Adventures in Pregnancy – Journaling

When I found out I was pregnant, I felt pressured to keep a journal but it seemed a bit hokey to me. I found this journal online and thought it was a good solution. It has pages for each week of pregnancy so you can write down anything notable that’s happening. It also has sections for things you found out at appointments, keeping track of questions to ask your doctor, cute little sketches to illustrate funny things that happen, lists of cravings, etc. Very cute and not too hokey. I would definitely recommend it to pregnant friends!

40ish Weeks

 

2017 Reading Update

Reading Challenge 2017Wow. I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve done an update but I promise I have a good excuse. I had a baby (Arlo) in May and took a break from blogging for a while. Going into my goal for the year I took this into account and significantly reduced my reading goal down to 20 books (my lowest ever) and I’m glad I did. I’m still getting some reading in and have been supplementing with audiobooks, which I love, but it’s definitely been an adjustment trying to fit reading into my new life with an infant. In addition to just finding the time, I’ve found that my interests have shifted a little bit as well. So with that, here’s what I’ve been reading!

All Joy & No FunAll Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting by Jennifer Senior
Some friends lent this book to me and my husband so it came highly recommended. Honestly, I think my expectations were too high. I read this before my son was born and it’s really targeted more for parents of older kids, I think. It was mildly depressing. When you’re pregnant, you tend to focus on hopeful and happy things about becoming a parent and this book dwells on the fact that parenting is hard and sometimes not very fun. Which is true and obvious but I guess I thought the book might give some advice on managing this, but it was much more research-based and factual – definitely not a self-improvement/advice driven book. Learn more here.

 

Over the Plain HousesOver the Plain Houses by Julia Franks (Book Club Read)
Set during the dust bowl, this novel follows a husband and wife – going back and forth between points of view. The husband, Brodis, is a preacher of a church that I believe he helped found. He is very strict in his beliefs and has strong ideas about the roles of husband and wife. His wife, Irene, becomes taken with a USDA agent who comes to town, their friendship emboldens Irene which leads to troubles with her marriage. Let me just say, this book goes from super boring and depressing to bat-shit-crazy real quick. Irene’s change in temperament and behavior leads Brodis to believe she is practicing witchcraft and the story feels like it takes place during the Salem Witch Trials but is actually in the 1930’s. Lots of crazy stuff goes down. I would say it’s worth pushing through the boring parts to get to the crazy, or if you just want to skim the dialog you’ll get the gist and it will a lot faster for you! Learn more here. 

The Danish Way of ParentingThe Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandhal
I really loved this book, so far it has been the best parenting book that I’ve read. Denmark has often ranked #1 as the happiest nation in the world and it all starts with raising happy kids. The authors (one a Dane, the other married to one) explore ideas like encouraging free play, fostering confidence, nurturing empathy, emphasizing teamwork and celebrating togetherness (in a cozy way). All of these are things that I value and find joy in as a parent. I’ll definitely refer back to this book for advice as my husband and I raise Arlo. I also suggested to my husband that he read the book because it feels so essential to how I want to parent and I want to make sure we are on the same page. Learn more here. 

The Lake HouseThe Lake House by Kate Morton
Kate Morton is one of those authors that I will read anything by. So far, I haven’t been disappointed. Her stories are complex and entangled, which I always find interesting. This story follows a detective who happens upon an abandoned lake house and her personal investigation into what happened with a cold case associated with the family who owned it. The story is told from her perspective in the present day, as well as several characters from the family both past and present. It did keep me guessing until the end but was a little too “tied up with a pretty bow” in the end for my taste. Altogether though, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I listened to this on audio and the voice actor was great! Learn more here. 

 

I See YouI See You by Clare Mackintosh
This is your typical female protagonist mystery. Nothing majorly groundbreaking although I will say that I was initially very surprised by the direction it went in the end. However, there is a “twist” in the epilogue that brought it back to a more predictable place. That whole section was unnecessary – unless she’s planning to write a sequel and was trying to set up something for that. Learn more here. 

