Top 5 Series I Want To Start This Year

The theme for this week’s Top 5 Tuesday is series books that you want to read this year for the first time. Keeping with my theme of reading books I already own but haven’t read, here are five ‘first in a series’ books that are either sitting on my bookshelf or on my kindle. Okay, one is actually sitting in front of me at my computer desk but you get the idea.

30918623CHIEF INSPECTOR GAMACHE SERIES by Louise Penny

I’ve been meaning to read this series literally forever since the first time I recall Anne @ Modern Mrs. Darcy singing its praises. Luckily my book club will be reading the first book in the series, Still Life, this year so I finally have no more excuses.

Here’s a description of the first book if you haven’t heard of it before:

As the early morning mist clears on Thanksgiving Sunday, the homes of Three Pines come to life – all except one…

To locals, the village is a safe haven. So they are bewildered when a well-loved member of the community is found lying dead in the maple woods. Surely it was an accident – a hunter’s arrow gone astray. Who could want Jane Neal dead?

In a long and distinguished career with the Sûreté du Quebec, Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has learned to look for snakes in Eden. Gamache knows something dark is lurking behind the white picket fences, and if he watches closely enough, Three Pines will begin to give up its secrets…

18053060DOROTHY MUST DIE SERIES by Danielle Paige

I spotted the first book in this series at Barnes and Noble a year or two ago and basically bought it on the spot pretty much based on the cover alone. That and the fact that I’d just finished falling in love with a series that reimagined fairy tales – no big deal, just The Lunar Chronicles guys. Anyway, like most impulse book buys, it’s been sitting on my bookshelf ever since. I’d love to fix that problem this year. Here’s the premise:

I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t ask to be some kind of hero.

But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado – taking you with it – you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little bluebirds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can’t be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There’s still a yellow brick road – but even that’s crumbling.

What happened? Dorothy.

They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm – and I’m the other girl from Kansas.

I’ve been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.

I’ve been trained to fight.

And I have a mission.

6952387.jpgTHE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES SERIES by various authors apparently

This is another spotted it at Barnes and Noble splurge! Being a fan of all things Cumberbatch and Baker Street, this series appealed to me right off the bat. I like the idea of Sherlock interacting with famous people from history and this alternate history premise is super intriguing.

“When Harry Houdini is framed and jailed for espionage, Sherlock Holmes vows to clear his name, with the two joining forces to take on blackmailers who have targeted the Prince of Wales.

It’s a case that requires all of their skills — both mental and physical. Can the daring duo solve what people are calling “The Crime of the Century”?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s timeless creation returns in a new series of handsomely designed detective stories. From the earliest days of Holmes’ career to his astonishing encounters with Martian invaders, the Further Adventures series encapsulates the most varied and thrilling cases of the worlds’ greatest detective.”

5970105THE DISCWORLD SERIES by Terry Pratchett

This feels like one of those series that I probably should have already read by now but somehow I missed it entirely. There are over 40 books in this series so if I like it, I will have a lot of reading to do. Funny, light science fiction/fantasy seems to be the general description of the series. Here’s a little more for the first book:

On a world supported on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown), a gleeful, explosive, wickedly eccentric expedition sets out. There’s an avaricious but inept wizard, a naive tourist whose luggage moves on hundreds of dear little legs, dragons who only exist if you believe in them, and of course THE EDGE of the planet…

18046624RED RISING SERIES by Pierce Brown

I’ve heard great things about this series so I don’t really have a solid excuse for why I haven’t read this yet except, like, get in line. This one is for the fans of dystopian stories:

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.“

Have you read any of these? Which one should I read first?

It’s Monday: What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

29487750I’m still reading this month’s book club pick, The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. I’m making slow progress despite enjoying what I’ve read so far. I’d attribute this in equal parts to my attention span being pretty poor, especially when the kids are home, and the fact that the book chapters are awfully long which seems to feel especially daunting when my kindle tells me how many more minutes I have to go before the end of the chapter. In spite of this, I’m finding the story fascinating and I’m eager to see where the plot will go.

If you haven’t heard of the book before – here’s a quick blurb about the book from Goodreads.com:

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

What are you reading right now?

