What I Read…

At the beginning of the year I was a reading machine….then I wasn’t. I didn’t finish Erin’s Challenge (part way through I knew I wouldn’t), I barely cracked a book in April, and I often chose sleeping or TV over reading. I was sick and we traveled quite a bit. I’m not making excuses- I fully own up to all my distractions. I’m back on the horse for now, though, and the horse is galloping.

(Obviously linking up with Jana and Steph today for Show Us Your Books!)

In other news,  I joined a book club at my church in May! We read Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. I’m the youngest by quite a few years (10), but nevertheless I enjoy the company & discussion.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
★★★★★/5 
At the close of WWII Juliet Ashton, a charismatic and fiery authoress, is looking for her next book topic. After exchanging a few letters with some literature-loving islanders of Guernsey she’s both curious & inspired.
Everyone I know who’s read this book has loved it. I’m not here to contest that. I want to be best friends with Juliet and I want to discuss literature with the Literary Society and I want to run through the fields and build sandcastles on the beach with Kit. It is a gorgeous story of a strong women who is dedicated to her career and her loved ones and reporting a true but entertaining story. It’s also about rebuilding one’s life after bombs have reduced all the one loves to rubble. Gosh, it was a crazy gorgeous story. I was never bored and I teared up a few times and I’m very grateful for everyone who encouraged me to read it!
Should you read it? Please do. It’s lovely and heart-warming and sad in a warlike way but so cozy.

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle (Melton- at the time)
★★★★/5 
Carrying over from her blog Momastery, Glennon Doyle Melton shares her youthful struggles, stories of motherhood, and lessons on finding her own version of faith and God’s grace. 
(Honest rating is 3.5 stars but I round up.) This book was picked for me. When I joined my church’s book club they had just started this one- so I jumped right in. Glennon and her love-based faith reminds me of Jen Hatmaker and Brene Brown (although, admittedly, I’ve only read excerpts from and about them. I don’t know their backstories). Glennon is a recovered/ing alcoholic, drug addict, bulimic, & smoker. When she found out she was pregnant she stopped everything cold turkey (damn), married the baby’s father, and started writing to keep herself sane. Her stories are raw and honest and 100% rooted in love/grace/kindness. I loved that. She made me want to be a better person- but also emphasized that “better” is a term of worth and we’re already 100% worthy.
Should you read it? If what I said appeals to you, then yes. She’s not perfect, her past is spotty, and she takes a pretty liberal approach to loving Jesus- which I believe is 100% His kind of disciple.

Favorite Quotes:

“Brave is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.” p.123

“…when in doubt, mercy triumphs judgement.” p.140

“Everybody has the answers right inside of her, since we’re all made up of the same amount of God.” p.117

“Be confident because you are a child of God. Be humble because everyone else is too.” p.176


Arrogant Devil by R.S. Grey
★★★/5
Meredith is desperate for a new start- so desperate she leaves her million dollar life behind in California. Jack just so happens to be desperate for a house cleaner. Despite a rocky first impression and gruff boss, Meredith is determined to rebuild her life here at Blue Stone Ranch and win Jack over.
I don’t know if romances are my thing… That said, I stayed up until 2:30 AM ON A WORK NIGHT to read this book. So I enjoyed it… but I don’t know how to rate it in regards to other spicy novels because I hardly ever (possibly never?) read them. But I really, really loved Meredith. She was hilarious. I laughed out loud several times during her self talks & conversations with Alfred. I also appreciated that she was kind and friendly and never in competition with anyone else. Also, considering her life in California, I found her humble. I genuinely loved her character. While rough around the edges (because he was supposed to be), I enjoyed Jack, too. He was a hardworking ranch owner but he never looked like a hillbilly or heathen. I liked that. The story made sense and the side characters were fun. (Edith is probably the absolute best ever.) I think Meredith had a lot of growth confidence-wise and independence-wise, but she was never an unlikable character to start with. Based on the other reviews I’ve read, Grey tends to write great characters so I’ll probably pick up another of her book someday.
Should you read it? If you like romance novels or you want to try reading a romance, then yes.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer
★★★/5
Nova hates the Renegades and knows that average people can be their own heroes- why should they lean on the inflated Renegades Council and the prodigies they employee? When the opportunity to take down the superhero establishment presents itself, Nova jumps at the chance and is immersed in the world of “good”,  but things aren’t always as they seem.
This was the definition of three stars. It didn’t blow my mind and I had plenty of issues with it, but it was entertaining and I enjoyed the story and I will definitely give the next book in the series a chance. Nova and Adrian are both great characters. Flawed but genuinely good at heart. There are secrets and lies and hidden identities, but fortunately no love triangles or anything that makes my eyes roll out of my head. There are way too many similarities to X-Men for me to ignore (but maybe that’s because I’m a big X-Men fan). I’m hoping that book #2 brings some depth to the Council and the Renegades as a whole. I want Nova (and Adrian, for that matter) to discover something shady within the all-too-perfect organization. I’m also curious about Max- I hope we get more on his past. This was a +550 page book, but it didn’t feel that long to me.
Should you read it? Only if the description really appeals to you. It’s action-y and a little YA. If you liked Meyer’s other books you might like it.

