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Weekly Reads: Week 47

As much as I love the holidays, I’m never ready for the whirlwind that always seems to follow. I’m ready to go back to the beach!

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Thanksgiving dinner couldn’t have gone any better – the turkey was absolutely delicious and the company even better. The rest of the weekend we spent decorating for Christmas and walking the beaches in Galveston, complete with dolphin sightings! I’m so thankful my parents were able to spend the holiday with us, and I’m looking forward to our next family trip for New Years!

This week, though, I’m looking forward to reading some looooong awaited library holds including The Hike by Drew Magary and Scythe by Neil Shusterman. It must be a holiday miracle!

The Reads:

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The Diabolic by S.J. Kinkaid

As a diabolic, Nemesis was crafted for combat, specifically designed to serve as protector to the elite. But when her charge, a galactic senator’s daughter named Sidonia, is threatened by the Emperor, the only way to protect her will be to become her. While Sidonia remains safely hidden at home, Nemesis is sent to the heart of the galactic empire, requiring her to hide her vary nature, or perhaps exposing an inner humanity lain dormant for so long. Her entire life she’s been told she’s unequal, she’s a creature, a thing without feeling, but when her loyalties are put to the test, she’ll discover the true meaning of compassion, and of love.

“Some might call us a monstrous pair, and they would be right. Tyrus and I were both scorpions in our way, dangerous creatures crossing the most treacherous of rivers together. Together we might sting – but we also would float.”

**Spoilers Ahead**

A study on human nature vs. creation, it took some time to grasp the world in which Nemesis lives. Human kind has conquered the universe and taken to a new religion in which the stars are divine, but along their journey, scientific knowledge has been lost. Not only lost, but misunderstood, feared, and ultimately banned. Meanwhile, Nemesis is created – a process I’m not quite sure of. The descriptions of the diabolics allude to their being human but genetically crafted for a larger muscle mass, quicker movements, resistance to poisons… basically a genetically engineered super human, but still human. Nemesis tries her best to hide her emotions, choking her screams and not so slyly masking her blushes, all the while falling love. From his absurd entrance at the forums, I quickly suspected Tyrus as a love interest for Nemesis, as well as his ultimate similarity to Rhysand. He cares deeply for his people and will do anything to protect them, even by taking on a vicious persona in order to do so. Their story is truly heartbreaking to read, particularly the scene in which his dome is blown up, forcing them to share an oxygen mask until Nemesis knocks him unconscious and gives up the remaining oxygen. She tries so hard to fit in, but as soon as she makes it, she loses all hope and derails, truly believing she’s incapable of love. That is until her one-on-one with his grandmother, a scene oddly similar to that between Elizabeth Bennett and Lady Catherine, leading to a string of court intrigues and countless plot twists. While the Diabolic world is fascinating, much of the novel focuses on the romance between Nemesis and Tyrus, taking away from the novel’s ultimate message.

Rating: 4 stars      Goodreads

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Bridget Jones’s Baby by Helen Fielding

From Goodreads: “Before motherhood, before marriage, Bridget with biological clock ticking very, very loudly, finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at the eleventh hour: a joyful pregnancy which is dominated, however, by a crucial but terribly awkward question who is the father? Mark Darcy: honourable, decent, notable human rights lawyer? Or Daniel Cleaver: charming, witty, notable fuckwit?”

Picking up several years after Edge of Reason, Bridget Jones’s Baby is the ultimate celebration of all things Bridget, hilariously highlighting all of her most famed flaws and fuck ups, from drunken Christmas cards to the fireman’s pole. While I loved revisiting classic scenes from the first novel, much of the plot in Fielding’s latest reads more like fan fiction than a next step in the series. Bridget and Mark break up, Daniel makes it worse, they get back together, they break up again, Daniel begs for her, Mark realizes he’s been a fool, they get back together… the story is nothing new, apart from Bridget’s pregnancy. With her fair share of ups and downs, Bridget is always able to find the ray of sunshine in a dark cloud, by far my favorite part about her. She might have a knack for causing embarrassment or unsightly mishaps, but no matter the damage, she’s always able to pick up her step and keep on walking. And this time is no different. Though most other characters in the novel stick to their pre established tropes, Bridget defies her usual role by embracing motherhood with grace.

