Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Review: A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal
What do you do when you discover that the person you've built your life around never existed? When "it could never happen to me" does happen to you? 

These are the questions facing Jen Waite when she begins to realize that her loving husband--the father of her infant daughter, her best friend, the love of her life--fits the textbook definition of psychopath. In a raw, first-person account, Waite recounts each heartbreaking discovery, every life-destroying lie, and reveals what happens once the dust finally settles on her demolished marriage.

After a disturbing email sparks Waite's suspicion that her husband is having an affair, she tries to uncover the truth and rebuild trust in her marriage. Instead, she finds more lies, infidelity, and betrayal than she could have imagined. Waite obsessively analyzes her relationship, trying to find a single moment from the last five years that isn't part of the long-con of lies and manipulation. With a dual-timeline narrative structure, we see Waite's romance bud, bloom, and wither simultaneously, making the heartbreak and disbelief even more affecting.
Writing
Just beautifully done.  It helps that I identified so much with the subject matter of the book.  Not that I was married to a psychopath, but I was in a marriage to a person who had a life I didn't know anything about.  I could greatly identify with a lot of what Waite goes through in the book and having recently been through my own difficult divorce made it a very emotional read for me.  In terms of the writing, I do wish that rather than flipping back and forth between before and after Waite learns of her husband's affair, the book had been divided into two distinct sections.  I found the constant switching between timelines to be a bit of a distraction.  Other than that, I had absolutely nothing but raves for the quality of the author's writing.

Entertainment Value
Again, identifying with so much of what the author was going through really made this book a winner for me.  I devoured it over the course of a weekend and just couldn't make myself put it down.  Waite's story is both heart-wrenching and hopeful, which is exactly what I was looking for and really spoke to me and my own situation.  I think I would have enjoyed it even had I not identified so closely with the author, but having recent commonalities with her made the book even more real for me.

Overall
I highly recommend reading this one.  It's beautifully done, but you'll want to read it with a box of tissues handy.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review.

Monday, July 10, 2017

My Summer Reading Syllabus

I've always been obsessed with summer reading and the idea of having a checklist of books to read in the summer while school was out.  I loved having assigned reading, but I also wasn't afraid to give myself assignments if I didn't feel like we were being given sufficient reading material to last us the summer.  I recently found this self-created summer reading list from my high school days, complete with commentary from my friends, who thought I was nuts for making my own checklist.


Things haven't changed much since high school.  One of the things I miss the most about high school and college is having a list of things to read in the summer.  I first tried out the idea of creating my own summer syllabus last year, but the implosion of my marriage meant that things went off track pretty quickly.  So this year I'm trying again, this time with the help of my bullet journal, which I've recently become obsessed with.  Here's what I've got:






What do you think?  Am I crazy?  What would you put on your summer syllabus?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Book Review: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

The Breakdown

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?
Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped. 
But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby. 
The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt. 
Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…
Writing
Wow.  Um, this was bad.  Really bad.  I hate to just say it that way, but there's no other way to put it.  I knew immediately what was going on and who was responsible.  I hoped for the entire book that it was a red herring, but it wasn't.  It was exactly what I thought it was from the very first page.  I was so disappointed.  In addition to being absolutely, straightforwardly predictable, the details of the book just don't make sense.  It ventures into spoiler territory to say more, but suffice it to say that Paris's characters are dumb as rocks.

Entertainment Value
Knowing the whodunnit from the first page kind of ruined the suspense, but even if there was a question of who was behind the threat, the threat itself was so mild that there was no real sense of suspense or terror through most of the book.  Cass's fear largely revolves around silent phone calls.  We don't get a good explanation for why she doesn't stop answering the phone, call the police to have the calls traced, or just unplug the phone.  But when the most threatening thing happening is answering the phone to silence, it's hard to feel like anyone is in any real danger.  I was expecting a lot more tension than I ever got.  A lot of the book consists of Cass crying and falling to pieces over and over and over.  

Overall
I absolutely don't recommend it.  I appreciate NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with review copies, but I was really let down by the reading experience and glad that it at least read quickly and didn't take up a large amount of time.  If it hadn't been a fast read, it would have been a DNF.   
 


Monday, July 3, 2017

What I Read in June


June was such a beautiful month for my family.  My youngest brother, the baby of the family, married his college sweetheart in a beautiful ceremony in east Tennessee.  We got to see all of our extended family and some Arkansas friends that we haven't seen in years.  It such a special trip and such a blessing to add another sister to our family.  A lot of people asked me if, given my recent divorce, it was hard on me, but the truth is that Andrew is kind of my pet sibling and I was so happy to see him happy that it wasn't difficult at all.  My older brother and his wife and children came and it is always a treat to see them.

June was also a very good month for me in terms of reading.  I got a lot accomplished and I'm feeling like I'm finally getting my feet back under me when it comes to reading and enjoying books.  Here's what I read:

Clean My Space by Melissa Maker
The Fireman by Joe Hill
Brave New Girl: How to Be Fearless by Lou Hamilton
Snow Blind by Ollie Masters
Best Enemies by Jane Heller
Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
Hello Tokyo by Ebony Bizys
The Blessing of Humility by Jeff Bridges
The Only Child by Andrew Pyper
Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren (for the second time this year)
Drawing Calm by Susan Evenson
My Secret by Frank Warren
A Lifetime of Secrets by Frank Warren
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
Penance by Kanae Minato
The Dark Net by Jamie Bartlett
Sex Object by Jessica Valente
Relish by Lucy Knisley

What did you read in June?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Review: Strange Contagion by Lee Daniel Kre

Strange Contagion: Inside the Surprising Science of Infectious Behaviors and Viral Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves



