Cool thing you should know about: OpenTales

by Taylor Coil

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Confession: sometimes I browse Reddit Books on my lunch break. Sometimes it means I find pictures that speak to my soul to add to my “random awesome pictures” folder on my computer.

And sometimes I find cool stuff like OpenTales. The concept: contribute a paragraph – just a paragraph – and you’re joining forces with other literary-minded people to write a book. It’s sort of like those round robin stories you used to write in middle school where everyone starts with a sentence and passes the paper around and at the end of 4th period everyone had a funny (they were always funny, it was middle school) story written by the entire class, one sentence at a time. Except instead of passing your paper to the boy you for whom you harbored a secret and all-consuming crush (just me?), you bounce off strangers’ ideas.

opentales

Image via OpenTales.net

Check out OpenTales, and maybe add a paragraph or two. It’s such a cool idea.


About the Author

tdc social media picture 100x100Taylor is our Marketing Manager. She loves reading dystopians, depressing books, and any tome remotely related to food. You probably can’t beat her in Harry Potter trivia, but you can try if you enjoy failure.

 

 

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Emma Watson is playing Belle in Beauty and the Beast and we’re really excited about it

by Taylor Coil

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Emma Watson announced Monday that she will be playing the starring role in Disney’s new live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. We’re really excited – for many reasons. Several of our team members are quintessential ’90’s kids,’ meaning that two relevant things were integral parts of our childhoods:

  1. 90’s era disney movies (we may randomly play The Lion King soundtrack at Freebooksy HQ on occasion… that’s a normal thing to do in an office, right?)
  2. Harry Potter.

You see where we’re going with this, right? The powerhouse woman behind the spitfire hero that is Hermione Granger is bringing another beloved story from our childhood to life.

So, there are pop culture nostalgic reasons for the excitement. Those are surface level. The real reason we’re excited? Emma Watson in a Disney movie makes us think that Disney is further delving into feminist story lines.

Emma will likely inject a huge dash of female agency into a role that has massive potential. Belle is brilliant, literary, caring, and an adventure seeker – but there’s the potential for her character to be spun as overly submissive to Beast. Emma Watson’s casting makes us think that the ‘brilliant adventure seeker’ part of her character will be explored in earnest. Would the woman who gave one of our favorite speeches in modern history accept a ‘damsel in distress’ role?

You can look at Belle as a woman who sacrifices her agency and resigns herself to a life of domestication, or you can view her in this light:

feminist belle

Image via Feminist Disney

 

We prefer the latter.

What do you think about Emma Watson as Belle? Are you as excited as we are? Tell us in the comments!


About the Author

tdc social media picture 100x100Taylor is our Marketing Manager. She loves reading dystopians, depressing books, and any tome remotely related to food. You probably can’t beat her in Harry Potter trivia, but you can try if you enjoy failure.

 

 

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Happy National Readathon Day!

The first-ever National Readathon Day takes place on January 24th from noon to 4 p.m., local time. Mashable, the National Book Foundation, Penguin Random House, and Goodreads are encouraging people to slow down, disconnect, and pick up a book. It all happens at noon, wherever you are in the world.

We think it’s always a great idea to slow down and pick up a book. If you’d like to join us for the readathon, here are our 5 picks from Penguin Random House for what to read on your Kindle on the 24th. The best part? They’re easy on the wallet – all are priced at $5 or below!


Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places

$2.99 for Kindle

From the author of bestselling novel and box-office hit Gone Girl, this riveting crime thriller will have you guessing until the very end. Get it here. 

 


The Maze Runner

$1.99 for Kindle

Perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent, this six-time bestseller is an exciting start to this survival saga series. Get it here.

 


The Neighbor

$0.99 for Kindle

This short story by master storyteller Koontz is the perfect if your goal is to start AND finish a book within the 4-hour read-a-thon window. Get it here.

 

 


Unbroken

$4.99 for Kindle

Memoir and biography fans will love this inspiring true story of a man who lived through a series of catastrophes almost too incredible to be believed. Get it here.

 

Want more great deals on ebooks? Sign up for our email to find out when books in your favorite genre go on sale.


8 YA Books to Read Before They’re Movies in 2015

1. The Last Apprentice (Seventh Son) by Joseph Delaney

 

What’s It About: After searching for his replacement for years, Old Gregory (the county Spook) has finally found his last hope in Young Thomas.

Notable Stars: Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore

Release Date: February 6

 

2. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

 

What’s It About: Despite being an outcast at school, Bianca Piper has a group of beautiful friends to hang with. When the school player, Wesley Rush, informs her she’s actually just the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend), Bianca puts him straight at the top of her enemy list.

Notable Stars: Bella Thorne, Allison Janie

Release Date: February 20

3. Insurgent by Veronica Roth

 

What’s It About: Fans of the book/movie Divergent have been anxiously anticipating the second installment in the series. Tris continues her fight against Jeanine Mathhews and her horrifying plan to destroy society and kill Divergents.

Notable Stars: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Kate Winslet

Release Date: March 20

4. Paper Towns by John Green

 

What’s It About: The day after girl next door Margo Roth Spiegelman convinces Quentin to begin plotting a revenge-filled journey, she goes missing. Margo has left clues for Q, and he and and his friends embark on a road trip to find her- either dead or alive.

Notable Stars: Cara Delevingne

Release Date: June 19

5. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

 

What’s It About: In the second book of the Maze Runner series, Thomas and the Gladers begin phase two of their trials. Despite being chased by Cranks and encountering treacherous weather conditions, the boys attempt to complete the mission and earn a cure for the Flare virus.

Notable Stars: Dylan O’Brien

Release Date: September 18

6. Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

What’s It About: This old classic is being revived! Orphan boy Mowgli has been raised by a pack of wolves. He then befriends a lovable bear, Baloo, and a stealthy black panther named Bagheera.