 

 

 

At Home in the WorldAt Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider
I’m a big fan of Tsh and her blog (The Art of Simple) and podcast (The Simple Show). Through reading and listening to her over the last year or so I’ve heard mention of her travel year with her family and was excited to read the details in this memoir. As parents of three kids under the age of 10, Tsh and her husband embarked on a nine-month adventure traveling the world with their family. Tsh describes the juxtaposition of her wanderlust and being a homebody which I could easily relate to. I love being home but I also want to see the world and experience different cultures. Not just that, since I didn’t have that growing up, I really want to expose my children to different cultures as they grow up. And since my family is not currently in a position to be able to do this kind of thing, I have to live vicariously through Tsh and her book. Well worth the read and very inspiring. Learn more here. 

The Sound of GravelThe Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner (Book Club Read)
My book club got on kind of a culty kick this year. I wouldn’t say that Over the Plain Houses was necessarily a cult book but it did have some strange religious overtones. This memoir is about Ruth’s upbringing in a fundamentalist sect of the Mormon church and is definitely cultish. My husband grew up in the LDS church and I attended many times before he left the church so I know quite a bit about it and I’m always sensitive to people thinking that these subsects are all “Mormon” so I thought this would be a really interesting read. It started a little slow for me but stick it out because the last couple chapters are insane and you have to remind yourself that this actually happened, it’s a true story. Completely mindboggling. Learn more here. 

 

Minimalist ParentingMinimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest
I don’t know if you’ve noticed a theme here but I have a pretty good idea of the kind of parenting styles I’m going for. I think minimalism (not in the sparse sense) is important for kids in regards to creativity, imagination, and simplicity. I don’t want a lot of “things” and I don’t want to be overwhelmed feeling obligated to do everything. I think the first part of this book addresses those topics very well. However, the implementation felt like just another book on being organized and I am already very acutely aware of how to be organized. So I didn’t find the advice particularly helpful in this book. If you’re looking for a self-improvement book with advice on organizing your day-to-day life, this would be a good option though. Learn more here. 

And that’s it for what I have completed since March. I have started a few books that I’m currently reading – Lord of Shadows, A Bridge Across the Ocean (audiobook) and Reading People. I also attempted reading The Girls (another culty book club read) but gave up. It was not my forte.

In all, I’ve read 12/20 books toward my goal this year. With the 3 I’m currently reading I’m in good shape to finish out the year on track! I’ll try to do another update before the end of the year and then a final update so I don’t have to fit all 8 (or more) books into one post!

 

 

Reading Challenge 2017!

Reading Challenge 2017I decided to significantly reduce my reading goal this year, mainly due to the fact that I’m expecting a baby at the beginning of June and I don’t yet know how much that will impact how many books I can fit in. I set my goal at 20 books which is about 15-20 books less than a typical year for me.
So far, I’ve made it through 4 books and am on track! I’ve started a few others but haven’t made much traction on a few of them as well.
Common Sense PregnancyCommon Sense Pregnancy: Navigating a Healthy Pregnancy and Birth for Mother and Baby by Jeanne Faulkner
I found this book at the library and liked that it was about common sense. I actually liked this book so much that I’m planning to buy a copy to keep at home. There are some really good post-birth tips that I’d like to have handy. Great read, true to its name with very practical advice. Learn more!

 

 

 

 

 
The Fringe HoursThe Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica Turner
This book has been on my list for a long time. As part of my resolution to spend less time on social media from my phone, I moved all of my social apps to a separate page on my phone and installed my kindle app to my home page. This made it super easy for me to get this read in all those times I would normally mindlessly check facebook. Incidentally, this tactic fell right in line with the themes of the book which is focused on using those underused pockets of time to make time for yourself. I liked this book a lot and am glad I finally got around to it! Learn more!

 

 

Carve the MarkCarve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Veronica Roth is the author of the Divergent series which I loved so I was excited to see that her new series launched with Carve the Mark. This book is more science fiction/fantasy based than the Divergent series and I loved it. The characters are well developed and the universe it’s set in is very engaging. If you’re a fan of young adult sci-fi/fantasy, go pick this up, you won’t regret it. Learn more!

 

 

 

 

All the Missing GirlsAll the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda (Book Club)
Our first book club read of the year! This was a great pick, we had been doing a lot of historical fiction lately so switching over to a mystery thriller was just what we needed. This book is told in reverse, day-by-day, leading up to a big reveal. Ten years earlier, the main character, Nic, leaves town after one of her closest friends mysteriously disappears. Now, back in town to help clean out her family home so it can be sold now that her father is in a nursing home, another girl goes missing. Each day the reader finds out more about how the two cases may be connected. I will say that I didn’t find the reveal to be that surprising, although some of my other book clubbers were very surprised! I also don’t think I liked the ending much but overall it was a quick and fun read. Learn more!

