What I Read… vol. 10

Again we find ourselves at the second Tuesday of the month! That means I’m linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books!

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I struggle with the review image that I post each month… I hate how it looks but I haven’t found an alternative yet. Maybe by next month I’ll have something new:

Between moving and cleaning and life I only read and finished one book. And I hate it. Oh well- can’t win ’em all.

The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides | ★★/5
Summary: In less than one year’s time the five Lisbon sister end their lives. The neighborhood boys watch with fascination, admiration, and confusion as the girls mourn, heal, call for help, and eventually die. | Why I Read It: Somewhere along the line this book ended up on my TBR list so I used it for the challenge. | What I Thought: I’ve read my fair share of depressing YA fiction. This book just didn’t do anything for me. While I truly believe Eugenides is a skilled writer, I was bored and unattached through (almost) the entire thing. Right around the 200 pg mark I started to get into it, but then he lost me again. The story is interesting in that the neighborhood boys piece together what happened to their female neighbors, but there was so much blah to it. Just not my thing at all.
You should read it because… you’re looking for a long retelling about the breakdown and destruction of five frustrated teenage girls. Honestly, just don’t read it.

 

Update on Erin’s Book Challenge

|5 points| Freebie: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
|10 points| Starts w/ “B”: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
|10 points| Yellow cover: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
|15 points| An animal on the cover: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
|20 points| Published in 2017: The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver
|20 points| Compass/cardinal direction in title: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
|25 points| A most commonly banned book in America: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
|30 points| About mental illness: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
|30 points| Non-human main character: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
|35 points| A Disney movie /book/ based on a Disney movie: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

Coming in hot with 135 points.

What’d you read this month? 🙂

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What I Read… vol. 9

Best blogging day of the month! Let’s get to the books!

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If you’re new here, this is how the review goes:

Ok! On with the show!

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood | ★★★★★/5
Summary: With Congress gone and the Constitution suspended, American men and women are forced into new relationships and roles. | Why I Read It: Everyone has or is reading it (I was 78th on the library waitlist- it took 2 months to get) & it filled a spot in Erin’s Challenge. | What I Thought: This book was like nothing I’ve ever read. I have so many thoughts but at the same time I’m speechless over it. It’s so relevant and scary and foretelling… especially for being written in 1985. It read like an actual retelling and it ended so vaguely. I think that the reader is meant to walk away with their own epilogue depending on how you felt by the end- you might have some hope for Offrend and think that she’s going to be alright but you might be feeling completely hopeless and beaten down by the end, in which case you probably imagine the worst for her. Also, I wonder what it would’ve been like for Offred if she’d have been in a different position of power or even a different part of the US or a different relationship when the changes started…. I don’t know… this book was eerie and engrossing and unique.
You should read it because… you’re a reader. If you are someone who enjoys reading I think you should give this book a try.

The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver | ★★★★/5
*ARC provided by Ashley Weaver (but it’s available now!)
Summary: Summoned to France by Milo’s childhood nanny, Amory and her husband find themselves in the middle of another high society death. Was it an accident or something more sinister? | Why I Read It: I like this series & it worked out with Erin’s Challenge. | What I Thought: First of all, I’m so happy I got my hands on an ARC. Sometimes all you have to do is ask and an amazing author says “yes” 🙂 I love the high society and historical vibe in these novels. This one was no exception as it introduced the Ames duo to the French Belanger family, master perfumers. With the recent loss of their patriarch, the company, fortune, and family are in a state of covert disarray. While I enjoyed Milo and Amory’s strengthening relationship, I felt like his secrecy and lying were serious (& annoying) setbacks. Also, Milo’s effect on women was a little overstated. That said, I still loved their chemistry and I’m liking Amory’s backbone as it grows a little in each novel. I think my favorite parts were Milo’s reaction to men flirting with his wife. He’s much less of a cool cucumber than Amory in those situations.
You should read it because… you’ve read the first three books and/or you enjoy historical murder mysteries.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman | ★★★★/5
Summary: New to town and already bored with her home and routine, Coraline decides to explore the dark mysteries of her new home. | Why I Read It: It’s been on my TBR list forever because I thought it looked spooky and entertaining. | What I Thought: For whatever reason, it took me over 2 months to finish this book. It was enjoyable, but it was easy to pick up other books instead of this one. I liked Coraline very much. She started off with a pretty decent level of maturity but by the end she’d become very wise and clever and brave for her age. I’ve read that this book is creepy and scary for adult while children tend to find it more empowering and encouraging. I can see that. The villain (“the other mother”) was delightfully terrible. I think there were many details hinted at by Gaiman that weren’t blatantly explained and I enjoyed that. It was a very descriptive and visual book- perfect for a fall afternoon.
You should read it because… you enjoy spooky, contemporary tales of evil and trickery (defeated by clever, good little girls).

