Thursday, September 29, 2022

Why I Dislike Audiobooks (But think they are great anyway!)

So this post might get me in hot water with some of my new bookish friends but I'm going to write it anyway....I'm not famous so who cares, right? Anyway, I was thinking about this topic after trying for the umpteenth time to listen to a book in the car and wondering why I wasn't feeling it. Was it the book? The narrator? My inability to drive? I absolutely love listening to podcasts....audiobooks....not so much. 

 Reason 1: The pacing

When I'm actually reading a book I can ponder it more. Go back and think about something that didn't make sense, re-read it, use the search button on my Kindle to look up a character or event I've forgotten about. With an audiobook it's full speed ahead. No chance to stop and think over what I'm hearing. Sure you can hit the back button but who has time for that, and especially if you are driving.

Reason 2: Cheesy Narration

The narration is a big one for me too. Some books are fine if the narrator basically reads the story with a few slight accent changes or tone employed. But go all out and are so over dramatic I start to cringe. It's the anti-theater kid inside me I guess. I've never been much into acting or stagecraft so I probably don't relate. But I just want to hear the character I've created in MY head and when someone else is acting out their version of that dialogue I just can't get into it.

Reason 3: Not actually using reading skills

Another reason for my dislike of audiobooks is the lack of reading skills being acquired. You aren't really learning to read but rather to listen. That's all well and good but reading is its own special discipline. One of my big soapboxes with our era is that technology has made it possible for people to never ever pick up a book and actually read it. Videos, audio, etc. mean you can acquire lots of wonderful knowledge without ever reading a single word. I think that's a disservice to us. Sitting in the quiet, creating the story in your head, learning new vocabulary and spelling are all missed out on with audiobooks. It's greatly contributing to our attention deficit society.

Reason 4: They are costly

I don't know about you but I want to actually own the books I read. Sometimes I even get annoyed when they are on my Kindle only and I don't have the hard copy. That feels like cheating to me! So an audiobook, for the price, just doesn't cut it. And in some cases I've found they are more expensive than just buying the book. I know Audible has a membership that is relatively inexpensive but again, you still don't own the book. I just can't imagine paying for just the rights to hear it and not read it too as many times as I want. 

Reason 5: Abridged Versions Abound

This is a common complaint from those I've talked to who listen to a lot of audiobooks. You think you are getting the whole, original book only to listen and then think..."doesn't this seem kind of....short?" Well that's because they've cut out whole sections of the book in order to make it work for the audio. No way. Give me the whole story or you'd better make sure I know that up front!

Why audiobooks are still useful:

Okay, now that I've alienated many audio book lovers out there let me backtrack a little and say that they are useful for certain circumstances. If someone is dyslexic, or unable to read I am so happy there is something out there for them to use that works for them and allows them to read more quickly or hear stories that might otherwise be off limits to them. 

Also, for kids who haven't yet developed the stamina or phonics skills to read whole chapter books, audiobooks can be a great bridge to getting them to love reading. And of course you people whose jobs require hours upon hours of driving, I totally get it. My hat's off to you because I couldn't do it. And I'm glad you can keep your job and still enjoy a good book.

For the rest of you, if that is what you enjoy, we are still each his own and happy listening. But don't discount the satisfaction you'd get from giving yourself a little "me" time and enjoying the quiet, calm time of reading. For me there is no comparison.

What about you? Do you love audiobooks? Am I totally crazy and wrong? Let me know!


Monday, September 26, 2022

Queen of Swords by Judith Tarr


Publication Date:  1997

Length:  464 pages

My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐☆☆  3 out of 5 stars


This was the first Judith Tarr novel I'd run across. It looked interesting and I hadn't found another book concerning Queen Melisende of Jerusalem that was historical fiction. Also, it is part of a trilogy about Melisende, Cleopatra, and Theophano (I'd never even heard of her!) Judith Tarr has a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies, not something to be taken lightly when considering whether she has the background knowledge to write about the time period. So I was excited to try this book out. I was surprised to find out it was written in 1997 and I'd never seen it before. I settled in to read all about Melisende and her life in novel form.

