Category Archives: reading

The Great American Novel Puzzle Reading Challenge!

We wanted to pick up a new puzzle to work on, after *finally* finishing the Thomas Kincaid puzzle that was a pastel, fuzzy-edged nightmare to complete. We wanted something brightly colored, easy, and fun. This puzzle of 50 Great American Novels was just the thing! In fact, we started and completed it in one day!

After we finished it, we decided that it would be fun to turn this experience into a challenge. We both want to read more literature and classics, and enjoy reading books together. We also think it would be fun to explore them more academically and Donald suggested that we could even write little book reports on them and discuss the major themes and ideas that resonated with us.

We have each read a selection of the books already, but decided for the purposes of this challenge, we would re-read books and read them at the same time as each other.

Books Jenn has previously read:

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Books Donald has previously read:

  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London

We love making choices using random methods. For selecting which book to read next (and subsequent books), we took a photo of the poster that came with the puzzle, printed it out, cut each book apart, folded it up and stuck it in a large jar, which Donald then proceeded to vigorously shake around. Then, I picked one without looking, and we unfolded it together.

Our first read is going to be Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut!

Keep an eye out for our review of this book after we have completed it!

The Reading Rush 2020

July 20-26, 2020

Ariel Bissett created the “BookTubeAThon” readathon in 2013. It has grown from there and is now known as “The Reading Rush.” It is a week-long readathon with some challenges and giveaways if you participate online. I’m always up for reading and challenges!

The Reading Challenges

  1. Read a book with a cover that matches the color of your birth stone.
  2. Read a book that starts with the word “the”.
  3. Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve already seen.
  4. Read the first book you touch.
  5. Read a book completely outside of your house.
  6. Read a book in a genre that you’ve already wanted to read more of.
  7. Read a book that takes place on a different continent than where you live.

My Lineup

  1. “88 Days to Kandahar” by Robert L. Grenier
    • This one fulfills #4. I reached over to my unread bookshelf with my eyes closed and this is the book I picked.
    • One line synopsis: “The improbable true story of America’s first war in Afghanistan.”
  2. “Pygmalion” by George Bernard Shaw
    • This one fulfills #3 and #6. I always want to read more classics, but find it hard to select them when I’m looking for my next read.
    • This book inspired the 1999 movie, “She’s All That.”
    • One line synopsis: “All of them deal with a man creating a beautiful and perfect woman out of something imperfect, and then falling in love with her.”
    • This looks to be the shortest book at 98 pages, so it’s likely the one I will use for #5. I’ll try to read this one outside vs. modifying the challenge. I may have to buy a comfy outdoor chair….
  3. “The Memory Key” by Liana Liu
    • This one fulfills #2.
    • One line synopsis: “Remember everything. Forgive nothing.”
  4. “War Girls” by Tochi Onyebuchi
    • This one fulfills #1 and #7. My birthstone is an aqua/turquoise color. This book takes place in a future Nigeria.
    • One line synopsis: “In a post-apocalyptic Nigeria plagued by violence and political unrest, two sisters dream of peace, hope, and a future together.”

Other Fun Activities

Read-In on Wednesday, July 22, at 6 pm.

Reading Rush Book Club: “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid. I’ve already read this book, but I might join the book discussion live show on July 25 at 2 pm EDT. For the book club, they will be using hashtags #rrsuchafunage and #rrbookclub on social media.

LOTR Buddy Read: Fellowship Ch. 1-7

Several of my friends mentioned that they were going to read or re-read The Lord of the Rings series this summer, so I has been on my mind to re-read them myself. I have read them, but it’s been quite some time and I’m not overly familiar with the plot or all of the characters.

However, it wasn’t until my friend, Katie, started posting as she read on Facebook that I was really motivated to read it now. I’m quite far behind her (she’s already on Return of the King, and for me, Frodo and company are just leaving Tom Bombadil’s house), so I spent some time creeping on her Facebook page to see what her comments were at each point. This will make my buddy-read a little asynchronous.

(A quick comment about formatting…. I think I’d like – for myself – to write these out on my blog, so that I can reference them later in their entirety. However, I’ll also be cross-posting to Facebook, to allow others to participate/comment as they wish. Because I love sharing stories with others. There will be spoilers and, in general, these will be my initial reactions vs. anything really well thought out.)

Chapter 1: A Long-Expected Party

I’m not really sure what to think of Bilbo; he seems rather rude and condescending to other hobbits. At some point in the distant past, I’ve read these books before, but not particularly attentively. I’ve watched some of the movies (but still haven’t made it through The Hobbit) and the scene where Gandalf is trying to get Bilbo to leave the Ring felt more oppressive and ominous than in the book version. Bilbo is kind of a jerk with the presents he left – highlighting flaws in others.

(My first encounter with Bilbo was when we were assigned The Hobbit to read in the 7th grade. I didn’t want to read it and I kept calling him Biblo.)

Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past

It was a little surprising to me that Frodo got to be 50 years old before his adventure began. Also, if hobbits’ lifespans aren’t that much longer than humans’, why don’t Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin have wives and families? Gandalf seems to be far more cautious about drawing conclusions than I am. Was Sméagol always evil/selfish/murderous, or was that just the influence of the Ring? The Ring seems to corrupt more quickly and more fully the more the owner wears it and uses its powers.

Chapter 3: Three is Company

What of the morality of Frodo selling Bag End to the Sackville-Bagginses, when he knew that the Enemy was coming after the Ring and knew the name “Baggins”? The Sackville-Bagginses may have been grasping after Bag End for some time, but did they deserve death?

Frodo kind of complains a lot – his heavy pack, how much weight he will lose on the journey – before they even begin. Is he really this self-absorbed, or is he more nervous than he lets on?

