Monday, September 28, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday : Books To Read If You REALLY Like (Insert-Book/Author-Here)

So this week's Top Ten Tuesday is pretty fun! I'm really looking forward to seeing what everyone else shares! :)

If you like...Jane Austen : 

Elizabeth Gaskell

Or to be more precise - North and South! This is...seriously one of my all-time favorites. Although, I'm a bit embarrassed to say that the BBC Mini-Series first introduced me to it. They really like their Gaskell! Either way - please, please read this at least once. It's such a classic.

If you like...Practical Magic : 

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Sisters, a small town, dead/absentee parents, a house with a mind of its own. It's a beautiful novel set in an idyllic setting with plenty of characters to enjoy. Also there's an apple tree that will give you visions of the future. It likes to throw fruit at you.

If you like...Meg Cabot (YA) : 

Bad Kitty by Michelle Jaffe

If you have ever enjoyed Meg Cabot's Young Adult works - please try this one! I think I might have learned about it from Cabot's blog when I was a teenager. I used to obsessively follow it. I wanted TO BE HER SO BAD. I remember laughing so hard through out the novel. The setting and characters are so absurd but totally awesome.

If you like [Insert Fairy Tale Here] : 

The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye

Alas! The Princess Amethyst has been blessed with an awful gift from a very grumpy fairy godmother - the gift of being...ORDINARY! That's right. Seventh Princess (always the most beautiful and most Princessy) is to be ordinary. She cries, she trips, she's bad at needlework. Her hair isn't golden or curly - it's mousey brown! Her nose turns up. She likes IN THE FOREST WITH PEASANTS. Alas. This is a problem. And a completely charming, beautiful, and girl-empowering fairy tale. (I hereby thank the very nice church lady that gave me a copy when I was like seven).

If you like...Harry Potter : 

Brian Jaques

More specifically - The Redwall Series.

It's a far stretch from Harry Potter. There aren't any wizards or witches. In fact, all of the characters are woodland creatures. But since I was banned from Harry Potter as a child - Redwall filled that void. I didn't dream about becoming a Witch and going to Hogwarts. I wanted to wake up as a woodland creature and live at Redwall Abbey. (I wanted to be a squirrel so I could jump around in the trees! It's basically like flying, you know).

If you like.... The Boxcar Children: 

Maida Books by Inez Haynes Irwin

This is a series that my Grammy scoured E-Bay for me. It was before the time of e-book. (Now you can get the whole series digitally) The main character is a girl named Maida who is very rich and very loved by her father. But she has no friends! The first book is her meeting her new group of friends and the rest of the series are their adventures together.

If you like.... The Neverending Story

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

These two are actually interchangeable. I actually have never read the Neverending Story (watched the movie!) and I didn't know it was a book originally until a few months ago. If you enjoyed The Neverending Story as a kid - read Inkheart! It's amazing! And if you've read Inkheart (and the other books in the series) - try the Neverending Story. I'm going to! :)

If you like.... To Kill A Mocking Bird and/or The Book Thief : 

A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This is a quieter book set in a less controversial environment than the 'read a likes' but it is such a wonderful, eye-opening read. There are SO many parts. It's a pure, unabashed coming of age story. I try to read it once every year.

If you like...Sarah Dessen :

Joan Bauer

Hope Was Here popped up in my head. I remember reading Joan Bauer when I was younger. I took a look at her book list and she has some cute modern fairy-tale-esque looking titles.

If you like...suspense/horror/scary (running out of ideas!): 

Joan Lowery Nixon

I remember LOVING her books and always checking them out of the library. They're a little dated and not all of her books are suspense (she also wrote historical fiction) but..seriously. I remember saving them for night time and curling up with a book-light and reading them when everyone was asleep. She does suspense super well.

And...finished! I hope I've shared some new faces/names. :)


Saturday, September 26, 2015

You're Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)

I'm not too terribly big on memoirs. I'm the girl who reads because she likes a good story - and not the 'real story kind' but the fantastical, this 'purely came out of someone's brain' story. Unless it's a memoir from someone kickass (such as Malala or Stephen Hawking) or a story written about a spiritual, emotional, and/or deeply meaningful journey of some sort then I'm pretty much...meh. Not for me. 

