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?

Top 5 Wednesday – Favorite Mothers / Maternal Figures

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The last Top Five Wednesday of the month! (Is April really almost over?)  As always, click the link to join the Goodreads group and see the weekly topics!

Top 5 Wednesday Topic: Favorite Mothers/Maternal Figures

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1. Marmee in Little Women: Little Women was one of the first “big” books I read when I was young and it holds a special place in my heart. I also love the various film adaptations. I always thought it would be fun to live in the March house.

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2. Lillian Gilbreth in Cheaper by the Dozen: If you haven’t read this book, you totally should! It is a true story and nothing like the Steve Martin movie. This book is hilarious and both parents are fun and very intelligent. Fun facts: Lillian received a BA and MA from UC Berkley  in the early 1900s and earned a PhD from Brown. She was also the first female professor at Purdue’s engineering school. AND she raised 12 kids!

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3. Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables: I LOVE Anne of Green Gables – the books and the movies. Going to Prince Edward Island one day is totally on my bucket list. Marilla is one of my favorite characters and a great mother figure for Anne.

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4. Mary Poppins: Does this count as a maternal figure? I’m going to say yes. Who doesn’t want to have Mary Poppins as their nanny?!

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5. Mrs. Weasley in Harry Potter: Need I say more?

Who are your favorite literary mothers or maternal figures?

Top 5 Wednesday – Books You’re Intimidated By

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Top 5 Wednesday is a Goodreads group – click the link to join the fun!

This week’s Top 5: Books You’re Intimidated By

I love to read. I have an English degree, I’ve worked in numerous bookstores and libraries,  and between home and work I’m pretty much constantly surrounded by books. Are there any I’m intimidated by? Absolutely! I love classics but there are some I haven’t even cracked the spine on. Here are five:

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1. The Brothers Karamazov: Along with the length (Amazon lists it as 824 pages) I feel like this book will just really confuse me. Maybe I’m wrong? Have any of you read – and loved – this?

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2. War & Peace: Speaking of long books….Amazon lists this as 1296 pages! I don’t hate long books, I swear. But this is a seriously long book. I’ve been told it’s hard to keep track of the characters and that there are a ton of really long, seemingly unrelated passages. I’ll probably try to tackle it one day. But not today.

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3.Lord of the Rings: I don’t read many books of this genre and I think that has something to do with the intimidation factor. I have a friend who insists I’ll love it so I’ll try to read it eventually (maybe.)

 

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4. Cloud Atlas: This is a favorite for many people but I haven’t attempted it yet and I’m not sure I ever will.

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5. Atlas Shrugged: I actually own this one but every time I pick it up, I immediately put it back down. Now that I think about it, my friend who insists I’ll love LOTR also loves Altas Shrugged. I wonder what books she’s intimidated by…

So apparently I’m intimidated by books that seem hard to follow and/or have the word Atlas in them!

Have you read any of these books? Am I right to be intimidated? What are your Top 5 in this category?

Top 5 Wednesday – Books with Hard Topics

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It’s Top 5 Wednesday time! This Goodreads group is open to anyone so check it out!

This week’s Top 5 Wednesday: Books with Hard Topics

I’m pretty excited about this week’s topic and am really interested to see what other bloggers pick. As I considered books that would fit into this category, I realized that I’ve read a lot of books with hard topics. A lot. So I am randomly picking five because choosing my all-time favorites would be way too hard.

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1. A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer: This is the true story of one of the worst cases of child abuse in California. And it’s written by the child – now an adult – who experienced it. This book is not an easy read but I could not put it down. When I finished, I immediately read the other two titles by Pelzer – The Lost Boy and A Man Named Dave. I believe I read this book when I was in my early high school years and it was certainly eye-opening.

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2. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen: Another true story, Kaysen writes about the two years she spent in a psychiatric hospital in the 60s. As with most adaptations, I think the book is much better than the film. And speaking of psychiatric hospitals and film adaptations…

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3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey: The first time I tried to read this, I stopped after the first few pages. I’m not sure why because when I picked it up again a year later, it ended up being one of the best books I read that year. It’s both hilarious and heartbreaking. And I enjoyed the book and the movie, which is rare!

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4. Room: If you haven’t read this, you may be familiar with the title as a recent Oscar nominated film. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I thought the book was fantastic. A woman and her son are held captive in a small room (the five-year-old boy has never been outside of the room). It is about survival, hope, and determination. Speaking of kidnapped girls, I read The Girl in the Box in middle school and it was completely enthralling to me at the time.

