Tag: readers and writers

What I Read in March (2019)

Books Read in March: 18

Books Read for the Year: 50/175

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Party of One:  Truth, Longing, and the Subtle Art of Singleness, by Joy Beth Smith (spiritual). This book is like talking to your best girlfriends about really deep, personal topics.

A Million Little Ways:  Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live, by Emily P. Freeman (nonfiction). I love this integration of faith and what art is…and how to live an art-fulled life.

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, by Lisa See (cultural). This is an-depth exploration of minority life in China…and also made me want more tea!

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens (TBR). I kept hearing about this book for months, and kept putting off reading it, and now I’m mad, because this was a wonderful book!

Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neal Hurston (classic). Why have I not read this before? Excellent read, and I loved the journey this book took me on.

For Review:

the quiet you carry

The Quiet You Carry, by Nikki Barthelmess. Victoria Parker lost her mother, and since then she’s tried to take care of her dad, like her mom asked. Until the night her dad locks her out of the house and calls the cops. Now she’s in foster care and won’t tell anyone what really happened that night. Until it becomes a choice between keeping her secrets and keeping her stepsister safe. A wonderful, but very difficult and emotional read.

manix pixie

The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project, by Lenore Appelhans. An ironic tale of Riley, a Manic Pixie Dream Boy and the rest of his trope, who fight to keep from being eliminated as they seek to sort out who they really are.

of fire and lions

Of Fire and Lions, by Mesu Andrews. A tale of the biblical Hebrew exile to Babylon, Daniel and the lions’ den, and the fiery furnace. A wonderful, engrossing book that I loved so much!

woman 99

Woman 99, by Greer Macallister. Charlotte’s sister was put in an asylum, and Charlotte decides to disguise herself as a patient and get her out. While inside, she learns things are not always what they seem. This was a wonderful historical with a touch of romance, and I really enjoyed it.

american princess

American Princess, by Stephanie Thornton. I knew next to nothing about the Roosevelts, but this novel was all about Teddy’s daughter, Alice, and her long life in politics. I enjoyed the read–and the history lesson.

beautiful bad

Beautiful Bad, by Annie Ward.  I didn’t really care for this tale of a marriage gone wrong. The main character is an unreliable narrator at best, and I lost sympathy for her only a few chapters in, so I’m not even sure why I finished reading this.

glory road

Glory Road, by Lauren K. Denton.  I loved this Southern fiction tale of Jessie, living back in her hometown, and the two men who enter her life one summer filled with change. And the cover is beautiful!

the things we cannot say

The Things We Cannot Say, by Kelly Rimmer.  This book was an incredible read! Part of it is set in the Holocaust, part of it in the present, and all of it is compelling.

in another life

In Another Life, by C.C. Hunter.  What would you do if you found out your whole life was a lie? Chloe was adopted at age 3, but had a happy childhood, until her parents divorced. Now she’s living in a small Texas town when she meets Cash, who is convinced she’s the abducted daughter of his foster parents.

the library of lost and found

The Library of Lost and Found, by Phaedra Patrick.  This quirky tale had me drawn in from the beginning. Small-town happening and family drama, along with a mystery, fill the pages.

between the lies

Between the Lies, by Michelle Adams. Chloe wakes up in the hospital with no memory of who she is, or the people who claim to be her family. From there, the mysteries only deepen. This one was just kind of “meh” for me. I didn’t really care for any of the characters, and Chloe’s father was horrible.

 

the cliff house

The Cliff House, by RaeAnne Thayne.  The story of two sisters, raised by their aunt, who are all afraid to admit the truth about themselves and their desires. I enjoyed this sweet read.

lovestruck

Lovestruck, by Kate Watson (review forthcoming). Kali is a cupid-in-training who is convinced everything is controlled by the Fates—so what’s the point of even trying? When she ends up sticking herself with one of her enchanted arrows, she finds herself falling for her target…and she’s in big trouble. This was a fun read!

 

 

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Sundays are for Writing #12

Confession time:  I think I only wrote about 600 words this week. Yep. Two 10-minute sessions and that’s it.

But…at least it’s writing. And I did do academic writing. Like…two decently long discussion board posts, and a 5-page paper that kind of made me want to bang my head on my desk. And three book reviews. So, at least there was writing.

