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September Reading Recap!

Thanks September for going by so quick! I know I probably say that every month, but wow, could this year end any faster? I don’t think so! When I think back to books I read in March, or even in January, it feels like it was just yesterday… but then I snap back to reality and have to scroll for ages to catch up to September in my reading log – which is my new priority. With the end of the year coming so soon, it won’t be long before I’ll have an update for my Yearly Library Savings, and I still have a few columns I’d like to add. Like audiobook narrators, putting together the Audio Freebie for Broke and the Bookish’ Top Ten Tuesday really made me think about how many of the books I’ve “read” were narrated by Davina Porter – who else do I listen to!?  I also need to come up with a better system for tracking setting and possibly point of view… it’s definitely a work in progress.

I’m also working on upping my Instagram game – getting back to favorite quotes and posting more often in general. Here’s my favorite post from September:

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September Favorites:

Looking over my reads from the month, it’s extremely difficult to pick favorites – I gave 4 stars to over half of them! But, if I had to pick, I’d highly recommend The Trees by Ali Shaw and A Wife of Noble Character by Yvonne Georgina Puig. I was instantly grabbed by the characters, how real they felt, and how strongly they were written from even the tiniest details. It’s truly satisfying to read characters who have consistent growth from beginning to end, especially when their story is relatable and so meaningful. Of course, I also finished This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab and The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, two of the best fantasy novels I’ve read recently. Just amazing stories, pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a fantasy novel and really setting the bar high for those to come!

The Weird?

Breakups were rather slim this month, but there was that one novel that…. well, I’m still not sure of what to say…. I LOVED reading it, but it’s such an unusual story with so many strange/weird elements that I can see it being an unfavorite for a lot of readers.

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Super Extra Grande by Yoss, a celebrated Cuban science fiction writer, is an intergalactic space adventure with biting satire and absurdly raunchy characters. If you like the weird, it’s definitely a must read, especially at 160 pages.

What were your September favorites?

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Film Adaptations: Fall 2016

It’s definitely quality over quantity this fall – with only a handful over the next two months, this season’s adaptations might be some of the best yet this year!

October

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The Girl on the Train: Friday, October 7th

This book was hugely popular last year, and still is for good reason. There’s nothing picture perfect about this cast of characters, their lives are murky and gritty, layered behind layers and layers of hidden secrets and past regrets. If you haven’t read this one yet, you’ll definitely want to soon! Even though the film version is set in the US instead of the UK, Emily Blunt is cast as Rachel, and while she isn’t quite what I pictured in my head, I just know it’s going to be amazing!

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American Pastoral: Friday, October 21st

Starring AND directed by Ewan McGregor, American Pastoral is sure to be the emotional drama of the season. Following the Vietnam War in an American suburb, one man’s search for the “American Dream” is halted as his daughter, now a teenager, commits a shocking act of political terrorism.

November

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Arrival: Friday, November 11th

Based on a short story by Ted Chiang, Arrival might be one of the most unique extra terrestrial movies ever made. Told from the perspective of a mother remembering her child, the story itself is heartbreaking. As a linguist, she’s recruited by the government in order to facilitate communications between the newly landed alien species and over time, comes to understand their ways, and most importantly, their perception of reality.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:
Friday, November 18th

This time, the screenplay is actually written by the author J. K. Rowling!! Not only that, the film stars Eddie Redmayne and is set in America – in the Roaring Twenties!!

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Anne of Green Gables: Thursday, November 24th

Thanksgiving is more than just football this year! Be sure to check out the new adaptation of our beloved Anne of Green Gables on PBS to start your holiday season off on the right foot. There’s even going to be an 8 episode series on Netflix (yes, a SECOND adaptation) to be released next year!

What will you be watching this fall?

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Top Ten Fall Reads

This week on Broke and the Bookish, we’re talking Fall TBR lists! Fall is a time for magic, for history, and a time for love gone wrong – or at least that’s what I always end up reading this time of year. A few I’ve already finished or reading now, but even so, these are sure to be some of my favorite reads of the season!

