What I Read…

I was one of those weirdos that enjoyed school for the learning aspect. With the exception of my roommates, my favorite part about college was time in the classrooms. I loved taking notes, writing stories/essays, and learning new things.

I did NOT love how little time I had for pleasure reading. I’m very grateful to be out of school and free of the obligatory text book reading. Bring on the fun books 🙂

This month I only finished 2 books. We had some crazy travel & work weeks. Linking up for Show Us Your Books with Steph & Jana!

Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey
★★★/5 
Sam & Ian are co-workers, teachers, best friends, and NOT dating. But when all the teachers find out that Ian and Sam are both on the market, their relationship becomes a little more complicated.
Ehh… This was more like a 2.5 star book but I round up. I won’t lie- the END of romance novels are usually the best part. Or at least the last third of the book. It’s where the sparks typically fly & catch everything on fire. I actually enjoyed the first half of this book WAY more than the second half. The romance was weird and almost too friendly-to-lovey. And that’s coming from someone whose own romance went from friends to lovers. Ian wasn’t appealing to me at all. He was moody and touchy (personality-wise, not physically). I didn’t like that. Also, Sam was kind of tough on herself appearance-wise when it came to Ian’s amazing awesome attractiveness. *eyeroll* Girl- if you’ve got it, flaunt it. Don’t worry about being in his sex appeal shadow- move out the shade and soak in that sun. But I digress.
Should you read it? I would say no… It’s not my cup of tea romance-wise. If you’re a HUGE friends-to-lovers fan then maybe.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling
★★★★★/5 
Days before Harry enters his third year at Hogwarts, the notorious Sirius Black escapes Azkaban prison. Everyone’s worried that he’s after Harry but Harry just wants to pass his classes and win the Quidditch cup.
This has always been my very favorite HP book. While Jo definitely ties books 1 & 2 into the whole series, I feel like we really start to get into the history and core story with this book. I love the introduction of Sirius and Remus with this book. When you’ve read this story before, I feel like you find a large chunk of the book frustrating. Oh well- deep, strong feelings are what makes the world of HP wonderful. What’s your favorite HP book? I’m really really loving my journey of rereading the illustrated versions as they’re released. They’re SO beautiful!
Should you read it? Duh, but only after you’ve finished the first two books!

*On Thursday I will share my Thoughts While Rereading HP & the PoA!

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

I have 130 points out of 200.
*I changed this selection. It was The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling.

What did you read this month?

It feels weird to post today and not mention September 11th… I think it’s called Patriot Day now. I know exactly where I was 17 years ago when I got the news. Today my thoughts are with the loved ones of the innocent people who died at the hands of hatred and fear, as well as those who mourn the loss of a friend or family member that’s since fought the terror in our world. 

What I Read…

It’s book day! It’s also nearly halfway through August. WHAT THE HECK. I know we all say the months fly by (except January 2018, remember that one?) but daaang. This summer has been a quick one!

I just got home from another work trip- this time to Indianapolis. We end up there about twice a year and always come home dead tired. I’m not really complaining, though. I like what I do & who I do it with so these trips are fun in their own way 🙂

Enough chit-chat. On to the books.

Thanks for hosting this lovely Show Us Your Books link up, Jana & Steph! (Go visit them!)