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling, Jim Kay (Illustrator) | ★★★★★/5
Summary: (Really?) After 11 years with his abusive aunt and uncle, a young boy is suddenly immersed in a world of witchcraft and wizardry, trolls and dungeons, unicorns and werewolves. | Why I Read It: No one needs an excuse to read HP. That said, I’m rereading all the books as their illustrated versions are released. I’ve had this one for a while now and finally cracked it open. | What I Thought: Bloody hell. I didn’t think there were any Harry Potter stones unturned. If you haven’t gotten your hands on the illustrated novels then you need to do so right now ❤︎ I’ve heard that the Kindle/ebook versions are animated! I’m ashamed that it’s been so long since I’ve read this magical book. Next week I’m dedicating an entire blog post to it so stay tuned for that 😉
You should read it because… it’s one of the greatest series and stories to ever grace the literature world. #fact

DNF: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart
*I didn’t finish this book this month and I ran out of renewals (because I got it at the beginning of the summer and kept putting it off). I fully intend to re-borrow this book and finish it, but I’m taking a break for a few weeks and giving it back to the library for now 😉

Here’s a quick challenge update:

|5 points| Freebie: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
|10 points| Starts w/ “B”: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
|10 points| Yellow cover: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
|15 points| An animal on the cover: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
|20 points| Published in 2017: The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver
|20 points| Compass/cardinal direction in title: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
|25 points| A most commonly banned book in America: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
|30 points| About mental illness: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
|30 points| Non-human main character: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
|35 points| A Disney movie /book/ based on a Disney movie: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

I have 105 points now.

Not a bad month for reading 🙂 What’d you read this month?

Linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books!

Life According to Steph

What I Read… vol. 8

It seems like I do my best reading in two weeks leading up to SUYB… I finished these the first week of August & I’m currently reading three different books.

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I made a new image to explain my reviewing method…

On to the books…

The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden | ★★★★/5
Summary: With Christianity spreading throughout the land, old guardians are awakened and troubled at the edge of the cold Russian wilderness. When disruption puts Vasya’s people at risk she must repair and protect the world they live in with the world that protects them. | Why I Read It: I think Olya praised this book on her blog and put it on my radar so I used it for Erin’s Challenge. | What I Thought: This story was a powerful mix of feminist rebellion and uniqueness celebration and mostly-good verses very-evil and family loyalty and protectiveness. I’ve never read a Russian fairytale-esque novel but this story didn’t disappoint. It was a slow read for me- I felt like I needed to reflect on each season of weather and Vasya. I also found myself totally smitten by three different characters, one being a monk and one a demon. Ha. It was a long, good, well flavored story and I really enjoyed Vasilisa’s courage and spirit throughout the whole thing.
You should read it because… you’re in the mood for a unique and beautiful tale about a strong and unique girl from the coldest forest of Russia.

Intrigue in Capri by Ashley Weaver | ★★★/5
Summary: While on holiday in Italy Amory finds herself drawn to a new mystery. | Why I Read It: As I’ve mentioned, I love the Amory Ames series. | What I Thought: Released as a Kindle Single, this was a short little mystery possibly released to tie us Amory&Milo-lovers over until the next book. It was a very quick and cute read. Little mystery but lots of charm from the Ames duo. It took me all of 30 minutes (maybe) to read, so it certainly was a nice way to pass some time.
You should read it because... you’re invested in the Amory Ames series.


