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: https://youtu.be/e4YnTYrGs48

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.

Challenges:

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

Hosts:

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!

Stats

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.

Thanks!

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.

Stats

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

Stats

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
    41722736
    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
    38510373
    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
    18656192
    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
    23666139
    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
    35683043
    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
    190946
    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
    13449693
    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
    33413919
    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
    22544225
    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
    40597460
    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
    12703942
    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
    954303
    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
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    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
    15798739
    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
    7308911
    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
    29385546
    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
    26073150
    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
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    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
    31076583
    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
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    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
    20821614
    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
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    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
    25855515
    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
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    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
    17262586
    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
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    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
    35900742
    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
    3052792
    (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
    25526296
    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
    31450908
    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!

 

 

Books Read in September 2018

I started stepping up my reading game this month. I managed to finish 17 books in September!

  1. Small Country by Gael Faye
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    I gave this one 4/5 stars.I love to be entertained and I have a great ability to suspend my disbelief in favor of a good tale. This is perhaps why non-fiction and history are some of the hardest genres for me to read. In a similar way, war stories are hard for me to get into because I don’t tend to see them as lived experiences. The only ones I really relate to are the modern stories of American military, because I used to be in the Navy and know something of that life.However, some years ago now, I had the privilege of meeting Immaculee Ilibagiza, who wrote “Left to Tell,” which was another story of the Rwandan Genocide. I was able to hear her speak and give her a hug after the talk. This made Rwanda real for me. So, when I heard about this book as one of my Book of the Month options, I had to pick it up.Gael Faye has a different perspective than Immaculee, and was younger when the events occurred, but he speaks with a compelling voice and really has a gift for making you feel the burgeoning horror of the events as they unfold and the increasing tension in the country and those in the immediate vicinity.

    Immaculee’s story is one about faith and hope and strength and doing good with your life in the face of all this evil – and forgiving even the most unforgivable. Gael’s is more of how a country can mark you and live in your soul, long after you have moved away. How events and people change and color the entire trajectory of your life.

    It was moving and heartbreaking and beautiful. I would especially recommend it to those who have not had a chance to travel outside of the Western world with it’s privilege and wealth. It sounds rather odd to say that it will help your heart to learn compassion and respect for other places and people around the globe, but it does.

  2. Emotions Explained with Buff Dudes by Andrew Tsyaston
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    I gave this book 5/5 stars.This book made me laugh out loud on page 2! It has a zesty, wicked humor that I love. Even better, I have several friends who would absolutely love this book right with me! I fully intend to buy at least two copies: one for me and one for Karen. Maybe one for my brother, too. So good.I used to draw sassy little stick figures in all sorts of situations, and this is that idea to the nth level. Not only was it funny, but it was funny because it contained so much truth about life. At the same time, you are laughing, but you are also nodding along and recognizing yourself in these cartoon characters.The squishy emotions though – those are my favorite!

    I read a pre-pub version of this book via NetGalley.

  3. The Brightest Star by Danielle Schothorst
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    I gave this 5/5 stars.I loved this story! As I was reading it, I was imagining sharing this with my 4 year old goddaughter. She would love the inventive tale and the opportunity to create her own compliments for the star. I would love to be able to lay outside in her backyard under the stars and share the story together, and then search for our own brightest star.I love how there is a subtle moral aspect to the story, and how lifting up and complimenting another brought the whole community together. It’s a great thing to feature, especially at this time when kids are going back to school. Compliments beget compliments and self-esteem all around.The illustrations were also fantastic. We will enjoy looking at all of the animals and the night sky, which is so full of possibility!

    Disclaimer: I read a pre-pub version of this book via NetGalley. Thank you for the opportunity!