I got about a third of the way through it and realized that strangely enough it wasn't really Melisende who took center stage. It was the fictional character, Richildis, and her fictional family. That would be fine in a historical fiction novel so I found it a bit odd that the book was subtitled "An Epic Tale of the Princess of the Crusades" and that the book jacket talks all about how it is a story about Melisende. It really isn't at all. She doesn't even appear all throughout the book. Nevertheless I decided to keep reading assuming the story would still cover the time period in an interesting way. 


In Jerusalem in the early 1100's, Lady Richildis has arrived to try and convince her brother, Bertrand, to return with her to France and reclaim his lands and home, La Foret. Bertrand, who is firmly dedicated to his life in Jerusalem, is adamant that he will not return with her and immediately sets about creating a life for his sister in the Crusader states. Richildis is at first homesick and bewildered by the difference in culture, the heat, the style of dress, food, and all the opulence found in the Middle East. She wants to return home as quickly as possible but has vowed not to do so without her brother. Before long though she is settled in the household of Melisende as an attendant and begins to adjust and even enjoy her new life. Still dreaming of returning to France one day, she tries to accept that for now she is stuck in a foreign land under the care of others.

Melisende, wed to Fulk of Anjou, is frustrated in her role as wife and mother. She has ambitions beyond her household and through her birthright believes she has the better claim on ruling than her Frankish husband. Born into an influential family, but being female, she is unable to fully realize her autonomy as ruler although she is given more say in diplomacy than most women of her day. Richildis, witnessing the daily frustrations of the Queen, becomes a trusted confidant. She is one of the few around Melisende able to break through her rather cold and dominating personality. 

Meanwhile, Bertrand has made a secret life for himself with Courtesan, Helena. Unable to fully commit to one another initially, they spend their days dancing around their true feelings. When an unexpected event occurs, they both find themselves at odds with each other and what to do about their future. Richildis also begins a love affair with a Byzantine nobleman, Michael, someone who is so radically different from her in background and breeding that it seems impossible they will ever make a life together. The two couples spend a good deal of time coming together and falling apart before finally reconciling their futures. 

Of course as the novel takes place across a span of twenty years, much is happening in the Crusader states around them. Beginning in the year 1129 and ending in 1153, the characters are taken on several journeys that include the second crusade and time spent with real life figures, Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Louis of France. There are several famous battles and political events dramatized. The childhood and move into young adulthood of Melisende's sons Baldwin and Amalric are portrayed along with their fictional childhood companion, Arslan and as the novel draws to a close we are left wondering what becomes of them all. 


This book kind of had to grow on me. My initial disappointment that it wasn't really about Melisende made it hard to shift gears. Because my favorite kind of historical fiction centers around real people, I have to be prepared to accept fictional characters as the focus. It took a bit of further reading but I came to enjoy Richildis, Michael, Bertrand, and Helena's stories. Tarr creates compelling background, dialogue, and culture so that they seem authentic for the time. I especially liked how she chose to have Michael come from an entirely different background than the others and as their relationship progresses, he and Richilidis have to learn to accept suspicion from all sides. 

The descriptions of life in Jerusalem and the battles and political drama of the day are nicely detailed although if you are looking for a book with lots of action, this is not the one to choose. It centers around the character relationships and war and fighting take a backseat to personal dramas. 


The negatives for this book for me include her depiction of Eleanor of Aquitaine and the length of the book. I felt Eleanor was the one character she presented as one dimensional and cold, conniving, and scheming. It was one of the few books in which I walked away not liking her character at all. This is odd because I have always found her to be multi layered and fascinating. Here she seems selfish and immature. Not at all how I envision her but maybe Tarr is onto something? After all, she has the Ph.D. in this area! The book is quite long and there were times it dragged a bit. I think some of the personal interactions between the couples could have been cut down and more history included. But it is just a quirk of style and I still learned a lot and was entertained.


I would recommend this book if you are interested in this time period and want a rich picture of Jerusalem during the Crusader states' glory days. I find precious few books on this time period as it is so I admire Tarr for tackling the subject. 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Murder At the Breakers (A Gilded Newport Mystery) by Alyssa Maxwell


Publication Date:  March 25, 2014

Length:  304 pages

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆  3 out of 5 stars


This was a new author for me and there are several sequels to this series, so I was excited to read this book. The cover and title looked really intriguing too and I just love all things Newport and Gilded Age themed! This book takes the well known Vanderbilt family and adds a fictional character, murder mystery, and internal drama. It's a great premise with lots of potential.