Sam seems to be portrayed as a bit bumbling and naive, but he’s shouldering adversity and change remarkably well.

I do not trust these cloaked riders sniffing around. Why are they deterred by the Elves?

Chapter 4: A Short Cut to Mushrooms

Sam is shown to be more thoughtful and perceptive than he was initially made out to be. I’m kind of getting a Mary vibe from him. Frodo is the focus and Sam is happy to support him however he can and ponders things within his heart.

All of their songs remind me of the cadences sung at march in the military.

Already, we can see how much Frodo needs his friends – Pippin gave good advice about the road being quicker (that fortuitously wasn’t taken) and helped immeasurably with Farmer Maggot.

Mrs. Maggot was a little funny with gifting Frodo a basket of mushrooms when he used to steal their mushrooms as a youth. Maybe Bilbo wasn’t so much of a jerk before, and hobbits just like to give snarky presents?

Chapter 5: A Conspiracy Unmasked

I low key love all of Frodo’s friends right now, when they tell him they know all about his mission and refuse to let him go into danger alone.

What is the tall, white tower that Frodo dreams of?

I’m kinda mad at Frodo for not having left earlier. I know, it increases the plot tension….


Hmmm…. I get where Katie’s coming from. As a third-party observer, we are sitting here with our popcorn, yelling at him to get going before the Enemy catches up with him. But, I think it makes a lot of sense for Frodo to drag his heels here. Hobbits are the homebodies of the fantasy creatures in this world, so leaving Hobbiton has to be hard for him – I get that he wants to stay as long as possible and drink it all in, especially if he thinks it’s likely he may never return.

Birthday celebrations and gift-giving seems to be a pretty big part of hobbit culture, so I get why he wants to have one more birthday at home.

Chapter 6: The Old Forest

“They do say the trees do actually move…” – Ents?

“But the hobbits came and cut down hundreds of trees, and made a great bonfire in the Forest…” – now I’m a little horrified. How did the trees and the hobbits become enemies? Who was the first aggressor?

It’s funny how the forest herded them. Sam catching on that their sudden sleepiness is suspicious – he’s a smart cookie!

Tom Bombadil sings and the trees obey. The hobbits arrive at Tom’s house and are bathed in a golden light. He’s such an interesting character. I’m not sure what to make of him.

Chapter 7: In the House of Tom Bombadil

Frodo: “Who is Tom Bombadil?” Goldberry: “He is.”

Tower in the middle of a circular plain, an old man and an eagle – Frodo’s dreams seem prophetic.

Very odd were Tom’s interactions with the Ring. Frodo just gave it over (with no resistance) and Tom didn’t become invisible when he put it on. Tom seems to be able to see Frodo when Frodo has the Ring on.

I’m a little confused over the significance of this interlude at Tom’s house. What am I missing?

Do I Have That Book? Challenge

A lot of people on YouTube are doing this Do I Have That Book? Challenge. The premise is that you have a list of 20 questions and you have to search your bookshelves to find books that meet the criteria within the shortest amount of time.

Original Tag Video from Keeping Tabs:

But I found it by watching Kayla from Books and Lala, Jesse from Jesse the Reader, and Lala and Emma from Emmmabooks.

Challenge Questions:
1. Do you have a book with deckled edges?
2. Do you have a book with 3 or more people on the cover?
3. Do you have a book based on another fictional story?
4. Do you have a book with a title 10 letters long?
5. Do you have a book with a title that starts and ends with the same letter?
6. Do you have a Mass Market Paperback book?
7. Do you have a book written by an author using a pen name?
8. Do you have a book with a character’s name in the title?
9. Do you have a book with 2 maps in it?
10. Do you have a book that was turned into a TV show?
11. Do you have a book written by someone who is originally famous for something else? (celebrity/athlete/politician/tv personality…)
12. Do you have a book with a clock on the cover?
13. Do you have a poetry book?
14. Do you have a book with an award stamp on it?
15. Do you have a book written by an author with the same initials as you?
16. Do you have a book of short stories?
17. Do you have a book that is between 500-510 pages long?
18. Do you have a book that was turned into a movie?
19. Do you have a graphic novel?
20. Do you have a book written by 2 or more authors?

Video is not my preferred medium, but I did complete this challenge. Here are my receipts:

2. Do you have a book with 3 or more people on the cover?
Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline
4. Do you have a book with a title 10 letters long?
Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy
5. Do you have a book with a title that starts and ends with the same letter
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
6. Do you have a Mass Market Paperback book?
Executive Orders by Tom Clancy
7. Do you have a book written by an author using a pen name?
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
8. Do you have a book with a character’s name in the title?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

9. Do you have a book with 2 maps in it? Yes! Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff has several maps throughout!

10. Do you have a book that was turned into a TV show? Not that I could find during the challenge, although after the fact, I probably could have also used City of Bones for this prompt, too.

11. Do you have a book written by someone who is originally famous for something else?
Living with Honor by Salvatore A. Giunta
Famous for being awarded the Medal of Honor

12. Do you have a book with a clock on the cover? Not that I could find.

13. Do you have a poetry book? Not that I could find.

14. Do you have a book with an award stamp on it? I’m sure I do somewhere, but after spending too much time looking, I gave up.

15. Do you have a book written by an author with the same initials as you?
Bird Box by Josh Malerman
16. Do you have a book of short stories?
Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke
18. Do you have a book that was turned into a movie?
The Martian by Andy Weir

I finished my challenge in 12 minutes, 18 seconds and had a score of 16/20! Please link your video/post in the comments; I’d love to see how you did!

Save the Dates! Reread-a-thon: March 10-16, 2019!

