Sunday, December 27, 2015

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

This retelling of Hansel and Gretel puts a Nazi twist on the classic fairy tale.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel is more historical fiction than fairy tale though. Hansel and Gretel are two Jewish children hiding from the Nazis in the woods in Poland. They are taken in by a "witch," and the reader is invited to imagine the lives of one small village during WWII. Find out what the bread crumb trail and witch's oven were really about.

Although the story is dark, you can't stop wishing for a fairy tale ending. It was one of my favorite books I read this year.

P.S. This book counts as my Retelling for the Eclectic Reader Challenge.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

This is the third book in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. I had heard that it wasn't as good as the other 2 books, but I still had to find out what happened to Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.

I struggled for about the first 100 pages of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson. I was expecting the fire and drama of the first two from the series, but felt bogged down by a lot of mob talk and cop talk that didn't interest me. After I made it through those pages though, I was rewarded with an exciting conclusion to the series.

P.S. This counts as my Book Set in a Country Starting with the Letter S (Sweden) for the Eclectic Reader Challenge.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

2016 Eclectic Reader Challenge

Sign me up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge again in 2016! I like how the challenge helps me get books off my shelf and into my head. Here are the categories for next year, and the books I have already that I can use:

A book about books (fiction or nonfiction):

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore: A Novel by Robin Sloan

Serial killer thriller: Killing for Company: The Story of a Man Addicted to Murder by Brian Masters

Paranormal romance:

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance-now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! by Jane Austen

Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson

A novel set on an island:

The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

Coastliners by Joanne Harris

Investigative journalism (non fiction): Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman by Jon Krakauer

Steampunk sci fi: Serenity 2: Better Days by Brett Matthews, Joss Whedon

(Okay, I read a whole battle on a message board about whether or not Serenity can be considered Steampunk. In the end I would lean toward no, but it definitely has Steampunk elements and I've been wanting to read this graphic novel so...)

Any book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize:

Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Psychology (non fiction): The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes

Immigrant Experience fiction: What is the What by Dave Eggers

YA historical fiction:

The Foretelling by Alice Hoffman

Crows and Cards by Joseph Helgerson

A debut author in 2016

Any books you recommend on my list? Want to play along with me?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone peace, love, and happiness today and in 2016!

What’s In A Name – 2016

I'm signing up for the What's In A Name Challenge officially for 2016. I participated unofficially this year and had fun clearing a few books off of my tbr pile. Here are the categories and the books I have on hand that I can use:

A country:

The Australia Stories by Todd James Pierce

Lives on the Boundary: A Moving Account of the Struggles and Achievements of America's Educationally Underprepared by Mike Rose

An item of clothing:

The Shoe Queen by Anna Davis

Any Place I Hang My Hat by Susan Isaacs

Under the Duvet: Shoes, Reviews, Having the Blues, Builders, Babies, Families and Other Calamities by Marian Keyes

In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

An item of furniture: Frida's Bed by Slavenka Drakulic

A profession:

Ranch Schoolteacher by Eulalia Bourne

Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

City Girl, Country Vet by Cathy Woodman

Mr. Darwin's Shooter by Roger McDonald

The Nanny Diaries by Emma Mclaughlin

The Last Witchfinder by James Morrow

A month of the year:

The March by E. L. Doctorow

The Door to December by Dean Koontz

A title with the word ‘tree’ in it:

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burn

The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Do you see any on my list that you recommend? Do you want to play along with me?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

Earlier this year I read When We Were Orphans with my book club. We read Never Let Me Go by the same author awhile ago, and everyone else loved it. I thought it was just ok, but I thought maybe Ishiguro deserved another chance.

I immediately liked the main character, Christopher Banks, and following him as a child living in Shanghai. I loved reading about his friendship with his neighbor, Akira, and the games they imagined together. Unfortunately Christopher is orphaned when his parents disappear, which brings us to Christopher's story as an adult. He has become a famous private investigator, and has decided it's time to solve the mystery of his parents' disappearance. That's where the story turned for me. It became uninteresting, bizarre, unlikely, and hard to follow.

My book club had the same complaints as me. I think I'm done with Ishiguro. I really want to like him because of all the good reviews he gets, but we just don't click.

P.S. This book counts as my PI Crime book for the Eclectic Reader Challenge.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Marvel and a Wonder by Joe Meno

I am so fortunate to have received Marvel and a Wonder as an Early Reviewer.

A chicken farmer from Indiana attempts to raise his teenage grandson in this story of another American family reorganized by methamphetamine. The grandfather is forced to deal with his racist issues dating back to his time as an MP in the Korean War, because his grandson is half-black. The mysterious inheritance of a white race horse begins to bridge the generation gap between the two, but is stolen, setting the grandfather and grandson off on a race to reclaim it.

At the end of the book, the pure beauty of the story made me cry. I will definitely be reading more from Joe Meno.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Circling the Sun is a historical fiction story about Beryl Markham, a woman who as a child moved with her family from England to Kenya in the 1920s and grew up there.

Paula McLain uses careful imagery and suspension to move the reader through this exciting story. The core of Circling the Sun is Beryl and her coming-of-age/feminist triumphs. She befriends a Kipsigi boy, trains race horses, wears pants, and defies convention at every turn. Beryl carries the story, but Kenya moves from a lovely setting to a deadly character through McLain's skillful writing. Start saving now, because you will want to visit Kenya by the time you finish this book.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Messy Box 2: Electric Boogaloo


I used the striped paper for journaling on top and the SPRING card from the 2nd Box. The WOW chipboard letters look super on my saguaro pic. They're from the 1st Box.