I've officially altered my opinion.

Published : August 11th, 2015
Publisher : Touchstone (Imprint of Simon and Schuster)
Page Count : 262 pgs (available in print, e-book, and audio)
Genre : Memoir
Find the Author : Felicia Day (social media links top of site!)
"From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood." (From the Goodreads Blurb).

If you are not familiar with Felicia Day - let me introduce her really fast. She's : 
A) A potential slayer in the last television season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
B) The writer, producer, and star of the web-series The Guild.
C) Founder of Geek and Sundry. 
D) Double university major in mathematics and music performance (violinist!). 
E) All of the Above. 
(The answer is kind of obviously - all of the above.) :)

I've officially decided that listening to an audio is one of the best ways of taking in a memoir. Especially if said memoir is read by the actual writer (and the introduction written and read by Joss Whedon). AKA - I listened to this and I feel no shame. 

This past week while I've attempted adulthood - I've had the lovely Felicia Day as company. She was with me while I stared at my computer trying to compose a e-mail that I accidentally forgot to send to someone rather important. She was with me when I went all crazy picking up all the embarrassing things in my apartment before a forgotten in-home physical therapy appointment knocked on the door. (I have a faulty day-to-day personal memory bank). She told me her stories while I stared up at the ceiling and tried to go to sleep but couldn't because of annoying, loud people outside. If I was Doctor Who she would have been my constant, chattering companion. It was the coolest thing about my rather boring week. 

Felicia Day covers everything from her home-schooling origins, to her first kiss, to her college years, to acting, to creativity struggles, The Guild (and beyond), and her personal troubles with her mental and physical health. 

Each chapter had a point, each chapter delivered. She didn't hide the embarassing stuff - instead she shared. (Her first kiss story is hilarious). As a fan I got insight on things that I've always wondered about. I whole-heartedly enjoyed listening about the time before she created The Guild (maybe a bit too much) because I totally and completely related. In fact - I related quite heavily to everything.

She was real and honest about her problems. I've dealt with anxiety and disabling self-doubt and depression and so I paid particular attention when it came up in the later chapters. She didn't give out cheesy self-help lines or sugar-coat the hard parts. It was very much real and I very much appreciated it. I wish that's how everyone - including myself - shared about their struggles. 

Do what you love even if it's something that's not been done before. Don't ask for permission. Just do it. That's her clear and present message throughout her quirky, charming narrative. A most excellent message (if you ask me) and something that I need to learn (and put into practice) a little faster than I currently am.

The key, I think - to this whole reading (or listening) to memoirs is this : relatable-ness. I relate to Felicia Day. She literally carved herself a place in the world where she could do what she loved and be everything weird and awesome that she is. I like when people do that. It's inspiring and badass. I want to do/be that.

And so - I have decided to widen my reading spectrum even farther to include memoirs. Don't get me wrong - I'm not picking up every one that I see. But, I will stop rolling my eyes or skipping them over when I see them. 


P.S. I ALMOST FORGOT - she also has this Goodreads-based book club called Vaginal Fantasies. Link here : Vaginal Fantasy (Goodreads). This is a book blog and I almost forgot to mention a book club. lol. I've been distracted the entire time with binge-watching The Guild (And Shondaland for some reason?). 
P.P.S. She's also a natural redhead. A personal fantasy-based life goal of mine. See? Relatable-ness! :) 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday : Fall TBR List

I have so many books on my TBR list. A great deal of them were added perusing Top Ten from last week. However. I will endeavor to narrow the list down and present you with some semi-fresh choices. 

(Except for the very first one because this is probably on every single TBR list of everyone that I might possibly know. And if not - it will be when I'm done talking with them. LOL). 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

This is a the fan-fiction of a fictional series (totally inspired by Harry Potter so kind of like a fan fiction unto itself) a character wrote in Rainbow Rowell's previous book Fangirl. I'M SO EXCITED. I can't wait. How awesome is it that she gets to write THE FANFICTION her character wrote in her book? Seriously. I'm so eager to read it. 