It's 1895 in Newport, Rhode Island and Emma Cross is going to be attending a ball at the home of her distant cousin, Cornelius Vanderbilt. Emma loves her family but shuns the high society snobbery she is unwillingly a part of and walks the line between attending necessary functions and keeping her day job. Unusual for her time, she insists on her independence and because her parents are often absent and abroad living the wandering, European lifestyle, Emma has gotten used to being her own woman. Her brother Brady is a different story. He is often in some sort of trouble and has had problems getting along in life. When he is accused of murdering Cornelius's secretary, Emma vows to do everything she can to clear his name. The fact that he is found passed out in an upstairs room with a bottle of bourbon and stolen railroad documents beside him makes this quite challenging. The victim plunged to his death off the balcony and everyone is sure Brady is the culprit.

As Emma begins to work on unraveling clues to the identity of the real killer, she encounters another reporter, Derrick, who at first appears to be a bit shady. Delving further into the case, he becomes her trusted ally and the two work together to help exonerate Brady. Along with more Vanderbilt relatives and her faithful Nanny, who has been with her forever, she has lots of support. But the facts are damaging and it is not easy to convince the police and sometimes herself that Brady is innocent. 


This story starts strong and has a good mystery. It kept me guessing and I didn't figure it out until it was revealed at the end. The descriptions of Newport high society, the ball, homes, clothes, and mannerisms were captivating enough to keep me reading. It was rich with details in many of these areas and it felt like the author had a good, personal grasp on the city and its history. Reading about the intricate details of the Breakers and the Cliffs around it were informational to me as I had no background knowledge of the area. I liked that she included the real Vanderbilt family and their famous home as the backdrop for the murder. That is my kind of historical murder mystery.


If I'm writing an honest review I'd say that the negatives were that the author has too many modern day sensibilities infused in the dialogue and storyline of Emma. Things she says and does often don't ring true for someone raised in her time period and atmosphere. She is independent to a fault in that she states this way too many times throughout the story. Her determination to not fall into the trappings of high society and her relatives' money are admirable but unlikely for a young lady of this era. I know there are always rare exceptions but I'd have felt more authenticity if she'd had a little humility about her situation and the help offered by her family. She simultaneously scorns them while also using them to cover stories for her newspaper articles. This seems a bit disingenuous for a fiercely independent lady. I think I'm just weary of this kind of female character in historical novels and would like authors to accept that it's okay to have old fashioned values in a story taking place over a hundred years ago. This would greatly contribute to the feeling of the era. 

RECOMMEND OR NOT?  MOSTLY YES- It isn't entirely my cup of tea but it's not a bad read

I'm honestly not sure when I will read the next book. It is just interesting enough to try again but the modern voice puts a damper on things. Maybe it will improve as the series progresses so it's always good to give it another try when I'm not sure. And cozy mysteries are just good for the soul when you need some levity in this world!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Why I Can't Read One Book At a Time


My current pile:
  • A Witness To Murder by Verity Bright (Cozy Mystery)
  • A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (Mystery)
  • Falls the Shadow by Sharon Kay Penman (Historical Fiction)
  • A Christmas Deliverance by Anne Perry (Victorian Mystery)
  • The Royal Stuarts by Allan Massie  (History)

I have tried. I have really, really tried to just read one book at a time. And every now and then I'm successful. But not very often. So I was wondering how normal I am? Or if anyone else struggles with this problem.  I have friends who ask me how on earth I can concentrate on more than one book at at time. But I'm asking the opposite of them: How can you only read one book at a time? Here are my reasons for that stack by my bed or in my Kindle:

1. Genre Hopping:

While it's true I'm partial to mysteries and historical fiction, I also love history and politics. Also, within the genres there are sub-genres like cozy mysteries, Victorian mysteries, and of course the others I mentioned have too many to count. I'd love to be able to concentrate on one genre as I read but after a few days with that particular type of book I just want something different for awhile. Switching it up keeps my brain active and gives me more to think about.

2. Impatience:

My reading personality is all over the place sometimes. I'll literally wake up excited about one story and by bedtime I'm over it. Then the next day I'm thinking, "Wait.....I wonder what happens with such and such character, I should probably keep reading that later today..." Weird, I know. But true. 

