Persuasion | By Jane Austen

2156Book: Persuasion by Jane Austen
Genre: Classics, Romance
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication Date: March 18, 2004
Pages: 304
Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Anne Elliot is the second of three daughters to the widowed baronet of Kellynch-hall, Sir Walter Elliot. At the age of twenty-seven, Anne is generally overlooked by her father and his favored eldest daughter, Elizabeth. Due to her father’s spendthrift ways, the Elliots are forced to let Kellynch-hall to an admiral and his wife; Sir Walter and Elizabeth take up residence in Bath, while Anne stays with her youngest sister and her family at the nearby Uppercross Hall.

Eight years prior to this misfortune, Anne was happily – and somewhat secretly – engaged to Frederick Wentworth; however, Anne was persuaded to break off the engagement by her friend and mother figure, Lady Russell, who believed him to be an unworthy match. Anne never recovered from the breakup, and remained quietly constant in her love for Wentworth over the next eight years.

When Wentworth unexpectedly returns as the wealthy and accomplished sea captain, Anne’s world is turned upside down. While she struggles to conceal her feelings and discern his, Anne has no reason to believe that Wentworth still loves her, yet still holds out hope.

Thoughts: Persuasion has been on my TBR list of Classics for quite some time, and fortunately, I was not disappointed in this one. As Austen’s last completed novel, Persuasion has her quintessential tone and style, yet also has a distinct maturity. I found myself comparing Persuasion to Pride and Prejudice throughout my reading, and while I think there are similar themes in both, some of the ways in which Austen deals with those themes are decidedly different. One of these ways is with our heroine, Anne Elliot. Anne is relatively old at age 27 (even verging on spinsterhood – the horror!), which contributes to the more mature tone. Whereas Lizzie Bennet is very strong-willed, Anne is a bit of a doormat. Her sisters seem to be in a contest over who can come up with the best put-downs, yet Anne handles these jabs with a grace that a younger character might not be able to muster.

When I was discussing this book with a fellow reader, they mentioned thinking Wentworth is a lot like Mr. Darcy, which I couldn’t agree with less. Yes, Wentworth might be a little aloof at times, but he hardly ventures into rudeness as Darcy frequently does. Comparisons aside (both men have their merits!), I really enjoyed Anne and Wentworth’s story – they certainly have what you could call a quiet love. Anne’s youngest sister, Mary, is incredibly annoying, but is also funny because she’s just so ridiculous. Also, I really liked how Austen actually depicts a loving marriage with Admiral Croft and his wife, Sophia (Wentworth’s sister). Austen is famous for her commentary on marriage, so it was a bit refreshing to see two characters who married for love, and who Anne clearly admires (#RelationshipGoals – if Anne had Twitter). As you might guess, Persuasion is very character-driven, so don’t expect it to have a completely riveting plot; however, the story builds up to one of the most perfectly executed love letters I’ve ever read.


Bottom line: Loved it! Though maybe only a teeny bit less than I love P&P. But seriously: if there can only be one reason to read this book, it’s that letter.

P.S. I’ve seen a couple of movie adaptations of Persuasion out there – does anyone have a recommendation for which is best?


Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels

I’m excited to finally participate in Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This weekly meme has been one of my favorites ever since I started blogging, and I’ve finally decided to take part myself. This week’s list is Ten Books For Readers Who Like Character Driven Novels; several of my picks are actually whole series, because a series typically has to be character driven for me to keep coming back for more. Also, you’ll have to forgive me for the time travel theme – I just can’t help myself. Here are my picks for this week (in no particular order):


1. Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon 

I would be remiss if I didn’t include Gabaldon’s Outlander Series on this list. I mean, it’s pretty hard to not get incredibly invested in the lives of Claire, Jamie, and the rest of the ever-growing cast of characters in these novels. Although I’d probably categorize these books as historical fiction, they don’t neatly fit into one genre: they also have strong elements of romance, fantasy, and science fiction (time travel). The series has a substantial following of loyal fans, and I imagine that group will only continue to grow now that the Starz adaptation has seen so much success (you can check out the first episode for free here).


2. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis 

Doomsday Book is also a bit of a genre-bending time travel novel, in which Kivrin Engle hops into a time machine in 2054, headed for 1320s England. As you might guess, some unexpected things happen, and she finds herself in the middle of the Black Death. In short: Doomsday Book is a heart-wrenching look at the human experience. The book’s heroine is, of course, quite likable and relatable, but I became profoundly attached to the characters she meets in the fourteenth century (Agnes!). So. Many. Emotions.


3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Does this one really even need an explanation? I think not. Elizabeth Bennet + Mr. Darcy. That is all.


4. The Tudor Court Series by Philippa Gregory

Gregory’s novels about Tudor England are must-reads for anyone who likes British historical fiction. The Other Boleyn Girl is arguably the most popular book in Gregory’s Tudor series, but The Queen’s Fool is my personal favorite, mainly because I love its main character so much. Unlike most of the books in this series, The Queen’s Fool is not told from the perspective of a monarch/royal in the Tudor Court, and is instead told from the perspective of Hannah Green: the “holy fool” to Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.


5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road is a post-apocalyptic story that follows a father and son through their bleak journey across ruined America. Driven by the father-son relationship, this novel is incredibly dark, sometimes disturbing, and emotionally draining.


6. Slains Series by Susanna Kearsley

The Winter Sea was one of my favorite reads last year, and I quickly picked up its companion novel, The Firebird (you can read my review of it here). Like I mentioned, the books are more companion novels than they are a series, in that they are connected but can stand alone. I love the main characters in each of these novels (especially The Firebird), and I really like the way in which Kearsley connects them across novels – you should just read them to see what I mean! Highly recommended for anyone who likes historical fiction, romance, and fantasy.


7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book in the Chaos Walking Series (the second is in my TBR pile), and is about a young boy named Todd and his dog, Manchee. Todd is from Prentisstown – where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts (even the animals!). Funny, scary, and heartbreaking all at the same time, TKONLG is one of my favorite YA novels that I’ve read in quite some time.


8. The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

Surprise! Another historical fiction/time travel novel. I simply love this book and its characters and can’t wait for the sequel to come out – you can get a short synopsis and a few of my thoughts on it here.


9. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

To be honest with you, I picked The Goldfinch up earlier this summer and haven’t finished it yet. It’s quite dense, so when I got sidelined by school and wedding-planning, The Goldfinch got put on the back burner. However, I really enjoyed what I was able to read, and want to give it another shot so I can see what happens with its main character, Theo Decker (I got through a lot of his youth sequences, so I’m anxious to see him in adulthood).

10. Well, I didn’t quite make it to ten, but since I had so many series on here, I’ll call it a win! I hope you take some inspiration from my picks this week.

Cancer Vixen | By Marisa Acocella Marchetto

vixenBook: Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publication Date:
September 26, 2006

Synopsis (from Goodreads): What happens when a shoe-crazy, lipstick-obsessed, wine-swilling, pasta-slurping, fashion-fanatic, single-forever, about-to-get-married big-city girl cartoonist with a fabulous life finds… a lump in her breast? That’s the question that sets this powerful, funny, and poignant graphic memoir in motion. In vivid color and with a taboo-breaking sense of humor, Marisa Acocella Marchetto tells the story of her eleven-month, ultimately triumphant bout with breast cancer–from diagnosis to cure, and every challenging step in between.

But Cancer Vixen is about more than surviving an illness. It is a portrait of one woman’s supercharged life in Manhattan, and a wonderful love story. Marisa, self-described “terminal bachelorette,” meets her Prince Charming in Silvano, owner of the chic downtown restaurant Da Silvano. Three weeks before their wedding, she receives her diagnosis. She wonders: How will he react to this news? How will my world change? Will I even survive? And… what about my hair?

From raucous New Yorker staff lunches and the star-studded crowd at Silvano’s restaurant to the rainbow pumps Marisa wears to chemotherapy, Cancer Vixen is a total original. Marisa’s wit and courage are an inspiration – she’s a cancer vixen, not its victim.

