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Books

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

2017 Winter Reading List

December 14, 2017
2017 Winter Reading List

As the Christmas season approaches, I am forced to let go of Fall and acknowledge Winter. I always have a hard time with this because Fall comes late to Texas, and the leaves are just starting to turn by the beginning of December. But with winter comes the winter reading list! I’m keeping my winter reading list a little lighter and more flexible to account for the business of the holiday season. That being said. I recently got my new library card and I’m drunk with power, so who knows where I’ll end up!

Knitlandia

Knitlandia by Clara Parks

Knitlandia has been buzzed about in knitting circles quite a bit. I suppose we all like to hear about the world through our unique lens. Knitlandia is a memior by Clara Parks that discusses her most memorable travels throughout the world, but from the viewpoint of a knitter. Knitting has so many regional differences, that I’m anticipating a lot of interesting stories. I’m hoping that this book will inspire me when I’m lagging on my knitting projects. It will certainly make a good discussion topic at knit nights.

Murder for Christmas

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan

Murder for Christmas is described as “perfect for fans of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.” Well, that sounds like me, and a Christmas themes murder mystery sounded like fun. Mordecai Tremaine arrives at a party at the home of Benedict Grame, but finds that not everything is good cheer. When party goers discover a dead body among the presents beneath the tree, the mystery begins and Mordecai must sort it out before anyone else suffers the same terrible fate. 

Still Life

Still Life by Louise Penney

Sarah Bessey often talks about her love for Louise Penney and her Inspector Gamache books, and frankly, I trust her judgement. Still Life appears to be the first in a long line of Inspector Gamache novels. I’m excited by the idea of adding a new series to my To Read list. This one focuses of the surprising yet rather mundane death of Jane Neal. On the surface, it seems like a hunting accident, but could it be more sinister? Inspector Gamache thinks so. The fact that this book is impossible to get at the library and never goes on sale indicates to me that it’s probably a winner. 

Option B

Option B by Sheryl Sandburg

Since reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandburg shortly after my college graduation, I have been a fan of her writing. Much of Lean In talked about making your partner an equal partner in household labor so that women could rise to their fullest potential in the workplace. When Sheryl’s husband died suddenly and tragically, I wondered how it would effect her message. Option B is her response. Option B deals with Sheryl’s grief, but also her decision to find joy again. I expect this book to be full of wisdom and hard truths, but also grace an encouragement. I’m excited to finally read it.

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See was recommend to me by my boss, who read it for a book club. She told me that it was excellent, so I’ve had my eye out for it ever since. It is a World War II novel that deals with a German boy and a blind French girl on opposite sides of a war that neither of them asked for. I have heard that it is incredibly well written, and so I have high expectations for it.

Heartless

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Since I liked the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, Heartless seemed like the next logical progession. It’s a fairy tale retelling as well, but this time deals with the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland rather than a traditional fairy tale. It goes back to before the Queen of Hearts was queen, when she was just a young woman hoping to find her own way, make her own decisions, and fall in love with a person of her choosing. Somewhere along the way, it seems that something goes wrong to give us the brutal Queen of Hearts that we know today.

Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol is a traditional Christmas read for me, so it’s natural that it would appear on my winter reading list. Growing up, my family would watch a version of A Christmas Carol every year on Christmas Eve. (The best version is the one with Patrick Stewart and I will fight you on this!) Now that we’re adults, we don’t always watch it on Christmas Eve, but we do always watch it sometime during the Christmas season. Now that I’m grown, I’ve taken to reading it as well. Most of the movies are pretty accurate, but I find that the literary Scrooge is a little more sympathetic and complex.

Of Mess and Moxie

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker

I do appreciate a good Jen Hatmaker book, and Of Mess and Moxie is her latest. I find that she is down to earth, but totally earnest and convicting. She doesn’t ask you to do anything that she hasn’t already challenged herself about. Sometimes she gets a little distracted with silly stories, but I love her humor and storytelling style, so I’ll put up with it. I may read this one via audiobook, just to see if I come away with a different conclusion (and also because the audiobook is available through my library).

Station Eleven

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven was featured in one of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s blog posts as a book that she loved rereading. I was intrigued, since I consider rereading to be the mark of a good book. Station Eleven takes place in after the collapse of modern civilization as a result of disease. It include a travelling symphony/Shakespeare troupe, some unique comic books and the life and impact of an aging actor. Just that combinations of factors seems interesting to me, so I’m excited to see what it’s all about.

That’s all that’s on my winter reading list so far! I am looking for recommendations as well. I finally got a goodreads account in hopes of getting tailored recommendations, but I value a personal recommendation much more. What’s the best thing you’ve read this year?