Read Harder 2016


Book Riot is doing their Read Harder Challenge again this year and I am completely on board. I have compiled my list of books to read and everything. These aren’t set in stone; they are my ideals, but if I read other books that qualify for the categories I’ll use those instead. Here’s my list!

  • Horror: Sandman V.2 OR The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (cause I hate horror and this is as close as I’ll get)
  • Nonfiction Science: The Hunt for Vulcan by Thomas Levenson
  • Essays: In Defense of Sanity by G. K. Chesterton OR On Stories and Other Essays on Literature OR Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories by C. S. Lewis
  • Read Aloud Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer (We are almost done…)
  • Middle Grade Novel: The Frog Princess by E. D. Baker
  • Biography: Elizabeth, the Queen  by Sally Befell Smith OR Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas
  • Dystopian: Dust by Hugh Howey
  • Book From Decade I Was Born (1990s): Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
  • Audie Award: LATW’s The Hound of Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Over 500 pages: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Less than 100 pages: The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura OR Utopia by Sir Thomas More OR The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • Transgender Author: Disavowals by Claude Cahun
  • Set in Middle East: The Arabian Nights by Anonymous
  • Southeast Asian Author: The Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang
  • Set before 1900: Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
  • 1st in Series by a Person of Color: The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
  • Non-Superhero Comic: Saga V.1 by Brian K. Vaughan
  • Book to Movie Adaptation: Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy OR Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling
  • Nonfiction Feminist: Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
  • Religion: Women in the Word by Jen Wilkin
  • Politics (fiction or nonfiction): The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro
  • Food Memoir: My Life in France by Julia Child OR The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pepin
  • A Play: Lysistrata by Aristophanes OR As You Like It by William Shakespeare
  • Main Character with Mental Illness: The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

The last one bothers me because I would consider mental illness to be a degrading disease like Alzheimer’s. But I know that many consider Asperger’s or other forms of autism an illness, and I don’t think it is. It’s a condition. I haven’t done enough research on the topic to argue the fact, but I didn’t want to read a book about mental illness either so that’s the book I picked.

And there you have it. I have some alternates and none of it is set in stone, which is the perfect challenge for me. Here’s to a new year of reading!

Romance-less


My gorgeous sister drew this picture. Isn't she talented?

My gorgeous sister drew this picture. Isn’t she talented?

This October (and November and December) I’m taking a break. Romance and I are breaking up because she takes up too much of my time. Like a needy girlfriend she invades and consumes and clings to me too much and I’m tired of it.

I’m tired of feeling that craving in my soul for just one more chapter. It’s like an addiction and I’m a junkie. A romance junkie. After reading Annie F Downs’s Let’s All Be Brave, I realized that I had been ignoring God for a long time. Do you hear Him? That quiet whisper in your soul, leading you down a path that you know will be hard, but necessary? The Holy Spirit has been telling me to quit romance for the past two years and I’m finally listening. For me this means no binge-watching romantic shows on Netflix, no reading chick lit, and no romantic audiobooks. It means engaging in the real world. Gulp.

The audiobooks part is the biggest deal to me, I think. I listened to over 90 hours of books last month. Shocking, I know. I’m following a path that will lead me down withdrawals (in fact I’ve already started) and so I’m trying to fill the romance book gap with books that will nourish my soul. After two days of October, I just finished listening to Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. It’s the only one of her books I haven’t read because I’ve never felt like I’m in a place where I could relate. But there are so many moments that I felt like she was, once again, peering into my soul. And there were many more that I heard and wanted to call up my little sister, Marissa, and yell “READ THIS BOOK NOW.”

When you’re in the midst of transition and you deny yourself one comfort, the one you like best, you have to turn to another. It is my dearest wish to turn to Christ and I already feel closer to Him than before. I spent last night praying and talking to my mother until 4AM. It’s strange how giving something up leads to Jesus. He’s living water, rushing to fill the gap, now that I’m draining the sewage of romance.

