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!

Books I Want to Read – Summer 2017

Like most folks on GoodReads, I have a never ending list of “to read” books. I’m taking a page post out of Alexandra‘s and Kelly‘s blogs and rattling off a few novels I want to tackle this summer.

Hopefully a few of these fall in line with Erin‘s next challenge, too! That starts July 1st so I have a little break between now and then to tackle as many of these books as I can!

Yes Please (Amy Poehler).
I added this to my bookshelf in July 2015, then I received it as a gift this year for Valentine’s Day. I enjoyed Tina’s and Mindy’s books so I’m looking forward to this one, too.

The Heir & The Crown (Kiera Cass).
Two separate books- numbers 4 and 5 in The Selection series. I’ve made it this far… I might as well finish out the series.

Scarlet (A.C. Gaughen).
I believe Alexandra put this on my radar a few month ago (er, maybe a year ago?). Either way… I’m putting it at the top of the list.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well (Meik Wiking).
Everyone’s reading it sooo… I want to, too.

The Wrath & The Dawn (Renee Ahdieh).
I’m going to finally attempt to link-up with Carolann‘s monthly GoodReads book club. This is the May book.

The Sisters Brothers (Patrick deWitt).
Erin sent me this book a few weeks ago and I’m dying to start it! That cover is so intriguing!

Three Dark Crowns (Kendare Blake).
I’ve heard good things about this book and it’s got a nice mix of royalty and fantasy. Those two genres are usually right up my alley.

Either Throne of Glass or A Court of Thorns and Roses (Sarah J. Maas).
Any recommendations on which I should start?

Help me out with the Maas books. And tell me what you’re planning on reading this summer!

Short Stories I Love

I’d venture to guess that most of us are book people. While I consider myself a book person, I tend to overlook or avoid short stories, fables, etc. I don’t know why, but I do. But every once in a while one crosses my path and it sticks with me.

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Today I’m sharing three very short stories or fables with you 🙂
The longest is roughly 1,000 words and the shortest is a few paragraphs.

The Grasshopper & the Ants

You’ve probably heard this one. It’s from Aesop’s Fables. The ants are a tad harsh in the end, but I like to balance this lesson with my last short story on this list 😉

You can read it here.

The Boarded Window by Ambrose Bierce

I read this story when I was in middle school or high school and I really loved it. I’ve tried (and failed) to get into Poe- I think Bierce is more my style. Plus, he just disappeared and died somewhere. No one really knows what became of him…

Anyway, you can read The Boarded Window here.

And last but not least…

The Tiger & the Fox

I really love this story, but I don’t know much about it. I believe it’s by Massud Farzan from The Tale of the Reed Pipe. I think it’s of Islamic origin? Anyway- I love it.

A fox who lived in the deep forest of long ago had lost its front legs. No one knew how: perhaps escaping from a trap. A man who lived on the edge of the forest, seeing the fox from time to time, wondered how in the world it managed to get its food. One day when the fox was not far from him he had to hide himself quickly because a tiger was approaching. The tiger had fresh game in its claws. Lying down on the ground, it ate its fill, leaving the rest for the fox.

Again the next day the great Provider of this world sent provisions to the fox by this same tiger. The man began to think: “If this fox is taken care of in this mysterious way, its food sent by some unseen Higher Power, why don’t I just rest in a corner and have my daily meal provided for me?”

Because he had a lot of faith, he let the days pass, waiting for food. Nothing happened. He just went on losing weight and strength until he was nearly a skeleton. Close to losing consciousness, he heard a voice which said: “O you, who have mistaken the way, see now the truth! You should have followed the example of that tiger instead of imitating the fox.”


What are some short stories or fables that you love?

What I Read… vol.5

I slowed waaay down with reading this month. I also failed to finish Erin’s challenge. (Heck, I still haven’t finished Atonement. I think that one might be a lost cause…) Oh well- the two books I did read were four star-ers so I consider it a good month.

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. . .

On to the books…

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier | ★★★★/5
Summary: After fleeing with her sister from personal embarrassment in England, Honor Bright finds herself all alone in rural 1850s Ohio at the mercy of strangers. Trying to find her place in the midst of Quakers, runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad, and crass-yet-kind Americans, Honor all but loses herself. She soon finds that right and wrong isn’t a matter of black and white. | Why I Read It: According to GoodReads it’s been on my TBR list since 2015. And it met the criteria for Erin’s Challenge. | What I Thought: Books like this are why I love historical fiction. Not everything is 100% true, but I learned so much about Ohio’s history with the Underground Railroad and the necessary involvement of Quakers. It sparks the desire to know more. Honor was a naive character at first but I think she progressed and developed as the story went on. I would have made VERY different choices than she did and I wasn’t expecting the final scene, but it was a good piece of historical fiction that taught me a little more about the state in which I live.
You should read it because… you enjoy historical fiction- more specifically, the turbulent pre-Civil War/slave era in America’s history. I loved that this was set in my state. It was also minimal on the cruelty/violence that’s often written into novels about slavery. Still heavy, but not soul-crushing.

