Reading Challenge: January 2016

2016 Reading Challenge 1The first month of the year is at a close and I’m off to a good start on the reading challenge. I read three books in January and am on track toward my goal of 36 this year. In 2016, I’m also incorporating Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge into my overall numbers goal. Here are the things I need to check off this year (so far I’m not ready to check off any so I’ve got to make sure to get at least one of these in February)!

  1. Read a book published this year
  2. Read a book you an 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
  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

Now for the books I read in January:

Life EntrepreneursLIFE ENTREPRENEURS BY CHRISTOPHER GERGEN & GREGG VANOUREK

This book was recommended to me by a friend (and fellow book club member). She thought it sounded like me, which I would say is a very nice compliment! The start of this book is really great, and the theory behind what they discuss is exactly what I believe, particularly integrating life, work and purpose. It got a little long with the examples but overall, I love what this book about. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a little inspiration. … Learn more here.

 

The DivinersTHE DIVINERS BY LIBBA BRAY

Libba Bray wrote the Gemma Doyle series that I read last year and LOVED so I was excited to start this series. I finished this weekend and I can’t wait to read the next installment! This first book in the series does a lot of set up but it’s necessary and fascinating. The story is set in the 1920’s and follows Evie, a girl from Ohio who is sent to New York after an unpleasant incident back home. Evie is a Diviner, she has supernatural powers (in her case the ability to read objects). She uses this power to help solve a series of disturbing murders, but something even more sinister is on the horizon. There are other diviners in the book as well and I’m excited to see how they eventually will all come together. This type of story reminds me of Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices series which is one of my all time favorites. There are only 2 books so far so once I’m done with the second installment I’ll have to wait which is not ideal. I’m so impatient when it comes to incomplete series! … Learn more here.

Big MagicBIG MAGIC BY ELIZABETH GILBERT

I’ve been seeing this book around (all the celebs on Instagram have read it) and it just completely draws my attention at every bookstore I’m at. Look at that cover with all that color and the words “magic” and “creativity”! This book sounds and looks right up my alley! It totally was. This book read really fast for me. Elizabeth Gilbert’s voice is very easy to read. It also has great nuggets of big magic – Gilbert believes that creativity is a force of enchantment – not entirely human in its origins and explores this idea in the book. It’s another very inspirational and uplifting read. Also, if you want more Big Magic, Gilbert has started a podcast called Magic Lessons, I actually started listening to that before I read the book and it’s great! … Learn more about the book here, and about the podcast here!

So ends the first month of 2016, I’m off to a good start and my to-read list is exploding! I’m really behind on my book club read, Troublemaker by Leah Remini, so I’ll be reading that next and then I’m diving in to the next Diviners book because I just can’t help myself!

Reading Challenge: December 2015

Reading Challenge ImageWell folks, I did it! I made it to 35 books in 2015! If you remember I had some goals about the kinds of books that I wanted to read and realized that I was a bit ambitious. I did however reach my goal toward happiness/self improvement type books, but only ready a handful of actual biographies – if you count comedian memoir books I definitely made the goal though. The only one I didn’t really meet was business related books and I’m okay with that! So here are the final books of the year!

Tea CleanseTHE 7-DAY FLAT-BELLY TEA CLEANSE BY KELLY CHOI

I just kind of happened upon this book at Barnes & Noble. It was facing out on one of the shelves and I love tea so I was drawn to it. I ended up reading this in one sitting. It’s very short and has a lot of recipes in it so it’s a quick read. Very good reference for what different kinds of teas are good for and  has great healthy recipes. I will say that I halfheartedly attempted this cleanse and did not lose 10 lbs in one week but good book all the same! …Learn more here. 

 

Why Not MeWHY NOT ME? BY MINDY KALING

I love Mindy Kaling something fierce. Her first book is one of my favorites so I was really excited to read this one! Sometimes it’s hard to read comedic memoir-like essays in the correct voice (which is why I recommend audio books for these) but somehow I can almost hear Mindy reading this out loud in my mind. It’s like catching up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while but picking up right where you left off. It also happens that shortly after reading this I caught up completely on the new season of The Mindy Project on Hulu so yeah December was a good month…  Learn more here. 