Notable Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Lupita Nyong’o, Christopher Walken

Release Date: October 9

7. Mockingjay (Part 2) by Suzanne Collins

What’s It About: The finale of the Hunger Games series is upon us! In this third book of the series, Katniss completes her rebellion against the Capital and her efforts to take down President Snow.

Notable Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Release Date: November 20

8. The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen

What’s It About: 9-year-old Louis Drax falls on his birthday, and suffers nearly fatal injuries. The details of the fall are mysterious, his father has disappeared, and his mother is in shock. Although he survives, Louis is in a deep coma and placed in a famed clinic with Dr. Pascal Dannachet.

Notable Stars: Jamie Dornan

Release Date: Unannounced (2015)

 

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10 Reasons Why Book Nerds Do It Better

1. Book Nerds are happier with a good book than with diamonds or flowers.

 

 

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2. Book Nerds believe in true love.

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3. Book Nerds know how to use their imagination

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4. Book Nerds have voracious appetites.

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5. Book Nerds like Cosplay AND role play.

 

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6. Book Nerds always hope that the sequel will meet their expectations.

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7. Book Nerds know that size doesn’t matter unless you’re talking about your book collection.

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8. Book Nerds go all night.

 

 

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9. Book Nerds are easily excited.

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10. Book Nerds never go to bed alone.

 

 

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4 Must-Have Cookbooks to Welcome Autumn!

Photo Credit

Hurrah! The oppressively hot days of summer have ended here in North Carolina, and the weather has finally started turning cool. The A/C has been turned off and the windows have been thrown open, letting in the chill and the scent of autumn. The leaves haven’t started to turn just yet, but it’s only a matter of time. For me, this glorious weather makes me want to put on cozy sweater and start cooking up a storm in the kitchen. The hot summer months make kitchen work too uncomfortable (I have no summer kitchen in my home, but I clearly need one!), and the cooler temperatures of autumn always bring me back into the kitchen. Combine that with all of the delicious flavors of fall — pumpkin, apples, squash, mushrooms — and you have a recipe for deliciousness!

I recently stumbled upon this amazingly simple and unbelievable delicious recipe, and it’s a must try. It’s the heaven-sent child of apple crumble and pumpkin pie. 


Pumpkin Crunch Bars

Ingredients

1 15oz. can pumpkin
1 12oz. can evaporated milk
1 1/2 C. sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 Yellow Cake Mix
1 C. melted butter

Directions 

Combine first 5 ingredients and pour into greased 9×13 pan. 
Sprinkle cake mix on top of pumpkin mixture and pour melted butter over top. 
Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes. 
Top with whipped cream and enjoy! 


A good cookbook always gets me in the mood to try new flavors and dishes, and I hope these get you into the kitchen as well!

101 AUTUMN RECIPES

Pumpkin and cinnamon and hearty delicious soups … mmmmm … my mouth is watering already!


THE COOK’S ILLUSTRATED COOKBOOK

2,000 delicious recipes from America’s Test Kitchen. What a collection!


NEW ENGLAND SOUP FACTORY COOKBOOK

Because … soup!


SLOW COOKER RECIPES

There is no better time to bring out the slowcooker than autumn!


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MaryBeth is a dog-mom, teacher, and amateur archer. When she’s not throwing tennis balls for her dogs or sending arrows downrange towards a bullseye, she can be found nestled up with a good biography or historical fiction novel, sipping a cup of a tea. She’s exactly what you expect of an English teacher, except for bows and arrows. 


6 Awesome Audiobook Deals

by Taylor Coil

I have not been reading much lately. Oof, guys. That is a big confession for a Freebooksy employee to make.

One thing that I HAVE been doing: listening to audiobooks. See, I have a newfound hobby of long distance running. When you spend 2+ hours nonstop running, you’re going to get bored. That’s just a fact. Audiobooks have been my saving grace recently. The miles fly by (sort of) as I’m listening, and I can take my mind off the fact that OMG EVERYTHING HURTS.

Since I mostly train alone, I have my phone strapped to my arm with this handy little thing in case I get lost or collapse or something. I plug my headphones into my phone, hit play on my Audible app (highly recommended), and just go.

taymanda

This is me and my friend Amanda (I’m in the pink and blue shirts) at the past two races we’ve run together.

Amazon has this magical little program called Whispersync. If you own the Kindle version AND Audible version of a book, they’ll sync up with each other. You can read 50 pages on your Kindle, then open Audible on your phone or computer and it’ll start playing where you stopped reading. MAGIC. I love it.

Another great thing about Whispersync? You get major discounts on audiobooks if you own the Kindle version. Often you can buy the Kindle book AND audiobook for less than $10. That’s a really good deal.

Since I’ve done the grunt work of finding these excellent deals, It’s only natural that I share. Hey, sharing is caring.

Note: these prices could change. I’m sorry. They’re up to date as of May 28, 2014.


Paper Towns by John Green

This one is high on my wish list. I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t tell you if it’s good or not. I am a general fan of the author and basically everything he does. Buying things made by people I admire typically works out well for me.

Kindle: $4.99 // Audiobook: $3.99 // Total Price: $8.98


The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Chances are you own this on Kindle already. The audiobook is great – it’s what I was listening to during my first half marathon! The Hunger Games makes a good re-read (or re-listen), and $3.95 is an amazing price for the audiobook.

Kindle: $4.99 // Audiobook: $3.95 // Total Price: $8.94


When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a romance novel that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Brenda Novak is one of the queens of warm fuzzies. Warm fuzzies for $6? Sold.

Kindle: $1.99 // Audiobook: $3.49 // Total Price: $5.48


Maid for the Billionaire by Ruth Cardello

I haven’t read this one, but we featured it on Freebooksy a while back! The Kindle book is free, so you basically get an audiobook for $1.99. Nuts.

Kindle: $0.00 (free!) // Audiobook: $1.99 // Total Price: $1.99


Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

This one is looong. For $9, you get ~ 20 hours of entertainment. Not bad. It’s just a really lovely book! Fantasy, romance, and history all thrown in together.