Rating: 3 Stars      Goodreads

What have you read lately?

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Top Ten Gifts for Science Fiction Lovers

This week on Broke and the Bookish it’s all about Christmas! Recently, I’ve fallen in with a new genre and I can’t get enough! Science fiction often gets a bad rap for not having enough story, enough science, or even having too much science, but it’s simply not true. Like any genre, there are common elements. Science fiction is usually set in the future or in space (or both) and focused on advancements in technology, but they’re also about human nature. How will we respond when our technology out-grows its maker? When our technology defies humanity? When we’re pushed to our limits? A great novel changes the way you think, bringing forward questions you never imagined to ask – and here, you’ll find no different.

For more gift ideas check out previous gift guides for Mom and Dad!

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Dark Matter Blake Crouch

One second Jason is out on an ice cream run for family night and the next he’s knocked unconscious by an eerily familiar voice asking him, of all things, “Are you happy with your life?” He wakes surrounded by doctors in hazmat suits, by a man claiming to be his colleague and friend, at a state of the art, top-secret lab HE built, but he’s just a college professor, how could any of this be true? Exploring the possibilities of parallel universes and the choices they’d present, Dark Matter is not one to miss!

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Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid

A brand new YA science fiction novel exploring the complicated boundaries between technology and religion. Nemesis is a diabolic, built by man to protect her charge Sidonia, the daughter of a galactic senator. But when the senator openly defies the Emperor by teaching science, they’ll find the only way to protect his daughter is by sending Nemesis in her place. With the Empire on the edge of rebellion and Sidonia’s life in her hands, Nemesis must find strength from within, an inner humanity she’s been told time and time again isn’t there.

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Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Set in a world where disease has been entirely eradicated, death is dependent on random killings by professional reapers, or the scythes. Despite their contempt for the job, Citra and Rowan have been specially selected as future scythes, but as they learn its dark necessity, it’ll become clear the role is only meant for one of them. Pitted against each other in a fight for their lives, they’ll push the boundaries of the seemingly utopian society in which they live.

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The year is 2575 and two mega-corporations have just waged war, starting with the mining planet of Karenza. Told through emails, ship schematics, military files, interview transcriptions and other documents, Illuminae follows Kady and Ezra after they escape the fallen planet, only to find the rescue ships under further attack. Full of action, technology, romance, and a renegade AI system, Illuminae is a total hit for YA and science fiction lovers alike.

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Replica by Lauren Oliver

A two-book novel, Replica explores the horrifying secrets behind the mysterious research facility Haven, auspiciously located on a deserted island off the coast of Florida. Rumors have the facility experimenting on aliens and stealing children, but after Gemma’s parents are implicated by association, she’ll stop at nothing to find the truth. Meanwhile, Lyra has spent her entire life in Haven, kept as an animal, a research tool, one medical test after another. Making her escape, she’ll find life outside Haven very different from what she imagined, a life full of possibility and love.

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The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Waking to find another sunny day in southern California, Julia and her family slowly tune into the news to find the world forever changed. The Earth’s rotation has mysteriously slowed, altering the pull in the gravitational fields and drastically changing climate patterns. Days turn long and the night short, solar flares threaten to destroy mankind by radiation, food is going to run out… In a world of such drastic change, how do you continue to live?

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Super Extra Grande by Yoss

If your booklover is into weird, this is the story for them. An intergalactic space adventure following a veterinarian who specializes in treating enormous animals across the galaxy. From talking reptiles to amoebas that cover entire planets, Super Extra Grande is full of wild imagination and curiosity found at the heart of all beloved science fiction.

