Friday, January 27, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 1/27/17

Once again, I managed to complete only one book this week. I think I am currently in the midst of 9 others so next week I plan to have finished at least 4. 

The book I read this week was The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier. I loved her first novel, Juliet, and was very excited to finally pick this one up. The Lost Sisterhood follows the story of Diana Morgan, a lecturer at Oxford and an expert in Greek mythology. She also has a more secret passion for the legend of the Amazons. Diana is given an opportunity to study a newly discovered inscription on a temple in northern Africa which seems to relate the history of the first Amazon queen. The story is told in a dual timeline, alternating chapters telling the story of Diana and the story of Myrina, the Amazon. 

As historical fiction, this book did not work for me. Fortier tries to combine the legend of the Amazons with the history of Troy and the Trojan War and throws in a little Greek mythology for good measure. It all just ends up being a bit ridiculous to my mind. The Amazons fought alongside Paris and Agamemnon...really? And Hercules showed up? Fascinating...  It's almost like hearing a little kid tell you a convoluted story that's made up of the last dozen books you read to them. (The good news is that the Amazons still roam the earth as vigilantes, taking out rapists and other men who deserve it. Oh! And they are often disguised as circus performs.) 

This book isn't quite as bad as I am making it sound. It just isn't great. I wouldn't read it again or recommend it but it was still an entertaining read. I think the author maybe should have approached it as fantasy. That could have had potential. 

What book have you been excited to read that just didn't end up working for you?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 1/20/17

Okay all my wonderful readers, I am ashamed to admit it but I only completed one book this week. I know, it's completely pathetic. I'm sorry, I'll do better next week...

The book I finished this week was Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book. I am well aware of the history of the Disney film and Travers dislike for it. Whatever it was I was expecting, this book was not it. It's just odd. Mary Poppins is a rather vain character and there is no plot, just little anecdotes and fanciful stories. (Also, did you know that Jane and Michael had younger twin siblings??? Who knew!?!?!) I enjoyed reading this book, I thought it was cute and I am always excited to read more of the children's classics that I somehow missed out on as a child. My advice? Don't go into this book expecting Disney and you'll probably like it just fine, otherwise you might be disappointed. 

Again, sorry for the brevity of today's post. I'm going to go read now in the hopes of redeeming myself next week...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 1/13/17

It is Friday and I only managed to read two books this week. (I seriously should have read more considering I got snowed in. I blame Netflix.) In my defense, I am in the middle of two pretty chunky books so I definitely made progress on those two as well. I guess I should say I only completed two books this week. 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This is a science fiction novel following the story of Jason Dessen, a promising young scientist. When his girlfriend announces that she is pregnant, Jason must decide whether to marry her and raise the child, knowing that it will put a hold on and most likely an end to, a brilliant career. The book approaches the question of what if I had made the other choice? It deals with the concept of the multiverse (infinite parallel universes...universes? universi?...).

I loved this book! First of all, I thought the scientific, technical parts of it were extremely accessible for us non-technical people. I never felt lost or like I didn't understand what was going on. It was gripping, it drew me in from the very beginning. I read it in a day. The twist at the end was...intense... For my more sensitive readers: There is some language and two or three very short, non-explicit sex scenes.

A Woman's Guide to Fasting by Lisa E. Nelson
This non-fiction book is exactly what the title implies, an introduction to fasting specifically for women. (Side note: I don't think there is any reason this book couldn't be for men as well. There are only a couple brief references to women and their hormonal cycles.) I think this book is a great resource for those who are new to the discipline of fasting or who are looking to include it in their life on a more regular basis. I have read quite a bit on fasting over the years and for me, this book didn't bring anything new to the table. There were also a couple instances when I strongly disagreed with the author. But overall I think this is a solid introduction book if you are looking to delve into this topic. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Looking Forward...

Today I thought I would talk about books, authors, and genres that I am really excited to read in this coming year. Not the books that I feel I need to get to or the ones that I stare guiltily at on the shelves. These are the books I really get excited about the thought of reading soon.  

The Brontes
I love a good gothic novel. I love the tragedy. It seems so much more realistic to me than, for example, a Jane Austen novel. I love that characters have to make hard choices and sometimes they make the right ones and sometimes they don't. I recently reread Jane Eyre and am planning to reread Wuthering Heights in the near future. But I am really looking forward to delving into the Brontes lesser known works. I've heard nothing but good and I am hoping to make it through the entire Bronte canon this year. 

The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier
I can't believe I have not read this book yet. I love her first novel Juliet and I was so excited when this one came out but for some reason, I didn't get around to reading it and then I kind of forgot about it. The good news is, I have it now, in my possession (thank you library!) and I am going to read it within the next week or two. 

I have not read a lot of fantasy in my adult life even though I would consider it one of favorite genres. I grew up with Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and my few ventures into other fantasy authors did not pan out well. Luckily, fantasy seems to have made a resurgence in the past few years. This, unfortunately, means that there is even more terrible fantasy out there but I have also heard many favorable reviews of specific authors. So I am looking forward to trying out some Brandon Sanderson, Michael J. Sullivan, and Guy Gavriel Kay. (Confession: Guy Gavriel Kay was recommended to me years ago and I have yet to read him...sorry Becky...) 

I find it really difficult to discover good dystopian books, but when I find them I love them! I've heard good things about both the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown and Scythe by Neal Schusterman so I plan on checking out both of those this year and hopefully discovering some new favorites.