Kindle: $4.99 // Audiobook: $3.99 // Total Price: $8.98


One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

I’ve written before about my love for the Stephanie Plum (especially Grandma Mazur). I love this series so much. Prepare to laugh like crazy while you’re listening to this one. It’s a mystery as well with plenty of action – but what you’ll remember? The jokes.

Kindle: $7.69 // Audiobook: $2.99 // Total Price: $10.68


I’ve tried to find several genres. If there’s a genre you’d like me to hunt for, tell me in the comments! If there’s interest, I’ll write a part two with your genre requests :)

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About the Author

tdc social media picture 100x100Taylor is our Marketing Manager. She loves reading dystopians, depressing books, and any tome remotely related to food. You probably can’t beat her in Harry Potter trivia, but you can try if you enjoy failure.

 

 

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What Kind of Reading Mom Are You?

By Chloe Kizer

What kind of reading mom is your mom? Or, if you’re a mother yourself, what kind of reading mom are you?


The Romance Mom: She is always trying to learn about your romantic life and gives you the courage to talk to that cute guy you know. All through highschool she was trying to get you to date the cute boys in your class and now that you’re older, every phone call starts with “And how is it going with so-and-so?” Even if there never was a so-and-so…

The Romance Mom should read MAYBE SOMEDAY, a sweet New Adult romance with strong themes of friendship and betrayal.


The Chick-Lit Mom: She probably bakes great cake and made sure your Birthday parties were the bee’s knees. Her favorite room is the kitchen and her favorite meal is brunch. She is also a major fan of eating bon bons and drinking martinis by the pool… whether or not she ever actually gets to do so.

The Chick-lit Mom should read I’VE GOTYOUR NUMBER because, let’s face it, Sophie Kinsella is both a goddess and a genius.


The Thriller Mom: She is a little intense, but always comes up with the best Halloween costumes. She may also be a massive fan of fireworks, because, let’s face it, it’s the closest you can get to an explosion in real life.

The Thriller Mom should read THE TARGET because David Baldacci is a master at enthralling tales of assassination and intrigue.


The Mystery Mom: You can never lie to her. Ever. All chores were inspected with the eye of an investigator and don’t even think about trying to sneak out of the house. She always knows where everything is and has saved the day on a couple of occasions with her handy deduction skills.

The Mystery Mom should read UNLUCKY 13 because she secretly wishes that she were a member of The Women’s Murder Club.


The Fantasy Mom: You went to Renaissance festivals as a child and at some point in your life had a glowing statue of a mythical creature. When the Harry Potter Books came out the entire family was required to read them immediately and then wander around the house pretending to use the spells to accomplish household tasks.

The Fantasy mom should read THE BONE SEASON, a gritty urban fantasy with an exciting edge of dystopia and a spunky female protagonist.


Science Fiction Mom: Loves SCIENCE. Most weekends you went to the science museum and she always helped you win the science fair. She enjoys discussions on time travel and whether or not humans will ever colonize space. May enjoy Dr. Who a little too much, if there is such a thing.

The Science Fiction Mom should read THE MARTIAN, a realistic and at times laugh out loud account of a lone astronaut stuck on Mars.


Literary Fiction Mom: Waxes lyrical about her new favorite book. In fact, “waxing lyrical” may be one of her favorite phrases. She has a larger vocabulary than most other mothers and always helped you write the best essays.

The Literary Fiction Mom should read STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS, a romantic comedy of manners and poignant look into the human heart.


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About the Author

Chloe is our Content and Community Manager. She has three hobbies: Reading, writing, and finding new hobbies. Her brain can be best described as an extremely biased encyclopedia of all things nerdy.

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3 Essential Books for the Expectant Mom

Editor’s Note: our CEO gave birth to her second child in April (hooray!). She thinks that expectant moms-to-be deserve just as much love and pampering as moms whose babies have already arrived. In typical Freebooksy fashion, she sat down and gave us her recommendations for the top 3 books that she loved during both of her pregnancies. If you know a mom-to-be who is hunting for mommy resources, these books are a great place to start.


Expecting 411

From our CEO: “Expecting 411 is a refreshing, modern, and non-judgemental version of the classic What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Written by an OB and a pediatrician, the advice is medically sound and addresses the many questions that crop up at different stages of pregnancy.  Both authors have a great sense of humor. Many a time I turned to this book when I was worried about something, only to find myself feeling simultaneously relieved and laughing when I found the answer in this book (most things fall under the “this is normal” category).  Moms who appreciate candid, humorous and non-hysterical advice will love this book.”


Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers

“As many moms discover early on, breastfeeding can be anything but simple in the early weeks of becoming a mom. I recommend that moms read this book while pregnant to get a better understanding of how breastfeeding works and what to expect in the first few months after birth. The book centers on 7 laws of breastfeeding, a simple way to break down the biological mechanics of nursing, as well as a trouble shooting section at the back if things don’t go according to plan.”


Eat, Sleep, Poop

“This is a must-have resource for new parents that you will reference again and again during the first six months of your infant’s life. As the title indicates the book is split into 3 main sections that address the 3 things that will consume your life as you welcome your newborn: eating, sleeping and pooping . The book’s author is a pediatrician and dad who draws on his years of experience as a doctor and the more emotional experience of being a dad. The “Daddy vs Doctor” vignettes are priceless. The information is bite-size and easy to understand (important when you are reading this having only gotten 2 hours of sleep in the past 2 days).”


If you’ve given birth, which books did you find particularly useful during pregnancy?