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5. Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum: Apparently, I’ve read a lot of books about hospitals/institutions. This is about a group of juveniles with mental and/or physical disabilities living in an institution. The author is very familiar with her topic and there are parts of this book that literally made me squirm. This book is excellent but not an easy read by any means. I liked that it was told from multiple points of view – from patients, from a woman that recruits people to enter the facility, from nurses, etc.I highly recommend this one.

And because I just can’t help it, I’ll give mentions to Go Ask Alice, The Book Thief, We Need to Talk about Kevin, and My Posse Don’t Do Homework.

This Top 5 actually reminded me of when I was in middle school. I went to a bookstore and told the clerk “I want a book that will make me cry.” Without batting an eye, she pulled out three books that fit the bill. I want a book that will make me think and make me feel. These books did that.

Top 5 for next week: Books You’re Intimidated By!

Top Five Wednesday – Rainy Day Reads

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It’s that time again…Top 5 Wednesday! This group, created by Lainey, is open to anyone so give it a try!

This week’s topic: Rainy Day Reads!

When I think of books to read on a rainy day, I think of comfort books – books I know I’ll love. Here are my Top 5:

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1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: I’ve loved this book for so long that I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it. It’s like my comfort blanket.

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2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling: This book – and Mindy – crack me up. And if it’s rainy and gloomy out, this will cheer me up!

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3. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: A series I never get sick of!

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4. Daphne du Maurier books – While it’s nice to have books that are funny or comforting, rainy days also beg for a good spooky story! I really like Daphne du Maurier books because they tend to have intrigue and mystery. Rebecca, The Birds, and Jamaica Inn are all good places to start.

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5. Short Stories – I’m leaving this a little vague because there are a ton of short story compilations out there. I recommend starting with a compilation of the classics – The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor, etc. and enjoy!

What are your favorite rainy day books? Check back next Wednesday for Top 5 Wednesday: Books with Hard Topics!

Tuesday Talks -Reading Reviews

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It’s time for another Tuesday Talks! Click the link to join the Goodreads group and see the monthly topics!

This week’s question: Do you read/watch reviews before or after reading a book?

It really depends on the book and author. For example, I fully intend on purchasing and reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child without reading any reviews. I do this with most of my favorite authors.

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I find that reading reviews of books I’m looking forward to actually put me off the book and I would rather form my own opinion. For example, I was really looking forward to Go Set a Watchman but read so many horrible reviews about it that I still haven’t purchased the book. (The reviews for this book were inescapable, it seems. There were everywhere!)

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That being said, if there is a book that looks interesting but I’m unfamiliar with the title or the author, I’ll often check the general rating on the book before I make the purchase. If the book has a really awful rating, then I’ll read the reviews to see why people didn’t like it.

If I really loved a book, or was confused by it, then I’ll read reviews once I’m done. I do the same with movies, actually.

How about you? Do you read reviews? If so, do you read them before or after reading the book?

 

Goodreads Reading Challenge – March 2016

For my March Goodreads Reading Challenge, I was supposed to read (a) a book that’s a collection of novels and (b) a book type you don’t usually buy. I had a book I was really eager to read that didn’t fit with this challenge so I decided to jump around a bit and come back to the collection of novels at a later time. So, here is what I read in March:

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A book type you don’t usually buy: For this I went with a hardcover book. I do actually have a lot of hardcovers but the majority of my book purchases nowadays are eBooks so I figure it still counts! I read The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner. It’s the true story of a girl growing up in a polygamous community in Mexico. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

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A book in which the main character belongs to a minority: This particular topic doesn’t show up on my reading challenge list for a while but after winning an autographed bookmark, I thought I’d better read it! All of the main characters happen to be minorities – the main character is African-American, the love interest is biracial, etc. It’s a YA sci-fi romance. I believe this is the first book in a series and it’s only $0.99 on Amazon! I will definitely read the next book in this series when it’s released.

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A book chosen for its cover: This is technically one of my April challenges but I finished the first two books and decided to keep going! I really did pick this book for its cover – so pretty! I will say that once I saw the cover, I also read the blurb, checked out a few reviews, etc. before I purchased it. It was actually a lot better than I thought it would be and was a quick read.

For April, I have to read: the book on my TBR list that matches my age! What did you read this month?