2018 Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge

Let’s talk about reading goals! In the past I’ve focused mostly on reading a set number of books each year and while I’ll probably throw a number at Goodreads.com in a couple of weeks, I wanted to focus on something more specific this year: actually reading the books I’ve already bought. And it turns out I’m not alone. Apparently this is such a common problem that a massively popular reading challenge has been born of it – it’s called Beat the Backlist and it’s hosted annually by NovelKnight.

Want to Join the Fun?

All you need to do is make a tentative list (which you can edit later) of the books published in 2017 or earlier that you’d like to read next year. Then share that list with NovelKnight here and add your name to the ranks.

Once you sign up you get sorted into teams. Reading the books on your list earns you and your team points and each month one winner will be drawn from the team with the most points to get a book of their choice. Seriously. I’m on Team Dragon:

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The Backlist Books I Plan to Read in 2018

My list is made up of books that I purchased for my Kindle over the past two years but haven’t read yet. Now this doesn’t include ALL the books I purchased in the last two years, just the twelve that look most interesting to me right now. I wanted to leave a little wiggle room for impulse new release reads and book club selections that won’t fit the challenge.

The books I chose were:

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The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie

You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt

Still Life by Louise Penny (Inspector Gamache #1)

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #2)

The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave

Level Up by Cathy Yardley (Fandom Hearts #1)

What are your reading goals for next year? Tell me about your plans in the comments section!

My Favorite Books of 2017

I’m still a little bit in denial that this year is almost over. The fall season has really flown by at lightning speed for me. End of the year posts are starting to make their way around the internet so I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on my favorite books from the past year. These are five of the books I enjoyed the most this year – it’s a real mish mash of genres – something for everyone!

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

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I loved this book. Me and everyone else on the internet, I know, but 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.

I also saw the movie based off of the book this year and was pleasantly surprised at how well it held up to the movie. This is such a rarity but they nailed the casting and it definitely had the same energy and feel as the book and followed the plot remarkably well.

I still need to read Yoon’s other novel, The Sun Is Also a Star, which I’ve heard nothing but good things about.


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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This is book one in the YA fantasy series that my friends and I obsessed over this year. If I were in a Book Gang that like forced people to read books at gunpoint or something, this is the book I would have been shoving at people in 2017. Like ‘read this now or ELSE!!!!’

The main character, Celaena, is not always likeable – she can be a little bit of a snob and a little bit cocky. But over the course of the book she began to grow on me and at the same time the plot became more and more fascinating. There are still a lot of questions left unanswered and a little love triangle developing that I’m interested to see develop.

If you like a bit of world building and magic, this is a good one to check out.


Reading People by Anne Bogel

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One of my favorite bloggers wrote a book and I was so excited that I even pre-ordered it which is not something I normally do.

It’s all about personality types (like Enneagram and Meyers Briggs, etc.) – how to figure out your type and how to make that knowledge actually make a difference in your life. I actually got a LOT out of this book. Anne does a great job explaining the different types and why they would be useful for you to know more about. She gives you reading suggestions and preferred tests to take and talks about how knowing her various types has helped her in her own life.

If you are a personality geek or would like to be one, this was a really useful book and also just fun to read!


Ready Player One by Ernest Cline 

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This book is about go become a movie so maybe you’ve seen the trailers in the theater. I’m both excited and nervous for the movie and I totally have been acting like That Reader already after seeing the trailer with friends I keep feeling the need to say, “Yeah but that’s not really what the book is about!” Which I think goes to show you how much of an impact the book ended up having on me.

This book took me awhile to read between the somewhat long length and my own life interrupting my progress but I’m glad I ended up finishing it finally! This book is like a love letter to the 1980’s and Geek Culture. It’s a sweeping adventure tale and a little bit of a coming of age and love story as well. The premise is pretty fantastical and I think it will make for a cool movie even if I grumble through the entire thing.


The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

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If you are looking for some classic “chick lit” – a sweet love story starring a kinda shy girl who isn’t sure what she’s doing with her life and makes a major life change to find herself and find love…. This book is absolutely just the thing.

