Tag: what I’ve been reading lately

The Best Books I read in March (2019)

I read 18 books in March, bringing my total for the year to 50. Only 125 more to go to reach my Goodreads goal of 175! (Honestly…I’m “secretly” hoping to hit 200, but finishing grad school is taking up a lot of time, so it may not happen.)

The best books I read in March include a historical, biblical fiction, and one book I’m really mad I didn’t read when it first caught my eye months ago!

the things we cannot say

The Things We Cannot Say, by Kelly Rimmer.  I’m just going to say it:  this book made me ugly cry. This story is set in 2019—when Alice is overwhelmed with caring for her autistic son while her grandmother is dying—and 1942 Poland, where Alina gets engaged to Tomasz just before the war comes to Poland. This is a powerful, emotional story.

of fire and lions

Of Fire and Lions, by Mesu Andrews.  This is the tale of Daniel—as in Daniel and the lions’ den—and the Israelites’ 70 years in exile from the Promised Land. It’s also the tale of Belili, another of the Jewish captives and her life in Babylon. This book, while fiction, brought so much to life for me from the biblical stories, and I was absolutely captivated! I can’t wait to read more of Mesu Andrews’ books.

where the crawdads sing

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. This book…I heard about it for months before I finally read it—and I cannot believe I waited! Locals call Kya the “March Girl,” but she’s so much more than that. Abandoned as a child, she’s grown up alone in the North Carolina marsh, surrounded by the wildlife she loves. When town golden boy Chase Andrews is found dead, everyone says the Marsh Girl did it, but is sensitive Kya really capable of such violence—no matter what the town thinks? The ending to this book blew me away.

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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!

 

 

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.

What I Read in November (2018)

Books Read in November: 22

Books Read for the Year: 175/150

Topical Books/Monthly Goal Books:

pride

Pride, by Ibi Zoboi. (Cultural.) I’m not sure how I ended up reading two Pride and Prejudice retellings simultaneously, but…I really loved this book! I loved the diversity and seeing how this particular culture came to life. Zure was a little much at first, but I ended up loving her attitude and her pride in herself, her culture, and her family.

AHA, by Kyle Idleman. (Spiritual.) I love Idleman’s voice and his brutally honest and down-to-earth style.

Unequal Affections, by Lara S. Ormiston. (From the TBR.) I loved this re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. I thought it was very well done, and stayed true to the characters and world of the original.

Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne. (Classic.) How have I never read this before? An enjoyable adventure tale!

For Review

nightingale+cover

Nightingale, by Amy Lukavics. This is about a girl in the 1950s who doesn’t want to be a perfect housewife, but wants to write stories about alien abduction. She ends up in an asylum, where she realizes it’s no ordinary hospital. When I finish a book and think WHAT did I just read?, it’s not generally a good thing. This book was odd and just didn’t make sense.

love in catalina cove

Love in Catalina Cove, by Brenda Jackson. A solid read by a good author, about a woman who goes back to her hometown and finds her past is not what she thought at all.

embolden

Forbidden and also Embolden, by Syrie James and Ryan St. James. Two more “meh” reads. I love the idea of angels and Nephilim, but the main character is so selfish and ridiculous that it completely detracted from the interesting idea.

ministry of ordinary places

The Ministry of Ordinary Places, by Shannan Martin. I don’t usually find nonfiction riveting, but this I did. Highly recommended.

shadow of the fox

Shadow of the Fox, by Julie Kagawa. I love the Japanese culture and mythology, and the Iron Fey series was fantastic, so I was excited to read this. But I found this a little predictable, despite my liking for the naive main character.

the witch of willow hall

The Witch of Willow Hall, by Hester Fox . Family scandal, mystery, and secrets in this Gothic tale set in 1821. I enjoyed this a lot!

when the lights go out

When the Lights Go Out, by Mary Kubica. After her mother dies, Jessie Sloane finds out she has the name and social security number of a dead girl. As she tries to figure out what that means, her lack of sleep stretches into days and she starts seeing things that aren’t there—or are they? I enjoyed this quite a bit, and I’ve never wanted a character to get some sleep so much!

the lying woods

The Lying Woods, by Ashley Elston. After Owen’s father disappears with millions of dollars, destroying the lives of most of the people who live in their small town, he moves back home to try to help his mother—and figure out  if his dad really did take the money. What Owen finds is hatred, violence, and the truth about his father. This was a fantastic read!

burning fields

Burning Fields, by Alli Sinclair. When Rosie returns home during World War II, she finds some things never change, no matter how badly you want them to, but maybe with the help of the Italian man next door, she can find out the truth about her family. A solid, enjoyable read.

a marriage in 4 vseasons

A Marriage in Four Seasons, by Kathryn K. Abdul-Baki. This tale, which opens with a miscarriage, moves to an affair and a divorce, and through to a reconciliation, is a slow, emotional read that is at times painful to follow.

when elephants fly

When Elephants Fly, by Nancy Richardson Fischer. This book was such a good read! Teenager Lily is trying to live a stress-free life to hopefully avoid the genetic curse of schizophrenia. When she was seven, her mother tried to kill her, but Lily has hopes of avoiding her mom’s fate. When she ends up covering the story of a baby elephant abandoned by its mother, she finds herself way too emotionally involved.

little white lies

Little White Lies, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. It’s been a while since I read anything by this author, but I completely enjoyed this tale of Sawyer, from the wrong side of the track, who ends up living in high society for debutante season, as she tries to find out who her father is. The feel of this loosely reminded me of the Gallagher Girls series, except not as comic.

 

love a la mode

Love à la Mode, by Stephanie Kate StrohmA cute read about two teens who get into an elite cooking school in Paris. This book made me hungry!

Second Chance at Two Love Lane, by Kieran Kramer (review forthcoming). I found this kind of underwhelming. There was too-much glossing over of things, so it seemed o skip around, and several of the characters were caricatures and not fully fleshed-out. And one of the sub-plots was basically pointless, with its resolution summed-up and not resolved.

Just Because

Fury, by Rachel Vincent. I was excited to read the conclusion to the Menagerie trilogy. This is a fascinating world, and I love the characters. Great read. I finished it in one sitting, but I was not a fan of the ending.

Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. I had to stop myself from devouring the whole thing straight through. I want to be friends with Rachel!

Look Alive, Twenty-Five, by Janet Evanovich. I do love this series, but…this one was sadly lacking in humor, apart from Lula’s antics. I think this series is starting to get stale.