3. Book Length:

This is a big one for me! I love long, epic novels. I also love thorough history books. But I don't like reading them in one sitting, or even one week. The only way I can enjoy really long books is to break them into chunks. I like to read about a third of a really long book, take a break with something lighter and shorter, and then come back to the next phase of the big book. It keeps me looking forward to it and I don't feel as overwhelmed about finishing it immediately. And then, ironically, this causes me to stay motivated to actually finish it. Reverse psychology!

4. FOMO:

I have really got to work on this one. It's downright embarrassing how much this affects me at my age. Who hits that "Discover" button on the Kindle app? Me! And it is down the rabbit hole. My fellow book bloggers are to blame too. You guys have such interesting blogs and book recommendations that I feel like I have to read ALL THE BOOKS! When I determine this is the reason for hopping around to different books I have to stop.....and remind myself that I will never, ever be able to read them all. Not in a hundred lifetimes. So stick to the ones I really care about. And get over my fear of missing out. 

5. More book reviews:

Before I started this blog this wasn't even a consideration. I'd just read whatever, return the book, and move on with my life. Now, the pressure....the pressure to have something new to talk about. I am in awe of my blogger friends who have been doing this for literally a decade or more. You are amazing! In order to keep reviewing books to discuss you almost have to have several going at once. Otherwise you'd never finish. I wonder if ya'll agree?

6. My Noisy Family:

I live with three loud boys. One of them is my husband. All three of them are very smart, well educated, excellent readers. But none of them read. They are too addicted to gaming, social media, and sports. So finding time and quiet to sit and absorb a nice, intricately written book is sometimes nearly impossible when they are around. If I didn't have a variety of books to read at any given time I'd be frustrated. I have to be able to read when things are noisy and interrupted so having different books going at once is a must if I'm ever going to finish something. 

7. Upcoming Sequels:

This is an interesting reason for reading multiple books. But as I thought about this post I realized that often I will find out a series book is about to publish the next volume and I just can't wait to see what is going to happen next with the characters. Instead of forcing myself to wait (see #2- Impatience) I figure, why not go ahead and start on the next, new book? If I do this I'm less likely to get obsessed with wanting to know what has been happening with the story and neglect other books I'm reading that might be good on their own. I find that once I start the sequel book I often don't mind stopping a few chapters in and working on my other books. The excitement has died down a bit. Anyone else do this too?

8. Annoyance with characters or plot line:

Okay, this is probably the dumbest reason on this list. But I'm going to be honest. I have found myself reading a book I really enjoy and somewhere along the way something will happen that just either doesn't ring true to the story or maybe the main character is behaving in a way that irritates me or I realize I just don't care as much about the time period as I did before. Surprisingly though if I take a break and come back to the book later I find I really do want to finish it after all. And I can get over the annoyances to press on to the end.

There are probably more reasons I read several books at once, but these are the main ones I find come to mind. Do you read one book at a time? Or do you have a stack like me? 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Queens of England by Norah Lofts


Publication Date: September 1, 1977

Length: 192 pages

My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  5 out of 5 stars


The world lost an amazing lady this week. At the age of 96, Queen Elizabeth II passed away and an era ended. I wanted to take a time out from cozy mysteries and historical fiction and review a book near and dear to my heart honoring all the Queens of England since, well, before there really were true queens reigning. It is sad to know that this book, published in 1977, will now have to be updated for the first time. Queen Elizabeth sat on the throne for 70 years, longer than any other British monarch and longer than any other female head of state in history. When I think of all she witnessed and influenced over her life it is truly amazing. 

I chose to review this book in honor of her because it was my literal obsession as a small child and what got me hooked completely on a lifelong fascination with the British monarchy and history in general. No I haven't read it cover to cover this month but I don't need to. I almost have it memorized. That's how many times I've read and studied it over the last 40 plus years. 


It details in short, 3-5 page summaries, the lives of all the female monarchs plus more obscure, earlier rulers such as Boadicea and mythical queens like Guinivere and Bertha of Kent. Giving just the basic facts, dates, and life events of each queen it nonetheless has a depth to each story that kept me coming back again and again to read about the lives of each one. There are literal stains from food and drink that are still imprinted in my original hardcover copy, evidence of my re-reading over the years but I can't bear to buy a new copy. This one is worn and special! You can still buy a new one from Amazon, but only hardcover and used ones aren't hard to find. It is worth every penny.

