Sunday, January 31, 2016

Downton Abbey Episode 6.4

Last week on Downton Abbey...

Rebecca T and Jenn N chat about the previous episode. Join in in the comments!

Rebecca T: So Carson and Mrs. ... Carson/Hughes are back and Mrs. Hughes-Carson looks a little pale and hesitant when Carson says their going to keep their original names (and really Robert? Did you have to act quite so relieved?). I'm just curious if something didn't go well on the honeymoon.

Jenn N: Mrs. Hughes-Carson did seem a little uneasy upon her return. It's realistic to me though. Suddenly merging your life when you've grown accustomed to being on your own for so long is hard no matter how much you love the other person.

Rebecca T: That's a good point. It would be a big life change for both of them. It will be interesting to see how they settle in over the next few weeks.

Jenn N: I hope Anna and Bates remain on their path to happiness.

Rebecca T: Yes! I'm so glad they made it to the doctor in time and Bates' face when he learned the news was the sweetest thing. So adorable. It was also great seeing Gwen again. So nice getting to see where her life has gone since she left.

Jenn N: It was cool seeing Gwen. I had forgotten that it was Sybil who helped her. It was a nice way to remember her.

Rebecca T: That part made me cry. It was so sweet and I agree that it was a great way to remember Sybil's legacy.

Jenn N: I loved Tom's crack about his he married the bosses daughter to put Gwen at ease.

Rebecca T: I was so glad they managed to turn Thomas' evil plan on its head and it came back to bite him in the behind. It drives me crazy that he gets all worked up over the fact that no one likes him and then turns around and does something like that. He's putting himself out of a job and I have pretty much zero sympathy for him! But I am scared as to what he might do out of this raging jealousy. I'm also scared that Robert is going to die before the end of the series, and that would really tick me off.

Jenn N: I'm concerned about Robert too. I'm suspecting he may have a heart attack. Hopefully it won't be fatal but given that everyone is starting to seem too happy around Downton, this normally leads to despair.

Rebecca T: I don't know if it makes it better or worse to know this is the last season! I can see how they're winding things up, and I'm hoping it will be mainly happy endings, but they've never shied away from death or tragedy either.

So what do you think? What's coming up this week? We can't wait to find out!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kalevala: Tales of Magic and Adventure

"Better for me in the ocean,
dwelling deep beneath the waters;
be a sister to the whitefish,
sibling to the deep-sea creatures,
than be comfort to a dotard,
or to nurse a trembling codger."
- Rune 4: lines 247-252

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Downton Abbey Episode 6.3

Want a refresher on last week's Downton Abbey episode with some commentary from our very own Jenn N and Rebecca T? You've come to the right place!

Rebecca T: I am so glad Edith finally fired that editor. If he's going to show her such disrespect, then he can't stay. I was so happy that she ran into that agent again. I liked him back when we first met him and his coming along to help her out was totally a Rory/Logan from Gilmore Girls moment.

Jenn N.: I thought the same thing! I can't remember Mr. Handsome's name either but I love how he just jumped right in to help Edith with the paper. I mean, "that's how we do it at the Yale Daily News!"

Rebecca T: I'm happy that Anna is expecting again. I really hope she carries this pregnancy to term. Mary's comment to her, "Lord knows the problem isn't Bates," cracked. me. up. I so want Anna and Bates to end the season on a high note. Speaking of a high note, it was so nice to see Mrs. Hughes and Carson have a lovely, simple yet beautiful wedding.

Jenn N: I wish we got to see more of the wedding but it was a nice little ceremony. The simple breakfast party was more elaborate than I expected which was good. You only get married once, so live it up!

Rebecca T: Carson being nervous about the wedding was so adorable and his toast was sweet and romantic. I loved that Mrs. Patmore tried to order a nice dress and I was so bummed when it didn't work out.

Jenn N: I was glad that Mrs. Hughes finally got onto the spirit of trying to get a nice dress. I hate when people go all nutso over a gown like on "Say Yes to The Dress" but every bride deserves a little sparkle on her special day. I was glad that Cora finally calmed down and gifted Mrs. Hughes with the evening coat.