Books Read:

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The Trees by Ali Shaw

Adrien Thomas has never been the hero. Quite the opposite, the very image of candles burning near a table cloth is more than he can take, and after years struggling with anxiety and listlessness, his wife has finally convinced him to give up teaching in pursuit of something better… but that was more than a year ago. Now, while his wife is away on a business trip, his only plans are Spaghetti westerns and greasy Chinese food, until the trees decide otherwise. Without a warning, his serene suburb is transformed into a monstrous woodland, but not just his tiny town, but the entire world, taken by the trees and sending Adrien on the journey of his life.

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To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

Commissioned to explore and navigate the impassable Wolverine River across the uncharted wilds of the Alaskan frontier, Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester sets off with a small group of men to face the unknown. Leaving his newly wed wife alone and with child, his journey is marked with uncertainty from the start, a dread only deepened by his witness to inexplicable spirits who haunt the canyon beyond.

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Following the life of Count Alexander Rostov, his story begins in 1922 when the Count is deemed “unrepentant” and sentence to house arrest, but rightly assumed as “the luckiest man in Russia”, Count Rostov is to live out his sentence in the grandeur of the Metropol Hotel. As the years go by, so life continues for the Count, and as Russia undergoes revolutionary changes, so does life in the Metropol. Written much in the fashion of Anna Karenina and rich with Russian history and culture alike, A Gentlman is sure to be one of my favorite reads this year.

The Fall TBR:

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Little Nothing by Marisa Silver

Born a dwarf to a peasant family at the beginning of the last century, Pavla is scorned for her physical deformity. A beautiful story of war, of magic, of what it is to be alive, Pavla’s story is extraordinary, defying all odds as her desires lead to incarceration. A truly unique, daring tale I can’t wait to read!

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Vassa in the Night by Sara Porter

Vassa in the Night gives the Russian fairy tale, Vassilissa the Beautiful, new life. Retold in modern day Brooklyn, Vassa has one last gift from her late mother: the magical, tough-talking doll, Erg. Together, they’ll need sharp wits and a cunning ferocity to break the witch’s curse and save the neighborhood.

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The Mischling by Affinity Konar

Revealing one of the darkest stories in human history, Mischling defies all expectations “to show us the way toward ethereal beauty, moral reckoning, and soaring hope.” A World War II story unlike any I’ve read, the novel tells the tale  of twin sisters from the unknown terrors they’re subjected to as part of the experimental population of Auschwitz to regaining their freedom in a new world. A must read this season.

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The Ballroom by Anna Hope

“Set over the heat wave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, The Ballroom is a tale of unlikely love an dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.” A lover’s tale in the midst of an insane asylum, sure to be a fantastic fall read!

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Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

A re-visiting of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and the fourth installment in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, Atwood’s novel takes place as a play within a play as theatre director Felix finds himself with the boot and lands teaching theatre at the local prison. With the newfound possibility of revenge, he and his unusual cast find themselves taking part “in an interactive and illusion-ridden version of The Tempest that will change their lives forever.”

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The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa

At the start of the war, Hannah’s charmed life would change forever. No longer welcome in Berlin, her family fled Germany in hopes to find asylum overseas, but what begins as a celebratory journey to safety shortly turns to desperation as their ship is denied entrance to the United States and sets sail for Cuba.

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A Hero of France by Alan Furst

Though released back in May, I’ve finally landed a copy of A Hero of France. Full of espionage and suspense, Furst captures Paris at the height of the Nazis occupation, but the leader of the French Resistance has returned, gathering support from courageous citizens to make history.

What will you be reading this fall?