In a hurry? Skip below for the details of the challenges and giveaways…

Make sure to follow the Reread-a-thon Twitter! @rereadathon2019

If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m a competitive person. Mostly with myself, but I’m always game to join a challenge.

I’ve also been a bookworm my entire life. Growing up, it was rare to see me without a book. My mom would have to chase me out of the house to make me play and experience the sunshine. Of course, my mom was also a big reader (and still is!) and taught me to read at the dinner table and basically any time I had a free moment.

One huge difference between our reading styles is that my mom does not hang on to any books. She reads them, then gets rid of them. If she accidentally picks up a book that she’s read before, she will toss it aside as soon as she realizes it.

I’m the complete opposite.

Characters in books are beloved friends and I enjoy revisiting them often. I’ve read The Martian about 30 times, so you know that Mark Watney and I are tight. 🙂

When I heard that Merphy Napier was organizing a Reread-a-thon, I knew that I had to be a part of this! I jumped at the opportunity to host a day and can’t wait to participate alongside my co-hosts throughout the week! This is going to be so much fun!

The Details

The Reread-a-thon will take place from March 10-16, 2019.


There are seven challenges over the seven days, but you are not required to read seven books!  You can double or triple the challenges for books, or, you don’t even have to do the challenges!!  This is all for fun, so read a much or as little as you want 🙂

  • Giving a Book a Second Chance
  • A Recent Favorite
  • An Old Favorite
  • A Game Changing Book
  • An Underrated/Unpopular Book
  • A Childhood Favorite
  • A Popular Book


Make sure to follow the hosts of the day on each platform (Blog, Insta, and YouTube) to enter giveaways! (Prizes and how to enter will be determined by each host – make sure to follow them and follow the Reread-a-thon on Twitter @Rereadathon2019, for updates, reading sprints, and more!)

Sunday, March 10 – Game Changer
A book that opened your eyes to / made you love a new genre.

Monday, March 11 – Giving a Book a Second Chance

Tuesday, March 12 – New Favorite

Wednesday, March 13 – Old Favorite

Thursday, March 14 – Underrated/Unpopular Book

Friday, March 15 – Popular Book

Saturday, March 16 – Childhood Favorite

Happy Re-reading!

Books Read in January 2019

After nearly a month off, I am back to work and my days are falling into a familiar rhythm. I’m fairly pleased with the reading I’ve done this month. Quite a bit of Jennifer L. Armentrout – more than anticipated!


This month, I read 9 books, with a total of 3,897 pages! That’s just one book off my 10 book/month goal, if I’m going to meet my Goodreads goal of 120 books read this year. Pretty good so far!

That’s about 125.7 pages/day.

  • 2 ★★★★★
  • 4 ★★★★
  • 3 ★★★
  • 0 ★★
  • 0 ★
  • Average Star Rating: 3.9
  • 0 Children’s books vs. 9 YA/Adult
  • 4 E-books vs. 2 Audio vs. 3 Physical books
    • This is not terribly surprising to me, as I am back to work and spend a lot of time commuting or away from home.
    • I read 18/31 days reading on my Kindle in January.
    • It’s kind of interesting that all 3 of my physical books this month are a hue of blue.
  • 0 e-ARCs; 0 Library books; 8 Owned books; 1 Subscription book – To be fair the library was closed for much of the month for some renovations.

Books Read

I’ve added the book reviews as links below, to try and shorten the length of the monthly wrap-up posts, and hopefully encourage me to post them as I finish reading throughout the month, instead of waiting and having a pile to do all at once. Let me know what you think of the new format in the comments. Thanks!

  1. Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
    1. “Sporks are only used in the most dire situations.”
  2. Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  3. This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
    1. This was a really cute read! I loved the friend group and the dynamic between each of the friends. I felt that the characterization was well done. The banter in this book was great!
    2. (Longer review to come.)
  4. Wicked by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  5. Oblivion by Jennifer L. Armentrout
    1. “That’s all I ever need to hear.” “Those three words?” she asked. “Always those three words.”
  6. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
  7. The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
  8. The Darkest Star by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  9. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
    1. “No matter how old you are, no matter how ready you think you are, nothing quite prepares you for the loss of a parent.”

January TBR Books I Didn’t Get To

  • Burying Water by K. A. Tucker
    • This one almost doesn’t count, since I finished it at 3 am on February 1st.
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
    • This is a long book! It makes it more difficult to read in bed and carry around with me, so I didn’t get as much of a chance to read it. Then, I would start another book while away from home and want to finish that read.
    • I’m currently only 61 pages into it and still figuring things out. I’m sure once I know what’s going on, I’ll pick up the pace and knock this one out.

2018 Reading Stats

My Goodreads Year in Books! <– You can click here to see Goodreads stats for me without my commentary. LOL!

Book and Page Stats

I beat my reading goal by 113%, which was nice. I wasn’t scrambling too hard at the end, even though I had a pretty big reading slump earlier in the year that could have thrown me off my game.

115 books translates into an average of 9.6 books per month; or one book every 3.2 days.

Below is a graphical representation of the number of books that I read per month. You can see that in the first half of the year, I wasn’t really reading too much. Still a decent pace, but for me, it was a slump. June – no books? Really? In August, I was introduced to BookTube and it reinvigorated my love for reading.

Number of books read per month in 2018

Looking at my reading trends over the past several years, you can see that in 2013, I had my biggest reading year, with 200 books read. My goddaughter was born in 2013, and I was reading and reviewing a *lot* of children’s books for her.

Number of books per month from 2007 to 2018
Number of books per year from 2007 to 2018

Looking at page counts over the past several years, you can see how I stopped reading so many short children’s books and started reading more adult or YA books. So, while I had read almost twice the number of books in 2013, my page count in 2018 is greater.