Rebecca T: God bless Cora! I was really hoping Mrs. Hughes didn't feel ambushed, but I was so glad Cora took the time to find out what Mrs. Hughes wanted for the wedding. Which is why it was so startling, I think, when she lashed out later. Mary can be very self-focused, but she can also be incredibly kind and thoughtful and I loved that she gave in to Mrs. Hughes wishes and then did what she could to make sure Mrs. Hughes had a nice dress, too. On another note, I was glad that Cora took the tour of the other hospital to try to get more information. I'm personally not all that vested in the hospital storyline, but it seems like you should try to get as many facts as you can before making a decision.

Jenn N: I'm worried for Spratt. Who knows what Denker will do with the secret she's keeping about his escaped convict nephew.

Rebecca T: I was surprised that Denker covered for Spratt's nephew. It does make me wonder what her motivation is. She reminds me a bit of Thomas in that way - she doesn't seem to do anything without an ulterior motive.

Jenn N: I'm thrilled that Tom came back. I am sorry that things didn't work out for him in the States but I think he's really good for Downton. His level head will help keep the estate going so it doesn't end up like the empty downtrodden ones that Thomas has been seeing on his job hunt.

Rebecca T: Yes! I'm so happy to see him! I think he's good for both Downton and for the show itself. I did sort of feel a little like he stole some of Carson and Elsie's thunder, though, showing up at their wedding breakfast. I know he knows them all, having walked in both worlds, but I felt like it took a little away from their day.

So what's going to happen tonight. Will Tom be able to slip back into his old place? Will Mary feel like she's lost her place since he's back? Will Daisy be able to calm herself down or will she end up sabotaging Mr. Mason's chances again?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Little Lit: Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Anna is seven years old and has lived in a world of languages and friends when her professor father leaves her with a friend and never comes back. It's 1939 in Poland and Anna finds herself alone in an unfriendly world until a tall, thin man sees her. He calls down birds to cheer her up and then warns her not to be seen. Anna follows him out of Krakow and through the Polish countryside. As they wander together, avoiding the dangerous Bears and Wolves that would hunt them down, Anna has to learn the best ways to survive in a hostile world.

What I Liked:
  • I liked the view of this time period from a very different perspective.
  • I loved the poetry of the language.
  • I liked the concept of someone being able to change languages by the day and the way that makes someone think about language and what people are saying or not saying through words.
What I Would Have Liked:
  • An explanation - I fully expected there to be some author's note at the end to clarify some of the very vague references that are made (especially near the end). I feel like I missed something even though I'm pretty sure I didn't. It started to feel like it was based on a true story of someone, but without an explanation, these very specific (yet vague) details left me confused and a little frustrated.
  • A better sense of time - Part of this is just the way the book is, but I would have liked a better sense of how much time had passed. Because I felt it was important to know Anna's age to better grasp her reactions to some of the events.
  • There was one scene near the end of the book that just felt gratuitously unnecessary. It didn't really add to the book or to the story. I understand bad things happen, but this particular scene (I don't want to be more specific because spoilers) didn't seem to serve a real purpose.
  • Overall I thought this was a beautifully written book. The ending felt a bit rushed to me, but the use of language made me glad that I read it.
  • Anyone interested in history, World War II, stories of growing up, or poetically written prose will enjoy this book.
I received this book as an advance reader copy at BookExpo America.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Downton Abbey Episode 6.2

So what did our favorite household get up to this week? Rebecca T and Jenn N weigh in on last week's Downton Abbey. Feel free to join in our conversation in the comments!

Jenn N: I laughed out loud when Robert offered to decorate the servants quarters for Carson and Mrs Hughes wedding.  It was well intended but ridiculous  offer.

Rebecca T: I loved the way Mary and Edith exchanged looks like "servant's hall!?" - I think it's the first thing they've completely agreed on in a long while! But I do hope that Mrs. Hughes sticks to her guns and that Carson doesn't choose Mary over her.

Jenn N: I do too. She deserves the wedding she wants and not the one Mary dictates they have.

Rebecca T: I do like that Mary's taking over as the Agent. I think it will be good for her to have something to really focus her attention on. However, for how selfish she can be, I love that Mary is insistent on offering help to Anna.

Jenn N: I also love when Mary shows her sensitive side, such as when she confided her own fertility struggles with Anna and offered her assistance in any way possible.

Rebecca T: Anna is so hard on herself. I'm glad she took Mary's help. After all, as Mary pointed out, Anna's helped Mary hide a body so I certainly think she could accept a doctor's visit!

