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 Goals

I hope you are enjoying the start to Labor Day weekend. Our weekend is packed with a party, a movie, football, shopping plans, and a cheese & wine get together. When we’re not busy I plan to be reading or knitting.

In August I read 7 books. Here’s what I read:

Me by Katherine Hepburn. This book was a wonderful read. It felt like I was hanging out with her over a cup of tea or glass of wine and she was sharing stories from her life. This is a book I’ll be recommending for years. It has earned a place in my top five books of all time list. I give this book five out of five stars.

How to be Champion by Sarah Millican. This book was a recommendation from someone on Instagram. Admittedly, it was an odd choice, as I had never heard Millican’s comedy before (I have watched it now, and it is very funny). Even having no idea who the heck this woman is I enjoyed the stories of her life, and her progression from office worker to comedy headliner. I give this book three out of five stars..

Ghosted by Rosie Walsh. This book is about a woman who spent the perfect week with a man and then he vanishes. I really enjoyed this book – it was a romance novel without being predictable. I give this book four out of five stars.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. This book is just what I’ve been wanting to read lately – a nice book. A sweet book. It wasn’t deep, but it was good. I do wish there was a companion cookbook, because the food they made sounded delicious. This was our book club selection this month, and when it’s my turn to pick next I will probably suggest we read the sequel. I give this book three out of five stars.

Not So Nice Guy by R.S. Grey. This is a mindless romance novel. I mean that as a compliment. There are days when I want to read but I don’t want to think. This isn’t a literary masterpiece, but it is a fun read. I give it two out of five stars.

Craeft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts by Alexander Langlands. I had high expectations going into this book. I love the idea of the connection between mind, heart, head, and hands when creating something. I love that there is meaning behind the creation of something. There were parts of the book that I really enjoyed, but in the end, I don’t care how you make quick lime. I don’t have interest in the creation of ponds. I think I would have liked the book more if it were illustrated, as I often didn’t have the ability to visualize what he was talking about. I give it two out of five stars.

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle. I have a confession. I cannot relate to characters who live in fiscally irresponsible manners. It’s why I hate the Shopoholic books. Spending recklessly and not living within your means gives me the heebie jeebies. I can’t relate to it. That, which is a very small part of this book, kept me from relating to the main character. I honestly think that is the only thing that kept me from loving this book. The book is about a woman who shows up at her birthday dinner to find the five people on her list of people living or dead she would share a dinner with. It is a very interesting premise, but fell flat with me. I give this book three out of five stars.

My stack of books for September is too ambitious. 20180901_095033419160309995429006.jpgI’m 80 pages into Beartown. I am enjoying it, but it’s pretty depressing. I loved the other Fredrik Backman books I’ve read, and they started out dark too. I have yet to read more than 25 pages in one sitting, which is much less than I normally read.

I’m having a hard time getting into books that require thought at the moment. I even skipped Book of the Month Club this month because nothing spoke to me. I think it’s this time of year. At least I hope it is, because when fall arrives I hope I’m back to reading good books.

What do you do when you’re in a reading slump?