 

Goal Standing: 4/24

Reading Challenge: 2016 Final Standing

The last two months of my 2016 reading challenge left me with 8 more books to read, and I almost made it! I finished with 34 out of 36 books. Not too bad, but still sad that I didn’t quite eek out the last two.

The Orphan TrainOrphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (Book Club)
This is the story follows two storylines, one of a young Irish Immigrant who loses her family and is forced into foster care in the 1920’s and takes the Orphan Train from New York to Minnesota to be selected by foster parents; the other, set in present time about a girl who is about to age out of the welfare system who helps an elderly woman clean out her home as community service to stay out of juvie. We read this for book club, it was a very interesting story and I’m a sucker for those split timeline books. Definitely, recommend for those interested in historical fiction.  Learn more!
The TrespasserThe Trespasser by Tana French
I’m a big fan of Tana French and have read most of these Dublin Murder Squad books, this is the latest in the series and was not my favorite. It was a little slow for me and honestly, I just really didn’t like the main character. I thought she was whiney and it got old. It won’t deter me from reading upcoming Dublin Murder Squad books, I was just a little disappointed with this one. Learn more!
Full BellyFull Belly: Good Eats for a Healthy Pregnancy by Tara Mataraza Desmond
This book was recommended by a friend, it has lots of healthy recipes that would be great to eat during pregnancy. However, most of these recipes require a lot of ingredients that most people don’t stock, you’d really only have to go up and stock up on these things but these recipes take some planning. The other problem is that they are relatively involved. I was so exhausted during this time in my pregnancy, there was no way I was going to make time for this. I think it just depends on how you’re feeling and how much effort you want to put into good meals. I love cooking and making meal plans but it wasn’t something I had energy for at the start of my pregnancy. Good news is, these recipes are just as delicious and healthy when you’re not pregnant so it’s a good resource for the future. Learn more!
Belly LaughsBelly Laughs: The Naked Truth About Pregnancy and Childbirth by Jenny McCarthy
I actually read this book a while back and thought it was hilarious, so I figured reading it as a pregnant person would be more relevant and a good laugh. I actually found it kind of annoying. Nothing that crazy really happened, most of the things Jenny wrote about were pretty typical pregnancy issues, albeit she describes them in much funnier ways than most people can relay. I found myself annoyed by her constant whining. Learn more!

 

 

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
This illustrated edition came out in the fall and I always save them to read at Christmas time. As you know, I’m a Harry Potter nerd and I love the illustrated edition even more than the original books!  Learn more!

 

 

 

 

Small Great ThingsSmall Great Things by Jodi Picoult
In this story, a black nurse, Ruth, is asked not to treat the baby of white supremacist parents, when things take a tragic turn Ruth finds herself in the midst of an ugly legal battle. Picoult addresses both the overt and subtleties of racism through the voice of three characters, Ruth, Tuck (the father of the baby), and Kennedy (Ruth’s public defender). I really enjoyed this book and it definitely makes you think about the small ways that racism seems into our lives. The only thing that I didn’t really like was that Ruth was written in a way that made me think she was much older than she was. She’s only in her 40s in the book but she comes across twenty years older, that might have been the audio book voice actress, though. Learn more!

And that’s a wrap on 2016!

Reading Challenge – Summer & Fall Recap

2016 Reading Challenge 1

I’m very behind on blogging about my 2016 reading challenge so today is the day to catch up! I purposefully decided not to recap each month in the summer and to do an end of summer recap but that really should have happened back in September. C’est la vie.

As part of my summer reading, I put together a Summer Reading List and I was able to read three out of the six books on that list. Unfortunately, I found that the other three were not available at my library or through Audible so I ended up reading others instead.

the-nightingale-kristin-hannahThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (Book Club)

This fast became one of my new favorites. I listened to this on audio, which I would highly recommend. The audio version gives you the appropriate accents and pronunciation for the French which is more impactful than stumbling over foreign words. With two and a half hours left in the audiobook, I couldn’t put it down and just sat on my couch and wept as the story concluded. It’s really wonderful, go to audible and download it now… Learn more about The Nightingale.