So here’s where I’m at with the challenge:

|5 points| Freebie: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
|10 points| Starts w/ “B”: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
|10 points| Yellow cover: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
|15 points| An animal on the cover: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
|20 points| Published in 2017: The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver
|20 points| Compass/cardinal direction in title: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
|25 points| A most commonly banned book in America: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
|30 points| About mental illness: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
|30 points| Non-human main character: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
|35 points| A Disney movie /book/ based on a Disney movie: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

I have 45 points now.

What did you read this month? Link up Steph & Jana!

Life According to Steph

The Boy Who Lived… ⚡

The stress levels around these parts are unreal. If you follow me on IG, you saw we listed our house last week. We got an offer within 2 days of it being online and we accepted it on Saturday. We’re pumped, but also stressed because inspections/appraisals/financing/buying a new home/money/moving/packing/fencing/fees/etc./etc./etc.

Also, as I mention all the time, summer is our busy season professionally. *groan*

So today I’m doing something fun that I can’t believe I’ve never done before: A Harry Potter Tag. (Thanks to Stephanie and Jenn for the questions!)

1. What is your favorite book?

The Prisoner of Azkaban. (& the Deathly Hallows)
2. What is your favorite film?
Order of the Phoenix. Although I think the Half-Blood Prince is hilarious up until the cave scene.


3. What is your least favorite book?
Goblet of Fire. I feel like most people say this one or OtP.
4. What is your least favorite film?
Probably Goblet of Fire, but it’s been a really long time since I’ve seen it.
5. Parts of the books/films that made you cry?
Probably every other scene for some reason or another. Molly v. Bellatrix, Hedwig’s final scene, the death of the twin, Dudley and Harry’s goodbye, Narcissa protecting her baby bear Draco & lying to Voldy. Also, Harry rescuing Ginny in the 2nd book always gets me since I know their end story 🙂 There are many, many more moments.
6. If you could hook up with any character, who would it be?
Movie George Weasley. Book Lupin. (Is that weird…?)


7. Who is your favorite character?
Book Ginny. Movie Molly. I like the twins, Luna, and Tonks in both forms, too.
8. Who is your least favorite character?
Umbridge is garbage. Duh.
But also Dumbledore. (Go ahead, burn me at the stake.) Snape also never won me over. And Wormtail creeped me ouuuuut.
9. What is your favorite quote?
I can’t even begin to answer this- book or movie quotes.


10. What is your least favorite quote?
“I must not tell lies.” (Crazy bitch…)
11. What would your Patronus be?
Pottermore said a basset hound, but I think it’d be a fox 🙂 Or a hawk.
12. What would your Boggart be?
A dinosaur riding a giant horse.
13. What would you rather have – the elder wand, the resurrection stone or the invisibility cloak?
The cloak.  Duhhh.
14. Which house would you be in?
Ravenclaw. (When Pottermore was revamped it re-housed me into Gryffindor. But nah.)


15. If you were on the Quidditch team, which position would you play?
I think chaser. Or I’d chill in the stands 😉
16. Which class would be your favorite?
Either Transfiguration or Care of Magical Creatures.
17. If you could bring one character back to life, who would it be?
Do Tonks and Lupin count as one…? (Sorry Hedwig/Fred/Dobby) I freaking hate that they died. Or maybe Sirius. He still had a lot of fight in him.
18. What would your job be in the magical world?
I think I’d want to be a professor at Hogwarts.
19. If you could meet any member of the cast, who would it be?
Dame Maggie Smith & Emma Watson. I typically consider people to be people regardless of their “job”, but those ladies are so badass I think I’d faint.
20. Were you happy with the ending? 
Yes. But I hated the spin “The Cursed Child” put on it. I refuse to believe Ron and Hermione had such a common and predictable love. And Ginny is better than that play gave her credit for.

Annnnd there we have it.

What I Read… vol. 7

Serious vacation prep was happening in June (both professionally and personally) so I barely read anything that month… but then we went on vacation the first week of July and I finished 2 books in a week (which is rare for me!).