A Most Novel Revenge by Ashley Weaver | ★★★★/5
Summary: In the third installment of the Amory Ames Mystery series the clever, amateur detective and her dashing husband Milo are invited to join Amory’s cousin at a cold and drafty countryside estate. While Lyonsgate may have once been a lovely getaway, it now holds memories of a wild evening gone wrong. | Why I Read It: I love this series. A fourth book comes out in September and I wanted to be all caught up. | What I Thought: I really love Amory Ames. I think she’s progressed through the books and found her voice and her confidence- with and without her husband. I also love that they work as a functional, adoring team in this novel. Milo gave her a little more attention than he has in the past and Amory found herself letting some walls down. I found their evolving relationship adorable. As far as the mystery goes, I had 85% of it figured out by the reveal, but I think I was supposed to suspect certain characters. I loved the speed of the story line as well as the heavy dialogue. I highly suggest reading the first two mysteries before you read this one- they set up the characters and their quirks.
You should read it because… you enjoyed the first two novels. And you should read those if you love a polite English murder mystery with a fair share of twists and surprises. It’s less thriller and more fun, but that’s my kind of mystery 😉


Erin’s Challenge officially ended at midnight on April 30th…

| 5 points | Freebie: Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber
| 10 points | Starts with the letter “W”: Winter by Marissa Meyer
| 10 points | Six words in the title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
| 15 points | Has a (mostly) green cover: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
| 20 points | A homonym in the title: The One by Kiera Cass
| 20 points | By your favorite author: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
| 25 points | Set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live: The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
| 30 points | A “Rory Gilmore” book: Atonement by Ian McEwan
| 30 points | From a genre that you’ve never read/rarely read (*thriller*): The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
| 35 points | With time travel: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

I ended with 170 points out of 200! While I didn’t complete the challenge, I feel so accomplished and happy. This was a personal best!

If you’re in a reading slump like I was I strongly encourage you to join Erin‘s next challenge. (Categories released June 1, starts July 1.) While I’ve never finished it, I’m pretty darn close. And Erin never puts any pressure on her readers- it’s such a supportive group. I tend to read at a rate of three-ish books a month… which would allow me to finish the challenge if I’d just stay consistent, lol.

What did you read this month? Linking up with Steph and Jana!

Life According to Steph

What I Read… vol. 4

This day needs no introduction. I read 3 books since our last link-up with Steph and Jana. Three feels like a good number for me.

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Here’s the rating cheat sheet & description…

I include a brief summary, why I picked up the book, and what I thought. Then I give my oh-so-valuable opinion on whether or not you should read it and why. Images link to their GoodReads page.

On to the books…

Heartless by Marissa Meyer | ★★★★/5
Summary: Before she was the Queen of Hearts, Lady Catherine Pinkerton was a whimsical girl who loved to bake and found heads to be much more pleasant when attached to their bodies. So what happened? | Why I Read It: Two reasons, my friends. First of all, I love Alice in Wonderland. Secondly, I love Marissa Meyer. | What I Thought: The book started just a little bit slowly and I was devastated that it would end up being predictable and obvious. I was so wrong. Catherine was perfection. From the start you can see how she might have some Red Queen qualities (*cough*temperament*cough*), but you also found yourself rooting for her and hoping that she would achieve her dreams. She was a likeable character, but her flaws were also blatantly obvious. Her decisions and reactions carried her from one mistake to another until her fate suddenly became quite apparent. (I’m proud to say I figured out the Jabberwock story line on page 284. Yes, I did actually look at the page number when the thought struck me. ) The subtle allusions to Alice in Wonderland/Lewis Carroll made me grin every single time. I also fell head-over-heels in love with Jest. I don’t know how you couldn’t. I loved the appearance of original characters, too. Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for anything better in an AiW pre-telling. (Four stars because there were moments that were just a tiny bit slow or repetitive.)
You Should Read It Because… you’re a fan of classic retellings and/or the original Alice in Wonderland. Or because you enjoy Meyer’s writing. Or because you like fantasy and romance and adventure and female leads.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams | ★★/5
Summary: *Fair warning: It’s an odd book.* When Arthur suddenly finds himself homeless he’s forced to join his oddball friend Ford on an intergalactic journey. | Why I Read It: I typically like weird stories and it filled a requirement for the challenge. | What I Thought: Man… this was a weird story. I don’t think I was the right audience for the humor in this book. I chuckled a few times, but it was difficult for me to get through. Lots of made up places and names and histories. I found myself re-reading pages and conversations, just to make sure I caught everything. I think it was an entertaining story, but I don’t think it was the right book for me. I highly doubt I’ll be picking up the sequels.
You Should Read It Because… I’m honestly not sure. It was an entertaining story but it was nonsensical and space-y.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware | ★★★/5
Summary: Immediately following an unfortunate incident at home, Lo Blacklock is sent on an exclusive luxury cruise ship to cover a story for her employer- the travel magazine Velocity. The story she ends up uncovering turns out to be far juicier than she’d anticipated- and possibly deadly. | Why I Read It: Everyone and their mom has read it so I used it in Erin’s Challenge. | What I Thought: Eh, thrillers still aren’t my thing. I enjoy mysteries, but not thrillers. Maybe this was just a bad one. (I listened to Steph & Jana talk about it on The Armchair Librarians podcast.) According to them, Lo is an unreliable narrator (like Rachel from Girl On A Train? -didn’t read it). This kind of character annoys me. She drank too much (but she wasn’t an alcoholic), halfway through she started referencing her depression, and she consistently bounced back to the incident at home as the reason for her behavior and suspicions and snooping. But then when anyone mentioned those flaws/excuses/behaviors she freaked out on them and closed herself off. I also thought she was naive yet suspicious… and I don’t think you can be both. Not intelligently anyway… Again, I’m not a thriller reader but I figured out the twists long before Lo did. And there were moments I skimmed because it was just repetitive. And I really hated some of the loose ends yet neat and tidy finish. And the lack of morality at the very, very end (mainly having to do with money) was out of character IMO. I don’t know. Not my cup of tea but an OK read in that it mostly held my interest and occasionally sent a chill down my spine. *I did love the cover!
You Should Read It Because… you’re on a thriller bender or you heard good things elsewhere. I know some people liked this book & some hated it.