 

Harry Potter IllustratedHARRY POTTER & THE SORCERER’S STONE (ILLUSTRATED) BY J.K. ROWLING

Okay I know I don’t really need to say much here. Everyone knows I’m a complete Harry Potter nerd. I saved this for December because I love reading Harry Potter at Christmas time and I was heading to Harry Potter World for a vacation around Christmas so I knew I would be in a magical mood. The illustrations add so much to this story and it’s a really, really beautiful book. I can’t wait for the rest to come out! In case you didn’t know, I believe one per year are slated over the next several years…  Learn more here. 

Magnus ChaseMAGNUS CHASE AND THE GODS OF ASGARD – THE SWORD OF SUMMER BY RICK RIORDAN

I’m a big fan of the Heros of Olympus and Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan, and BONUS am 75% Norwegian so when I found out that his newest series is about the Gods of Asgard I was very excited. My husband got me this book for Christmas and it was a great final read of the year! In the spirit of the demi-god quest format, this does not disappoint. The only thing that makes me sad is I have to wait until Fall 2016 for the next installation, which is basically torture … Learn more here.

 

GOAL STANDING:
COMPLETE! (35/35)

In 2016, I’m upping the anti and shooting for 36 books, and in addition will try to check off all the boxes on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 reading checklist!

Reading Challenge: November 2015

Reading Challenge ImageSince I’ve been so behind the past couple months I did A LOT of reading/audio book listening in November and I’m happy to say that I’m all caught up! I’m also happy to say that most of the books I read this month were really good, so I’ve got some great suggested reads for you all!

The Girl On the TrainTHE GIRL ON THE TRAIN BY PAULA HAWKINS

This was a book club read that I actually started in October but forced myself to stop because I wanted to read it closer to when we were actually going to meet and I knew it would take no time to get through it. I was right, this book went really fast and is very good. Obviously, since it’s been a best seller and everyone’s been talking about it. It’s a good mystery from several perspectives. And there are some really terrible people (characters) here. It’s interesting to see how they are all interconnected. And I will say that as per usual, I saw the “twist” that was coming. But it’s okay, I still liked it even though I wasn’t terribly surprised…Learn more here. 

Life and DeathLIFE AND DEATH BY STEPHENIE MEYER
WARNING: CONTAINS A BIG SPOILER

Oy, I could say a lot about this one. I was nervous to read it and while it was pretty good, I really didn’t love it which I suspected would be the case. I LOVED Twilight, so I wasn’t sure I could get on board with this. In case you don’t know, this is the 10th anniversary of Twilight, so Stephenie wrote a re-imagining of the story with the genders reversed. The story follows Edyth (not-Edward) and Beau (not-Bella). It was a lot easier for me to read the female Edward than the male Bella. Beau is very different from Bella and I found it really distracting. Especially since a lot of the lines in the beginning are exactly the same. Also, spoiler alert, the ending is not true to the original. Basically, after Beau is bitten, they aren’t able to save him and so the story jumps to essentially the second half of Breaking Dawn for the transformation, and he becomes a vampire. Thus eliminating any need to re-imagine any of the other books. But to be fair it isn’t meant to be exactly the same story, these are “completely different” characters…  Learn more here. 

Winter GirlsWINTERGIRLS BY LAURIE HALSE ANDERSON

I seriously love this author. She writes the most depressing teenage dramas ever. I mean truly depressing but somehow I absolutely love it. The only book of hers that I found a little too dark and twisty was Twisted. That one disturbed me to my core. But this one was thoughtful and enjoyable in a deep and dark way. It’s about a young woman who is anorexic, her friend and partner/competitor in weight loss recently died and is haunting her. This is more literal than I first realized which is a weird element but not overly distracting. Seriously guys, if you liked Speak (which if you haven’t read, you should) you will really like this. I always listen to these on audio because the voice actors are really good! …  Learn more here. 

The Revenge of SevenTHE REVENGE OF SEVEN BY PITTACUS LORE

These books are super fun. This is the fifth installment of the I am Number Four series and unlike the horrible movie are definitely worth your time! This one ended in a major cliff hanger, but lucky for me the sixth book is already out so I’ll be picking that one up soon… Learn more here.