Here’s to a better week.

Anyone else getting any writing done?

Book Review: Of Fire and Lions, by Mesu Andrews

of fire and lions
Image belongs to WaterBrook.

Title:  Of Fire and Lions
Author:  Mesu Andrews
Genre:  Christian fiction, historical
Rating:  5 out of 5

Abigail is just a girl when the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem—and the temple. Abigail is taken captive and finds herself serving four Hebrew boys destined to become powerful princes in Babylon, including the kind and caring Daniel. Abigail falls in love with Daniel, but the king’s machinations keep them apart, and soon Abigail finds herself lost in another city, with nowhere to turn.

Seventy years later, Daniel and Abigail have been married for years and have children and grandchildren when Daniel is once again called to serve the new king. Abigail’s family is full of anger and malice, but she’s kept secrets about her early years, secrets that might tear Daniel from her for good, and secrets that might have a chance of mending the rift in her family. But she will have to overcome her fear with faith if she’s ever to know true fulfillment.

Of Fire and Lions is a richly imagined tale that brings Biblical stories to life. Daniel and the lions’ dent. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace. The exile of the Hebrews. These things come to mesmerizing life on the page. And Abigail—Belili—and Daniel come to life as well:  their struggles, their trials, and their faith drawing the reader in. This is an exceptionally detailed and vivid re-telling of some familiar Bible tales, but with so much life added to the story.

Mesu Andrews writes biblical fiction. Of Fire and Lions is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of WaterBrook via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project, by Lenore Appelhans

manix pixie
Image belongs to Lerner Publishing Group.

Title:  The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project
Author:  Lenore Appelhans
Genre:  YA, fantasy
Rating:  4 out of 5

Riley is a Manic Pixie Dream Boy—the trope’s token boy—in trouble for speaking out in his last novel role. He’s sentenced to do therapy in TropeTown with other Manic Pixies who have behaved outside of their roles. Riley isn’t sure therapy is going to help him, until he meets Zelda, another Manic Pixie, and decides maybe it won’t be so bad.

But the Manic Pixies have been causing trouble, and now they might be terminated. All the Manic Pixies will have to work together to save their trope from destruction, and Riley will have to choose between a secure future, and the chance to seize his greatest dreams.

I saw a comment that Riley might be a character from The Fault in Our Stars—although that’s never stated, obviously—but I’ve never read that, so I can’t comment on any similarities (I’m sure it’s a wonderful book, but I don’t read anything I know ahead of time will make me cry). This novel is ironic and lighthearted. It’s an easy read, and there are a few moments of surprising depth—like the lesson about other, now-retired tropes being terminated because of their racist characteristics—but at heart, it’s just a fun read.

Lenore Appelhans’s new book is The Manic Pixie Dream Boy Improvement Project.

(Galley courtesy of Lerner Publishing Group via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

The Best Books I Read in February (2019)

I read 14 books in February, four less than in January. My top three picks for the month include one book for review, one for pleasure, and one nonfiction.

wow

Warrior of the Wild, by Tricia Levenseller.  I really enjoyed this book. It has a sort-of-Viking culture, and a heroine who was raised as a warrior. When she’s betrayed and fails her challenge, she’s banished to live in the deadly wilds until she kills the god her village pays tribute to every year. She’s a strong character, but she’s haunted by fear of failure and betrayal. I enjoyed this so much!

I’d Rather be Reading, by Anne Bogel. Anne writes the wonderful Modern Mrs. Darcy blog.  I love reading all her posts, although I haven’t ventured into the world of podcasts yet. And Book Club is amazing, too. A book about reading? I’m so there!

Cast in Oblivion, by Michelle Sagara. I really love this series, and have read all of them. And loved them. Kaylin is a great character:  flawed but so loyal and brave. Awesome world-building as well.

Book Review: Roam, by C.H. Armstrong

roam
Image belongs to Central Avenue Publishing.

Title:  Roam
Author:  C.H. Armstrong
Genre:  YA
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Abby is 17, new to town, and she and her family are living on the streets as a result of her mother’s bad decision. They had to leave Omaha behind because of the backlash—and the friends who abandoned them.