 

 

A Homemade LifeA Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen by Molly Wizenberg (Summer Reading) (Book Club)

Not exactly what I was expecting but I liked it none-the-less. I was expecting something a little more akin to Julie and Julia (i.e. memoir, blog style with a narrative). This book is a collection of essays each with a recipe or two (or three) at the end. Everything sounded amazing and I want to cook every recipe in the book! Perfect for reading around the holidays and trying new recipes. I think I would read this slower, maybe one chapter per week and then try cooking the recipe rather than reading it the way I did. I was desperately trying to finish it before my book club meeting… Learn more about A Homemade Life.

The Here and NowThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares (Summer Reading)

I really wanted to love this because I love Ann Brashares, but it was not my favorite of hers. Really great concept but I think it was not as developed as I’d like or maybe it was purposefully undeveloped for the younger audience? This is a story about time travel, billed as an unforgettable epic romantic thriller, but in all honesty, I can barely remember the details… Learn more about The Here and Now.

 

 

The BooksellerThe Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson (Summer Reading)

Really interesting, “Sliding Doors” type of story with two concurrent realities for the heroine. Not incredibly surprising in the end but still solid and I liked the characters a lot. It was the premise that sparked my interest and it was a little bit mysterious. Easy listening/reading for sure… Learn more about The Bookseller.

 

 

 

lair-of-dreamsLair of Dreams by Libba Bray

I’m a big Libba Bray fan and am loving this new series about Diviners. This book did not disappoint. I actually bought it for my kindle when it came out earlier this year and hadn’t picked it up yet (probably because it was on my Kindle so felt less urgent than a physical book). Then, I saw that it was on Audible and I snatched it up. I’ll definitely be listening to the next book on audio as well. I love these characters and their voices with their 1920’s slang. If you’re a fan of young adult fiction and fantasy, you will really love this. I can’t wait until the next book in this four book (yes, FOUR books) series comes out. Whenever that may be… Learn more about Lair of Dreams.

pretty-girls-karin-slaughterPretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

This book is so disturbing and twisted. And then just very long. I really enjoyed it but I was ready for it to be over. You know from early on who the “bad guy” is and it is definitely a thriller, rather than mystery which is fine but it got a little long for having no real mystery to solve. All kinds of messed up, though, if you like that kind of thing… Learn more about Pretty Girls.

 

 

Finished Series:

lunar-chronicles-3-5

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Fairest by Marissa Meyer

Winter by Marissa Meyer

I’m just going to talk about these all as one. This was a great series. I can’t believe I waited so long to read it (although it is always handy when the full series is out and I don’t have to wait for new books). There are a lot of characters here and somehow, it’s easy to love and understand them all. It did take me a little longer to read Winter. It was slower for me, maybe because there is so much and it’s so long. Do people ship these characters? I might be way out of the loop but I’m team #Thress (Thorne & Cress) all the way. Side note: Read this series in order of publication Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, and Winter. Even though Fairest is a prequel and doesn’t follow the progression of the overarching storyline, it’s still best to read it before Winter. Just my two cents.

You’ll probably note that a lot of my “read” this summer and early fall were really “listens”. I did a lot of audio book listening because I was moving and didn’t have a lot of time to sit and read. I wish I was a little farther because, with less than three months until the end of the year, I still have 9 books to read. But I’m on track to meet my 2016 goal and I’ll just be reading away until the end of the year. Look for a final recap of my 2016 reading challenge after the New Year!

GOAL STANDING:

27/36 books (75% and on track)

My Summer Reading List

There are a great many summer reading lists published but I decided to take a look at my ever-growing to-read list and pick a few that I want to commit to reading this summer. I’ve already started two books for June (Cress and The Nightingale) and will likely finish out the Lunar Chronicles series with Fairest and Winter (so that’s 4 right there) but here are 6 more that I hope to read in June, July and August. This list is fiction heavy with a couple of feel good non-fiction memoir, self improvement type of books. I’ve been really in to fiction this year and just want to enjoy my reading this summer!

The Fringe HoursThe Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner

About making time for yourself by balancing responsibilities and addressing barriers.