This story was so good that I pretty much immediately dove into Colgan’s backlist. It’s got wanderlust, love story, self discovery and bookworm fantasy for days. I’ve enjoyed a lot of her other books, too, and keep splurging for more so at this point I kind of consider her a sure thing.

What was your favorite read this year?

The 5 books that have Been on my TBR the longest.

This week’s prompt for Top 5 Tuesday is 5 books that have been on your TBR the longest. I look forward to seeing everyone’s lists for this prompt because so often we are all sharing the same assortment of titles that are hot on everyone’s radars. This prompt should give us all a broader peek at each other’s reading habits.

I’m actually sharing the 5 books which have been on my Amazon wishlist the longest because I don’t keep up with my GoodReads TBR list well at all and my physical bookshelves would be too difficult to gauge time spent on shelf waiting for me.

So here are the 5 books that have been on my Amazon wishlist the longest:

51lNQ4Rs0ALHit by Delilah Dawson is the oldest resident on my wishlist. The premise of this book is so unique and so compelling to me. I’m honestly not sure why I haven’t purchased this one yet:

No one reads the fine print.

The good news is that the USA is finally out of debt. The bad news is that it was bought out by Valor National Bank, and debtors are the new big game, thanks to a tricky little clause hidden deep in the fine print of a credit card application. Now, after a swift and silent takeover that leaves 9-1-1 calls going through to Valor voicemail, they’re unleashing a wave of anarchy across the country.

Patsy didn’t have much of a choice. When the suits showed up at her house threatening to kill her mother then and there for outstanding debt unless Patsy agreed to be an indentured assassin, what was she supposed to do? Let her own mother die?


51z70WYC6HLOnly Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill boasts a beautiful cover and a promising premise as well. I think the only reason I haven’t purchased this one yet because I have read similar sounding stories already:

Where women are created for the pleasure of men, beauty is the first duty of every girl. In Louise O’Neill’s world of Only Every Yours women are no longer born naturally, girls (called “eves”) are raised in Schools and trained in the arts of pleasing men until they come of age. Freida and Isabel are best friends. Now, aged sixteen and in their final year, they expect to be selected as companions–wives to powerful men. All they have to do is ensure they stay in the top ten beautiful girls in their year. The alternatives–life as a concubine, or a chastity (teaching endless generations of girls)–are too horrible to contemplate.
But as the intensity of final year takes hold, the pressure to be perfect mounts. Isabel starts to self-destruct, putting her beauty–her only asset–in peril. And then into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. Freida must fight for her future–even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.

51PdlbUdW8LMy Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster looks just as awesome as all of her other titles but I already have a backlog of her books that I still need to read so I haven’t been able to justify buying this one yet. I stalled out on the last Lancaster book I was reading and have had a hard time diving back into another one but this one sounds frankly awesome:

Readers have followed Jen Lancaster through job loss, sucky city living, weight loss attempts, and 1980s nostalgia. Now Jen chronicles her efforts to achieve cultural enlightenment, with some hilarious missteps and genuine moments of inspiration along the way. And she does so by any means necessary: reading canonical literature, viewing classic films, attending the opera, researching artisan cheeses, and even enrolling in etiquette classes to improve her social graces.

In Jen’s corner is a crack team of experts, including Page Six socialites, gourmet chefs, an opera aficionado, and a master sommelier. She may discover that well-regarded, high-priced stinky cheese tastes exactly as bad as it smells, and that her love for Kraft American Singles is forever. But one thing’s for certain: Eliza Doolittle’s got nothing on Jen Lancaster-and failure is an option.


51ywRbniv+LThe Art of Memoir by Mary Karr has been on my radar for awhile and seems to be beloved by many writers and readers. I think the only reason I haven’t gotten it is because I already have lots of books on writing that I haven’t actually read. Do I need another?

For thirty years Karr has [taught the form of memoir writing], winning teaching prizes at Syracuse.  (The writing program there produced such acclaimed authors as Cheryl Strayed, Keith Gessen, and Koren Zailckas.) In The Art of Memoir, she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre.

Anchored by excerpts from her favorite memoirs and anecdotes from fellow writers’ experience, The Art of Memoir lays bare Karr’s own process. (Plus all those inside stories about how she dealt with family and friends get told— and the dark spaces in her own skull probed in depth.) As she breaks down the key elements of great literary memoir, she breaks open our concepts of memory and identity, and illuminates the cathartic power of reflecting on the past; anybody with an inner life or complicated history, whether writer or reader, will relate.


