Book 20: Playing by the Book – S. Chris Shirley

Shirley, S. Chris - Playing by the BookI wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel, but with a southern religious protagonist I knew I needed to read it to see how the author handled this and I am glad I did. I was a little hesitant at first as the last two book I read from this publisher, 50 Shades of Gay and The Hunger Gays weren’t amazing, but this one was excellent. I received a copy of this book from Riverdale Avenue Books and this is my honest opinion and I received nothing in return.

Playing by the Book is the story of Jake Powell and his journey from Preacher’s Kid (PK) in small-town Alabama to an elite summer journalism program at Columbia University in New York City. This is the first time he’s away from home and needless to say it is the experience of a lifetime. Not only is this a coming out story, it is a true coming of age story. Many young adult novels over emphasis one or the other, but this novel intricately tied the two together.

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Book 19: A Burnable Book – Bruce Holsinger

Holsinger, Bruce - A Burnable BookWhoa, talk about a fascinating novel. It opens with a murder and builds from there! I finished the book in just over three days (with severely limited time) and it is most definitely a page turner with realistic characters and enough actual history thrown in to make you wonder how much is real and what isn’t.

I heard about this book from Books on the Nightstand and I HAD to read it. Not only did the story sound fascinating, but I mean come on it’s about Geoffrey Chaucer. He was the first person, out of my family, that I can remember who had the same name and more importantly, the same spelling, as ME!

I remember having to memorize the prologue to The Canterbury Tales in high school and enjoying the tales, but as interested in Chaucer as I was because of his name, I’ve never looked into his life or any fictional accounts of his life. I’ve had Who Murdered Chaucer? on my shelf for almost a month and kept putting it off, but now I’ve read this fictional book about Chaucer, I’m going right into a speculative history about Chaucer!

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Book 18: Winter’s Tale – Mark Helprin

Helprin, Mark - Winter's TaleAfter nearly a month of trekking through, I’ve FINALLY finished this book. Coming in at 748 pages, this is 250 pages longer than in other book I’ve read this year and it definitely felt like it was longer! I did take a bit of time out to read two additional book during the time I read this, but they were much-needed reprieves. I of course decided to read this after seeing a trailer for the film adaptation released this past February.

I can’t say this was a bad book, because it was excellently written, but I can say it was too damn long. Most striking, however, I chose the perfect winter to read it. This winter has definitely felt as if it was one of the epic endless winter’s Helprin wrote about throughout this novel: the constant snow, the frozen water and the plunging temperatures. The only thing missing from my winter was the romance and the magic!

Aside from the length of the novel, I struggled with the reality of the novel. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out if this novel was a historical fiction novel or a fantasy novel and apparently it was both. I knew there were fantasy elements of it, but I wasn’t sure how much of it should have been fantastical or real and for some reason I found it incredibly challenging!

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Book 15: Overcoming Passive-Aggression – Tim Murphy and Loriann Hoff Oberlin

Murphy, Tim and Loriann Hoff Oberlin - Overcoming Passive AggressionTalk about a rough read. The entire time I was reading this, I kept thinking back to that phrase from the 2001 movie A Knight’s Tale: “You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.” Please don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t solely from this book or the last few that I’ve read that this thought process stems from, trust me. It’s something I’ve been struggling with for the past year and a half and as much as I’ve improved, I knew I was still struggling with myriad issues.

I mentioned when I wrote about Crucial Conversations that I’d had one recently and that the feedback I got hurt like hell but was something that I needed to hear. And honestly I can’t thank that person enough for having the candor to tell me what they did and spurring me to take a long look at myself. Again, don’t get me completely wrong I’ve not been hiding that I’m a horrible person, but I’ve definitely struggled for some time and after reading this I’m wondering how long I’ve been struggling and not knowing or, more than likely, not admitting it.

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Book 12: Significant Others (Tales of the City #5) – Armistead Maupin

Maupin, Armistead - Significant Others (Tales of the City #4)Coming back to Maupin’s San Francisco is like going home after a really long vacation. There’s something comforting and something genuinely nice about being back on Barbary Lane. (See the first quote under Additional Quotes).

I can’t believe it’s been almost three years since I binge read Tales of the CityMore Tales of the CityFurther Tales of the City and Babycakes. And like everyone else who has ever read a single one of The Tales of the city books, I’m finally taking the time to catch up on the series, which has spanned five decades so that I can read the final (I’m assuming) novel in the series The Days of Anna Madrigal released at the beginning of 2014. I won’t binge read them, but they’re such quick reads I plan to read them all this year.

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