What I Read… November 2016

I’m finally linking up with Steph and Jana for ‘Show Us Your Books’ (tomorrow ) and I’m so happy about it! I started doing book reviews at the beginning of this year and I’m ashamed that it’s taken me this long to join everyone for the best book-day of the month  🙂

What_I_Read_blog

If you’re new here this is how it works: I review the books in the order I read them. I start by summing up the book in a sentence or two, then I tell you why I picked it.  I share what I thought about it and whether or not I’d recommend it (and why)! Each book has a star rating:

Book Rating

So let’s jump in! (Images linked to the GoodReads page.) I finished two this month… *face palm*

Fairest by Marissa Meyer || ★★★★/5 fairest
Summary: Queen Levana is the evil queen, but even she has a backstory that may explain why she is like she is. Was she always “bad” or did something happen that shaped her path? | Why I Read It: This is #3.5 in the Lunar Chronicles and my brother & sister-in-law gave it to me for my birthday. | What I Thought: I haven’t seen Maleficent, but I imagine this is similar in that it gives a back story to the “evil queen.” Levana didn’t have it easy and I thought I might go into the fourth and final Lunar novel with some understanding for her because of a touching back story. I didn’t gain much sympathy for her, but I loved the story all the same. I don’t think you were really supposed to feel sympathy- I think this was just an explanation to her violent tendencies. I also really liked putting more pieces into the puzzles of other characters like Cinder and Dr. Erland
You Should Read It Because… you’re making your way through The Lunar Chronicles and this comes next. I wouldn’t skip this one- it’s satisfying to see things come together.

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez || ★★★/5 wench_book_review
Summary: Set in the mid-1850s, this is the story of four black slave mistresses and their struggle with loyalty, love, freedom, and family. The women come together each summer at Tawawa House, a northern resort in Xenia, Ohio where slave masters bring their “wenches” for vacation. The story is based on a real place and time in our history. | Why I Read It: I picked it for the #SCWBC16. | What I Thought: I don’t typically pick out books about slavery or the Holocaust because I hate that humans are capable of such cruelty. That said, we will repeat our history if we don’t educate ourselves. I’m floored that this place existed. This story was hard to read. There was no happy ending, similar to the fate of most slaves in the 1800s. Just on the brink of the Civil War, this story makes you question whether or not you would risk it all (including your life or the lives of loved ones) and make a break for freedom or if you’d continue to live under the thumb of a white tyrant. And if you did choose to stay because of family or loyalty or out of fear, would you have had the strength to survive? It’s a heartbreaking look at a heartbreaking time in history.
You Should Read It Because… you’re fascinated by human behavior and/or the pre-Civil War time in history. This book isn’t easy to read. It’s not PG.

Megan’s Semi-Charmed Winter 2016 Book Challenge:
|5 points| Freebie! Read any book that is at least 150 pages long: The One by Kiera Cass
|10 points| Read a 2016 finalist for one of the following literary prizes: National Book Award, Man Booker or Man Booker International: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
|10 points| Read a brand-new release: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
|15 points| Read a book by an author of a different race or religion than you: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
|15 points| Read a book featuring a main character who is of a different race or religion than you: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
|20 points| Read a modern retelling of a classic: Winter by Marissa Meyer
|25 points| Read a book with an alcoholic beverage: The Whiskey Affair by Raymond Armstrong
|30 points| Read a book with a character that shares your first or last name: Tender Grace by Jackina Stark
|30 points| Read two books: a nonfiction book and a fiction book with which it connects: Etta Place by Gail Drago & Etta by Gerald Kolpan
|40 points| Read two books: one by an author whose first name is the same as the last name of the author of the other book: After Alice by Gregory Maguire & The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory.

Starting strong with a solid 15 points. Lol.

Still working on The Joy Luck Club. Haven’t had much time to read lately.

Can’t wait to see the other posts in this link-up!

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Life According to Steph
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32 thoughts on “What I Read… November 2016

  1. Show Us Your Books! I’ve been wanting to post my book post since last week (not for any particular reason – I just had the weeks off) so I’m glad it’s tomorrow. Fairest was an interesting read. I fully expected Marissa Meyer to make me sympathize with Levana but I didn’t. Not one bit. Even knowing how awful her life was and what happened to make her so twisted, I still couldn’t dredge up any empathy for her.

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    1. I really thought the gist of the story was going to be stirring up sympathy for Levana. I am SO glad it wasn’t. I’m glad I got the back story on her and I’m glad I didn’t walk away thinking, “Poor Levana.” She was wired cruelly from the start!