Social contagion. We all know that ideas, emotions, and actions are communicable—from mirroring someone’s posture to mimicking their speech patterns, we are all driven by unconscious motivations triggered by our environment. But when just the right physiological, psychological, and social factors come together, we get what Kravetz calls a "strange contagion:" a perfect storm of highly common social viruses that, combined, form a highly volatile condition. 
Strange Contagion is simultaneously a moving account of one community’s tragedy and a rigorous investigation of social phenomenon, as Kravetz draws on research and insights from experts worldwide to unlock the mystery of how ideas spread, why they take hold, and offer thoughts on our responsibility to one another as citizens of a globally and perpetually connected world.  
Writing
I love nonfiction that reads like fiction, and this title certainly falls into that category.  You can tell that Kravetz is a journalist at heart because he reports events in such a gripping and straightforward manner that is both easy to read and interesting.  It avoids the danger territories of dry and overly academic and sticks with being what I would consider popular social science - strongly researched but very readable for the common reader.

Entertainment Value
Again, the research here is strong and well cited, which is always a plus for me.  It's also an interesting topic that the author reports like a story, rather than a textbook, which keeps the reader moving from chapter to chapter without being dull or dry.

Overall
If you enjoy a good pop social science along the lines of Malcolm Gladwell, this is one you'll want to pick up.  Kravetz has great insight into the social phenomenon of contagious ideas and how they spread and what it means for people.  I appreciate that he looks at how it can be used positively as well as the negative consequences.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for having me on the tour and providing me with a copy to review.  Click here to see a list of all the stops on the tour and click here to see the publisher's page for the book.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Mid-Year Book Survey, Just for Fun!

June marks the halfway point of the year, and I thought it would be fun to do a little mini-survey about what I've read so far and how the year is going in terms of reading and books and literary loves and disappointments.  I found this via Shout at Me, a book tuber I particularly enjoy.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017
    Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren - I actually read this one twice in 2017 alone, so yeah,     it's earned it's spot as my favorite of the year.

2. Best sequel you've read so far in 2017.
    March, Book Three

3. New release you haven't read yet, but want to.
    Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez - I actually have this one sitting on my desk waiting         for me to pick it up, I just have to make myself do it.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.
    A Beautiful Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal by Jen Waite - seems like it's going to         be both a difficult book to read and also one that could be healing and meaningful to my own life.

5. Biggest disappointment.
    Before the Fall by Noah Hawley - I was very excited to read this one, and it just didn't live up to the           rave reviews I'd heard it receive.

6. Biggest surprise.
    My Lady Jane - I didn't expect this to be my kind of book at all, but I listened to it on audio for book         club and was delighted by how funny and charming it was.

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)
    Marilynn Robinson - I can't wait to dive into the Gilead Trilogy after finishing Housekeeping last week

8. Newest fictional crush. 
    I always hate this question because it's one that I just don't seem to connect with.  I can't think of a           fictional crush.  They're all...fictional and I am just a boring pragmatist.

9. Newest favorite character. 
    I feel like this is cheating, but without having read much fiction this year I'm going to have to choose a     real person.  Congressman John Lewis from the March series.  What an inspiration.

10. Book that made you cry.
    I've had several of those this year, but the first to come to mind is The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp.

11. Book that made you happy.
     Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen

12. Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year. 
     Haven't seen one yet, but I do want to see My Cousin Rachel

13. Most beautiful book you've bought so far this year (or received)
     I just received a copy of The Essex Serpent in the mail and it is absolutely gorgeous in hardback.  I          can't rave enough about how beautiful it is and how much fun it is to touch.  I haven't read it yet, but        man is it nice to have on the shelf.

I'd love to know all about your reading years and how they're going.  Feel free to copy and paste this in the comments or leave a link to your own blog or youtube or instagram or wherever you post about books!  I'd love to see other readers tell what they've been up to this year!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

The Fireman

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.
Writing
This is my first book by Joe Hill and I'm quite pleased with the quality of his writing here.  I have a few quibbles, but overall I found the book to be well done.  I loved the characters, particularly Harper, who has a Mary Poppins obsession.  I also thought the world building was very well done.  The worldwide reaction to the pandemic is believable and fascinating and everything I wanted it to be.  My biggest problem with the writing is that I felt like the story built to something major and then ended quickly without quite living up to the level of tension created in the rest of the book.

Entertainment Value
I couldn't get enough of this one.  It was another car trip audiobook and kept me fully entertained while driving.  It's quite long, so listeners should be prepared for a bit of a commitment but know that the story won't let you down.  Again, the ending had me a bit disappointed, but not enough that I regretted any part of the experience.

Narration
I thought this part was just ok.  It wasn't my favorite narrator and I definitely didn't love the accents she used.  It could have been worse, but I've heard better.

Overall
The book itself is a must read for fans of dystopias or pandemic novels, although I think whether your read it in print or listen is just a matter of preference.  The narration isn't great enough to make it specifically preferable on audio.

I listened to this one via Hoopla, provided by my local public library!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Book Review: The Blessing of Humility by Jerry Bridges

The Blessing of Humility
We all admire humility when we see it. But how do we practice it? How does humility--the foundational virtue of the normal Christian life--become a normal part of our everyday lives?

Jerry Bridges sees in the Beatitudes a series of blessings from Jesus, a pattern for humility in action. Starting with poverty in spirit--an acknowledgment that in and of ourselves we are incapable of living holy lives pleasing to God--and proceeding through our mourning over personal sin, our hunger and thirst for righteousness, our experience of persecutions large and small, and more, we discover that humility is itself a blessing: At every turn, God is present to us, giving grace to the humble and lifting us up to blessing.
Writing
There's a reason Bridges is a bestselling Christian author.  His writing is easy to understand and he presents difficult concepts clearly and concisely for a general audience.  That said, there is a simplicity to his writing that can also feel a bit shallow at times.  This book on the beatitudes for example, is more of a brief meditation than an in depth look.  At just 106 pages, you aren't going to go too deeply into any concept and still manage to cover each of the beatitudes.  That doesn't mean that there was nothing to learn, just that it was limited in scope and depth.