41D5jtC3TpLEssays of E.B. White was recommended by a blogger a few years ago and has been sitting on my wishlist ever since. I think it might be one of those books that I think I should want to read but I’m not sure if I actually do want to. Does that make sense?

The Amazon description for this book just says, “The classic collection by one of the greatest essayists of our time.” Compelling stuff there, huh? But E.B. White has written some of the best children’s books ever like  Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web and the book has some fairly glowing praises.

One of the reviews on Amazon says:

“What a delicious read. E B White makes a trip in his car an exciting adventure. His essays are full of humor. Life was more rustic. but not exactly calmer and White writes about his career, his family, his environment, his loves and dislikes. His style is so engaging. You go back to a prior time and enjoy the ride and the read.”

Another reviewer blamed the book for ruining college for them so… grain of salt?


These books have all been on my list for over two years. Does that mean I don’t really want to read them since I haven’t purchased them yet or that I really want to read them but they have been rude and haven’t gone on sale ever? It’s hard to say because I do prune the list relatively often when it starts feeling too long to be manageable and these five titles have continued to make the cut.

Have you read any of these?

Which one should I add to my shopping cart first?

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Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly link up hosted by Bionic Bookworm.

My 5 “Auto-Buy” Authors

You know those authors who come out with a new book and you know you are going to buy it pretty much sight unseen? That’s what this week’s Top 5 Tuesday (hosted by the Bionic Book Worm) is all about. I think this list has shifted for me a bit over the years as new authors grab my attention and maybe older authors have become less of a sure thing.

Here are 5 authors who are killing it for me right now:

16068905Rainbow Rowell won me over with Fangirl (which was so popular that it led to a spin off title of the book within the book that our main character is so obsessed with) but has been consistently winning me over with every title since then. Eleanor and Park is beloved by just about everyone and Attachments really sucked me in as well.

If you love fully fleshed out characters that feel like they live inside your heart, under dogs that make good, settings that  feel iconic to a certain time and place – Rowell is your girl. She has yet to not knock it out of the park for me making her an obvious choice for this list.

 


28372019Jenny Colgan is relatively new to the list but after devouring The Bookshop on the Corner, I pretty much immediately bookmarked all of her other books. Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe proved that this is an author that knows her genre and excels at it. She thus very quickly established herself as a sure thing for me.

If you like cozy love stories starring quiet bookworms who learn to love themselves while embarking on a new adventure or career, Colgan is there for you. If you happen to also love it when those stories are set in the UK, bonus points for you. These are the sort of quick reads that have you up until 2AM reading just one more page I swear and then purchasing the next title as soon as you finish.


book one of the Lunar ChroniclesMarissa Meyer jumped to my attention when I started reading The Lunar Chronicles and I’ve basically auto-TBRed all of her books forever. While her novel, Heartless, didn’t quite complete me, I’m still eager to read any and all of her upcoming books.

I love Meyers books for the strong female characters who kick butt and take names, fantastical world building and imperfectly perfect characters who have flaws without being a farce. Even her villains have the opportunity to be fleshed out and understood. She also excels at reinventing well known fairy tales and turning them on their heads.

 


11870085John Green is another author who frankly seems to excel at everything he touches whether it’s a novel or a You Tube show. It’s understandable that the people who love John, really freaking adore him. I think that The Fault in Our Stars is still probably my favorite of his books but I’ve read several and really have loved them all. I’m looking forward to digging into his latest release, Turtles All The Way Down.

John has a talent for tackling topics that are often depressing or difficult to talk about and bringing humor and levity to the issue without downplaying it. He also writes boyfriend characters that you will fall in love with and has his finger on the pulse of what it means to be a teenager.


16130417Lisa Lutz wrote one of my favorite mystery / detective series ever, The Spellman Files and although I didn’t love the last non-Spellman title I read quite as much, I still tend to wishlist all her new releases and wait with baited breath for a new Spellman title (might I be waiting eternally Lisa?).

