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

What I Read… vol. 3

This was a good month for reading. (Finally! ) I finished up The Lunar Chronicles, I checked a few books off Erin’s Challenge, and I started into Meyer’s newest novel, Heartless. Today I’m linking up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books!

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As you know, here’s the rating system…

Book Rating

and 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 (let’s be friends!).

. . .

Winter by Marissa Meyer | ★★★★★/5 winter
Summary: The fourth and final book in the Lunar Chronicles… It’s now or never as Cinder, Kai, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress, Thorne, and Iko bring the battle to evil Queen Levana’s doorstep. Add a crazy lunar princess (Winter) and a stubborn but loyal royal guard (Jacin). What will it cost for goodness and kindness to overcome manipulation and power? | Why I Read It: Because I’m obsessed with this series. Duh. | What I Thought: My heart has shattered into a million pieces. Not because this story was sad, but because upon closing the back cover I immediately missed my friends. Originally I thought +800 pages sounded intimidating. When I got to page 300 I wondered how there was more to the story. Around page 600 things were getting cray. At 823 I found myself wishing for a thousand more pages and a million more words to keep the adventure going. Yes, my friends, this series is that wonderful. It’s fantasy and YA and the retelling of several fairy tales. If ANY of those things appeal to you, go start on this series. Adventure, romance, strong women and men, good verses evil, self-discovery, fantastic world development – this series has it all. I am devastated it’s over. (If you don’t believe me go look at Goodreads– all the books rate above 4 stars.)
You Should Read It Because… you enjoy a good futuristic/fantasy story. Actually, I never read futuristic stories and I loved this series. It was similar to HP in terms of friendship and growth and overcoming evil. If you love a good series, go read these right now.

(Other LC reviews: Cinder | Scarlet | Cress )

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer | ★★★★/5 stars-above
This book was a collection of 9 short stories surrounding the four main books of The Lunar Chronicles. It’s easiest to sum them up individually…
The Keeper: A short backstory about Scarlet’s grand-mère and the role she played in raising and encouraging a Lunar revolution.
Glitches [reviewed here]
The Queen’s Army [reviewed here] *
Carswell’s Guide to Being Luck [reviewed here] *
After Sunshine Passes By: When we meet Cress she’s locked in a satellite, monitoring (read: spying) on Earth. But how did she get there…?
The Princess & The Guard*: Winter is such a complicated character- her childhood in the palace and her relation with Jacin is revealed and explained in this tale.
The Little Android [reviewed here]
The Mechanic: In Cinder we learned how she and Kai met… but only from her point of view. This short story follows Kai’s experience in the busy marketplace that day.
Something Old, Something New *: Time has passed and the Rampion crew is back together on Earth. This reads like an extended epilogue.
What I Thought: I love these back stories on all the characters. Some are a little long and some seem slightly unnecessary (since the books cover so much), but I can’t get enough of this series (obviously ), so it’s ok. My favorite ones are asterisk-ed.
You Should Read It Because… You’re reading/have read the four main books. Marissa Meyer recommends reading the books/stories in this order.

Ok. I’m done talking about The Lunar Chronicles. For a minute.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle | ★★★/5 a-wrinkle-in-time
(Listened to on Audible; Narrated by Hope Davis)
Summary: After their father’s suspicious disappearance, 12-year-old Meg Murray and her youngest brother Charles Wallace come across the path of three odd women: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Witch. Together with their friend Calvin, the three children are whisked away and sent on a journey to find Mr. Murray. | Why I Read It: I had the book as a kid, but I never read it. I picked it up this time to fulfill a category in Erin’s reading challenge. | What I Thought: I had no idea this was considered a “children’s classic” and I didn’t realize that L’Engle was a Christian writer. Neither of those things matter in the grand scheme of this review, though. I listened to this book all in one shot while driving from Fairfax, VA to my town in Ohio. It was entertaining and it kept my interest the entire drive, but it didn’t blow my mind or change my life. I really liked Charles Wallace and I thought the overall message of the story was sweet and simple, but there were things that seemed too convenient and moments that dragged on just a bit. It’s targeted at kids and it’s considered a classic, so reviewing it is kind of tough.
You Should Read It Because… you enjoy children’s literature or Christian-based (fantasy) story-telling. Meg was a flawed but strong female protagonist which is rare for a religious sci-fi novel from 1962. Also, if you’re a strict book-before-movie person you might want to check this out. They’re currently filming this with Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, & Oprah Winfrey.