Thoughts: In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought I would share Marchetto’s memoir about her battle with breast cancer. Over the summer, I took a course on graphic novels, which is a genre I had never explored before. I had always thought of graphic novels as somewhat childish, but a few books into my course readings quickly changed that perception. Cancer Vixen was one of my favorite take-aways from that course; it tackles the serious topic of cancer with bright, colorful illustrations and a streak of humor.

Perhaps the reason that I can describe a book about breast cancer as funny is because the book isn’t all about cancer: it’s really about Marisa’s life while she happens to have cancer. In between the chemotherapy trips, we get to see Marisa’s love life, her friendships, her career struggles, and her unapologetic love for makeup, clothes, and shoes. Much of the humor Cancer Vixen revolves around “girly” clichés, such as Marisa wearing expensive pumps to the hospital to get chemo and doing anything to not lose her hair. Although many readers may not be able to relate to Marisa’s glamorous life (think Carrie from Sex and the City), Cancer Vixen illustrates that the threat of breast cancer is a reality to women of all backgrounds, and I think the way in which Marisa faced her battle with such gumption is something all women can respect and take encouragement from.

Bottom line: Cancer Vixen is honest, funny, and inspiring, illustrating that there can be life during – and after – cancer.


Gone Girl | By Gillian Flynn

19288043Book: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Broadway Books
Publication Date: 
April 22, 2014
Rating: ★★

Synopsis: Amy Elliot Dunne disappears from the home she shares with her husband, Nick, on a July morning in North Carthage, Missouri. It is their fifth wedding anniversary, and Nick returns home to find the house in disarray, signs of a struggle apparent. The cops and the media find Nick to be detached and unemotional, his behavior unlike that of a man whose wife is missing and possibly dead. As troubling and implicating details about Nick, Amy, and their marriage emerge, Nick becomes the prime suspect – but is he a killer?

Thoughts: I’m one of those readers who – for inexplicable reasons – tends to avoid books that are incredibly hyped in the media; Gone Girl is one of those books. However, after relentless encouragement from my sister, I decided to end my subconscious boycott and give it a shot (thanks, sis!). I finished it just in time for the movie to come out tomorrow, which I want to see even more after reading it. I don’t typically read a lot of thrillers or mysteries, but I really enjoyed this book. So. Many. Plot twists. I mean, that one part about halfway through:


Gone Girl is fast-paced, complex, and twisty, which keeps the tension and suspense high. Also, this book made me quite the fickle reader – so many different feelings! I really liked how it takes on social, moral, and cultural topics, particularly in regards to relationships, marriage, and the media. I was very intrigued, yet also very disturbed, by the psychological aspect of this book, which I can’t really discuss without giving something away. The way the book is formatted really contributes to the “puzzle,” in that it jumps around time-wise and between different perspectives; this seems harder to do in films, so I’m curious as to how that translates in the movie. I’ve heard rumors that the ending in the film is different than the book, so I’m interested to see what they do with it (it doesn’t seem possible to have any other outcome without fundamentally changing one of the characters).

Bottom line: Gone Girl will mess with your mind – but in a good way. So, if you’re one of the few (like me) who has put it off, read it!


Liebster Award

59r7m1 This is so exciting! I’ve been nominated for a Liebster Award by my fellow blogger over at The Daily Dosage. excited-baby First of all, I just want to say thank you to The Daily Dosage and that this was just the kick I needed to get back into my blog! I’ve felt pretty overwhelmed these past couple of months and just haven’t been able to make blogging a priority. I’m working through one of my last semesters of grad school, just got engaged in February (yay!), and am prepping to move in May, so I’ve been pretty swamped with some major life transitions. Every time I think about how I’ve been neglecting my new blog, I get a little down; but, I fully plan to have some new reviews up soon, so bear with me (I have been able to keep up with some reading and just got a new shipment of books in TBR!). After doing a little research on the Liebster Award, I’ve decided to stick with the traditional rules: list 11 facts about yourself, answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you, and nominate some other bloggers with 200 followers or less.