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Brenda Novak’s Online Auction for Diabetes Research

by Brenda Novak

When I launched my first online auction for diabetes research in 2005, I had no idea I would still be running the fundraiser ten years later. I started it because I wanted to make a difference to my son, who was diagnosed at five years old, and everyone else suffering from this terrible disease (over 350 million people have diabetes worldwide). But I honestly thought we’d have a cure by now. Ever since we first learned that Thad faced this challenge, I’ve been hearing that a cure is right around the corner—but it hasn’t been found. And when you slug away at something for a long time, and it doesn’t feel as if you’re making enough of an impact, it can be tempting to give up. But in those moments of discouragement, something always happens to keep me going. Many times it’s something positive, like having my son put his arms around my neck and tell me how much he loves me.

Not all of them are quite so positive, however—like last year when the cannula that feeds Thad insulin from his pump got bent, causing his blood sugar to spike. At bedtime, he began to feel very sick. When he tested his blood, we learned why. His glucose levels were over 700 (a normal person’s bg would be around 100). Knowing something terrible would happen if I didn’t get his blood sugar into a safe zone as soon as possible, I was up all night, worrying, watching and working to do just that. I’d give him insulin, test him in two hours, give him more insulin, test him again, etc. Then, because he wasn’t coming down fast enough and I was so afraid he’d go into a coma, I overcorrected and brought him plummeting to 30 (a very dangerous number on the opposite side that left his body bathed in sweat as he started to go into shock).

I eventually stabilized him (as much as a diabetic can be stabilized since blood glucose can change so rapidly) and we haven’t had such a terrible night since. But there have been other close calls. That probably won’t stop until we have a cure. And there are certainly worse stories than mine. Almost everybody’s heard one—diabetes causing blindness, amputation, heart attack, kidney failure, fatty liver, impotence, death. It’s the specter of these things that keeps me fighting. I believe this is a disease we can beat with enough determination and focus, so I’m thrilled that the DRI (the research facility that gets the money I raise) is entering human trials with their new Biohub this year. The Biohub has made the possibility of a cure feel real for me again.

So how does Brenda Novak’s Online Auction for Diabetes Research work? Just like E-Bay—only it’s more fun. This year, those who register before the auction closes on May 31st (http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com) will receive a digital copy of one of my books—WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, the first book in my Whiskey Creek series, or THROUGH THE SMOKE, my new historical romantic suspense title (registrant’s choice). And we’ll be giving away other items throughout. You will be entered to win the various giveaways simply by placing a bid on any particular day. When the auction is over, you can pay for what you’ve won with Paypal, credit card (or, with special arrangements, personal check/money order). In most instances, the donor picks up the tab for shipping.

But that’s not all! This year is our big 10-year anniversary, and we are doing all we can to make it special, including offering a boxed set of digital books by fourteen bestselling authors—including a foreword by #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Debbie Macomber, for only $2.99 (initial starting price). If you are a fan of contemporary romance, A Sweet Life is a “must have.” Besides my own novel, it includes stories from such reader favorites as Bella Andre, Barbara Freethy, Heather Graham, Julia Kent, Susan Mallery, Carly Phillips, Jennifer Probst, RaeAnne Thayne, Rachel Van Dyken, Susan Wiggs, Lauren Hawkeye, Steena Holmes and Jane Porter! But you have to act quickly. It’ll only be on sale during the month of May.

What else will be available at the auction? Too many things to list! You’ll be able to bid on tickets to meet Celine Dion, Kindle Fires and Kindle Paperwhites, antique and other kinds of jewelry, trips & stays, handmade items, the chance to have lunch with Lee Child, Catherine Coulter, Diana Gabaldon, Steve Berry or another of your favorite authors and a slew of opportunities for both readers and writers. Don’t miss the fun!

Here’s to making a difference!

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About the Author

Brenda Novak is the bestselling author of the Whiskey Creek series. Her novels have made The New York Times, USA Today bestseller lists and won many awards, including three Rita nominations, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Book Seller’s Best and the National Reader’s Choice Award. 


5 Great Stories Wherein The Characters Are Horrible People

by Taylor Coil

I’ve noticed something about myself recently, and it’s quite troubling: I love reading books wherein the characters are horrible people.

Truly terrible human beings. Umbridge level horrible. Okay, maybe not Umbridge level horrible, but you get the idea.

Dolores Umbridge patronus

THE WORST. (image via fanpop.com)

If a character is a terrible human, there’s probably a reason for it. Their backstory is likely filled with tragedy, or abuse, or something that makes you say ‘oh yeah, I get it.’ Let’s get that disclaimer out of the way.

I think there are a few core reasons for this fascination with characters I don’t respect. Part of it ignites a sense of self-righteousness, which I hardly ever indulge. Judging a fictional character is better than judging a real human, right? I think so.

The bigger portion, however, is that it’s a form of escapism. I don’t have to like a character to be fascinated with that person. I’m interested in their motivations, their goals, their justifications for their actions. It’s instructive for me, in a way. And it keeps me turning the page.

Here are my recent favorite stories featuring some uh… ‘flawed’ humans (in no particular order):


5. The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling [book]

 

I get why this has such mixed reviews on Amazon: it doesn’t read like Harry Potter (obviously), and I don’t like any of the characters. Clearly, the latter doesn’t bother me. There’s real cruelty in this novel. And tons of negativity.

But the characters are REAL. You get to know them. You can really envision them. You understand their cruelty, as much as one can understand such a thing.

I’m disgusted by Simon. My heart aches for Krystal, but then she does something that annoys me, which makes me re-think the heartache. I’ll leave it there, because I don’t want to write a long-winded review of the book. Basically: everyone is flawed and it’s beautiful.

I’m reading this now. I haven’t finished it yet, so don’t tell me what happens.


4. True Detective [tv show]

 

True Detective is an HBO Show – and we all know what that means. If you aren’t OK with things like swearing and nudity, this is not the show for you.

True Detective is chock full of horrible deeds: you’ve got your unforgivables like murder and torture, and then the still-awful-but-not-nauseating adultery and general meanness. The protagonists aren’t terrible people, but they are NOT saints. They’re flawed. I wouldn’t seek out their company. And yet I did – by binge-watching the show with my husband for nights on end.

