Fall Reading List, 2015

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Well, it is  Finals Week here in college-land.  That means that it’s time for me to post my seasonal reading list.  These are all of the things I have read between July and now, and how I felt about them.  Fair warning: my romance novel habit has become encompassing.  They’re just so fluffy!  When I don’t want to read angsty things, I find those do the trick so nicely.  And I can’t not read.  For as long as I can remember, I have never not been in the middle of something, unless I’ve just finished something.

Yeah, I know.

But the good news is that you get to benefit from my insanity.

I hope you are shaping up to have a Jolly Holiday.  Or have had a Jolly Holiday (since Hanukkah is over…).

The Official Fall Reading List:

  1. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Pamela Hill Smith: I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who isn’t a fan of her novels or of history.  It’s basically a rough draft surrounded by a WEALTH of cool information.  Needs a bit of determination to get through, but it’s 100% worth it in every way once you do.
  2. A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction by Terry Pratchett: A collection of his non-fiction essays and talks. It’s good.  His wry wit shows through clearly, and he has interesting things to say about his Alzheimer’s.  Ultimately, it’s mostly fluff and opinion.  But it’s good, funny fluff, so…
  3. Rising Strong by Brene Brown: Holy crap. I always feel like her stuff is life changing, but I feel like this one brought me a greater understanding of what’s happening with me. I’ve been a bit depressed for a long time, and it feels like I found the key as to why and how to get out.
  4. When Beauty Tamed the Beast (Fairy Tales) by Eloisa James: Not as good the second time around. I mean, I still liked it.  But the first time I read it I felt like Piers was great and the story was so fresh.  This time his demandingness was a bit much, and Linnet is SO naïve.
  5. A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James: So much better the second time around I think. I liked it the first time, but the second I fell head-over-heels for the prince.  Add in rats of dogs, horrible wigs, and an awesomely innapropriate Godmother, and it turns into a very fun romp.
  6. Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgertons) by Julia Quinn: Knowing the surprise ending didn’t ruin it for me at all the second time around, which was nice.  I do like the Bridgertons and all the silly they come with.  Colin and his perpetually empty stomach being one of them.
  7. Minx (Avon Historical Romance) by Julia Quinn: You know, I liked the book. I did.  But it fell into that uncomfortable territory for me where the main hero was a bit too forceful for comfort.  Despite that, Henry really is the best sort of girl and it was fun seeing her get the hero into a pigsty, among other things.
  8. Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn: Yeah, it was a cute premise and all but I found it a bit cheesy. I still maintain that the Bridgertons are her best work.
  9. Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn: Two childhood friends find out they have a bit more in common when he suffers a deadly injury and has no one to nurse him. There’s a lot of horrible woundiness that I skipped through – the hero gets gangrene and it’s rather descriptive about the treatment.  But otherwise great.
  10. Three Weeks With Lady X (Desperate Duchesses) by Eloisa James: A bit less salacious than it sounds. I liked this one a billion times more the second time around.  The hero is such an ass, but he’s such a handsome, principled ass.  Also, the quippy letters he and Xenobia send back and forth are hilarious.  Bonus points for neither of the main characters growing up rich.
  11. The First Frontier: The Forgotten History of Struggle, Savagery, and Endurance in Early America by Scott Weidensaul: Full of really frightening pioneer stories during the colonial eras, but an interesting read nonetheless. I felt like I got a better idea of some of the fiction books I used to read as a child (Calico Captive being one of them).
  12. The Arm of the Starfish by Madeline L’Engle: You know, I like this sort of espionage world she operates in sometimes. She does it fairly well.  I think her strength is family relationships, and there’s very little of that in here; but it’s still a compelling thriller, even if it’s a bit predictable.
  13. What Happens in London by Julia Quinn: Again with the names. And I seem to be in an espionage mood.  But this one was EXCELLENT.  Very fun and unpredictable.  Although maybe her loose ends weren’t wrapped quite as nicely as I’d like them to be. Proposal at the end was perfection.
  14. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: a re-read that I’m finding less captivating the second time around. Perhaps because I know what’s coming and I’m not super excited to get to the soul-crushing parts of it.  You have to love Lola, though.
  15. Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale by Holly Black: a super-gritty and dangerous delve into Faerie Land in the middle of modern day. Kaye finds out she’s a changeling when she moves back home to New Jersey when her mom’s boyfriend gets murderey.  She also becomes the target of a sadistic queen when the queen’s knight Roiben falls for her.  There’s weird human neighbors and much intrigue.  Amazing book.
  16. Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale (Modern Faerie Tale) by Holly Black: The sequel to Tithe, and just as crazy as the first. Kaye finds herself trapped between faery wars when Roiben gives her an impossible quest, and the Seelie queen tries to use her against him.  Where has this series been all my life?
  17. Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley: In her fabulously frantic yet real-life voice. It gets a little too much sometimes, especially by the end.  But I do love the outcome of the book so much.  Once Lois is older it starts to feel like actual life again, and it’s nice to watch and be in. Keep with it!
  18. Asking Styles: Harness Your Personal Fundraising Power by Andrea Kihlstedt: A little shorter than I wanted, but ultimately it made me feel like I could make this fundraising thing work for me despite my shyness and lack of teeth. Which I think was the purpose.
  19. How to Marry a Marquis (Avon Romantic Treasure) by Julia Quinn: I liked this one a LOT. I know I said I go to romance novels to escape, but this one dealt with poverty well.  A sweet where the heroine fell for the property manager, who was really a Marquis in disguise. I would recommend, and will probably re-read at some point.
  20. A Night Like This by Julia Quinn: It was the usual thing.  And the usual thing when done by Julia Quinn is awfully well done. It’s weird, because there wasn’t anything I can pinpoint exactly that I didn’t like, but it just didn’t stick with me like some of her others.  I liked it, but I would recommend others first.