 

 

 

The tapping solution for weightloss and body confidenceTHE TAPPING SOLUTION FOR WEIGHT LOSS AND BODY CONFIDENCE BY JESSICA ORTNER

I am a big fan of Jessica’s podcast Adventure’s in Happiness and have been curious about tapping and her book since I started listening so I decided to check it out. Honestly, I’m not sure about tapping but I can see how it would be a really effective form of meditation for stress relief which has lots of health benefits. Also, as I’m getting older I find myself mysteriously gaining weight even though I work out and eat pretty well so I thought it would be interesting to see what this was all about. The book was a little more targeted for people who truly struggle with their weight and has a lot of information on how beliefs and past events effect our health and weight in particular. Those things I didn’t find particularly helpful, but there are some really good themes in here that could apply to anyone! Even if you’re not into tapping, I would recommend Adventure’s in Happiness podcast, it is wonderful! …Learn more about the book here. Learn more about the podcast here. 

GOAL STANDING:
31/35 TOTAL BOOKS (4 more to go!)

Reading Challenge: October 2015

Reading Challenge ImageMy reading challenge is going strong but I need to pick things up if I’m going to reach my goal in the next two months! This month I decided to read spooky books to get in the Halloween spirit!

NightmaresNIGHTMARES! BY JASON SEGEL & KIRSTEN MILLER

I’ve been meaning to read this book because 1) I love middle reader literature, and 2) I love Jason Segel! This is a super fun story about a boy who gets sucked in to the nightmare realm and has to not only face his fears, but also help his friends face theirs in order to escape. Great read and timely for the Halloween season. I would definitely recommend this book and am excited to read the sequel in the near future..Learn more here. 

The Legend of Sleepy HollowThe legend of sleepy hollow
by washington irving

Sticking to my spooky reading theme for the month of October I decided to read some classics. I tried to read Frankenstein but the leap from Nightmares! to that one was pretty big and I just couldn’t get in to it so I picked up The Legend of Sleepy Hollow which was perfect. It’s short and easy to get through and has a mild mysterious element. I will say that if you haven’t read this but have seen the Johnny Depp movie version the movie takes a LOT of creative liberties and it really doesn’t follow the Washington Irving story at all…  Learn more here. 

The Witch of Blackbird PondTHE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND BY ELIZABETH GEORGE SPEARE

I don’t know how I managed to get through elementary school and middle school without reading this book. I completely loved it! About a young woman who, having lost her grandfather, moves to Connecticut to live with her Puritan relatives. Kit tries hard to fit in but has a passion for life that doesn’t mesh with the conservative lifestyle of her aunt’s family. Every time I read this my husband said “oh, are you still reading that book about the witch?” And every single time I had to tell him it wasn’t about a witch, which made me laugh. It also has a very predictable but satisfying ending, which is something I really love about this genre…  Learn more here. 

Goal standing:
26/35 total books (still three behind!)

I did manage to read about half of Life & Death by Stephenie Meyer so I’m already half a book in for November. Hopefully I can read 4-5 books this month to help get me more caught up on my goal!

Reading Challenge: September 2015

Reading Challenge ImageWell, I managed to read two books in September and even though I really should have read three to try to catch up to my goal I’m still hopeful that I can get there by the end of the year!

The Forgotten Garden, Kate MortonTHE FORGOTTEN GARDEN BY KATE MORTON

I picked this book up at a book sale a few years ago and it pops up on a lot of lists like “If you loved Harry Potter you’ll love this”. I will say it is not like Harry Potter. I don’t want to mislead anyone by saying they are similar, but it was a very good read and I did enjoy it very much. It is a longer book – 648 pages according to Goodreads, and it took me a bit longer than most books do. I tend to read books very quickly and binge read for hours on end but this one took me about a month to get through. This story follows four women in the same family in different time periods,  Eliza & Rose, Nell and Cassandra. Their stories are woven together to solve the mystery of Nell’s past and where she came from. I would definitely recommend this book, even if i do think the reputation of fantasy and magic was exaggerated a bit… Learn more here.

Sisterland, Curtis SittenfeldSISTERLAND BY CURTIS SITTENFELD

This is another book that I’ve been meaning to read for ages and just never got around to. Which is precisley why I chose it for our book club. It was my turn to pick a book and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to read something on my ever growing “to-read” list. This book was very different than I thought it was going to be but I liked it. It follows twin sisters who have psychic “senses”,  although one has given hers up for a more normal life. After a small earthquake in their hometown of St. Louis, Vi predicts another more catastrophic earthquake in the near future. The story follows Kate (Vi’s sister) in the month leading up to the predicted earthquake and what happens afterward. I expected this to feel more like a mystery or thriller, which I wouldn’t consider it to be but there are some somewhat surprising twists in the end. My favorite line in the whole book is ” The baloney wants to fly!” as said by Kate’s two year old, Rosie…  Learn more here. 

