Goodreads Reading Challenge – May 2016

It’s the end of the month, which means it’s time for my Goodreads Reading Challenge recap!

I was busy traveling this month (San Diego for fun and Oklahoma for work) so I have two airports reads this month, along with a book written by a fellow blogger! Here we go…

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The Good Girl by Mary Kubica: I picked this up at the airport during my trip to Oklahoma City. As with 99% of the books I pick up at the airport, this is a mystery/thriller. This particular title grabbed my attention because it’s compared to Gone Girl on the jacket. I enjoyed Gone Girl so I figured I’d give it a shot! Here is a brief section of the blurb:

I’ve been following her for the past few days. I know where she buys her groceries, where she works. I don’t know the color of her eyes or what they look like when she’s scared. But I will.

One night, Mia Dennett enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. At first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

Okay, so here’s the deal. I think without the Gone Girl comparison I would have enjoyed this title more. The comparison made me assume there would be a “twist,” so I really wasn’t surprised when there was one. I also didn’t love the ending. All of that being said, I think my lack of sleep during this trip made me grumpier than I normally would have been while reading this. It’s was interesting enough to keep my attention so I would read another Kubica novel in the future.

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The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon: I picked this up at the airport on my way to San Diego. I’d read another book of McMahon’s previously (also an airport pick!) and enjoyed it. I suppose I’d categorize her books as paranormal mysteries. Here is a section of the book blurb:

Once the thriving attraction of rural Vermont, the Tower Motel now stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper’s kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel’s past, something that ruined their friendship forever.

I really like Jennifer McMahon’s writing. This book is definitely a page-turner but I think Winter People is a lot better/creepier. This book really kept me guessing until the end and if you like monsters-under-the-bed type stories, this is the one for you!

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Folded Dreams – The Beginning by Pearl Kirkby: I follow Kirkby’s blog, Old Fossil Writes and really enjoy it so I was looking forward to reading her short story. The blurb:

When we reminisce, we think we’re remembering our past. But if time is relative, rather than fixed, what exactly are we thinking back on…The past, or the future? Maybe some time in between?

Memories from birth, to a death by flaming inferno and the uncomfortable gifts of seeing, which plague her throughout life – all of these things are seen through the eyes of Relativity, when Time and Space seem confused.

Folded Dreams – the Beginning is a short story that is destined to become Folded Dreams – The Novel.

Or was it the other way around?

Folded Dreams was my favorite read this month! Kirkby is a really strong writer and I finished this in one sitting. The way the author tackled the relativity of space and time, along with the idea of memories v. premonitions was really intriguing to me. The characters are unnamed in this, which I found to be effective (not sure if Kirkby plans on adding names in the novel?) This story eerie and odd (in a good way!) and I’m looking forward to the novel. Side note: this is free if you have Kindle Unlimited!

What did you read this month?

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Top 5 Wednesday – Summer Reads!

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This week’s T5W topic: Summer Reads!

Summer reads can be interpreted in various ways (books to read on the beach, books that are light in tone, books set during the summer, etc.) My list consists of five books that are set during the summer and/or involve a beach or water in one way or another.

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  1. More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon: This novel is set during a summer in Maine. (Side note: I’ve always wanted to visit Maine.) This is a love story/ghost story and I like to re-read it every 5 years or so.

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  1. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan: I read Atonement for an English class and have been reading McEwan’s novels ever since (he is an amazing writer, check out his work if you haven’t already.) This book is set in the 1960s and takes place on the night of a young couple’s honeymoon. If you’ve read McEwan before, you can probably imagine that things do not go as planned.

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  1. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares: Four best friends find a pair of jeans that magically fit them all perfectly despite their differing shapes and sizes (that makes no sense, I know, don’t worry about it too much …) Each girl has summer plans but the traveling pants – they mail the pants to each other throughout the summer – keep them connected. This is a great summer read for YA fans. Plus the entire series has been released so you can read them all!

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  1. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: I’m stretching it a bit here but there is technically a body of water so I’m counting it! Gaiman is the author of Coraline, which I also recommend. I’m going add a portion of the book blurb here instead of attempting to explain the plot myself.

 Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

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  1. A Painted House by John Grisham: I don’t read a lot of Grisham, though I do typically enjoy films based on his novels. This is different than a typical Grisham book – meaning that it is not a courthouse crime story – and my mom suggested I read it because the main character’s childhood was similar to the way my grandfather was raised (minus the murder.) Anyhow, it’s about the summer of a young boy living on a farm in Arkansas who ends up seeing more than any 7-year-old should. The book gets pretty mixed reviews but I personally enjoyed it.

So there you have it. I had a tough time with this week’s T5W (maybe because it really could include anything?) What are your summer reads? And what do you consider a summer read?

Top 10 Tuesday – Books I’ve picked on a whim

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It’s that time again…Top Ten Tuesday! Click the link to join the fun!

The topic: Books I’ve picked up on a whim!

As you read this list, you will find that a lot of books I’ve picked up on a whim have been at the airport – usually paperback mysteries/thrillers or humor titles that I can finish by the end of the trip. I’ve also found many books while browsing bookstores – that’s the best way to stumble upon a book you’ve never heard of!

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  1. In the Blood by Lisa Unger: This was an airport pick. I don’t want to give anything away here so I’ll just say that a college student with some serious secrets and a missing friend takes a job babysitting a manipulative boy. It’s a serious page turner and it really creeped me out!

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  1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: I picked this up at a bookstore because the title and cover intrigued me. I’d never heard of it but since it was on a book display, I imagine it was already quite popular. I loved this! Jacket blurb:

 In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them.

  But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

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  1. Winter People by Jennifer McMahon: Another creepy book I picked up at the airport. A mother and her two daughters move into a Vermont farmhouse. One day, the girls wake up to find that their mother has vanished. While searching the house, the oldest daughter finds the diary of a woman named Sara. Sara lived in the farmhouse in the early 1900s and also vanished. Things get weird. Really weird.

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  1. Post Secret: Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives by Frank Warren: This was another bookstore browsing find. If you are unfamiliar, Frank Warren passed out postcards to strangers as part of an art project. He asked people to write down a secret and anonymously mail it to him. I found this book sooo fascinating. Some of the secrets are hilarious, some are gross, and some will break your heart.

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  1. Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: This is one of my favorite books and it was another bookstore find. I didn’t care for his second title as much but this one is really fantastic. Here’s the blurb:

 

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

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  1. The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz: This book is the first in a really funny mystery series. The Spellman’s are a really dysfunctional family and they run their own private investigating business. If you like humorous mysteries – and really zany families – you’ll probably enjoy this.

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  1. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde: As soon as I read the book blurb, I knew I had to read this! And I’m so glad I did. (Purchased at a bookstore on a whim.)

 

England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection. But when someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature and plucks Jane Eyre from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday is faced with the challenge of her career.

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  1. The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh: And we’re back to the creepy stuff. This is set in the Ozark Mountains and involved missing women, a small community, and a twisted love story. I couldn’t put it down but if you aren’t into dark and gritty you may not enjoy it.

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  1. Prize Winner Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan: I think I grabbed this one while working at Borders. It was the subtitle that grabbed me: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less.  It’s a true story about a woman who kept her family afloat by entering contests in the 1950s-1960s.  I think they turned this into a movie but I haven’t seen it. (Have any of you watched the movie? Is it any good?)

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  1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette? By Maria Semple: This was another airport find and I enjoyed it so much I bought another copy for my mom (she loved it too)! Here’s the blurb:

 

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle–and people in general–has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence–creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Okay, your turn! What have you read on a whim?

Top 5 Wednesday – Author’s you’d want to meet at bookcon

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Today’s T5W: Author’s you’d want to meet at Bookcon! Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group – join and play along!

Bookcon takes place this month in Chicago. And while I’m not going (nor have I ever been), I think I need to add it to my bucket list! There are a ton of great speakers, panels, and meet and greets – it looks like a blast!