Entertainment Value
As I mentioned above, this is quite easy to read.  Being a shorter book, it moves along quickly and makes for a great devotional book, with short chapters and discussion or meditation questions at the end of the book for further reflection on each chapter.  I read a chapter each night and found that to be a good way to move through the book, although it certainly would have been fine to read in one sitting as well.

Overall
I enjoyed the read, although I did wish for more depth.  I was pleased to learn new things about the beatitudes that I hadn't known before.  One of my favorite new pieces of information was that "blessed are those who mourn" refers not to those who mourn in terms of sadness or grief for something sad that has happened to them but those who are grieved by their own sin.  I love finding new things to consider in Scripture and was pleased to find an entire chapter devoted to this in the book.

Thank you to Tyndale for providing me with a copy to review!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Review: My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach

My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward: A Memoir
A heart-wrenching, yet hopeful, memoir of a young marriage that is redefined by mental illness and affirms the power of love.

Mark and Giulia’s life together began as a storybook romance. They fell in love at eighteen, married at twenty-four, and were living their dream life in San Francisco. When Giulia was twenty-seven, she suffered a terrifying and unexpected psychotic break that landed her in the psych ward for nearly a month. One day she was vibrant and well-adjusted; the next she was delusional and suicidal, convinced that her loved ones were not safe.

Eventually, Giulia fully recovered, and the couple had a son. But, soon after Jonas was born, Giulia had another breakdown, and then a third a few years after that. Pushed to the edge of the abyss, everything the couple had once taken for granted was upended.

A story of the fragility of the mind, and the tenacity of the human spirit, My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward is, above all, a love story that raises profound questions: How do we care for the people we love? What and who do we live for? Breathtaking in its candor, radiant with compassion, and written with dazzling lyricism, Lukach’s is an intensely personal odyssey through the harrowing years of his wife’s mental illness, anchored by an abiding devotion to family that will affirm readers’ faith in the power of love.
Writing
It's a heartbreaking story, and I think Lukach does a great job of capturing the vast range of emotions he experiences as he and his wife spend years going through the roller coaster of mental illness.  I felt like he really went deep with his emotions and didn't keep much back from the reader - he was raw and honest, even when his emotions were hard to understand or explain.  He does a wonderful job of putting the reader in his position.

Entertainment Value
While it's hard to say you're entertained by such a raw view of another person's distress and suffering, this book is engrossing and does keep the reader involved in the story from the first page.  You want to see Guilia recover and reunite with her family as a mentally whole person.  The reader is firmly invested in the outcome, which means that the book is certainly gripping.

Overall
This is definitely a must-read for fans of mental illness memoirs, which sounds like a crazy genre unless you're a fan of the genre, in which case you know it is its own entire genre.  It's also a great read for anyway who has an interest in enduring love stories and memoirs about overcoming insurmountable obstacles as a couple.

Thanks to TLC for providing me with a copy to review!  You can click here to see the other stops on the tour!


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Minis





I've got a bunch of these to cover, as they've made up a lot of my reading in the past few months, so I'm going to do several mini reviews over the coming months as I try to catch up on reviews and keep you posted on what I've loved and what I haven't enjoyed as much.  I'll just jump right in with the first batch:
Snow Blind

This one is about a teenage boy who has a distant relationship with his parents that becomes even more strained when he learns that they aren't who he has grown up believing them to be.  The artwork here is beautiful.  I love watercolors and I love the muted palette and style used here.  The story wasn't as gripping as I had hoped it would be and I didn't care all that much about the characters or for the writing, but it was amazing to look at.

Brave New Girl: How to Be Fearless

This is probably better characterized as a gift book or inspirational book than a comic book or graphic novel.  It's a series of drawings featuring Brave New Girl, a character who inspires us to be powerful, fearless, and to overcome every obstacle.  It's cute and was fun to flip through and would make a good graduation gift to someone who enjoys this kind of book.  It's not something I would probably purchase for myself, but I enjoyed looking through it.

Yvain: The Knight of the Lion

I've read M.T. Anderson's novels before and knew I'd want to try out his first graphic novel, especially when I saw some of the gorgeous artwork.  This is his take on the tale of Sir Yvain, one of Arthur's Knights of the Round Table and his adventures.  I loved that the style of the artwork reflected the Middle Ages and I loved the story itself and the research the author had obviously put into his story, while still making it his own.  I have lots of raves for this one and few quibbles.  If you're a fan of the Arthur stories, if you're a fan of graphic novels or this style of art, or if you're a fan of the authors, this is a solid choice.


The Creeps

This is the second book of cartoons published by Krause and it follows the same simple premise as the first - Krause takes people's odd and unusual, but entertaining, fears and illustrates them.  That's it.  It's delightful to read and the best part is not seeing the strange fears of strangers (although that is definitely fun) but stumbling across something you are secretly and oddly afraid of as well.  I highly recommend this one.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with digital copies of each of these for review!

Monday, June 5, 2017

What I Read in May


May has been all about learning new things for things me - making new discoveries about myself and what I'm capable of, where I can go and what I can do.  I spent a lot of time with my parents this month, which was lovely, and a lot of time with friends.  My church family has blessed me in ways I can't begin to describe.  They've truly been Jesus to me in difficult times and I got to spent lots of time with them in the past few weeks, which is always a joy.  I also made a trip to Ohio with my best friends, Jacki and Jennie, for the Nowhere Else Festival, where we heard some amazing folk music and, most importantly, had quality BFF time.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, closeup and outdoor

I'm also slowly and steadily starting to read again after a terrible year of almost no reading (for me at least) last year.  I'm turning to books more and more as I feel more and more like my old self and as I'm relearning who I am on my own.  Books are so much a part of me and I feel like they are my old friends, gradually coming back into my life.  Lots of people and things that I had abandoned are returning and becoming part of my life again, and it's a change I'm thrilled to see happening.  