But my favorite was this 3x4 card. I cut out the head from our take home papers from urgent care. Recycling awesomeness.

Kelly Purkey inspired me to stamp on my pic. I used Staz On for the first time. It is no joke. I like how it turned out and will definitely be doing it more.

I also tried to use up an entire sheet of tiny puffy heart stickers but only got halfway. When Corey saw it he said those hearts are what Stellaluna pictures all the time, and then we laughed.

I like how both kits still fit together and I can't wait to get the next one!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg

I chose this book from the Early Reviewer list because I have read books by the author before and I liked them. Happily The Dream Lover is the best one I have read by Elizabeth Berg so far!

The Dream Lover is a historical fiction novel based on the author Aurore Dupin, better known as her nom de plume, George Sand. She lived in France in the late 1800s and did all the things girls shouldn't do at the time. It was mostly uplifting to read about her adventures, and even inspiring to read about her endless well of creativity.

Aurore was like the Taylor Swift of the day, dating Frederic Chopin and Victor Hugo among numerous others. The story was maybe one relationship too long for my taste, but not because I'm a slut-shamer, rather I preferred the girl power aspect of the story.

The best thing about this book was that it exposed me to a new author. I will definitely be looking up George Sand the next time I find myself in a book store.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Superbowl Sunday means...'s almost Baseball Season!

Go Dbacks!

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Book Challenge Wrap-Up

Finding a new job and completing 3 major home improvement projects last year sucked away my reading time, so I didn't do so well with my reading challenges. Here's how I fared:

Eclectic Reader Challenge: 6/12

Award Winning: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout finished 10/19 (Pulitzer Prize)

Alternate History Fiction: 11/22/63 by Stephen King finished 7/27

War/Military Fiction: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller finished 12/13

Anthology: The Granta Book of the African Short Story by Helon Habila finished 4/26

Travel (Non Fiction): A Woman Alone: Travel Tales from Around the Globe by Faith Conlon finished 7/1

Published in 2014: The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena finished 3/16

Didn't get to: True Crime (Non Fiction), Romantic Comedy, Graphic Novel, Cozy Mystery Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Medical Thriller Fiction

Take It or Leave It Challenge

Challenges #1-6: 5/6

1. Read a book whose title names an object usually found in the kitchen: The Taste of Apple Seeds by Katharina Hagena finished 3/16

2. Read a book from your 'average' year (2000)

3. Read a book that has a connection with the number "14": Innocence by Dean Koontz (published in '14)

4. Read a work of fiction from the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2013: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer finished 2/15

5. Read a book set in France before the 21st Century: Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris finished 10/8

6. Read a book by a Yorkshire Born writer: Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris finished 11/30

Challenges #7-12 Completed!

7. Read a book you received as a present: Darwin: Portrait of a Genius by Paul Johnson finished 2/21 (from my nephew Kyle)

8. Read a book that has a glossary: I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai finished 3/7

9. Read a book by the author of one of your favorite books of 2013: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King finished 3/23

10. Read a book that you discovered on an LT thread in 2013: Everything I Need To Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane E. Muldrow finished 3/7

11. Read a book that has two of something in the title: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller finished 12/13

12. Read a mystery book where the lead investigator is a professional sleuth, but not one employed by law enforcement: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith finished 8/25

Challenges #13-18: 3/6

13. Read a book by an author who died in 2013: A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson finished 10/6

14. Read a book that is about an athlete or athletes: Horse People: Scenes from the Riding Life by Michael Korda finished 5/25

15. Read a book that takes place during "The War to End All Wars" (1914-1918)

16. Read a book with an ugly cover

17. Read a book about the city, state, or country in which you live

18. Read a book by an author from Sub-Saharan Africa: The Granta Book of the African Short Story by Helon Habila finished 4/26

Challenge #19 Completed!

19. Read a book with a walking or standing figure on the cover: Something Missing by Matthew Dicks finished 2/6

20. Read a book by an author called Elizabeth or a version of that name: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout finished 10/19

Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: 0/2

Overall I completed 2 out of 6 challenges, and read 22 out of 34 challenge books. Hopefully I'll more reading time in 2015!

P.S. I found the book store picture on FFFFOUND!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My Favorite Books of 2014

I read 33 books last year. Here are my 10 favorites and 1 honorable mention, which I recommend you read as well. They are listed in the order I read them.

Something Missing by Matthew Dicks - reviewed here on February 18th

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King - Stephen King can write anything, including incredible short stories.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd - takes place in the early 19th century, told from the perspective of a girl against slavery and from her slave, Hetty's, perspective. The ending is amazing.

Animal Wise: How We Know Animals Think and Feel by Virginia Morell - reviewed here on May 19th

11/22/63 by Stephen King - a man travels back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion - delightful story of a man on the spectrum as he searches for the perfect wife

The City by Dean Koontz - reviewed here on September 30th

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - shocking mystery about a man whose wife goes missing

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris - the coming of age story of a girl living in German-occupied France and the effect it has on her as an adult

Eventide by Kent Haruf - the sequel to Plainsong, we catch up with the McPheron brothers and Victoria, and meet some new characters from Holt, Colorado

Honorable Mention:

The Granta Book of the African Short Story edited by Helon Habila - Almost every story in this anthology is deeply engrossing, and I can't stop loaning it to others and making them read it too.