I’ve heard Jessica on a few of my favorite podcasts and have been meaning to read this book for ages. I’ve got it purchased and downloaded to my Kindle so I can’t wait to dive in!

Learn more here!

 

 

Island of the Lost GirlsIsland of the Lost Girls by Jennifer McMahon

I love a good mystery/thriller and the description of this book hooked me from line one.

Main character Rhonda witnesses a bizarre kidnapping. A young girl is abducted near a gas station by a person in a bunny costume. Feeling guilty about doing nothing to stop it, Rhonda volunteers to help with the search and discovers the truth about her best friend who has been missing for years.

Learn more here!

The BooksellerThe Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

A few months ago I did some searching for books about booksellers, librarians, book lovers, etc. I mean, I love books so it follows that I would like to read books about people who love books. This book not only looks to cover that basis but also involves and alternate dream reality. Seems like a good summer read to me.

Learn more here! 

 

 

A Homemade LifeA Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg

A memoir full of stories centering on the kitchen and the recipes that at the center of those stories. Read the description on Goodreads at the link below, it will make you want to read this book! I might recommend this for my book club!

Learn more here!

 

 

The Here and NowThe Here and Now by Ann Brashares

First of all, I love Ann Brashares and actually didn’t know this book existed. I have read all her other books and can’t even believe I let this one slip past me.

This is the “unforgettable romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world”. I love that description. I love Ann’s ability to evoke emotion, she always makes me love her characters while simultaneously ripping out my heart (if you haven’t read Th Last Summer go get it now). I can’t wait to see what this story brings!

Learn more here!

 

There are a couple others on the bench for me, if I get through these I’ll probably pick them up but for now, this should keep me busy and thoroughly entertained in the coming months!

Happy reading!

Reading Challenge: May 2016

2016 Reading Challenge 1I’m a little late in posting my reads from May but I got in a few really good ones! I also recently subscribed to Audible and 2 of the 3 books read in May were on audio, both of which were very well done! I really like listening to historical fiction this way, particularly when accents and foreign languages come in to play. It could be argued that all of the books in May are historical fiction, even though one is children’s literature. Here are the books I read in May:

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

I have read a couple of Kate Morton’s books before, I started with The Forgotten Garden which I really liked and in listening to the podcast What Should I Read Next, heard the host recommend this as one of her favorites by Kate Morton so I decided to give it a try. It was really good! The story is multi-generational and is told from the perspectives of a few different characters. As a child, Laurel witnesses her mother murder a man who intruded on their property. It was deemed self defense but years later Laurel recalls that the man had known her mother by name. She delves in to an investigation as to who this man was and how he was connected to her mother. The mystery is unveiled to the reader both by Laurel’s research and by the narrative of her mother’s past during the London Blitz during WWII. I’ll admit that I suspected partly what ended up happening but was surprised by how they got there so the twist was good. I would definitely recommend! … Learn more here.

Emily’s Runaway imagination by Beverly Cleary

Recently Beverly Clearly turned 100 years old and it got me remembering how I fell in love with reading when I read Ramona Quimby, Age 8. While at the library I decided I would look for another Ramona book Ramona The Brave. Unfortunately, the library didn’t have that one but they did have Emily’s Runaway Imagination which I had never heard of but was intrigued by the title. This was a very sweet book about Emily, a young girl living in a small town in Oregon called Pitchfork sometime around the 1920’s when automobiles were first becoming popular and how her imagination tends to runaway with her. Very cute, although slightly racist toward her Chinese neighbor. This book was written in 1961 around the same time that Mickey Rooney was getting praise for his portrayal of a Chinese character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, so I guess that explains that. Not as wonderful as Ramona but solid Beverly Clearly material! … Learn more here.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen grissom

This is another one that I heard about through What Should I Read Next and I’m so glad that I found it! I really enjoy historical fiction but find myself mostly drawn to the WWII time period so I wanted to try something different! This is the story of an Irish indentured servant (Lavinia) and the lives of all the people connected with the plantation that she lives on. Starting in the 1790’s and going through the first part of the 1800’s, it tells the story of Lavinia’s upbringing with the slaves who become her family and what she has to do to secure a future for herself. Told through both Lavinia’s perspective and the Captain’s illegitimate daughter’s (Belle). I don’t know how to do it justice but trust me it’s a good book, one that had me crying in the car while I listened!  … Learn more  here!

