Tag: behind the canon

January 1, 2018

2018 Reading Challenges



I can’t believe it’s 2018. It’s like I blinked, and an entire year went by. But boy, what a year!

I’ll admit, I lost my reading mojo in 2017. I didn’t quite meet the goals I’d set for myself, so instead, I’m making a few changes, especially when it comes to reading challenges. In 2018, I’m trimming it down to find my groove again. Check out the challenges I’ve set for the new year!


2018 Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge

  • Runs January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018 (books read prior to 1/1/2018 do not count towards the challenge). You can join anytime you want, though the sign up linky will close Nov. 15, 2018. 
  • The goal is to read as many Contemporary Romance books as you’d like. See the different levels below and pick the one that works best for you. You can move up a level as often as you’d like but no moving down. Remember, the idea is to challenge yourself.
  • Books that qualify for this challenge can be young adult, new adult, or adult. Books can be M/F, M/M, or F/F. Books must be a work of fiction (sorry, nonfiction does not qualify for this challenge).
  • Romances with the following elements do not qualify for this reading challenge: paranormal, historical, time-travel, fantasy, science fiction, or mystery/suspense/thriller.
  • Books can be any format (print, ebook, audio).
  • Novellas that are 100 pages in length (give or take), as well as full-length novels, will count for this reading challenge.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • Use the hashtag #ContRom2018 when posting your reviews/updates/re-caps/monthly topics on social media.
  • To join this challenge, grab the 2018 Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge button below and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. This will be your “update post” when doing the monthly link up.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, LibraryThing, BookLikes, etc., so as long as you have a dedicated shelf for the 2018 Contemporary Romance Reading Challenge (your designated “update post” for the monthly link up) and your profile is not private. The point of linking up is to have a place where people can see what you’re reading

3rd base – 11-15 books

  1. Show Me by Abigail Strom
  2. Unconditionally by Erin Lyon
  3. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guilloy
  4. Dirty Charmer by Emma Chase
  5. Paradise by Judith McNaught
  6. Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas
  7. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
  8. Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie
  9. Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl
  10. Hard and Fast by Erin McCarthy
  11. It’s a Fugly Life by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
  12. Come Sundown by Nora Roberts
  13. Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts
follow my progress here!

2018 Debut Author Reading Challenge

Challenge Objectives:

  • To introduce readers to this year’s wonderful group of debut authors.
  • To challenge readers to read 12 or more (or less! It’s up to you!) middle grade, young adult, and new adult debuts this year.

Challenge Rules:

  • You must post your thoughts on each debut book you read in order for it to count towards the challenge. You can post anywhere: your blog, Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, etc. If you can link it up, it counts!
  • You can join the challenge whenever you want.
  • The debuts must have a publishing date in 2018 and must have been read between January 1, 2018 and January 31, 2019 (this extra month allows readers adequate time to read December debuts) in order to count.
  • Each review gives you an entry into the bi-annual (two times a year) debut book giveaways (you will get to choose the book you win). Make sure you post the links to my bi-annual link-ups. I will post these link-ups on the first day of January and July.
  • This challenge is open internationally, as are the bi-annual debut book giveaways (provided Book Depository ships to you).
  • I don’t care what language you write your reviews in, I just need to know which book you have reviewed so I can verify your entry. When you post your link in the Linky, please include the book title in English.
  • Use the hashtag #DebutAuthorChallenge so we can all see what everyone’s up to!

Read the rest of the rules on The Artsy Reader Girl here.

I love the idea of meeting new/debut authors, but in the past, I’ve struggled to get my hands on a copy of the book in time to read it. This year, I’m aiming to read one debut a month by giving myself a few weeks to find the book before the review is scheduled.

  1. The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross
  2. To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
  3. The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
  4. Love and Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves
  5. A Conspiracy of Stars by Olivia A. Cole
  6. Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
  7. The Girl King by Mimi Yu
  8. Beast: A Tale of Love and Revenge
  9. Everless by Sara Holland
  10. Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood
  11. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
  12. People Like Us by Dana Mele
follow my progress here!