  21. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown: I don’t know why Brene Brown is so amazing for me, but she really is. I thought that Rising Strong was helpful, but I feel like after reading this one I have a whole new understanding of how to become a better, more resilient person.  I also think I have a better handle on why and how others around me are making the choices that they are.  This one felt so do-able. I feel like EVERYONE should read it.
  22. Dear Mr. Knightley: A Novel by Katherine Reay: Oh, so good and sweet and awful and heartbreaking all at the same time. I love Sam so much.  She feels like a real girl, taking refuge from her bad social skills in books and always on the verge of dropping out.  Every small good thing that happens to her feels like such a triumph.  And the ending – !!! – wow.  That’s all I’ll say.  But this might be a new favorite of mine.
  23. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson: I basically spent the entire time trying not to break out in a belly-laugh when I was reading during my lunch hour or next to Brian as he slept. I love Jenny SO MUCH.  This book is messier than her first, but it doesn’t seem to matter much for enjoyment.  In fact, it may be funnier than her first, the sometimes (okay always) awkward ramblings serving the subject matter so well.
  24. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: is it bad that this is fanfiction for a series that never existed, and yet I want ALL THE BOOKS RIGHT NOW? It’s perfect, in a way that satisfied all my Harry Potter longings, with much steaminess included as well.  Baz is such a shit, and I’m head over heels for him. For all of them. “So Good” doesn’t even begin to explain how I feel about it. Maybe asdfjkl;!!!!! will?
  25. To Catch an Heiress by Julia Quinn: Good, although a little ridiculous at times. I mean, she lives in his bathroom for a week or so… I don’t know.  It just didn’t seem likely.  But funny and quippy and full of good romance like most of Quinn’s stuff.
  26. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy: Oh, quite good. I felt like Will’s journey didn’t quite come as full circle as I’d like, but overall it was a good book and unlike anything I had read before.  It dealt not just with boys and body image, but also what happens when friends grow apart.  Worth it.
  27. Landline: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell: I forget how much this one slays me. She gets that whole “married too young” relationship right, and I see so much of Brian and I between the covers here.  I don’t think I’d ever try and convince past Brian not to marry me, though.
  28. Thornyhold (Rediscovered Classics) by Mary Stewart: I wanted my Nano novel to feel a little like this novel.  It’s one of my favorites of all time, and definitely a comfort book.  You have to love the animals, and the house just for Gilly, and her romance with Christopher.  So great.
  29. Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones: Another story I’d like my Nano novel to feel like. It’s totally different than Thornyhold, but also not.  There’s witchcraft and a magical house that becomes a home.  There’s a little bit more of the fae in this one, though.  Another favorite.
  30. Rose Cottage (Rediscovered Classics) by Mary Stewart: I thought this book was a bit like Thornyhold, which it sort of is, but it’s not really a homecoming book so much as it’s a home-leaving book. At least for most of it.  It didn’t help much with Nano, but I enjoyed it all the same.  Another comfort book of mine, with a very puzzling mystery right until the end.
  31. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke: I picked this up because Neil Gaiman told me to (through an online article – not in person, sadly.) I’m finding it pretty slow going. It starts off as an older novel would, with much telling and exposition.  But I like the characters and it’s an interesting premise.  I even like the fact, a bit, that it feels older than it is.  I’m going to stick with it and see if I don’t love it later.  Because this is the sort that you LOVE or don’t.  Nothing in between.
  32. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I’ve been wanting to tear apart a couple of books and see if I can’t learn something about the structure of them. This one was a 50-cent wrecked paperback that I bought at the local Thanksgiving rummage sale, so it was perfect.  The tearing-apart stuff is going well, and is SUPER interesting.  Did you know that Jane isn’t even mentioned by name for, like, almost 3 chapters?  I’m trying to figure out why Austin would do that…
  33. The Lady Hellion (Wicked Deceptions) by Joanna Shupe: Pretty darn good, of the regular romance variety. I picked it up because it was named best of the year, and I think it deserves the crown. The PTSD of the main character was a bit of a twist, as was the total spunkiness of the heroine.
  34. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell: Yes, I’m reading it again less than 3 months after I finished it the first time. This just shows you how obsessed I am.  My phone background is now Simon and Baz looking smoldery at each other. ❤  If you haven’t, you need to go read it NOW.
  35. A Wallflower Christmas (Wallflowers, Book 5) by Lisa Kleypas: I almost liked this one. I just have such a hard time with heroes who won’t take no for an answer, even if the heroine is really enjoying it – and this one was FULL of that.  But the arc of the story line was good and the writing was excellent.  I won’t read it again, although I might look up the other “Wallflower” books.
  36. A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale: The writing was, well, less than good. Her main character felt wooden, and played into a lot of female stereotypes that I hate (she’s nothing without a family of her own?). But there was something about the story line that wouldn’t let me put the book down, so there’s that.
  37. Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas: Her writing is so good, with the cinematic description you usually find in literary fiction.  The book went way too fast for my liking, though, and it didn’t feel resolved enough at the end.  Still probably the best of the Christmas novels I’ve read this month.
  38. Stranger in My Arms by Lisa Kleypas: Aside from a bit of disbelief that the main character wouldn’t confront her husband with the main problem but instead run to crappy relatives, I would consider this a pretty perfect romance novel.
  39. Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones: I usually LOVE a Diana Wynne Jones book. Even “bad” ones are typically great when compared to other authors.  But for some reason, I just couldn’t get into this one.  Maybe it was because the zaniness was so fragmented among worlds/characters?

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