February 2016: Month In Review

Did February fly by or what? That extra day didn’t slow it down at all!

I read four books in February:

Need | Joelle Charbonneau | print | 3.5 stars

Need was an exciting read. Need is a new social network which grants member “requests” after asking them to perform tasks, which quickly turn deadly. I rarely encounter a book I can call a “page-turner” these days but this was it. I kept sneaking a few pages every chance I could and I read it very quickly. Perhaps that is why I thought the ending was rushed and unsatisfying. It was disappointing to race through this book and be left without all of the answers I was looking for.

The Royal We | Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan | print | 5 stars

I loved this one to the point that I became slightly obsessed with this book while I was reading it. It was the Forever YA Book Club pick in February so I kept texting my friend who was also reading it. The Royal We follows Bex – an American studying abroad – as she navigates a complicated relationship with Nick  – the future King of England. It was a big book for me and it was not a quick read, but I found myself carving out time for it. The boys were sick one weekend and I read for hours and hours while they were couch-bound and napping. It also inspired me to do quite a bit of Kate and William research (which my book club appreciated). I’d recommend this one for sure.

Carry On | Rainbow Rowell | audio | 2.5 stars

It turns out that Rainbow Rowell is really hit or miss for me. I adored Eleanor & Park, FanGirl, and Attachments, but had to drag myself through Landline and Carry On. It was a little surreal to be reading fictional fan fiction and I never really felt like I belonged in the world of mages. It really did feel like we were plopped into this already existing story (which I suppose was the point). By the time the adventure really got going in the last third of the book, I was finally interested, but it was too late to totally save the book in my view. If I had been reading this in print, I wouldn’t have made it that far.

Isla and the Happily Ever After | Stephanie Perkins | print | 5 stars

When I read Stephanie Perkins story in My True Love Gave to Me at Christmas, I was reminded how great she is at writing a story of young love and of the fact that I still had to read this one…so I did. It was a fun, easy read of teenage love in Paris. There wasn’t much not to like. Anna will always have my heart, but Isla comes in a pretty close second.

January 2016: Month in Review

In January, I read three books:

Armada was a very enjoyable audio experience. Wil Wheaton is always a fun listen. While this was not as good as Ready Player One (can anything ever be as good as Ready Player One), I thought Armada was very well done.

I finally finished My True Love Gave to Me. I do not recommend reading a book of Christmas stories unless you are sure you can finish it BEFORE Christmas. I did not enjoy this once it was January 10 and I was still trudging through it. That said, I did enjoy some of the stories in here a lot (most importantly, I was reminded that Stephanie Perkins is amazing and I needed to request Isla and the Happily Ever After from the library).

 

Finally, I finished Winter. Stars, I love this series. 😉 I almost always find the final book in a series to be a disappointment, but not here. Marissa Meyer is so unbelievably talented at creating fantastic characters, writing intricate but workable plots, and building a complicated world in which to place them both.  Rebecca Soler has done an excellent job narrating this series to top it off. I was so pleased to find that I still have a little bit left to look forward to in this world with Stars Above – a collection of old and new stories. I HIGHLY recommend this series to everyone (and I am actively campaigning for Ben to read it). Don’t let the lunar cyborgs scare you off.

I also read the first volume of Ms. Marvel (I am not sure whether to count this as a book read or not). I liked it. I’m still experimenting with comics but it’s quick to read and smart and funny at the same time.

In other news, I spent the month starting Parenthood’s final season, watching the entirety of Making a Murder, starting the first season of House of Cards, and reluctantly doing a Star Wars re-watch. And I remained obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack. I started bullet journaling. I went to my first ballet class since LAST January. Kai learned to crawl, got his first two teeth, and ate a whole piece of pizza. The four of us stayed as busy as always.

What was your favorite read in January?

TSS: First Books of 2016

My first reads for 2016 show that I’ve definitely got a geeky side.

I read Volume 1 (issues #1-5) of Ms. Marvel this weekend in another attempt to see if I like comics. I’m still not entirely sure they’re for me but this was an interesting read and I’ve already requested the next volume. I know Ms. Marvel is important since the Marvel universe isn’t exactly populated by female, non-white, Muslim superheroes. Kamala Kahn is a teenage girl in Jersey City trying to balance American high school and strict immigrant parents when she suddenly finds herself thrust into the superhero role. I felt for Kamala as she is figures out who she is and how she fits into the world although I am hoping for a bit more on the origin story – what actually gave her her powers?