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge

Complete the 40 book prompts to widen your reading scope in 2018! Download the printable or save the graphic.

I’m planning to finish the 40 prompts by the end of the year. If I do, I’ll add the 10 advanced prompts into my blog calendar!

  1. Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. Fire Lover by Joseph Wambaugh
  3. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
  4. The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
  5. Cursed by Thomas Enger
  6. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  7. Into the Woods by Tana French
  8. Come Sundown by Nora Roberts
  9. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
  10. Dark in Death by J.D. Robb
  11. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
  12. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee
  13. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling
  14. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  15. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
  16. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo
  17. Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  18. The Deal by Elle Kennedy
  19. The Hunter by John Lescroart
  20. The Green Mile by Stephen King
  21. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre
  22. Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken
  23. Storm Front by Jim Butcher
  24. Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller
  25. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
  26. The Martian by Andy Weir
  27. Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie
  28. Origin in Death by J.D. Robb
  29. The Thirteenth Tale by Diana Setterfield
  30. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
  31. South and West by Joan Didion
  32. Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
  33. Legendary by Stephanie Garber
  34. Without Merit by Colleen Hoover
  35. The Run of His Life: The People Vs. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin
  36. Renegades by Marissa Meyer
  37. Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert
  38. The Appeal by John Grisham
  39. This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada
  40. Dubliners by James Joyce

follow my progress here.

Posted January 1, 2018 by Ellen in the canon talks / 0 Comments

October 4, 2017

If We Were Having Coffee | Number 11

if we were having coffee


It feels like it’s been so long since I sat down to write one of these posts. Well, to be honest, it seems like a long time since I sat down to write any post.

Between the wedding, the new job, and, well, LIFE, it was hard to balance everything. I felt like I was running in circles, going to bed entirely too late at night with those lingering to-dos on my to-do list left uncrossed.

And now it feels like I’m just giving you excuses.

Honestly, it felt like I couldn’t give books the time and devotion they deserved to write a review, and I didn’t want to just whip something out and hit “publish.” Each book was a piece of someone’s heart and soul, a product of their sweat and tears. They deserved, at the very least, my full attention. But I had lost my voice and with it, my mojo.

I didn’t realize this until I started writing a novel in the summer (more on that in upcoming posts). Sure, writing is like riding a bicycle for me: rusty at first, but once I get the hang of it, we’re in business. Usually. I had all of these ideas in my mind, but I couldn’t find the right way to get them on paper and still sound authentic.

Sound like me.

So I set a daily writing goal and quickly realized I was just picking words to meet my quota instead of creating a story. I became obsessive about word counts instead of my characters. That’s when it hit me over the head.

I was trying to be someone else.

It’s a dilemma we all struggle with at some level. Whether it’s social media envy or thinking the other side of the grass is so much greener than our own patch, it’s hard to not fall victim to it. But it was slowly, surely, dragging me down. There was no way I could keep up with the Joneses, and really, I don’t think I want to.

So I’ve given myself a free pass. A pass to say yes and, more importantly, to say no. To let the shit that I don’t want or need to deal with it go. To be okay with only writing 500, even 100 words instead of 1500. To accept that if I don’t have the time to write a post, then no big deal.

That all said, I want to be here. I want to write, to read, to blog. To be a part of this great community. It might just take me a little longer to learn how to do it being me.

Posted October 4, 2017 by Ellen in if we were having coffee / 1 Comment

March 22, 2017

If We Were Having Coffee | 2017 Update

if we were having coffee


Oh, hey there.