Each queen's story follows a similar pattern. Lofts starts with some interesting personal facts and then moves on to their early years, eventual marriage to the King or, if it is a queen in her own right such as Mary Tudor or Victoria, the how and why she came to the throne. Any romances or major tragedies are mentioned and wrapped up with a unique quote or mention of where she is buried. I always enjoyed how the short biographies convey a personal feel without spending too much time on politics or battles, that is not the theme of this book. Rather it is written in such a way that I remember even as a child, not understanding all the life events yet, I felt like I knew each one after I finished reading. Often I'd pick up this book as a research tool when delving deeper into time periods or individual biographies. Her timelines kept me focused so I could zoom out and see the larger picture, helping me to go back and study one of the subjects in more detail in another book. Being an American, these ladies were not much mentioned in school. Until I went to college and studied British history I was pretty much alone in this area of academia. We started at the Revolutionary War and even then it wasn't as if we spent time learning about Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King George III. 


Some funny things come to mind when I remember reading this book. The pictures are amazing and truly unique. I recall as a child of about 10 or so not wanting to look at the picture of "Bloody Mary Tudor," as her eyes frightened me. They are dark and serious and her face is described as "grief-stricken and ill." It really freaked me out. Other pictures that stuck with me are the effigy of Berengaria of Navarre, a colorized portrait of Katherine of Aragon, and a Holbein painting of Henry VIII. There are too many to list but they are a collection I haven't found in any other book all together. I remember spending time in my room just staring at and studying each picture, looking at the clothes, hairstyles, and facial expressions of each one, feeling as if I had stepped back in time. It was my window into a world before photographs and videos. 



RECOMMEND:  Absolutely!

I pondered this week which queen will go next in a book like this one. Camilla isn't likely, as she is not being labeled "Queen of England" and Kate Middleton is probably the next in line. The what ifs come to mind concerning Diana, if she had lived and she and Charles had not fallen out. But what I really think about is how I've been alive for 48 years and not once has the current Queen of England changed until last Friday, September 8th. We who love this part of history have taken it for granted that Queen Elizabeth would just live forever. It will take a long time to get used to any other woman with that title. King Charles III just sounds odd to my ears and seems surreal. My grandmother, who is 93 this year says she has always felt a kinship with Queen Elizabeth due to their close ages and life experiences. She was a classy lady possessing traits we sorely need more of today like stoicism and attention to duty. The world will miss her. I hope the history books treat her well, she deserves respect despite any family flaws or political imperfections, as she gave her best to God and country. May she rest in peace. 


Thursday, September 15, 2022

Death At the Dance by Verity Bright (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery) Book Two


Publication Date: July 6, 2020

Length: 274 pages

My Rating:  ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆  4 out of 5 stars


This series is becoming my favorite time out from long, heavy books. That isn't to say it isn't clever and well written because it is, but rather it is a nice uplifting way to spend a few days with a fun read. I didn't plan to review book two so soon but I got a break between other, longer books and decided I had to see what Ellie and Clifford were up to. Also, I shared my review of book one with the author and received a kind reply. So that was nice!


Death at the Dance picks up shortly after A Very English Murder. Ellie is just settling into life at Henley Hall and starting to feel part of the community. After her dazzling display of detective skills in catching the murderer of the man at the quarry she is perplexed to find herself involved yet again in another case. Who would have thought? While attending a masquerade party at her new squeeze's mansion, she encounters a dead body, upstairs with her love interest, Lance Fenwick-Langham, standing over the corpse holding a candlestick and the family jewel safe wide open. It looks bad. Really, really bad. Ellie doesn't quite know what to think, but her affection for Lance and his family cause her to delve into the how and the why and to vigorously defend Lance from accusers. 

Of course her trusty butler, Clifford, and her loyal bulldog, Gladstone are on the case too. Clifford retains his stiff, yet loving demeanor and advises Ellie how to go about inserting herself into Lance's group of friends, whom Ellie has not gotten to know well yet. They are a hard partying, drinking, expensive crowd of poor little rich society, young adults who live to torment one another and spend Mother and Father's money. While they are sympathetic to Lance's predicament and want him released from jail as soon as possible, they don't slow down with their wild lifestyle. Ellie begins to attend parties and nightclubs and even treasure hunts that last all night in an attempt to see if one of them might be holding a grudge against Lance or the deceased. She hopes to find out if they might have seen or heard something the night of the murder that will help exonerate him. 

