November reads and December book goals

I read eight books in November. Of those book, only two are books that I would bring up in conversation when discussing books with a friend. The cold weather had me diving into themes: holiday romance novels, young adult books, and off the grid survivalist books (not how to guides).

A Lake House Holiday by Megan Squires. Have you ever accidentally read a Christian romance novel? I have. This was a predictable romance set in a picturesque lake town. It was not awful. I give this book two out of five stars. 

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. Wow. This book is about a woman growing up in a survivalist Mormon home. Education is not respected. At 17 she gets herself into college and her life changes. This book is really good. Tara Westover is one tough cookie. Her parents are awful. I give this book four out of five stars.

Harris and Me by Gary Paulson. Maybe you are asking yourself “did she really read a book by the same guy that wrote Hatchet, the book I loved in elementary school?” The answer to that question is yes. This book for young adults is about post WWII farm life through the eyes of a foster boy. I really enjoyed this book because it was easy to picture my uncles doing the crazy things the boys in the book did. I give this book three out of five stars. 

Snowflakes & Mistletoe at Inglenook Inn by Helen J. Rolfe. This book was supposed to be a mindless read. It lost me when a character suggested that a girl in the book might not want Legos for a Christmas present because there comes a time in every girls life where she loves makeup. The kid in question was in elementary school. I would have thrown the book across the room had it not been on my Kindle. Let kids be kids. Also, there are plenty of people who don’t give a big fat monkey butt about makeup (my swearing has gotten weird since kids). I get that when you read a romance novel there will be sexist drivel, but that was so ridiculous I only finished the book out of spite. I give this book one out of five stars.  

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. This isn’t my genre. It was fine. It’s a thriller about a terrorist attack and a president trying to save the country. I give it three out of five stars. 

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. This novel is about a family that moves to Alaska to homestead in the 1970s. The father, a former POW in Vietnam, is not a nice man. This book is heartbreaking, but also a wonderful read. I give this book four out of five stars. 

Hindsight and All The Things I Can’t See in Front of Me by Justin Timberlake. This book is written for the broken attention spans of a smart phone addicted world. It is mostly pictures. This book has the depth of a People article, is the length of an Atlantic article, and tells you nothing. It is a great book to read if you have two hours to kill and you want to read an entire book. I give the book one out of five stars.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. This novel, about a 12-year-old girl in foster care, was more emotional than I expected from a young adult novel. My heart broke for Carley, the girl taken away from her mother after being beaten by her step-father. I liked reading about Carley building a relationship with her foster family. I give this book three out of five stars. 

In December I hope to read more books of substance. My to read pile continues to grow. I hope to get through these books this month: 

I reserve the right to stop reading Crazy Rich Asians before I finish it. Two readers I trust have said it is not well written. I’m going to give it a shot, only because I loved the movie so much. 

What did you read last month? Have you read anything I should add to my list? 

October Reads and November Book Goals

I spent a lot of October resisting social activities so I could spend more time reading. It was worth it. I finished 10 books in October, many of which were excellent.

Dying Up Loose Ends by Maggie Sefton. I started this knitting murder mystery series over 10 years ago. I’ve read all 16 books, and if she writes more I’m sure I’ll read them. That being said – good lord this is a TERRIBLE BOOK. It is not written well. At all. The only reason to read this book is because you have read 15 other books in the series and want to see if the writing will get even worse. I give this book 0 out of 5 stars.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann. This book had been on my to read list for a long time. I’m glad I finally took the time to read it because it is excellent. It is a true story of a series of murders of Osage Indians in Oklahoma. It reads like a novel…a very sad novel. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister. This is the sequel to the School of Essential Ingredients. Like the first book, each chapter tells the story of a different character. All of the characters are connected to the same restaurant.  I enjoyed the book, just not as much as I liked the first book. If you are in the mood for something light, this is not a bad choice. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

How to Break up With Your Phone by Catherine Price. This book changed my relationship with my phone. It also helped me become a better mom, friend, and wife. If you have a smart phone you should read this book. I cannot recommend this book, and the meaningful changes that come from following the program, enough. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne. This is a damn good book (Susan, you really need to read this one). This is the kind of book that makes you angry if you have to do something other than read it.  I read the last 300 pages in a day because I was leaving town the next day and I knew I would resent talking to my friends if I hadn’t finished it. This book is about a gay man growing up in post World War II Ireland. It follows him from the 1940s to today. It is incredibly beautiful in its sadness. I give this book 6 out of 5 stars. It’s my blog, I can break the rating system if I want.

