Halfway through November… This month has been SO busy for us. The first half of the month was filled with parties (our Halloween one and a surprise party for my mother-in-law!) and the second half will be lots of travel. Whew!

Also- happy birthday to my bro-in-law, Josh!

On October 31st at 11:59pm Erin’s 9.0 Book Challenge came to an end

To say I’m thrilled and proud of myself and ecstatic would be an understatement. I started doing book challenges when I began blogging. In my very first challenge I read ONE book. I’m so glad I finished this one!

Ok, on to the books… Linking up with Steph & Jana obvi for Show Us Your Books!

Roomies by Christina Lauren
When a marriage of convenience brings Holland closer to her crush of 6 months AND helps both him and her Uncle Robert out, she’s determined to make it happen. But a lot can go wrong when love & citizenship are on the line. 
This romance was one of convenience. (I think I might enjoy the hate to love/gruff male character stories the best- this was not that.) I loved Holland’s name and I loved that she often thought of others. Her best friend was an ass and I was sad to see that play out like it did, but her uncles were wonderful. Her brother was, too. I love when the main (female) lead has a good tribe. The romance itself was ok. Fast and slow, then fast and slow again. I didn’t mind that- it was different. I kind of enjoyed the theater/musical aspect, too. I’m not a huge fan of the self-conscious protagonist. I get it, but still not a fan.
Also, Calvin was Irish and I constantly found myself repeating his words aloud to try to say them with an accent. I also laughed out loud MANY times. It was a funny book.
Should you read it? If you enjoy contemporary romance, yes.

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman
A twisted fairytale about a brave queen, an evil sorceress, and the curses & choices we’re dealt.
I really loved this little fairytale- it was definitely a little dark and twisty, though quite surface level and quick to get through. The illustrations were 100% necessary and I think fantasy-loving teens would cruise through this book & fully enjoy it. There aren’t any names assigned to anyone, but the Snow White-based queen was blunt and badass, and I really liked her “just do it” attitude. The twist on the Sleeping Beauty story caught me off guard and I ate that up, too. It was a pretty cut and dry fairytale with no backstory (although you could piece in traditional information from the original fairytales), and I’d have loved to know more about the queen’s thoughts, but it was very enjoyable for what it was.
Should you read it? If you like fairytales, yes!
*Thanks to Alexandra for this recommendation!

84, Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff
A (true) collection of letter between writer & book lover Helen and the staff at a small English bookstore located along Charing Road, spanning from 1949 to 1969. 
(If you loved The Guernsey Lit & PPP Society request this book from your library now.) This collection of letters between Helen Hanff, Frank Doel, and all the characters at the bookshop (and beyond) creates the most witty, humorous, heartwarming story of long distance friendship and generosity. The fact that these were real people writing letters 50+ years ago during war and recontruction and elections and Beatlemania is so strange to think about! And Helen’s real life wit and sarcasm was THE best. I loved how quickly and smartly she formed a friendship with Frank. And her generosity through the years of (UK) rations, as well as her love for the books she received, was so contagious and endearing. I started this short nonfiction one night and finished it the next day. It was wonderful.
Should you read it? Yes, it was quick and witty and heartwarming.
*Thanks to Michelle for this recommendation!

After Alice by Gregory Maguire
A tale of post-Alice, both in England and in Wonderland. Alice’s sister Lydia, her friend Ada, & Ada’s governess are all directly affected by Alice’s sudden and alarming disappearance.
Hot damn, I hated this book. I should’ve quit it but it’s an AiW retelling and I felt like I needed to swallow it whole since I’m a diehard fan of the OG. I think Maguire and I just aren’t meant to be friends. (I’ve tried and failed to read Wicked three times.) The majority of GoodReads agrees with me on this particular novel. The story was boring and uninspired, the writing was pretentious and wordy, the characters were completely unlikable (except Siam). How can Lewis Carroll write a book in 1865 that is so whimsical and easy to understand and get lost in… and then Maguire write something in 2015 that is wordy and uppity and too “proper” for its own good?! He totally ruined the retelling. It could’ve been cool, but it wasn’t.
Should you read it? NOPE.

Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman’s retelling of the old tale, complete with spooky sketches.
I didn’t realize this was going to be kid-book-short. It’s a very quick read. It’s spooky and dark, though, so I don’t know that kids under 8 or 10 should be exposed. (I’m not a parent- I honestly have no clue.) I loved the illustrations and I like the small changes Gaiman made. I really, really enjoyed the background information on the tried and true tale of Hansel and Gretel. I read this the day before Halloween and it was perfect timing!
Should you read it? Sure. It’s very short and a nice little read for fairy tale lovers.