Just when she is beginning to make progress with the group, one of them dies in a mysterious car accident. While it appears to be an innocent coincidence on the surface, Ellie senses something more. The dead friend seemed to have been a bit of a misfit with the group and unhappy in their role as the friend without a major trust fund at their disposal. Now simultaneously investigating both suspicious deaths, along with auditioning for the local theater club, Ellie has her hands and social calendar full. And it is about to intensify as there are more sinister events to come.


Being someone who loves history and mysteries this book appeals to me. But being someone who needs some depth to her stories I was afraid it wouldn't deliver. It honestly has both. While I love cozy mysteries, often I give up on them if the dialogue is too simplistic or the atmosphere is not realistically historic enough. If you keep reading this series you find that there is a subtle wit there that keeps you chuckling and the author does a good job of adding little touches that make you feel like you've landed in the suggested time period. Descriptions of clothes, the way the staff interacts, the way the bars and dancing are described all align with my vision of how the early 20th century wealthy class might have lived. Clifford, Ellie, and Lance all speak and behave in a way consistent with how I picture them if they stepped out of a cute English village and the mystery is revealed slowly but with enough intrigue to keep me guessing.


Sometimes the story was a little simplistic for my taste and it certainly isn't an intellectual book. But that isn't the audience it's written for so there really isn't much to complain about. It's just a cute, fun read!


In some ways I found this to be better than book one. It seemed cleverer and more realistic to the setting. I found it harder to guess at the culprit and it reminds me of a lighter, funnier Agatha Christie novel or a Father Brown story.  I want to continue with the series as each book seems to have a different vibe based on the titles. But it's nice to know the same basic characters will be present. It's a great read when you just want something short but entertaining. 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

You Haven't Read That??? Books I haven't read yet....but everyone thinks I should.


I promised my son I'd credit him for this post idea so....thanks son! Tonight we were at the kitchen table and he was doing homework and I was working on my blog. He randomly asked me, "Hey Mom, have you read the book War and Peace by Tolstoy?" When I said no he replied, "What? You haven't?", and it got me thinking. How many books have I not read only to be told by someone I should? Or seen surprise in someone's face when I tell them I had no interest in a certain classic? Or how many times have I gotten my "I've read all the books judgey face" with others? Sadly, more than I'd like to admit. On both counts. But it makes for a fun opinion post! 

When I think about a list like this of course the classics come to mind. But there are also modern books written in the last 20 years that make the cut. I can get in a rut and read a certain time period or author and not be interested in anything else. Also, some classics are just too dang complicated. Am I right?? If I have to look up every 5th word I come across it now becomes an assignment. And I'm too old for school. Below are just a few of the books that some might be surprised I haven't read yet. What are yours?

1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

I started this book one time. I really did ya'll. But I didn't get past the first couple of chapters. Whether it was the character development or time period I'm not sure but it just didn't grab my attention. I feel tremendous pressure to read it. My Dad thinks it's crazy I haven't. And honestly I've never met a soul who said, "Gee, I really wish I'd never read War and Peace." So I will make my best effort to try again. Someday. Those of you who've read it...convince me! I'm all ears!

Amazon synopsis: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy explores the nature of war and peace. The novel tells the story of aristocratic families, the Rostovs and the Bolkonskys, as they experience the Napoleonic Wars. Tolstoy examines the consequences of war on both individuals and on society as a whole. He explores the possibility of lasting peace. War and Peace is considered to be one of the greatest novels ever written.

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

I already know I'm going to offend someone no matter what I say so I'll just be honest: this is a children's book to me. I can't get past that. I know, I know, a million people will argue with me that it either isn't a children's book or say that even if it is I should still read and enjoy it. Sorry, but I just have too many adult TBR books to finish first. Maybe someday I'll decide to give it a whirl but as I'm not into fantasy unless it's historic time travel and I am not a big fan of YA it's probably just not going to happen. But I still love to hear how others enjoy it. To each his own.