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Weekly Reads: Week 38

**Welcome to Weekly Reads! Each Monday I’ll share reviews for my most recent reads. For more reviews, please visit my page, The Reads: From A to Z.**

It’s been a busy week! I only made it through one audiobook this week, and not quite a full novel – I’ve been reading A Gentleman in Moscow for ages now, but there’s so much to note/google! It’s an amazing novel, but definitely not a quick read. I’ve been putting off my post in hopes I would finish in time, but alas, there’s simply too much to love, there’s absolutely no rushing this one. Hopefully I’ll get my copy in the mail soon so I can finish – I only have 10 hours left with my library copy!

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Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

The starting novel of the Gold Seer trilogy, Walk on Earth a Stranger follows the harrowing journey of Lee Westfall. Following the death of her family, Lee struggles with the decision to claim her family land as her own, knowing her uncle would certainly have something to say on the matter, or leave for better riches in golden California, but the decision is not an easy one. To stay would mean certain danger, but to leave would risk exposure of her gift: just as a bee with honey, Lee can sense the presence of gold, no matter how small the nugget. With her parents’ murder behind her, she sets her sights on the California Gold Rush in hopes of a better life, but she’ll have to survive the journey first.

“Men can be relentless,” she agrees, “when they think a woman belongs to them.”

While not the most prosaic writing, Walk on Earth a Stranger was the perfect western adventure for a busy work week – I listened to the audio version, and it was definitely the right choice! With a strong southern accent and a determined voice, the narrator, Erin Mallon, brings the story to life as Lee faces the worst of life’s turns. Though not shy of hard work, Lee must abandon every ounce of femininity she has in order to make the journey as a man, an added measure of protection. Though, she often makes mistakes, adding a sense of reality in her magical tale. It was truly refreshing to find a fantasy novel that strays from the typical queen in peril or princess in hiding tale we read (and love) time and time again. The added historical element makes for a wonderful adventure – I can’t wait to see what California has in store for her in the next installment!

Rating: 4 Stars          Goodreads

 What have you read lately?

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Links to Love

Happy first day of Fall!!

Even though it’ll be another month (or two) until Houston has any fall weather, I can’t help but want a hot pumpkin spice something and surround myself in burnt orange leaves. Fall seriously can’t come soon enough, but until then, here’s what I’ll be loving:

New Amazon Prime Perks!!

If you’ve got Amazon Prime, then you now have access to Audible Channels! And on top of that, free audiobooks on rotation! All easily accessibly via the Audible app. Right now, you can enjoy Dracula, read by an all-star celebrity cast, the American classic Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns, and many, many more as well as Audible originals. Enjoy!

How Long Did You Say?

Ever wondered how long it took Tolkien to write the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or Gillian Flynn to write Gone Girl? Check out this ingenious infographic showing how long it took to complete some of your favorite novels! Of course, seeing now that it only took Stephanie Meyer 3 months to write Twilight, I can see why I have some issues with the language she used…

A Few Sturdy Stews…

There’s nothing better than a warm stew when a cold front blows in! This fall I’m I’ll be trying out a couple new recipes to add to my usual mix (I can’t go more than a couple days without making some kind of soup/stew!) like the French classic, Coq Au Vin, simplified by blogger Vikalinka. She makes it look so easy, and it’s a one pot dinner! I also plan on making this beef and bean soup recipe by She Wears Many Hats – it looks so good!

Cookies!

Instead of the usual gingerbread snaps and oatmeal cookies, try something a little different, perhaps a little more traditional, Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies, brought to you by Money Wise Moms! But, warning, these guys are hard to resist, better double your batch. 🙂

Fall Décor Made Easy

I’ve been scouring the Pinterest boards for weeks looking to add a few simple fall touches to the apartment, and of course there are WAY too many beautiful arrangements and cute pumpkin crafts to choose from, but I think I’m going with one of these:

They’re gorgeous and completely customizable! The arrangement on the left is via an old Pier One item (no longer on their website) and the right is an arrangement by Adventures in Decorating – it’s from one of her older posts, but she also has a recent fall themed post with even MORE ideas! And, with such a plain pitcher, you could easily swap it for a different arrangement to match the new season.