A Tyranny of Petticoats (A Collection) 

I ran across this the other day while perusing and it just struck me as a future awesome read. I love historical fiction and I love historical fiction even better from the POV of a girl. Especially one(s) who have some spirit.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier

Dinosaurs are a favorite thing of mine. Dinosaurs are awesome. Also surprisingly matched female friendships. Also I had no idea that Mary Anning existed until I stumbled onto this book. I'm eager to learn all about her.

Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

I've been reading my way through the Lunar Chronicles and this is the last book to be released this Fall. I'm on Cress right now so I'm trying to draw out the experience. As of yet in Cress I have not gotten a good look at life on the Moon so I'm eager to really dig into it. I can't help but wonder if the Lunar culture is as collectively and wholly evil and dominating as the Earthens believe? I'm pretty sure I have the answer already but either way - I'll find out when Winter is released!

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

JK a Queen. So of course this is on my list. I'm just dubbing it a top priority to read this before the end of the right now. Decision made! BAM! Although I probably won't review it here because it's JK Rowling and she's just worth the read no matter what she's writing. :)

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

I love Practical Magic and the Green Angel echoed after me a little when I read it in High School. I believe my Grammy recommended this book a while ago. (I checked her Goodreads and she gave it five-stars. Grammy approved!). The inevitable destination of the story was what was keeping me away from it but I think I'm ready to dive in. Besides - it's Alice Hoffman.  You never know what will happen. :)

You're Never Weird On The Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

I love Felicia Day. Since she appeared as a Potential in the last season of Buffy. She's been someone I've whole-heartedly enjoyed in the entertainment business. I fully credit this to her complete and utter commitment to being herself in the best way possible. I like when I see that. It makes me smile. I'm pretty (99.9999%) sure that I'm going to love her book too.

The Star Wars Trilogy by George Lucas and two other authors

This popped into my head while I was writing up the blurb for Felicia Day's book. Amazon keeps telling me to read this. Or is it Goodreads? I'm not sure. I KEEP SEEING THIS COVER. And, of course, I want to read the novelization of the three great films created of all times. Especially since there are more movies coming out in the nearish future. I also really want to see if they explain Luke and Leia basically almost making out in that one scene. Like do they say 'Luke THOUGHT he liked Leia kissing him but really upon further reflection and future discovery that she's his twin sister decided she wasn't his type'.

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

This is another one I keep seeing pop up somewhere. I've also read positive reviews on the sequel. Well, I can't read it if I don't read the first book in the first place! I fully and completely support reading children's book well into adulthood. :)

My Very Best Friend by Cathy Lamb

Cathy Lamb's voice is one of my favorites and I endeavor to read all of her new books. But, I hadn't checked back with her releases until quite recently. I'm excited to read this new one of her. If you haven't read her - I recommend starting with Julia's Chocolate. It was my first and personal favorite of her collection. (Best read with some chocolate or an adequate substitute at hand)

And this concludes another Top Ten Tuesday, ladies and gents! This is Jess from Bird, Books, and Coffee signing out and wishing you a happy, beautiful Tuesday - may your TBR List be over-flowing!


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Indulgences and Kristen Ashley

When I was younger I would make a list of books I wanted to read or re-read. This list was based off the idea that I needed to trim up or enhance my 'literary diet'. What you put in your brain is just as important as what you put in your body. (There's a reason my copies of Jane Eyre and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn are worn out). However. I'm also a huge believer in the well-balanced life and the every day indulgences.
Mine? Well. I'm pretty unabashed in my love for the heart-warming, cheesy-as-all-get-out, romantical reads. The one where the hero is super hunky and flawed but totally perfect at the same time. Where the heroine is in a rut or down on her luck and she's just like you because she *insert-relatable-coping-mechanism-here*. And then they meet (or re-meet) (or bump into each other, hate each other, have sexual tension, and then fall madly in love after a series of misadventures and/or all of the previous mentioned). If this resonates...

