United States of Books: California

Week five of the United States of Books coming your way! Here’s the road map; every Friday I will bring you book recommendations from each of the fifty nifty United States. Anyone else remember that song from elementary school? We’re just going to follow that order.

We’re California Dreaming…


The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

10032672A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.


Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

9915.jpgSet in Los Angeles in the early 1980’s, this coolly mesmerizing novel is a raw, powerful portrait of a lost generation who have experienced sex, drugs, and disaffection at too early an age, in a world shaped by casual nihilism, passivity, and too much money a place devoid of feeling or hope.

Clay comes home for Christmas vacation from his Eastern college and re-enters a landscape of limitless privilege and absolute moral entropy, where everyone drives Porches, dines at Spago, and snorts mountains of cocaine. He tries to renew feelings for his girlfriend, Blair, and for his best friend from high school, Julian, who is careering into hustling and heroin. Clay’s holiday turns into a dizzying spiral of desperation that takes him through the relentless parties in glitzy mansions, seedy bars, and underground rock clubs and also into the seamy world of L.A. after dark.


Wild by Cheryl Strayed

12262741At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.

Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.


The Circle by Dave Eggers

18302455When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency.

As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO.

Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in America – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.


The Girls by Emma Cline

28270090Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

13522285Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything is a lyrical, witty, and heart-wrenching novel about how difficult it is to play the part that people expect, and how new beginnings can stem from abrupt and tragic endings.

Next up, Colorado!


Top Five Wednesday: Hate to Love Romances

Ask and you may receive. By request, a topic all about your favorite hate to love romances!

(EDIT: It appears that I interpreted this very differently than everyone else did. YOLO.)


Katniss and Peeta


Why I hate it: Because Katniss did not need to be in a relationship in order to be happy. Love triangles are the bane of my existence.

Why I love it: Because Katniss needed someone to lean on, and to protect in turn. Peeta’s vulnerable and thoughtful nature was the perfect contrast to Katniss’ robotic and impulsive character.


Romeo and Juliet


Why I hate it: Two teenagers/children decide that they are in love after knowing each other for, at most, five minutes. They can’t live without each other (*sob*) so they both commit suicide. Dramatic. No chill whatsoever.

Why I love it: It’s William Shakespeare at his finest. A lesson to all authors about what happens to people who “love at first sight.” (lol)


Betsy Ray and Joe Willard


Why I hate it: Betsy and Joe meet when they are 14, and then proceed to be rivals all throughout high school. There is so much early 20th century sexual tension between them, and it is palpable.

Why I love it: They get together in the end, after 5 or 6 shenanigans.


Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy


Why I hate it: Mr. Darcy is unforgivably rude to Elizabeth and her family and attempts to sabotage the relationship between Jane and his best friend. Elizabeth befriends his nemesis and refuses his marriage proposal because he’s the worst.

Why I love it: We find out that Mr. Darcy isn’t actually the spawn of satan, and he rights all of his past transgressions against Elizabeth and they live HAPPILY EVER AFTER.


Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont

a discovery of witches - deborah harkness

Why I hate it: Their relationship is very random. One moment, they hate each other and the next moment they are married. Diana is too dependent on Matthew, and completely falls apart when he leaves.

Why I love it: I really don’t have an answer, I just love them together! They have a really interesting dynamic, and I can’t get enough of it.

The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag

We’re almost to July of 2017, AKA 6/48 months with Donald Trump as President. Are you tired of hearing his name yet? Because I sure am. He needs a leash, similar to the ones parents use on their toddlers at theme parks and other public places. Politics aside, I believe it is time for another book tag! And no, no one tagged me in this.




I haven’t read any sequels yet this year, so sadly I can’t have a favorite. But I’m planning on reading The Queen and the Cure by Amy Harmon very soon. I want to read Glass Sword by Veronica Aveyard as well, but I’m waiting to get the paperback so it matches my copy of Red Queen. Hello yes, my name is Crazy, And you are?




I’ve heard such. great. things about this book, and I am dying to read it! It explores a topic that is so current right now, and it’s definitely something everyone should read.




the office +reaction+gif+Dwight



in farleigh field - rhys bowen

This book was SO DISAPPOINTING. I was so excited about reading it, so drawn in by the cover, the premise, and the fact that Rhys Bowen was a bestselling author… and I hated every second of it. Not my cup of tea, sorry old chaps. Pip Pip, Cheerio.




The fact that it’s June???????? #Fakenews




Amy Harmon is my favorite author discovery of 2017. She’s captured my heart, my mind, and my soul with her writing, especially in The Bird and the Sword. This was her first fantasy novel, and she completely blew me away. If you haven’t read it yet, run like Usain Bolt is chasing you to your local book store and pick it up.

