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Kelly Wiggains: From Literature to Living.

Before you head out to see The Great Gatsby this weekend, I thought I would offer some pointers for those who have read the book and love it as well as those who have never read the book (ahem. My husband). Most of you will fall in-between: You read the book in high school and 1) You hated it. 2) You don’t remember most of it, or 3) You liked it, but high school was a long time ago. You know you’re supposed to remember something about The Green Light.

If you are unsure of where you fall, read my friend’s Facebook status from last night at the première:

I just made a joke to an intelligent-looking high schooler about the fact that it was too bad they hadn’t made the 3D glasses look like the eyes of T. J. Eckleburg. He just stared at me, so I prompted him: “You know, the ‘wild oculist’ overlooking the valley of ashes?” Nothing. Finally he just shrugged and said, “I haven’t seen the movie yet.” WHY ARE YOU EVEN AT THE PREMIERE? Go home and read a book.

If you laughed hysterically, you’re good. Might I offer you a guide written to help those of us who always read the book before seeing the movie? Check out my Hunger Games Guide to Watching Movies.

If you have no idea why the joke is funny, just hang on, I’m here to help you.

Here’s what do you need to know:

The Great Gatsby is widely considered one of the best books ever written. (In fact, it’s #2 on Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century List). It’s a timepiece of the 1920s and the culture between the two World Wars. It’s distinctly American and human.

Recently, my husband asked me what makes The Great Gatsby so great. I told him, “All the characters are rich, but their lives are empty. They bank on love and dreams and ambition and ‘seeking happiness,’ and they mostly lose, but it’s worth the journey anyway.”

Still need to know more? More reasons why The Great Gatsby is great:

1. Beautiful Writing

F. Scott Fitzgerald writes with purpose and nuance. He weaves symbol and imagery throughout the novel, using specific images to point to the novel’s overall themes. Look for The Green Light as well as the billboard featuring T.J. Eckleburg and his glasses. If an image comes up more than once, it’s important. Keep watch. Setting also plays a significant role in the novel – West Egg, East Egg, The Valley of Ashes, plus the entire backdrop of New York City in the 1920s.

2. What is Said, and What isn’t Said

Fitzgerald is a master at dialogue. The characters have seemingly vapid and inconsequential conversations. However, if you notice the emotional responses after these conversations, you soon realize the heart of the conversation lies in what was not said. I’m interested to see how the actors convey this, and props to Fitzgerald for creating a book where the reader can pick up double meanings and words left unspoken.

3. Big Themes

Fitzgerald pairs the old and the new throughout Gatsby. He explores the paradox of universal truths no longer holding true, very telling of the time period. Look for the concept of the American Dream and its disillusionment. True love being everything yet not enough. The depth of a person who is completely shallow. Being surrounded by people yet feeling completely alone.

4. Characters

The characters are all hopelessly flawed, and it all centers around a tragic love story, an obsession with a dream and the consequences of reality. Gatsby’s people are full and empty, original and stereotypes. The American Dream is real and an illusion all at once in their lives. At its heart, we find Gatsby, a man who builds his life’s purpose around one dream, but then wonders if chasing the dream is somehow better than actually achieving the dream.

5. The Jazz Age

This term, coined by Fitzgerald himself, is another character in the novel. It permeates the entire thing. The music, the clothes, the parties, the haircuts, the cars, the alcohol, the boredom, the search for a thrill, the new money clashing with old money.

Along those lines, check out this behind-the-scenes look at the music chosen for the new film. I’m ready to be wowed. I hope I’m not disappointed:

Are you going to see The Great Gatsby, or did your American Literature teacher ruin it for you forever?

 

twitterature monthly reading linkup short reviews

It’s time for another Twitterature link up over at Modern Mrs. Darcy! Come see what other bloggers are reading. We promise to be brief.

This month, I’m featuring books from my Kindle. The good thing about a Kindle? No pesky reading piles staring at me while I choose to watch Duck Dynasty with my husband. My library books tsk me (I know they do) for cracking up at the Robertson family antics. My Kindle just sits quietly, showing me cool pictures of pens. Because of this, I end up with virtual piles of books ready to read, many times forgetting I even downloaded them.