Jenn N: "When you're married you never have to cry alone."  That was pretty much the most romantic  thing that I've ever heard.  I love that Bates continually supports Anna.  I hope that Mary's doctor is able to help Anna and Bates get the family they both so desire.

Rebecca T: Yes, yes, yes. I want them to have a baby and find a cute place to open a little B&B and be happy together. Also, when Anna was getting ready to go to London and told Bates, "Yes, I'll be putting my feet up" I about died from laughter. That was such a great little sly double entendre.

Jenn N: I really feel bad for Mrs. Drewe.  She loved Marigold like her own child so I can see why she's so "obsessed " with her.  I really wish Cora had interceded and thought up an excuse as to why Marigold couldn't visit the pigs at the farm.

Rebecca T: I feel even worse for Mr. Drewe having to give up his farm. Maybe he can just switch places with Daisy's father in law? It would solve both of their problems, right?

Jenn N: I agree pushing Mr Drewe away from his farm is terrible.  Lady Edith should be the one to relocate.  She can live in her flat in London with Marigold

Rebecca T: Yes. Edith needs to stand up for herself to that editor. She could learn some things from Mary if she would take half a chance. Moving to London, I think, would be really good for her. Daisy's intensity is understandable, but she needs to find a way to temper her passion. It's really too bad that Sybil isn't there anymore. She'd be a wonderful mentor for Daisy, I think. And on a side note, I like how much more relaxed and pleasant Baxter is now. She's softer and happier. I hope we get to see more of her this season.

So that's what we thought - anything you want to discuss? Do you agree with Daisy or think she needs to back off? Should Edith move to London? Will Mrs. Hughes get the wedding of her dreams?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

End of the Year Book Survey

I (Rebecca) stumbled across Reading Teen's End of the Year Book Survey and it just looked like so much fun, I thought I'd give it a try. Then I put it out there for my other borderless booksellers who added some of their thoughts as well!
Thanks to Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner for starting the fun :)

Just a note - these are based on books read in 2015, not books released in 2015
Number of Books You Read:
Rebecca - Somehow I managed to read 230 books this year. I'm still not entirely sure how I did that (though I did read some picture books and quite a few middle grade graphic novels, so that helped)

NaomiRuth - I read 115 books this year, although that doesn't count the many picture books I ended up reading as a kid's lead. I had hoped to read 120, but I made it over 100 so I really, really shouldn't complain.

Eileen - In 2015 I read 92 books. 8 short of my goal!

Jenn N - 56

Number of Re-Reads:
Rebecca - 28. I re-read the entire Series of Unfortunate Events, so there's 13 of those re-reads :)

NaomiRuth - 2. Clemency Pogue, Hobgoblin Proxy, both by JT Petty. They are one of the few books I re-read regularly.

Eileen - I had at least 6 re-reads. I think I read the Heroes of Olympus series 3 times!

Jenn N - 0

Genre You Read the Most From:
Rebecca - Oddly enough I read the most contemporary this year. Which I find really super odd. Fantasy was second, which makes more sense to me.

NaomiRuth - Fantasy like whoa. Spiritual/Religious books was second place.

Eileen - I read the most from YA.

Jenn N - Mystery/Thriller/Police Procedural
1. Best Book You Read in 2015?
Rebecca - This is SO HARD. I have so many different books I could choose from, but the one I keep coming back to is The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall. I am a huge fan of the series and this series closer had me bawling my eyes out, laughing, and wishing I lived next door to the Penderwicks.

NaomiRuth - This was one of the best year's reading for me. There were very few 'meh' books and no books I utterly hated. Despite all of the good books I read, however, I think I have to choose Laini Taylor's Days of Blood and Starlight. She is a teen writer/author who is doing it right. That book made me want to throw up, and it made me almost cry, and it made me laugh. It was wonderful. I love that series.

Eileen - My favorite book I read this year was The Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs. A great ending to the trilogy!

Jenn N - Fast Times at Ridgemont High by Cameron Crowe. Before it was a film, it was a book; a real, true story of Cameron's year undercover at an LA high school in 1980. It's been long out of print, but my dad hunted it down for me!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going to Love More but Didn't?
Rebecca - Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige. I wanted to like this SO much and I just didn't.

Eileen - I'm actually still working on finishing The Promise of the Child by Tom Toner. It was really difficult to get into, but I think I'm finally getting there.

