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

What I Read… November 2016

I’m finally linking up with Steph and Jana for ‘Show Us Your Books’ (tomorrow ) and I’m so happy about it! I started doing book reviews at the beginning of this year and I’m ashamed that it’s taken me this long to join everyone for the best book-day of the month  🙂

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If you’re new here this is how it works: I review the books in the order I read them. I start by summing up the book in a sentence or two, then I tell you why I picked it.  I share what I thought about it and whether or not I’d recommend it (and why)! Each book has a star rating:

Book Rating

So let’s jump in! (Images linked to the GoodReads page.) I finished two this month… *face palm*

Fairest by Marissa Meyer || ★★★★/5 fairest
Summary: Queen Levana is the evil queen, but even she has a backstory that may explain why she is like she is. Was she always “bad” or did something happen that shaped her path? | Why I Read It: This is #3.5 in the Lunar Chronicles and my brother & sister-in-law gave it to me for my birthday. | What I Thought: I haven’t seen Maleficent, but I imagine this is similar in that it gives a back story to the “evil queen.” Levana didn’t have it easy and I thought I might go into the fourth and final Lunar novel with some understanding for her because of a touching back story. I didn’t gain much sympathy for her, but I loved the story all the same. I don’t think you were really supposed to feel sympathy- I think this was just an explanation to her violent tendencies. I also really liked putting more pieces into the puzzles of other characters like Cinder and Dr. Erland
You Should Read It Because… you’re making your way through The Lunar Chronicles and this comes next. I wouldn’t skip this one- it’s satisfying to see things come together.

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez || ★★★/5 wench_book_review
Summary: Set in the mid-1850s, this is the story of four black slave mistresses and their struggle with loyalty, love, freedom, and family. The women come together each summer at Tawawa House, a northern resort in Xenia, Ohio where slave masters bring their “wenches” for vacation. The story is based on a real place and time in our history. | Why I Read It: I picked it for the #SCWBC16. | What I Thought: I don’t typically pick out books about slavery or the Holocaust because I hate that humans are capable of such cruelty. That said, we will repeat our history if we don’t educate ourselves. I’m floored that this place existed. This story was hard to read. There was no happy ending, similar to the fate of most slaves in the 1800s. Just on the brink of the Civil War, this story makes you question whether or not you would risk it all (including your life or the lives of loved ones) and make a break for freedom or if you’d continue to live under the thumb of a white tyrant. And if you did choose to stay because of family or loyalty or out of fear, would you have had the strength to survive? It’s a heartbreaking look at a heartbreaking time in history.
You Should Read It Because… you’re fascinated by human behavior and/or the pre-Civil War time in history. This book isn’t easy to read. It’s not PG.

Megan’s Semi-Charmed Winter 2016 Book Challenge:
|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.

Starting strong with a solid 15 points. Lol.

Still working on The Joy Luck Club. Haven’t had much time to read lately.

Can’t wait to see the other posts in this link-up!

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Life According to Steph

Currently…

Holy Moly, it’s December. And just like that 2016 is almost out the door! Lately I’ve been posting lists and reviews but it’s been two months since I’ve done a “currently” post. Since this lines up so nicely with Kristen & Gretch‘s What New With You link-up I figured why not!

Currently

Eating… pizza & leftovers. After botching two of the last HelloFresh dinners we received I decided that I could just as easily meal plan and make my own foods. But… I haven’t done the meal planning part yet so we ordered pizza on Monday and went out to dinner on Tuesday. Whoops.

Drinking… tea and coffee and hot chocolate! As the temperature drops I begin to crave warm beverages. My brother gave me a coffee maker (he had an extra, I guess? ) so once I buy some coffee I’ll be brewing it at home! (Right now I wait until I get to work or swing through a drive thru.)

Reading… The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. A friend recommended it & it’s one of the books I chose for the #SCWBC16. I just started it on Tuesday so I don’t have much to say about it yet…

Watching… as a couple we’ve been sitting down and watching The Voice. We also saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them last Saturday. On my own I binge on American Housewife, Superstore, Speechless, The Good Place, and, of course, Miss Fisher’s!

Listening to… allllll the Christmas music. My favorite Christmas music genres (that’s a thing, right? ) are choruses, orchestras, and anything pre-1950. Also, acapella groups like Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser.

Feeling… patient. I don’t want to rush the Christmas season. I don’t want to lose my temper with holiday traffic. I don’t want to waste lazy nights or squeeze my eyes shut on hectic days. When I’m not feeling patient I’m trying to will myself to feel it  😉

Giving… to some of my favorites this past Tuesday. I’d live in a cardboard box if I gave to every single animal organization that I follow so I have to take turns. On Tuesday I opted to give back to the rescue that raised Enzo (Paws & Prayers). I also “sent” honeybees through the ELCA to a family in need across the globe. (I’m not sharing this for a pat on the back- I just wanted to share some worthwhile charities.)

Loving… all the packages on my front porch!! I love coming home from work & seeing that so-and-so’s gift has arrived! I love planning and buying and wrapping gifts for people! This week I got/am expecting packages from Amazon, Shutterfly, Wild Cedar Co., Carter’s, & Uncommon Goods.

Hating… the weird limbo that I find my life hoovering in. I try to be grateful for all moments and all seasons of life, but right now I feel like I’m sitting in an intersection and there’s something new and exciting down every street…. but I can’t quite pick a direction yet. (It’s as vague in my head as I just made it sound right here. Sorry.)

Looking forward to… Christmas! It’s my favorite time in the church calendar and I’m so excited to give gifts and nom on holiday foods and bask in the glow of trees and fireplaces.

Dreading… bills, early mornings, dirty rooms, mounds of laundry… all the things that accompany my fortunate life. Really I should be thankful for luxuries & utilities to pay for, a job to set an alarm clock for, and a warm house and comfy clothes to clean. #perspective

Praying for… the violence and hate to stop. The OSU stabbings were heartbreaking. I’m also praying for all the people & animals avoiding fires in the south. That’s so, so terrifying. And I’m praying for the folks in ND that are freezing to death because they believe so strongly in their cause. I don’t want to see this country become (more) cold and hateful. This country needs empathy.

Planning… a baby shower sprinkle for my best friend! She’s due in February with a boy (last time it was a girl) and I wanted her to have the opportunity to get some little boy clothes and toys. Plus, I love any excuse to spoil a mother-to-be (round #2)!

So what’s new with you?

*Thanks for hosting, Kristen & Gretch!

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What's New With You

Semi-Charmed Winter 2016 Book Challenge

Next week Erin’s Book Challenge will end and Megan’s Semi-Charmed Winter 2016 Book Challenge will start. (And in January Erin’s next challenge starts, I believe!!) Though I’ve yet to complete one, these challenges keep me motivated and engaged with my reading.

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Since Megan’s challenge starts next Tuesday I wanted to share pick out my books here! Check out her page for all the details & rules. (Essentially books w/ more than 150 pages, no repeats per category, & reading must occur between 11/1/16 and 1/31/17.)

|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 (*last name- HAHAHA; yeah right)
|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.

I did surprisingly well during Erin’s challenge. I believe that I’m getting back into the swing of things as far as recreational reading goes (though I’m still only reading two or three per month). These past few months I’ve been reading some books that aren’t on my challenge lists, which is a step in the right direction  🙂

Some of these are already in my possession or sitting on my nightstand so I’m all set for November 1st! Have you read any of these books? What’d you think of them?

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