Here's what I read in the month of May:

The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott
milk and honey by Rupi Kaur
Celebrate Everything! by Darcy Miller
Real Sex by Lauren Winner
The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit
The Big Book of Tiny Art by the Walter Foster Creative Team
Yvain: The Knight of the Lion by M.T. Anderson
The Shape of Ideas by Grant Snider
Hey Harry, Hey Matilda by Rachel Hulin
You Will Not Have My Hate by Antoine Leiris
One Trick Pony by Nathan Hale

It's a long list, but a lot of these are graphic novels or essay collections, even art books.  I'm not pushing myself into anything I'm not in the mood for at the moment.  I've signed up for a few TLC tours this summer and that's all as far as committing to a book goes.  I'm letting myself read as I feel led and enjoy everything I pick up, bringing back the friends that feel right and passing up the ones that I think need more time.  

What did you read in May?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Book Review: Hey Harry, Hey Matilda by Rachel Hulin

Hey Harry, Hey Matilda

Hey Harry, Hey Matilda is the story--told entirely in hilarious emails--of fraternal twins Harry and Matilda Goodman as they fumble into adulthood, telling lies and keeping secrets, and finally confronting their complicated twinship. 
Matilda Goodman is an underemployed wedding photographer grappling with her failure to live as an artist and the very bad lie she has told her boyfriend (that she has a dead twin). Harry, her (totally alive) brother, is an untenured professor of literature, anxiously contemplating his publishing status (unpublished) and sleeping with a student. When Matilda invites her boyfriend home for Thanksgiving to meet the family, and when Harry makes a desperate--and unethical--move to save his career, they set off an avalanche of shame, scandal, and drunken hot tub revelations that force them to examine the truth about who they really are. A wonderfully subversive, sensitive novel of romantic entanglement and misguided ambition, Hey Harry, Hey Matilda is a joyful look at love and family in all its forms.
I'm going to skip the two part review on this one because I didn't love the book and the reason why pretty much covers both the writing and the entertainment value.  I honestly just never found a reason for this book to exist.  It isn't particularly well-written and the plot isn't much of anything.  Harry and Matilda are twins who sent each other improbably witty emails about their messy lives, but they never really amount to much of anything in the way of a plot or a point.  I ended the book wondering why I read it.  Why did the author choose these snippets of life to show us?  I have no idea.  

I didn't love either character, and didn't feel like they were well-developed enough to stand on their own as just a book about interesting people.  The story itself never seemed to go anywhere, so it certainly wasn't plot-driven.  I just don't understand why it was written or published and I was kind of mad that I spent the time on it.  The best I have to say is that it's short and reads quickly, so it wasn't a huge amount of time wasted.  

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy to review. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Choose Your Own Adventure Book Club: Reader's Choice


Now that I'm back on the blog, I'm happy to be bringing back my posts about who read what each month for the Choose Your Own Adventure Book Club.  As a refresher, since it's been a very long while, CYOA reads by theme rather than by book.  We came up with a list of themes, tossed them in a Tardis cookie jar, and each month we draw out a new theme.  Everyone chooses any book they want to read based as loosely as they want around that theme and then we get together and discuss what we chose and if we liked it the next month.  It means that there's no pressure to read a specific book that you may or may not be in the mood for.  It never feels like homework and we always come away with a full TBR after hearing what everyone else chose for the theme.

This month we had a new member join - our friend Ann, who we met through our Forever Young Adult book club branch, where we discuss assigned young adult titles.  We also let this month be considered a Reader's Choice month.  I got busy and forgot to draw a theme for us, and didn't realize it until it was too late for anyone to have time to choose based on a theme.  We decided just to discuss whatever we had recently read and loved.  Here's what we talked about:

  • Stephanie read A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas and she can't stop talking about it. It's a definite rave from her and others in the group have also been enjoying the series.  It's one I hear about all over the place, but I'm waiting because of my "series has to be finished rule".
  • Rachel read Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner (squeee!).  We've both been waiting for this one for ages.  The group is divided on the series - some of us love it and others don't. Rachel and I are firmly in the "devoted to Eugenides" camp and she highly recommends Turner's latest addition to the series.  I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!
  • Courtney is in the midst of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Her raves about it have led me to bump it up my TBR list.  I'm reaching back for my creativity, which was misplaced somewhere in the last year or two, and now that I'm starting to find it again, I think this book could be a great jumpstart.  Courtney definitely agrees.
  • Ann read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood in anticipation of the upcoming adaptation on Hulu.  Her mention of it immediately made me realize that I have no idea which shelf my copy is on and also that I need to read it immediately.  A search is underway.  She loved it and said, like I've heard from many other sources, that it's timely and beautiful, and worth reading. As soon as I find my copy I'll be reading it as well.
  • As for me, I'm currently listening to The Fireman by Joe Hill on audio and loving it.  The narrator is excellent. I've got a road trip planned for this weekend and hope to knock out a significant portion of it because it is quite a long one, but once you start it's hard to turn it off.
The last new adjustment to CYOA is that we decided to start trying on a food theme each month.  This month we did ice cream sundaes.  I had the ice cream and everyone else brought toppings.  We wrote down a whole list of other ideas and we're going to try making it a food and book club since we had so much fun with the sundaes!  

How about you, Reader Friends?  Are you currently reading anything spectacular?