Amy Harmon

My precious.



Based only off of what I’ve read so far in 2017, I’m going with Angelo Bianco in From Sand and Ash. His relationship with Eva gave me all of the feels, even though he was a little frustrating sometimes.





Again, based only off of 2017 novels, I’m going to say Rosie from The Rosie Project. I liked that she wasn’t the typical Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and she wasn’t around just to make Don happy. She had her own goals, whether he wanted to be a part of them or not.



from sand and ash - amy harmon

This book is about World War II in Italy, written in the alternating viewpoints of Eva Rosselli, a Jewish girl, and Angelo Bianco, a Catholic Priest. As you can only guess, there are many hardships and horrifying events that are chronicled within these pages. Even though Eva and Angelo are fictional characters, I got very attached to them and their families. Their triumphs were mine, and their hardships were mine for the duration of this book.




Who wouldn’t be happy after looking at this cover?




Okay, so this is not a movie but Z: The Beginning of Everything, hands down. Christina Ricci makes the perfect Zelda Fitzgerald, and I thought the characters and events of the novel were portrayed really well. Go watch on Amazon Prime!



I don’t exactly have a favorite post, but the one I had the most fun writing was the Get to Know Me Tag!





So. Pretty.



United States of Books: Arkansas

Week four of the United States of Books coming your way! Here’s the road map; every Friday I will bring you book recommendations from each of the fifty nifty United States. Anyone else remember that song from elementary school? We’re just going to follow that order.

Here we come, Arkansas!

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

13214Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.



A Painted House by John Grisham

5360Until that September of 1952, Luke Chandler had never kept a secret or told a single lie. But in the long, hot summer of his seventh year, two groups of migrant workers — and two very dangerous men — came through the Arkansas Delta to work the Chandler cotton farm. And suddenly mysteries are flooding Luke’s world.

A brutal murder leaves the town seething in gossip and suspicion. A beautiful young woman ignites forbidden passions. A fatherless baby is born … and someone has begun furtively painting the bare clapboards of the Chandler farmhouse, slowly, painstakingly, bathing the run-down structure in gleaming white. And as young Luke watches the world around him, he unravels secrets that could shatter lives — and change his family and his town forever….


True Grit by Charles Portis

10035073Charles Portis has long been acclaimed as one of America’s foremost writers. True Grit is the basis for two movies, the 1969 classic starring John Wayne and the Academy Award® winning 2010 version starring Jeff Bridges and written and directed by the Coen brothers.
True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father’s blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory. True Grit is eccentric, cool, straight, and unflinching, like Mattie herself. From a writer of true status, this is an American classic through and through.


Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

10049556For fans of Old Yeller and Shiloh, Where the Red Fern Grows is a beloved classic that captures the powerful bond between man and man’s best friend.

Billy has long dreamt of owning not one, but two, dogs. So when he’s finally able to save up enough money for two pups to call his own—Old Dan and Little Ann—he’s ecstatic. It doesn’t matter that times are tough; together they’ll roam the hills of the Ozarks.
Soon Billy and his hounds become the finest hunting team in the valley. Stories of their great achievements spread throughout the region, and the combination of Old Dan’s brawn, Little Ann’s brains, and Billy’s sheer will seems unbeatable. But tragedy awaits these determined hunters—now friends—and Billy learns that hope can grow out of despair, and that the seeds of the future can come from the scars of the past.


The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

7632310Every first Sunday in June, members of the Moses clan gather for an annual reunion at “the old home place,” a sprawling hundred-acre farm in Arkansas. And every year, Samuel Lake, a vibrant and committed young preacher, brings his beloved wife, Willadee Moses, and their three children back for the festivities. The children embrace the reunion as a welcome escape from the prying eyes of their father’s congregation; for Willadee it’s a precious opportunity to spend time with her mother and father, Calla and John. But just as the reunion is getting under way, tragedy strikes, jolting the family to their core: John’s untimely death and, soon after, the loss of Samuel’s parish, which set the stage for a summer of crisis and profound change.

In the midst of it all, Samuel and Willadee’s outspoken eleven-year-old daughter, Swan, is a bright light. Her high spirits and fearlessness have alternately seduced and bedeviled three generations of the family. But it is Blade Ballenger, a traumatized eight-year-old neighbor, who soon captures Swan’s undivided attention. Full of righteous anger, and innocent of the peril facing her and those she loves, Swan makes it her mission to keep the boy safe from his terrifying father.

With characters who spring to life as vividly as if they were members of one’s own family, and with the clear-eyed wisdom that illuminates the most tragic—and triumphant—aspects of human nature, Jenny Wingfield emerges as one of the most vital, engaging storytellers writing today. In The Homecoming of Samuel Lake she has created a memorable and lasting work of fiction.