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer, Illustrated by Douglas Holgate | ★★★★★/5
Summary: With tension between Luna and Earth still high, the once-servant-turned-hero android Iko volunteers to take on the rogue hybrid-wolf packs plaguing Earth. | Why I Read It: This is Meyer’s first graphic novel and takes place after Winter. | What I Thought: Aces and stars, I love this series. I loved reading this in Iko’s voice. I loved getting a follow-up with each character and getting to see Holgate’s/Meyer’s illustrations. (I was nervous they wouldn’t match my mental image, but they did for the most part.) I loved how light this story felt, but at the same time I experienced fear and anger and joy for the characters. The only thing I hated is how long I have to wait for volume 2… *sigh*
You Should Read It Because… you read all the other books in The Lunar Chronicles and you loved them. I recommend reading the series before cracking open this graphic novel.

So…. here’s the update with 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’m at 85 out of 200 points. I won’t be attempting the bonus round this time, fyi 😉 I’ve got a month and a half left to finish!

What’d you read this month?

Life According to Steph

What I Read… vol. 2

Happy Valentine’s Day ❤︎ What better way to celebrate than loving on the books in my life?

Last time I mentioned that I’d be linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books this year and, therefore, labeling these posts a little differently than 2016’s monthly round-up.

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The way I rate the books and how I summarize them is still the same.

Book Rating

Below I’ll 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 (let’s be friends!). Let’s begin.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis || ★★★★/5 the-magicians-nephew
Summary: The first book in The Chronicles of Narnia, this classic follows Digory and Polly as they discover new and old worlds, as well as the creatures that live there. | Why I Read It: I read this story a long time ago, but I’m working my way through TCofN and this book is the first. Plus it met a requirement for Erin’s Challenge. | What I Thought: I read another book in this series last year and found this one to be equally enjoyable. I love that this book is the “Genesis” of Narnia. I know not everyone likes it or cares about it, but I enjoy the religious undertones in these books. These books are short and full of storytelling, and I’ll be tackling the remaining five in the series, even though I know I’ve read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe before. It’s a smart, entertaining set of books to revisit.
You Should Read It Because… you enjoy children’s lit. or you’re a fan of C.S. Lewis or you’re in need of a quick yet meaningful fantasy series.

But Polly added, “But we are not quite as bad as that world, are we, Aslan?”
“Not yet, Daughter of Eve,” he said. “not yet. But you are growing more like it. It is not certain that some wicked one of your race will not find out a secret as evil as the Deplorable Word and use it to destroy all living things. And soon, very soon, before you are an old man and an old woman, great nations in your world will be ruled by tyrants which care no more for joy and justice and mercy than the Empress Jadis. Let your world beware. That is the warning…” -The Magician’s Nephew

Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber || ★★/5 dashing-through-the-snow
Summary: After missing their opportunity to fly to Seattle for the holidays, strangers Ashley and Dash end up sharing a rental car and making the trek north from San Francisco just before Christmas. Things prove to be a little difficult when the unlikely duo face a non-negotiable deadline, a surprise furry companion, and a mix-up with the law. | Why I Read It: I wanted a fun, festive read to kick off Erin’s Challenge. (below) | What I Thought: Holy cheeseball, Batman. This book annoyed me. Ashley annoyed me. Dash annoyed me. The law enforcement annoyed me. BLEH. I felt like the flirty conversation wasn’t realistic. I didn’t like the cat and mouse crap with the law. I just wanted there to be some action and it fell flat. *shrug*
You Should Read It Because… you’re in the mood for holiday fluff. Or you like this author? I don’t know. I won’t be picking this one up again. I don’t think this is my genre…

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin || ★★★★/5 the-westing-game
Summary: 16 “heirs and heiresses” are brought together to solve the mystery that is Sam Westing. The players include a bookie, a birdwatcher, and a bomber… but could one be a murderer, too?? | Why I Read It: I’ve been meaning to read this book for a long time. I popped into the bookstore before our trip to San Antonio (as I always do before a trip ) and saw it on sale… so I bought it and tossed it in my carry-on. | What I Thought: Whew… I’m glad I tackled this book in a single day because there were SO many characters. I’ve tried to start this book a few times in my youth and I always ended up putting it down and forgetting about it. Not this time! I started figuring out the clues and mystery around page 100, but there were still enough twists to keep me entertained. I loved how the stories weaved together and the friendships developed. To be honest, there were 4 or 5 holes or unanswered questions. I wanted connects to happen where there weren’t any. I gave it four stars because of that untapped potential.
You Should Read It Because… you like the movie Clue. This is a good book for Nancy-Drew-loving pre-teens and teens (and adults)!

. . .