Because 2 of my books were on audio this month, I felt like I didn’t read as much. I also started a couple of others that I decided I didn’t’ enjoy enough to finish so that took up some of my physical book reading time. I’m working on my own summer reading list for June, July and August and will post a blog with my selections soon in case you want to read along with me!

GOAL STANDING:

18/36 books (50% and 3 books ahead of schedule)

  1. Read a book published this year (CHECK – Lady Midnight)
  2. Read a book you can finish in a day (CHECK – If I Stay)
  3. Read a book you’ve been meaning to read (CHECK – Cinder)
  4. Read a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller
  5. Read a book you should have read in school
  6. Read a book chosen for you by your spouse, sibling, or BFF (CHECK – Troublemaker)
  7. Read a book published before you were born (CHECK – Emily’s Runaway Imagination)
  8. Read a book that was banned at some point
  9. Read a book you previously abandoned
  10. Read a book you own but have never read
  11. Read a book that intimidates you
  12. Read a book you’ve already read at least once (CHECK – Clockwork Princess)

Reading Challenge: April 2016

2016 Reading Challenge 1This month I lived in the Shadow world with just a couple exceptions. Here are the books I read in April:

The Wicked Will RiseThe wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige

I really enjoyed the concept of Dorothy Must Die (the first book in this series) so I thought I’d continue reading. While I will probably finish the series when the next book is released I have to say I didn’t enjoy this one as much. In particular the writing was not very impressive. Not much happens, and she spends a lot of time describing the setting and in particular the wardrobe choices of the wingless monkeys. Not super impressed but the concept is still fun and unique. Definitely an easy ready if you’re looking for something light! … Learn more here.

Lady MidnightLady midnight by cassandra clare

Okay so I freaked out a little bit when I saw that this book had released! I’ve been looking forward to this new Shadowhunter series since The Mortal Instruments concluded and the characters of Emma and Jules were first introduced. That being said, I paid no attention to when the release was so I was surprised and super excited when I spotted this at my bookstore! It totally lived up to my own personal hype as well. I love the universe that Cassandra Clare created with the Shadowhunters and downworld, this first novel in The Dark Artifices series sets the stage for what Clare does best, a love story that is filled with heartache that seems impossible. There are A LOT of characters in this one as well as appearances and mentions of our favorites from the previous series (in particular I love mentions of Tessa, and there is a lot of Clary and Jace in there too). Can’t wait until next spring when the next book is released!  … Learn more here.

A Visit From the Goon SquadA visit from the goon squad by Jennifer Egan

This was a book club book for me and I have to say after finishing Lady Midnight I was still kind of wrapped up in the Shadow world so this was hard for me to dig in to but what’s great about it is that it is a novel composed of short stories so I could read a few, put it down and still live in the Shadow world by rereading Clockwork Princess (below). I actually really enjoyed this. The concept is that each story takes a connecting character from the previous story and tells a new one from their point of view. There are connecting pieces but no overarching narrative which was really cool. I would definitely recommend this book!  … Learn more  here!

Clockwork PrincessClockwork Princess by Cassandra clare

And back to the Shadow world. Like I said, after Lady Midnight I was wrapped up in this universe and wasn’t quite ready to let go so I went back to re-read Clockwork Princess which is the final book of the Internal Devices series revolving around Tessa Gray, Jem Carstairs and Will Herondale. The Infernal Devices is (so far) my favorite series of Cassandra Clare’s, I love Tessa and the love triangle is so perfect and resolves so nicely that I love coming back to this book over and over. If you haven’t read any of Cassandra Clare’s books I recommend them! I would read them in the order of their release but you could easily start with The Infernal Devices and pick it up with The Mortal Instruments next. The Mortal Instruments is a long series but you have to finish it to move on to The Dark Artifices (Lady Midnight).  … Learn more  here!

Lucky for me, I’ve maintained a good momentum with my reading this month and I’m ahead of schedule which is nice leading in to summer months when I tend to read a little less because I always want to play outside! I’m a little over halfway done with The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton and I’m itching for a little non-fiction. Fiction has been my jam the last couple months and I love it but I could us a little motivating self improvement or professional development book too. I recently attended a marketing leadership conference and got a lot of great ideas for books to read so I’m hoping to grab at least one of those this month!