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Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Kathy, Ruth and Tommy have grown up together at the exclusive Hailsham boarding school in the English countryside. Sheltered all their lives, they dream of a life outside its walls, but as they grow more desperate to escape, they’ll find out just how special they truly are.

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Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

Among the survivors of a city left devastated by an epidemic, Nell Crane struggles to find her place during the reclamation. Her father is a brilliant biomechanical scientist, but how could she possibly live up to his reputation? Salvaging along the beach, she finds a tattered mannequin and decides to build her own companion, but in a city that fears technology, she’ll push the boundary between humanity and technology once for all.

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The Fireman by Joe Hill

A terrifying new plague is sweeping across the nation, spreading like wildfire not just across the U.S. but the entire world. Terror stricken and surrounded by fire, a new world order has emerged as crews begin hunting the infected, marked by golden scales. Harper, a young nurse, finds herself rescued by the Fireman, a mysterious Brit who’s learned to control the fire within, using it as a tool to rescue the weak and protect survivors. But, when an elder member is attacked, their community will tear itself apart during its own witch-hunt.

What are you gifting this Christmas?

 

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Celebrating Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I’ll be hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. While some might find the task stressing and overwhelming, I’m incredibly excited! Besides reading, my other love is food and there’s no better holiday to celebrate that love than Thanksgiving!

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The Setting:

Fall is easily my favorite season, making Thanksgiving décor an easy task. Lots of fall leaves and burnt oranges in my new favorite centerpiece from Michaels. Complete with turkey napkins passed down from my parents, the holiday vibe is all set! I also found a beautiful table cloth at Target last minute. It’s technically part of their Christmas collection, but the gold speckled pattern could easily match any holiday décor.

The Menu (Links in Blue):

Roasted Turkey (brined overnight)

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel

Squash Casserole

Green Bean Casserole

Traditional Dressing

Mashed Potatoes

Turkey Gravy

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Cloverleaf Rolls

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Dessert:

Pumpkin Roll

Old Fashioned Molasses Cookies

Mini Pumpkin Pies – so easy!

Mini Chocolate Pecan Pies

Bread Pudding (my mom’s specialty!)

It might be overkill, but you can never have too many deserts at Thanksgiving! Plus, all the better to share at the office later. 🙂

What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

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Top Ten (Bookish) Things I’m Thankful For This Year

This week on Broke and the Bookish we’re sharing the Thanksgiving spirit. I’m blessed in many ways, but I can’t help but think I’m extra lucky in my bookish life. There are so many great things to be thankful for!

  1. The Notification Email – This is my FAVORITE email of ALL time! It’s a little present just waiting to be opened!
  2. Beautifully written authors’ notes –  Along the lines of When the Moon Was Ours, her author’s note was incredibly touching and really made for a unique emotional connection to her work.
  3. A good tote bag – I LOVE my bag from BOTMC! Most of the time I can feel the bag sighing from the weight of my library books, but not this one!
  4. Football – Does this really belong on this list? YES! I get my best reading done while my boyfriend is watching football! I don’t feel guilty for reading all day, and I’m not as tempted to watch TV instead.
  5. A great blogging community – I’m so thankful to have such a great group of people to talk books!
  6. Film adaptations – You can only read a book for the first time once, but watching the movie version always gives me nostalgia!
  7. Goodreads – I don’t know what we’d do without it!
  8. Gorgeous book covers – My bookshelves are certainly grateful.
  9. My lunch break! – I’m an hourly employee, the major benefit being an enforced 1-hour lunch break, perfect for a mid-day reading break!
  10. My neighborhood library! – Thank you HPL for everything you do! Without you, I’d never be able to afford my reading habit.

What are you grateful for this year?

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Weekly Reads: Week 46

**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.**

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m so excited for this year’s holiday, especially since it’ll be my first year hosting! Our shopping is done, the table is planned, all that’s left is a little food prep and a whole lot of baking (you can never have too many desert options).