Jenn N - Mastered by Maya Banks. From the description I thought it was going to be much racier and different than it was. It wasn't bad; it just wasn't at all what I was expecting.

3. Most Surprising (in a good way or bad way) Book You Read?
Rebecca - Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle - surprising in a good way. I wasn't expecting to get so sucked into this book (so much so that I stayed up late to finish it!) and was so excited to read the second one and meet the author at BEA.

NaomiRuth - Okay, weird book probably no one else read, but I got Sex at Dawn super cheap on my Kobo app. It's a non-fiction book looking at monogamy vs. polygamy, and it was a surprisingly fascinating read. I know way too much about bonobos now, but, you know. It was still interesting.

Eileen - My most surprising book this year was A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. A lot of people I spoke to said it was really dense and hard to get into because of length and multiple points of view. However, I enjoyed it and finished it rather quickly.

Jenn N - Vigilance by Ray Kelly. I confess to picking this up solely because I have a crush on his son, TV anchor Greg Kelly. I was blown away by how much the Fmr. Police Commissioner has done for NYC and National Security.

4. Book You "Pushed" the Most People to Read (and they did)?
Rebecca - I honestly can't think of one this year.

5. Best Series You Started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
Rebecca - Best Series Starter was A Darker Past by Jus Accardo/Best Sequel was Blood of the Queen by Amalia Dillin-I love her books SO MUCH /Best Series Ender was definitely Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers LOVED it.

NaomiRuth - Best series I started was the Cryptid Hunters series by Roland Smith. The last one comes out in paperback in a few weeks, and I'm excited to finish it.

Jenn N - Best Series You Started: City Love by Susane Colasanti. This was the first installment in a new contemporary romance trilogy. I can't wait for the next installment this summer. Best Sequel: Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline. I was thrilled when Lisa returned to the Rosatto & Associates novels, and this installment was the best yet. Best Series Ender: The Queen by Tiffany Reisz. The final installment in the Original Sinners series featured a great sotry and a satisfying ending to my favorite series.

6. Favorite New Author You Discovered in 2015?
Rebecca - Anne Bronte. HOW have I NOT read anything by her before?!

NaomiRuth - Epictetus. No. Seriously. The Epicurean philosopher. I loved The Enchiridion. Sadly, I think it's the only thing we have of his.

Eileen - The best new-to-me author I read this year was Steven Arntson. The Wrap Up List was really different but good. And made me want to read it again.

Jenn N - Karin Slaughter

7. Best Book from a Genre You Don't Typically Read/Was Out of Your Comfort Zone?
Rebecca - The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston with Mario Spezi - didn't expect to enjoy this as much as I did.

NaomiRuth - Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami. I don't usually read adult fiction that's not genre fiction. It wasn't my favorite, but I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would.

Eileen - A favorite new genre for me in 2015 was short stories. The best so far has been The Magic Barrel by Bernard Malamud. The stories are really raw and intense but feel complete, which has been difficult for me to find.

Jenn N - I never read a book like Hamster Princess before. It was adorable, a sweet story with cute illustrations and a little snark thrown in. I loved it. I can't remember enjoying a middle grade novel so much since The Babysitters Club.

8. Most Action-Packed/Thrilling/Unputdownable Book of the Year?
Rebecca - Dangerous by Shannon Hale - this woman never disappoints!

NaomiRuth - Chupacabra by Roland Smith. It was the second one of the series and I got it because of the name, obviously. How could I not read a book called Chupacabra? And the cover was fantastic. And it really grabbed my attention. Love middle grade books.

Eileen - The best action packed book this year is tied between The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan and The War of the Worlds by HG Wells.

Jenn N - Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.

9. Book You Read in 2015 That You Are Most Likely to Re-Read Next Year?
Rebecca - The Tapper Twins Go to War (with each other) by Geoff Rodkey - I have a review I want to do, but I need to re-read this before I can do it.

NaomiRuth - Hobgoblin Proxy or The Enchiridion. Unless I teach the same classes next year, than one of my books I read for the classes I teach.

Eileen - I will be re-reading the Peculiar Children books by Ransom Riggs. Love them!

Jenn N - Fast Times at Ridgemont High. In the words of Jeff Spicoli, this book is "awesome, totally awesome."

10. Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2015?
Rebecca - The Accidental Mother by Rowan Coleman - I enjoyed this book, and the cover is just gorgeous.

NaomiRuth - I think I have to choose Chupacabra, because the cover really got me to read the book.

Eileen - My favorite book cover in 2015 was A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Jenn N - The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose

11. Most Memorable Character of 2015?
Rebecca - Lila from A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

NaomiRuth - Zuzana from Days of Blood and Starlight.

Eileen - My favorite characters of 2015 are Bob (aka Iapetus) the Titan from The Heroes of Olympus and Littlest from Gossamer by Lois Lowry.

Jenn N - Harry Bosch became my new book boyfriend. I used to be obsessed with his half-brother, "The Lincoln Lawyer," but after reading 16 of the 20-book Bosch series this year alone, I've come to realize that Bosch is my soulmate book boyfriend.

12. Most Beautifully Written Book Read in 2015?
Rebecca - Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit - though I had mixed feelings on this book, I loved loved loved the writing style.

NaomiRuth - A later question made me think of an answer to this! Rilke's Book of Hours, definitely. Gorgeous. Love the way he uses words and the way the translators chose to portray him.

Jenn N - The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose, the beautiful cover matched the beautiful writing.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2015?
Rebecca - The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language, and the Cosmos by Gaston Bachelard - His thoughts on language, dreams, childhood, etc. are so intriguing.

NaomiRuth - Don't laugh, but possibly Zen of Zombie. It's supposed to be a parody on Zen books, but I found it surprisingly useful. I know. I'm ridiculous.

14. Book You Can't Believe You Waited UNTIL 2015 to Finally Read?
Rebecca - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte - as noted above, how on earth did I not read Anne before this year?

Jenn N - Fast Times at Ridgemont High. It was on my book bucket list for about 20 years.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From a Book You Read in 2015?
Rebecca - From A. A. Milne's essay "The Case for the Artist" in the essay collection If I May:
Jenn N - From In the Making by Farrah Abraham. I chose this quote because it's so baffling to me and has provided me with many laughs:
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read in 2015?
Rebecca - The shortest book I read tied between 3 picture books: Monkey and Duck Quack Up! by Jennifer Hamburg & Edwin Fotheringham, Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton, and What If...?by Anthony Browne at only 28 pages apiece. The shortest book that wasn't a picture book was Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew which was 40 pages long. The longest book I read was The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert & Susan Gubar at 692 pages!

NaomiRuth - Shortest: Story of a Boy Named Will, a picture book by Daniil Kharms, this Russian absurdist dude. Longest: impulse by Ellen Hopkins.

Eileen - Shortest book in 2015 was Corduroy at the Zoo by BG Hennessy @ 20 pages. Longest was a foray into another genre I ventured into simply because I hadn't touched it yet: What to Expect: The Toddler Years by Arlene Eisenberg @904 pages.

Jenn N - Shortest: Never Too Late by Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra (156 pages) Longest: Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter (688 pages)

17. Book That Shocked You the Most?
Rebecca - The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls by Wendy Delsol - there was a twist half way through this book that completely threw me for a loop.

NaomiRuth - Days of Blood and Starlight. Good grief. That book keeps coming up everywhere. But seriously. I had to walk away from that book. Although, Lemony Snicket's "Shouldn't You Be in School?" kinda' did too. I forgot about that book.

Jenn N - Vigilance by Ray Kelly - the amount of work this man has done was astonishing.

18. OTP of the Year (you will go down with this ship!)?
Rebecca - Alanna and Quinten from Samantha Hoffman's Arena Wars Trilogy. Quinten is so sweet and the two of them work well together as a couple.

Jenn N - Olivia Davidson & Ken Matthews from Sweet Valley High: Mystery Date. This was one of the installments of the series that I had never read until this summer. They're a really cute couple, and I really hate what ended up happening to them by the series' end.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship of the Year?
Rebecca - Becky and Felix from The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale - I adored their friendship so much.

Jenn N - Harry Bosch & Lucia Soto

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 from an Author You've Read Previously?
Rebecca - I think I again have to go with The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale. I am a massive Hale fan and I hadn't read this one before and I absolutely adored it.

NaomiRuth - Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon. I love that author/illustrator. She's amazing.

Jenn N - The Wrong Man by Kate White. Kate's books just keep getting better.