The 7 Stages of a Snow Day

snowI have a love / hate relationship with the snow but letsbehonest, it’s mostly the hating part. Don’t get me wrong – it all starts out fine:

You look outside and see those white fluffy balls of magic falling and oh yeah, it’s pretty great. Your Inner Olaf is there for it. The ground gets covered in a soft white blanket, life feels quieter for a moment and maybe you are even lucky and school gets cancelled so you can stay at home in your pajamas.

The first snow fall of the year comes with the bonus of having forgotten all about last year’s snowfalls. It’s kind of like child birth. Your kids ask to go play outside and you are a FUN MOM so you are there for it!

olaf

But did I mention that I’m not a very good winter person? Yeah after about five minutes I remember that I know nothing Jon Snow.

jonsnow

Snow is the worst. Being cold is the worst. Being outside in general is just a poor life choice. So I run back inside and make some hot cocoa immediately. I make some for the kids, too, because I’m still a FUN MOM. I’m just an Inside Fun Mom.

cocoa

The kids eventually come back inside and for awhile it’s all  good. You let them play more video games than usual which ranks you up there with Rock Stars and You Tube Celebrities for a minute. You read a book, you play on your phone, cook something ridiculously unhealthy and easy for dinner and it’s all good. You got this.

But then it keeps snowing and the next day school is STILL CANCELED and your FUN MOM momentum bails on you. And you remember that your kids are like super annoying. I swear they weren’t always this annoying but after prolonged exposure anything stops being fun. Even your little darlings who cannot stop talking to you or fighting with each other. Suddenly cocoa starts to look more like this:

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Eventually it stops snowing enough for school to close and your small children are ready to be shipped off to somewhere else. Hurray! But it’s a bittersweet victory because it also means you have to do this:

sailormooncold

And this:

scrapingwindshields

And this:

drivingwhee

But if you survive all that, you get to go back to this:

cocoa

So I guess it’s not all terrible.

What about you – how does snow make you feel?

I’m linking up with Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop – head to her blog for more participants and blogging prompts.

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VACATION PLANNING? I have binders full of vacations.

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Nothing to see here: just a girl and her midliners making a vacation binder full of budget estimates, itineraries and park maps. Raise your hand if you are a binder kind of girl? Page dividers? Multicolored midliners for further clarification? Spreadsheets??? Oh baby, right?

On a related note: Who here has been to Universal Studios in Florida with the fam? Share your best tips and experiences in the comments section!

4 apps to keep your brain from melting.

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A lot of my friends and family back in the Northeast are struggling through another snow day right now. My own little monsters sweet angels just went back to school yesterday, so even though I’m happily enjoying the sweet sounds of silence right now, I can vividly recall Jen of Two Days Ago wondering if she’d ever be able to watch grown up television again (you know, like, The Mindy Project or reruns of Australia’s Next Top Model – important stuff) because her kids were monopolizing the television and just generally being there and stuff.

If you need a distraction but don’t want your brain to slide out of your ears by the end of the night, here are 4 apps currently keeping me sane but also a little smart:

Ultimate Cribbage – Keep your Cribbage skills fresh between game nights with the hubby. I went on a weird downloading tangent to find the best cribbage app for Androids and this is it. Good graphics, fun variations and just enough control over game play.

Daily POP Crosswords I just downloaded this one but already I like the graphics and found the first puzzle just the right level of challenging. Good for people who like Crosswords but can’t handle the Sunday puzzle in the newspaper.

Duolingo Feel  a sense of accomplishment that you are bettering yourself and not just playing Knittens! for twelve hours straight (you can do that next). My husband and I both use this app to learn new languages or brush up on ones we learned in school. It’s free and confidence boosting and you can set it up to remind you to use it every day.

Backpacker – I’ve mentioned this one before but I’m still playing it literally every day so maybe it bears repeating. This is a fun blend of geography and general trivia with enough goals to accomplish to keep you playing into the wee hours of the night. So approach with caution?

What apps are you loving on your phone right now?