  4. Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
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    I gave this one 4/5 stars.I thought the twists at the end were fantastic and unexpected. There were a few times where I was reading and audibly gasped in surprise, which is such a great feat for an author to be able to surprise the reader that much. It didn’t earn 5 stars for me because the fact that an adult woman would become so obsessed after just a week doesn’t read true for me. I can see digging a little bit, but I wouldn’t upend my life over it. The book also spent quite a bit of time in this uncomfortable space, and this made the book difficult to continue reading in places. Once the reveals started picking up, it was much more enjoyable.
  5. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
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    I gave this book 4/5 stars.The writing in this book was quite a shock and it took some getting used to – very fantastical and quirky. It was hard for me to get into the story at first. As I continued, I adjusted and instead of thinking that the characters were crazy, I realized that the language was more poetic and emotive than realistic and was able to adjust my expectations.As the story unfolded, my affection for this story kept growing; I’m so glad I stuck with it.This is the story of a boy and a girl – twins – who lose themselves and each other. That’s about all I’ll say about the plot, because the journey and the self-discovery is the best part.

    It was interesting the way the POV changed. The chapters switched between Noah at age 13-ish and Jude at age 16-ish, so each POV change came with a change in the timeline.

    I read this book as an audiobook, but I think that I’ll pick up a copy to have on my bookshelf. This is one where you will want to underline passages.

  6. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
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    I gave this story 4/5 stars.I loved the characterizations in this book. The way each person responded felt authentic to who they were supposed to be. They were layered and complex and their personal histories influenced their present day actions, which while common in daily life, is hard to bring out in a novel. I love how the title of the book not only refers to the beginning and end of the story, but also the “little fires” within each person’s life. Everyone has their own troubles and burdens to bear, and no one’s life is as perfect as it may appear from the outside.
  7. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
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    I gave this one 4/5 stars.I loved the glimpse into the lifestyles of the uber-rich. This was a very fun, interesting, quick read that gave a different perspective. It’s always good to see cultures and customs outside of those you were raised with and this was no exception. I loved the characters and their reactions felt authentic. I watched the movie shortly after completing this book and felt that it was fairly faithful to the spirit of the novel.It is also quite funny. Case in point: “NEVER, EVER wear green chiffon unless you want to look like bok choy that got gang-raped.”
  8. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
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    I rated this book 4/5 stars.Everything that I loved about Crazy Rich Asians was continued in China Rich Girlfriend. The characterizations were fantastic and made me invest in even unlikable characters. It had the right mix of humor, information, snobbery, and surprise to keep me turning the pages until the end. This is definitely a series that I’ll want to have on my bookshelf!
  9. Little Tree by Loren Long
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    This was a 5/5 star story.I brought over 3 different library books to read with Gabby. This one was the first one that she picked to read.I loved the story. It was about a little tree who was afraid to give up his leaves. Ultimately, it was a moral story about having to take a risk in order to grow and change, and how holding on too tightly can stunt your personal growth.

    The illustrations were very cute. Gabby liked trying to determine which tree was Little Tree on each page and seeing what the squirrels were doing.

  10. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
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    I gave this one 3/5 stars.This book deals with a taboo romance between an adult male and a very young child. It starts as a sweet, protective friendship with each person providing emotional fulfillment for the other, but then crosses a line of propriety. You are given enough insight into each characters thoughts to understand that nothing sinister is intended, but as a reader, it is an uncomfortable position to be in.Wavy as a child was a much more interesting character than Wavy as a later adolescent. About halfway through the book, I started to lose interest and started to desire that Wavy move on with her life quickly, so that I could do the same.

    At the end of the novel, I could admire Wavy’s persistence and grit, but I was missing the emotional connection and empathy for her that I had at the start of the book. If it was written to show more of her emotional vulnerability at this point, I might have been more engaged in the story.

  11. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson24565220
    I gave this book 3/5 stars.I liked that this book had a teen male POV – not common in YA fiction – and one which felt authentic. However, I kept waiting for some big reveal or plot twist, but this never came.The cover photo and title led me to think that something big or ominous or momentous was coming, but it felt very… blah. It wasn’t a horrible read and it went by fairly quickly, but it was ultimately forgettable.
  12. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
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    I gave this 5/5 stars.I know there are a lot of people out there who criticize this book for portraying an unhealthy relationship, and there were certainly many things about it which were unhealthy. However, this book got high ratings from me because I just loved the interaction between Abby and Travis. I literally had a smile plastered on my face for most of the time I was reading the book. Their verbal sparring was exactly my brand of humor/sarcasm.I also quite enjoyed that while Travis was made out to be an alpha-male, who is basically incapable of being defeated, Abby was not portrayed to be a weak female. She was as strong or stronger than Travis in her way and was quite brilliant in her own ways.