11 Facts About Me

  1. I’m a late bloomer – when it comes to reading, that is! I didn’t really get into reading “for fun” until college.
  2. I met my fiancé when I was 16 in my Honors Algebra II class. I don’t know how I even ended up in that class; I hate math and I’m terrible at it, but it all worked out in the end.
  3. My favorite meal is chips and queso with frozen margaritas. Yes, this is a meal. Did I mention I live in Texas?
  4. I have two dogs that are sometimes a pain, but they’re kind of like my children and I love them anyway.
  5. I’m an avid runner, but I’ve yet to run any marathons.
  6. My favorite flowers are gardenias.
  7. I’m related to Sir Francis Drake. I’m supposedly also related to Pocahontas, but I’m not so confident about the validity of that.
  8. My name is not short for anything. Also, it’s pronounced Lie-zuh, like Liza Minnelli or Eliza without the E. More often than not, I get called Lee-zuh by strangers (mainly Starbucks baristas).
  9. My favorite TV shows are Game of Thrones (shhh…I haven’t read all the books yet) and Sherlock. And just because I’ll take any opportunity to use this GIF:GoT_slapping_joffrey
  10. I absolutely hate cold weather, and to me, anything below 50 degrees is too cold. Although I think snow is beautiful, I’d rather look at if from inside a cozy cabin while drinking coffee and reading a book than be doing anything outside in it. Fortunately for me, it doesn’t snow here (and when it does, it barely qualifies as real snow).
  11. I’ve been bitten by a venomous snake. It was a copperhead and I had to use crutches for several weeks.

11 Questions from The Daily Dosage

  1. Do you have a specific way that you organize your bookshelves? If so, what made you choose that system? Alphabetically by author. I figure I’ll have enough practice organizing books as a librarian, so better to keep things simple at home, right?
  2. How has your reading changed since you started blogging, if it has at all? There’s definitely pressure to read more and faster, but I certainly don’t want my reading to feel like a chore. I think I’ve been making an effort to read things in a more timely manner, but I don’t force myself if I’m not feeling it.
  3. Do you ever wish you had chosen a different career/education path? If so, what? Maybe something that could make a little more money? Haha, kidding. No, I like where I’m at right now. However, I did want to be a vet growing up, and I get a little wistful thinking about it. Also I really love baking, so I think I might’ve owned a bakery in a previous life.
  4. If you had to guess, what percentage of your  reading do you think is done in print, e-book and audiobook? 100% print. I don’t have an e-reader and I’ve never listened to an audiobook. However, that might change soon because I’m considering reading George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire via audiobook.
  5. How did you choose the name for your blog? It was definitely a struggle! I wanted to pick a name that reflected my approach to reading, and after several embarrassing attempts, I came up with Paperback Wanderings. Disclaimer: I don’t read everything in paperback…I mainly just liked the sound of it.
  6. What was the best book you read last year? That’s a toughie. The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway and The Rook by Daniel O’Malley are two strong contenders.
  7. What was the last movie you watched? Did you like it? Were you at home or in a theater? The last new movie I saw was Dallas Buyers Club and I watched it on DVD. Yes, I did like it very much; the acting was excellent and I think it’s an important film to see. The movie I actually watched last was How To Train Your Dragon, which I’ve seen several times. Do I still count as an adult?
  8. Do you read hardcover books with or without the dust jacket? Why? Without, because I don’t want them to get ruined! They remain safely on the bookshelf until I’m finished reading.
  9. What is a book you haven’t read but everyone keeps saying you should? Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. It’s in my TBR pile, though.
  10. What upcoming 2014 book are you most excited about reading? Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon. It will be the eighth book in Gabaldon’s Outlander Series and I’ve been impatiently waiting for it to come out for FIVE YEARS. bellatrix-lestrange-i-dont-like-to-be-kept-waiting
  11. What book do you wish everyone would read? Ummm this is hard, so I’m going to cheat and just pick from the books I’ve read this year. I’d have to say The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness is one of my most recent favorites!