Usually in times of stress, or in this case, worried excitement, I tend to read less, but obviously that wasn’t the case this week! I only finished two books, but considering how much time I’ve devoted to Pinterest lately, it’s incredibly impressive.

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Being There by Jerzy Kosinski

Hidden from the world, Chance has lived his entire life in a little down-stairs apartment, tending to the garden, watching TV, and occasionally visiting with the old man who serves as his benefactor. But, when the old man passes unexpectedly, with no mention of Chance in his will, he takes the opportunity to explore the world he’s learned so much about on screen. No sooner does he leave the house, he’s hit by a limousine owned by Benjamin Rand, a wealthy businessman with political connections, and so, the simple gardener is mistaken for Chauncey Gardner. As he recuperates from his minor injuries in the Rand household, Chance falls into a political wormhole as he’s mistaken as another business tycoon.

“In a garden, things grow… but first, they must wither; trees have to lose their leaves in order to put forth new leaves, and to grow thicker and stronger and taller. Some trees die, but fresh saplings replace them. Gardens need a lot of care. But if you love your garden, you don’t mind working in it, and waiting. Then in the proper season you will surely see it flourish.”

Originally published in the 70s, Being There is a modern classic. An insightful satire on the modern age, Chance aka Chauncey Gardner shocks the world with his straight-forward manner and literal speech, unknowingly duping the wealthy businessmen he meets as they insinuate his meaning and essentially dupe themselves into believing his fabled repute. I especially love the dinner party scene in which a Russian politician mistakes Chance’s lack of discourse as a sign of fellowship. Even when they eventually pursue background information on Chance, and of course, come up empty, they continue to push him up the political ladder, applauding him as a “blank slate”, or in other words, a winning candidate with interests close to their own. Being There is a must read, and for audiobook lovers, you’ll no doubt enjoy the audio version narrated by Dustin Hoffman.

Rating: 4 Stars      Goodreads

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The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot

Life couldn’t be better for Becky Flowers, she owns a successful business and she’s pretty sure her boyfriend is about to propose, but when her ex returns home to take care of his parents, she’ll be wondering just how great life could be with him in it.

In The Boy is Back, Meg Cabot returns to her beloved romantic comedy series. Told through the usual series of emails, IMs, and text messages, romance unfolds between Becky and her high school boyfriend, Reed. Instead of the drawn out battle of who-gives-in-first, their attraction is immediately rekindled in the best way possible: text quoting Jane Austen. Becky, joining league with the rest of Cabot’s heroines, reads like one my best friends, turning to me, the reader, for advice and an occasional rant. How could you not love her! As always, there’s always a seasoned couple in the mix, working their match-maker magic while unleashing their own cuteness. The book also just happens to be set in Bloomville, Indiana, a clear disguise for my beloved college town (and Meg Cabot’s!) Bloomington, Indiana. Nostalgia overload!

Rating: 4 Stars      Goodreads

What have you read lately?

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Non Fiction November: A Progress Report

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Earlier this month I posted a rather lofty TBR for Non Fiction November (check it out here) after a crazed, place-a-hold-on-everything spree, but as luck would have it, most of my library reservations were available almost immediately! I know I won’t be able to get through all of them, but it’s been a nice change having so many non-fiction titles around for my perusing.

Titles Read So Far:

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Appetites: A Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain does not disappoint with his new family cookbook. While most of his recipes are far too lengthy or unfamiliar for my liking (let’s face it, I’m never going to roast meat just to have a sandwich), I loved reading his STRONG opinions about food – how to pick it, how to cook it, how to eat it… Appetites is sure to entertain chefs of any ability.

