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2023 Bookish Books Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 30 books. 30% done!

2023 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska (1)
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (5)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii
- Idaho
- Illinois
- Indiana
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas (1)
- Kentucky
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (1)
- Maryland (2)
- Massachusetts (2)
- Michigan (1)
- Minnesota
- Mississippi (1)
- Missouri
- Montana (1)
- Nebraska
- Nevada
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York (4)
- North Carolina (3)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (1)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon
- Pennsylvania
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina (1)
- South Dakota
- Tennessee
- Texas (1)
- Utah
- Vermont (2)
- Virginia
- Washington (2)
- West Virginia (1)
- Wisconsin (1)
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.*


- Australia (3)
- Canada (6)
- England (12)
- France (1)
- Ireland (2)
- Scotland (1)
- South Korea (1)
- The Netherlands (1)
-Vietnam (1)

My Progress:

26 / 51 states. 51% done!

2023 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

19 / 25 books. 76% done!

2023 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

32 / 50 books. 64% done!

Booklist Queen's 2023 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

36 / 52 books. 69% done!

2023 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

41 / 52 books. 79% done!

2023 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

27 / 40 books. 68% done!

2023 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

15 / 40 books. 38% done!

2023 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

9 / 25 books. 36% done!

2023 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Book Bingo Reading Challenge

19 / 25 books. 76% done!

2023 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

57 / 109 books. 52% done!

Children's Book Reading Challenge...For Adults!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved Back in the Day

Once again, it's time for Top Ten Tuesday, a bookish, list-y meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at The Broke and the Bookish.  And, wow, is this week's topic a stumper:  Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was a Blogger.  It's a toughie, right?  Especially for those of us who have been blogging for a while (BBB was born in August of 2006).  I mean, one of the chief reasons I started this blog was so I could remember all the great books I've read because, without it, my old, feeble mind just comes up blank!  Well, okay, I managed to think of ten, but I'm telling you, it was not easy, not easy at all ...

1.  Twilight by Stephenie Meyer—Yeah, yeah, yeah.  When Twilight first came out, I belonged to a book club with a woman who was related to Meyer somehow (cousin?).  She recommended the novel to us, saying if we all read it, she was pretty sure she could get Meyer to come chat with our book club.  But, when she described the novel as a "teenage vampire romance," we all turned up our noses.  And, it must be said (though it pains me to do so), that by the time she convinced us all to read Twilight, Meyer was much too busy to come to our little book club.  True story.

I remember being embarrassed to read Twilight in public.  Back then (it came out in 2005), adults didn't read teen books unless it was to screen them for their kids (which was totally what I was doing—uh huh).  And yet, it kept me totally entranced.  It still shames me to admit it, but I loved Twilight.

2.  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling—The name J.K. Rowling doesn't appear on my blog until 2007, when I reviewed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, but I had been reading her ever since the first Harry book came out in the U.S. in 1998.  I remember devouring the series while sitting in the bedroom of my toddler (who's now 14).  He played happily while I read, oftentimes falling asleep before I realized the room had gone suspiciously quiet.  H.P. grabbed me from the get-go, keeping me totally riveted with the story, the characters, the setting, everything.  It will always be one of my favorite children's series!

3.  Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell—I'd seen the movie version of GWTW several times, but I didn't read the book until after I traveled to Atlanta in 2000.  The setting definitely came alive more because I'd visited the setting and the story, of course, kept me totally engrossed.

4.  Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman—I'm not sure why this one sticks out in my mind, except that I remember it being a fun, charming novel that was different than other books I was reading at the time.

5.  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon—I read this fat tome on someone's recommendation and, in no time at all, found myself totally immersed in the story.  It swept me away from the stresses of my every day life, which at the time included bottles, diapers, housework, and all the other chores that come along with stay-at-home motherhood.  I don't know why I didn't continue with the series, but it's one I would like to finish.  Someday.  You know when I have a million free hours to wade through those very, very large books!

6.  Emma by Jane Austen—After Gwyneth Paltrow brought Emma Woodhouse to such charming life on the big screen in 1996, I knew I had to read this book.  Needless to say, it met my (very) high expectations.