    Abby has a couple different paths that her relationships can go during the course of the book and I waited for the author to make one choice or the other to be closed irrevocably, but in the end, the choice and the struggle was within Abby – whether she was going to go with the version of herself that she has tried so hard to recreate, or if she was going to forgive her past and allow herself to live in a world similar to the one she has been trying for so long to leave. This felt very real – there’s often multiple different choices that you can make in life and end up fairly well. It’s rare that the choices before you are 99 villains and 1 prince. Usually it’s more like 3 stable boys and you’re the awkward girl-next-door.

  13. Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire
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    I gave this book 4/5 stars.
    I can sympathize with people who critique this book for being too much of an exact rewrite of a lot of the dialogue that occurs in Beautiful Disaster. It’s not as much of an issue for me, as I don’t particularly eschew repetition, especially for something that I’m really into.I don’t think that we gained a lot of additional perspective that we didn’t have before, but I was happy to be spending additional time with the characters that I’ve come to love.
  14. A Beautiful Wedding by Jamie McGuire
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    I gave this 4/5 stars.
    This was a great companion to Beautiful Disaster/Walking Disaster. I liked the opportunity for an extended epilogue with these characters.The very end threw me off for a bit, as it didn’t say right away that the timeline was so different from the rest of the book, and at first, I thought it was a completely different story.

    It definitely set me up to anticipate the rest of Jamie McGuire’s books featuring the other Maddox brothers.

  15. Reason to  Breathe by Rebecca Donovan
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    I gave this one 4/5 stars.I had gotten this as an audiobook from Audible a while ago and for some reason was reluctant to listen to it. I’m not sure why I felt this way, but whenever I’d look at my play list, I had the impression that this wasn’t going to be the best story, and I’d but it off.

    I’m glad that I finally gave it a chance! This was a great story and kept it’s suspense and pace up throughout. You always knew that something would happen which would prompt more abuse, but you never knew what the trigger would be, so just like Emma, you had a certain level of fear and wariness at all times.

  16. Barely Breathing by Rebecca Donovan
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    I gave this book 4/5 stars.I couldn’t grab the sequel to Reason to Breathe quick enough! The story and characters were compelling and I was hooked.

    This book only heightened my concern for Emma and the decisions that she was making – just when I thought the worst was over! The tension and pace were great.

  17. Out of Breath by Rebecca Donovan
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    I also gave this book 4/5 stars, although the first third of the book had me at a 1.5 star rating.I’ll admit, for the first third or so of this book, I was really hating it. I hated how Emma was acting and the story was frustrating. I nearly gave up on her. But, then – finally – it started turning around and I was able to start rooting for her again. There were several times where I didn’t know how the relationships would turn out, and I didn’t know which relationship I wanted to see continue and which I wanted to end.

Books Read in August 2018

I started stepping up my reading game this month. I managed to finish 15 books!

  1. God, I Need to Talk to You About Sharing by Dan Carr

    I gave this one 3/5 stars. It was okay. It’s meant to help teach morality to your child, and it gave decent examples of some of the repercussions to being selfish as well as how you can be forgiven for your bad behavior.
  2. Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane

    I gave this book 5/5 stars. The illustrations were fantastic! This was a counting book and each type of family had one more kid than the last family. Each family had a unique scary sound that they made, so the kids would mimic the parent in howling, haunting, etc. I picked this one up because Gabby has been liking Halloween books lately. She liked it, but I think I enjoyed it more than she did. Counting books are getting just a little young for her. She did like looking at the pictures with me and making up stories about what the kids might be doing.
  3. God, I Need to Talk to You About Whining by Susan K. Leigh

    I gave this 3/5 stars. This is another book in the “God, I Need to Talk to You About…” series. It is supposed to teach your child about not whining to get what they want. However, almost immediately after reading this story, Gabby started whining for something (a glass of milk?), so clearly the lesson didn’t sink in.  😉
  4. The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

    I gave this one 5/5 stars. This was a really good read!