May I introduce you to :

Ride Steady (Chaos #3) by Kristen Ashley
Published: June 30th 2015
Publisher : Forever (Grand Central Publishing)
Page Count : 640 (available in print, e-format, audio)
Genre : Romance, Contemporary Women.
Find the Author : Kristen Ashley (social media links on site)

Carissa is a struggling single mother whose life decisions decided to divorce her and shack up with a barely legal model. She's on the side of the road with her baby and a flat tire when a vaguely familiar biker rolls up to give her a hand. 
Joker (vaguely familiar biker) recognizes her immediately. Back in High School his name was Carson and she was the girl he put up on a pedestal. Romance, complex situations, and an incredible amount of warm fuzzies and hurrahs ensue.

Reading a Kristen Ashley is basically like experiencing a tv show or a movie series. You respect (but not really) that it might not everyone's cup a tea but you're obsessed and will go down with fangirl zeal for your favorite ships (books). I suppose one of the reasons she fills that literary indulgent need I was talking about above - is because she writes larger than life characters from some-what sketchy backgrounds with main characters that we want to root for. She's HBO crossed over with the Hallmark Channel. I love HBO. And I really love the Hallmark Channel.

Favorites about Ride Steady :

  • Carissa's not afraid to cry. She's not afraid to dress up to bring a pie to a hot biker and NOT let herself overthink it. She's played all the 'right chips' and the right chips didn't work out. So now she's doing what she doing for her son's happiness and after that - her own happiness. 
  • Joker's past is a big part of the story line and it's not forgotten when they hook up. It's a constant thread that weaves everything together. 
  • That kid of hers pulls hair, bops heads, and acts like a typical baby. But he LOVES his Joker. And that's just adorable. I mean, biker and a baby. What's not to 'awww!' over? 
  • You get to catch up with the girls! (If you want to jump into the series with Ride Steady you can totally do that, but there's a lot of names and faces that are focused on previously in the series). 
My only complaint would be...was when the girls take Carissa out shopping and they all climb into the 'handicap dressing stall'. You see, when the 'girls' get together I like to think of myself running into them and becoming friends and then you know, meeting a super hot alpha dude through them and then well, you BUT. That would not happen if I had met them while they were crammed in an accessible dressing room. Because trust me - those babies are limited. I'm looking at this as more of a comment on how vivid the reading experience is. Although, if you ever have a group of girls in a dressing room - remember those big stalls are for wheelchairs, walkers, and small children (and the friend whose helps you wrangle out of a blouse that sort of accidentally gets stuck on your head). 

Ride Steady was the perfect, perfect way to balance out of my literary intake. It's desert. Nice, heart-warming, definitely soul-healthy desert. I think I'm going to pick up something heavier next time. (While finishing the Lunar Chronicles Series before the release of Winter!). 

Do you have a go-to for your indulgent needs? 


Monday, September 14, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Historical Fiction (Freebie Week!)

My first Top Ten Tuesday on my own! It so happens that this week is a freebie week so I took a gander at previous Top Ten's I hadn't participated in and spotted the perfect topic for me : Historical Fiction. Historical Fiction is a genre I always find myself bouncing back to. It's always been a favorite genre of mine. It's like YA in the way that it reaches across a variety of different genres. So my freebie topic for this week is : Top Ten Historical Fiction Books and/or Authors.


1. Pirates by Celia Rees 

I loved/love this. It's one of those stories I have consistently gone back and re-read over the years. Pirates, sistership, rebellion. I'm all for girls rebelling against their prescribed roles and the two main characters in this story definitely rebel. If you've ever wanted to run away and become a pirate...well...go read Pirates. Good stuff. 

The Scarlet Pimpernell by Baroness Emmuska Orcey

Classic! I haven't picked it up in forever but I'm a fan of excitement and spies and cleverness. All of which this delivers while giving you a good dose of history. (And the Author's name is so mysterious!). 
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Sue Monk Kidd ALMOST made it below in the author list but since this work of hers by far outshines the rest of her historically set novels (at least in my head) it gets put up here! I wish I had read this book sooner. Lily Owens is some kind of spirit animal to me. I understood her and I rooted for her and my heart broke for her. As I did for the wonderful cast of mothers she sought and found refuge with. I appreciated the spiritualism and feminine wisdom woven through the chapters.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

As I was posting it I was filled with the overwhelming urge to go to my bookshelf and pick it up. This is a gorgeous, insightful peek into the secret lives of the women of the Old Testament through the voice of one that was overshadowed by her brothers and father (and mother's) stories.

The Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Another historical fiction that set itself apart in my head. It's set in a place and time of history that I wasn't too familiar with. I barely recognized the art work when I picked it up (I think I was probably in High School) but it left me with such a clear and vivid picture of her world.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

It's a kids book but don't judge! It's a sweet, eye-opening, heartfelt book that I would definitely bring out when you're looking for a shorter read or something to share with the kids in your life.


My Dad's really into this author. He used to drive trucks and listened to book on tapes (or CD's nowadays) from the library. I think my first Follett was Jackdaws. But Pillars of the Earth pops out to me the most. As does the sequel. He's a take-no-prisoners kind of author and doesn't pretty up the time he's writing in. He's definitely one of the best historical fiction authors I've encountered. 

SHE WAS MY FAVORITE GROWING UP. I always wanted an Ann Rinaldi book growing up. A large majority of her stories are set in the Civil War or the Revolutionary War but she's branched out to other areas as well. The Last Silk Dress was one that I always checked out of the library. And I read The Quilt Trilogy more than once. I think she's probably covered the entire span of American History up to the early 20th century (Brooklyn Rose - I'm looking at you! lol).

So...pretty sure most of you know who she is due to the TV series. I honestly didn't know about her until I started watching the series. It's definitely...steamy. To my surprise the books were incredibly researched. Like..I half-suspected that the historical accuracy and authenticity of the show was due to the work of the show itself. NOPE. The books given an very strong foundation of accuracy and authenticity us that steamy love story we all secretly (or not) want in our historical novels. I haven't read the books she's written (branching out in the same world as Outlander) but I suspect they are of the same quality. 

I put the cover of The Kingmaker's Daughter up because I'm (according to family research) a descendent of the Kingmaker's family (his brother - making the main character a...very, very, very distant cousin. But still super cool!). Gregory has the ability to bring to life very real historical characters - even the questionable ones. 

Ok. I feel so accomplished. I FINISHED IT! I hope you added a book or two on your TBR list. :) 


Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Hello and a Confession...


As this is my very first post on my very own blog I'm going to have to start out with a brief intro on me.

My name is Jess! I live in the Midwest (clue : I live a few hours away from Rainbow Rowell's hometown of Omaha but I don't live in Nebraska). My favorite food is mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. I have five siblings. I'm closest to two of my sisters. One is seventeen (almost!) and the other is thirty and has her own book blog (link above! link above!).

Most of my info (and an additional twenty tidbits) can be found perusing around here. Or looking to the I'm not too terribly exciting but I am super super excited to be branching out on my own!

I was always impressed with Liza's book blog and all that she accomplished with it. When we came up with the brilliant idea for me to contribute on her blog (two kids and a international life makes it hard to keep up a blog) - I was pretty psyched. I'm one of those 'tip your toes in the water first' types. So toes tipped. And now I'm diving in...with a confession....

I have hedged and hemmed and resisted all the urgings to read the Lunar Chronicles. I've literally seen the cover to Cinder more times than I can reasonably fathom. So, after being told I had to read it for like the millionth time - I cracked.

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
Published: January 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends (MacMillan)
Page Count: 387 (available in print and e-version)
Genre : YA, Romance, Science Fiction, Dystopian.
Find the Author : Website Twitter Goodreads Pinterest

 I loved it. Not that I didn't think I would. Most of the time when I find myself pushing away a novel or series it's because I want to save it. Do you ever do that?

Anyway, I read it. Loved it. Now I'm reading Scarlet. I'm super excited and hopeful to catch up before Winter is released. Since the series has been out for a while and I haven't finished it I'm not really 'reviewing' it. Just fan-girling out. I'm very good at the fangirling out. lol. It requires time, practice, and exceptional enthusiasm about things. (snickers to herself quietly).

Are there any books you haven't read yet because you're maybe subconsciously 'saving' them?

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