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    1. Ha! I took a risk and bought Cinder from the start and have just added to my collection with each story! I still need Stars Above and I’ve asked for Heartless for Christmas!! 😀

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  2. woot woot! way to link up lady! 🙂 It’s been one of my favorites! 🙂 I kind of hate reading about the holocaust and slavery as well. Anything like that is pretty hard for me to stomach. It is important though. Glad you enjoyed your reads this month. I actually have not read Fairest yet, but we did pick it up at the store a while back. Maybe I will read it this month or next. 🙂 Also, glad that your cards came earlier than expected! WOOT! 🙂 XO – Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

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    1. I was stubbornly sticking to my end of the month reviews. From now on I’m linking up! 🙂 It gives me a little extra time to finish or fit in a book, too! 🙂
      I have to space my dark historical books out… Too much heavy stuff depresses me terribly. (As it should… those were depressing times!) You should read Fairest! It sheds a little more light on all the characters!

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  3. Okay, I skipped The Fairest because … I just didn’t want to dredge up any sympathy for Levana. Mature? No. But truth. After reading your assessment, perhaps I should give it a chance. I’ve completed the series but maybe I should *really* complete the series. 😀 I have a very, very hard time with books about slavery and the holocaust too. Like you, I can’t imagine how *good* human beings could casually commit such atrocities. As you said, though, it is important that we read such books so we don’t repeat ourselves. Ahem. I read the Joy Luck Club back in college, so ummm 20 years ago, and really liked it. I hope you do too!

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    1. Definitely read Fairest if you’ve read the whole series! It’s less sympathy-inducing and more light-shedding. It was a quick, good read.
      I’m enjoying The Joy Luck Club- I just need to find more time to sit and read. Ugh!

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    1. If I can handle it you definitely can. I just haven’t read a slavery/Holocaust/tragic historical fiction book in a long time. It was just kind of hard to read some parts.. It was definitely an interesting perspective on something I didn’t know much about.

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    1. No worries. You can tackle them in 2017! (It’s taken me months to get through them because a) I’m a slow reader lately and b) I like to mix other books in between them!)

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  4. I’ve been really enjoying novellas and short stories lately. I picked up about 4 from the library this time. I think they are perfect for when you don’t have a lot of reading time. Or to go with a longer book to break it up a little.

    I still have to read The Lunar Chronicles, but I have big plans for some quality reading time over Christmas so I might read the first book then. I’m quite excited given how much you have been enjoying it. And it’ll be nice to chat with you about it as well.

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    1. I hope you get to the Lunar Chronicles over the holiday! I would love to talk about them! Cinder was great- even though it’s my least favorite of them all only because they others are so entertaining and action-packed!

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  5. I also hate that humans are capable of such cruelty but I also sort of feel like we need a reminder of that…and with current status of things, maybe more people should be reading about this stuff. But the ones who aren’t are the ones who need to, of course.

    Well that was a tangent, but I am a person who reads slavery/Holocaust books and is absolutely destroyed by them / requires time in between but feels that I should read them if someone lived a nonfiction version of them.

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    1. I agree. It brings me down so low to read about those moments in the world’s history…. but it happened and history has a way of repeating itself. So we need to know what to watch for. (Which is terrifyingly relevant….) My December reads are a little more light-hearted.

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  6. I want to get back into the Lunar Chronicles and give it another try. I wasn’t a huge fan of Cinder, but I read it a while back and everyone talks about it so much now, I’d like to try it again. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood then.

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  7. if you are a disney fan, i recommend Maleficent. sleeping beauty has never been my favourite, and i really, really, really dislike angelina jolie but i LOVED that movie. i totally compared Fairest to the movie as well, though I didn’t love Fairest as much as the rest of the lunar chronicles because I just couldn’t like or feel sorry for Levana. Like you said, I don’t think you were supposed to feel sympathy because of how it was written. I did like learning more about the whole story/world though and I just love everything Lunar Chronicles.
    I read a lot of books set around the wars or holocaust but for the same reason you might avoid them. i hate that humans are capable of it, and i’m not trying to get enjoyment out of someone else’s pain, but i never want to forget it, i never want people to forget it, if that makes sense. i agree, we need to educate ourselves and not forget. i’m not so good with the words. added that one to my list 🙂

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    1. I haven’t avoided the movie for any reason, we just don’t watch a lot of movies right now. (Couldn’t tell you why… ha.) I will put it on the to-watch list, though!
      I was happy about how I felt post-Fairest. I’m glad I got her back story, but I definitely didn’t feel sympathy or pity for Levana.
      I love historical fiction, but I have the space out the heavy ones. I used to read a lot of holocaust books in hs but I’ve slowed down.

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  8. I totally agree with you about Fairest! It was short and didn’t make me feel anything more for Leavanna, but it helped the storyline to come together. I heard about Wench a few years ago, but never had the chance to pick it up. I think that I need to add it to my list because it sounds like a hard but good book too.

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    1. Yep yep yep. Fairest let me walking away feeling exactly how I wanted to. And Wench tore at my heart and my conscious, and made me think about the story for weeks after I’d finished.

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    1. I love historical fiction… but I try to avoid super hard books because I typically read to escape the crap currently going on. That said, it’s important to remember the dark history so we can fight it in the future. Regardless, I’m lightening up the reading for Dec./Jan.!

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