Friday, September 30, 2016

September Wrap Up / October TBR

I completed 4 out of the 6 books on my September TBR.  I consider that a success.

Total Read in 2016: 38
Popsugar Reading Challenge Progress: 34 out of 40

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Completed 9/5/16
Fulfills Popsugar Reading Challenge #16: A political memoir
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

I struggle to give this book a rating. It took me FOREVER to get through - over a month. Malala as a person is truly fantastic and a voice that I hope will we hear much more from over the next 50 years. I learned a lot reading this book. However, the writing for much of the book wasn't particularly engaging (there was a journalist helping her write the book). Sometimes it did feel like an extended history lesson or news report.

I would recommend picking it up as a physical book instead of an ebook because there is a glossary that is helpful for unfamiliar terms...but since I had the ebook version I didn't realize it until I had already finished the book. 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Completed 9/22/16
Fulfills Popsugar Reading Challenge #27: A murder mystery
Counts toward the R.I.P. Challenge
Rating: 4 out of 5
Check out my review.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Completed 9/25/16
Fulfills Popsugar Reading Challenge #36: A book about a road trip
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

I've been struggling with how I feel about this book. There was a lot to like about it, but it took me quite awhile to get through and parts of it dragged a bit.

It was "deeper" than I expected, and the characters were well developed, particularly the two children.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Completed 9/28/18 (audiobook)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I know I'm in the extreme minority on this, but I really liked this book, perhaps because I'm not incredibly attached to To Kill a Mockingbird. The plot, such as it is, meandered a bit for the first half, but no more so than in TKAM. I liked the little anecdotes of Jean Louise/Scout's adolescence in between the times of the two stories. But most of all I could really feel her disillusionment.  

Currently reading:

Also hope to complete:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Top 10 Tuesday: Books on My Fall TBR

Fall is possibly my favorite reading season.  I crave creepy reads, historical reads, and classics (though I don't have any on my list this year).

Without further ado, in roughly the order in which I plan to read them, here's the fall TBR:

1.  Death of a Gossip by MC Beaton

First in the Hamish Macbeth cozy mystery series, this book will serve double duty by fulfilling the Popsugar Reading Challenge prompt for "a book recommended by a family member" (thanks, Grandma!) and fulfilling one book in the R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril) Challenge.

2.  In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

I tore through The Woman in Cabin 10 and am eager to try out another creepy read by this author.

3.  The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

I've had this short supernatural/horror/Gothic classic on my TBR list for entirely too long.  I'm hoping my library hold will put me at the front of the line for a Halloween reading.  This can also give me double credit for the R.I.P. Challenge and the Popsugar Challenge ("a book from the library").

4.  Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

I had this witchy YA new release on my September TBR but just didn't get there.

5. The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

A YA dystopian to check off the "dystopian novel" prompt on the Popsugar Challenge.

6.  The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern

I must admit that I remember nothing of this book's description.  I've never read anything by Cecelia Ahern (of P.S. I Love You fame).  I grabbed this book to fulfill the "first book you see in a bookstore" Popsugar prompt.  I freely admit that I steered myself to the bargain rack and picked the first book I saw there because there was absolutely no way I was going to pay for the full-price hardcovers at the front of the store.

7.  A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I've heard great things about this author, and this book will satisfy the "culture you're unfamiliar with" Popsugar prompt.

8.  Housebroken: Admissions of an Untidy Life by Laurie Notaro

Humorous non-fiction from someone who isn't good with housework?  Yep, that's one I have to read.  I had optimistically placed it on my September TBR but didn't get there.

9.  Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I've never read anything by Neil Gaiman, but this book looks really interesting.

10.  Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Another author I want to try!  Some of her other works are more popular, but I found the description on this one to be the most engaging.

In case anyone besides me is interested, I have 7 books left to cross off my list for the 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge.  I am saving one for around Christmas (i.e. winter), so it doesn't appear appear on this fall TBR.  It is definitely going to feel strange to pick books entirely based on mood again in a few short months.  

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and The Bookish.  Make sure you check out the host and other participants!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

REVIEW: The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Completed 9/22/16
Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Challenge #27: A murder mystery
Counts toward the R.I.P. XI Challenge
Rating: 4 out of 5

I needed this book. It really helped me with the slump that I had fallen into this month.

I had saved this mystery to read on vacation, since I went on a cruise, and the book deals with mysterious actions aboard a small luxury cruise ship.

The narrator is an unreliable British female narrator who drinks too much. Sound familiar? I'm sure it does if you've read The Girl on the Train. Unlike Rachel, however, I actually did like Ware's narrator, Lo, and was able to sympathize more with her, perhaps because she has struggles with some of the same issues that I have had in the past on a more minor scale (mental health-wise, not alcohol-related). 