GOAL STANDING:

15/36 books (42% and 3 books ahead of schedule)

  1. Read a book published this year (CHECK – Lady Midnight)
  2. Read a book you can finish in a day (CHECK – If I Stay)
  3. Read a book you’ve been meaning to read (CHECK – Cinder)
  4. Read a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller
  5. Read a book you should have read in school
  6. Read a book chosen for you by your spouse, sibling, or BFF (CHECK – Troublemaker)
  7. Read a book published before you were born
  8. Read a book that was banned at some point
  9. Read a book you previously abandoned
  10. Read a book you own but have never read
  11. Read a book that intimidates you
  12. Read a book you’ve already read at least once (CHECK – Clockwork Princess)

Reading Challenge: March 2016

2016 Reading Challenge 1Oh man, I read the heck out of March! I was actually looking back and last year March was a big reading month for me too so I guess early spring is when Heather reads the most maybe! Anyway, here are the books I read in March:

Cinder - Marissa MeyerCINDER BY MARISSA MEYER

I’ve been meaning to read this series for a while. When it first came out I was really drawn to the cover art and concept but I just never made time for it. It’s also one of those that always pops up as a recommendation for me since I enjoy young adult fantasy. I really liked it but wasn’t blown away. It’s a unique story –  Cinder is a cyborg mechanic living in the Eastern Commonwealth. Earth is suffering from a plague and impending war from the Lunar Queen. What I like is that I really did care about most of the characters, what I didn’t like as much is that it was a little predictable. But that’s not going to stop me from reading the rest of the series! … Learn more here.

The Storyteller - Jodi PicoultTHE STORYTELLER BY JODI PICOULT

This book is now among my top five favorites of all time. I seriously loved it! It was my first read by Jodi Picoult who also wrote My Sister’s Keeper (among many others) and I’m hooked. The Storyteller is about surviving, grieving, healing, forgiving, and understanding that we all have both light and dark within us. The story is told from many voices; a young Jewish woman during the Holocaust, an old man who was an SS soldier during the war, a girl struggling to go on after a tragic accident, and a man investigating former Nazi criminals. All of the voices are so truthful and I cried repeatedly during this book. The horrors of the Holocaust are so vivid and draw out a lot of emotion (not just from the character but as a reader too). I actually listened to it on audio and would highly recommend it because it’s nice to get the different voices of each character.  … Learn more here.

If I Stay - Gayle FormanIF I STAY BY GAYLE FORMAN

Another I’ve been meaning to read, I also secretly want to watch this movie because it looks like it would be perfect for a good cry. I liked it and read it very quickly but looking back I’m not really sure what I liked about it. Nothing really happens. So this girl gets in an accident with her family and is the sole survivor but is in a coma. Her spirit/essence is watching from outside her body and she has to try to decide if she wants to stay and live or go. It kind of cuts between her remembering moments in her life to what’s happening in real time and is a story about love (both romantic and familial). It’s really moving but some of the story seemed unrealistic to me.     … Learn more here!

The Pact - Jodi PicoultTHE PACT BY JODI PICOULT

After The Storyteller, I was hooked on Jodi Picoult so I asked my step mom who is a bookseller, book-lover, and avid reader if she had ready any of Picoult’s work. She mentioned The Pact to me so when I saw it in the audio section of the library I grabbed it! I will say that I liked The Storyteller better, but this was also a really intriguing and complex story that kept me interested and broke my heart a little (in the good way that books do). This story is about two families who are best friends. The daughter (Emily) from one and the son (Chris) from the other have been best friends since birth and when they start dating the two families couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately, tragedy strikes when Emily is killed and Chris is accused of her murder. The story follows the case to determine if this was truly a botched suicide pact or if Chris killed her. Super compelling and I’d definitely recommend it!   … Learn more here!