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I have 3 books listed for this link-up.

I rate the books, explain what they are about & why I read them, & then give my thoughts. Erin’s book challenge kicked off July 1st so I included an update at the end of this post, too.

Ok… on to the books!

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt | ★★★★/5
Summary: The Sisters brothers are famous for killing. As hired assassins on The Commodore’s payroll, Eli and Charlie Sister set out for gold-rush-crazy Sacramento to kill Hermann Kermit Warm. | Why I Read It: Erin read it and then offered it up. I thought it sounded good so she sent it my way 🙂 | What I Thought: I just really loved this story. (Plus that cover is ALL the heart-eye emojis.) I rarely read books that pick up at one point in a person’s life, tell a story, and end at another point in their life. Usually the book starts at birth or at a pivotal moment and ends at death or something similar. It was a comfortable, well-paced, sad yet funny, familiar but untold story. I used to watch old western movies with my dad and this took me right back. It was a little violent, but nothing I couldn’t handle (and I’m a wimp!).
You should read it because… you enjoy historical fiction and western movies… you like characters that aren’t 100% good or bad… you’re obsessed with the cover art like I am.

*Who wants it next? I’m passing this story on now, too! I’ll send it to ya for free!

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie | ★★★★/5
Summary: Ten strangers collected on an island, all haunted to a degree by past transgressions. Will they make it off the desolate rock alive? And if not, who’s killing them off one by one? | Why I Read It: A friend recommended it because she thought I’d enjoy it. | What I Thought: She was right- I did enjoy it! This book was first published in 1939 but it didn’t read like an “old” book. I loved the mix of characters and the mystery of the island. I liked how certain stories came to light at different times in the plot- not just all at once. I absolutely had NO idea who’d done it by the end of the book. It was kind of strange to have it all summed up the way it was in the last 30 pages or so, but I was very satisfied with the ending and the intricate murders!
You should read it because… you enjoy murder mysteries and you like the game/movie Clue and you want to pay some respect to the OG of mysteries. Ha.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein | ★★★★★/5
Summary: Enzo the dog looks back on his life with the Swift family. | Why I Read It: I hate reading books about animals, but this one had such high praise, plus the dog’s name is Enzo ❤︎ | What I Thought: This book killed me… I was sobbing on the beach last week because of all the highs and lows wrapped up in these +300 pages. (We also lost our family dog to old age last week while we vacation- that didn’t help my emotional explosion.) Enzo is a sweet and intelligent soul that devotes his life to loving, protecting, and understanding the humans in his life. He provides insight and lessons that sound so natural coming from a dog’s mind. Amongst illnesses and births and triumphs and loss, Enzo is a sturdy rock for the family and he doesn’t take that responsibility lightly. Even the staunchest dog hater would fall head over heels for Enzo. (I also love that book-Enzo and my Enzo are presumably named after the same thing/person.)
You should read it because… it’s amazing. Even if you’re not a dog lover, you will absolutely fall in love with Enzo and his humans. This was a wonderful book & I’m so glad I broke my rule and read it.

So here’s where I’m at with the challenge, just over 2 weeks in:

|5 points| Freebie: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
|10 points| Starts w/ “B”: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
|10 points| Yellow cover: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
|15 points| An animal on the cover: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
|20 points| Published in 2017: The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver
|20 points| Compass/cardinal direction in title: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
|25 points| A most commonly banned book in America: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
|30 points| About mental illness: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
|30 points| Non-human main character: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
|35 points| A Disney movie /book/ based on a Disney movie: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

I will take 35 points to kick this off, thank you very much!

I loved spending my whole vacation reading by the beach 🙂 I’ll recap the other stuff we did on Thursday! Until then, tell me what YOU read this month!

Linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books!!