The main reason I was drawn to this book, aside from the cruise aspect, was that I had heard comparisons to Agatha Christie, who I read a lot of as a teenager after I had moved on from Nancy Drew. I think the comparison is fair for about the first two thirds of the book.

Then it takes a strange turn for the last third and goes more from mystery to thriller. Even though I finished the book quite quickly and am happy with the final resolution, I can't say that I really liked that one section of the book all that much. It just felt odd and is one of the reasons I can't give the book more than 4 stars. I wish there was another way she could have gotten to a similar conclusion.

The other reasons I can't give more than 4 stars are that (1) I feel that certain characters among the ship's passengers were not developed well enough, (2) I feel like if I really analyze it there are some plot holes (but I read this on vacation and wasn't particularly interested in analysis), and (3) I wish she would have included a some diagrams of the ship layout because it didn't really make that much sense to me.

All that being said, I still really liked this book. I thought the snippets of emails, texts, news clippings, etc. at the end of each section were really effective in building suspense. I can't wait to pick up this author's other major book, In a Dark, Dark Wood

Friday, September 23, 2016

R.I.P. Challenge XI


The one reading challenge that I try to participate in with any type of yearly consistency is the Readers Imbibing Peril (RIP) Challenge created by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings.  The challenge is to read books/short stories/plays (or even watch movies) over the months of September and October in the following categories:  mystery, thriller, horror, suspense, Gothic, or dark fantasy.  This is the 11th year of the challenge and I've participated probably about 5 or so times, either on my own or on now-defunct old blogs.

I'm hoping for "Peril the First," which is completion of 4 books in the above categories.

My Challenge TBR:

  1. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware (not technically a TBR, since I finished it yesterday)
  2. Death of a Gossip by MC Beaton
  3. In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
  4. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Creepy fall reading is the best reading!  Grab a blanket and a pumpkin spice cappuccino and curl up with a good book.  :)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

August Wrap-Up and September TBR

I've discovered audiobooks!  Gotta be honest - audiobooks saved my backside in August or I would be falling behind on my Goodreads goal.

August Wrap-Up:

Cavewomen Don't Get Fat by Esther Blum
Completed 8/10/16
Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge #13: A self-improvement book
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

I dabbled in Paleo a little bit last year and dropped 12 pounds without even trying (about 8 of which I've kept off). This summer I've been feeling drained and eating poorly, so I picked up this book to get some motivation to get my health back on track.

I really enjoyed this book (which is half recipes) until I reached the chapter on supplements. If you took every supplement she lists, you would literally be popping pills all day long! I just can't believe that's actually beneficial to your health. I'll stick with my simple multi-vitamin each morning, thank you very much.

Some of the tips and recipes are helpful, though, and I like that she is flexible and realistic enough to understand that everyone won't eat perfectly all the time.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Completed 8/24/16 (audiobook)
Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge #4: A book you haven't read since high school
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

I decided to listen to the audiobook version of this classic. This was my first experience with audiobooks and, while I still prefer the visual experience of reading, I did enjoy the listening experience.

I chose this book because I didn't have a strong impression of it from when I read it in high school. I can't even remember which teacher/class I read it for (and normally I always remember that). 

I feel I appreciated it much more this time around with a little more real world experience. Also, I think Sissy Spacek really nailed the voice of Scout in her reading. 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz 
Completed 8/31/16 (audiobook)
Fulfills 2016 Popsugar Reading Challenge #12: A book recommended by someone you just met
Rating: 5 out of 5

I have to admit that I cheated a little bit with this prompt. No one recommended this book to me specifically, but several of the Booktube channels that I've seen have had this book as a recommendation. I figured that was the closest I would get since random people don't come up to me and recommend books.

The hype for this book was justified. It really surprised me how much I enjoyed it. It was both simple and complex at the same time and made me want to read more books with male narrators (I usually gravitate towards female-driven books). It also made me realize that boys don't necessarily have an easier time growing up than girls. 

September TBR: Hoping for 2 Physical Books, 2 E-Books, and 2 Audiobooks

  1.  I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai - I want to love this book, but I'm still just slogging through it after over a month!  Hoping to have it finished this weekend.
  2. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes - I was planning to read this last month for the Popsugar "road trip" prompt but hit a slump.
  3. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware - I am so taking this cruise ship murder mystery on my Royal Caribbean cruise this month.
  4. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova - The ARC of this YA witchy novel has been sitting on my Kindle unread for way too long.
  5. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee - Since I listened to the audiobook version of To Kill a Mockingbird, it's only right that I follow it up with Go Set a Watchman.  And it's read by Reese Witherspoon!
  6. Housebroken: Admissions of an Untidy Life by Laurie Notaro - If I manage to squeeze in a second audiobook, it's gotta be this one.