Winter In Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand. This book doesn’t take much thinking, but it is fun. It’s about a woman who discovers after her husband’s death that their marriage wasn’t perfect. Most of the book takes place in St. John’s, so I spent a lot of the book daydreaming about going on a beach vacation. It is the first book in a trilogy, and I’ll be reading the next two books. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai. Malala is an incredible woman. That being said, maybe 15 year olds should limit their memoirs to about 150 pages. She has lived a lot, but not enough to make over 300 pages interesting. I probably would have been better off with the young readers version. I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

It Takes Two: Our Story by Jonathan and Drew Scott. This book was fine. I like the Scott brothers. I can’t believe I picked this up at the library. I am embarrassed to admit that I read it. I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks. This book had such an interesting premise – it is written from the perspective of an autistic child’s imaginary friend. It was a good story, about a child in a dangerous situation. The ending was so intense I couldn’t wind down to fall asleep for hours after finishing this one. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Christmas at the Little Knitting Box by Helen Rolfe. A Christmas romance book set in a knitting store. It is exactly what you would expect. I will probably be reading a lot of these as we head in to the Christmas season. I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

My book shelf for November is dense. In addition to what is pictured I’ll probably read a few Christmas novels on my kindle.20181102_1158184319474307920189573.jpg

What did you read last month? Is there anything I should add to my pile?

September Reads and October Book Goals

I read seven books in September. They ranged from horrible to excellent. I hope October doesn’t have as many stinkers in it.

The Summer Games by RS Grey. This book is not good. Don’t read it. I give it 0 out of 5 stars.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie. This book is about Family, country, culture, jihad, and loyalty. It was a fascinating read. I highly recommend checking this book out. If you read it, let me know what you think of the ending (I thought it was perfect). I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman. This book has all of the darkness of the other Backman novels I have read, without any of the light. It was depressing. Incredibly depressing. It felt like reading a bleak January day. I give this book 2 out of 5 stars.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry. This book was about as deep as you would expect it to be. After reading Home Fire and Beartown it was perfect. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, which I was not expecting. It was cute and did not require much thought. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Today Will be Different by Maris Semple. Maris Semple wrote Where’d You Go Bernadette. This book is interesting, but not nearly as good as Where’d You Go  Bernadette. It’s fine, but don’t bother. I don’t even remember enough to write a good description. I give it 2 out of 5 stars.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Wow. This was a good book. It’s about a screen legend and her five decade long career. It’s a novel that is written so well I found myself wanting to look up photos from the events that were described only to remember that it was fiction. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

PS From Paris by Marc Levy. This book could have been a fun, predictable read. It was not. It managed to be rather dull. I give it 2 out of 5 stars.

In October I have lofty reading goals. I have two new books coming from Book of the Month Club that will be added to the stack. My guess is Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend will also be in my to read stack next month.20181001_2128032161792347868377888.jpgWhat are you reading this month?

July Reads and August Book Goals

I read seven books last month. It was not a month full of books I think you should run out and get.

A Beautiful Work in Progress by Mirna Valerio. This book is by the woman behind the blog Fat Girl Running. I loved her blog. I did not love the book. It felt disjointed and awkward. I give it two stars out of five.

Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West. This book did the unthinkable: it had me rooting for a fictional high school basketball team. I loved every character in this book. I want there to be a TV show about this town, or several more books about the characters. I loved this one. I give it five out of five stars.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I had heard remarkable things about this book, so I was excited to pick it up. I was drawn into it and couldn’t put it down. I finished it in one day. That being said, I have no idea how I actually feel about this book. I can’t get my head around it. I give it three out of five stars.

Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven. Life advice from a Navy Seal. This book is full of good advice. None of it is rocket science. It would be a good gift for any graduate in your life. I give it three out of five stars.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan. Like Sing, Unburied, Sing, I had high hopes for this book from the author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. Perhaps my high hopes are what kept me from loving this novel about a robotics programmer turned bread baker. I thought the book was fine. It did get me thinking about making sourdough again, but other than that it left me uninspired. I give it two out of five stars.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M Draper. This is a Young Adult novel about a girl with severe Cerebral Palsy. I usually like reading YA novels, but I felt too old to be reading this one. I think I would have loved this book if I had read it in Jr. High. I give this one two out of five stars.

In The Footsteps of Sheep: Tales of a Journey Through Scotland, Walking, Spinning, and Knitting Socks by Debbie Zawinski. Well, thanks a lot, Debbie, now I want to walk and camp across Scotland meeting sheep and knitting.  I give this book four out of five stars.

This month I have a big stack of books to get through. Not pictured are the two books I ordered from Book of the Month Club this month.20180802_1244303648055488055510932.jpg

What are you reading this month? Do you have any good book suggestions?

June Reads and July Book Goals

In June I read nine books. All I wanted to do with my down time is read. I have so many books to recommend this month.

Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World by Christina Rickardsson. It isn’t often that I read a book where the sexual assault of a child is not the worst thing that happens to the protagonist. This book, about a girl growing up in the slums of Brazil until she moves to live with her adopted parents in Sweden, is incredibly depressing. I dreaded each chapter, because something awful was going to happen to her. It makes me wish I was doing something to help the children of Brazil. I would only read this one if you want to be horrified. I give this book two out of five stars.

