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2017 Winter Reading List Reviewed!

March 24, 2018
Winter Reading List Reviewed
 

It’s officially Spring! Since it’s Spring, I guess it’s time to finally review my 2017 Winter Reading List. I had been holding back for a while because I hadn’t quite finished, but now that Spring is officially here I think it’s time. Here is my 2017 Winter Reading List Reviewed

Knitlandia

Knitlandia by Clara Parks

Knitlandia was a lovely little travel read. I now officially want to go to Iceland. Clara Parks is an excellent storyteller,who makes you feel like you’re actually getting to know all of these (incredibly famous) knitters she writes about. More than that, Clara Parks instills such a love for knitting and yarn in every chapter. It’s obvious how passionate she is on the subject and how knowledgeable! If you’re a beginning knitter, this will definitely motivate you, and if you’re a knitting veteran it will inspire some new projects.

Murder for Christmas

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan

Murder for Christmas was just what it promised to be: a tidy little Christmas mystery. While it was a little slow at times, the characters were enjoyable and the mystery puzzling enough. It won’t change your life, but it will help you pass the time on a cold evening. 

Still Life

Still Life by Louise Penney

Speaking of changing your life; here’s a mystery that actually will! Still Life is the first novel in the prodigious Inspector Gamache series. Set in the tiny town of Three Pines, Still Life manages to be peaceful and soothing while tackling the very un-peaceful topic of murder. I am not exaggerating when I say that every character in this is delightful. Since reading this Still Life, I have read the next two in the series. I’d be further along by now if I the books were easier to get a hold of. They’re nowhere to be found at either the library or Half Price Books. Clearly people know what’s up!

Option B

Option B by Sheryl Sandburg

If you don’t cry within the first couple chapters of Option B, we need to have a talk. After the tragic and sudden loss of her husband, Sheryl Sandburg was forced to pick up the pieces of her life. She was motivated to process her grief not for her sake, but for the sake of her children.  Sheryl Sandburg dealt with incredible loss with so much grace. Along with this, she was totally honest about the moments that she didn’t handle with grace. I appreciated how Sheryl Sandburg recognized her own privilege even within her hardship. Option B is full of wisdom and full of love. I would recommend it for anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one.  

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See is the one book that I have no finished on my reading list. I had to wait forever to get a hold of this at the library. I’m still reading through it now. So far it seems somewhat slow. I don’t usually enjoy books that switch between different points of view, though Doerr does it well. What’s more confusing is that he switches back and forth between timelines for the same characters. Since it’s set in World War II, a jump of a few years makes a huge difference. I’m think it’s all going to converge soon, but it’s taking it’s sweet time right now.

Heartless

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Heartless is a fairy tale retelling in the same vein of Marissa Meyer’s other books. It’s not cyberpunk, but is set in the magical world of Wonderland, in the land of Hearts. Catherine finds herself rebuffing the romantic efforts of the bumbling king of Hearts, only to fall in love with his court jester. All she ever really wanted to do was become a baker, but no one seems to be listening. I enjoyed the way Marissa Meyers weaves in bits of the Alice in Wonderland story. The book is pretty dark compared to Meyer’s other works, but if you enjoyed the Lunar Chronicles, Heartless is worth a read. 

Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I can’t help it; I love A Christmas Carol with a passion that can only come from childhood tradition. Every time I read it I fall in love again. The message is so relevant, even today. If you’ve never read it, you really should. It’s so small, you can probably finish it in day. Around Christmas, I took to posting long quotes with illustrations on Facebook and I enjoyed it so much. My new favorite illustrator , P.J. Lynch, has a whole illustrated version of the book, which I will be buying to read to my children someday. 