The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
★★★/5
In 1961 NASA sent the first American into space (just after Russia beat us to it). In 1969 we were the first to put men on the moon. The wives never walked on the moon but without them their husbands’ dreams would’ve been just that. 
I know it’s borderline blasphemous to say this, but I recommend watching the TV mini-series before reading this book. There are lots of wives (and astronauts) to keep track of and the show will help you put a face/personality with the wife; at least for the Mercury 7 wives. I’m not typically one for space history, but I really enjoyed this book. It doesn’t have very good reviews on GR (mainly because of the “sassy” writing style) but I didn’t have a problem with it. I enjoyed learning about the marriages and women who made it possible for these men to travel to space. Trust me, without the wives behind them, the men would’ve failed miserably and never seen the moon.
Should you read it? If your interest is now piqued, then yes. Watch the mini-series first, though!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
★★★★★/5
Caught between two worlds, Starr Carter has suddenly lost another best friend to neighborhood violence- only this time it’s the fault of the supposed “good guys.” By speaking out she’s sure to make an enemy out of nearly everyone… in both of her worlds. 
This book was incredible. I’m from a very small, white Midwestern town. Certain conversations made my skin prickle and my face blush. I would agree with everyone out there and recommend this book to all people. It’s heartbreaking and funny and infuriating and suspenseful and filled with SO MUCH. I’m so glad I read it and annoyed with myself that I hadn’t read it sooner. I really can’t think of much else to say- you just need to read it.
Should you read it? YES.

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata
★★★★/5
After two years of suffering as the be-all, do-all assistant to professional football player and major asshole Aiden Graves, Vanessa has finally quit to peruse her own artistic dreams. But soon after her grand exit Aiden shows up begging her to come back- and this time, he promises, things will be different.
The more I thought about this book the more I convinced myself to push it into the 4 star range… It was cute and flirty, and parts of it have really stuck with me. The reason for the hesitant score is the repetitive nature. I liked Vanessa but her internal dialogue was usually about the same dilemma, over and over. I think the book could’ve been 100 pages less if that had been skimmed down or removed. Aiden sounded incredibly attractive. I loved that Vanessa was a an average, down-to-Earth woman. I think I’m starting to love the romance genre. So far they’ve been mostly the same formula, but you kind of know what you’re getting when it comes to this type of book. It’s a fluffy way to mix up my reading habits. I’m interested to picked up another Zapata (and R.S. Grey, too).
Should you read it? I know it’s one of Kristen‘s favorites and I really enjoyed it, so if romance is a genre you like then yes, you should.

Nine Women, One Dress by Jane L. Rosen
★★★/5
It’s funny how one dress can affect so many different people and events…
There was nothing wrong with this book, but it didn’t have much pizzazz. All the stories were woven together like the movie Valentine’s Day or New Years Eve. It was adorable and cutesy, but there wasn’t much development and everything was tied up in a nice, neat bow by the final page. I loved all the stories surrounding the sales people at Bloomingdale’s. I also loved the emotional importance of finding the dress for any occasion and how it makes a woman feel. It was sweet and accurate- I’m not one for fashion, but the right dress makes you feel incredible! Overall, just a cute little beach read.
Should you read it? Eh. Only if you’re in need of something super light.

Erin’s 9.0 Challenge started last month. Some people read all ten books in as many days (or less!). I am not those people. Here’s my progress:

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

I have 110 points out of 200.

I’m currently working on the Prisoner of Azkaban. (I like to savor my HP reads.) I have On A Cold Dark Sea on hold at the library, After Alice is sitting on our coffee table, and I’m waiting for One Dark Throne to go on sale (Kindle version- fingers crossed!).

What did you read this month?

Life According to Steph

What I Read…

Apparently the reading bug bit me because I’ve been picking up and finishing books like crazy. And today I’m linking up with the fabulous Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books! to share them all with you!

(Happy 11th Birthday to my sweet little cousin Andria!)

I actually read these first two before the last SUYB link-up, but I was afraid I’d get burnt out in June and have nothing for today so I saved them. Plus, I had FIVE in May and that was crazy for me so I decided to hold off on more reviews. Who knew I’d end up with six this month.

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
★★★★/5
A collection of historically amusing and literature-rich comics.
Sometimes it’s nice to break up the novels and nonfictions with a few humorous and witty comics. I loved the ones about the suffragettes and anything with the Tudors. Occasionally she’ll draw short comics purely based off book covers- those are pretty funny. The Austen sisters comics had me laughing out loud, too. Beaton is a well-studied historian with a feminist flair and a snarky sense of humor. I think we’d get along nicely.
Should you read it? If you like history and classic literature then you’d probably find this collection extremely amusing.