 

 

My 2018 Vision Board.

visionboard2018

Last year I created a vision board to set the tone for my year. Like every other blogger, I created a mantra / word for the year to go along with it: LESS IS MORE. I know it’s more than one word, but you get the idea. Here are some of the things I wanted to see in 2017:

  • more game nights with friends: I definitely made this happen with monthly game nights with Dan’s coworkers and game nights at the bestie’s house also.
  • movie marathons with the kids: We’ve been working our way through Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings most recently.
  • date nights with my hubby: I feel like there are never enough date nights but we are probably going out more now than we were a couple years ago so progress!
  • a Subaru (lol): I didn’t achieve this one and honestly a new car is not at the top of my radar right now. I’m also not certain I want a Subaru specifically. All wheel drive, cargo room and good gas mileage yes. Specific brand? Meh.
  • writing more: I took a writing class just this past fall which definitely gave me a kick in the writing pants but now it’s over and my goal is to not lose that momentum!

So what are my goals for 2018? I wasn’t really sure until I read this post on Bustle about resolutions you should make based on your favorite literary character. Yes I realize this statement is absurd but as I read through the list two characters and their corresponding resolutions stuck out:

Daenerys Tarygaryen: Think Before You Act

Anne Shirley: Make Up Your Mind To Enjoy Things

I want to act with intention this year, to focus on the things I love and work on being a Happier Jen. I hope that this will involve cozy nights in with the family, drinking more tea, exercising a bit more, reading and writing with vigor, playing Cribbage with my husband as often as possible and Big Bucket List Moment: A Trip to Universal Studios to see the Harry Potter Experience.

What would be on your vision board?

Do you have goals for 2018?

Who is your favorite literary character?

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I’m linking up with Mama Kat‘s writer’s workshop today. Head to her blog for more participants and writing prompts.

 

Family Interviews for the New Year (With a Free Printable)

I’ve been doing these family interviews with the kids for several years now. When we started BB wasn’t old enough to write and honestly wasn’t old enough to answer! When she was two I gave her multiple choice options and let her pick her “favorite” that way.

This year that little girl is eight years old and has ideas of her own to spare. Here is her interview this year:

bbinterview2018

Things of note:

  • Her feet have grown 1 1/2 shoe sizes since last January.
  • She apparently likes measuring the perimeter of things (but can’t quite spell it yet)?
  • She has more BFFs than she can fit on a single line.
  • She loves to cuddle with momma and loves that her daddy is… tall.
  • She is loving Wonder Woman this year – which is the main reason she’d change her name to Diana if we let her. I choose to think that deep down it’s because my grandmother’s name is Diana but you know.
  • She also cannot spell the word illustrator but she thinks youtuber is a valid career path. So.
  • “Realistic Diana” means her action figure of Wonder Woman in a ball gown from the recent movie.
  • We just watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy over the course of two days so it’s now both of my kids’ favorite movie.

Now here is an interview with my favorite 11 year old, MM, who drew a picture of himself with a sonic screwdriver, Stargate and Tardis. Of course.

MMinterview2018

  • MM’s feet grew two shoe sizes or we don’t buy him shoes often enough? One of those things.
  • MM likes to measure the circumference of things.
  • MM writes entirely in cursive and it’s very hard to read. Sorry about that. Feel bad for his teachers.
  • MM agrees that I give great hugs and his dad is good at tickling. At least someone appreciates it.
  • MM also wants to be a youtuber. Is there a college degree for this? Hopefully he follows through on at least one career path that pays him regularly.

FREE PRINTABLE

Just save the image below and print it out to interview your own kids!

newyearsinterview

Interviews from 2013 | 2014 | 2016 | 2017

The Books I Read in 2017

I read 34 books this year which is 4 books more than my goal at the beginning of the year. The folks at Goodreads.com made another cute End of Year infographic this year for their users.

This is what my year in reading looked like:

I read a lot of great books and honestly I’m not sure I could pick one as the very best – but these are the five books I  enjoyed reading most this year.

ALL The Books I Read This Year

  1. This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison – Finished 1/24 – I thought that the premise of this book was interesting and the POV was cleverly done but it was a bit slow and the jumping back and forth was occasionally tedious. liked but didn’t love. BC

  2. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – Finished 2/22 – I got a lot more out of this book than I was expecting to. The varied narrators forced me to get inside the minds of people from many different walks of life, even when I didn’t want to, even when it was uncomfortable. I liked that every person in this story was coming from a different place, had different things going for them or against them, but none of them were perfect, none of them felt like they had the upper hand in life. This is an emotional and uncomfortable story but it was also important and I’m so glad that I read it. BC

  3. The Crown (Selection #5) by Kiera Cass – Finished 3/1 – This was a much better read than the previous book. I think we were all a little surprised at how unlikable Edalyn turned out to be, but luckily this seems to have been the author’s intention all along – the second half of the last book saw some hopeful signs of character growth and this definitely continued on into The Crown. Edalyn has grown a lot and seems to have turned the corner. She has learned to let others in and experience the world through new eyes and even better – she falls in love.