How to Be a Perfect Christian by The Babylon Bee
Similar to The Onion, this satirical how-to guide helps one to see the fault in their ways and fully come to understand how to be the perfect church-goer and Child of God.
Mmm… this book really wasn’t my cup of tea. I know lots of Christians love it but this was a good for you, not for me kind of read.
Should you read it? I don’t know. Check out the reviews on GR and decide.


|5 points| Freebie: Roomies by Christina Lauren*
|10 points| Starts with the letter N: Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen
|10 points| Has a mostly orange color: A Tyranny of Petticoats by various authors
|15 points| A book with an unlikable character: An Act of Villainy by Ashley Weaver
|20 points| From 100 books PBS calls “The Great American Read”HP & the Prisoner of Azkaban(illustrated version) by J.K. Rowling
|20 points| Related to water in the title: On A Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell
|25 points| Owned/TBR the longest (GoodReads): The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
|30 points| An emotion word in the title: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
|30 points| Each word in the title begins with the same letter: After Alice by Gregory Maguire
|35 points| A book featuring a character who shares your profession or similar one (i.e. does the same kind of thing as you do day to day): The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata

I’m so happy! 200 out of 200 points!!
*Formerly One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

So tell me what you read this month! Have you ever participated in a book challenge? Are you a fan of Gregory Maguire’s writing?

Life According to Steph

42 thoughts on “What I Read…

    1. I agree completely!!

      *Also, my computer is being screwy and doesn’t let me comment on your blog. (It’s my computer- not your site.) So I’m sorry I’ve been so silent there! I’ve been reading- just lost my voice until I fix it on my end!


  1. I have tried to read a few of Gregory Maguire’s books & I just cant get through them either. Your sentence “Hot Damn. I hated this book” made me bust out laughing.


  2. Congrats on finishing Erin’s challenge! I tried to do the bonus round and stopped sort of abruptly, but I’m already looking forward to the next challenge – version 10!

    Also, I hadn’t heard of Charing Cross Rd… even though apparently it came out like 30 years ago? I’ll definitely be requesting it from the library. Thanks for the reco!


    1. Thanks!! I’m definitely not bonus round level yet… but I’m SO glad to finally make it through the original 10! Congrats to you, too!!
      I loved Charing Cross!! Hope you read it soon!


  3. if you like hate to love/gruff male characters, check out fight or flight by samantha young if you haven’t already. it’s steamy but no more so than a christina lauren book lol. i loved it, but fair warning, the guy in that is mega ahole and some people thought it was a bit too far. not me 😉
    the cover for the alice book looks intriguing but your review made me laugh. i have no desire to read Wicked – i saw the play and heard about the differences between the two and it was a hard no for me.
    hmmm i didn’t know Gaiman had a Hansel & Gretel book.. might have to check it out!


    1. Thanks!! I’ll check it out!
      I love the musical Wicked. I’m bummed that I can’t get into the book but Maguire and I just don’t jive. Oh well. Gaiman’s two fairy tale retellings are SUPER short and very enjoyable!


  4. Congrats on finishing Erin’s Challenge!!! 😀 Christina Lauren books always sound hilarious but my library does not have a great selection of them, which bums me out. Alice in Wonderland is one of my least favorite fairy tales (I have no idea why I just don’t like it) but I am bummed that it was a no-go for you because I know you LOVE Alice! I’ve only read American Gods by Gaiman, may need to try some of his other works.


    1. Thanks!! 🙂
      This was my first Christina Lauren book! I loved the humor. I’m sad that I so strongly dislike After Alice but there was nooooo redeeming that book. BLEH. I’ve only read Gaiman’s children books (these two and Coraline). I want to check out some of his other ones, too!


  5. Even with being so busy you got a lot of reading done! I really loved hearing your thoughts. My favorite reviews to read are the ones that get 1 star-they are always so funny! I’m going to check out The Sleeper and the Spindle-I hope my library has it!


  6. Way to go on completing Erin’s challenge! I was just a few days away from completing the last book, but I’m definitely going to do it for her next one! 84, Charing Cross Road sounds like such a good book! I’m not exactly a huge fan of nonfiction, but the fact that these are real letters sounds so cool!


  7. Erin’s challenge sounds like fun – congratulations on completing it!
    Roomies sounds like a great book – thanks for the recommendations!


  8. I put Roomies and The Sleeper and the Spindle on my TBR! Neil Gaiman is one I’m always willing to try, even if I don’t always end up loving his books. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of my very favorites.
    I’ve never read Gregory Maguire. I wish I liked more of that type of genre but I’m just not an Oz fan to begin with, so I never even read Wicked.


    1. Hope you enjoy those ones! The Gaiman books will only take you half an hour each 🙂 I need to check out some of his adult books.
      I love Wicked the musical but the book & Maguire are just not for me. LOL


  9. Wow! Congrats on finishing Erin’s challenge! I only participated once and I think I read like 6 or 7. That’s a huge accomplishment!! I really want to read The Sleeper and the Spindle because I love Neil Gaiman. I never heard of that one!


    1. Thanks, Carolann!! I’m so shocked that I finally did it! Haha! Both of the Gaiman books I mentioned are super short. I think you’d love The Sleeper and the Spindle!


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