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
★★★★/5
Ella’s life is the perfect rags-to-riches fairy tale. A prince, a castle, a kingdom with servants- what more could a girl want?
This was a fun, quick read about Cinders-Ella’s real story. A.k.a. the one where she’s a witty and brilliant girl who gets sucked into one enslavement after another. I liked the twist on this classic tale. I liked that Ella was smart and strong and resilient. I know I’d have enjoyed this book a lot more when I was younger, but it wasn’t a bad read as an adult.
Should you read it? Maybe. It’s a good empowerment fairy tale for young teens.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
★★★★★/5
A criminal twist on The Breakfast Club: Five students walk into detention, four walk out alive. Who done it? And why? What are these four students hiding?
I loved this book. The title and cover alone absolutely hooked me. I was ready to end up hating one or all the teenagers- none of them were perfect and they most definitely had secrets. Nothing was how it seemed, though, and McManus managed to weave in some diversity while shattering stereotypes and growing her characters into well-rounded and self-aware young adults. I knew my heart would break when someone was outed as a murderer. I had my guesses about what really happened in the detention classroom, but I didn’t guess everything and I was never 100% confident. I really enjoyed the suspense and twists and overall outcome. It took me no time at all to read this book and I was always itching to pick it back up!
Should you read it? Yep. I don’t usually read suspense, YA, or contemporary. And I loved it.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
★★★★★/5
A short speech about feminist from an award-winning author & Happy African feminist.
I was told by many folks in Blogworld that this was a must read. They were all completely and totally correct. It’s short and it will take you a half hour at most. It will make you questions why girls feel the need to be likable (and therefore diminish themselves and their “aggressive” behaviors in society & business). It will draw comparisons between masculinity and money for males. (I’d honestly never thoughts about that.) It will force you to notice the societal stigma surrounding unwed women (cats, spinster, failure) and unwed men (bachelor, hasn’t picked one yet). It’ll piss you off. A few weeks ago someone was talking with K and made a joke about me spending his money. Not OUR money- his money. K tried to counter and slip in there that I sign the checks, but it didn’t matter. WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS, friends.
Should you read it? You betcha.

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
★★★/5 
With dreams of opening her own restaurant in California, Eddy is on her way west to make it a reality. When tragedy leaves her stranded and weak in the desert she must rely on the kindness of strangers, including the handsome Rhine Fontaine, to help her get back on her feet.
Ho hum… trying my luck with another romance novel. This one was entertaining enough. I think I found it for free through the Book Bub emails & there were a handful of grammatical errors, but I can get past that. Eddy is the daughter of freed slaves and Rhine IS a freed slave passing as a white man (his father was the plantation owner). The divide and attitude between White Republicans and Black Republicans in the town of Virginia City was a big part of the story. I mostly enjoyed the flirting between Eddy and Rhine but the whole ending seemed kind of rushed. I also think a few things that the characters did might not have gone over so well in real life. But it’s a story so take it for what it’s worth.
Also, there are A LOT of romance novels entitled “Forbidden.” Lol
Should you read it? Probably not unless old west romances are your *thing*.

A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood
★★★★/5
A collection of fifteen short historical fiction stories featuring badass girls through America’s decades.
I don’t read a lot of short stories. I don’t dislike them, they just don’t usually cross my path. I liked the option of putting down the book and feeling complete after only reading 20 pages or so. As far as these stories go, I really really really loved them. They’ve all stuck with me in some way or another. Stories about bank robbers and protesters and pirates and more. Some girls lived to the end and some didn’t. Some girls pretended to be boys and some were incredibly feminine. It was a wonderful mix. One of my favorite authors, Marissa Meyer, contributed a story to the mix. The stories occurred between 1710 and 1968 and were all historical fiction, some even a bit fantasy. My favorite ones were Los DestinosPearlsGold in the Roots of the GrassThe Color of the SkyPulse of the Panthers, and The Whole World is Watching. I tried to whittle that list down. I couldn’t.
Should you read it? YES.