My Nominations* and Questions

1. Do you have a specific way that you organize your bookshelves? If so, what made you choose that system?
2. How has your reading changed since you started blogging, if it has at all?
3. Do you ever wish you had chosen a different career/education path? If so, what?
4. If you had to guess, what percentage of your  reading do you think is done in print, e-book and audiobook?
5. How did you choose the name for your blog?
6. What was the best book you read last year?
7. What was the last movie you watched? Did you like it? Were you at home or in a theater?
8. Do you read hardcover books with or without the dust jacket? Why?
9. What is a book you haven’t read but everyone keeps saying you should?
10. What upcoming 2014 book are you most excited about reading?
11. What book do you wish everyone would read?
*It was hard in some cases to determine how many followers you actually have, so I mean no offense if you have way more than 200!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane | By Neil Gaiman

15783514Book: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
William Morrow Books
Publication Date: 
June 18, 2013
Rating: ★★

SynopsisSussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

Thoughts: Well this was a perfectly peculiar read. I’ve been pretty swamped since school picked back up and unfortunately haven’t been able to read as much as I’d like; I needed a little kick to get back into the swing of things, and Gaiman’s latest book did the trick. I hate to admit that this is the first book of Gaiman’s that I’ve read, but it definitely won’t be the last. I had no idea what to expect when I picked up The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of what it felt like to be a child. TOATEOTL illustrates how the world looks to a child: scary and magical, yet so matter-of-fact. TOATEOTL blurs the lines between reality and fantasy and urges its readers to accept that truth in memory is subjective. The narrator represents how many bookish children presumably feel: lonely and misunderstood, yet safe with a good book. Many questions about the Hempstocks and their magic are left unanswered, which works perfectly for a book that is rooted in the intangible. TOATEOTL is a reminder of the wonderment of childhood; it’s self-referential in that it’s a children’s book masquerading itself for adults, alleging that we never really grow up.

Bottom line: Beautifully written and bursting with imagination, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a magical read that will leave you feeling nostalgic.


Perfect Ruin | By Lauren DeStefano

17339241Book: Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano
Series: The Internment Chronicles #1
Genres: YA, Dystopia
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: October 1st 2013
Pages: 368
Rating: ★★

Synopsis (from Goodreads): On the floating city of Internment, you can be anything you dream, unless you approach the edge. Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close can lead to madness, like her older brother Lex, a Jumper. She takes solace in her best friend Pen, and in Basil, the boy she’s engaged to marry. When she investigates the first murder in a generation, she meets Judas. The suspect was betrothed to the victim, but Morgan believes he is innocent. Nothing can prepare Morgan for the secrets she will find – or whom she will lose.

Thoughts: The more I thought about this book, the less I liked it. While the concept of a floating city was a promising premise, the execution fell flat in more ways than one. For starters, I just didn’t care about any of the characters. Our protagonist and narrator, Morgan, has zero personality; I often caught myself just trying to remember her name. The book makes a great deal of effort trying to portray her as a good girl turned admirable rebel, but I was unconvinced. If I had to choose, Pen would probably be my favorite character, even despite her naiveté. While I didn’t necessarily dislike any of the characters, I was completely indifferent towards them.

On top of the lack of character development, the love stories were unbelievable. Despite being forcibly paired up at birth, Morgan and Basil are conveniently in love with each other anyway. Also, their romance primarily plays out on repetitive train sequences that involve a lot of romantically charged skin-brushes and almost-kisses.


Pen’s love-hate relationship with her betrothed is only slightly more dynamic, yet still rings of unrealistic contentment. Although she constantly acts as though she can’t stand Thomas’s presence, we’re still expected to believe that she actually does love him, merely because he’s hers. Lex and Alice also have a perfect love story; however, Lex’s condition and its strain on their marriage renders their relationship the most realistic. While the book attempts to reveal that Internment is in fact not perfect, it fails to represent the governmentally arranged betrothals as anything but so.

One element of the book that I thought was done well was the placement of Daphne Leander’s essay fragments at the beginning of each chapter; they were the most well-written sequences and provided meaningful context. The plot was what kept me reading despite the book’s other shortcomings, mainly because I was hoping the story would go somewhere. Unfortunately, for every plot twist that I didn’t predict, there were a handful of others that I did. There were maybe two major things that I didn’t see coming, but everything else was painfully unsurprising.

Me after every major plot development.

Me after every major plot development

Bottom line: Perfect Ruin is predictable. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t like it either. Maybe I’ll pick up the second installment just for kicks, but I doubt it.