I don’t know why Goodreads has my page count as 33,843 in one graphic and 33,926 in another. Perhaps they are counting some of the pages in books that I have started and marked as “In Progress?”

For the sake of my calculations, I’ll use the smaller number of pages. I averaged 2,820 pages per month, and 93 pages per day.

Number of pages read per month from 2007 to 2018
Number of pages read per year from 2007 to 2018
Number of pages read per month in 2018

My shortest book was one of my goddaughter, Gabby’s, books.

My longest book was “Winter’s Tale” that I felt like I listened to via Audible a lifetime ago. Was that really just last year?

My average book length was 294 pages, which is pretty good!

Star Rating Stats

These are my books broken down by star rating. I did give the majority of my reads 4 stars. They have to really move me to be given 5 stars. I give out 3 and 4 stars fairly easily, and feel a little bad about giving out a 2 or 1 star rating.

According to Goodreads built-in rating scale 2 is “OK” and 3 is “I like it,” but I tend to see 2s as more “meh/not for me” and 3s as more “it was OK.” For me to give out a 1 star, I have to really not like the book for some reason.

If you can see the little thumbnails, yes, I do have two copies of “The Martian” on my 5 star row. This is because I read a copy on my Kindle and I listened to the audiobook separately (not concurrently). I have now read “The Martian” about 29 times and my brother keeps trying to ban me from ever reading it again. So, I purchased the French translation copy, “Seul Sur Mars,” which should be arriving from Amazon France at the end of January 2019. 🙂 (Also, thanks to Emmmabooks for showing me that I can and should buy and read copies of my favorite books in multiple languages!)

This year, my only 1 star was “Clear” by Jessica Park. It was good for the first 50 pages or so, then went off the rails in a bad way and had a horrible plot resolution. Horrible. Implausible and – are you serious? It took me forever to finish the book and I’m surprised that I slogged through. This doesn’t say anything about Jessica Park’s other books, which I have really enjoyed.

“Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes,” I just couldn’t get into. This isn’t to say that I might not pick it up at some point in the future and like it. I just wasn’t feeling it at the time. This is why I put it on my DNF shelf, but didn’t give it a star rating.

This sounds like a high average for me. But looking at the graphic, it looks like I lucked out with a pretty significantly high number of 5 star books. Also, the lack of 2 and 1 stars….

I wonder if I should adjust my scoring for next year and move some of my 2.5 stars down to 2?

The Popularity Contest

This did not surprise me. I thought ACOMAF was fantastic! 🙂

I was fairly surprised that “The Girl on the Train” was the most popular book on my shelf. I was *not* surprised about “Gabriella the Superhero,” as I had to add that title to the database. 🙂 Before “Gabriella,” by next Least Popular title was “Exploring Seeds” – a children’s non-fiction title that I picked up late in the summer when I thought that I was going to do the Harry Potter OWL and NEWT challenges (Herbology, yo!). Alas, I didn’t complete the challenges.

However, I did learn something about my reading habits: I am a mood reader. I will *not* read it if I do not “feel” like it at the time. This actually surprises me somewhat, since I am normally very competitive and generally find challenges to be compelling.

In fact, this changed the way I viewed my goals for 2019. This year, I am not going to sign up for a lot of very strict challenges (like PopSugar or the Quarterly YA challenges with 10 categories every 3 months).

I find that if I try to constrain what books I can read too much, I’ll end up not reading at all. So my goals are more fluid.

To help me reach my goals – and for a fun way for me to track my reading – I purchased “The Bookworm Life” planner from my friend, Monica. It is adorable! You can buy it from her on Etsy, using the link above. (She also has lots of adorable bookish stickers for your calendar, bullet journal, or planner!)

2019 Goals

More Random Stats

  • 48 authors I have read before, but 67 were new-to-me. (I counted the first book in a series as a new author and subsequent books as read-before.)
  • I read 50 books across 27 different series. Of those, I’ve completed (as far as I know) 6 of the series, and would continue with 14 of the series. I really get attached to characters and worlds and like to live in them as long as I can, so series are really attractive to me.
    • Asylum (1)
    • Blood of Eden (1)*
    • Breathing (4) – Completed.
    • Bright Side (1) – Completed.
    • Choose Your Own Adventure (1)
    • A Court of Thorns and Roses (4) – Completed.
    • Crazy Rich Asians (2)*
    • Dash and Lily (1)*
    • Disney’s Frozen (1)
    • The Gender Game (7) – Completed.
    • Hush, Hush (1)
    • Illuminae Files (1)*
    • Kitchen Princess (1)
    • Lisbon’s Misadventures (1)
    • Lux (3)*
    • Malory Family (1)*
    • Marked Men (2)*
    • Origin (1)*
    • The Raven Cycle (1)*
    • The Selection (1) – Completed.
    • Star Darlings (1)*
    • Uglies (5) – Completed.
    • The Vanderbeekers (1)
    • Warcross (1)*
    • Wayward Children (3)*
    • Xanth (2)*
    • You (1)*
  • 65 books I own in some form vs. 50 books I borrowed or read as part of a subscription service (like Scribd or Kindle Unlimited).
  • I re-read 7 books:
    • 100 Ghosts by Doogie Horner (Super cute Halloween read)
    • Jesus-Shock by Peter Kreeft (for A-Z challenge)
    • The Magic of You by Johanna Lindsey (Fave from teen years)
    • The Martian by Andy Wier (LOVE!)
    • Once and Always by Judith McNaught (LOVE!)
    • Xone of Contention by Piers Anthony (for A-Z challenge)
    • Zombie Lover by Piers Anthony (for A-Z challenge)
  • 18 books published in 2018.