Erin’s 9.0 Book Challenge started this month, too.

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

Kicking things off with 10 points.

What did you read this month? Do you tend to read more in the summer or winter? I thought I was a winter reader but these past two months have been great!

Thanks for hosting, Steph & Jana!

Link up with us, friends!

Life According to Steph

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

What I Read…

February has not been a good reading month for me, but fortunately I finished four books by the end of January.

I’m all over the place with ratings today but nothing drops below a three. Maybe I’m too nice? Or maybe I’ve just been good at picking books this year. I don’t know…

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
★★★/5
When Scarlet joined Robin Hood & his merry men she buried her secrets, her identity, and her long hair under her hat and took on the roll off Will Scarlet, thief. When Scarlet’s past suddenly catches up to her she’s forced to make a decision: run or fight.
This book should’ve be right up my alley. It’s been on my TBR list forever & when Alexandra sent it to me this Christmas in our blogger gift exchange (thank you!!) I finally cracked it open. Unfortunately, there were three big things that irked me. First, I hate love triangles. Second, there was SO much self loathing. Damn. Everyone has demons, but geeeez. Third, and most irritating of all, the entire book was from Scarlet’s p.o.v. and she used very poor grammar to imitate English peasants. As a coping mechanism, I forced my brain to correct it while I was reading. Scarlet was a bad ass character, though, and the story itself was very quick and interesting so overall it was a decent YA Robin Hood retelling.
Should you read it? Maybe… keep in mind it’s YA and it needs to be your kind of story.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
★★★★★/5
In his second year at Hogwarts Harry can’t stay out of trouble. With a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher wreaking havoc on his life, Harry tries to continue his studies, catch the snitch, protect his friends, and solve the mystery of the sinister Chamber of Secrets.
Harry Potter reviews are weird because I love these stories so much. #biased CoS isn’t my favorite book in the series, but I love that you can get lost in these stories like you’re falling into an old memory stored in a diary. 😉 This book reveals a little more about the Weasley family and their way of life. And I’m obsessed with the illustrations in all these editions.  Also, if you’re familiar with the stories, some foreshadowing and “Easter eggs” appear that support future story lines. I love how Rowling weaved the books together. This was obviously a reread for me.
Should you read it? Yep, but only after The Sorcerer’s Stone.
*I shared my thoughts on this book last Thursday!

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking
★★★/5
The Hygge (hoo-ga) trend is sweeping the nation & this book dives into the titular traditions, lifestyle, and behaviors- further proving why Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world.
I am a skeptical person. While I like the idea of happiness and coziness throughout the home (as hygge represents), I took issue with the author making broad, general statements about Denmark and the Danes. I’ve never been and I don’t really have any Danish friends, but they ALL can’t possibly be candle lovers and bread bakers, right? The book was informative about hygge, but not without sounding a little… uppity? arrogant? I’m not sure… Again, I’m skeptical and cynical so I didn’t enjoy the *voice* of this author. (It wasn’t an audiobook- I’m referring to his textual tone.) You might like it- it just wasn’t for me.
Should you read it? No, not unless you’re really interested in this new millennial craze 😉

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
★★★★/5
Evie Elliott is stunned and excited when her brother Will & his best friend Thomas leave England to fight in WWI. Letters travel to & from France for four grueling years as the threesome and their friends and family keep in touch during those dangerous years.
Halfway through the book I decided it was three star-er… then the last 80 pages happened. The entire story was told in letters and telegrams. I haven’t read a book like that in a while. I loved all the friendships and relationships. I loved the slow romance and the build to the final year of the war. There were big gaps in letters and heartbreak and happiness- pretty much everything you’d expect in a WWI romance novel. I cried at the end, too. Big surprise. Lol
Should you read it? If you’re a fan of historical fiction, specifically wartime romance, then yes.

Erin’s Challenge has been progressing…

|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 65 out of 200 points.

Linking up with Steph & Jana again! What’d you read this month?

Life According to Steph