How are you celebrating this Fall?

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Top Ten Enriching Audiobooks

This week on Broke and the Bookish, it’s all about that audio love, and what better topic is there!? I love audiobooks! They fill my day with joy – a break from the monotonous tasks of work, strengthening my patience during the usual Houston traffic, and the cherry on top of a good day spent in the kitchen… they’re an absolute necessity in my everyday life.

My favorite audiobooks are those that take the story to another level, not merely reciting the story, but making me apart of it, enveloping me in the raw emotion the characters are experiencing, painting the scene with an enriching enunciation, differentiating characters by voice, taking on the required accent…. these are the things that make an audiobook great!

Here are a few of my favorites from this year:

(most of them just happen to be sad and deeply emotional)

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A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell
Narrated by Allen Lewis Rickman

One of my favorite novels, as y’all probably know by now if you’ve seen any of my previous posts, A Blessing on the Moon is also an amazing audiobook. Full of hope and harrowing sadness, I was completely overwhelmed by the story, and all because Rickman’s stunning performance.

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The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Narrated by Allan Corduner

Pretty sure this is on everyone’s list – as it deserves to be. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

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City of Thieves by David Benioff
Narrated by Ron Perlman

I just finished listening to City of Thieves, and was left completely overwhelmed. The story itself is emotional, as is any WWII novel, but Perlman captured the spirit of a young man in such extreme conditions, sneaking in hints of humor as a means of coping.

The Passage by Justin Cronin
and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Narrated by Scott Brick

Such a great narrator! He’s one of the few narrators that can keep my attention at all times, even during those slower moments in the story.

 

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Narrated by Ariadne Meyers

While I only gave the novel 3 stars, the story as read by Ariadne Meyers is completely heartbreaking. Her performance is so real – I totally lost it at the big reveal (which, honestly, I didn’t see coming..)

My Lady Jane by Cynthia HAnd, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
and The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren

Kellgren is absolutely HYSTERICAL with her narration of My Lady Jane! While there’s some humor in Tearling, her narration is more dramatic, accentuating Kelsea’s bravery as she grows from a young girl into a queen. If I were reading a story to a young child (or my inner child) I would definitely be hearing her voice in my head.

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The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
Narrated by Emily Janice Card

This was such a strange story, the world left in turmoil as the Earth’s rotation comes to a slow, but Card captures the heart of the novel perfectly. In my review, I touched on how the story really isn’t about the bizarre phenomenon so much as the continuation of normal, every day life in the face of such an event – Card’s narration plays well into this theme, accentuating the dramatic realizations a teen would have in normal times, and those brought on by the extreme circumstances.

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Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley
Narrated by Robbie Daymond, Julia Whelan

Both have narrated some of my favorite YA novels. You might recognize Daymond from the narration of Everything, Everything and Whelan from Gone Girl or Maybe in Another Life.

What are your favorite audiobooks/narrators?

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Weekly Reads: Week 37

**Welcome to Weekly Reads! Each Monday I’ll share reviews for my most recent reads. For more reviews, please visit my page, The Reads: From A to Z.**

Leaves are actually falling here in Houston, I can’t believe it! Usually our fall season is tragically late, but this year it seems to be right on schedule. In case you didn’t know, the first official day of fall is this Thursday, September 22nd – time to bust out the pumpkin spice!

Fall decorating is going into full effect this coming weekend, and there might even be some cookie decorating! Do you have any favorite fall crafts?

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To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

Commissioned to explore and navigate the impassable Wolverine River across the uncharted wilds of the Alaskan frontier, Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester sets off with a small group of men to face the unknown. Leaving his newly wed wife alone and with child, his journey is marked with uncertainty from the start, a dread only deepened by his witness to inexplicable acts of the spirits who haunt the canyon beyond.