    It comes across more in the genre of a Tom Clancy/Vince Flynn thriller, which is unexpected from a Stephenie Meyer novel, but I think she pulls it off remarkably well. I’d love to see more books of this genre from her.

  5. Too Late by Colleen Hoover

    I gave this book 4/5 stars. This book was a little edgier, darker, and more explicit that Colleen Hoover’s other novels. I read it as an audiobook, and I have to admit that there were quite a few times where I had to decrease the volume of the radio as I was arriving at work, lest I scandalize coworkers and passers-by.

    I enjoyed the characters in this book, particularly Sloan and Asa. Asa is a very complicated character, but that made him especially interesting. Carter was interesting in a way, but he wasn’t on the same level as the other two characters. I would have liked to have known more about his back story or how he got into the situation we find him in.

    This book did have me on the edge of my seat several times and I was frequently wincing as characters did things that I knew were going to come back to cause them pain and suffering.

    It is more sex and explicit situations than I typically prefer to read, but it was enjoyable. I felt that the situations were believable.

    If I were to meet a character in real life, I’d probably pick Dalton. He was a good supporting character and I feel that he would be fun to hang out with and has good priorities in life. Asa would be interesting, but in real life, you don’t want to attract attention from someone like him – he’s just too dangerous.

  6. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves by Lucille Colandro

    I gave this story 3/5 stars. I was not as big of a fan of this story as Gabby is. She’s had me read it to her about 3 times in the past week or so. I think part of the draw is the “Halloween/Fall” theme to the story.

    The illustrations were done with short strokes, almost like pointillism. It was probably technically very difficult to draw. The bugs were super cute and I loved watching the animals’ reactions to this woman.

  7. Franco by Kim Holden

    I gave this one 4/5 stars. This book is the third in the Bright Side series. I really enjoyed the other two books, so I was excited to read this one.

    I liked Franco and Gemma. They were enjoyable people to hang around and listen to their story. I loved that both of them were bad ass in their own arenas and that Franco never assumed that Gemma’s career would take a back seat to his own. His humility and regard for her were refreshing.

    I found their struggles to be realistic and engaging.

    I really appreciated that this book was just a good read, and not the sob-fest that prior books had been. It didn’t have the same emotional rollercoaster, but it felt more like the gentle ending of the trilogy. The other books gripped your emotions by the throat, while this one just made you hold your breath from time to time.

  8. Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress by Tina Ferraro

    I rated this book 4/5 stars. This was a cute story and a book you can (and I did) read in one sitting.

    While the back of the book makes it seem as if there were 10 things that the protagonist did to the prom dress which resolved all of her issues, the 10 uses were really just in her imagination, for the most part.

    I liked the characters and felt they were pretty authentic. There were a couple scenarios that didn’t ring quite true, but I’ll let a lot slide for the sake of entertaining fiction.

  9. I Don’t Want to Eat Bugs by Rachel Branton

    This was a 4/5 star story. This was a cute little read about a girl who was hungry, but dinner wasn’t ready yet. I read this to Gabby from my Kindle account on my phone last night. She enjoyed it too.
  10. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandro

    I gave this one 3/5 stars. I wasn’t a fan of the book, “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves,” but since Gabby had me read it 3 times in one week, I figured there was something about it that she really liked, so I looked on Amazon for some similar stories that we could read together.

    I found out that there are a *lot* of these books! Since Gabby loves Halloween stories, I picked this one. Before we even started, she said, “I bet she eats a ghost!” She was also interested to see what the Old Lady would make, since in the Leaves story, she ends up sneezing out a scarecrow. In this one, what comes out is “Halloween,” which was a little too abstract for Gabby, but cute nonetheless.

    I would recommend this one, if you are new to the “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed…” series.

  11. Like Living Among Scorpions by Jennifer Fulwiler

    5/5 stars, as always! Apparently, this is my day for finishing books I’ve started a long time ago, and the day for reading Jen Fulwiler!

    Thank you, Jen, for taking Texas completely off the list of possible states to live. No thank you to living with scorpions. I suppose I’ll have to appreciate my black-ice laden Michigan winters just a little longer.