Friday, May 19, 2017

Book Review: The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit

The Mother of All Questions
In this follow-up to Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit offers commentary on women who refuse to be silenced, misogynistic violence, the fragile masculinity of the literary canon, the gender binary, the recent history of rape jokes, and much more.
Writing
Solnit is quickly becoming one of my favorite feminist essayists between this collection and Men Explain Things to Me.  I appreciate that she doesn't take a purely scholarly approach, but she also doesn't use as much humor as others use, which gives her voice a seriousness that is sometimes lacking in popular feminist writing.  She's funny at moments, but she's also completely serious about the difficult issues women and minorities are facing, and she's not using jokes to soften the intensity of her feelings.  She's obviously a talented writer and these essays show her skill with words and rhetoric well.

Entertainment Value
As I mentioned above, Solnit writes for a popular audience, but she doesn't do so with as much levity as other popular feminist authors, which I appreciated.  She does, however, use some humor, and her essays are easy to read and understand, regardless of how familiar you are with feminist theory.  I loved the range of topics she covered, from intersectionality to literature to film and I particularly enjoyed the essays covering rape culture.

Overall
If you read and enjoyed Men Explain Things to Me or if you are a fan of popular feminist writing, it's a must-read.  I think it will also appeal to those who enjoy reading feminist websites like Jezebel and Bustle and to those who have a left-leaning or feminist mindset and are interested in current events.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Yoga Book Reviews: Yoga Bodies by Lauren Lipton and Every Body Yoga by Jessamyn Stanley

Yoga Bodies: Real People, Real Stories, and the Power of Transformation
Artfully capturing yoga's vibrant spirit, Yoga Bodies presents full-color yoga-pose portraits of more than 80 practitioners of all ages, shapes, sizes, backgrounds, and skill levels--real people with real stories to share about how yoga has changed their lives for the better. Some humorous, some heartfelt, others profound, the stories entertain as they enlighten, while the portraits--which joyously challenge the "yoga body" stereotype--celebrate the glorious diversity of the human form. Handsomely jacketed and richly visual inside and out, Yoga Bodies is a coffee table-worthy contemplation, a meaningful gift, and a source of endless inspiration for anyone seeking fresh perspectives on how to live well.
Less instruction and more inspiration, this is a coffee table-type book full of pictures of people of all shapes, races, sizes, and ages in poses of varying degrees of difficulty and ease, accompanied with their own words about why they practice yoga or what their practice means to them.  I spent several days flipping through and looking at the images and reading the stories, but it could also be used as inspiration for your own practice.  No instruction is included, and the book is intended for those with a basic knowledge of yoga, although an extensive knowledge certainly isn't required.  I loved seeing how yoga means different things to different people and hearing the reasons various people practice - from the ultra spiritual to the very practical.

 Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear. Get On the Mat. Love Your Body.
It’s a book of inspiration for beginners of all shapes and sizes: If Jessamyn could transcend these emotional and physical barriers, so can we.

It’s a book for readers already doing yoga, looking to refresh their practice or find new ways to stay motivated.

It’s a how-to book: Here are easy-to-follow directions to 50 basic yoga poses and 10 sequences to practice at home, all photographed in full color.

It’s a book that challenges the larger issues of body acceptance and the meaning of beauty.

Most of all, it’s a book that changes the paradigm, showing us that yoga isn’t about how one looks, but how one feels, with yoga sequences like “I Want to Energize My Spirit,” “I Need to Release Fear,” “I Want to Love Myself.”
When I first started practicing yoga and discovered the world of yoga on instagram, Jessamyn was one of the first yogis I followed (you can follow her by clicking here).  I fell in love with her energy and body positivity, and she's still one of the most inspiring yogis I follow.  I love her strength and her pride in how amazing her body is, and it's great to see what the poses look like when they're done by a person with a body that looks more like mine than like the "traditional" yoga body.

This book is full of gorgeous color pictures and contains Jessamyn's person story and thoughts on yoga as a spiritual and physical practice, but the main draw for me was the instruction.  Jessamyn provides visual and written instruction for the basic poses and an entire section of sequences focusing on different parts of the body and attitudes to embrace.  Her practices are thoughtful and easy to understand and I found her explanations helpful.

These are both great choices for anyone seeking inspiration and guidance in beginning or continuing a yoga practice.  I found a lot to love here from both books, both visually and in terms of learning more about the practice of yoga and asana techniques.

I read Yoga Bodies through my local public library and Every Body Yoga courtesy of NetGalley.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Book Review: milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

Milk and Honey

milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

 Oh wow.  This is one that got a ton of attention when it came out and that I added to my TBR, but, because it was poetry, I thought I'd probably put off for a very long time.  I tend to let my older brother be the poet of the family.  It's just not usually my thing.  But yesterday, by happenstance, I read a tumblred excerpt from one of Kaur's poems and immediately pushed it to the top of my list.

Evaluating poetry is hard for me.  I'm not going to give this my usual writing/entertainment review, I"m just going to say this was the perfect book for me at this moment in time.  It's about loss and relationships and grieving the loss of relationships and moving forward and falling in love.  Instead of trying to explain how amazing I found this book and how beautiful I thought the words were, I think I'll just post my very most favorite portion and let you decide if it's the book for you.  It was exactly the book for me at exactly the time for me.

i do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
i want to be full on my own
i want to be so complete
i could light a whole city
and then
i want to have you
cause the two of us combined
could set it on fire

Thanks to my local public library for providing me with a copy of this one.  

Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Review: Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott

Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

From Goodreads:
In Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy Lamott ventures to explore where to find meaning in life. We should begin, she suggests, by -facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of ourselves.- It's up to each of us to recognize the presence and importance of mercy everywhere-within us and outside us, all around us-and to use it to forge a deeper understanding of ourselves and more honest connections with each other. While that can be difficult to do, Lamott argues that it's crucial, as kindness towards others, beginning with myself, buys us a shot at a warm and generous heart, the greatest prize of all.
Full of Lamott's trademark honesty, humor and forthrightness, Hallelujah Anyway is profound and caring, funny and wise--a hopeful book of hands-on spirituality. 
It's been a while, Reader Friends, I know.  I've been around, but busy and missing this blog, but also needing some tine away from feeling an obligation to it.  I think i'm ready to be back now.  It might be slow going for a bit but here I am.  Back to the books.  When I finished this one I knew it was the one to start back with.  I got divorced in December and since then I've been recovering.  It's involved a lot of things, good and bad, and I can truly say I've never been in a place before where I've needed to give and receive more mercy.  Especially lately.  Seriously, this book could not have appeared on my holds list at a more providential time.  There is so much mercy I need to extend (to myself and to others) and so, so much mercy I need to let myself receive (and ask for). 

Writing
Are there authors more readable than Lamott?  Anywhere?  Particularly in the area of Christian non-fiction?  I mean, obviously there are astounding writers in Christian non-fiction.  So many.  But Lamott just begs to be read and read and read.  I read almost the entire book in a single sitting on a day when my brain was so fried from sadness and anxiety that I literally could not move off the couch.  This is Lamott's gift.  I couldn't make myself a sandwich.  I couldn't drive my car.  But I could lay on my mother's couch and read Lamott and receive mercy.  I think that's all that needs to be said as far as the quality of her writing, right?  It isn't that she's simplistic, it's that she writes from her heart and doesn't get too wrapped up in flowery words.  She writes like she's talking to a friend, and when you're at your lowest that's what you need.  

Entertainment Value
Again, she's an author I turn to again and again when I'm at my worst because she's been there and she writes like a friend who has been there.  She doesn't try to have all the answers, but she does write love.  And who doesn't need both love and mercy.  This book felt like a friend offering a hug and advice over a cup of coffee and who doesn't need that.  It felt like being told "It's going to be ok" and "You're forgiven".  And who doesn't need forgiveness?  

Overall
This is a must read.  Even for those who don't identify with Christianity, Lamott is "spiritual" enough to appeal to a wider range than the traditional evangelical crowd.  If you've got an interest in giving mercy, you need to receive some mercy, and especially if you're hard on yourself, this book is something you absolutely need to have in your life.  

It came to me via my local public library, and I recommend you check your own for a copy!


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book Review: How to Be a Person in the World by Heather Havrilevsky

How to Be a Person in the World: Ask Polly's Guide Through the Paradoxes of Modern Life
How to Be a Person in the World is a collection of never-before-published material along with a few fan favorites. Whether she’s responding to cheaters or loners, lovers or haters, the depressed or the down-and-out, Havrilesky writes with equal parts grace, humor, and compassion to remind you that even in your darkest moments you’re not alone.
Writing
I hadn't heard of Ask Polly before, but given my love of Dear Sugar and all things advice column, I knew I'd enjoy this, regardless of the author's voice.  I was thrilled to find that I actually identified with Havrilevsky as both a writer and a person, so I found her advice to be both inspiring and beautifully composed.  She's simpler in tone than Strayed, who I can't help but compare her to, given the nature of the works, but it agrees with her very well.  I preferred the less flowery, effusive tone and the more blunt approach.

Entertainment Value
Definitely an entertaining read, whether you pick it up a chapter at a time or read it all in one go.  I liked that Havrilevsky doesn't seem to shy away from making definitive statements and addressing issues with a real opinion.  She isn't wishy-washy and she doesn't try to make things as vague as possible in an effort to make everyone feel good. I didn't agree with all of her advice, but I loved the way she delivered it and didn't shy away from hard topics.

Overall
If you're a Cheryl Strayed devotee, this one absolutely must be on your list.  It's such a fun book to read, regardless of how much of the advice you agree with, and Havrilevsky provides a great mix of humor and heart.  I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Coloring Book Reviews: Atelie Fashion, Color Me Mindful Seasons, and In Bloom!


Right before Christmas I was lucky enough to get my hands on this trio of adult coloring books from Simon and Schuster and I'm finally, finally getting around to reviewing them.  A HUGE thank you to the publisher for sending them to me - I can't wait to fill the pages with beautiful colors!




This one might be my favorite of the three.  It's mostly patterns, with a slightly Russian influence in some places, but mostly just full of whimsy.  It's pretty divided between more simplistic patterns that will color quickly and intricate designs that will take me longer, which I like.








Color Me Mindful: Seasons starts with the New Year and takes you right through to Christmas.  It tends to be more intricate and the style reminds me somewhat of Johanna Basford's work, which is always nice.  








This is the only one I've had a chance to finish a page of yet, and I'm loving it.  Its pictures are less intricate, which makes them great for coloring when I want to finish something in one sitting instead of taking a few days to work on it.  I also like the botanical theme and the stylized artwork.

Thanks again to Simon and Schuster for sending these!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Goals and Plans for 2017

I've been promising to do this post and talk about my goals for a while now, and I need to just sit down and do it.  I'm a big fan of setting goals and having an idea of what you want your life to look like in general as a way to guide your every day decisions.  That said, I have a tendency to be a bit rigid when it comes to anything that could be interpreted as a rule, and, as the last year of my life proves, you never know what's coming and flexibility is a necessity.  I'm trying to make fewer goals this year and also make those goals broader.

Reading Goals
I have to say that I'd be disappointed to read less than 100 books in a year, just because I know what I'm capable of and I think that's a minimum.  Outside of that, I'm not going to obsess over a number.  I barely made 101 in 2016 and that was ok.  I hope to do more this year, but I'm not going to set a goal that places stress on me to achieve anything more.