I know it’s been a while, and first, I’m so sorry to drop off the face of the (bookish) planet like that! It wasn’t my intention – I actually had my editorial calendar filled out for the first three months of the year. But you know how good intentions go…

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Anyway. A lot happened in the first few months of the year. First:


After 10 months of wedding planning – aka debating about colors, cake flavors, and outfits, oh my! – it finally arrived, and it couldn’t have been more beautiful. The weather cooperated (we had our fingers crossed the outside venue would work out!) and everything was perfect.


I got a new job!

Yep. In February. So in the midst of the wedding planning madness, I made the leap and transferred to a new company because, ya know, one can’t have enough stress. Luckily, my new managers were understanding and found a way for me to be off for the wedding and honeymoon.

So, to put it simply:

I haven’t had nearly enough time to sleep, let alone read. Fortunately, I got to sneak in reads on my lunch break and when waiting for the wedding coordinator (brides and grooms – get a wedding coordinator. I am not kidding. She saved my sanity). Be on the lookout for these book reviews:

  • Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal
  • Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James
  • Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
  • Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  • Sparking the Fire by Kate Meader
  • Dream Lake by Lisa Kleypas
  • The Hourglass Factory by Lucy Ribchester
  • The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee

annnnd a bunch of other books I need to write reviews on from a while ago.

Image result for guilty gif

So stay tuned, stick around, and chime in. I’d love to hear from you.

Posted March 22, 2017 by Ellen in the canon talks / 0 Comments

January 1, 2017

The 2016 End of Year Survey

There’s something so refreshing about the new year. Maybe not the resolutions – to be honest, I can’t remember the last time I kept one throughout the year – but the chance to start over, afresh, revitalized…[insert adjective here] grabs me every time.

After running myself ragged last year trying to keep up with the blog while balancing work (where I write 80% of the time), planning the wedding (where a simple DIY event became a much more involved ceremony), and my family and friends, I’ve decided to make some changes to how I view things. In short:

Image result for let it go gif

Seriously. I found a gray hair from all the stress of this last year (or I’m putting the blame there at any rate 🙂 ). But there’s more about this coming later this week – I bet you’re here for the survey!

Every year Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner puts together the annual End of Year Book Survey. All graphics and survey questions are hers. Click here to learn more or link up your survey!

And without any more ado…


Number Of Books You Read: 122
Number of Re-Reads: 2
Genre You Read The Most From: Romance/Fantasy



1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

I have a few:

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

The Widow by Fiona Barton (review soon!)

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

 5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

Ruthless (Lawless, #1)Series started: Ruthless by Lexi Blake (review soon!)

Sequel: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Series ender: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Lisa Kleypas (how did I just discover her?!)

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

I stayed pretty close to my comfort zone (fantasy YA, fairy tale retellings, romance, mystery, and thrillers) this year.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Empire of Storms, hands down.

 9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?


The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

The mermaid in Esther Dalseno’s Drown.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

  • Drown by Esther Dalseno
  • Salt to Sea by Ruth Sepetys
  • A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin (review soon!)

13. Most ThThe Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randelought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read?

Anything by Lisa Kleypas (again, how did I miss this?)

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2016?

“I am not worried, Harry, I am with you.” Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Shortest: The One You Want by Gena Showalter

Longest: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. MartinAfter the Woods by Kim  Savage

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

After the Woods by Kim Savage

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

I have to pick one?

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Naomi Carson and her brother, Mason in The Obsession. #familygoals

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Book club pBlackhearts by Nicole Castromanick, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Teach Drummond of Castroman’s Blackhearts

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Illuminae and Gemina, hands down.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Boy is Back by Meg Cabot, the queen of feel-good chick lit.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

Tie between Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Yes, even though I The Widow by Fiona Bartonknew what happened in the end.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Widow by Fiona Barton

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?


29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann. Here’s why.



1. OA Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)ne Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas


2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

Blacksouls by Nicole Castroman

3. 2017 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2017?

The third Illuminae file installment and 6th Throne of Glass!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

To not be afraid to put a book down when it isn’t for me.

6. A 2017 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

None yet!