GOAL STANDING

23/35 total books (still three behind, drat!)

I think I’ve got to face it that I’m not going to get in 3 more happy books, business books or biographies. Maybe a couple more but it I don’t get there, that’s okay. I’m more concerned about the overall total!

Reading Challenge: August 2015

Reading Challenge ImageFirst things first, my original reading challenge blog was posted to my What Heather Thinks blog and you can see past posts there! I decided to move this one over to Happy Heather so any future updates can be found here. Now that that’s taken care of let’s move on to what I read in August and how the challenge is coming!

How To Be A Good WifeHow to Be A Good Wife by Emma Chapman

I could not put this book down. It’s a psychological thriller about a woman named Marta who begins to have visions of a blonde girl no one else can see. Throughout the story the reader has to figure out if Marta is remembering repressed memories after going off a medication she has taken for years or if she’s losing her mind. I read this in two sittings and less than 24 hours.

Learn more here.

 

The Culture SecretThe Culture Secret: How to Empower People and Companies No Matter What You Sell by David Vik

It’s no secret, I’m a bit of a culture nerd. I love finding ways to improve company culture and advocate for employees. I picked this one up purely because of the title but was really excited when I found out that the author used to work for Zappos which has a reputation for amazing culture. I would advise not reading this before bed, I got all kinds of inspired and wanted to take notes so it wasn’t the best way to wind down at the end of the day.

Learn more here. 

And unfortunately that’s all I was able to complete in August. I did start another book called The Forgotten Garden which I’m really enjoying but it’s really long so I couldn’t finish it in the month. I’ll tell you more about it in my September update!

Goal Standings

21/35 total books (three behind, I’ve got to pick things up!)
2/5 Happy Books
2/5 Business Books
2/5 Biographies

Looks like I need to get caught up on my goals!

 

My Favorites: Book Lovers Day & Bachelor In Paradise

Favorites

Two of my favorite podcasts, Pop Culture Happy Hour and The Simple Show, as well as one of my new favorite blogs to follow, Modern Mrs. Darcy, have segments that are basically about what’s making them happy that week, or month. This is one of my favorite segments because I get tons of ideas for things to read, watch, listen to, or do from what is making these awesome people happy at that particular moment. So because imitation is the highest form of flattery, I’ve decided to adopt this segment for Happy Heather and post weekly about my favorite things. I’d like to start by doing this weekly because I think that will help me be in the moment and keep the things that are making me happy top of mind.

So what’s making me happy this week?

Last Sunday was Book Lovers Day and as a book lover myself I decided to treat myself to a trip to the bookstore to get a new book and spend the afternoon reading. I ended up with the book How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman. This turned out to be the perfect book for an all afternoon, and evening, and night reading session. I read this book in just over 24 hours, reading more than half of it in one sitting on Sunday, a little more on my lunch break Monday, and finishing it shortly after I got off work on Monday evening. The story is a psychological thriller about a woman who begins to see things and the reader is left to figure out if these visions are true memories that she has suppressed for years or if she is hallucinating from mental illness. Great read, that made me very happy this week. I’ll talk more about this in my monthly Reading Challenge update.

Another thing making me happy this week is Bachelor in Paradise. I love everything about the Bachelor franchise and in this second season, I have not yet been disappointed. Here is the premise if you are not familiar. Previous Bachelor/Bachelorette hopefuls who were not so lucky in love their first time around (or second if they’ve been on BIP or Bachelor Pad before) come to an island and live in a house together. Each week selected individuals to get the opportunity to go on romantic Bachelor style dates, while the rest are free to make connections back at the house. At the end of the week, either the men or the women (they alternate every week) hand out a rose to someone they feel a romantic connection with. If you don’t get a rose that week, you have to go home. My favorite ladies of the season (so far because new ones are added all the time) are Clare Crawley, Tenley Molzahn, and Ashley Salter and my favorite guys are JJ Lane (surprisingly) and Jared Haibon. I’ve also enjoyed Joe this week because he’s completely crazy but I have a feeling I’ll be over that really quickly.

So those are my favorite things this week and I’ll continue to keep you posted as the weeks go on!