Life According to Steph

What I Read… vol. 6

Second Tuesday of the month? You know I’m linking up with Steph and Jana to discuss BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS 😀

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The grading curve…

…and last month’s reads:

The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh | ★★★/5
Summary: Inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, this story opens on Shahrzad and her impending death sentence. As the Caliph’s 72 bride in as many nights, Shazi is determined to stop the monstrous ruler’s cruel cycle and exact her revenge for a former bride and fallen friend. But from the get-go things just aren’t that easy. | Why I Read It: It sounded interesting and it was the selected book for Carolann‘s book club. | What I Thought: To be totally honest, I’m torn. I didn’t dislike the book and I didn’t love it. It just didn’t really click with me. I loved Shazi’s strong, take-no-sh!t attitude. I also really enjoyed (almost) every character. The magical element fell a little flat for me. It was a relatively creative story, but it definitely had that YA/teen vibe. I don’t plan on reading the second in the series, only because I don’t really care…
You should read it because… you like teen adventure and romance. If you’re looking for a strong, feminine, well-rounded protagonist then I’d recommend this story! Definitely a YA story, though.

The Heir by Kiera Cass | ★★★/5
Summary: The princess of Illea has never known rebel attacks or castes, but she’s no stranger to civilian unrest. When her parents suggest a new-age selection competition the feisty Princess Eadlyn is appalled. | Why I Read It: I’ve come this far with the series. I figured I’d finish it out. | What I Thought: I’ve given all The Selection books 3 stars, but this one is more like 3.5. I loved that there was no love triangle. I also loved Eadlyn’s confidence. At the same time, that girl was a brat. I get that she’s royalty and comfortable, but it shocked me that her mother, who came from nothing, would allow her daughter to act like that. I suppose we’re all jaded or naive in some form, but dang.
The romance (or lack thereof) was enjoyable. I like the guys, especially Kile and Henry (and Erik). I appreciate that we’re seeing a change in Eadlyn (I think)… Hopefully book 5 ties everything up in a relatively neat bow. (After 5 books I feel like I, as the reader, deserve that. Ha.)
You should read it because… you’ve made it this far. And while Eadlyn is more bratty than America, the story line is way more enjoyable and entertaining.

The Crown by Keira Cass | ★★★/5
Summary: Eadlyn’s selection is coming to a close, as is her time as “princess.” With a potential husband and a queenship in her not so distant future, Eadlyn has some important decisions to make about her life and Illea. | Why I Read It: Just making my way through the series. | What I Thought: Well… I borrowed it from the library on Saturday morning and finished the final chapter that night. It’s not that it was outstanding (I mean, it’s still only getting three stars), but the pace was pretty quick and the story was interesting (albeit, a tad underdeveloped in my opinion…). That said, the last 100 pages felt incredibly rushed. Also, while I was looking for a neat & tidy ending to the series, this was all a little too perfect and unbelievable. I felt like the king and queen’s personalities shifted too much, the selection romance was random and underdeveloped, and the antagonist was dismissed too easily after all the drama settled. Eady was way less of a brat, though. She was much more enjoyable in this novel than in The Heir.
You should read it because… you’ve made it this far. And it’s a quick read.

I’m doing a private book challenge with friends, but Erin’s reading challenge doesn’t start until July 1st (see my list here) so I’m going to hold off on any challenge updates until the next SUYB!

Thanks for hosting, Steph & Jana!

Life According to Steph

Book Challenge by Erin 7.0

I don’t know how many of Erin’s challenges I’ve participated in, but they never get old 🙂 Here’s the link to her post. And here are my picks for this challenge!

Briefly, the rule are… books must be +200 pages, only one reread from your past, & no doubling up one book for two categories. It starts July 1 and ends October 31!

|5 points| Freebie (at least 200 pages): And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
|10 points| Starts with the letter “B”: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
|10 points| Has a (mostly) yellow cover: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
|15 points| Has a picture of an animal on the cover: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
|20 points| Published in 2017: The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver
|20 points| A compass or cardinal direction in the title: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
|25 points| From this list of the most commonly banned books in America: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
|30 points| A fictional book about mental illness: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
|30 points| With a non-human main character: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
|35 points| A book a Disney movie was based on/a book based on a Disney movie: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

 

I have a few books I want to (start and) finish before this challenge starts. I’m actually on a roll right now so I hope that carries over into July!

Join Erin’s challenge this month and tell me what you’d read in each category!