My Reads::2016(Jan-Jun)


Well.  Here are my top 15 books so far this year.  Ok…really this is just the total I’ve read since January.  Some I loved and hope that you read them if they fall into your “type” of book, some I didn’t love and can’t really even remember what it was about (thank goodness for goodreads).

So here’s the run-down.

Non-Fiction:

1. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker::I borrowed this from a friend, read the ‘thank-you notes’ sections and then it sat by my bed for quite a few months.  And then I finally finished it.  If you’ve heard of Jen Hatmaker, you’ve probably already read this book.  If you haven’t heard of her, look her up and start with this book (if only for the thank-you notes).  She makes me laugh and think.  And I love to do both.

2.  I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had by Tony Danza:: And the award goes to the longest book title ever!  But Tony Danza is kind of known for having lots of words.  I loved this book so much that I wanted to give it to all of my children’s teachers.  (But then I read something about people going in and ‘rescuing’ kids in low-income schools, but I think that’s another discussion for another time.)  I really did enjoy this story.  He taught an English class for a year as part of a reality show, the cameras quit half way through the year, and he finished out the year.  That’s the basic premise.  His big take away–teaching is no joke.

3.  Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs::This is the first book that I’ve read by Annie Downs.  I’ve been listening to her podcast and she is such a joyful person that I had to read this and I wasn’t disappointed.  And I could almost hear her voice while I was reading.  Also, I’m a sucker for a great book cover!  If you like the non-fiction/self-improvement type of books, you’ll love this one.

Memoir:

1. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson::I loved this story.  It is definitely one of my favorite reads so far this year.  Brown Girl Dreaming is written in free verse which may be off-putting if you first see it and haven’t read any books like this before.  But give it a chance–I do not love poetry (not a fan of the rhyming and allegory), but this type of poetry I kind of love.  Once you get into the story, it just flows and you feel as if you are reading a traditional style book. Woodson tells her own story of growing up in the 60s and 70s in the south and then New York City.  She writes of the difficulties of that time and of how she became a writer and she paints a wonderful picture with her beautiful words.  I just loved this entire book.

Fiction:

1.  Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham::I like John Grisham’s books.  But don’t ask me to remember what this one is specifically about.  I think I read this way back in January but unless they make it into a movie, I doubt I’ll ever remember what it is about.  And I’m sure if you like his books, you have already read it.

2.  The Martian by Andy Weir::The only criticism that I’ve heard about this book is that it is a little too science-y.  Luckily for me, I enjoy science!  This story–it was So good!  And even the ‘it was too much science people’ seem to like it. It was an adventure and it was funny and it was a page turner that I couldn’t put down.  And after telling my husband how much I loved the book, he went and rented the movie for us to watch.  And I fell asleep. #storyofmylife

3.  Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache Series::I have read the first three books in this series.  They are murder mysteries that all revolve around the small town of Three Pines in Canada.  There are at least 12 books in this series and I sort of feel bad for all of the people who die in this town!  But at the same time, the characters are so interesting and unique and the more I read the more I want to visit this place (even though people tend to die there).  The only critique that I have is the same I have for any book series–please please please! put the numbers on the spine of the book so I know which one I’m supposed to read next without relying on google!

4.  A Stolen Childhood by Casey Watson::My brother gave me this book for Christmas and so it has been a few months since I finished it.  And I don’t remember a bit of what it is about and so I looked it up on goodreads and it all came back to me.  It is based on a true story.  The author is a school counselor and she works with at-risk students.  The girl in the story lashes out at other students, has a habit of pulling her hair out so much that she has a bald spot, and is clearly needing help.  That all happens in the first chapter of the book.  It is an interesting story (not enough that I remembered it 6 months later, clearly) even if the content is hard to read at times.

5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer::Oh my word.  I know.  How dumb is this book?  It is a dystopian young adult novel (what book isn’t these day?) and the first time I heard about it I rolled my eyes and said–I’ll pass.  And then I heard about it again from another source.  And then a third source.  And everyone kept saying how they judged it harshly and ended up enjoying the story.  Fine.  So I read it.  And I liked it!  So now I will be reading the rest of the series.  Because of course it is a series.  Basically it is the Cinderella story but the twist is that Cinderella is a cyborg.  I know.  But.  If you like the dystopian genre at all, I recommend you read this one.

6.  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn::You either hate this book or you think it is a really great book (even though the content is horrid).  I heard online these two differing viewpoints, repeatedly.  And then I asked my real life friends and those that read it said it was awful.  And I’d hate it.  And the movie is horribly twisted.  And so where does my mind go?  Does it run away?  Nope.  Gotta find out for myself.  And–I’m not in the group that hated this book.  But it is a messed up messed up story.  If you need someone to root for to enjoy a story, this book is not for you.  I always try to find a redeeming quality in any story or person–not happening in these characters.