  4. Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner – Finished 3/22 – It was interesting to read a mystery story told with a revolving set of narrators who all have their own point of view of what is happening. I did occasionally find the police jargon (especially the more British specific-terms) confusing, but overall I liked the story. The ending felt a little rushed / wrapped up too quickly but that is so common in so many books. One thing I especially liked about this story was the almost feminist slant to the book. There are no manic pixie dream girls here, no knights in shining armor and there is a lot of lip service given to the complexities of being a woman in law enforcement. BC

  5. The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg – Finished 3/27 – I love the idea of hygge and enjoyed reading more about it but I found the book to be longer than it needed to be to get its point across.

  6. Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson – Finished 4/4 – It was inspiring to read the imperfect drafts of such an incredible poet. some of the poems are brilliant, some more incoherent than others. I loved getting to read the poems in her handwriting, complete with scribbled out lines and rewrites. it was like being on a fly on the wall and seeing her process first hand.

  7. Wires and Nerve, Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer – Finished 4/20 – I think any fan of the Lunar Chronicles will enjoy this one but I’m not convinced it will work for someone who hasn’t read the original series – that said, if you haven’t read the original series yet, what are you waiting for?? It’s amazing! So assuming you have read the original books, is this one worth it? Ummm, yes. Because I assume you are going through withdrawals right now and wondering what the crew is up to. This is a short read that gives you all the fangirling you need. It’s super fun to actually SEE all of the character – it really brings the whole story to life in a new way. And it ends on a bit of a cliff hanger so be prepared to bite your nails at the end and moan and groan a bit that the next book isn’t out yet. Seriously??

  8. Paper Princess by Erin Watt – Finished 4/22 – This book definitely falls under the category of guilty pleasure. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger teens as it gets surprisingly racy. The premise intrigued me and I found myself quickly pulled into the lives of the main characters – I devoured it in two days and downloaded book two pretty much immediately. This is not a perfect book but it is a quick, addictive one.

  9. Broken Prince by Erin Watt – Finished 4/24 – I didn’t love this one quite as much as the previous book but that didn’t stop me from blowing through it in two days again. In book two there are two narrators, which is pretty typical in this kind of series, but I often found myself forgetting whose chapter I was reading which shouldn’t have been a problem as the characters are pretty different. But the plot of the story continues to escalate and kept me hooked to the end.

  10. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon – Finished 5/22 – I loved this book. It’s heartwarming and funny but also heartbreaking and shocking at turns. The main character, Madeline, will make a place in your heart as you are reading and won’t leave.

  11. Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling – Finished 5/23 – This is the written transcript of a commencement speech that she gave at Harvard – so it’s a very quick read but totally worth it. Whether you are a writer, a reader or just a human looking to be inspired.

  12. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – Finished 5/24 – This book starts off with a pretty fascinating premise and I think did a good job of following through on exploring all the ins and outs of the idea of the road not taken and what it would look like if science managed to give us the opportunity to see all of those roads. It is at turns complex, harrowing, fascinating and heart breaking. Sometimes the science fiction leaps taken felt absurd and sometimes a character’s reactions to what was happening felt impossible but this was a book that required numerous leaps of faith so I did my best to ride those waves through to the end. It’s not a perfect story, I have a few qualms and minor irritations with it – but I also think it was an extraordinary undertaking that the author clearly worked his butt off seeing it through to the end. It was definitely a brain bender! BC

  13. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan – Finished 5/29 – This was a bookworm / travel bug’s dream book. It explores that whole idea of starting life anew somewhere else; taking a big risk and starting over. Mix in descriptions of the Scottish countryside, book references galore and a love story that you’ll want to root for. Can’t go wrong!