My main goal for reading this year is enjoyment only.  I'm not going to worry about keeping up with reviews or even accepting books for review without much more consideration than I've given in the past.

I also want to be quick to put down books that I'm not enjoying for any reason.  Along with the goal of putting things down quickly if they aren't inspiring me or entertaining me, I want to also keep a record of what I'm putting down and why I'm putting it down.  That should help me look back over what I haven't enjoyed and make better choices in the future.

Read all of Shakespeare.  Yes, all of it.  Even the histories.  I've got a schedule and I'm starting a bit behind, but I think it's very achievable.  I haven't read Shakespeare since college and I'm super excited about getting back in touch with the Bard.

Life Goals
It's weird to come up with life goals with only myself in mind for the first time ever, really, as an adult.  I could literally try to do anything.  I'm keeping it simple in this area too, though with two main goals.  The first is to try to say yes to new opportunities, especially social opportunities.  Make new friends, try new experiences, meet new people, and be open to anything.  I want to say yes to new foods, new friends, new movies, and new experiences of all sorts.

My second goal is the exact opposite.  Say no.  Say no to things that take up time and space that I don't have to give or want to give and that don't bring joy and life to me or to others.  Say no to going and doing and making myself too busy to enjoy the experiences I'm saying yes to.  Say no to buying things I don't truly need and cluttering my (tiny) new home and space with things that are distractions from what matters.

Did any of you set any goals for the year?  I'd love to hear about them!

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 Recap in Statistics

This is a tragic post to write because my reading statistics for 2016 are at an all time low.  I had some really rough reading months.  I kept thinking it was a phase and I'd pass by it, but it really was just an eight or so month slump.  During the worst of it, I read only one or two books a month.

I did try a few new things this year in terms of keeping up with my statistics.  I continued to use my Google Docs spreadsheet, and I've also created one for 2017 that you are free to borrow.  I also downloaded the Modern Mrs. Darcy printable reading journal and started keeping a handwritten list as well.  I like handwriting and this gave me a spot to make some notations about who I read with and who I recommended to and anything else special about the experience.  I plan to do the same again in 2017.

The Basics
Books read in 2016: 101
Pages read in 2016: 25,798
Hours spent listening to audiobooks in 2016: 193 hours and 20 minutes, or approximately 8 days.

Best reading month in number of books: February
Worst reading month in number of books: September
Best reading month in number of pages: June
Worst reading month in number of pages: September

Male authored books: 28
Female authored books: 73

Genres
Adult Fiction: 32
Adult Non-Fiction: 29
Poetry: 1
Young Adult: 16
Graphic Novel: 23

Most frequently read subgenres: suspense/thriller, memoir, contemporary YA, and graphic adult non-fiction.

Format
Ebook: 21
Hardback: 21
Paperback: 26
Audio: 23

Money
Spent on books I read this year: $8.00
Amount I would have spent had I purchased each book: $1,176.96
Money saved by using the library, reading what I own, and reviewing: $1,168.96

Sources
Chattanooga Public Library: 59
Work Library: 5
Review via NetGalley: 18
Review via publisher: 4
Review via TLC: 7
Own: 5
Borrowed: 2
Given: 1

Ratings
I don't do ratings on my blog, but I do give ratings on Goodreads, so these are the results of the star ratings I give out on Goodreads.  I gave one book one star, fifteen books two stars, twenty-two books three stars, forty books four stars, and twenty-two books five stars.

I continued to track books that fell into the category of what I'd consider "nothing" books.  Books that were neither good nor bad but were just completely unmemorable in any way.  This year was about the same as last year, with 15 total "not worth my time" books.  At right about 100 books, I maintained my 15% miss rate from last year, but it feels worse when I read half as many books.  I did DNF quite a few books this year, although I did a poor job of keeping track (see my goals post later this week for some ideas I have about this).

Hopefully 2017 will be a better and more fruitful reading year, but I'm not displeased with how I ended my 2016.  I think it wound up on a good note with some great books and I'm excited about what the next year has in store for me!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2016 End of the Year Survey

My very favorite book club event of the year has quickly become our Christmas pajama party and after a particularly difficult personal year and reading year, this year I was especially excited to snuggle up in my pjs with my best book buddies and talk about what we loved, hated, and failed to read in 2016.  A big thanks, as always, to Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner for hosting the survey.  I'll put my answers in black and the CYOA answers in red beneath my own.


 

Number Of Books You Read: 101 (my worst year in quite some time)
Number of Re-Reads: 25,798
Genre You Read The Most From: Adult Fiction


best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2016?

I had a decent list, covering a few different genres: Better Than Before, The Raven Cycle, Adulthood Is a Myth, and American Housewife
CYOA says: The Lunar Chronicles; In the Country We Love; Wink Poppy Midnight; Romancing Mr. Bridgerton; Starflight; Giant Days; Paris in Love; The Truth about Forever; A Darker Shade of Magic; In Real Life; The Woman Upstairs; S.; Jacksonland; and When a Scot Ties the Knot

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Sadly, I also had a decent list of these from several genres: The Girl in the Red Coat, The Pocket Wife, Teeth, and Sweet Lamb of Heaven

CYOA says: Crimson Shore; Fates and Furies; Nos4atu; Heart-Shaped Hack; Out of the Darkness; Embassy Row Series; and YA fantasy as a genre

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

I went with the contemporary romance genre in general.  I tried it for the first time this year and found it actually pretty delightful, in small doses.  I particularly enjoyed Sex, Lies, and Online Dating, The Substitute Series, and the Hating Game

CYOA says: Modern Romance, 11/22/63, The Captive Prince Series; Being Mortal; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Fill-In Boyfriend, The Walls Around Us, and The Royal We

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Starflight to the CYOA group, Better Than Before at the library, and The Sound of Gravel to my online besties.

