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Books. Books are beautiful, wonderful things. Especially to avid readers! They provide escapes from our current reality, lessons learned through eyes we never knew existed, feelings we may not otherwise have a reason to experience. Unfortunately, the acquiring of said adventures trapped between pages can get costly. A typical hard back will run you on average $15 – $20 or more. Even electronic versions are reaching $10 to $12 a book. It’s in these moments that one realizes how nice it is to be surrounded by fellow bookworms and libraries. Luckily, I have friends and family with expansive selections!

Another bonus that comes with sharing novels is that it gives you extra things to talk about the next time you hang out. There’s nothing like bonding over a story, whether you enjoyed it or not. I believe that’s why Book Clubs have made an explosive come back and work so well. Given that our community is moving more and more to cyber space, sometimes I wonder if we’re distancing ourselves inadvertently. Everything and nothing is shared over social media. Tons of meaning is lost in translation. People say what they “feel” like saying but very rarely does it reflect how their emotional lives are playing out. It’s like seeing a tiny pebble and having no idea of the mountain that’s behind it. It’s because of this, I’m certain that nothing can replace having actual physical meetings with the people you care about. Sharing a book opens that door.

Consider this: Having an excuse to sit down with someone (even better if it’s someone you love) and discuss a book face to face, delivers some unexpected boons. We can learn more about what they think is important, what they value, what scares them. Talking about a story, even a fantasy or sci-fi based one, allows us to see into the hearts and minds of people. You didn’t like that a character chose to leave their family and save the world? Does that mean you value your loved ones more than the fate of the planet? Is the phrase “always look out for #1” a mantra for them? Even so, is that really a bad thing? How about the suspense of belief getting to be too much in a certain story? Does that mean you prefer to be realistic about matters? All these questions that tend to run under the surface of our lives can be tapped into when sharing your thoughts on a particular book. This, in turn, brings us closer. Tight-knit communities and families are formed over shared experiences. Whose to say that that experience can’t be a book?

So for me, this month’s Book Bag post is all about books that were shared with me. Some came from friends, some came from family, and one was borrowed from the local library. Have I mentioned how blessed I am to be surrounded by book nerds? Let’s take a look at the worlds I’ll be diving into soon!

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Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called “the touch.” (Comes in handy when you’re traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.)

Then her dad turns up dead—but still walking—and Dru knows she’s next. Even worse, she’s got two guys hungry for her affections, and they’re not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whoever—or whatever— is hunting her?

This, along with the next three, were lent to me by a new friend. We’ve been admiring each other’s book cases for a while now so she hooked me up with a few she thought I’d like to read. Based on that first descriptive paragraph, it almost sounds like it has elements of the television show Supernatural, which is also a favorite of mine. On average it seems to be pulling in a strong 3.5 to 4 Stars.

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Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book #1) by George R. R. Martin

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

I am fascinated by HBO’s Game of Thrones. It’s a little more gore and sex than I prefer but hey, it is HBO. However, all I’ve heard from the book community is that the show is nothing like the book series. (I’m not all that surprised because HBO did the same with True Blood.) Now I normally don’t like starting a television series based off a book series until one or the other is finished; that way I don’t get a certain plot line stuck in my head; but with HBO about to air their final season of GoT, I believe now might be a good time to see what all the fuss is about with these novels. It’s a hefty read at 800+ pages but the 4.5 Star ratings are making it a little less daunting.

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Switched (Trylle, Book #1) by Amanda Hocking

When Wendy Everly was six years old, her mother was convinced she was a monster and tried to kill her. Eleven years later, Wendy discovers her mother might have been right.  She’s not the person she’s always believed herself to be, and her whole life begins to unravel—all because of Finn Holmes.

Finn is a mysterious guy who always seems to be watching her.  Every encounter leaves her deeply shaken…though it has more to do with her fierce attraction to him than she’d ever admit.  But it isn’t long before he reveals the truth:  Wendy is a changeling who was switched at birth—and he’s come to take her home.

Now Wendy’s about to journey to a magical world she never knew existed, one that’s both beautiful and frightening.  And where she must leave her old life behind to discover who she’s meant to become…..

Being half Irish, Changeling stories are something I grew up with hearing. To be fair, they were more along the lines of Grimm’s Fairytales and used as cautionary tales more than anything. This one though, seems a little less ominous. It’s a YA book so I imagine there’s only so much scary you can have before it crosses into Horror. Either way, I enjoy books where the main character learns that they’re not who they believed themselves to be and the ensuing struggle to come to terms with that knowledge. Switched is another strong suggestion with reviews at 4 Stars.

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Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book #1) by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos.

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s power for his own.

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm’s length… everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world… and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

Ok, so I know I’m SERIOUSLY LATE to the Cassandra Clare party! I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews over her works, as evidenced by the 4.5 to 5 Star Reviews everywhere. My TBR pile has had City of Bones in it forever and I was all set to start it when my friend stepped in to save me. I was told that if I wanted to immerse myself in this world, I should probably do so in chronological order. Hence she let me borrow her Clockwork Angel copy. I feel like a binge reading day coming…..

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Angel Burn (Angel, Book #1) by L.A. Weatherly

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from. But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces, and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems, least of all good and evil. In the first book in an action-packed, romantic trilogy, L..A. Weatherly sends readers on a thrill-ride of a road trip – and depicts the human race at the brink of a future as catastrophic as it is deceptively beautiful.

This one came from the local library. To be honest, I don’t really know why I grabbed it. I suppose I was in a “warm and fuzzy” romance mood. Another 4 Star average review series opener, I’m curious to rediscover why my gut said to pick this one.

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The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

This one came from my Mom. We occasionally read one of Oprah’s books and then spend an afternoon talking about it over lunch. Heck, any afternoon without the men in our lives, where we can share girl talk, is an enjoyable one! Sadly, that was so much harder when I was in Maryland. Thankfully I’m now only a little over an hour away. I also enjoy these because it gives me a chance to step out of my normal genre. The last one we read together was Ruby by Cynthia Bond –  A quite dark tale but shot through with moments of tenderness. I wouldn’t be surprised if I enjoy The Underground Railroad just as much.

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The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

This book was actually one of my Book Club’s picks a while back. We had tried picking 3 separate book to read over the course of the month (thinking it would garner more participants) and it didn’t go as well as we had hoped. Anyway, one of the girls let me borrow her eBook version when she was finished. I kind of love that Amazon lets you do that! Then, shortly after, another person let me borrow their hard copy. So now I have two! Which is kind of awesome in case I forget to bring the actual book with me somewhere, I can just pick up where I left off on my phone or Kindle. Only down side? I was told I would need massive amounts of tissues because of all the feels.

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So there you have it! Here’s the books that were lent to me in October. I like to consider myself and awesome book devour-er but I’m not sure that even I can read this many in a month! Some will have to be held over into December. Either way, I’m so excited to jump into these and beyond grateful for those that shared these with me.

Have you read any of the books listed here? What did you think? Are there any that you absolutely loved? Is there one that you really want me to read and review first? Share with me in the comments sections!

Till next time, my Loves! Keep reading!!

 

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