7.  Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurty—I've never been a huge fan of Westerns, but this classic really captured my imagination.  It's an entertaining read that I should probably re-read soon.

8.  The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown—Like millions of other fans, I found this one edge-of-your-seat compelling.  Is the writing absolutely brilliant?  No, but it's still an exciting and very readable thriller.

9.  A Time to Kill by John Grisham—I loved the movie version of this novel and not just because it's the only  Matthew McConaughey film in which the actor does more than just look pretty.  Nope, it was the storyline that sucked me in.  I'm not a huge Grisham fan, but I did really enjoy this book.  I've been meaning to re-read it for years, but a library copy's still sitting on my desk waiting for my attention.  Soon, I promise!

10.  The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold—As disturbing as this novel is, I also found it totally mesmerizing.  It's unique, compelling and memorable.

A stunning realization:  So, as I was typing up this post, I had an epiphany—all the books I listed, except one (Outlander), have been made into movies/t.v. series.  Does this make them stick out more in my mind?  Or, is it just because I selected a crop of very excellent books?  Hm ...

Now that I've searched my tired mind for titles I loved before becoming a book blogger (way back in 2006—yikes!), I'd really like to know which books you adored back in the day.  Do we have any favorites in common?      

Newest Ladies in Waiting Novel Offers a Rich, Poignant Examination of Love and Loyalty (with a Giveaway!)

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When Sweden's Princess Cecelia sails for England in 1565, she takes along an entourage of servants, including her favorite ladies-in-waiting.  Among these is 17-year-old Elin von Snakenborg, a redheaded beauty longing for a change of scenery.  Elin leaves behind a fiancé who's recently fallen for her sister and a dowry that's been gambled away to almost nothing.  With little to draw her back to Sweden, she decides to stay in England, pledging her services to Queen Elizabeth I.  As a foreigner, Elin's received a bit coolly by the other ladies, but it doesn't take her long to bond with the queen.  Thanks to an advantageous marriage,  Elin soon receives the title of Marchioness, making her the highest-ranking woman in all of England (save the queen).  As such, she is able to be more to the monarch than just a maid—she's now a friend, someone Queen Elizabeth depends on, confides in, and trusts.  

Even as a married woman, Elin finds life at court exciting.  The daily gossip always sizzles with tales of romance, deceit and treason.  Enemies constantly threaten the queen, vying for a chance to seize her throne.  As Elizabeth deals with danger—both from within her borders and without—she relies on her ladies-in-waiting to comfort, support and distract her.  Elin fills her role faithfully, doing everything she can to serve the queen she loves.  But when problems within her own home arise, Elin questions whether her loyalty to Elizabeth will cost her more than she's willing to give.  Can she save her marriage, even if it means defying the most powerful woman in the land?  And does she really want to, especially now that she's not sure she can trust her own husband?  In a country already swarming with danger and deception, Elin must decide where her true fealty lies—before her own neck ends up on the chopping block.

Roses Have Thorns, the third book in Sandra Byrd's Ladies in Waiting series, continues the story of England's Tudor queens, as told through the eyes of the women who were closest to them.  Like To Die For and The Secret Keeper, the newest volume in the series brings historic England to vivid life using painstaking period detail as well as a richly-imagined scenes between the principal characters.  Still, while the constant turmoil caused by real, historically-accurate events provides plenty of background tension, the main storyline sags a bit in the middle, growing dull before it picks up again toward the end.  Byrd writes well, but my interest in Elin's plight definitely waxed and waned, depending on the pacing of the plot.  Overall, though, I found Roses Have Thorns to be a rich, poignant examination of love, loyalty and the life lessons we can all glean from the world's very turbulent history.  

(Readalikes:  To Die For and The Secret Keeper by Sandra Byrd; also reminds me of The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner and Nefertiti by Michelle Moran)

Grade:  B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG-13 for violence and very mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Roses Have Thorns from the generous folks at Howard Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) via those at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.  Thank you! 


Now for the fun part -- you can win your very own copy of Roses Have Thorns.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me which historical time period is your favorite to read about.  I will also need an email address so I can contact you if you win.  Easy peasy, right?  The giveaway will end on April 22nd at midnight.  Good luck!
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