CYOA says: The Captive Prince Series, The Rook and Stiletto, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Out of Darkness, The Royal We, and The Raven Cycle

5. Best series you started in 2016? Best Sequel of 2016? Best Series Ender of 2016?

The Raven Cycle (expect to see this repeated frequently from me)

CYOA says: The Lunar Chronicles, Starflight, The Captive Prince, Stiletto, Kings Rising, Sloppy Firsts, The Last Little Blue Envelope, Christina Henry's Alice series

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2016?

Rachel Gibson and Denise Grover Swank for romance; Joe Abercrombie for fantasy

CYOA says: V.E. Schwab, Marie Kondo, Julia Quinn, Claire Messaud, Catherine Lao, Elizabeth Hoyt, Kate Noble, and Kate Congo

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Again, I'm going to go with the contemporary romances I read this year - the Writer Friends series, the Substitute series, and The Hating Game

CYOA says: Paris in Love, Jacksonland, The Secret Place, 11/22/63, The Royal We

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Raven King
CYOA says: The Female of the Species, A Darker Shade of Magic, Love and Other Perishable Items, Behind Closed Doors, Sharp Objects, and The Grownup 

9. Book You Read In 2016 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Spark Joy, Better Than Before

CYOA says: Starflight, My Lady Jane, Tiny Beautiful Things, Bread and Wine, The Royal We

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2016?
Wicked Bugs, Starflight, The Female of the Species
CYOA says: Six of Crows, A Darker Shade of Magic, Assassin's Blade, Casket Girls, Wink Poppy Midnight, For Real, S., Alice

11. Most memorable character of 2016?

Ronan from the Raven Cycle
CYOA says: Iko from Cinder, the Six Characters from Six of Crows, Mr. Hemming from A Pleasure and a Calling, Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles 

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2016?

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (particularly the portions that talk about books and reading) 
CYOA says: Wink Poppy Midnight, Love and Other Perishable Items, Six of Crows, Stiletto, The Secret Place 

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2016?

 Better Than Before
CYOA says: 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, In the Country We Love, Jacksonland, The Catcher in the Rye, The Woman Upstairs, Nos4atu

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2016 to finally read? 

 Raven Boys, Summer at Tiffany (this one has been on my shelf since 2008!)
CYOA says: Room, anything by Gillian Flynn, Miss Marvel, Throne of Glass, Cinder

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2016?

Shortest: September Roses (another that's been on my list for at least 8 years)
Longest: The Royal We
CYOA says: Shortest: The Princess and the Pony, The Snowy Day, The Queen's Army, In the Shadow of the Towers
                        Longest: Flame Caster, Mississippi Jack, 11/22/63, Nos4atu

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

Out of Darkness, Alice

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Gansy and Blue from the Raven Cycle

CYOA says: Nina and Mathias from Six of Crows; Sam and Jack from Nuclear Heat; Damon and Laurent from Captive Prince; Ronan and Adam from The Raven Cycle; Cress and Thorne from the Lunar Chronicles; Chale and Selena from Throne of Glass; Jen and Eric from S., and Bex and Nick from The Royal We

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Harry, Ron, and Hermione; Noah and Blue; Polly and Hermione (Exit Pursued By a Bear)
CYOA says: Cinder and Thorne; Ronan and Blue; Felicity and Odette (Stiletto); Max and Nev (In Real Life); Jack and the girls (Nuclear Heat)

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2016 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

 Better Than Before; Starflight
CYOA says: The Boy is Back, Love May Fail, One True Love, Six of Crows, The Substitute

21. Best Book You Read In 2016 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Raven Cycle, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

CYOA says: Behind Closed Doors, Throne of Glass, The Madwoman Upstairs, Alice, Captive Prince series

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2016?

Ronan from the Raven Cycle; A.J. Fikry
CYOA says: Jack from Nuclear Heat; Caz from Six of Crows; Doran from Starflight; the Duke of Wakefield from Duke of Midnight

23. Best 2016 debut you read?

The Hatching

CYOA says: How to Live by Katie Contigo; Throne of Glass; An Ember in the Ashes; Special Topics in Calamity Physics

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Raven Cycle
CYOA says: Smoke, A Darker Shade of Magic, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The Scorpion Rules

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

 Adulthood is a Myth, Texts from Jane Eyre
CYOA says: The Princess and the Pony, My Lady Jane, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Sloppy Firsts

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2016?

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
CYOA says: Be Frank with Me, The Truth about Forever, A Reunion of Ghosts, Out of Darkness

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Grunt, I'm Just a Person by Tig Notaro
Jacksonland, 84 Charing Cross Road, Wink Poppy Midnight, I Was Here 

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl
CYOA says: Out of Darkness, Alice

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2016?

The Luck Archive; Paper Girls
CYOA says: Being Mortal, S., Becoming Djinn, Stiletto  

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl

CYOA says: Behind Closed Doors, Throne of Glass series, American Girls, Don't Look Back, Crimson Shore, The Walking Dead comics

looking-ahead-books-2015


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2016 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2017?

Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own
CYOA says: Crooked Kingdom, Talking As Fast As I Can, A Winner's Curse Trilogy, Winter, Familiar #1  

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2017 (non-debut)?

Difficult Women 

CYOA says: Starfall, Court of Thorn and Roses, Scarlet Epstein Hates it Here, Strange the Dreamer

5. Goals You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2017?

I'm going to be doing a post on my own goals tomorrow, so you'll have to wait for those, but I'll include CYOA's below:
  • DNF more books
  • Read Anathem
  • Get rid of more books
  • Read more non-fiction
  • Finish some series
  • Keep a list of DNF books
  • Have no more than two books at a time on my currently reading list
  • Read from my fantasy shelf