A big thank you to Kayla from Books and Lala, who inspired me to spend *hours* making this long-winded blog post for y’all! I’m tired, but happy to see all my reading stats for 2018!

If you’ve made it this far, you’re a rock star! Please link your blog/vlog posts in comments, so I can see your end-of-year wrap up!

Books Read in December 2018

I’m publishing this post just as the ball is making its descent on New Year’s Eve, since I want to give myself as much time as possible to finish my reading goals that I set back in January. I’ll have a separate post to talk about how well I fulfilled my 2018 bookish goals, as well as talk about my goals for 2019.


This month, I read 12 books, with a total of 3,983 pages!

That’s about 128 pages/day.

  • 1 ★★★★★
  • 7 ★★★★
  • 4 ★★★
  • 0 ★★
  • 0 ★
  • 1 Children’s books vs. 11 YA/Adult
  • 7 E-books/Audio vs. 5 Physical books
    • My Kindle’s Reading Insights tell me that I’m in the middle of a reading streak 17 weeks long.
    • I read 22 days on my Kindle in November, but only 14 days in December (which seems odd, since I’ve had about a month off work).
  • 0 e-ARCs; 0 Library books; 7 Owned books; 4 Subscription books; 1 book that I bought as a gift and read first 🙂

Books Read

I’ve added the book reviews as links below, to try and shorten the length of the monthly wrap-up posts, and hopefully encourage me to post them as I finish reading throughout the month, instead of waiting and having a pile to do all at once. Let me know what you think of the new format in the comments. Thanks!

  1. The Gender Plan by Bella Forrest
    1. “I’m sorry if that doesn’t make me strong in your book, but I don’t care. I don’t exist for your approval.”
  2. The Gender End by Bella Forrest
    1. I haven’t written a review for this series yet, but I enjoyed it. There were times where it was a little slow, or had battle scenes that dragged on for too long in excruciating detail, but overall, it had good world building and was a fun time.
  3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
    1. No review for this one yet, either. I kinda suck this month.
    2. I rated it 3/5 stars. The first half or so was pretty slow and uneventful, but the second half was decent.
    3. A lot of people compare this to Harry Potter, but it was missing a bit of the awe and wonder that the Harry Potter series invoked in me.
  4. Indianapolis by Lynn Vincent
    1. 4/5 stars. This was a really interesting read.
    2. Being prior Navy, I enjoy reading about naval military stories. Combine this with my fascination for Shark Week, and you have this book.
    3. I was glad that, although the subtitle is about the exoneration of the captain, the book focused more on the crew, the incident, and their time in the water, and not so much on the legal proceedings.
  5. Rome by Jay Crownover
  6. Nash by Jay Crownover
  7. Gabriella the Superhero by Eric James
  8. Zombie Lover by Piers Anthony
  9. Verity by Colleen Hoover
  10. The Queen: History in an Hour by Sinead Fitzgibbon
  11. Xone of Contention by Piers Anthony
  12. Jesus-Shock by Peter Kreeft

December TBR Books I Didn’t Get To

  • A Tyranny of Petticoats by Jessica Spotswood
    • This one I had borrowed from the library, and I ran out of time before I had to return it. Our library is going to be closed for renovations for much of January, so I wasn’t able to renew it. I did mark in my Goodreads where I left off, so that I’ll be able to pick it back up later (which is one of the great things about a short story compilation).
    • So far, it is rating about 3/5 stars. The stories are well done for the most part, but unfortunately the time periods are not ones that capture my interest.
  • Rerouting by Fr. John Riccardo
    • Since this one contains a lot of self-reflection questions, I wanted to hold off on just reading straight through this one until I had the proper time and attention to give it and answer all the questions as I go.
    • When I do pick it up again, I think I’ll create a new series of blog posts where I can talk about my ideas, reactions, and answers to the reflection questions.
    • I jokingly said that I refuse to read a book by Fr. John without it having been autographed for me. And I haven’t yet had this one autographed. LOL!
  • The Oracle Year by Charles Soule
    • This one was an interesting concept, but was a little slow when I set it down a month or so ago and I became distracted by other, shinier, books.
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
    • This was another library book that time ran out on.
    • I hadn’t gotten too far into the story. I think the main character had met one person and gone out of her room once.
  • Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
    • I just never made it to this book.
  • My True Love Gave to Me by Stephanie Perkins
    • Since this anthology has 12 stories, I thought it would be best to read one story per day for the 12 Days of Christmas. So, it should be finished early in January.
  • What Light by Jay Asher
    • I just never made it to this book.
  • The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood
    • This book was selected for Monica’s book club, and in my typical fashion, I had only read 1/2 of the book by the designated day. When I also was unable to make the book club meeting, I set aside the book for a little while.
    • It was a *really* good story when I set it aside, so I am looking forward to picking it back up again.

YouTubers I Follow: Merphy Napier

This year, I started getting into books and reading more and found BookTube (which I’m still not sure is something other than the collected YouTube videos about books and reading – is it also a specific site or membership?)

Merphy’s channel I happened upon by sheer chance one night as I was unproductively binge watching videos. She has an intelligent and critical approach to her book reviews, which I really appreciate. She is also fairly calm and straightforward in manner, which is a good change up from some of the other channels that can be a little too loud or overly bubbly in presentation.

This is the most recent video of Merphy’s that I viewed.

She reads a wide variety of books, and several genres that I’m personally interested in (contemporary, YA, dystopian, some fantasy), so we are compatible in that regard. I’ve added so many books from her suggestions to my mammoth TBR list.

From this video alone, I’ve added the following books to my TBR:

Please let me know in the comments if there are any BookTubers that you particularly enjoy watching!