“But what makes the questions of cultural loss the most uncomfortable, and difficult for me to address, are the inherent definitions built into it. If a group of people is described as existing in a state of loss, it is necessarily therefore lesser, and those that took greater. It’s such a limiting and two-dimensional idea. Who defines wealth and success? How can we say this person is valued less or more, is better or worse, because they are a part of one culture or another, and why would we want to?”

Loosely based on the party led by Lieutenant Henry Tureman Allen in 1885, very little was known about Alaska prior to his exploration. So much so, the U.S. purchase of Alaska from Russia became known as Seward’s Folly, for what value could this vast wasteland hold? Though the story is mostly fiction, it also follows much of the rich history of Alaska, from its vast wilderness to its indigenous cultures. It’s truly fascinating to see the exchanges between the men and the natives as they struggle to understand one another, followed by Forrester’s reports and their mixed reception by the American press. In one part of the novel, Forrester is walking the outskirts of the native village they’re staying at, but as he crests a certain peak, he finds himself bombarded and led away. He must be a captive, he thinks….but as it turns out, he was walking the wrong way, and into danger, and they were merely directing him to the correct path. It’s incredible how the simplest of exchanges can be so complicated when a common language hasn’t yet been established, how each movement can take on new meaning.

“That is excitement. We catch only glimpses, a burst of movement, a flap of wings, yet it is life itself beating at shadow’s edge. It is the unfolding of potential; all of what we might experience and see and learn awaits us.”

Part history, part love-story, and part natural wonder, each layer of the story will leave you truly breathless. The heart of the novel is the exploration into the unknown – as Forrester and his men journey deeper into the canyon, they’ll leave all traces of their modern world behind for the harsh realities of the wilderness. They’ll face hunger, despair, snow storms, and dangerous temperatures, relying on the hope that the natives they’ll encounter will be friendly, and willing to help. Each step of the way, the men are haunted by an old man, a puckering raven that cares only to expose the secrets of nature and the will of the forest, sending them into the mythological world of the indigenous peoples they meet. From the mysterious birth of a motherless child, who grows to be a great man among his people, to the fierce independence of women who conceal themselves as geese – each occurrence is interwoven so deeply into the natural world around them, that it must be real. The bellowing spirits of the canyon beating upon them in the midst of the snowstorm…the mysterious sickness that overcomes them after eating the medicine man’s food…they’ve witnessed it all, leaving the reader to deicide for themselves, reeling with inspiration and natural wonder.

Rating: 4 Stars        Goodreads

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

An epic new middle grade fantasy about an enmagicked young girl raised by an old witch, a bog monster a perfectly tiny dragon who must learn to control the magic buried within. Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave an offering to the witch of the woods: the youngest child of the realm, and every year, the witch finds an abandoned baby in the same peculiar spot. Taking the child under her wing and to a loving new family, each year, she feeds the forgotten babe by starlight, until one year, she mistakenly pulls moonlight instead, filling the child with an extraordinary power. As the child’s magic grows, so is it drained from the witch, and with Luna’s power unchecked, the witch decides to lock it away until the child is old enough to understand her lessons, until she’s ready to live without her loving new grandmother.

“Hope and light and motion, her soul whispered. Hope and formation and fusion, Hope and heat and accretion. The miracle of gravity. The miracle of transformation. Each precious thing is destroyed and each precious thing is saved. Hope, hope, hope.”

A beautifully written and inspiring coming of age story, I was completely charmed by The Girl Who Drank the Moon – between the teeny tiny dragon who always wants to play and the cranky old bog monster that instantly turns to mush with one smile from Luna, each character is perfectly delightful. Full of wisdom and clever humor, it’s a fairy tale story for any age, but it could be a little long for someone just starting the middle grade level, but it’s a story about stories and not a word is gone to waste. A perfect read for the coming season!

Rating: 4 Stars         Goodreads

What have you been reading lately?