Amazon synopsis: Harry Potter spent ten long years living with Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, an aunt and uncle whose outrageous favoritism of their perfectly awful son Dudley leads to some of the most inspired dark comedy since Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But fortunately for Harry, he's about to be granted a scholarship to a unique boarding school called THE HOGWORTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY, where he will become a school hero.

3. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

I really want to like this book. Awhile back my Mom mentioned she'd read it and I was surprised. It just didn't seem like something she'd read. But she really went on about how riveting it was. The topic sounds sooooo boring. But it must be a classic for a reason and I do understand that the real story isn't just the man vs. whale but rather man vs. soul. I'm sure there is deep value in it that I'm going to miss if I don't try it so it will stay on my TBR list. Thoughts?? Those who have read and enjoyed it?

Amazon synopsis: American writer Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick in 1851 but it took decades before it was finally regarded as a great American novel, and worthy of its place among the greatest texts of humankind. A tale of imagination and adventure, it recounts the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of a whaling ship seeking vengeance on Moby Dick, the white whale that had bitten off his leg on a previous voyage.

4. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

This is an interesting choice because I actually got about a third of the way through this book one time. I own both the Kindle version as well as the paperback one. Yet I haven't bothered to finish it. Why? I don't know. I read nothing but positive reviews and I've actually watched and enjoyed the mini series on STARZ. I guess it was the main characters and the set up that bored me. And the cathedral building just didn't interest me one bit. Probably a failing on my part because I'm a Christian....shouldn't I care about that part at least?? Let me know if you disagree and you loved it!

Amazon synopsis:  The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known . . . of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect—a man divided in his soul . . . of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame . . . and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state and brother against brother.

5. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Just like with Harry Potter books this one doesn't appeal to me because it's definitely YA. Yet I have so many friends who have loved this series and insist I have to read it! They say it is that a word? and that once I start I won't be able to stop. Considering my tastes are decidedly non-Vampire related I doubt they are right. But I can't help wondering if I'm missing something. 

Amazon synopsis:  Isabella Swan's move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella's life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn.
Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. The lovers find themselves balanced precariously on the point of a knife -- between desire and danger.

6. The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell

This book is probably amazing. I absolutely love the series on Netflix and the time period. Truth be told I'll probably read it eventually but I am not sure if it is worth it after watching the series. Normally this wouldn't matter to me but there are so many books and I'm thinking the story will take a long time to unfold. I'm wondering if others have read it and agree it is worth the time and effort to read them all. I'm told he's a very talented writer though.

Amazon synopsis:  The Last Kingdom is set in England during the reign of King Alfred. Uhtred is an English boy, born into the aristocracy of ninth-century Northumbria. Orphaned at ten, he is captured and adopted by a Dane and taught the Viking ways. Yet Uhtred's fate is indissolubly bound up with Alfred, King of Wessex, who rules over the only English kingdom to survive the Danish assault. The struggle between the English and the Danes and the strife between christianity and paganism is the background to Uhtred's growing up. He is left uncertain of his loyalties but a slaughter in a winter dawn propels him to the English side and he will become a man just as the Danes launch their fiercest attack yet on Alfred's kingdom.

7. Wuthering Heights  by Emily Bronte

I read Jane Eyre as a teen and loved it. The gothic mystery atmosphere was interesting and the story between the main characters well written. I'm not sure why this story doesn't appeal to me. Silly things come to mind not the least of which is the fact that the main male character is named Heathcliff. I just can't take him seriously already, lol. But really I just haven't felt like putting in the time to be honest. Any Bronte fans out there who think I'm nuts? Is it really a true classic that should be read?

Amazon synopsis:  Heathcliff is Cathy Earnshaw's foster brother; more than that, he is her other half. When forces within and without tear them apart, Heathcliff wreaks vengeance on those he holds responsible, even into a second generation.

8. Murder On the Orient Express  by Agatha Christie

As I've started reading more Agatha Christie lately I'm sure this will remain on my TBR list. It is so well known that it has to be a great read. Maybe the reason I haven't tried it yet is because I already know the ending and other Christie books were in line first that weren't made into movies and series as often. But even so I'm sure the book is well worth the time. Christie fans, what do you think?

Amazon synopsis:  Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer. Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.