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Ann M. Martin: As soon as I saw her name, I knew she was going to be #1 on my list. I used to love the Babysitters Club books. I have since passed my large collection of the series on to my cousin so her little girls can read them. Martin is presenting “Beyond the Babysitters Club” along with Raina Telgemeir (she creates the graphic novel versions of BSC.)

Author Sherman Alexie
Author Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie is participating in a book signing, a panel called “We Need Diverse Books Presents: Love & Loss in Children’s Literature,” and a panel called “The Power of Storytelling.” I would love to go to all three!

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Melissa de la Cruz: Not gonna lie, I picked Melissa de la Cruz because my niece is obsessed with all things Descendants. So in this imaginary scenario, she is at Bookcon with me 🙂 She is participating in a panel called “What is Light without Darkness? Balancing Good and Evil in YA Literature” and I think that sounds really interesting.

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Veronica Roth: If you read my blog, you may recall that Allegiant is on my DNF list, though I did enjoy Divergent. Like de la Cruz, Roth is participating in the “What is Light…” panel. One of the topics is “the power of choice for each of their characters” and I’m wondering if she’ll touch on the way she chose to end her series. I’m sure many readers would like to know more that!

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Kate DiCamillo: With two Newberry awards, I would love to hear what she has to say when she participates in “The Power of Storytelling” panel.

I’m also going to give an honorable mention to Chris O’Dowd because he’s really funny and I think he’s going to have a really lively session.

Are any of you going to bookcon or have you been in the past? Is it as fun as it sounds?

Top 10 Tuesday – Characters you’d love to revist as an adult

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (by The Broke and the Bookish) is a fun one!

The topic : Ten childhood characters you’d love to revisit as an adult.

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Pippi Longstocking: I think I enjoyed this as a kid because Pippi was just so …unusual. She didn’t want to grow up, which I could relate to at the time. Also, she was super strong so that was pretty cool! If the Internet can be trusted, Stieg Larsson based Lisbeth from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on an adult version of Pippi Longstocking. I will never think of that book the same way again!

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Eloise: I liked Eloise because she got to live in a hotel. As a child, I thought that was the greatest thing ever. It’s rumored that Eloise was based on Liza Minnelli. So I like to think that the adult Eloise became a huge Broadway star. And she still lives in The Plaza with a pug, of course!

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Harriet the Spy: As I put this list together, I’m noticing that as a kid I really enjoyed books about girls getting into trouble/hi-jinks! My guess is that Harriet became a successful journalist for the New York Times (and never lost her notebook again.)

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Encyclopedia Brown: This book series is how I learned to spell encyclopedia! I imagine that he continued with his detective agency (in a location other than his garage) or perhaps followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Police Department. And maybe had a child nicknamed “Dictionary” or “Thesaurus.”

CalvinCalvin (& Hobbes): I’m still a Calvin & Hobbes fan. In my mind, Calvin marries Susie and they have a super rambunctious little girl and Hobbes is now her BFF.

Charlie

Charlie Bucket: It’s hard to say what happens to Charlie as an adult because he has some of the most unique experiences a person can have – anything could happen! A third Charlie book was planned by Dahl but he never finished it. The first chapter of the book is on display at the Roald Dahl Museum in England (how fun would that be to visit?!)

Ramona

Ramona Quimby: The Ramona series stops when she’s in 4th grade. I would really like to know what Beezus, Ramona, and Roberta end up doing as adults. I think they’d have some pretty funny stories to share.

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Any HP Character: We technically know what becomes of Harry, Ron, and Hermione (and others) because of the Deathly Hallows epilogue but I want to know more! Good thing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is releasing soon 🙂

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Cinderella: Cinderella was one of my favorite Disney movies as a kid so of course I wanted to read the story as well. There are many different versions of Cinderella; I read the version by the Brothers Grimm. It was definitely more…extreme? Sure, let’s go with that. I would like to learn more about her life with the prince.

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Kristy Thomas: Kristy is from the Babysitters Club (more on that during tomorrow’s post!) I imagine she starts a care.com-esque babysitting empire. Well, that or she’s a high school softball coach!

Are there any characters you would like to revisit as adults?