Lutz is a master at family dynamics and juggling a rotating list of characters whose viewpoints into the story are carefully unfolded at just the right times. Her mysteries are exciting but rarely scary and tend to dwell more on personal growth and relationships but they are still excellent mysteries as you have to really read through the entire book until you get to the heart of the “whodunnit”. Her characters are realistically messy and have a bit of an anti-hero quality that really appeals to me.

Honorable Mentions go to: Jen Lancaster, Christopher Moore, Janet Evanovich and Jennifer Weiner who would definitely have been on this list once upon a time but have kind of dropped off of my “auto buy” list and relocated to my “definitely consider getting” list.

Who would be on your auto buy list?

9 of My Family’s Favorite Children’s Books

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I don’t think it’s any secret that our family loves to read. It’s a source of great pride that all four of us are “hiding under the cover with a flash light and a good book” kind of people. Perhaps the only thing I love more than reading a good book is finding other people a good book to read. So I thought I’d hop on a recent bandwagon of children’s book recommendations (Mommy Shorts has some great picks) and share with you some of our family favorites from the past ten years or so.

Board Books For Babies AKA The Books I Buy For Baby Showers

That’s Not My Bunny by Fiona Watt and Rachel Wells

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This is just one of like a dozen books by Usborne in which the reader flips through a series of bunnies (or dogs, cats, whatever) to find THEIR bunny. Each of the potential bunnies has a defining characteristic that you are encouraged to feel along the way. I love a good touch and feel book for the little ones and my kids were obsessed with this one. It’s a great first board book because there are not too many words, plenty of repetition and lots of bunnies to pet. Way easier than the petting zoo.

We’re Going On a Bear Hunt by Helen Oxenbury and Michael Rosen

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This is one of those books I have a tendency to buy for baby showers. It’s a delight to read out loud which is basically my number one requirement for children’s books. If I feel like I need to paraphrase to get through story time without losing my mind, you aren’t doing it right. This books nails it – it’s got that sweet spot of enough words to not feel brain numbingly simple but not so many that story time needs a glass of wine to get through. Which isn’t to say you can’t have a glass of wine, you just won’t need it to get through page one.

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman

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This was one of the few books that I managed to enjoy even after the 800th reading. My son could not get enough of this gorilla and his antics and just how clueless the zoo keeper is. It’s a very visual book so young non-readers will understand what’s going on before you even start reading but the words are good, too. Another well rounded winner for reading out loud.

Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Seuss

51+BkXslZSL._SX367_BO1,204,203,200_I’ll be honest, this might be the only Dr. Seuss book that doesn’t make me want to run screaming for the hills. Most of his books have that “I need a glass of wine after the first page” quality but this one is awesome and everyone loves it. I fall into a rhythm with this one and still love reading it to babies now. I have the voices and cadence down and get annoyed when other people read it because they don’t do the sound effects right. Yes, I know, I’m a lot.

 

Picture Books You’ll Love More Than Your Kids

We Are In a Book by Mo Willems

51YSqwj-U2L._SX363_BO1,204,203,200_Mo Willems is basically a master of children’s literature and his Piggie and Elephant series is the one you need in your life when your kids start learning to read. There are like a dozen of them and they are all fantastic but this one is my favorite.

Your kids will laugh out loud as you read this to them – it’s one of those stories where the reader kind of becomes a character which is always makes for a lot of laughs. And the repetition is just the right amount to help with beginning readers but not so much that you find yourself dying inside as you read it.

Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman

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This is the first in a series of books about Lulu or Ladybug Girl. The illustrations are stunningly beautiful and kind of turn me into a puddle of emotions. This series captures childhood in a way that is remarkable to me and I have a tendency to gush about it.

This book has a tendency to bring out my inner child and makes for a very impactful story time.

 

The Monster At The End of This Book by Jon Stone and Mike Smollin

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Is there anyone alive who doesn’t love this book? My kids still get a kick out of this story. Heck, I still get a kick out of this story which I remember reading when I was a kid (like a few years ago). It’s kind of similar to the Piggie and Elephant books in the way they play with the fourth wall, bringing the reader into the story. The illustrations are awesome and you will hear Grover’s voice in your head when you are reading it (bonus points if you can pull off a good Grover voice out loud while reading it to your kids).