I also finished Armada on audio today. Armada follows a teenage gamer drafted into real war as aliens invade the planet.  Just like Ready Player One, Armada was a treat for my ears from start to finish. Wil Wheaton reading Ernest Cline is definitely one of my favorite narrator/author combinations. While Armada is not nearly as good as RPO, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve heard others were disappointed but I never wanted to stop listening.

What was your first book of 2016?

The Sunday Salon: 2016 Goals

This used to be my favorite time of the year to blog about books. I loved preparing my top ten reads of the previous year, my labor-intensive reading stats for the previous year (see 2012|2011|2010|2009), and thinking about my goals for the upcoming year. While I did share some of my favorite books from the past year, that is the extent of my 2015 recap.

I’ve talked a lot about my lack of reading motivation and the trouble I have prioritizing reading into my schedule. So, instead of setting a numerical reading goal this year (as Goodreads so badly wishes me to do), I am setting a very achievable goal of simply reading a little each day, even if it is just for ten minutes. This past year, I could go weeks without picking up a book and just writing that out makes me sad.

I’ve also set two other goals for 2016. Just like I want to get back to reading, I would like to get moving again. Again, finding the time/prioritizing the time is my difficulty so I am setting the bar low. I just want to workout a little each week, even if it’s just a weekend run or yoga class. My hope is with both reading and exercising, that some will lead to more.

My last goal is more definite. I will pay off the last of our consumer debt. We have one card left that still has a balance. I had really hoped we’d pay this off in 2015 but life had different plans for us. I know we can do it this year. Even though we will still have a mountain of student loans to tackle, this will be a huge win for us. I have other intentions for 2016. I’d like to continue focusing on things like minimalism and mindfulness. I want to use my phone less and pick up the real camera more. I’d like to be more present, both when I am at work and when I am at home. I want to be more patient with Evan. And,now that Kai demands less of my attention, I want to be more helpful to Ben.

What goals do you have for 2016?

The Sunday Salon.com

A Few of My 2015 Favorites

Happy New Year!

I didn’t read nearly enough books in 2015 to do an official recap or top ten or anything like that. But since I didn’t actually do much blogging about what I read either, I did want to to share a few of the books I read and loved in 2015.

I read 29 books this year. I gave 5 stars to eight of them but two were rereads. Here are my 6 favorite new-to-me reads in 2015, in the order in which I read them:

Betsy and the Great World | Maud Hart Lovelace | print | 5 stars

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? | Maria Semple | audio | 5 stars

Why Can’t I Be You | Allie Larkin | print | 5 stars

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty | audio | 5 stars

I’ll Give You the Sun | Jandy Nelson | print | 5 stars

Who Do You Love | Jennifer Weiner | 5 stars

Why Can’t I Be You is probably my top pick of the bunch. It was predominately a women’s fiction/young adult year for me as I tend to gravitate toward those genres when my reading motivation wanes, as it very much did in 2015.

What was your favorite read of 2015?


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Recently Finished – Who Do You Love

I have been a Jennifer Wiener fan as long as I have been an adult. I’ve ready every novel she’s written, so naturally, I picked up Who Do You Love. And I loved it. I loved the way it was written, chronologically but not always. I loved skipping between Andy and Rachael. I loved watching them succeed and fail over and over. This was a beautiful novel.

Next up, some holiday reading.

Just Finished: A Window Opens

★★★☆☆

My first real-time-not-a-book-review book review:

I finished listening to A Window Opens this afternoon on my drive back to the office from Tampa. It was 1:30. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet* and I desperately needed to pump. Which makes my reading selection somewhat ironic. Or, perhaps, fitting.

I’d originally picked up A Window Opens when I saw it on a list of fall releases which claimed it was an excellent debut about a woman balancing work and motherhood.

I could relate a little to some of it, but mostly I found the book to just be okay. Maybe I need the millennial version of this story, where everyone finds harmony in their work-life balance and then they instagram about it. Actually, I could probably write that version.

I didn’t dislike the book as I was reading it, but I was not pleased with the way the book wrapped up.  For those of you who have read it and want to engage in a spoiler-filled discussion, I am happy to explain why it disappointed me.

If you’re a working mom, you may enjoy it. If you’re not, I think you’d probably find it a pretty boring.

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*And I’d just used my lunch money to pay the $20 parking tab because Tampa apparently thinks it’s New York City now.