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2022 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska (1)
- Arizona (1)
- Arkansas
- California (5)
- Colorado (3)
- Connecticut (1)
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia (2)
- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
- Illinois (2)
- Indiana (1)
- Iowa (1)
- Kansas
- Kentucky
- Louisiana
- Maine (1)
- Maryland (2)
- Massachusetts (5)
- Michigan (2)
- Minnesota (1)
- Mississippi (1)
- Missouri
- Montana
- Nebraska (1)
- Nevada
- New Hampshire (1)
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico (1)
- New York (9)
- North Carolina (4)
- North Dakota
- Ohio (1)
- Oklahoma
- Oregon (1)
- Pennsylvania (2)
- Rhode Island (1)
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (2)
- Utah (2)
- Vermont (3)
- Virginia (1)
- Washington (4)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin (1)
- Wyoming (1)
- Washington, D.C.* (1)


Antarctica (1)
Australia (2)
Egypt (2)
England (15)
France (1)
Greece (1)
Ireland (2)
Italy (1)
Malaysia (1)
Nepal (1)
Poland (1)
Portugal (1)
Romania (1)
Scotland (3)
Sweden (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:

36 / 51 states. 71% done!

2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

19 / 50 books. 38% done!

2022 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

20 / 25 books. 80% done!

2022 Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge

My Progress:

65 / 53 books. 123% done!

Booklist Queen's 2022 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

43 / 52 books. 83% done!

Aussie Author Reading Challenge 2022

1 / 24 books. 4% done!

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge

3 / 20 books. 15% done!

2022 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

My Progress:

36 / 50 books. 72% done!

The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

The 52 Book Club's Reading Challenge 2022

My Progress:

39 / 52 books. 75% done!

2022 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

38 / 40 books. 95% done!

2022 Support Book Bloggers Challenge

2022 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday, More or Less

I usually don't post twice in a day, but I actually sorta forgot that it was Tuesday.  Yeah.  Anyway, since it is the third day of the week, that means it's time for my favorite bookish meme, Top Ten Tuesday.  It's hosted by the fine ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week, our hostesses with the mostesses ask:  What are the Top Ten Books You Liked More/Less Than You Thought You Would?  In the spirit of putting the bad news first, I'm going to start with the latter question.  Here we go:

Books I Liked Less Than I Thought I Would:

1.  Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card—I admit I'm kind of a fair weather fan when it comes to OSC.  Some of his books I like, some I don't.  But, everyone (it seems) talks about how amazing Ender's Game is and ... I just don't get it.  Admittedly, I've only read the first third or so, but I've done that at least three times!  The book's so terribly written that I've never been able to get past that point.  Judging from the enthusiastic responses of readers whose opinions I respect, I thought I would love this one.  Yeah, not so much.

2.  Prized by Caragh M. O'Brien—After I read Birthmarked, I went a little fan girl over this author.  Since I loved the first book in the series, I figured I'd adore the second.  Again ... not so much.

3.  Viola in Reel Life and Viola in the Spotlight by Adriana Trigiani—I love Trigiani's adult books, so I thought I'd really get into her YA series.  Nope.  Even after two installments, I'm still very underwhelmed by it.

4.  Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys—This is another one that readers/bloggers adore and recommend like crazy.  While I understand why (it's definitely impactful), the book didn't wow me.  The prose felt cold and distant, which makes sense considering it's about the imprisonment of innocent people, but still ... Sepetys' second book, Out of the Easy, was much more to my liking.  Even though it also dealt with difficult subjects, it was a much warmer, more satisfying novel.

5.  Beauty Queens by Libba Bray—I loved the cover and the premise of this one.  The beginning made me laugh with its quirky, tongue-in-cheek examination of beauty.  However, as the story went on, it got increasingly bawdy and bizarre.  I read it, but found the experience disappointing.

Books I Liked More Than I Thought I Would:

1.  Cinder by Marissa Meyer—I had an ARC of this one for a year or so before I actually read it.  Why?  The cover.  It showed a robot and, although I like sci fi in small doses, I've never been into robots.  At all.  But, when a fellow book blogger insisted I had to read Cinder, like now, I listened—and totally devoured it.  Now, The Lunar Chronicles is one of my very favorite YA series.