Now they’re ready to make a fresh start. Abby dreams of having a boyfriend, going to college, and a career in music, but the winter is bad, and they never know where their next meal is coming from. Her stepfather is having trouble finding a job. Her mother is similarly out of luck. Abby’s family needs help, but she’s afraid to tell her new friends the truth, after the devastation of losing all her friends at her old school.

Roam was a difficult book to read. The subject matter is heavy—and sad. I cannot imagine being homeless, much less homeless with two kids. Abby is a strong person, but guarded, after everything she’s been through. Sometimes, asking for help is the hardest thing to do.

C.H. Armstrong holds a B.A. in Journalism, and lives in Minnesota. Roam is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Central Avenue Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

 

The Best Books I Read in January (2019)

While I’ll continue to post my monthly reading re-caps—my goal is an ambitious 175 books this year—I thought it would be nice to also focus a bit on the three books I enjoyed the most in the previous month.

 

For January, that was:

white stag

White Stag, by Kara Barbieri.

This book had a very dark aesthetic, but I loved so much about it! Janneke was a character I connected with from the first page:  she’s scarred and ugly (in her eyes), she’s weak (compared to the goblins around her), she has no magic, and she longs to go back home (she thinks).  But she’s the strongest character in the book! I love her smart mouth, her sarcasm, and her kick-butt-and-take-names attitude.

Find out more about this author here.

Unmarriageable, by Soniah Kamal.

unmarriageable

Can I say again how much I loved this? I love reading about different cultures, and I love Pride and Prejudice, so this was a win-win read for me. I was fascinated by both the differences and the similarities between this and the original, and I love when a talented author re-does something I love…and does it justice!

Check out the author’s site here.

winter of the witch

And Winter of the Witch, by Katherine Arden.

This book. This book. I’ve loved this entire trilogy so much. It’s dark. It’s cold. And the legends and magic are riveting. The layers of history and culture entwine with fantasy to create this fascinating mixture that is almost impossible to put down.

Find out more about the author here—she’s led an interesting life.

What I Read in January (2019)

Books Read in January: 18

Books Read for the Year: 18/175

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

Perlambria, by C.S. Lewist (classic). Loved this. Can’t believe I didn’t know Lewis wrote a space trilogy.

My Plain Jane, Cynthia Hand (TBR). I loved the premise of this, but…the writers make a habit of inserting themselves into the story and speaking directly to the reader in a somewhat juvenile tone, and that detracted from the story a lot for me.

De-Cluttering at the Speed of Life, by Dana K. White (non-fiction). A few interesting tips here, but not totally life-changing. I like the container concept.

Where the Wind Leads, by Vinh Chung (cultural). An excellent read about a refugee family from Vietnam. A little odd to read about Fort Smith, a place I used to live close to.

Follow Me,  by Mary Jo Pierce (spiritual).

For Review:

an anonymous girl

An Anonymous Girl, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Jess lies to get into a psychology study—she needs the money—and thinks it will just be answering a few questions and collecting her money. But she finds herself drawn in, and soon she realizes Dr. Shields is using Jessica to test her estranged husband’s fidelity, and Jessica is caught in one of the doctor’s tangled, dark experiments. Yeah, I finished this book—but I didn’t care for any of the characters.

white stag

White Stag, by Kara Barbieri. Fantastic read! Loved the goblin society, and the concept of this story was riveting. This felt a little dark, but Janneke was a character I loved from the first page. Soran was compelling, the world was fantastic, and I can’t wait to keep reading this series!

the perfect liar

The Perfect Liar, by Thomas Christopher Green. Another book—in the same week, no less—where I didn’t like any of the characters, but continued reading. Susannah and Max have been married for a while, and he’s everything she thought she wanted and fits into her artsy world perfectly. Susannah ignores all the warning signs, until a note is left on their door,  I know what you did. Susannah’s anxiety/issues made me feel sorry for her, but, seriously? You can’t see hints something is wrong with this guy? And Max is a sociopath. Not a book I’d recommend.

unmarriageable

Unmarriageable, by Soniah Kamal. Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan. You had me at that. Alys Binat is a schoolteacher, and the second of five unmarried daughters. She wants to encourage girls to think for themselves, not follow cultural traditions like sheep. When she meets Valentine Darsee, she’s convinced he’s snobby, judgmental, and prideful, not to mention his dislike of her family. YOU SHOULD ALL READ THIS.