Posted January 1, 2017 by Ellen in monthly rewind / 1 Comment

October 11, 2016

You Might Like… | 10 Books I Found on GoodReads

Top Ten Tuesday

I’m a creature of habit. From my coffee order to my daily tasks at work, I like sticking to the familiar. The same extends to books: I have a tendency to stay with familiar authors and storylines. That’s where GoodReads saves the day.

Without the GoodReads recommendation feature and the ability to see books your friends are reading, I would still be reading the same books over and over again. Thanks to GoodReads, I’ve discovered books like Six of CrowsCinderThe Star-Touched Queen. Here are the top books I fell in love with thanks to GoodReads!

You Deserve a Drink: Boozy Misadventures and Tales of Debauchery


You Deserve a Drink by Mamrie Hart

Because, really. You do.



The Girl on the Train


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A must read before you see the movie.



Passenger (Passenger, #1)


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Science fiction meets a powerful magical family in this tale of time benders.



Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)


Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

A modern YA science fiction full of suspense, romance, and amazing typography. Add in computer reminiscent of Hal and you’ve got a winner.



Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After, #1)

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

One of the best historical romance authors of our time strikes again with this major winner. Romancing the Duke is one of my all time favs.




The Fairest of Them All


The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon

The classic fairy tale Rapunzel is turned on its head in this remarkable fairy tale retelling.



A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Quite simply the ultimate fairy tale retelling





Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The queen of feel-good reading has another winner in Fangirl.



These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)


These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

Kaufman and Spooner hit it out of the park in this YA science fiction, threaded with incredibly vivid characters and heartbreakingly romantic scenes.



Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)


Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

A stunningly romantic, beautiful story of two lost people finding themselves in each other.

Posted October 11, 2016 by Ellen in top ten tuesday / 0 Comments
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October 1, 2016

September 2016 | Monthly Rewind

Pop Goes the Reader

It’s here! It’s finally autumn, time for turning leaves, gorgeous sunsets, dark lipstick, and the wonderful coffee drinks. Goodbye September, hello October.


September was a pretty good month. I started to hit my stride again with the blog, and after doing a little research, plan to devote some October weekend time to the maintenance side of the house. Keeping up with reviews is still a struggle, but you know, that’s okay.

We made major progress on the wedding planning! I found my dress and couldn’t love it more. Thanks to Danielle and Angela at Lace and Liberty for patiently explaining the differences between wedding skirts and putting up with my lack of balance for an hour. I couldn’t have hoped for a better experience!

Also, we hit our first wedding hiccup. I designed the map on the back of our invitations and sent it to print. What I didn’t realize was that they didn’t just add my map to the back – they recreated it. Okay, fine…until the invitations arrived. 45 cards of major typos (like “in” instead of “inn”…). The envelopes have misprints, a technology this company claims as their name to fame. They fixed the cards, but I’m still waiting on the envelopes. Ugh.

Bay of Sighs (The Guardians Trilogy, #2)A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove, #3)Red Storm RisingDelphineThe Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, #1)Tailored for Trouble (Happy Pants, #1)Lord Dashwood Missed Out (Spindle Cove, #4.5)The Forbidden OrchidN Is For Noose (Kinsey Millhone, #14)Not Quite Mine (Not Quite, #2)Tempt Me at Twilight (The Hathaways, #3)Apprentice in Death (In Death, #43)


September favorite review: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

September favorite read: Lord Dashwood Missed Out by Tessa Dare

I’m hooked on:

  • Starbucks’ Chile Mocha with soy milk. Oh, my heavens. This mocha is quickly becoming a Sunday morning staple! I love the sweet and spicy combo – it takes away a lot of the intense flavor that I don’t like in mochas. But this one? Just right.
  • I picked up the Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook and, you guys, I’m in love. I’m not a vegan, but her recipes hit the spot. Her Every Day Glow salad has become my go-to power lunch.
  • Sarah J. Maas’ Empire of Storms playlist has been dominating my Spotify this month. What can I say? I’m hooked!