This one wins the nostalgia for days award in addition to just being an excellent book.

Literally Any Berenstain Bears book

61NKiO9R64LAny time I have some kind of life lesson or milestone that I’m trying to solidify for my kids, I have a tendency to turn to the Berenstain Bears because they have a book for literally any life situation from eating too much candy to talking to strangers to welcoming a new baby into the family. But they never really feel like one big long lecture full of bears. I loved this series as a kid and I’m so thrilled that my kids enjoyed it as much as I did.

I also love their easy reader series and highly recommend it to beginning readers.

Or Little Critter book

61H3NZ5BQ8L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_My kids love this series, too. I think we have one for every major holiday and I loved All By Myself because I think literally every kid in the universe can relate to this and every parent remembers this phase vividly. The illustrations are so sweet. I love looking to see what the mouse is doing on each page.

What are some of your family’s favorite children’s books?

Top 5 Tuesday: Characters I’d Rule the World With

Top 5 Tuesday is a meme hosted by the Bionic Book Worm, and it explores a different bookish topic each week! The theme this week is:

I was immediately intrigued by this prompt. Because Winter is coming, my first choice is a no brainier. I’m going to need Dany (and her dragons obvy). And also Tyrion for good measure and to keep Dany in check. Fire power, bad assery and diplomacy. Check.

Next I need an incredible warrior with something resembling a moral code. I choose Caelena Sardothian from the Throne of Glass series. She’s probably the most kick ass warrior I’ve encountered in a story.

So I’ve got a fighter, a diplomat and a mother of dragons. Now I need a sharp mind with a passion for knowledge. Someone who knows her shit and knows where to find information when we need it. Obviously that has to be Hermione Granger.

Lastly, we need an optimist and a voice of the people. Someone who won’t get caught up in their agenda and will remind us who we are fighting for. Someone with a cool head who knows how to handle people in a tizzy. We need Jane Bennet.

What do you think? How are my odds looking? Will we be victorious or go down in flames? Who would you pick?

Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice vs. The Scarlet Letter

I’ve been on a graphic novel kick lately and my most recent discovery is this line of Manga Classics which I discovered through NetGalley. You might remember from my recent post that I’ve been having mixed results with classics turned graphic novel. I liked some but found others lacking. It’s hard to really convey the full emotion and essence of a story in graphic novels without them being mammoth beasts. But manga seems like a different beast altogether and I was curious to give them a try.

If you are new to Manga, the most important thing you need to know is that the books are read basically entirely backwards from how you are familiar. The first page is going to be what you consider the last page and even the way you read each page is different. This image from Manga Classics does a great job explaining this:

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So for my first Manga experience I decided to read my all time favorite book, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:

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image credit: https://www.facebook.com/mangaclassics/

 

Being my favorite book could be setting an unfairly high bar for this edition but to be honest I’m kind of obsessed with reinterpretations of Pride and Prejudice. All the movies and tv series, modern adaptations like Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld and especially the youtube series, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. So really, all this book had to do was not be terrible.

To say I was not disappointed would be an understatement. I loved the artwork – the story drifts between lush, beautiful portraits and quirky even more cartoonish asides with fun sketches thrown in. It feels like a true lover of Jane Austen developed this – it’s playful but attentive to every detail. The book does an excellent job of fleshing out all the emotions of the story through varied artistic styles to fit the mood and the illustrator is a pro at making extremely expressive facial features.

It also doesn’t feel overly abridged. I think it did a good job of paying homage to the original and may even be a leaping off point to get people to pick up the original book afterwards or other books by Austen. Any road to Austen is a good road!

My Rating: 5/5


Next I decided to be really bold and attempt reading the Manga Classics edition of The Scarlet Letter, one of my least favorite books of all time basically. Like anyone who has spoken to me about books for more than 5 seconds probably knows how I feel about good ole Hawthorne.

So in reading this version, I wanted to find out if I’d be able to appreciate the story more in a graphic and abridged version or if I’d even finish it at all. Could the manga format make Nathaniel Hawthorne bearable?

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image credit: https://www.facebook.com/mangaclassics/

 

Bearable, yes. I even finished it. The artwork continues to be stunning and very emotive and because of the nature of the book there are no never ending passages describing nothing in particular making me want to throw the book over a cliff.