Of Mess and Moxie

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

I decided to read Of Mess and Moxie via audio-book. The audio book version is read by Jen herself, which definitely makes a difference. It’s also fun because she reserves the right to go into off the script tangents, which I enjoyed. It’s also nice to hear the passion in her voice in certain sections. It definitely gives the words a weight they might not have simply reading them. I think Of Mess and Moxie is probably Jen Hatmaker’s strongest book. It seems to have a more universal focus than some of her previous books. I still think that Jen Hatmaker is strongest as a blogger, since she can get distracted easily, but there’s lots of good stuff in Of Mess and Moxie worth reading.

Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Out of all the books on my reading list, I think Station Eleven was my favorite. Station Eleven is a post apocalyptic novel that takes place after an outbreak of disease wipes out the majority of Earth’s population. The book focuses on several characters who are all linked by their knowledge of one actor who died before the outbreak even began. It was beautiful and interesting and I would read it about 5 more times. I highly recommend it.

 

So what should I read for Spring? I want to hear your recommendations! I’m still trying to adjust to my new job and new schedule, so I’ll probably keep it light. What’s been getting you through life lately?

Books Uncategorized

My MMD 2018 Reading Challenge Picks

February 1, 2018
MMD 2018 Reading List

As I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now, I am a sucker for reading lists. I enjoy putting together my seasonal reading lists and now, thanks to Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy, I am working on a year long reading list. Anne has curated a wonderful set of prompts for a twelve book 2018 Reading Challenge. Twelve books means I could read one for each month, but it’s already February and I haven’t touched  any of the books of my list! Don’t worry, I read fast!

I have chosen my books for all but two of my categories of my 2018 Reading Challenge. The two categories still to be determined are:

-A book nominated for an award in 2018 

-A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller

The first category is obvious, because not a lot of award nominations have gone on yet, so I can’t possible choose. The second category means I might actually have to talk to a librarian or indie bookseller, so I’m going to bench that for a while. I’m contemplating going down to The Wild Detectives in the Bishop Arts District for my recommendation, but I haven’t decided. 

For the rest of the categories, I have made my decisions and I am excited to share them. Of course, If you have other ideas for the categories, I’d love to hear them. Good recommendations are always appreciated.

Modern Mrs. Darcy 2018 Reading Challenge

A Classic You’ve Been Meaning to Read:

MMD 2018 Reading List - A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

The options for this category are fairly daunting, to say the least. I thought about reading Frankenstein, because I’ve never actually read it all the way through. I still might. However, I was was more excited by the idea of reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle. Somehow I missed reading this book as a child. I think perhaps it was labelled as some form of Not for Christian Children reading, but I’m really not sure. I just know that I’m late to the game. Even The Hubs has read this book before me(This is shocking.). It’s being made into a movie that will come out later this year, so I want to read it before I get to many preconceived ideas about it. I just got the email that my hold is in at the library for it, so maybe I’ll even start this one today!

A Book Recommended by Someone with Great Taste:

MMD 2018 Reading List - Little Files Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

This might be cheating, since the recommendation didn’t come personally. However, Shauna Niequist posted on Facebook about how much she appreciated Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng and I thought to myself…she has good taste. I’ve seen this book recommended by others as well. In fact, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy listed it as an honorable mention in her favorite books of 2017 blog post. She has pretty good taste too, so I think that I can use her and Shauna combined for this category. I have no reference point going into this book, but I’m excited to try it.

A Book in Translation:

MMD 2018 Reading List - A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I was confused by this category at first so I had to ask. Apparently, A Book in Translation means a book that has been translated from it’s original language. Thankfully, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman fell into this category. But honestly, I’m really reading this because Bobbi at Knit Night can’t stop singing it’s praises. She also falls into the Someone with Great Taste category, and she has recommended A Man Called Ove so warmly that I knew I’d have to read it at some point this year. 