21. Best Book You Read in 2015 That You Read Based SOLELY on a Recommendation from Somebody Else/Peer Pressure?
Rebecca - Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman - ridiculous and hilarious

NaomiRuth - I read Rilke's Book of Hours based on a recommendation from a past professor, and it was amazing.

Jenn N - My best friend Jen loves M.J. Rose, which inspired me to read Witch of Painted Sorrows.

22. Newest Fictional Crush from a Book You Read in 2015?
Rebecca - ummm didn't really have one, but I guess I'll go with Peregrine from The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye because that book is my favorite and Perry is sweet and kind and funny and so lovable.

Jenn N - I think I'm marrying Harry Bosch

23. Best 2015 Debut You Read?
Rebecca - Since I already used The Penderwicks in Spring, I'll have to go with The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands. It was a historical fantasy and I loved the richness of the setting, the story, the characters - everything about it.

Jenn N - In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read this Year?
Rebecca - Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers - I love so many things about these books, but the worldbuilding is one of the things I love the most.

Jenn N - Any Sweet Valley High book, just kidding, kind of. Seriously though, Night Film by Marisha Pessl.

25. Book That Put a Smile on Your Face/Was the Most FUN to Read?
Rebecca - Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett was just absolutely hilarious.

NaomiRuth - Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection by Stephan Pastis.

Eileen - Best kid's book of 2015 was I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll. Seriously, doing the different monster voices was one of the most fun things I did this year!

Jenn N - Mr. Monk and the New Lieutenant by Hy Conrad. I was sad to see this series come to a close but being with these characters always puts a smile on my face.

26. Book That Made You Cry or Nearly Cry in 2015?
Rebecca - The Girl Who Could Not Dream by Sarah Beth Durst - It was really good and there was something that happened toward the end that had me gaping, crying, and gasping for breath.

NaomiRuth - The Nest by Kenneth Oppel and Jon Klassen. There was something about that book that just hit me and I definitely teared up standing in line at BEA.

Eileen - The book that made me cry this year was A Slip of the Keyboard by Terry Pratchett. I read it right after we lost him in March. His struggle with Alzheimer's is something I watched my family deal with a few times already. That, combined with the fact that he is no longer with us, well, there were tears.

27. Hidden Gem of the Year?
Rebecca - The Grace S. Richmond collection - I got this as part of a set of books when I got my first eReader and I finally got around to reading it. The stories are sweet and simple and lovely.

NaomiRuth - The Queen of the Pirate Isle by Bret Harte, which is a super old children's book, and was fascinating to see how children's book have changed and remained the same.

Jenn N - Together With You by Robin Jones Gunn. I think it's a shame that Christian YA, or in this case possibly Christian New Adult, as the characters are now exploring their post college adult lives, doesn't get more shelf space.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Rebecca - All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven - This book ripped me inside out in such a good way.

NaomiRuth - Days of Blood and Starlight. I know. I keep mentioning this book. But. This series.

Jenn N - Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter should come with a warning that a gut punch of emotions is packed inside.

29. Most Unique Book You Read in 2015?
Rebecca - Probably We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler - weird book

NaomiRuth - Ramayana: The Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel. I love books that mix together illustrations and text.

Jenn N - Night Film

30. Book That Made You the Most Mad (doesn't necessarily mean you didn't like it)?
Rebecca - Aerisia: Land Beyond the Sunset by Sarah Ashwood - I think this is the longest review I wrote on GoodRead's this year, and it was because I was so mad at wasting my time on this book :(

NaomiRuth - Black Elk's Vision. The more I read about Native American tribes and how invisible they are, and how they were/are treated, the more angry I get. Does that count as getting mad?

Jenn N - The fact that the events in Corrupted by Lisa Scottoline were based on real events was horrifying. I don't understand how one Judge could ruin the lives of so many children and corrupt the integrity of his job solely out of greed.
1. New Favorite Book Blog You Discovered in 2015?
Rebecca - Didn't do much exploring this year. Just finally got in the groove of posting regularly. Hopefully will get to explore more book blogs this year.

2. Favorite Review That You Wrote in 2015?
Rebecca - I think probably my review of Blood of the Queen by Amalia Dillin was my favorite post to write.

3. Best Discussion/Non-Review Post You Had on Your Blog?
Rebecca - Okay, so it was kind of a review, but it wasn't book related and I loved doing my 10 Things I Love About Teen Wolf post.