Okay, book reviews in 140 characters or less. Here we go:

Fiction:

Brideshead Revisited: Downton Abbey fans will dig this Evelyn Waugh classic. English country estate drama. Beautifully written, understated themes, strong characters. #NoPeskyO’Brien #SoGood

Children’s:

My Father’s Dragon: The Classic Story for Children by Ruth Stiles Gannett: A great early chapter book, especially for boys. My two dragon hunters give it 2 thumbs up. We want to read all three in the series. #Wildisland #TigersChewGum

Just Get Your Rear in Gear Already:

42 Days to Fit by Brandy Ferguson: A great guide to fitness with realistic goals. I’m excited to start my own 42 days soon. Brandy is a mom who understands. She encourages, prods, & cheers. *

Lose Your Mummy Tummy by Julie Tupler and Jodie Gould: This is to correspond with 42 Days to compensate for my diastasis recti – a condition where you always look pregnant, even when you are not. **

Any good reads I need to add to my Kindle feed?

*Also, Brandy’s a pal – we once travelled to Oklahoma together in a big white van.

** Honestly, I’m not pregnant. The diastasis is a condition where your core muscles get separated. It happens a lot with women who have big babies, have c-sections, or have other surgeries in the abdominal area. I’m 3 for 3 baby (Goliath like babies, all c-section, followed by gallbladder surgery a year after my last baby). The more you know.

***This post contains affiliate links.

Anna Karenina

1. Because you enjoy good writing. Tolstoy really is a master. I’ve been particularly impressed with how he crafts a sentence on the tiniest of details – how a glove rolls over the arm, how a man lights a cigarette by striking the match on a birch tree, how a road winds down a path to the country. It’s almost a screenplay, except that movies weren’t really a thing when he wrote the novel.

2. Because you want to read about every possible outcome of romance. Tolstoy covers it – old lovers, new lovers, jilted lovers, second-chance lovers, pure and virtuous lovers, adulterous lovers. It’s like an encyclopedia of relationship types.

3. Because you want to brush up on Russian customs and history. I mean, really, don’t we all?

4. Because you love to brag about reading big books. Seriously, 800 plus pages? This is your ace in the hole. If there were to be a campaign to “Make Tolstoy More Popular than Nicholas Sparks,” I think Tolstoy’s wordiness might be the Howard Dean primal scream. Because the book describes every character’s thoughts and movements and conversations and meals and opinions about rotating crops, I can understand why most people would rather read anything else.

5. Because you like to cry. This is not a feel good romantic comedy like Love Actually, which, by the way, also covers every possible relationship angle and also features Keira Knightley. Nope, this book is a gut-wrenching expose on humanity. And it’s beautiful.

Seriously, go read this book. 

Or, you know, go watch Love Actually.

Check out what others are saying about Anna Karenina at Quirky Bookworm!

What I’m Reading This Week

February 26, 2013 — 1 Comment

What I'm reading 2013

 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: Guys. I’m so close to finishing this book. It has been the albatross around my neck for a couple of months. Seriously. I love it though, as weird as that sounds. I love to talk about how torturous it is, but it’s actually a beautifully written story with such in-depth characters. Tolstoy is the man.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: I just started reading it this week, but several of my friends place this one in their top favorite books, so I’m confident I will love it, too. I’m reading it for an upcoming project I hope to finish this summer. Stay tuned for details.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer: This book weaves the fairy tale of Cinderella with cyborgs, alien invaders, a post-apocalyptic society, a murder mystery, and even the morality behind genetic modification. Honestly, I loved it. Sure, parts of it are rather predictable. But you know what? I needed something plot driven and easy to pick up and run with for 30 minutes or so. The sequel came out this month, and I’m anxious to get my hands on it. You can download the first five chapters for free on your Kindle.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker: Jen Hatmaker wrote 7 to journal her experiment with cutting out the excess of her very normal American life. It’s funny, convicting, and compelling. As a side note, you should follow Jen Hatmaker on Twitter. She’s hilarious, especially when she live tweets major sporting events or awards shows. Plus, she’s as hopelessly in love with Downton Abbey as the rest of the world, and she expresses what we all feel with such clarity and snark.

If you need some other great book ideas, Jessica and friends are sharing their favorite reads from the month at Life as Mom.

*This post contains affiliate links from Amazon.