I have two weeks and five days to finish two books for Erin’s Challenge…

| 5 points | Freebie: Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber
| 10 points | Starts with the letter “W”: Winter by Marissa Meyer
| 10 points | Six words in the title: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
| 15 points | Has a (mostly) green cover: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
| 20 points | A homonym in the title: The One by Kiera Cass
| 20 points | By your favorite author: Heartless by Marissa Meyer
| 25 points | Set in the city/town/state/territory/county/province where you live: The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
| 30 points | A “Rory Gilmore” book: Atonement by Ian McEwan
| 30 points | From a genre that you’ve never read/rarely read (*thriller*): The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
| 35 points | With time travel: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

I currently have 145 points out of 200. I borrowed The Last Runaway from the library and I’m already into it. Atonement is sitting on my nightstand!

Tell me, tell me. What did you read this month?

Life According to Steph

Things I Really Love Right Now

I was going to write a serious post today. I started one about the controversy surrounding the Beauty and the Beast outrage. I thought about screaming ranting about the idiotic administration running our country. But I just can’t. If you’ve been around these parts long enough then you know that I have 0% issue with people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. You also know I loathe the people inhabiting the White House. So let’s talk about something that isn’t going to make me pull my hair out.

I’m going to link up with Kristen & Gretch for some “currently” updates and some favorite things that I want you to know about 🙂

Reading… The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier. Atonement (Ian McEwan) is also on the docket. Last two books for Erin’s Challenge!

Watching… the series finale for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I tried to drag the series out as long as I could. I’m sad it’s over but pleased with how it ended. Now I’m trying to convince K to watch Firefly with me. (I’ve seen it, he hasn’t.)

Looking Forward To… my mom’s birthday celebration. Her b-day was Tuesday but I’m surprising her with an outing on Saturday. I can’t say much here because she reads this blog 😉

Planning… a fall vacation. We were going to go to Disney, but I couldn’t get K excited about it. He’s never been and wants to see it for the first time with a big family group or with a kid in the picture. Fine. Whatever. I was bitter about it at first, but now I’m looking forward to spending some time at Universal Studios (#DisneyForever) and on a cruise. We compromised.

Loving… my new job with K’s company. I feel so relaxed and fulfilled working for a company that I love and working alongside people that I really enjoy and working in an industry that’s had my heart for +8 years.

(Here’s what I was up to at this exact time last year!)

Now let’s talk about my recent favorites.
(I’m going to style this like Rebecca Jo’s Friday Favorites post.)

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Favorite Reads

I’m going to recommend two authors instead of books.

I’ve gone on and on about The Lunar Chronicles, so it makes sense that I recommend Marissa Meyer to those who love a little fantasy and adventure and retelling. Her newest standalone novel, Heartless, quickly became a favorite for me, too. (I’ll talk about it on Tuesday!)

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The second author that I’ve really enjoyed so far is Ashley Weaver. She writes a 1930s mystery series that centers around Amory Ames and her playboy husband Milo. They’re not thrillers, but they have an air of suspense and romance and betrayal. Plus they’re set in historical England- which is my fav.

Favorite Recent Purchases

Everyone has their favorite place to buy jeans. Mine is Old Navy. If you’re an ON gal check out these jeans! I have three of the same pair, all in different shades (medium wash, light wash and light pachuca). They are so comfy and flattering to my curvy hips!

Also on the recently purchased list: These pajamas from Marshalls (or TJ Maxx, I guess.) The same cross-cross shear pattern around the neck is also down the outside of each leg on the shorts. Perfect as the weather warms up!

…obviously this isn’t my body. Ha.

Favorite Lip Stuff

I’m not a beauty blogger, but I have three lipsticks/stains/things that I’ve been loving lately. Two are Burt’s Bees products (Pink Lagoon gloss lip crayon & Ruby Ripple moisturizing lipstick) and one’s from Wet N Wild (Lady and the Vamp balm stain). Last weekend I got three compliments on the balm stain!

Favorite Funnies

Have you tried any of this stuff? What’s something you’re loving lately?

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