Was this book a super fun read? Definitely not. It’s a pretty depressing story tbh and also kinda creepy. I think this is probably what Hawthorne was going for and having actually finished the story finally I understand why it’s required reading at a lot of schools. There are important ideas being considered in this story – but Hawthorne is so stupid boring that I never even got to them in high school. Or maybe my teacher was boring? Who knows. Either way, a graphic version of this story went a long way with me. I could SEE the story being told and understand what was going on.

My Rating: 3/5 stars but those 3 stars are earned entirely by the Manga Classics peeps. Without them it would continue to be a 0/5.


I think Manga Classics could be an awesome addition to a high school reading curriculum. The kids that are just not breaking through with the original might really benefit from a more visual format and these editions are excellent. Even the kids who are already inhaling Austen like it ain’t no thang would probably enjoy experiencing it in another format as well. It’s a great opportunity to compare and contrast and possibly more timely than BBC adaptations, awesome as they are.

Do you read manga? Do you have a favorite?

What’s your favorite classic novel?

Least favorite?

The Book Titles Tag.

Birdie Bookworm tagged me in this Book Titles tag. This one is a little different from most book tags – the idea is to answer questions about yourself using only book titles. Fun right?

Here is a link the original creators – I guess it was originally a Youtube tag:
https://youtu.be/I5_S1KGTd-w & https://youtu.be/Lb97dfiBLf4

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1. Title that’s the story of your life

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My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella felt ideal for this one as I tend to exist in a constant state of self deprecation. I know that on the whole I live a pretty good life but nobody’s life is perfect, definitely not mine.


2. Title that describes your perfect weekend

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I’m pretty sure my perfect weekend involves traveling to some slightly exotic locale near the water and of course coffee. The Cafe by the Sea by Jenny Colgan – an author who seems very tapped into my particular breed of wanderlust.


3. Title of an adventure you’d like to go on

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Ha, are you sensing a theme here? The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell sounds pretty incredible. If my husband ever wanted to go live in a European country for a year, I’d definitely be down for that.


4. Title you want to name your child

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First, let me be clear – I do not intend to have any more children, at all. That phase of my life has passed. But in the name of playing along, Anna seems like a name that would make my short list. I’m all about traditional names as evidenced by the names of my actual children. Birdie used a Stephanie Perkins book for this question also, so, twinsies.


5. Title of your ideal job

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I’m not sure what my ideal job is these days but I’m guessing I’m unqualified for it. Travel writer, small town librarian, professional coffee drinker? Executive Netflix watcher?


6. Title of a place you’d like to visit

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See, I told you. Jenny Colgan gets me. The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris = I want to go to there.


7. Title of your love life

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This seems like kind of a dark choice in books to describe my love life. Let me be clear, I’m referring to the title only and not the plot of Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill (which sounds fantastic if not remotely romantic).


8. Questions you ask yourself

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LOL What Happened by Hillz seemed fitting because aren’t we all wondering but honorable mention should go to:

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How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk because the struggle is real.


9. Title of a kingdom you want to rule OR name

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The Kingdom of Neverwhere – doesn’t that sound like a book you’d want to read? I grew up near a city named Ware which was obviously the pun of many jokes so this feels apropos.


10. Title you’d name your band.

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Renegades by Marissa Meyer is so clearly the perfect band name. Also I can’t wait for this book to come out.


11. What is your current mood?

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I stayed up too late last night and have yet to feel truly awake today. My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster pretty much sums up my motivation level today.


12. What is your favorite color?

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Yeah I’ll be honest, I chose this one because there’s a color in the title. I’ve heard good things about Red Rising by Pierce Brown – have you read it? Or red it? lol


13. How do you feel about 2017 so far?

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I think a lot of us feel like 2017 has been spent dealing with the fallout from 2016.


14. Where do you want to travel?

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I’m running out of books that adequately describe my wanderlust guys. I had to dip out of my Amazon wish list for this one and also basically rip off Birdie’s answer but it is true. I want to see everything. Everything. (PS I just watched the movie Sunday night and it was soooo good)


15. What are your summer plans?

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Yeah summer pretty much has ended here. My kids have already been back in school for a week and we are counting down those last days of August.