Books Read in October 2018


21 books on the original TBR list. Of these, 16 were read.

30 books this month for a grand total of 7,243 pages read!

  • 12 Children’s; 18 YA or Adult
  • 5 Five Stars; 11 Four Stars; 12 Three Stars; 2 Two Stars; 0 One Stars
  • 8 E-books/Audiobooks; 22 Physical books
  • 2 e-ARCs; 16 Library books; 8 Owned books; 4 Subscription books

Book Reviews

  1. This is a Whoopsie! by Andrew Cangelose
    32 pgs., 5/5 stars, Children’s Fiction, E-Book
    This is a really adorable, clever, funny book! And the illustrations are just darling!

    This is a book that I can see myself reading over and over to the girls. There are some obvious gags, but some more subtle ones that they may not catch until they mature a bit and are able to read between the lines a little.

    I like the message that it has as well – you may not be athletic or gifted in a certain area as you may want, but there’s something about you – even if you consider it to be a flaw – that can bless the world.

  2. Happy Veggies by Mayumi Oda
    36 pgs., 3/5 stars, Children’s Fiction, E-Book
    I enjoyed this book because I felt it was very evocative of my summers growing up, where my mother would plant a large garden and we kids would see the different plants growing and ripening at different times during the growing season.

    This book definitely had an Asian-style spirituality about it, with a definite message about a harmony with Mother Nature. Perhaps in part due to this, I think it would almost appeal to adults more than children, although children can definitely learn about the life cycles of plants and where veggies come from by looking at this book.

    The illustrations look deceptively simple, but there is a grace and beauty to them that keeps you looking again.

  3. Libby and the Class Election (Star Darlings #2) by Shana Muldoon Zappa
    176 pgs., 3/5 stars, Children’s Fiction, Paperback, Library
    A lot of the Children’s books that I picked up this month were because I had the idea that I’d finish the Harry Potter OWL and NEWT challenges by selecting kid’s books in the assigned categories. My follow-through wasn’t so good, so I don’t actually recall what categories these were selected for at this point, so if I ever attempt to finish the challenge at some point, I’ll have to start over.

    I picked up this one, as it was the second in a series and I had read the first book. It was okay; I think I liked the first book better. I’m not sure I’m invested enough in the story to continue reading the series, though.

  4. A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas
    432 pgs., 4/5 stars, YA Fiction/Fantasy, Hardcover, Library
    People have been talking about this book for a while, but for some reason, I wasn’t particularly interested in it. I’m not generally a high fantasy girl. Fairies (or faeries, I’m not sure why there’s different spellings) are not normally my thing. But this was an interesting story and the female lead was not a push-over.

    I ended up enjoying the story quite a bit and then went to the library and checked out the rest of the series!

  5. Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard
    388 pgs., 3/5 stars, YA Fiction/Fantasy, Paperback, Owned
    As a book, it took me too long to get into the story. I don’t know if it was really that slow-paced, but I kept setting it down for long periods of time. It probably has taken me over a year from when I first started reading this book to make it through and I’m sure there’s one section in the middle that I kept re-reading to try and re-familiarize myself with the plot.

    I don’t think the story itself is bad. It is actually a very interesting idea. I would be quite interested to see this adapted for film.

    Part of the reason why I am not loving this book is that the main character has several guys who could potentially be The Love Interest. However, all of them flip-flop throughout the book, and I didn’t have a clear sense in my heart of which one I hoped she ended up with. I think this contributed to me not being as invested as I could be, since I wasn’t rooting hard for one pairing over others.

  6. Secret of the Ninja (Choose Your Own Adventure #66) by Jay Leibold
    124 pgs., 2/5 stars, Children’s Fiction, Paperback, Library
    This was another pick for one of the Harry Potter challenges. It was short and mostly forgettable.
  7. The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
    408 pgs., 4/5 stars, YA Fiction, Hardcover, Library
    This was a little bit of magic, a little bit of mystery. It was an interesting story with some great characters. I’ll definitely pick up the rest of the series, especially as I hear the next book is not one to miss!
  8. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
    297 pgs., 3/5 stars, Children’s Fiction, Hardcover, Library
    This was a cute story of siblings trying to save their home. Their landlord has decided to not renew their lease and they are facing having to move out of a home and neighborhood that they love. It is set just before Christmas and is a cozy tale.

    It didn’t make me keep thinking about it long after the read, but it was a solid 3 star book. I didn’t feel the need to buy a copy for myself, but was glad that I picked it up from the library. It’s like one of those Hallmark channel movies; not going to be a blockbuster or one that you own, but you were glad for the experience at the time.