7.  The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson::This is a four book series and I’m in the middle of the fourth book and I can’t wait to see how it ends.  Each book in this series is better than the last.  Andrew Peterson has created another world that I’ve heard compared to the genius of Narnia, The Shire and Hogwarts.  I am not saying he is on par with any of those other authors but, I wouldn’t describe myself as someone who loves fantasy stories and yet, I’m loving loving loving these books.  I can’t wait to read them to my children.  If you have children who love fantasy stories and you want stories that have underlying Christian themes, these books are for you.

To Sum Up:: 

Need a non-fiction book?  Read Looking for Lovely.

Need a great series?  Read The Wingfeather Saga.

Need a summer page-turner?  Read The Martian.

Need an out of the box award winner?  Read Brown Girl Dreaming.

What have you read and loved lately?

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My Reads::May 2015

may 2015I’m a little behind, obviously, since June is almost over and I’m just getting around to the books I read in May.  I think it is normal for blogging to slow down in the summer but I promise that I’m still here!  I’m trying to enjoy what feels like a “last” in this season of life since when school starts up in the fall my baby will be going along with her brothers.  It is nice to just slow down, sleep in and not rush…isn’t that the definition of summer?

The books I read in May:

1. The Sound of My Voice by Jo Kadlecek::I bought this at a friend’s garage sale so that I’d have something to read in the car pick up line back when the boys were still in school.  It tells the story of a pastor’s daughter who moves to New York to be a writer/actor and the conflict that brings between her and her father.  It was an easy read and enjoyable.

2. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt::This was recommended to me by a librarian after I talked about how much I loved his other books (Wednesday Wars and Lizzie Bright).  I definitely enjoyed this one, but I still liked the other two that I’ve read better.  This book was a sequel of sorts to Wednesday Wars.  It was more of a spin-off story as it took a secondary character and expanded on his life.  If you’ve never read a book by Schmidt, you are missing out.  I’m an official fan of his writings.

3.  Night Road by Kristin Hannah::This book was our book club pick of the month.  It was an easy read and an interesting plot about twins in high school, a girl they both befriend, and then what happens to family after tragedy strikes.  The consensus of those at book club was that we were frustrated by the story and it was sad to see when people are unable to forgive and have no hope.  I usually enjoy Kristin Hannah’s books, although this one wasn’t my favorite.

4.  The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion::First things first…I feel as if I’m always misspelling this author’s name.  That is my only critique of this book.  I loved it.  It combined all of the aspects that I love–science, a love story, quirky characters.  The story is told from the perspective of a genetics professor who has decided to hunt for the perfect wife.  He has very scientific methods but when he meets Rosie she definitely skews his data.  She, obviously, isn’t the wife for him but she is looking for her biological father and that’s an experiment he can’t turn down.  What results is proof that dating is more about relationship and the heart than it is about data.  I loved this story.

So to sum up!

Least Favorite::The Sound of My Voice–but don’t turn it down if you’re looking for an easy read in Christian fiction.

Most Favorite::The Rosie Project–read it read it read it!!!

Any must-reads that you could recommend?

My Reads::April 2015

So April 2015.  It was kind of a full month.  My birthday month.  My daughter’s birthday month.  We spent a week in Michigan for a mini-vaca/attended my grandma’s memorial.  And so the books that I read?  They totaled two.  Two whopping books.  What happened?!  I will tell you……….

I got an iPhone for my birthday.  Major.  Time.  Suck.  That’s all.  That is the reason.

And I’m not sure May is going to be much better.  I am currently reading my third book and the month is almost over.  Although in all fairness, the book is 973 pages long.  So there’s that.

But back to April….here are the books that I read.  Again, all two of them.  In case you forgot.

april 2015Least Favorite:  I am the Messenger by Markus Szusak — He also wrote The Book Thief.  This book is Completely different but still enjoyable.  The story is centered around a guy who gets playing cards in the mail with addresses on them and he has to figure out how to “help” the people at these addresses.  A really intriguing story.  I liked it.  Had I read a third book, this probably would not have been my least favorite.

Most Favorite:  Little Bee by Chris Cleave — This was my book club book for this month.  It was told from the perspective of a young girl from Nigeria who is a refugee in Great Britain.  A really heart breaking story, but if you’ve known me for longer than 4 minutes, you’ll know that if the story has British characters, I’m probably going to like it.  And, of course, Little Bee is completely captivating.

That was easy! What did you read last month?

My Reads::March 2015

march 20153 great books, 3 ok books.  I love when I come across a book that I love and when that happens three times in one month.  Well, who could ask for more?

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple….this book has popped up all over the place and I finally got a chance to read it.  And it was not a disappointment.  If you like books written in journal/letter form, you’ll love this one.

Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall…the story was told by a young girl and reminded me a bit of Scout from that one famous book.  Great story and I really enjoyed it.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt…this is the 2nd book by this author that I’ve read and I gave them both 5 stars.  I’m not reading another book of his.  Sometimes you just find an author that you love.  And I think I have.

Summer Island by Kristin Hannah, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith…not bad stories, but just ok for me.

Most Favorite:  The Wednesday Wars (tough call, though!)

Least Favorite:  The Cuckoo’s Calling (sorry j.k. rowling!)

What did you read in March?  Any new favorite authors that you’d like to share?

 

My Reads::February 2015

feb 2015Last month was short even though it always feels like the longest month known to man in the history of ever.  However, I read a lot of good books so I survived.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom–saw the movie when I was younger but had never read the book.  It was wonderful.  Need some perspective on your life?  Feeling like you’re fighting to be grateful?  Read this book.

Atlantia by Ally Condie–read this for book club.  It is basically the story of Atlantis and The Little Mermaid.  It wasn’t a horrible story but it also wasn’t mind-blowing.  I felt ‘eh shoulder shrug’ about it when I finished.  How’s that for a rave review?

The False Prince, The Runaway King, The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen–a trilogy recommended to me by a couple of librarians.  And I loved it.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks–a story about a young woman during the 17th century in England and what happens to her small town when the plague hits.  This book has so many redeeming qualities….and then the end of the book came and I almost threw it across the room.  ugh.  I can’t stand bad endings.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr–this story follows a young blind girl who lives in nazi occupied Paris and a young boy who is a part of hitler youth.  I loved this book, too.

Least favorite:  Atlantia

Most favorite:  The Hiding Place

Did you read anything last month that you would recommend?

My Reads::January 2015

jan2015My reads from January:

Most Favorite:  Lizzie (followed closely by Emily and Attachments).

Least Favorite:  The Accident

1.  Emily of New Moon::My husband got me the Emily trilogy for Christmas.  Written by the same author who gave us Anne of Green Gables, this book was nothing less than I expected.  I can’t say if I like Emily or Anne more but I am looking forward to reading the next two books.

2.  Isla and the Happily Ever After::My favorite part of this book is Isla’s name.  The last in a trilogy and the first book, Anna and the French Kiss, was my favorite.  So there’s that.

3.  The Accident::A mystery/thriller with a twist at the end that I didn’t catch on to as quickly as I normally do.  A bit too long.  Not bad/not good…it was ok.

4.  Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy::Loved this story.  Based on true events.  Heartbreaking, real, historical fiction.  Read it.

5.  Attachments::A re-read for book club.  Laugh out loud funny.

I’m also going to start sharing some of my favorite blogs (thanks to Rachel for this great idea!).  I’ve been searching around for a new favorite blog since YHL stopped writing last year.  Still mourning that loss.  Not sure I have a favorite, but I do love blogs that post every day.

These three I check regularly.

The Sugar Box

Modern Mrs. Darcy

The Handmade Home

My Reads::December 2014

I read nine books in December making my grand total for 2014…drum roll please…..83 books.

11 non fiction

6 autobiography/memoir

28 adult fiction

29 young adult fiction

14 middle school age fiction

14 dystopian

10 re-reads

In December, 7 of the 9 books were young adult fiction–so clearly there is a pattern.  Maybe in 2015 I will continue the pattern or create a new one–only time will tell.

December 2014The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick  This is the first in a series of 7.  And I think all of them but the last book have been published.  Yes I will be reading them all.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli  I gave it 4 stars.  If Jerry Spinelli writes it, it will probably be a good book.

Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar  This novel was recommended to me by a friend.  The story is about Rahab and her life before the walls of Jericho fell and what happened to her afterwards.  I enjoyed this book, too.

Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins  These are books one and two of three in a series.  I’m on hold for book 3 at the library.  enough said.

My True Love Gave To Me: Twelve Holiday Stories by many authors, compiled by Stephanie Perkins   I think I must be a romantic.  I loved this book.

The Selection, The Elite, and The One by Kiera Cass  dystopian romance.  read all of these as quickly as I could get them from the library.  and also–I kept staring at the covers because I’d love to try on those dresses.

What have you been reading lately?  Did you have any reading goals for 2014 and did you meet them?  Any favorites from last year or last month?