Posted October 1, 2016 by Ellen in monthly rewind / 0 Comments
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July 12, 2016

10 Bookish Facts About Me

Top Ten Tuesday

As a longtime, hardcore bookworm, books have made a huge impact on my life. Here’s a few bookish facts about me that you might not know.

  1. I earned my degree in English lit. My favorites? Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, and W.B. Yeats. Best contemporary book I read in college? Possession. YOU. MUST. READ.
  2. My grandpa bought me the first Harry Potter book and launched my lifelong love of reading. I still remember the bookstore clerk handing us the book, saying “There’s this great new series about a wizard…”
  3. I usually prefer books over movies, but with the big epics (think Outlander and A Game of Thrones), I love being able to see the characters first, then read them.
  4. Oh, and the first time I red Outlander, I hated it. Blasphemy.
  5. I named a family cat Sebastian because I was reading Twelfth Night in college.
  6. On our last move, I had ten paper boxes (you know, the ones offices get paper shipments in) full of books.
  7. I am on a lifelong book-buying freeze, unless I absolutely love the book. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to fit them all in our house.
  8. Anything by Sarah J. Maas and Amie Kaufmann are excluded from that ban.
  9. We always do a literary tour stop and bookstores on our vacation! Seattle has been the best so far.
  10. There’s a very good chance our firstborn child will be named Hermione. Don’t tell M.

Share your top ten Tuesday post below! I’d love to get to know you. 🙂

Posted July 12, 2016 by Ellen in top ten tuesday / 0 Comments
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September 3, 2015

My Bookish Travel Must Haves

I always have mixed feelings about traveling: I love the chance to visit new places, people watch at the airports, and (most of all) buy new books! Traveling can be a bit of a bummer though: long lines, cranky people (me occasionally among them), and being away from home can really be rough. Here are the top six things I’ve always got in my carry-on to make traveling a little more enjoyable.

Books // All sorts of books. I’ve started restraining myself to the large sagas, like The Hobbit or Outlander to save a little space. 

Ereader // I still prefer having a paper book in my hands, but when it comes to saving space, you can’t beat an e-reader. I usually put my Kindle in my checked bag and my Nook in my carry-on. Why? One has web access (helloooo Netflix!) and the other does not.

Charger // Multipurpose portable battery and cord. A lifesaver on those long flights.

Music // I know, I know. Planes are loud and those fancy, noise-blocking headphones are expensive. I agree. But having a little music to people watch by in line makes it all the more enjoyable. 

Mini book light // Every time I get on a plane, I can’t get the light to either be bright enough or to face the right way. I usually end up squinting, trying to read in the haphazard light, which only gives me headaches. This handy little device is perfect!

Scarf // Maybe this isn’t bookish, but it’s close. A nice warm scarf to snuggle with instead of an airplane blanket? Yes please. 

Posted September 3, 2015 by Ellen in the canon talks / 1 Comment

May 3, 2015

8 Amazing Books to Cure Your Downton Abbey Hangover

When I find a story I truly love, it gets stuck in my head. And when I say stuck, I mean stuck. It’s like a need to return to the show or book, to see what on earth happens next, if the characters I love and cheer for make it through. Downton Abbey’s next season comes out in November…

…I don’t know how I’ll make it to November…

If you’re like me, reading books with the same themes, narrative, and setting help cure the hangover. I hope you find the perfect fit!

Atonement Ian McEwan

A story about a family in the 20th century, a childish mistake, guilt and forgiveness, McEwan’s Atonement grabs you from the moment you open the page. Each character is put in such extraordinary situations, forcing them to show their true colors. I read McEwan’s story years ago, but the power of his narrative has stayed with me all the while. 