Next week, California!

Top Five Wednesday: Unlikeable Protagonists

People always tear down “unlikeable” protagonists. But tell us the ones you pulled for!

Briony from Atonement


Don’t get me wrong, Briony is a little shit. But I still felt bad for her because she was only a child when she destroyed everyone’s lives. Everyone makes mistakes, and she didn’t know any better. Not that I liked her much later either, but we can’t all be Keira Knightley, can we?


Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby

Film Review The Great Gatsby

Daisy is the most infuriating character. She is the embodiment of everything wrong with society, and a terrible mother to boot. But I couldn’t help but root for her and Gatsby.


Anne Boleyn from The Other Boleyn Girl


Anne wasn’t really a POV character in this book, but I thought she was portrayed rather monstrously. Yes, she’s the ultimate homewrecker and her ambition was her ultimate downfall, but I still felt sorry for her. She was executed under false charges, her only real crime being her inability to produce a son after being married to Henry VIII for about 3 years. Thank God people aren’t allowed to execute their ex-wives/husbands today.


Rachel from The Girl on the Train


Low self esteem, check. Unemployed, check. Alcoholic, check. Rachel was not a particularly likable protagonist, and at times I suspected her of more malicious behavior. However, I still rooted for her and hoped that her obsession with Megan was worth the trouble she went through.


 Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones


So many people hate Sansa, and I can understand everyone’s hatred. There are many more traditionally strong women on the show and in the book, and Sansa has the appearance of someone who is weak. However, I think she’s super underrated. She makes some big mistakes right at the start of the series, but I attribute her naivety to her age at the time. Rather than fighting openly against a room full of enemies, she plays the game until the odds fall in her favor. Arya, as much as I love her, wouldn’t survive long in this situation.

The Rapid Fire Book Tag

Thanks Sionna of Booksinhereyes for the tag! If you haven’t yet, go check out her blog!

Your goal with this tag is to keep the answers short and simple. (We’ll see.)

The Questions

Question 1 : E-Book or Physical Book?

I love physical books and I want all of them in my life, but E-Books are just so conducive to my lifestyle at the moment.

Question 2 : Paperback or Hardback?


Question 3 : Online or In-Store Book Shopping?


Question 4 : Trilogies or Series?

Ugh… Series. I love a good book series.

Question 5 : Heroes or Villains?


Question 6 : A book you want everyone to read?

Harry Potter, obviously.

harry potter

Question 7 : Recommend an underrated book?

The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon. I’m very confused as to why this book hasn’t absolutely blown up in the book world. Where are you guys? Read this damn book.

Question 8 : The last book you finished?

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon, review coming soon. When I feel up to writing and thinking about my feelings. So probably never. Just kidding. Soon.


Question 9 :The Last Book(s) You Bought?

The Love that Split the World by Emily Henry

Question 10 : Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

I once used Cheese-Its as a bookmark. Commence flash mob of cringing. I also used to dog-ear my pages when I was younger. I know better now, please hold all questions of my character until the end of the lecture.

Question 11 : Used Books: Yes or No?

Goodwill is where I buy most of my physical book copies, so hell yeah.

Question 12 : Top Three Favourite Genres?

Historical fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi…. Or a combination of the three.

Question 13 : Borrow or Buy?


Question 14 : Characters or Plot?

Characters, but the plot is important too. No character development without plot and no plot without characters.

Question 15 : Long or Short Books?

Depends on how I’m feeling, but I usually prefer long books! It’s easier to get lost in them.

Question 16 : Long or Short Chapters?

Short Chapters if I’m reading before bed and fighting to stay awake, long chapters if something super important is happening in the book.

Question 17 : Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

Me Before You, Annie Between the States, How to Hang a Witch. 

Question 18 : Books That Make You Laugh or Cry?

Laugh, usually.

Question 19 : Our World or Fictional Worlds?

Fictional Worlds! Except maybe The Hunger Games or Game of Thrones, in which case I am fine here.

Question 20 : Audiobooks: Yes or No?

No, but only because I’ve never tried one.

Question 21 : Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?


Question 22 : Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

Book to TV Adaptations!!! Especially if on HBO, Starz, Netflix, or Hulu. Movies are more likely to change unnecessary details or leave important things out. Like why did The Girl on the Train need to be in New York instead of London? What’s wrong with London??? These are the pressing questions we need to be asking ourselves.

gossip girl

Question 23 : A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

Game of Thrones, but only because it’s such a complicated book. Also, I want to be best friends with Emilia Clarke, Sophie Turner, and Maisie Williams.


Question 24 : Series or Standalone’s?



Books With Morgan

A Simply Enchanted Life

Howling Libraries


Yada Yada, you don’t have to do this but tag me if you do, yada.