Scarlet - Marissa MeyerSCARLET BY MARISSA MEYER

Like I said, just because Cinder didn’t knock my socks off the way maybe Twilight, The Hunger Games or Divergent did, doesn’t mean I don’t want to read the whole series. I love YA fantasy series’. I’m really glad I kept going too because I liked Scarlet a lot more than Cinder (the books, not necessarily the characters… but maybe the characters too)  and now I’m hooked! I can’t wait to read the next installment. This book introduces Scarlet and her search for her grandmother who has been missing for a few weeks. Scarlet enlists the help of a man named Wolf and they head out to Paris to find granny. Meanwhile, Cinder escapes prison with an accomplice named Thorn and they too are looking for the mysterious Michelle Benoit (aka granny) because Cinder believes she knows something about the missing Lunar heir. Meanwhile still, Queen Levana attacks Earth and Prince Kai has to decide what lengths he will go to stop her. So yeah, it’s good.  … Learn more here!

I’m so excited about my reading this year! Not only have I found a couple new series (which are my favorites!) but I also happened upon a new favorite author. Not to mention the new Shadowhunter series from Cassandra Clare is out! I’m reading it now and LOVE IT SO MUCH! So I’m on a roll with this challenge and I’m hoping to keep my momentum going. I’ve been sucked into fiction lately but will probably try to mix things up with some non-fiction soon. We’ll see, though, I have a lot on my to-read list right now!

GOAL STANDING:

11/36 books (31% and 2 books ahead of schedule)

  1. Read a book published this year
  2. Read a book you can finish in a day (CHECK – If I Stay)
  3. Read a book you’ve been meaning to read (CHECK – Cinder)
  4. Read a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller
  5. Read a book you should have read in school
  6. Read a book chosen for you by your spouse, sibling, or BFF (CHECK – Troublemaker)
  7. Read a book published before you were born
  8. Read a book that was banned at some point
  9. Read a book you previously abandoned
  10. Read a book you own but have never read
  11. Read a book that intimidates you
  12. Read a book you’ve already read at least once

Reading Challenge: February 2016

2016 Reading Challenge 1

 

Stayed on track in February, a couple good reads and one kinda boring one but the goal is going strong! Here are the books I read in February:

TroublemakerTROUBLEMAKER BY LEAH REMINI

This was a book club picked by one of my friends, I probably wouldn’t have picked this up on my own, sure the topic sounds interesting but it was off my radar. I’m so glad she picked it! I quickly became obsessed! The world of Scientology is completely fascinating and Leah’s experience was so interesting. Leah joined the church with her mother as a young girl. Her story tells the tale of how they got involved, what she truly believed, and how she slowly came to learn that the church was not at all what she thought. It also has some great celebrity gossip, mostly about Tom Cruise, but it also makes me love Jennifer Lopez more than ever (read and see why) … Learn more here.

Still LifeSTILL LIFE BY LOUISE PENNY

This book keeps coming up as a recommendation for me, and it sounded a lot like books that I generally like so when I saw it in the audio book section at the library, I grabbed it up. Unfortunately, I found it really hard to stay focused on this book, it was a little boring. Although the end did surprise me, which doesn’t happen often but that might have been because I wasn’t focused enough to catch the clues.  … Learn more here.

 

 

What I know For SureWHAT I KNOW FOR SURE BY OPRAH WINFREY

This book is a compilation of Oprah’s “What I know for sure” column from O Magazine. It’s basically a bunch of short essays on life lessons that she has come to know in her experience. Oprah is very insightful and I enjoy reading from the perspective of people who have made success for themselves. This book is full of great pull quotes! I often take notes while reading and found myself wanting to write so many quotes that I think I’m just going to go buy a copy of this book to keep at home. I feel like I’ll want to revisit some of these essays at different times in the future.   … Learn more here!

I didn’t end up reading the second Diviners book yet but it’s on my list of things to read next along with half a dozen others! My “To-Read” list is pretty long right now! I’m currently in the middle of The Storyteller, and I love it so far, I’ll tell you about it next month!

GOAL STANDING:

6/36 books (17% – On track)

  1. Read a book published this year
  2. Read a book you can finish in a day
  3. Read a book you’ve been meaning to read
  4. Read a book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller
  5. Read a book you should have read in school
  6. Read a book chosen for you by your spouse, sibling, or BFF (CHECK – Troublemaker)
  7. Read a book published before you were born
  8. Read a book that was banned at some point
  9. Read a book you previously abandoned
  10. Read a book you own but have never read
  11. Read a book that intimidates you
  12. Read a book you’ve already read at least once