At the Water’s Edge Sara Gruen

Gruen’s tale of a woman at the crossroads of two different worlds is simply fascinating. Maddie journeys to Scotland with her husband and their socialite friend, Hank, to discover the Loch Ness Monster. Instead, she discovers more then she ever intended to, but finally becomes her own person.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclare Castle Fiona Carnarvon

Lady Almina’s story is extraordinary: a woman before her time, the her life and the tales of Highclere Castle are a must for any Downton fan.

Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired “Upstairs, Downstairs” and “Downton Abbey” Margaret Powell & Leigh Crutchley

Perfect for the reader yearning for the real life stories of the servants in these great halls. It isn’t quite as peaceful as “Downton Abbey” makes it look…

A quick note before we get started: I had no intention of selecting all classics, but when I looked down at my list, well, there they were! These are some of my favorites and I hope you enjoy!

Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen

Oh, my heart: one of my favorite novels, seated in the heart of class issues. What society says is right doesn’t always win out against what the heart wants…sounds a bit like Sybil, doesn’t it?

The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde

Ah, no wait! Don’t skip this one: I know the cover’s weird – I couldn’t find a pretty one. I read “The Importance of Being Earnest” for one of my British Lit overviews in college and fell in love with it. Wilde’s witty dialogue and ridiculous situations allow him to deeply examine the social structure and how it affects us.

Pygmalion George Bernard Shaw

Another example of a strange cover (sorry guys). My own copy is a battered 1970s paperback, so I couldn’t swap with my own photo. Pygmalion, the inspiration behind 1964’s film, My Fair Lady, delves into social divides, class structures, and what’s truly beneath it all. 

Selected Poems and Four Plays W.B. Yeats

Every time I pick up this book, I find myself entranced by Yeats’ words. There’s such passion in his work that it’s impossible to not be touched, whether you’re just skimming through or had an Irish Lit professor like I did who insisted we heavily annotate the poems. Starting out with Yeats? Read “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” and “Easter, 1916”.

Posted May 3, 2015 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 1 Comment

April 22, 2015

Hump Day How To | GoodReads Shelves

GoodReads is a great site for discovering new books, connecting with friends and, most of all, talking about old ones. One feature on GoodReads has really come in handy in these past few years: shelves! 

I love to sort, classify, and organize anyway, so keeping my book records neat was a must! For book bloggers, it’s so easy to be able to pull a genre list, reference how many books I’ve read by x author, or find a new read. 

Making a new shelf is pretty easy. Down on the left hand side of your My Books screen is a little link that looks like this:

<< You can add any shelf, from my favoritesbooks read in 2015 to horror.

You’ll need the basics:

<< The wishlist is something relatively new for me. When Christmas, birthdays, or other gift-giving occasions come around, it’s so easy to just send over a link, complete with books I can’t wait to read/add to my collection!

However, these top lists are a bit different: Unlike the lists below, where a book can be in many shelves, the books in the all, read, currently-reading, to-read, and wishlist (if you choose to add it) can only be in one of these shelves. For example, you can’t list a book in both read and currently reading.

Build your shelves from there! 

Mine have grown from years of blogging into a bit more than I originally anticipated, but I love having all the information at my fingertips!

Granted, you don’t need all of these, but I love it for archiving. I classify ARCs, Netgalley, library and owned read books to make my annual book wrapup a piece of cake. I have my reading challenges, both past and current, as well as what year I read certain books (again, to make my end of the year post easier!). 

This feature is so customizable and I love the ability to satisfy my need to organize. Being able to search by genre has made pulling books for my Top Ten Tuesday posts so simple. Make your shelves exactly what you need. 

Need to sort and tag multiple books? The Batch Edit feature is great for that. Just click the box of the books you need to tag and away you go!

GoodReads’ shelves have become an invaluable tool for me. Building out the original structure of my shelves took a little while, but once it was set up, it was so easy to just tag each book as I finish reading!

Questions? Want more info? Did I miss something? Let me know! I’d love to know what your shelves look like or what system works best for you. 

Posted April 22, 2015 by Ellen in Uncategorized / 2 Comments