  14. Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan – Finished 6/7 – Another great story by Jenny Colgan, who is quickly becoming a favorite author. This is another sweet love story set in the UK – this time the book’s heroine decides to open up a cupcake shop after losing her job and her boyfriend on the same rotten day. The book follows all the ins and outs of starting the business but also delves into the inner lives of nearly every character that our MC comes into contact with. Sometimes I liked this, other times it felt distracting from the story but on the whole I really enjoyed the book and fully plan to read more Jenny Colgan soon!

  15. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead – Finished 6/21 – This book took me awhile to get into initially but I did end up enjoying it for the most part. It’s not an easy book to read – between the rather heaviness of the subject matter and the frequent narrator changes – but it definitely held my attention once the story got going. It was hard to keep reading sometimes as the main character just could not catch a break and often the outcome looked so grim that I could barely keep going but I’m glad I stuck with it. BC

  16. A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro – Finished 7/1 – I thought this was a really intriguing take on the world of Sherlock Holmes, not what I was expecting. It’s kind of a mix of John Green and Arthur Conan Doyle. Great for fans of Sherlock or YA lit but maybe not the purists. If you don’t tend to like retellings of favorite stories then you probably want to sit this one out.

  17. Wanderlost by Jen Malone – Finished 7/8 – This book took me by surprise. At first I wasn’t sure about it – the main character is kind of hopeless initially and her lack of personal initiative really bothered me. But the premise was intriguing and the descriptions of her travels pulled me in. Then the love story caught me totally off guard and kept me reading into the wee hours of the night against my better judgement.

  18. Map to the Stars by Jen Malone – Finished 7/13 – Jen Malone knows her way around a love story. This book was frustrating to read at some points – the main characters make some pretty terrible decisions that could be avoided with honest conversation but I guess the same could be said of most human beings. That said, the chemistry and banter between the main characters is palpable and it seems like a pretty realistic if groan-worthy look at what it’s like for young movie stars to attempt an honest relationship with someone.

  19. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli – Finished 7/18 – This was such a sweet read. I liked the family dynamics a lot – the main character has a very unique upbringing that is kind of refreshing to read about. Her parents are incredibly cool and also just really GOOD parents. The love story is great, too. You go through all the emotions with her as she figures out what she wants and then convinces herself to go for it. The story is realistic and feels very modern and real and has a strong vibe of hope and optimism running through it even when the main character isn’t feeling either of those things. My only complaint is that there are so many pop culture references that are fun to read today but might be confusing say twenty years from now when most of the references will be too vague to immediately understand.

  20. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – Finished 7/24 – This book sucked me in and refused to let me go until it was over. The characters are excellent and the plot will definitely grab you. Anxious for the next book!

  21. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Finished 8/4 – I enjoyed this book but it took me awhile to finish. it’s very long and I picked it up and put it down a few times. I enjoyed all the 80s pop culture references and the plot of the story. I can see why it’s being made into a movie.

  22. Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel by by Amy Corzine and Charlotte Brontë – Finished 8/8 – I had a hard time following the plot as I haven’t read the novel. I’d consider this a kind of cliffs note version of the original story but I enjoying the artwork and finished the book in one sitting.

  23. Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel by by Mariah Marsden (Illustrations) and Brenna Thummler (Illustrations) and L.M. Montgomery – Finished 8/17 – This wasn’t a home run for me but not a total loss either. I enjoyed spending some time in Green Gables but I am not sure that someone new to this story would fall for it in quite the same way as you would the original. The pacing felt very fast and the illustrations were not always my favorite. But it was a quick read and a nice way to reexperience an old favorite.

  24. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood – Finished 8/23 – This book can probably be best described as disturbing. I thought the premise was interesting and Atwood definitely took the story to places I didn’t see coming, but basically all the characters are terrible people and it definitely had scenes that made me squirm uncomfortably. Not for the faint of heart. BC

  25. Manga Classics: Pride & Prejudice by Stacy King and Jane Austen – Finished 8/25 – Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite novels and I tend to enjoy most adaptations of it. This was no different. I’ve read several graphic novel versions of classic novels now but this series of manga classics is my favorite. They go into just enough details and do a good job expressing the heart and essence of the original without feeling overly abridged. Plus the artwork is beautiful.