When True Detective explores the concept of evil, it does so perfectly. I, for one, felt the story in my very bones as I was watching the most horrifying scenes. It’s visceral and powerful. It’s not a pleasure to watch something that evil, but it’s something.


3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn [book]

 

Gone Girl is the reason I thought to write this post in the first place, since the trailer just came out. I love this novel, but it took me a while to pinpoint why it had a special place on my shelf (when my other thrillers are shoved in an armoire out of sight).

[spoilers below]

It’s the characters. Nick and Amy Dunne are so cruel to one another. My own marriage is nothing like that, so I found myself reading in fascination on how two people can love with so much hate. How Amy can spend years planning an elaborately cruel trick on her husband, all the while keeping up a chipper facade.

Okay, so maybe it’s not love, but it’s certainly respect.

I’m going to be in the minority here and say that I really liked the ending. I found it satisfying and apropos for the character arcs. Nick and Amy deserve each other.


2. Prisoners [movie]

 

I watched this movie at night against by better judgement. Crime dramas about people kidnapping children or serial killers or rapists etc etc always give me nightmares.

Yep, this one definitely gave me nightmares.

Prisoners made the cut because of Hugh Jackman’s character, Keller. He tortures a man – someone the viewer knows doesn’t deserve it. I felt no sense of justice, but somehow I understood. And I walked away from the film sympathizing with Keller.

If you like crime thrillers with imperfect characters (to put it lightly), you’ll like this one. To me it had the same feel as Silence of the Lambs (which also gave me nightmares, and is free to watch for Amazon Prime members).


1. Game of Thrones [books and tv show]

 

Of course I was going to include Game of Thrones in this. Game of Thrones has possibly the best example of an imperfect protagonist, a few times over. I hated Tyrion and Jamie at the start of the series, but I find myself rooting for them both as the story progresses. Stanis drives me nuts, but there’s something heart-wrenching about his desperation.

Actually, the only character who bores me a bit is Jon Snow (my husband’s favorite character). He’s a good guy – but he’s a brooding good guy. Evil mastermind is far more interesting than brooding hero. I’d much rather watch Cersei’s evil schemes or Arya’s drive any day.

I haven’t read the books, and my husband has. Perhaps Jon Snow is more interesting in the books. Tell me in the comments if that’s the case!


I’m now re-thinking my (admittedly hyperbole-ridden) title. Yes, some of the characters are horrible human beings, but ‘inherently flawed’ is more correct. I don’t think Nick Dunne or Jamie Lannister are horrible people. They do cruel things, yes, but does that mean they’re cruel people?

At what point do cruel deeds result in a cruel person? What do you think?

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About the Author

tdc social media picture 100x100Taylor is our Marketing Manager. She loves reading dystopians, depressing books, and any tome remotely related to food. You probably can’t beat her in Harry Potter trivia, but you can try if you enjoy failure.

 

 

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The Gone Girl Trailer is Here!

by Taylor Coil

The long-awaited (by me) trailer for GONE GIRL is here! Watch the embedded video below:

We’ve heard tell that Gillian Flynn changed the ending for the movie adaptation. If you’ve read the book, you’ll still be in for a surprise at the end.

I, for one, am really excited to see this film. I absolutely loved the book, and will watch anything with Rosamund Pike or Ben Affleck in it. Except Gigli. I refuse to watch that movie.

Haven’t read the book yet? Make sure you do before the movie comes out!

Buy the Book


About the Author

tdc social media picture 100x100Taylor is our Marketing Manager. She loves reading dystopians, depressing books, and any tome remotely related to food. You probably can’t beat her in Harry Potter trivia, but you can try if you enjoy failure.

 

 

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Q and A a Day: A Journal for Adults [Review]

by Taylor Coil

I found my journal from high school last week. Wow, is it packed with cringe-worthy paragraphs. Pages and pages of Taylor [insert last name of boy here] in loopy cursive and painstakingly-copied AIM messages from crushes I had forgotten about.

Hey, 16-year-old-self: you married none of those boys.

Anyway.

There’s plenty of blank space left at the end of this uh… masterpiece. So I started writing in it again. I think, however, that it feels fundamentally strange to keep writing in a journal started by a version of yourself that is wholly different from the current version of you. It’s like a series that needs to be broken into installments.

So I bought new journal, something I haven’t purchased in a very long time. This time I’m not going for soliloquies on the complications of kissing in the backseat of a ’68 Firebird without anyone noticing (real thing that happened in my life – you’re welcome for that visual). I’m going for a time capsule that I can read ten years from now and remember who I was in my twenties (with hopefully less disdain than the aforementioned situation).

Enter The Q&A A Day 5 Year Journal.

 

This pint-sized journal gives you a one-question prompt every day – and you watch how your answers change over five years. I think it’s brilliant.

When this arrived on my front door, I dropped the groceries (literally – I broke a couple of eggs) and was all-too eager to jot down answers for every day this week. MAN, it’s fun.

This one gets the Taylor stamp of love. If you’re looking for a new journal, this one is quite affordable ($10) and truly enjoyable to use.

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About the Author

tdc social media picture 100x100Taylor is our Marketing Manager. She loves reading dystopians, depressing books, and any tome remotely related to food. You probably can’t beat her in Harry Potter trivia, but you can try if you enjoy failure.

 

 

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St Patrick’s Day Cooking with Freebooksy

by MaryBeth Crissman

My mother always says that there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who eat to live and those who live to eat. I am the latter. This would explain why my most favorite holidays in the calendar are Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day. They are foodie celebrations. Yes, they have significant cultural / religious importance, but the bulk of the actual celebrating is often around a family table with food and drink and laughter flowing freely.

My favorite part of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is the baking and preparations that lead up to the day. The eating is wonderful of course, but preparing the bread to be broken and the stews to be spooned and the whisky to be poured for loved ones is the true joy in the day. I’m somewhat adventurous in the kitchen, so I often try new things to bring variety to the table, but there are certainly staples that are present every year. Some are indulgent and some are traditional, but all combined make the celebration complete.