Okay, not that romance is sewage necessarily. But it’s become an idol in my life and, like all idols, needs to be cleaned out. If you read romance, please don’t hate me. I’ve had a lot of people look at me and say, “Why are you doing this?” It’s given me the opportunity to talk about Jesus and my spiritual health. Usually I hem and haw my way around it. However, God is making me bolder day by day. Today was the first time that I gave the whole truthful answer: “It’s not healthy for me and my relationship with God. And that has to be more important than the sweet tooth craving romance satisfies in me.”

So, here’s to romance-less months ahead and the hope that I carry in me that it will lead me to find what true love is and how I can show it to my world here in Shanghai. Here’s to finding love in Christ, and knowing that it satisfies everything, even when I don’t feel it. Here’s to withdrawal symptoms and crying (because I know it’s coming) because I can’t read about Eve Dallas and Roarke and their latest adventure, or Susan Mallery’s next book in the Fool’s Gold series, or Winter by Marissa Meyer, or any of my other cotton candy books. Or my dark chocolate books because Austen and Bronte wrote romances too and so my familiar classics are out for the duration. Here’s to living here and now and not numbing myself with romantic escapes. Here’s to pouring everything I have into a life lived in the real world with the real God and to the joy I can find in it, even amidst my heartbreak.

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge


I have decided to do a few reading challenges this year. I’ve done some in the past; the Jane Austen Challenge was the sole reason for starting this blog six years ago (CRAZY right?!). However, I haven’t done one in a while (I’m not including Bout of Books, because that’s a read-a-thon, not a challenge), so I’m doing Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge. I like it because it stretches you to read things you might not have. Here are the books to read:

A book written by someone when they were under the age of 25 (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)

A book written by someone when they were over the age of 65

collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people)

A book published by an indie press (Heartache by Annie Bellet)

A book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own (The Pixar Touch by David A Price)

A book that takes place in Asia

A book by an author from Africa

A book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native AmericansAboriginals, etc.)

microhistory (Words to Eat By by Ina Lipkowitz)

YA novel (The Heir by Kiera Cass)

sci-fi novel

romance novel (The Prince Who Loved Me by Karen Hawkins)

National Book AwardMan Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade

A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.) (Scarlet by Marissa Meyer)

An audiobook (As You Wish by Cary Elwes)

A collection of poetry

A book that someone else has recommended to you (The Body Book by Cameron Diaz. Recommended by Meredith Frank)

A book that was originally published in another language

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind (Hi, have you met Panels?) (Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi)

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure (Read, and then realize that good entertainment is nothing to feel guilty over) (Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts)

A book published before 1850

A book published this year (First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen)

self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”) (A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman)

I’ve already done a few of them…at least one. The audiobook is easy. I’m working my way through a few more. I’m excited to complete this challenge this year. I want to do them all and find new exciting things to read. Huzzah!

2015: TBR Challenge


I’m joining this challenge. I’m just doing it. Why, you ask? I’ll tell you. I have so many books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet and I want to. So I’m gonna do it. I’m counting audiobooks, like Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and The Pixar Touch by David Price, because both of those have been on my TBR list for years. Okay, so the rules (which you may find here) indicate I must list 12 books and have two alternates? I will do this. Also the books must have been published prior to the year 2014. Here are my books for 2015:

  1. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (audiobook) Completed January 22, 2015
  2. The Pixar Touch by David Price (audiobook) Completed May 7, 2015
  3. Jane’s Fame by Claire Harman
  4. The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
  5. Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  6. Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine
  7. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi Completed December 14, 2015
  8. Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis
  9. Abigail Adams by Woody Holton Completed October 31, 2015
  10. Children of Hurin by J. R. R. Tolkien
  11. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
  12. Utopia by Sir Thomas More

Alternates:

  1. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller Completed October 4, 2014
  2. The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley

I’m excited. 😀

Bout of Books 11 Wrap Up


I’m very proud and excited about all the books I read. A few were on my summer reading list, a few were fun re-reads from high school. I enjoyed myself though, and I hope that you did too!