  26. Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Stacy King and Nathaniel Hawthorne – Finished 8/28 – This is one of those classics that I loathed in high school and never actually finished so I thought it would be a good book to try in manga format. I think any effort to simplify Nathaniel Hawthorne is a good thing and definitely enjoyed this more than the original. The artwork is well done and you definitely get a good understanding of the story. It feels like the important details and the heart of the story are all intact. As for the actual story, it will probably never be a favorite of mine but I can understand its importance and even why it would be a good book to discuss in school.

  27. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson – Finished 9/16 – I love a good road trip story and this definitely fits the bill. it’s also a story of finding yourself, grief, family and figuring out what you want. and some romance for good measure.

  28. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance – Finished 9/27 – I found myself relating to this book a lot more than I expected to. While I think the author was a bit muddled on exactly what book he was writing and why, I still got a lot out of it. It’s kind of part memoir / part social commentary but there’s definitely something to get out of it and it makes for good conversation fodder and food for thought. It’s not perfect but it’s interesting and written in a conversational style that makes it easy to read. BC

  29. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley – Finished 10/24 – I ended up liking this book a lot more than I was expecting to. The cool thing about a book like this is getting to revel in that voyeuristic tendency – the thing in our brain that makes us turn and stare at a car crash. We want to know more even though it’s none of our business. Over the course of the book we learn more about all the characters, how they came to be on the plane and how it might tie into the resulting crash. Of course you find yourself drawing connections that aren’t there or just aren’t relevant. It wasn’t always fun to read – some of the characters are awful and sometimes the jumping from one plot point to another was intensely annoying as stuff would be starting to “get good” and then we’d be forced to read about someone and something else entirely that felt irrelevant perhaps or just not as interesting. And because all the characters are fairly realistic, none of them are inherently good. They all make mistakes and bad choices. But there are definitely a few that you will root for more than the others, which I think is helpful in keeping a reader engaged. I’d probably give this one 4 1/2 stars to be honest. BC


  30. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han – Finished 10/26 – This was probably not my favorite Jenny Han but I still found it enjoyable and it definitely grew on me towards the end. It’s written in both the past and present with lots of flashbacks thrown in to kind of fill you in on the backstory of the characters but rather than being helpful it just felt distracting – like maybe this should have been two books instead of one? But in typical Jenny Han fashion, I found myself getting emotionally attached to the characters anyway and yes of course I want to read book two. It has that same sweetness that you are used to if you have read Han before and the juxtaposition of that sweetness meeting the sometimes gritty nature of the so called real world which kind of brings that sweetness to a realistic place that isn’t so saccharine.

  31. Reading People by Anne Bogel – Finished 10/2017 – It’s not very often that I read a nonfiction book like this from cover to cover. I’m an amateur personality geek and a big fan of the author’s – I’ve been reading her blog Modern Mrs. Darcy for years. I wasn’t sure how beneficial a book outlining various personality tests would be but I actually got a LOT out of this book. She does a good job explaining various tests out there and what the information from the results can do for your actual life and how to best get an accurate result. I definitely turned into one of those people who would not shut up about myers briggs and ennegram and introverts / extroverts, etc. I think I got to know myself a lot better reading this and also a few of the people near and dear to me. The only problem is that now I have much more reading to do!

  32. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal– Finished 11/27 – This is one of those books that would benefit from a half star option because it really hovers between 3 and 4 stars for me. I enjoyed the overall plot of this story and getting to know a new to me culture; exploring the ways that we are all the same even when we seem so different either generationally or culturally. There is an underlying mystery that kept me intrigued and a bit of a love story as well. I did feel that the pacing was a bit off and some of the foreshadowing felt forced. I also felt the ending tied up a bit too neatly for my liking. It didn’t stop me from enjoying reading it though. BC

  33. Level Up by Cathy YardleyFinished 12/22 – This was a lightning fast read that made me blush. Gratuitous geeky references, file this one under guilty pleasure. I took some issues with the writing itself but the chemistry between the main characters and the underlying plot kept me reading to see it through.

  34. Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna KendrickFinished 12/28 – Anna Kendrick is 100% a kindred spirit. This book was funny and self deprecating – we’re basically BFFs now. 

Books Read in: 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016

Here’s to another great year of reading!

What was the best book you read this year?