A Book of Poetry, A Play, or an Essay Collection

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Am I late to the party here? All the sudden it seems like everyone knows who Rupi Kaur is and I don’t. I see her little books everywhere. They must be popular, because I feel like I’ve been on my library’s hold list for MONTHS waiting for this book. I could read it for free through their digital loans, but I don’t want to. Poetry books rely so much on structure and line spacing and sometimes Kindle books mess that up. Nope, I need to read this one in print, so maybe in July when it’s finally on hold for me I’ll let you know how it goes.

A Book You Can Read in A Day

MMD 2018 Reading List - We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Not to boast, but this is a very broad category for me. I’ve always been an extremely fast reader, even growing up. My father didn’t believe me. He thought I was skimming. He would make me read a page I’d never read before, time me, and quiz me about it’s contents. I won. So I just picked a shorter seeming book and put it in this slot. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart was recommended to my by two people on facebook, one of which was my old elementary school librarian/babysitter. Girlfriend doesn’t mess around, so I knew I could count on this book to be not only quick, but entertaining.

A Book That’s More than 500 Pages

MMD 2018 Reading List - East of Eden

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

This is also a bit of a classic. I’m getting real literary here. I’ve read Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck like just about every American high schooler, but I’ve never looked at his other works. I am, of course, aware of the Grapes of Wrath (I’ve seen Veggies Tales, I mean, come on). But I never would have chosen to read East of Eden without a recommendation. One of my very closest friends growing up recommended this to me. She was my literary buddy in high school, the person who could talk about Pride and Prejudice with me and also John Green books. So when she recommends a book, I listen. I’m suspecting Steinway will be depressing, but not like Hemingway depressing. I may save it for a summer read.

A Book By a Favorite Author

MMD 2018 Reading List - Turtles All the Way Down

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I mentioned him earlier, but I absolutely love John Green’s writing. His characters talk like real teens. His books are witty and funny and painful and deep. When The Hubs was trying to woo me, he read John Green books just to talk about them with me. I have had a copy of Turtles All the Way Down since Christmas, but I’m afraid to start it because I want to be in the right head space for it. I don’t want to be distracted and frazzled and read it in snippets. I want to go through it slowly and savor it. So I’m holding onto it for a little bit longer, and when the time is right, I’ll read it.

A Banned Book

MMD 2018 Reading List - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

I actually got this book through a paperback book exchange at a party. I was a little bit leery of it, because books about Native Americans have a tendency to go so terribly wrong. When I was in college, I spent a lot of time studying pre-American Revolution Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and talking to several Mohawk artists. One of the things I studied was how their history gets twisted for American storytelling purposes(the Indian Princess trope and things like that), so I try to be really sensitive about how they’re portrayed in film and literature. So until I found out that Sherman Alexie was Native American himself, I wasn’t sure I was going to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Now that I’ve done a little research on it, I’m more excited to give it a try.

A Memoir, Biography or Book of Creative Non-Fiction

MMD 2018 Reading List - Torn

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee

This is probably my biggest departure from my regular reading style on my 2018 reading challenge. I could have done the easy thing and put Hamilton’s biography into this section. Instead, we are going to tackle the Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee. I’ve seen Justin Lee through a couple post-evangelical bloggers I read. He is well spoken and able to navigate the complexities of both Christianity and Homosexuality. I have never ready anything of his, though. I suspect it will be difficult, but worth slogging through.

A Book By an Author of a Different Race, Ethnicity, or Religion than Your Own

MMD 2018 Reading List - Interpreter of Maladies

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

I love this category. This is what makes the reading challenge more of a challenge. It forces you to pick outside your comfort zone.  For this category, I chose Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. This was another Modern Mrs. Darcy recommendation. I thought it would be good to read a book by an Indian author as well (even though she was born in London and raised in the US). I have worked for the past 2 years with Indians and for Indian clients. I know some of their quirks but very little of their culture (though, much like American Indians, they are too geographically diverse to really sum up as one culture). I thought this book might help on that point, and besides, I’ve heard it’s excellent.

Are you doing any reading challenges this year? Think I should have picked something different for my categories? Let me know! I love adding new books to my want-to-read list!