    It’s all fun and games and delightful internet stories until someone’s stung in the face in bed in the middle of the night. NOPE.

    Hang in there, Jen!

  12. One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler

    I gave this 5/5 stars, which is not at all surprising. Jen’s writing has drawn me in from back in the early blog days when she ran Et Tu? (Before it became Conversion Diary and then JenniferFulwiler.com.) She has a way of making the ordinary extraordinary and relating events with a lot of negative emotion in a way that shows great perspective and understanding. Her books always make me laugh out loud and shed some tears.

    She has a way of sharing stories that would make you look forward to reading her grocery list, while at the same time she will slip in some profound insights and wisdom that will deeply change the way you live your life.

    Needless to say, I recommend this book to everyone. Especially those who are in the middle of the storm of raising littles and worrying that they are not enough; you completely are. God has made us for community; never be afraid of leaning on your people.

  13. Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett

    I read the hardcover edition of this book, which I borrowed from the library. It is YA fiction, basically set in the present day, with the addition of some medical technology that we do not yet have in real life.

    Central to the book is the question, “What does it mean to move on?” I guess part of my answer to that question is the reason why, while I liked her, I couldn’t identify as much with the main character.

    This was an interesting story, but I wish the trauma that caused her to make her decision (sorry, I’m trying to be vague and non-spoilery) had been fleshed out and described in more detail. As it is written, it feels more superficial and poorly reasoned.

    Addie as a character does have a lot of growth as she discovers more about herself and her past, and I have a feeling that she will do just fine going forward.

    This book made me feel grateful for all of my past – both the good and the bad memories. They make me who I am today.

    Overall, I liked the story. I’m a little bit of a hard grader, so it only gets 3/5 stars, but for me, this is not a bad rating. I’m glad I read it. I may or may not re-read it. I would probably read a sequel, if one were ever written. It might be interesting to read a story about Zach or from Zach’s POV.

  14. A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy

    I gave this 4/5 stars. It was a good, quick read. I liked that the character had good personal growth throughout the course of the story and that there was a magical, super-happy ending, but a realistic one instead. I also liked the conflict that the main character had in her love life, as I feel too many girls find themselves in this situation as they first start navigating the relationship world.
  15. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    I gave this one 5/5 stars. This was truly a great read. From the beginning, the writing was fantastic and the characters vibrant and compelling.

    I picked up this book as one of my Book of the Month choices, but it took me a while to actually bring myself to start reading it. Perhaps because it was an adult contemporary novel, and I tend to find these a little less exciting than the bubble-gum YA that I usually prefer. But even 9 pages in, I knew that this was going to be a gripping story. And it did not disappoint. I read it in two marathon reading sessions and enjoyed every sleep-deprived minute.

    The story within the story basically takes over the plot of the book, and this is fine. It is an epic tale that teaches you in a subtle way some truths about human nature, both admirable and despicable.

    I didn’t expect this to be a favorite book, but I have a feeling that this story will stay with me for quite some time to come.

How I Rate Books, In General.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m too stingy with my star ratings. 3 is a hard category, because I feel some people will look at it and think that I did not like it. I’m trying to go with the Goodreads guidelines for some consistency in my grading. 3 means that I liked it. I may or may not read it again. I may or may not buy a physical copy if I got this via Kindle/Audiobooks/borrowed from a library.

4 means that I really liked the story and would recommend it to most people.

5 means that I want to live in this world, read everything there is about the characters, and buy the book in every version possible.

Going in the opposite direction, 2 means that I didn’t really like it. It was “meh” or boring or there was something wrong with it. I probably slogged through it and finished, but it’s not a book that I’d typically recommend. I’d probably give this book away rather than keep it (which is saying a lot, since I tend to hoard books).

I feel really bad about giving books a 1 rating. Most likely, I will also mark it as DNF (did not finish). I either hated it with a passion or just could not bring myself to make it through it.

However I feel about a certain book(s), I really try to keep an open mind about the author (for as long as I can, certain styles are just not my cup of tea and that’s okay as well). I always appreciate the effort that it takes to write a book and feel bad about a less-than-stellar review.