 

My favorite “Irish” recipe isn’t Irish at all, but, rather, Irish-inspired. Irish Car Bomb Brownies. Mmmmmmm … Honestly, the only thing Irish about it is the alcohol that goes into it (Guinness, Baileys, and whisky), but these brownies are so delicious that even the most critical Irish palate will approve. I stumbled upon this recipe a few years back on A Spicy Perspective’s blog, and they were an overwhelmingly huge hit! They are definitely ADULT brownies, so you may need to whip up a batch of out-of-the-box brownies to make the kiddos happy as well. But, a word to the wise: Eat in moderation. They pack a sneaky little punch!

Another favorite “Irish” recipe is my momma’s shepherd’s pie. (The exact heritage of this dish is often debated. Some say English, some say Irish. And, while they are distinctly different cultures, they do share  some characteristics. I’m sticking with Irish since that’s what I grew up thinking.) Growing up, we ate this all the time, especially in the winter. It’s a meal-in-a-dish, and it’s inexpensive. Life in a family of five is often lived on a budget (ours certainly was!), and potatoes, meat, and corn make a pretty inexpensive meal. Now, as a grown woman, I love the flavor memories that this simple meal brings back to me. I’ve changed the recipe ever-so-slightly, but it still has the same delicious and hearty flavor.


Recipe: Momma’s Shepherd’s Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef (I’ve also used ground buffalo, and it was delicious!)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1-2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (chopped carrots, corn, peas)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 lbs russet potatoes (3 big ones)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice

STEPS

  1. Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick) in large frying pan.
  3. Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (10 mins).
  4. Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink. Add Worcestershire sauce. Optional: Add salt and pepper. Add half a cup of beef broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to keep moist.
  5. Cook frozen vegetables in the microwave or on the stovetop in a separate pan from the meat. Remove from heat when almost done. (You can use fresh veggies here, but the frozen mix is so easy!)
  6. Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, season to taste.
  7. Place vegetables on the bottom of a baking dish. Add the beef and onions. Do not mix. Spread mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.
  8. Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown.

My mouth is already watering at the thought of enjoying my St. Patrick’s Day dinner … and dessert!

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! (St. Patrick’s Day blessings on you!)

(Want to impress your friends with that Gaelic blessing? Pronounce it this way: Ban-ick-tee na fay-lah pwad-rig or-iv)


Mouth watering? Want to add some Irish dishes to your repertoire? Here are two of our favorite Irish cookbooks:

 

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Into the Wild — 5 Mystery Series that Transport You to Remote Locales

By S.W. Hubbard

Is life on your suburban cul-de-sac a little too tame?  Are the walls of your apartment closing in on you?  Time to take a journey into the wild and explore the boundaries where polite civilization meets the extremes of nature.  These remote locales inspire particularly baffling mysteries—bizarre crimes, desperate motivations, and quirky suspects.  And the rugged terrain produces wily detectives—both amateur and professional.


1. Steve Hamilton’s Upper Peninsula Series

 

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is cut off from the rest of the state, and the rest of civilization.  With so many trees and so few towns, it’s a great place to hide out from enemies, or hide a body.  Alex McKnight, a former Detroit cop, now a private investigator in Paradise, Michigan, on the shore of Lake Superior, tangles with some very bad dudes and always comes out bruised but triumphant.


2. Lucy Burdette’s Key West Food Critic Series

 

Key West is the southernmost point in the Continental United States. Every hurricane cuts the island off from the mainland.  Wild chickens and six-toed cats patrol the streets. No wonder this little paradise has a reputation for wackiness!  Burdette’s plucky amateur sleuth, Haley Snow, juggles fine dining and astute crime solving with flair.


3. Erin Hart’s Irish Bog Series

 

Cormac Maguire, an Irish archaeologist, and Nora Gavin, an American pathologist team up to solve crimes that all revolve around Ireland’s lonely, atmospheric peat bogs.  The unique chemistry of a bog perfectly preserves archeological treasures—as well as murdered bodies, old and new.


4. Margaret Coel’s Wind River Reservation, Wyoming Series

 

Travel to the western frontier with John Aloysius O’Malley, a Jesuit missionary, and Vicky Holden, an Arapaho attorney, as they solve crimes together on the Arapaho reservation. Margaret Coel interweaves authentic Native American culture and history with modern-day suspense.


5. S.W. Hubbard’s Adirondack Mountain Series

 

Police Chief Frank Bennett, a transplanted Midwesterner, patrols the seemingly idyllic village streets and country roads of Trout Run, NY.  But murder and dark secrets prowl the majestic High Peaks just as surely as bear and moose, and Frank often finds himself in conflict with the rugged Adirondack natives as he ensures justice is done.


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About the Author

 

S.W. Hubbard’s most recent novel is Another Man’s Treasure. She is also is the author of three mystery novels set in the Adirondack Mountains: Take the Bait, Swallow the Hook, and Blood Knot, and the Frank Bennett short story collection, Dead Drift.  Her short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and the anthologies Crimes by Moonlight, The Mystery Box, and Adirondack Mysteries. She lives in Morristown, NJ, where she teaches creative writing to enthusiastic teens and adults, and expository writing to reluctant college freshmen.  To read the first chapter of any of her books, visit:  http://www.swhubbard.net


2014 Oscars: Two Movies that Weren’t Books (but would make awesome ones)

By Taylor Coil

Perhaps it’s because I loved books first. Perhaps it’s because so many of my favorite books were turned into movies. Whatever the reason, I tend to assume that great movies are based on books – something that I realize is truly unfair to screenwriters.

I’m sorry, screenwriters. I know I’m biased towards books.

Anyway,  I try to watch as many Oscar-nominated films before the Oscars happen every year. It makes the Oscars far more fun to watch, especially when you’re rooting for your favorites. My guy’s the movie buff – I tag along, knowing almost nothing about the films before watching.

