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… 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