Top Ten Books I Read in 2014

top ten tuesday mediumhosted by The Broke and the Bookish

I looked through my list on goodreads and compiled all of the books that I rated 4 or 5 stars (not including books that were re-reads).  Amazingly enough, when I was done I had a list of ten.  Perfect for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday.  So, without further ado, here is my list.

wonder10.  Wonder by R.J. Palacio:  A story about a boy who is the new kid at school…and oh, he has a facial deformity.  This quick read made me laugh and cry and think and I loved it.

unwind9.  Unwind by Neil Shusterman:  A dystopian story just different enough from the rest that made me give it 4 stars.  It is creepy, and scarily enough, close to the reality of our world.

a million little ways8.  A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman:  This book took me forever to finish but I’m so glad I did.  If you ever wonder if you are enough, you should read this book.  You were made by an over the top creative God and you can live out ‘art’ in a million little ways you never knew existed.

orphan train7.  Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline:  I had no idea that orphans were rounded up off of the streets of large cities and sent west by train to be placed in different families’ lives.  Many of these young children were seen as free help.  This book follows the story of a modern day girl who is ‘aging out’ of the foster care system and an elderly lady whose was one of the children sent west on an orphan train.

attachments6.  Attachments by Rainbow Rowell:  Friends who email each other at work.  And the guy whose job it is to make sure people are only emailing for work purposes….and then he falls in love with one of the girls.  This took me back to my college days where I emailed my friends constantly.  I just loved this book.  And pretty much any book by this author.  I think it is the hopeless romantic in me.

al capone5.  Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko:  Alcatraz Island.  A boy with an autistic older sister who he is fiercely protective of and also annoyed with at times.  He is dealing with changing schools and friends and just regular life and it made me laugh, cry and wonder.  I loved this book.

between shades of gray4.  Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys:  An unfortunate title for a marvelous story.  The story of a girl named Lina and how her family is torn apart and taken from her home in Lithuania to the coldest part of the earth (practically the north pole).  This story describes the horrors that occurred during the second world war to people who I never realized were affected.

the giver3.  The Giver by Lois Lowry:  Since the movie came out, everyone knows this story, right?  It is a dystopian book written before dystopian books became cool.  Don’t know why it took me to the year 2014 to read it.     

the nesting place2.  The Nesting Place by Myquillin Smith:  More than just a decorating book.  She gives you permission to make your house a home and truly Live where you are right now.  For goodness sake, make a nail hole and hang something on your wall.

sarah's key1.  Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay:  Another WWII story.  This book journeys between Paris 1942 and Paris 2002 and tells of the story of the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup.  A gripping tale of resilience.  I had never heard this part of Europe’s history and the author told it very well.

What was your favorite book from this year?

My Reads::November 2014

What happens when I do two craft shows back to back weekends and don’t start sewing my product until the week before? Well. I don’t get a lot of books read. And now I know.

november 2014Least Favorite: What Jamie Saw by Carolyn Coman–2 stars. I didn’t care for the topic. It seemed a little dark for a children’s book. It was well written and I know abuse is common and should be talked about, but I guess it just wasn’t something I really wanted to read.

Middle of the road: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay–3 stars (my most given rating). This was a book club read. I enjoyed it, but felt like the teenagers in the story were a lot cooler than I ever was.  Parts of their lives seemed so unrealistic, but I’m sure there are a lot of people like the characters in the story.

Most Favorite: Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko–4 stars. Another children’s book but I really enjoyed this one. An interesting look at a boy in the 1930’s who has an older sister who is autistic (although not diagnosed at that time). Heartbreaking at times and also uplifting at others. I highly recommend it.

My Reads: Sept/Oct 2014

sept 2014

 

Blogging every day in October gave me no time to do my September book review.  Not that you missed a lot.  I read a sparse three books that month.  I really enjoyed two of the three.  And poor Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted, was just a little repetitive for me after reading her book 7…which was so much better.

Most Favorite:  Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline–a great historical fiction wins almost every time with me.

Least Favorite:  Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker

OCTOBER:
I really enjoyed the books I read this past month.  I finally finished a million little ways and it did not disappoint.  If you have a creative soul or if you think you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, this book is for you.  I also have been watching Gilmore Girls non-stop since it came to Netflix and reading Lauren Graham’s novel was just icing on the cake.

oct 2014Most Favorite:

Fiction:  Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys–a gripping story of a Lithuanian girl and her family’s struggles of being deported during world war 2.  historical fiction for the win.

Non-Fiction:  A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman–the subtitle is ‘discovering the art you were made to live’.  An excerpt from goodreads–“She invites regular people to see the artistic potential in words, gestures, attitudes, and relationships. Readers will discover the art in a quiet word, a hot dinner, a made bed, a grace-filled glance, and a million other ways of showing God to the world through the simple human acts of listening, waiting, creating, and showing up. ”  Her chapter on what our critics look like was especially wow for me.

Least Favorite:  This was hard to choose since I liked them all.  But with a mere 3 stars our of 5 on my goodreads account, I’ll go with Austenland by Shannon Hale.  A bit fluffy but not a horrible book.

What books have you loved recently?  I’m in a bit of a book lull and would love some recommendations!