It Takes One to Tango: How I Rescued My Marriage with (Almost) No Help from My Spouse- and How You Can, Too by Winifred M. Reilly
★★★/5
Fed up with her husband’s behavior and on the verge of divorce, couples therapist Winifred M. Reilly stumbles upon a new approach. Can changing her own behavior and attitude really alter her partners destructive habits?
My marriage isn’t in trouble, but I like reading books on relationships and parenting and things like that. This one was interesting. (Steph mentioned it once and that’s how it came across my radar.) I think it could have been half as long. The last 25% is what really resonated with me. I think this marriage book would be helpful for longtime couples who find themselves having the same fights over and over again. It’s a book about a) finding happiness within yourself, not within your spouse and b) making changes to the daily script and not falling victim to the same old fights with the same old reactions and the same old results. Honestly, it made sense and I think the advice would work for two people stuck in a rut who still might love one another. I compared the stories and results to my own marriage, and I think there are some things I’d like to do going forward that might change the outcome of our two or three “consistent” arguments. I liked how the book focused on the reader- not the reader’s relationship. I think that made it helpful and applicable.
Should you read it? If you’re looking for creative ways to communicate and respect your spouse, it might be worth your time. Skim the first 50%, though. It’s mostly about the author’s marriage and failed reparation attempts.

Favorite Quote:

“When a prevailing belief in our culture is that people should either leave a relationship that doesn’t make them happy or pressure their partner to improve his or her performance, no wonder so few of us have any idea where to begin.”


Did you see that Erin’s 9.0 Challenge prompts are finally available? The challenge doesn’t start until July but obviously I’ve already picked out my reads. (Sharing those on Thursday!) If you’ve been on the fence about dipping your toes in the book challenge pond I’d encourage you to join in this summer! I can’t sing Erin’s praises enough as a host and the categories are so fun to match with books!

I honestly can’t believe I finished five books this month. I finished zero last month. I’ve been working on a few of these for quite some time, but I’m still happy with this month’s results.

What did you read?

Life According to Steph

What I Read…

Woot woot! It’s book day!! April is the final month for Erin’s 8.0 Book Challenge, too.

I’m linking up with my favorite book gurus (Steph & Jana) for Show Us Your Books!

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
★★★★★/5
In his old age, a grandpa looks back with fondness and regret over his relationships with his son and grandson. 
This entire story destroyed me. I read it in on sitting one a quiet Saturday afternoon. Thank goodness K wasn’t home because I bawled like a baby for the last half. I think that if you’ve ever seen someone close to you slowly (or quickly) age and fade from the person they used to be, this book will move you. This was my first Backman book and I enjoyed his writing and storytelling. I’m definitely going to check out some of his more popular books next.
Should you read it? Yes. But brace yourself.

The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch
★★★/5 
In 1659 Bavaria ostracized hangman Jakob Kuisl is tasked with torturing a friend accused of witchcraft and murder… unless he can prove her innocence. With help from his daughter and her suitor, the town’s physician’s son, can Jakob stop the madness before it escalates? 
This was a long book that felt even longer. (I really rate it 2.5 starts but I round up.) I half wonder if the translation made it drag on so terribly…? Sometimes the plot was repeated, similar to a TV show recaping what had happened before the commercial break. I’m not sure… something just made it feel slow and labored. The story itself was great! I loved the setting and the mystery and murders sent chills down my spine. Don’t even get me started on the devil character. ~eek~ I think the title and cover look a little playful, but be warned there are some torture details and most of the murder victims are orphan kids. Definitely not a light and fluffy tale. I know there are four or five more books in this series but I don’t think I’ll be reading on.
Should you read it? No. You can skip this one.

*I think both of these books were written in a different language. Lol


Now for an update on the book challenge… (It ends April 30th at 11:59pm.)

|5 points| Freebie: The Murder on the Links (Christie)
|10 points| Starts with the letter L: Last Christmas in Paris (Gaynor)
|10 points| Has a (mostly) red cover: Girl Waits With Gun (Stewart)
|15 points| A character’s name in the title: HP & the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
|20 points| From this list: Three Dark Crowns (Blake)
|20 points| “House” or “home” in the title: The House of New Beginnings (Diamond)
|25 points| Author’s first & last name begins w/ the same letter: Renegades (Meyer, M)
|30 points| Originally published in a different language: The Hangman’s Daughter (Potzsch)
|30 points| Most of the action takes place on a form of transportation: Dead Wake (Larson)
|35 points| A character suffers from a debilitating illness: Finding Audrey (Kinsella)

Up to 125 points.

Honestly, I think I’ve come to terms with the fact that I won’t be finishing Erin’s challenge this time. When I first started doing her book challenges I was barely reading two books a year. I typically average two or three books a month now so I’m not the least bit upset about not completing the challenges 🙂 I’ll get the next one, though. For some reason I left the +400 page books for the end. Even if I don’t get them done before April’s end, I plan to finish Dead Wake and Renegades.