4. Best EventThat You Participated In (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Rebecca - Book Expo America was definitely a highlight for me this year. I got to meet so many authors and pick up so many fantastic books. I'm really bummed it will be too far away to go this year, but it will probably be good for my bookshelves!

Jenn N - BEA as always

5. Best Moment of Bookish/Blogging Life in 2015?
Rebecca - I got to meet Ernest Cline and get Armada signed and I got to meet Mo Willems and get his latest Elephant and Piggie book signed! WOOT

6. Most Challenging Thing About Blogging or Your Reading Life This Year?
Rebecca - Keeping going when we don't get many comments. I've had to re-evaluate my reasons for blogging and figure out how I can blog for me (while also keeping content fresh and readable)

NaomiRuth - Making the time to blog -_- Which I mostly fail at.

7. Most Popular Post This Year on Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
By views, our most popular post was Rebecca Ts "What I'm Reading Now: May Edition" - A close second was her review of Amalia Dillin's Blood of the Queen.

8. Post You Wished Got a Little More Love?
Rebecca - I was a little surprised at the low views on my review of Shannon Hale's Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party, which was an adorable book that should get all the love.

9. Best Bookish Discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Rebecca - I discovered Recaptains, a website with recaps of books in series, so you can refresh your memory before reading the next one when you've waited a year for it to come out (or didn't get to it as fast as you wanted). I haven't used it yet, but plan to avail myself of it this year for a couple of series!

10. Did You Complete Any Reading Challenges or Goals That You Had Set for Yourself at the Beginning of This Year?
Rebecca - I had a couple of different challenges going on this year. On GoodReads I pledged to read 200 books, which I did. I wrote a post about my year's reading stats over on my personal blog. I also took part in the PopSugar Reading Challenge, which I also wrote about on my personal blog. In addition, I had some personal book-ish resolutions, which I completed (you can see my recap over on my personal blog as well)

NaomiRuth - I read over 100 books, I read in a genre I don't usually read in (historical fiction), and I read more books that I own than books that I don't own.
1. One Book You Didn't Get to in 2015 but Will be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?
Rebecca - Unleashed by Sophie Jordan. I have had this sitting around since it came out and I desperately want to read it. It's got to go to the top of my list this year! I have a couple of others that are at the top of my list too (Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs and Fairest and Winter by Marissa Meyer, which I can't believe I haven't read yet!)

NaomiRuth - The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle (I re-read it every two years, and I didn't last year, so...) and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor.

Jenn N - I don't make TBR lists, I just read whatever "speaks" to me when I'm finished with my current read.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating for 2016 (non-debut)?
Rebecca - I don't tend to plan ahead on what I'm reading too much, but I am getting ready to attack Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton, since I've become obsessed with the Broadway musical. I'm really looking forward to learning more about his life as it seems to have been really fascinating!

NaomiRuth - Mutation by Roland Smith and the next Dragonbreath book by Ursula Vernon.

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Rebecca - Definitely Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers. I met Sarah through a Lost blog years ago and have enjoyed being her online friend and blogger buddy. I was so thrilled to learn she was getting published and I'm absolutely dying to get my hands on this book!

NaomiRuth - Going to agree with Rebecca on this one.

Eileen - I'm really hoping Tahereh Mafi's Furthermore will be published this year!

Jenn N - Jenn N - The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz
Also, if there are any debut authors reading this, please email us at bwobny @ gmail - Tell us about your book and we'll let you know if we'll be able to review it!

4. Series Ending/Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
Rebecca - Probably V. E. Schwab's  A Gathering of Shadows, which is the follow up to A Darker Shade of Magic. I loved the worldbuilding in the first one and am looking forward to what Lila will get up to in the sequel!

NaomiRuth - same answer as question 2 :P

Jenn N - The sequel to City Love. I felt the first installment was really taking off and then it was over.

5. One Thing You Hope to Accomplish or Do in Your Reading/Blogging Life in 2016?
Rebecca - Keep consistent on this blog. I found a rhythm toward the end of 2015 and have actually been posting reviews really regularly. I'd like to keep that up.

NaomiRuth - blog more regularly, and read more books that I own so I can get through my TBR piles.

Eileen - That I will hit my goal of 100 books!

Jenn N - I want to get back to regular posts/reviews. I struggled in 2015 with getting my thoughts out of my head and onto the blog.