 

 

Books Seasonal

3 Book Series to Get Lost in This Winter

January 11, 2018
3 Series to Read This Winter

I had mentioned that I went above and beyond my reading list for this past Fall and boy did I ever! I’m well into my winter list now (one more book to go!). The difference? I finally, finally got a library card! What’s even better is that my city is really generous with their online library resources as well. I have so many more options now that aren’t Kindle Monthly Deals! Not that those are bad, but the choices are intoxicating here. Here are some new series that I read recently that offer a good distraction on a dark winter evening.

-3 - Series to Read This Winter - Lunar Chronicles

The Lunar Chronicles

So the Lunar Chronicles series is a bit of old news.  Starting with Cinder, the Lunar Chronicles retells the stories of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White in a new, futuristic way. There is also a fifth book, Fairest, which focuses on the evil queen of the series, though I haven’t finished that one yet. I’ve had them sitting in my kindle library for a while, but only started reading them on a plane ride. They are definitely more of a young adult series, but I have never let that stop me. They deal with surprisingly grown up concepts like matters of diplomacy, racial tensions, plagues, etc… At some points, they were quite stressful to read, just because you were so invested in the characters with no foreseeable happy ending.

I enjoyed the way that Meyer took the source material and adapted it for her purposes. Fairy tale retelling can get pretty old if they’re not original, but felt like this series handled it well. The futuristic, cyberpunk sort of theme was interesting and engaging, and the stories blended into each other in a way that I thought was very clever. I also appreciated that each female character had a distinctly different personality. This book passes the bechdel test, no question! So if you were like me and looking for some diverting travel reading, this series is a great place to start.

3 Series to Read This Winter -Paper Magician

The Paper Magician Series

The Paper Magician series was a kindle deal in the young adult section last month. It takes place around the turn of the century as far as I can tell. In this series, young students train to be magicians, but can only exert their power over one man made medium. Ceony Twill’s dreamed of working with metal, but due to a shortage of paper magicians, she gets assigned to work with paper. At first, Ceony is disappointed by her somewhat ordinary medium, but she soon learns it’s surprising usefulness. 

You will want to do origami while reading this series, so you’ve been warned. It’s really best taken as a whole, rather than 3 separate books, though each book does progress in significant ways. It seems that a fourth book is scheduled for May of 2018, but everything seemed pretty wrapped up by then end of book 3, so we’ll see what that is about.  The only issue is that it involves to teacher/student sexual tension, and I’m not about all that. To be fair, Ceony is not underage at any point in this book. I just worry that this book could be seen as permission for a teenage student to crush on an older teacher, and please don’t draw that conclusion because it is the worst idea. Other than that annoying point, the who series is inventive and entertaining.

3 Series to Read This Winter -Lady Hardcastle

Lady Hardcastle Mysteries

I’m sure that by now my love of murder mysteries is clear. It’s not thrillers, but good, old fashioned who-dun-its that I like. If you’re the same way, I cannot recommend the Lady Hardcastle Mystery series enough! Lady Hardcastle is a lively widow with a knack for mischief. Florence Armstrong, Lady Hardcastle’s maid, is her protector, caretaker, and closest friend. The pair have a long history of working as spies to avenge the death of Lady Hardcastle’s husband. They have moved to a quiet house in the county in the hopes of leaving all of that behind, but they just can’t seem to give up their meddling ways.

The rapport between Armstrong and Lady Hardcastle is delightful. These books would translate wonderfully into a show or movie (preferable starring Kate Beckinsale)! They are far more familiar with each other than a proper lady and her maid should be, but that never stops them. Together, the pair solve mysteries in their little country town and end up finding a much more exciting life than they bargained for.  There’s a good bit of feminism, a lot of humor and of course, many mysteries solved. These books are good for people of all ages, and are excellent when you need a piece of fluff to read.