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 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?

What I’m Into: December 2017

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It’s been a busy month here – we’ve been enjoying Christmas Tree farms, piano recitals, cookie baking, parties with friends and all the usual fun stuff that goes into a month. Aside from the family fun, here are some of the things that have been keeping me occupied in those in between moments.

On My Bookshelf

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I’ve been reading Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick this month and really enjoying it. I’ve always loved Anna’s movies and her amazeballs singing voice but reading the book and getting to know her as her actual person has been so fun. I’m only mostly delusional when I say that OMG we could totally be BFFs in real life!!

In My Kitchen

 I’ve been baking up a small winter storm as one tends to do around Christmas. Not everything was a winner but these three recipes need to be in your life.

This FUDGE recipe is so easy it almost feels like cheating. You only need three ingredients aside from salt and no candy thermometer or savvy candy making skills are required. You really just need the patience to let it set on your counter without eating it before it’s ready. I made the same recipe using peanut butter chips and that came out awesome, too. My waist line is fearful about how easy this was.

I made these RUM BALLS for my husband and he cannot stop eating them. They are potent as heck and way too delicious. Also super easy to make. These taste better the longer they chill out in your fridge so I recommend making them a couple of days before you need them. Because you definitely need them.

Okay if you are feeling like you want to step up your cookie baking game, I made these FRUIT CAKE SHORTBREAD COOKIES from Martha Stewart’s website and mylanta. This isn’t a difficult recipe but there are a lot more steps involved than I normally willingly get myself into. You’ll be chopping dried fruits, macerating them in terrific smelling booziness for a few hours, softening two sticks of butter and then making the cookie dough and shaping it into a triangular log. Then letting the dough chill for an hour in the fridge. Then slicing the log into super cute cookies and baking them. Then the hard part – not eating them all before your guests arrive. Real bakers probably read this and thought it all sounded easy but my fellow half assers know what I’m talking about. This recipe was a real test in will power and commitment but oh so worth it because:

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So good.

On My TV

THE MIDDLE’S FAREWELL SEASON has been stringing me along all fall. Somehow this season turned me into a squealing fangirl shipper when it comes to Sue. Wasn’t she an awkward little tweenie bopper like a minute ago? I’m going to miss this show when it’s over but I also do think they are ending at the right time. What family sitcom should I pick up next?

AUSTRALIA’S NEXT TOP MODEL is streaming on Hulu and it’s filling the void that Tyra Banks left in my life when America’s Next Top Model ended. The formula is pretty similar but a bit different and the Aussie slang is kind of giving me life right now.

STRANGER THINGS SEASON 2 was all the things that season one delivered and maybe even just a little more. We probably waited longer to finish it than most people but it was still one of the best shows Dan and I watched this fall and I’m already missing it like crazy.

On My Phone

I’ve downloaded a few new to me games worth mentioning recently like:

DRACONIUS GO which is basically the same premise as Pokemon Go but it actually runs on my phone. My husband got me hooked on this one and it has resulted in a lot of family walks and drives around town looking for arenas. Yeah, we’re those people.

KNITTENS! is only available as a prerelease app right now but it shows a lot of promise. It’s a match three game that has you collecting yarn and patterns to “knit” outfits for your in app kitten. Seriously. It’s the most adorable game ever.

BACKPACKER is a kind of Travel Trivia geography game that tests your knowledge of the world as your character backpacks around the world, picking up odd jobs and doing favors, answering trivia questions and more. I’m far, far too into this game.

What have you been up to lately?

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?

top-5-tuesday

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?