6. A 2016 Release You've Already Read & Recommend to Everyone?
Rebecca - The ARCs I picked up at BEA didn't include any from 2016, so I actually don't have one of these, shockingly enough!

Jenn N - Not applicable - but I'd love to get some feedback on great new reads!

So, what were your favorite books of the year? Anything you're looking forward to for next year? We'd love to hear about them!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Downton Abbey 6.1

Rebecca T: We are both excited for the new season of Downton Abbey and sad that it will be the last. The first episode of season 6 was overall a good opener for the beginning of the end. What was your favorite part of the episode?

Jenn N: My favorite storyline of the night was Mrs Hughes having Mrs. Patmore inquire about Carson's wedding night and married life expectations.  It was hilariously awkward but then really sweet when Carson confessed he loved Mrs. Hughes completely as she was as I expected.

Rebecca T: Asking Mrs. Patmore to talk to Carson about Mrs. Hughes and Carson's physical relationship was the most ridiculous thing ever. Both of them are just so awkward and it was one of the most hilarious conversations on this show. I do agree that it was completely adorable when Carson was able to express, to both Mrs. Patmore and then to Elsie (using her first name just feels weird!), how he felt. Adorable. And speaking of adorable, even though it went horribly awry, I loved Daisy's passionate speech, especially remembering how little she originally wanted to do with Mr. Mason.

Jenn N: I was just as outraged as Daisy was that Mr. Mason may lose his farm.  Hopefully her outburst won't jeopardize things for him. I was also really annoyed that Denker tried to mess with Spratt.  Poor Spratt, he's already saddled with a goofy name.  He doesn't need the threat of unemployment on top of it.  However, you can never mess with the Dowager and I love how she put Denker in her place.

Rebecca T: Telling a maid not to talk is like telling a dog not to bark, at least when it comes to Denker. I just wanted to smack Denker upside the head. Love that Lady Grantham knows how to get back at Denker, but there's got to be something done about her disdain for orders. On another note, is it bad that I don't care at all about the whole hospital squabble thing? I do like the tete a tetes between Violet and Isobel, but them being at each other's throats again just feels a little tired.

Jenn N: It was great to see Dr. Clarkson again, though. Perhaps he'll stick around and try again at starting a romance with Isobel?

Rebecca T: Hm. I don't know if I see them being right for each other. I'm also curious if anyone is going to come out of the woodwork for Mary, or if they're setting her up to be happily single, at least for now. Though there is the creepy hotel maid skulking around.

Jenn N: I was surprised that security isn't tighter at the house. Mary's blackmailer seemed to enter way too easily. Her lie to get upstairs was rather flimsy.  As this problem was resolved by the episode's end, it seemed a little too neat.  I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Rebecca T: Yeah, that's definitely one thing I don't think we've seen the end of. Though we did finally see the end of the Mr. Green nonsense. Finally. But I am getting a little tired of the dumping on Anna and Bates. Can they please just have nothing horrible happen to them the rest of the season?

Jenn N: I really think the writers owe Anna & Bates something really wonderful to happen for them. They've been through so much misery! Hopefully this whole Mr. Green debacle is really and truly behind them now.  I'd like to see them have a family like they dream of.  Perhaps Anna's miscarriages were just due to the extreme stress of the Mr. Green mess?

Rebecca T: I was thinking the same thing. Anna has certainly been very stressed and I know that can have a big impact on fertility. Maybe now that things have settled there, the two of them will be able to start that family they want (and deserve!).

Jenn N: I'd also like to see Edith have some real happiness.  She's another character that the writers keep dumping on.  I think it'd do her a world of good to move to London and be really hands on with the newspaper.

Rebecca T: I put almost the exact same words down when I was watching the episode. I hope Edith can finally find some real happiness. It would be great for her to have a house away from her family and be able to do something that she is good at. One last thing that stood out to me was the way Thomas is the one that George and Marigold gravitate to. He's really very sweet with the children (though I have to wonder if he has some sort of ulterior motive because Thomas). But I am tired of him whining that nobody likes him when he's gone out of his way to hurt almost every single person in that household. I'll be curious to see where they go with his character, especially with the hints that his position isn't sustainable.

So overall a nice set up of the final season. It will be interesting to see what twists and turns arise over the course of the next few episodes.