So sometimes I’m surprised by what’s an original screenplay and what’s based on a book. That happened this year, with the following two Oscar-nominated films.


1. Blue Jasmine.

 

I LOVED this movie. Before Blue Jasmine, I’d never seen a Woody Allen movie in my life. I mostly associated Woody Allen with those glasses and Connor, that one character in a Sophie Kinsella book who is obsessed with his movies. Man, I’m really revealing my Kinsella obsession in this blog.

Anyway. Blue Jasmine isn’t a book (it’s an original screenplay) – but it ‘watches’ like one. You know, like how a Vince Flynn book reads like an action movie? Blue Jasmine watches like a literary fiction novel. The characters are beautifully developed, the plot teased out carefully, all to come together in a true work of art.

If Blue Jasmine were a book, I’d read it. And if you haven’t seen the movie, it’s really worth watching.


2. Her.

 

Doesn’t Her sound like the plot of a dystopian novel? A man who falls in love with an artificially intelligent computer operating system sounds like something that would fit right in with today’s SciFi novels.

The thing is, though, it’s not really SciFi. This technology isn’t extraordinarily far-fetched or inconceivable. It’s far more a love story than a high-tech scifi. Watch the trailer, you’ll see what I mean.

Regardless, this plot is deep. It makes you think. It’s social commentary. It’s gives me everything I love about reading, but from a film.


Which were your Oscar favorites this year? Would you read Blue Jasmine / Her, had they been books before they were movies?

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About the Author

tdc social media picture 100x100Taylor is our Marketing Manager. She loves reading dystopians, depressing books, and any tome remotely related to food. You probably can’t beat her in Harry Potter trivia, but you can try if you enjoy failure.

 

 

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4 Reasons a Book Vacation is Better Than A Regular Vacation

by Cathy Bryant

Vacation.

Is there any word in the English language that inspires more yearning in our hearts? (Well, except for ice cream.) And is there any vacation where we don’t return a week behind at both work and home and with holes in our pocketbooks from overspending? Even worse, we’re exhausted. Sheesh, we almost need another week of vacation to recuperate from the first one.

I have the perfect solution, especially in this economy. A book vacation!

Here’s why:


1. You can take a book with you anywhere.

 

Need some sun so you can go back to work with a tan? Take a quilt and your book to the park and read all day. At the very least you’ll go back to work with a decent sunburn. If all else fails, use the money you saved by staying home to buy a tanning lamp. Seriously. Who’s gonna know?

And if tanning’s not your thing, find a place to visit that’s close to where you live. Take your book, a picnic lunch, and the closest thing to a cabana boy you can find. Sounds pretty dreamy to me.

Want a relaxing read in an ocean-like setting? Turn on the sound machine, fill the tub with lukewarm water and Epsom salts, and dive in with a good book. See? You really can take a book anywhere.


2. You can go anywhere with a book.

 

Hang with me a sec. I know this sounds suspiciously the same as number one, but it’s not. The point here is that books are modes of transportation and time machines. You can travel anywhere you want in any time period you want and meet some stranger-than-fiction people while you’re at it–all without jet lag. How awesome is that?

Want to visit France and travel back to the 1800s? Pick up a copy of Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. Want to go on a cruise without fifty million narcissistic and noisy people in too-tiny swimsuits? Melville’s Moby Dick might do the trick. How about a trip to an exotic land with a free excursion to view really short people? Either Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz will get you there. (I could go on, but surely by now you get the point.


3. Oh, the things you can learn!

 

Rather than go to Italy, why not learn to speak Italian or make sun-dried tomato and basil bruschetta that’s to die for? Rather than Disneyworld, why not hang out at your local jungle gym and read a biography of Walt Disney? And maybe this is just me, but I’d much rather digest facts about animals of the Serengeti in the comfort of my recliner than have those same animals digest me on a dry and dusty African safari.


4. More cash and less aspirin.

 

If you opt in favor of this book vacation, you will love these last two benefits. When all is said and done, this excellent choice will leave you with less of a headache than all the planning, rushing, spending, and rushing back that you have with a regular vacation. In addition, your pocketbook will be padded with all the dollars you saved. And with all that extra money hanging around, you can always buy more books!


About the Author

 

Cathy Bryant loves to spin tales around the fictional hamlet of Miller’s Creek, Texas, where folks are friendly, iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth’s front porch beckons. When she’s not writing, you’ll find Cathy feeding her reality TV addiction, rummaging through thrift stores, or up to her elbows in yet another home improvement project. The fifth book in the Miller’s Creek Novels, A Bridge Unbroken, is scheduled to release Spring 2014. You can find out more about Cathy and her books at http://www.CatBryant.com.

Cathy’s Books:

 

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The Night Circus – A Book Made for the Big Screen

A Review by Tracy Falbe


 

With much anticipation I opened The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern when I received it as a gift from my brother. The premise was unique. Set in the late 19th century, two magicians Celia and Marco compete in the magical arena of the Night Circus. The venue comes and goes from towns without notice. Its black and white tents house impossible wonders that delight visitors. And the circus is only open from dusk until dawn.

Celia and Marco are the protégés of two older rivals, Prospero the Enchanter, Celia’s unpleasant father, and another referred to mysteriously as the man in the grey suit, who trained Marco. These heartless elders duel through Celia and Marco within the circus that has been set up for a death match. The magical underpinnings of the circus rely on this death match. When Celia and Marco fall in love instead of the required hate, the system becomes dangerously askew for all involved.

Morgenstern crafts each vivid performance and exhibit in The Night Circus with graceful and nuanced detail. The mirrors, the ice sculptures, the chiming of a clock, the flicker of a flame, and every visual note of the prose are lovingly massaged into the brain of the reader. Only a few chapters into the novel I thought, “Is this book meant to be a movie?” To imagine The Night Circus is to see it as a movie in your mind.