Also, there is rumor of a new Jasper Fforde book this year which will, of course, shoot directly to the top of the currently reading pile when it comes official release date yet...I will wait semi-patiently...

That's it for today, happy reading!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 1/6/17

I read 5 books this week, 3 of them were rereads.

I finished up my reread of the Emily trilogy by L.M. Montgomery with both Emily Climbs and Emily's Quest. Good news: I still love these books. I did find myself getting more emotional than I remember ever being before. The last book especially had more of a bittersweet flavor to it. As I get older I find myself relating more and more to some of the side characters who don't get their happy ending. 

I also read The Miserable Mill, finishing my reread of the first four Lemony Snicket books. (Only one week until the show is released!!!) This is not one my favorite books in the series, I don't find the setting as interesting or the characters as memorable as many of the other books. That being said, it is still full of Snicket's signature humor and wit and is a very quick, enjoyable read. 

I went on to read Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I love a good dystopian book and this series was quite popular a few years back. I like the premise: a society where you are an ugly until you turn 16 when you are allowed to undergo surgery and become a "pretty". The idea being equality for everyone, everyone is pretty and everyone is popular and has fun. But, as always, there is a catch. What is really behind the surgery? Are they changing your brain as well to make you more compliant? I love looking at our world through a different lens, our world as it could be, so I loved that aspect of the book. But the characters didn't hold up. They were annoying and in some cases downright stupid. I didn't like where the story ended up going and I didn't like the ending. It was a fine read but I will not be continuing on with the series. 

(There are spoilers in this last review so be forewarned)
My last book of the week was Return to Augie Hobble by Lane Smith. This is the story of young Augie Hobble, a fairly stereotypical pre-adolescent boy who is awkward, unpopular, and gets bullied constantly. He spends his summer working for his dad who manages a very run down fairy tale amusement park: "We're no longer what you call a destination spot, but we still get some locals, grown-ups who were tortured here as kids and now have kids of their own to torture." (At this point I had to stop and check to see if the author was from near where I live...) The first hundred pages of the book were great. I was sucked in by the familiarity of the setting. Then it got weird. There were werewolves. Like a real werewolf who is his/her human form is the son of the fortune teller, but he is disguised as a girl because some government agency is after him. Then Augie's best friend dies as the result of a peanut allergy and Augie thinks it is his fault so he wants to become a werewolf to somehow pay for his crime. And then best friend comes back and starts communicating with Augie from beyond the grave. And all of those are just the highlights. There is so much weirdness in this book (and don't get me wrong, I LIKE weirdness when it is done well) that it goes very quickly downhill once you reach the midway point. The author just tries to put to many different ideas into the story and some of the topics are extremely heavy for a children's book and they are not fleshed out well at all. I would never give this book to a child. 

That's it for my reading this week. I think I need to take a break from youth and young adult books for a week or two. There has been a little too much weirdness in the books I've been reading. Maybe it's time for some nice historical fiction. 

What was your favorite or least favorite book you read this week?

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 Reading Goals

It's that time of year again. People commit to lose weight, exercise regularly, stop smoking, finally do that thing they've been talking about for years...and then there is me...

I'm not a huge fan of making resolutions. If there is something about you that you want to change then why would you wait for a new year? But I do like to make goals. I like things to be measurable, mostly because I want to know that I am progressing and not becoming stagnant. So maybe I just don't like the word resolution? Somehow in my mind there is a difference between the two.

Anyway, philosophical musings aside, I have set four reading goals for myself for this coming year and today we are going to talk about those. A year from now I want to be able to know what kind of progress I made. For me, it's more about making significant progress toward my goals than necessarily conquering all of them.

Goal #1 Read a minimum of 120 books
This should be no problem at all. It's 10 books a month which is very doable for me. According to goodreads, in 2016 I read 126 books, but I know it was actually slightly higher because I didn't always mark the books I reread. I thought about setting it higher but I don't want a goal that is going to prevent me from picking up chunkier books so 120 it is.

Goal #2 Read the books I own
My goal is, at the end of the year, to have read every book sitting on my shelves. I have not counted exactly how many that I have not read. But it's not an obscene amount so I think this one should be doable as well.

Goal #3 Have less than 100 books on my goodreads TBR
At this exact moment I have 436 books on my To-Read list. I really want to pare that down. Obviously that doesn't mean reading all of them. First of all it just means going through the list and seeing what I still want to read and then maybe going to the library and perusing them. Some I will still want to read but I can guarantee that there are many that can just be deleted from the list.

Goal #4 Read at least 20 books toward my Classics Club goal
If you are not familiar with Classics Club you can check out my previous post on it here. So far, of the 50 books on my list I have read one. So I need to work on that...

There are many other goals I could make: authors I want to read, countries I want to visit in books, award winners...but I feel like I need to get some of these basic goals under control first. Maybe next year I can be more creative and diverse in my goal setting. 

Also, a blog related update: I am going to be blogging slightly less consistently. I will continue to do my weekly wrap ups on Fridays and I will blog regularly on Mondays as well. Wednesday will be a little more sporadic. I don't always want to participate in the Top 5 Wednesday topics and in the last couple months I found myself writing just to fill up space and I don't want to do that either. I want to give you well thought out blog posts and not filler. 

Happy New Year to you all! I would love to hear about your reading goals as well so feel free to share in the comments.