An update on Erin’s 6.0 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

Ending this post at a total of 40 points out of 200. I have about 250 pages left of Winter. I thought I’d have it done by now, but I needed a break so I picked up The Westing Game. Oh well. It’ll be done by the next one of these 😉

What did you read last month? Have you read The Chronicles of Narnia?

signatureLife According to Steph

What I Read… 2017 vol.1

Yes, I started one of these books in early December and finished them both in January. Yes, there are only two books here (December was a hectic month). Yes, I’m proud because I polished off one in three days (which is good for me, OK?! ).

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Last year I organized these posts by month, but since I’m linking up with Jana and Steph on the second Tuesday of each month for Show Us Your Books I think I’m going to numerically categorize them, thus the wonky title. Alright, let’s do this…

Book Rating

FYI: Above is how I rate the books. Below I’ll 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. Like I said, there are two in the queue for this month. Images link to their GoodReads page (let’s be friends!).

The One by Kiera Cass || ★★★/5 what_i_read
Summary: Down to the last four girls, it’s time for America to decide what she wants and how hard she’s going to fight to get it. With a former love still in the palace and rebels trying to get in, the decisions facing America, Maxon, and the remaining girls aren’t easy ones.  | Why I Read It: Slowly but surely making my way through the series. Here are my thoughts on books one & two. | What I Thought: I was happy when this book ended. (This book wasn’t a 2 star but it wasn’t 3 either… call it 2.5) Love triangles, lack of honesty, and neatly tied endings tend to irritate me. I like America’s tenacity and I’m a fan of her & Maxon as a couple, but I could feel her creating problem where there were none (or avoiding things that should be resolved). I don’t know- that just annoyed me. Also, the ending was so neat & tidy with certain people dying, “true love” saving the day, and all shady debts instantly forgiven. (I think I’m being vague enough that’s not a spoiler.) Maybe it’s the YA-ness that I can’t get past. Whatever. I’ll be going for the fourth book since the story line is changing.
You Should Read It Because… you’re working on the series and it brings closure to Maxon’s round of the selection.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan || ★★★★★/5 what_i_read2
Summary: A story of four Chinese mothers and their four Chinese-American daughters. | Why I Read It: My friend Amanda recommended it, then I used it as a pick for the #SCWBC16. | What I Thought: To be honest, I was halfway through the book and almost stopped. It’s challenging to keep the women straight and that frustrated me. That said, if I’d have read it in a shorter amount of time I think I’d have been fine. Or if I’d have kept a literary journal. Regardless, every story told was captivating and I felt empathy for both the moms and the daughters. And then the last page made me cry; that’s when I knew this was getting five stars. The book is divided into four sections, with four stories in each. POV switches between mothers and daughters and we get a look at their lives both through their own eyes and the eyes of their mom/daughter. All of the moms suffered hardships in their lives and all of the daughters struggled with being raised under Chinese expectations in an American culture. I ended up liking and disliking characters at different times, but in the end I understood why they all were the way they were.
You Should Read It Because… you’re looking for a book filled with stories of “how it used to be” and how that comes to affect future generations.

So way back I started on Megan’s #SCWBC16. Here’s how I’m doing:
|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.

So I have 35 out of 200. I think I’ll finish at least one, maybe two, more before this challenge ends.

Additionally, this is the first month for Erin’s Book Challenge (#MyFav)…
| 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

20 out of 200 points. I’m determined to finish this challenge this time. Currently I’m reading Winter and The Magician’s Nephew.

Now I’m off to see what you’ve read this time around! Linking up with Steph and Jana!

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Life According to Steph

Book Challenge by Erin 6.0

On December 1st Erin released the categories for her Book Challenge 6.0!

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Chances are you know how this works… If not, Erin has the rules and details over on her page. The challenge goes from January 1st to April 30th, 2017. (Whoa… “2017”… That’s weird to type…)
Here are my picks:

| 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 (or Outlander if I get adventurous)

* Right now I’m participating in the Semi-Charmed Winter 2016 Book Challenge but that ends January 31st. Three of my books for Erin’s challenge repeat from that list but Winter is 800+ pages so I doubt I’ll read much more than that in January.

I really am so grateful that Erin hosts this challenge. She’s the most gracious host and doesn’t pressure anyone to finish or even join. She’s encouraging and attentive, and she interacts with you the entire time! Her challenges always have fun categories and they remind me to switch off the TV and read. If you’re looking for a fun way to ease (back) into reading then I recommend this challenge. You can change your book choices, too, so you’re not forced to read something you end up hating!

She posts her lists to her blog, but you can also play along on Facebook and GoodReads!

Please join us!

*Off topic: The word “homonym” reminds me of Britney Spears’ I’m a Slave 4 U because I swear she says “Because a homonym my name.” Hahahahaha! (It’s actually “Leave behind my name and age?” but I had to look that up and I’m still not a believer.)

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