Not long after reading it I heard that it was going to be a movie. The film rights were optioned by Summit Entertainment and the movie is in development, according to IMDb.

The potential for The Night Circus to make a splendid movie is very high. I believe that it could make a better movie than book because the novel has some shortcomings. The characters failed to summon much feeling in me. I initially had some sympathy for Celia but it faded. She was a sweet, responsible, and talented woman but I never felt more than perfunctory curiosity about her. Marco was tiresome as a male romantic lead. I’ll admit I’m more the swashbuckler type, so I mostly found him dull and lacking in charm.

The story dragged and by the time it reached something important I just kind of shrugged. I experienced the sacrifices and intense moments at the climax as things that I just wanted to get over with.

The reviews at Goodreads cut two ways on The Night Circus. About half gush with praise for the marvelous writing and the fresh concept. The other half reflects my sentiments. The story lacked real spirit and took too long. To me it was all flash and no bang. I’m reminded of gorgeous commercial roses that have very little scent. They look good but just can’t compare to the sun-warmed aroma of a home grown rose, which is what I wanted The Night Circus to be.

I can still hope the movie will be an improvement. Morgenstern has imagined something that could be spectacular. The right director and actors might be able to infuse some soul into the characters and add chemistry to the romantic partners.

Although I was mildly disappointed by The Night Circus I still declare it a good book. Many others have enjoyed it, and I greatly admire the writing skill of the author. Her artistry is admirable. She arranged a complex web of players into a perfect spider web sparkling with dew. She connected strands of nonlinear storytelling with ease. She made me see every detail of the circus like I was in the moment. The novel comes across like a dream, which endows The Night Circus with a good measure of success.


About the Author

 

Tracy Falbe has devoted herself to writing fantasy novels for many years. She has published nine of them and has a tenth on the way. Her first one, Union of Renegades, is a free book and has lured many readers into magical realms of adventure.

Read more about Tracy at Brave Luck Books: http://www.braveluck.com

Tracy’s Books:

 

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Ten Awesome Books That You Probably Haven’t Read

By: Chloe Kizer

So we have a love (and minor obsession with) all things Vlogbrothers over here at Freebooksy. John Green’s most recent video was 18 Great Books that You Probably Haven’t Read. Not only do we love his recommendations, but we love the idea of promoting little known books. So, without further adieu here is our list of 10 awesome books that you probably haven’t heard of but should totally read.

Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace:

You may have heard of Big Fish, or seen the movie, but Daniel Wallace is a phenomenal author of literary fiction and you should read his books, especially his newest: Kings and Queens of Roam. It also doesn’t hurt that he is from our home town and a professor at the University that Taylor and I attended. 

Phone Kitten by Marika Christian:

Oh man. We love this book. LOVE IT. If you want to stay up all night turning the pages and howling with laughter,  then this should totally be your next book. 

 Devices and Desires by K. J. Parker:

This is the most engaging fantasy series that I have picked up in a very long time. The main theme is love and the crazy, whacky things that it makes us do. But not in a romance way, more like in a tragic medieval epic kind of way, which makes for a wonderful work of indulgent fiction.

Insignia by S. J. Kincaid: 

All other YA Sci Fi books try  to be this good…. and might come close. The gaming motifs and tech-y universe will suck you in and refuse to let go. 

Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa by Ben Constable:

This book will wrap your mind into knots. Contemporary Magical Realism at some of its best, this novel will take you from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Dark Underground of Paris all while weaving the cryptic and tragic tale of a woman with too much pain to bear.

Hanging Flynn (A Tale of the Fairypocalypse) by  Addison Lane:

Another fantasy, Hanging Flynn is a story that mixes apocalyptic dystopian with myth, legend, and folklore in a way that keeps the reader flipping the pages. I read it in 2 days, talk about a page turner.

Love in the Falls by Rachel Hanna:

This book is totally our guilty pleasure. This sweet love story is kind of like watching The Notebook, you gotta do it every once and a while for the feels. PS: It’s the perfect beach read.

Hild by Nicola Griffith:

Avid readers of historical fiction cannot let this phenomenal read pass them by. Tudor England? Been there done that: Hild takes the reader all the way back to the early Middle Ages, to the time when a multitude of individual small kingdoms were fighting, intermarrying, and caught up in dizzying knots of honor and intrigue after the withdrawal of the Romans from the British Isles. 

Marry Me Maddie by Rita Herron 

This book reminds us of There is Something About Mary (without the “hair gel”). It will consume you with side splitting laughter and make you wish that your own proposal had been this hilarious! 

Dead is the New Black by Christine DeMaio-Rice: 

Fans of Project Runway and The Devil Wears Prada will lost in the mystery that is Dead is the New Black. If you’ve always dreamed of working in the fashion industry and love mystery novels, then this is the book for you. 

Oh, and here is the Vlogbrothers video, because it’s a great list of reads from a multitude of genres. 

 

 


About the Author 

Chloe is our content and community manager. She has three hobbies: Reading, writing, and finding new hobbies. Her brain can be best described as an extremely biased encyclopedia of all things nerdy. 

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‘The Art Assignment’ is Brilliant

By Taylor Coil

The Art Assignment is Sarah Urist Green and John Green’s new project with PBS. The premise: every week, you’ll be given an assignment. And it’ll challenge your idea of what art is.

Here’s the first assignment:

Since book lovers are, by nature, art lovers (books are a type of art!), we figured that you may want to know about this great new series.

Sidebar: anybody want to complete the first assignment with us? We’re in the RDU area in North Carolina, so hit us up if you are as well (HI NEIGHBORS) and want to complete this challenge. Tell us in the comments!

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About the Author

tdc social media picture 100x100Taylor is our Marketing Manager. She loves reading dystopians, depressing books, and any tome remotely related to food. You probably can’t beat her in Harry Potter trivia, but you can try if you enjoy failure.

 

 

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