famous in a small town

Famous in a Small Town, by Emma Mills. Sophie is a small-town band geek who just wants the marching parade to go to the Rose Bowl parade. When August moves to town, he joins their group, as Sophie convinces them all to help her convince a local-turned-star help the band in their mission. A lovely read! The friendship in this book is fantastic!

breath of dust & dawn

Breath of Dust & Dawn, by L. Penelope. This is a novella that follows Song of Blood & Stone, and tells the story of one of Jack’s adventures in the past. I enjoyed it a lot. It gave a nice twist to the waiting for book two.

the inbetween days

The In-Between Days, by Eva Woods. Rosie Cook was hit by a bus. Or did she walk in front of it. No one knows, not the doctors, her sister, or even Rosie herself, who’s in a coma in an in-between state. She visits memories from her past, gaining more of her memory back as she struggles to awaken from her coma. This book. Wow. It was both sad and inspiring, and Rosie’s mental wakening while still in a coma to the type of person she was was powerful.

the falconer

The Falconer, by Dana Czapnik. This is a hard book to describe. Set in 1993 NYC. Lucy is a basketball star ignored by the boys and in love with her best friend. She’s surrounded by feminists and is struggling to sort out her identity. I loved Lucy’s growth in this novel, but her best friend is a total jerk.

 

*Updated because I forgot to include:  Roam, by C.H. Armstrong. A great read!

Castle on the Rise, by Kristy Cambron (review forthcoming). I enjoyed this story of the fight for Ireland’s freedom (in two of the timelines), and the current timeline that is based on the histories of the first two.

A Danger to herself and Others, by Alyssa B. Sheinmel (review forthcoming). This wasn’t what I expected at all, but it was a good read.

Just Because

Winter of the Witch, by Katherine Arden. The last of the Winternight trilogy, which makes me sad. These books. Phenomenal. Set in ancient Russia, and centering on Vasya, who is much too independent to be a good Russian woman. Magic in the winter. This book series is magic.

Puddin’, by Julie Murphy. Excellent follow-up to Dumplin’.

Stopped Reading

Restoration Heights, by Wil Medearis. I read half of this because the setting fascinated me, but I just couldn’t suspend my belief that an artist/art handler would be asked by an uber-wealthy stranger to investigate the disappearance of a neighbor’s fiance.

Book Review: The Inbetween Days, by Eva Woods

the inbetween days
Image belongs to Graydon House/Harlequin.

Title:   The Inbetween Days
Author:   Eva Woods
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:   4 out of 5

Rosie Cook wakes up in a hospital, having been hit by a bus, but no one knows she’s awake. Everyone thinks she’s in a coma, on the verge of death. Rosie can’t remember anything:  who she is, what her life is like, or how she got hit by a bus. She just knows she wants to live.

Then Rosie starts remembering things:  a fight with her sister, a walk on a beach, the day her brother was born. But why these memories? And what do they mean? Rosie has trouble facing what the memories reveal about who she was before she woke up, but if she doesn’t make sense of them and figure out who she really is and what she wants, she may never get the chance to try.

The Inbetween Days is touted as emotional and comic, but I wouldn’t really say it’s a comic novel. There are some funny moments, and every page is full of emotion, but it’s not a humorous book. Rosie wasn’t a very happy person—or a nice one—and her memories are not usually happy ones. However, the story follows Rosie’s change from a person she can’t stand, to one filled with hope and promise, and this is truly an excellent read, although Rosie’s sister, Daisy was the one I really related to.

Eva Woods is a writer and lecturer. The Inbetween Days is her newest novel.

(Galley provided by Graydon House/Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.)

What I Read in 2018

Yearly total:  192 out of a goal of 150 books.

January 2018. (15)

February 2018. (13)

March 2018. (13)

April 2018. (15)

May 2018. (16)

June 2018. (11)

July 2018. (17)

August 2018. (19)

September 2018. (14)

October 2018. (21)

November 2018. (22)

December 2018 (18).

Here’s a link to my Goodreads Challenge page.