16. What are your 2017 goals?

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Yeah my goals for the rest of the year consist almost entirely of volunteering at my kids’ school in various capacities. Just add in exercise and eat some green things.

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I tag the people who read this entire post.

The Best Books My Eight Year Old Read This Summer | Video Review

My kids basically read the entire public library this summer and they have a lot of feels about it that I thought you might enjoy. I made these video reviews starring my eight year old because her recaps are so cute they basically begged to be recorded. And then edited a tad to cut out some of the umms and uhhhs and staring blankly at the camera bits. And given a snazzy postorized effect because anything starring my daughter should probably more colorful than seems necessary.

BB fell in love with the world of graphic novels this summer so it is not very surprising that her two favorites are both from that section.

6389496Pigling is a graphic novel Cinderella story by Dan Jolley and Anne Timmons but it definitely stands on its own as a unique tale.

Pear Blossom, a young Korean girl, leads a happy life … until her mother dies and her father remarries. Her new wicked stepmother and stepsister make Pear Blossom the victim of their cruelty. But … one day, the girl meets a handsome magistrate. Will Pear Blossom’s luck change for the better? Or is she destined to suffer at her stepfamily’s hands forever?

This was just one of the incredible graphic novelized renditions of a classic tale that we found and devoured this summer. You can read my thoughts on a few more here.

Here are all of my daughter’s thoughts about Pigling:


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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic by  Katie Cook and Andy Price stars those ponies that you are probably already a little familiar with. Just in case you are not well versed in all things My Little Pony though…

Welcome to Ponyville, home of Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and all your other favorite Ponies! Something’s not right in the town though, as some of the inhabitants are acting very, very strange! It’s up to the Mane Six to find the source of the weirdness before it’s too late!

And if your darling enjoys this one, don’t worry as there are many more books that follow it.

Here’s what my eight year old has to say about this one:


What books are your kids reading right now?

What book should my daughter read next?

The Best Book I Read This Summer | And 2 More Books Worth Mentioning

What’s the best thing you’ve read this summer? Jo asked this question on her blog recently and although I answered her in the comments section, I decided it was a question that deserved its own post here. I know you are always looking for a good book recommendation – it’s what makes us kindred spirits, after all.

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This summer I finally read Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas after it was recommended to me by basically everyone. Maas is kind of a big name in young adult literature but she has basically a thousand books and I was having a hard time remembering which one I was supposed to read but I finally got my ‘ish together and got a copy of TOG and found a moment in between book club picks to see what the fuss was all about.

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

This book completely sucked me in and I totally get why so many people love it. I loved all of the characters, especially Calaena, and was so invested in the story. The best part is that it’s part of a well established series so there are plenty more books to OMG my way through.

There are a small handful of books that I find myself borderline pushing on people when we talk books – perhaps I’ve all but thrown Cinder by Marissa Meyer or anything by Rainbow Rowell your way? This is your newest assigned reading in the People Who Can Be Book Friends With Jen Club.

Okay so we’ve established that I’m obsessed with this book but I read a few other winners this summer that I think are worth mentioning if you need one more book to curl up with this summer (or fall, I’m not picky).


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If you are looking for a book that will combine a futuristic society, virtual reality and absolutely every cult classic from the 1980’s and throw in a good old love story to boot – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is there for you.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be … And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the easter egg / ultimate lottery ticket hidden by OASIS creator James Halliday before his death – that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

This one is being turned into a movie that I’m not sure if I’m excited for or dreading but if you want to experience the book first now is your chance.


28372019If you want a sweet story that’s as old as time ; you know the one – bookworm loses job and decides to move to the middle of nowhere in Scotland to sell books out of a van – then The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan is exactly what you need right now.

Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker… Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more… Determined to make a new life for herself, [she] buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile…. From helping her [new] grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

It has absolutely nothing to do with You’ve Got Mail (sorry) but don’t let that minor disappointment stop you from picking it up because it’s an otherwise fantastic story. It’s the perfect cure for a case of summertime wanderlust and it’s basically a book lover’s dream.

What’s the best book you’ve read this summer?