  9. Memory and Magic (Disney Frozen: Anna & Elsa #2) by Erica David
    128 pgs., 3/5 stars, Children’s Fiction, Paperback, Library
    This was a longer story of Anna and Elsa that just gives you more scenes between some of your favorite Frozen characters.
  10. Luke and Lottie: It’s Halloween! by Ruth Wielockx
    32 pgs., 5/5 stars, Children’s Fiction, Hardcover, Library
    This was a delightful book about Halloween! I thought the illustrations were adorable and loved the children’s interactions with each other and their parents. I thought the Halloween snacks they made out of fruits were very clever – only to find out from the author’s intro that she studied nutrition and dietetics! I definitely have to snag a copy for Gabby now!
  11. Exploring Seeds (First Step Nonfiction: Let’s Look at Plants) by Kristin Sterling
    23 pgs., 4/5 stars, Children’s Nonfiction, Hardcover, Library
    This was a basic introduction to the topic of seeds and plants, geared toward children. I enjoyed the photographs, which were vibrant and detailed – great macro shots. While this book was rather short and simplistic, I think it could inspire young readers to want to learn more about the subject.
  12. Kitchen Princess, Vol. 01 (Kitchen Princess #1) by Natsumi Ando
    187 pgs., 2/5 stars, Children’s Anime, Paperback, Library
    While I couldn’t really get into the plot of the book, I do love the illustrations. They are both cute and expressive. After a while, I gave up on trying to figure out what was going on and just skimmed the text, enjoying the images.
  13. Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta
    36 pgs., 4/5 stars, Children’s Biography, Hardcover, Library
    I enjoyed this book far more than I was expecting to. To be frank, I expected it to be rather dry. To my surprise, it was quite entertaining while still informing me about all of the amazing things that Ben Franklin was responsible for. This is the kind of biography that you want to introduce your children to!
  14. Jemmy Button by Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali
    48 pgs. 3/5 stars, Children’s Biography, Hardcover, Library
    This is a solid story – biography, really. It tells the story of an indigenous boy taken away from his home land to Victorian England. The story is told in few words, but it is really the evocative illustrations in this book that makes this book great. I read this book to Gabby as last in a series of books we read that night, and by the time we got to this one, she was more interested in making up her own stories than listening to this one. However, these illustrations grabbed her imagination and she was able to tell her own fantastic tale and took pleasure in examining the details in the images. There were some which were magnificently detailed and full of things to look at. There were others which were stark and almost monochromatic. All of these tied in nicely with the emotions of Jemmy during his travels.
  15. Life as a Ninja: An Interactive History Adventure by Matt Doeden
    112 pgs., 3/5 stars, Children’s Fiction, Hardcover, Library
    This was an interesting take on a Choose Your Own Adventure style book. It sought to inform you about the history of the ninja, as well as entertain you. Unfortunately for me, I died. However, I died an honorable death and saved the person that I was entrusted to protect.
  16. Warcross (Warcross #1) by Marie Lu
    353 pgs., 5/5 stars, YA Fiction/Dystopian, Hardcover, Library
    This was a fantastic, edge-of-your-seat, engaging story! It hooked me in from the beginning and kept up the fast pace and startling reveals right to the end. It has a similar feel as Ready Player One without the time-period nostalgia. The descriptions of the world were so lush and vivid, I could almost see it. This would make a fantastic movie adaptation.
  17. A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas
    624 pgs., 4/5 stars, YA Fiction/Fantasy, Hardcover, Library
    This was my favorite book of the ACOTAR series! It’s hard to be able to write about it without spoiling something for people who haven’t read it yet. But if you liked ACOTAR, you will love ACOMAF. Feyre’s romantic life heats up and becomes more mature and you will gain insight into several characters that will really enhance your experience of the story.
  18. A Court of Winds and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3) by Sarah J. Maas
    699 pgs., 4/5 stars, YA Fiction/Fantasy, Hardcover, Library
    All of the grim predictions and fears of the previous two books come to a head in ACOWAR. As a resolution to the series, I was satisfied for the most part. There were some things that seemed a little out of place, or as if they were manipulated so that the plot would turn out as a the author had envisioned. This is something that could downgrade the story a bit for some readers, but I’m usually willing to be more forgiving for the sake of the story.
  19. A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1) by Sarah J. Maas
    229 pgs., 3/5 stars, YA Fiction/Fantasy, Hardcover, Library
    A lot of other reviewers really didn’t like this novella. I can see where they are coming from. This was really a fluffy story, to give you just a little bit more time with the characters without a lot of substance. It deals with the aftermath of the events in ACOWAR, but on a somewhat superficial level. I’m glad I read it, but it definitely isn’t necessary for the series. If you enjoy the characters and want to read more about how they interact with each other, pick it up. If you were in the series for the action, you may be disappointed.
  20. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
    64 pgs., 3/5 stars, Thriller/Horror, Scribd Audiobook
    This was a great book to have read (listened to) the night before Spookathon began. I’m just a little sad that I didn’t technically read it during Spookathon. There’s a bit of a mystery and the ending does have a twist that I didn’t see coming.
  21. You (You #1) by Caroline Kepnes
    424 pgs., 4/5 stars, Thriller, Hardcover, Owned
    This was fairly unique, as it is written in the second person from the perspective of Joe, who is … kinda stalker-y. That’s not really a spoiler, as you can see this from the first interaction between Joe and Beck.

    What I found most interesting about this book was Joe’s judgments and observations of Beck’s decisions. In most books, you see why a character does X or Y, but you don’t often get to be inside the head of others as they analyze the actions of the other characters to point out their flaws.

    It was also interesting because, as a reader, you want to root for the protagonist, but also you really don’t.

  22. Bird Box by Josh Malerman
    262 pgs., 3/5 stars, Thriller, Paperback, Owned
    I got this book as a Birthday or Christmas present from my brother. It’s taken me a good 10 months to read it, but I’m glad that I did. I like that the author is local to our area and that the story is set in a neighboring city. It was a very interesting story and had a great mood.

    This is another book where it’s hard to say a lot about it without spoilers. A good psychological thriller. Especially if you are in an abandoned city by yourself. Definitely read it then to give yourself the creeps.

  23. Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
    400 pgs., 3/5 stars, Thriller, Paperback, Owned
    Thrillers/mysteries are not my go-to genre, but Spookathon is a readathon hosted by @booksandlala on her YouTube channel, and it has prompted me to dive into more books in this genre.

    This book was okay. It was interesting enough to keep me reading and I was able to finish it in about a day. There was a twist to it, which is probably standard in thrillers. For me, I wasn’t all that interested in the characters, which lowered the rating for me a bit.