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Secret Lives of the Tsars by Michael Farquhar

Not one of my original picks, I couldn’t help but hit “download now” after seeing the audiobook on Overdrive.  For anyone who’s ever loved the mystery of Anastasia, Farquhar’s comprehensive history on the Russian Tsars is absolutely thrilling. Full of royal debauchery, rumors and intrigue, readers will find a well-researched account, from the early Tsars to the devastation of the Romanovs.

In Progress:

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Victoria: The Queen by Julia Baird

This brand new biography on Queen Victoria is absolutely captivating. Full of feeling and detail, it’s no wonder why she was the longest reigning monarch of her time. I highly recommend checking out the audio version, narrated by Lucy Rayner.

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Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba

An entirely true and shocking account of the women living (and thriving) in Paris during the Nazi Occupation. Still early in the book, I’m astounded by the glamour of Elsie de Wolfe’s 1939 party in Paris, a perfect example of how little war was expected.

Put Aside:

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Where Am I Now? By Mara Wilson

I was so excited to read this one, especially with her stories on-set with the cast of Mrs. Doubtfire, but sadly, her tone was uninviting to further reading.

What are you reading for Non Fiction November?

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Top Ten Hallmark Holiday Clichés

This week on Broke and the Bookish it’s a movie freebie, and what better topic than my beloved Hallmark movies! Recent events have certainly left many of us feeling anxious for what’s to come, but thankfully Hallmark has us covered – no matter what time of day, there’s a sappy, heart-felt holiday love story ready to comfort us.

Of course, anyone who loves Hallmark knows they don’t stray too far from classic clichés, but you can’t help but love them all the same. Queue the Folgers close-up!

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A Princess for Christmas

All little girls want to be a princess, but in A Royal Christmas, starring Lacey Chabert (better known for Mean Girls), the main character would rather be herself than fit a fake role.

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The Undercover Romance

Snow Bride features a gossip reporter falling in with a rich family – who just happens to be her target. Will she print the story or fall for the handsome stranger?

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Hiring a Stand-In Boyfriend

A Holiday Engagement is one of my old favorites – and it’s actually a Thanksgiving Day movie! When her fiancé bails on her, a woman hires an actor to take his place. Lucky for her, the fake’s better than the original!

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The Rich Guy vs. The Right Guy

A Very Merry Mix-Up is pretty original as Hallmark goes, taking the classic cliché of choosing Mr. Rich or Mr. Right to new heights. On the way to meet her fiancé’s family, a woman loses the address and goes to the wrong house (or is the right house?).

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Engaged for the Holiday

It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that a mother (or grandma) in possession of a handsome son, must want to find him a wife. Leaning on the classic tradition of bringing home a date, Hitched for the Holidays is absolutely adorable.

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Save the Town!

In Christmas Incorporated a newly hired assistant must convince her boss to keep a factory running, or else the town is ruined! But of course the main character is quick-witted and quirky, a perfect match for her smooth, motor cycle riding boss.

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The Bet

There’s always some kind of bet going. In A Bride for Christmas, the main character’s friends bet him he can’t find a fiancé by Christmas, meanwhile setting him up with a girl who’s chewed threw a slew of fiancés already. Starring Arielle Kebbel from John Tucker Must Die, this is one of my recent favorites.

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Destiny

One of my all-time favorites, and available on Netflix, The Christmas Card brings a troubled soldier to his destiny. Trouble is she’s about to marry someone else!

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Small Town vs. Big City

In Just in Time for Christmas, with supporting cast William Shatner AND Christopher Lloyd, a young professor has just been offered her dream job at Yale University AND her boyfriend just proposed! But as great as it sounds, she’s forced to make a choice between her small west coast town, with the love of her life, or life alone pursuing her dreams.

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Every Girl Wants a Cowboy

In One Starry Christmas a young astronomer takes a bus to New York to surprise her boyfriend for Christmas, meeting a handsome cowboy along the way. But, when the bus breaks down, he can’t help but sweep her off her feet.

What are your favorite Hallmark movies?