2.  Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult—I adore Picoult so much that I pre-order every book she writes (in hardcover, no less), without even reading the plot summaries.  So, I was a little surprised by the look of Lone Wolf.  Its cover featured a ... wolf.  And while I'm not like an animal hater or anything, I'm really not that into wildlife.  Thus, it took me a while to get around to reading the book.  When I did, though, wow, it totally pulled me in.  And, in case you're wondering, it's not so much about wolves, as about a family dealing with their comatose husband/father.

3.  Unbroken by Laura HillenbrandEveryone raves about this book.  And because the people in my life who kept recommending it to me represented such a variety of reading preferences, I knew I had to check it out for myself.  War memoirs are usually too violent/depressing for me, but Unbroken just grabbed my attention right off the bat and kept me totally and completely absorbed.  Now, I'm one of those people who recommend it to everyone I know!

4.  The Grace Valley series (Deep in the Valley; Just Over the Mountain; Down By the River) by Robyn Carr—You've probably noticed that I don't read much romance.  It's usually too sappy, too graphic, too melodramatic, etc. for the likes of little ole me.  But, my friend kept going on and on about how great Carr is, so I decided to take a chance (although this same person also recommended Ender's Game ...) and it totally paid off.  I love Carr's ability to create vivid towns full of warm, big-hearted people dealing with their problems in the best ways they know how.  The people and places she creates just speak to me!

5.  White Horse by Alex Adams—This book is so incredibly violent and disturbing that I can't believe I read the whole thing.  And liked it.  Because despite the ick factor, this story is very compelling.  And it's got the best last line I've ever read in a novel.  If you've got a strong stomach, I recommend it.  If not, stay away.  Far, far away.        

Birth Memoir Tackles Grief, Disappointment and Finding Beauty Where You Least Expect It

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Kelle Hampton is the kind of woman who plans things down to a T.  Including the birth of a child.  As her belly swelled in anticipation of her first baby's arrival, she wrestled with every last detail to ensure the event would go off perfectly.  The 31-year-old knew who would be in the delivery room when her baby came (her husband and best girlfriends), what they would listen to while she pushed (carefully-selected birthing music), which outfit she would don while receiving visitors (a slinky nightgown and a tiara), and that she would distribute handmade party favors (yes, really) to everyone who stopped by to see the newborn.  Everything about the day would be perfect.  Absolutely flawless.  

Then, Nella Cordelia arrived.  With Down syndrome.  And all of Kelle's work toward having the perfect birth experience with the perfect baby flew out the door.  Because, despite her obsessive planning, the baby in her arms was far from the one Kelle had been expecting.  Although she looked as pink and round as the healthiest infant, Nella carried an extra chromosome—and that made all the difference.  As Kelle absorbed the devastating diagnosis, she went through every possible emotion.  Bottom line: she had to learn to love her baby.  The question was how to do so when she felt so scared, so let down, so helpless. 

Kelle found the process so difficult that she poured out all of her feelings about it on a blog that became enormously popular.  In 2012, her blog entries, along with dozens of family photos, were assembled and published as the best-selling memoir, Bloom.  And it's a lovely book, in lots of ways.  The photographs are striking, the prose stirring.  The journey Kelle recounts feels so real and raw that it's almost as if it's happening right here, right now, to you.  It's touching, no doubt about it.  Because even as Kelle recalls even her ugliest thoughts and emotions, she does it with a sincerity that underscores her ultimate message—beauty can be discovered in even the most surprising packages. 

Now, I admit that I almost set this book aside a few times.  The prologue made me roll my eyes and wonder if I could really relate to an adult woman who wore a tiara while receiving visitors in the hospital.  But I persevered.  Later, as Kelle took two hundred pages to work through her grief and disappointment, I found myself more than a little irritated with her self-indulgent whining.  It's eloquent whining, don't get me wrong, but since I'm more of an accept-what-you-can't-change-and-move-on kind of person, it grated on my nerves.  As did Kelle's constant neediness.  Still, I appreciated the honesty and passion with which Kelle told her story.  And even though the book isn't really about the ins and outs of parenting a special needs child, it is about learning how to accept them, to nurture them, and to endow them with the fiercest, most empowering gift you can give them—your undying love.  I can get behind that message, even if it comes from a whiny woman wearing a plastic tiara.

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:  B

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), and very mild sexual innuendo/content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Bloom from the generous folks at Harper Collins via those at TLC Book Tours.  Thank you!
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