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey. This book was surprisingly interesting. I do not agree with the decisions James Comey made, but I believe he thought he was making the best decision possible. I do not envy his position. I have much more respect for him after reading this book. I give this book five out of five stars.

So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta. True confession: I will read any book written by a Parks and Recreation cast member. This book was very funny. Reading it filled me with joy, and as I had just finished Comey’s book when I picked this up it was exactly what I needed. I give this book four out of five stars.

Everyone Is Beautiful by Katherine Center. I picked this book up because I enjoyed How to Walk Away (by the same author) so much last month. This book is predictable in a good way. It was a sweet. story about a marriage and personal growth.  It was like a cup of hot apple cider on a crisp fall day – comforting  after a rough day. I really enjoy how Katherine Center writes. I give this book three out of five stars.

Your Dad Stole My Rake by Tom Papa. I had high hopes from this book, a collection of humorous essays by a contributor to the show formally known as Prairie Home Companion. There were parts that were funny, but his attitude towards gender turned me off. I gave this book one out of five stars.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I have no idea how Celeste Ng creates a story so rich and believable you live both in the story and in your real life until you finish the book. She did it with Little Fires Everywhere and with this book. I will be picking up every book she writes. It is wonderful read about the death of a biracial student in the late 70s. Just trust me. I can’t describe it in a way that makes it sound excellent. I give this book five out of five stars.

Knitting Ephemera: A Compendium of Articles, Useful and Otherwise, or the Edification and Amusement of the Handknitter by Carol J. Sulcoski. This book was basically a bathroom book for knitters. If I ran a B&B for knitters it would be on the bedside table. It’s fine. Not worth picking up if your library doesn’t have a copy. I give it two out of five stars.

Calypso  by David Sedaris. This is the best book of Sedaris essays I have read yet. I like it more than Me Talk Pretty One Day, and I did not think that was possible. I like the older, heartfelt Sedaris. I give this book four out of five stars.

The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age by Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD. This book is fabulous. I would like the parent of every child my kids ever come into contact with to read this book and put its principles into action. I am pretty sure that isn’t going to happen, but it would be nice. I have several post it flags in the book for me to return to as issues arrive and as the kids get older and have more access to media. I will happily talk your ear off about this book, so shoot me a message if you would like more information. I give this book five out of five stars.

Here is my to read pile on my nightstand:

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I hope to make a major dent in this stack this month, as I feel like I’m posting the same books over and over. We’ll see if I get distracted by a library binge or I stick to this.

What are you reading this month?

 

May Reads and June Book Goals

In May I read seven books. I think I needed to make up for slacking in April. I am so excited to share these books with you, as there are some great ones in this list.

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud at a novel before, but I certainly did with this one. This book is about a close neighborhood in LA and the aftermath of one woman’s infidelity (and yet, somehow I guffawed at it). I loved this book, but I will not be sharing it with my mom because there is a lot of swearing in it. If you don’t mind salty language I would pick this one up. I give this book four out of five stars.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity. This book is about a 29-year-old woman, newly pregnant, married to a man that she adores who wakes up after falling at the gym. Only she’s not – she’s 39, a mother of 4, and going through a messy divorce. She has forgotten the past ten years.  I loved discovering along with her how much her relationships had changed. Time changes us all, and not necessarily in good ways. I give this book four out of five stars.

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. Oh my gosh there is so much more to Trevor Noah than being funny but not being Jon Stewart. He grew up under apartheid in South Africa and faced more challenges than anyone should. He had to be hidden – his mom was black and his dad was white, which was illegal. He sold pirated music. Oh, and his step-dad shot his mom in the head. I learned a lot from this book, both about South Africa and Trevor Noah. I found it incredibly enjoyable. I give this book four out of five stars.

Fire and Fury: Inside The Trump White House by Michael Wolff. I wish this book were a political satire. I’m glad I read it. I give it three out of five stars.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. After reading Fire & Fury this fit the bill – cute, fun, and light. This is about a woman who hates her co-worker. Or does she? It’s full of clichés. It’s predictable. It’s not deep. There are times when that is the kind of book you want, and in that genre it is perfect. I give it five out of five stars.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This reads like an epic poem about the experience of being black in America. I liked it, but it totally felt like homework to me. I give it three out of five stars.

How to Walk Away: A Novel by Katherine Center. This book, like The Hating Game, was a wonderful distraction after Between the World and Me. It is about a woman who gets engaged to her dream man and breaks her back in an airplane accident all in the same evening. Yet it is cute and fun. I can’t explain why, just trust me on this. I enjoyed this one enough to pick up another of her books at the library (I’m currently reading James Comey’s book, so I”m going to need a light novel after that). I give it four out of five stars.

This is the stack of books for me to read on my nightstand: 20180601_1232211529518086.jpg

I will probably be adding some more mindless reading to the pile. Easy novels are perfect to read a chapter of here and there while the kids play.

What are you reading? What should I add to my list?