So that’s all I’ve got. Tell me what you read this month!

Life According to Steph

What I Read…

First & foremost, Happy Birthday (yesterday) to my Kyle ❤︎

According to GoodReads I am right on track for my goal of 50 books this year. That makes me a little nervous since up until now I was ahead by a book or two. Hmm… We’ll have to see how the year progresses.

Anyway, I’m obviously linking up with Steph & Jana today for Show Us Your Books! Here’s what I’ve been reading…

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart
★★★★/5
The Kopp sisters were seemingly good at keeping their noses clean but then their buggy is struck by an automobile driven by the ruthless silk factory owner, Henry Kaufman. How much will Constance sacrifice to bring the rapscallion to justice?
I loved Constance. She trusted her gut and her shooting hand and her instinct. She was brave with apprehension, smart with self-doubt. Her humor and fierce loyalty to her sisters made me giggle and tear up. I freaking loved that she wasn’t afraid to push back. For some reason I had reservations about this book. I had some weird expectation and it didn’t align with the story told. I don’t know why… but that’s why it got 4 stars from me. Under different mental circumstance it might’ve been a five.
Should you read it? Absolutely! Especially if you like strong females, mysteries, and/or historical fiction.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake
★★★★★/5
On the island of Fennbirn triplet queens are born, separated, and raised by foster families in accordance with their strengths. Then, on their 16th birthday, they are called to kill one another in pursuit of the crown. 
I loved this story. Be warned- it starts off very slowly. All the action takes place in the final+30% of the book. The author weaves in world building with character development- and there are a lot of characters. I liked how each sister had totally different personalities and unique story lines with different issues going on… but a similar goal of surviving. I thought I’d love one sister more than another, but I felt myself hoping for the best for all three. Dang… this was just a twisty, fully developed first book. I am dying to get my hands on the next one in the series. Lastly, when are my naturalist powers going to kick in? Obviously my familiar would be a fox. Lol.
Should you read it? If you enjoy fantasy mixed with friendship & romance & action, YES.


I regards to Erin’s 8.0 Book Challenge…

|5 points| Freebie: The Murder on the Links (Christie)
|10 points| Starts with the letter L: Last Christmas in Paris (Gaynor)
|10 points| Has a (mostly) red cover: Girl Waits With Gun (Stewart)
|15 points| A character’s name in the title: HP & the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
|20 points| From this list: Three Dark Crowns (Blake)
|20 points| “House” or “home” in the title: The House of New Beginnings (Diamond)
|25 points| Author’s first & last name begins w/ the same letter: Renegades (Meyer, M)
|30 points| Originally published in a different language: The Hangman’s Daughter (Potzsch)
|30 points| Most of the action takes place on a form of transportation: Dead Wake (Larson)
|35 points| A character suffers from a debilitating illness: Finding Audrey (Kinsella)

Up to 95 out of 200 points.

Right now I’m (still) working on Dead Wake and I’ve started The Hangman’s Daughter. All the books left on my challenge list are +450 pages. Nice going, Audrey.

What did you read this month? What are you reading right now??

Life According to Steph

Book Challenge by Erin 8.0

In 2018 I’m going to share my goals for the year, but you’ll find that one of them is to finally complete Erin’s book challenge.

https://i2.wp.com/www.wanderingweekenders.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Book_Challenge_Erin_8.jpg

This challenge runs from January 1st to April 30th and the rules are simple:

  • you can read one repeat
  • you cannot use the same book for two categories
  • books must be 200 pages long (audio books allowed)
  • you can read books in any order
  • you can change your book selection during the challenge

I’ve said it before but Erin is the MOST laid back host ever. Everyone who participates in the challenges are encouraging and supportive. It’s easiest to follow along and track your progress on the Facebook page, but Erin will work with you if you don’t use FB. If you’ve been thinking about joining a reading challenge I would encourage you to play along this time!

I know I’ve kept you in suspense so here are my picks for the 8.0 Challenge:

|5 points| Freebie: The Murder on the Links (Christie)
|10 points| Starts with the letter L: Last Christmas in Paris (Gaynor)
|10 points| Has a (mostly) red cover: Girl Waits With Gun (Stewart)
|15 points| A character’s name in the title: HP & the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
|20 points| From this list: Three Dark Crowns (Blake)
|20 points| The words “house” or “home” in the title: The House of New Beginnings (Diamond)
|25 points| Author whose first and last name begins with the same letter: Renegades (Meyer, Marissa)
|30 points| Originally published in a different language than your own: The Hangman’s Daughter (Potzsch)
|30 points| Most of the action takes place on a form of transportation: Dead Wake (Larson)
|35 points| A character that suffers from a debilitating physical illness: Finding Audrey (Kinsella)

Have you read any of these? If they sucked don’t tell me… (j/k, warn me).