  24. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
    323 pgs.,  3/5 stars, Thriller, Hardcover, Owned
    I think after several mystery/thrillers books that I’ve given a 3 star rating to, I’ve found that this genre is just not for me. It’s not horrible, and I’m sure that I’ll read more books in this genre in the future, but it’s not going to be a book that I hug and love and buy in all formats possible.

    In this story, the main character drove me crazy. I really just wanted her to get her life together and she really just kept mucking things up for herself and making me frustrated. I get that the whole “unreliable” narrator thing adds to the story, but she really was not someone that I’d want to hang out with in real life.

    The ending was not something that I suspected, but by the end of the book, I was okay with any of them going to jail.

  25. 100 Ghosts: A Gallery of Harmless Haunts by Doogie Horner
    202 pgs., 5/5 stars, Humor, Hardcover, Owned
    This not just a “children’s book”. It’s for anyone who likes cuteness, and illustrations, and ghosts… This book explores different looks for the “traditional” ghost, and let me tell you… they are ADORABLE! And incredibly creative! There’s just the right amount of pop culture references, yet not so many that would “date” the book.

    Nevermind the godchild, *I’m* going to be re-reading this book many times to come! I can’t even pick a favorite ghost — there are too many ones that I love! I do know which one my godchild’s father would like best, though… 🙂 But, I’m not going to tell… I think I’ll have him read the book and see if we agree on which one is his favorite. 🙂

    If these ghosts came in sticker-format, or as prints, I’d have them on everything. A llama-ghost on my phone… Ghost portraits on the living room wall…

    This is one book that I don’t really want to put on the bookshelf… I’d rather have it on the counter so anyone stopping by can pick it up and fall in love, just as I have.

    Disclaimer: Just so you know, I’d be raving about this book even if I hadn’t received a free copy from Random House, but… I did. Thank you, Goodreads First Reads! 🙂

  26. Trauma Room Two by Philip Allen Green, MD
    164 pgs., 4/5 stars, Contemporary/Medical/Memoir/Nonfiction, Scribd Audiobook
    This was a compelling collection of short passages that tell experiences within Trauma Room Two from a variety of perspectives: the doctor, the patient, support staff….

    Emotions, not medicine, were the focus of each of the stories, which really helped the reader to connect. While each story was fairly short, there was something challenging about it that made you think about the issue or the perspective presented.

  27. Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
    309  pgs., 4/5 stars, YA Fiction, E-Book, Kindle
    I read this one for a Book Club by @peanutbuttertaco. It was a really good story with good character development and an important subject matter.

    Unfortunately, the ending was all too realistic, which was great for the authenticity of the book, but not good if you were anticipating a read where everything is rainbows and butterflies in the end.

  28. Once and Always by Judith McNaught
    375 pgs., 5/5 stars, Historical Romance, Kindle
    (The actual cover on my Kindle edition of this book is different, but this is the cover that I had on the paperback that I owned when growing up, so I’m partial to it.)

    Okay, so I grew up reading a lot of romance novels at a very young age. I was a voracious reader, and my mom had a book swap at her work, and the books that were there most frequently were the serial Harlequin romance novels. This is what she brought home for me. When we bought books, they would tend to get me large novels that might take me a few more days to read, so I grew up with a lot of Stephen King as well.

    With reading all of these romance novels, I found the niche that I preferred were the Regency era historical romances. I was all about the strong, brooding tough guy realizing that he was in love with the girl. He was a badass, but would do anything for the one girl who had his heart.

    I’m still a sucker for those.

    Just before I re-read this book – and this book is one that was an all-time favorite – I read a review of it where they were very critical of the relationship. Granted, that there are a lot of things in these books which are highly questionable or which would be criminal in modern society. But as I said before, I can be a very forgiving reader for the sake of a story. In this time period, women were often treated like property, and I don’t necessarily knock the characters for misogyny, etc. since they are being true to societal norms of the time. Do I think that that behavior is horrible and am glad that society has made strides in changing what’s socially acceptable? Of course!

    Here we are, decades later (Yikes!), and I still love this book. It has a very high tension, heart wrenching scene that is one of my favorites scenes of all times. They have a love that is passionate and tender and grabs you by the feels. Growing up, it was this book that had me thinking, “I want a guy who will love me like *this*.”

  29. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
    169 pgs., 4/5 stars, Fantasy, Novella, Scribd
    This was a very interesting story and a great one to have read the day before Halloween!

    It’s about a girl who had entered a doorway and found herself in a fantastical new land. She adapted to this new land and loved being there. But now she’s back in the real world, and she is having a hard time adjusting to mundane life. Her parents send her to the school for Wayward Children, which poses as a school meant to rehabilitate children who have been “lost” for a period of time. And this is where our story begins.

    I loved the unique characters in this story, they were quite original and each had their own motivations and secrets. The world building was great, very detailed, but it left you with enough of a mystery to want to keep discovering more.

    There was a mysterious danger in the story, which prompted much of the action in the book. I could tell where it was headed to a degree fairly early in, but this didn’t detract from my enjoyment.

    Some people say that the POV was distracting, but I read this as an audiobook and was able to immerse myself in this world quite easily.

  30. Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire
    187 pgs., 4/5 stars, Fantasy, Novella, Scribd
    I read the first 3 books in this series quickly, one right after the other. They were really good, absorbing, great world-building, and a fantastic story to read at Halloween!

    I feel that the first book set up the story well, and this second novella went deep into characterization of some side characters from the first novella.

Going Forward

If I’m going to be reading books at a higher rate, it might make sense to separate my review posts out into smaller posts, then link those into a monthly wrap-up post. Putting all of them into one post seems to be getting a little large. Let me know your thoughts in the comments!