Monday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Number of pages I’ve read today: 400 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 400
Reviews written: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
Books: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Tuesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Number of pages I’ve read today: 600 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1000
Reviews written: None
Books: The Knight and the Dove by Lori Wick, Wool by Hugh Howey

Wednesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Number of pages I’ve read today: 150 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1150
Reviews written: None
Books: Wool by Hugh Howey, The Proposal by Lori Wick, The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene

Thursday
Number of books I’ve read today: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 4
Number of pages I’ve read today: 628 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1800
Reviews written: None
Books: Wool by Hugh Howey, The Proposal by Lori Wick

Friday
Number of books I’ve read today: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 6
Number of pages I’ve read today: 1046 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 2846
Reviews written: Wool 
Books: The Rescue by Lori Wick, The Visitor  by Lori Wick, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

Sunday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 7
Number of pages I’ve read today: 530 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 3676
Reviews written: None
Books: The Visitor by Lori Wick, The Pursuit by Lori Wick

Almost 4000 pages, 7 books and two reviews. I call that a win.

Bout of Books 11 Day 6


I had a lot going on today, but I managed to squeeze in a little reading and a little Numb3rs. Which is an awesome show. I continued reading The Visitor by Lori Wick and I read a chapter of The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. I didn’t finish any books today though. 

Monday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Number of pages I’ve read today: 400 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 400
Reviews written: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
Books: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Tuesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Number of pages I’ve read today: 600 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1000
Reviews written: None
Books: The Knight and the Dove by Lori Wick, Wool by Hugh Howey

Wednesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Number of pages I’ve read today: 150 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1150
Reviews written: None
Books: Wool by Hugh Howey, The Proposal by Lori Wick, The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene

Thursday
Number of books I’ve read today: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 4
Number of pages I’ve read today: 628 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1800
Reviews written: None
Books: Wool by Hugh Howey, The Proposal by Lori Wick

Friday
Number of books I’ve read today: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 6
Number of pages I’ve read today: 1046 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 2846
Reviews written: Wool 
Books: The Rescue by Lori Wick, The Visitor  by Lori Wick, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

Saturday
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 6
Number of pages I’ve read today: 300 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 3146
Reviews written: None
Books: The Visitor by Lori Wick, The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

Bout of Books 11 Day 5


Late update today! But I had to attend a cross-country meet in the wee hours of the morning (and I missed the Twitter chat–I’m miffed!), so I didn’t write it at midnight and post it at 1am like normal. I feel off.

I feel like I didn’t get a lot read, but I actually finished a book on this day. Go figure. I finished listening to The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey. It was a re-read for me, but one that I enjoy. I listen/read it once a year because I love it that much. I also wrote a review for Wool, which I will link below. And I’m continuing the English Garden series with The Visitor. Oh! I guess I finished two books. I also read The Rescue. Huh. So I got a lot read. Go figure. I started a myriad of books and read chapters of those as well. I’m glad I wrote this. I feel way more accomplished with yesterday.

Monday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Number of pages I’ve read today: 400 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 400
Reviews written: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
Books: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Tuesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Number of pages I’ve read today: 600 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1000
Reviews written: None
Books: The Knight and the Dove by Lori Wick, Wool by Hugh Howey

Wednesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Number of pages I’ve read today: 150 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1150
Reviews written: None
Books: Wool by Hugh Howey, The Proposal by Lori Wick, The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene

Thursday
Number of books I’ve read today: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 4
Number of pages I’ve read today: 628 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1800
Reviews written: None
Books: Wool by Hugh Howey, The Proposal by Lori Wick

Friday
Number of books I’ve read today: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 6
Number of pages I’ve read today: 1046 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 2846
Reviews written: Wool 
Books: The Rescue by Lori Wick, The Visitor  by Lori Wick, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, The Fairy Godmother by Mercedes Lackey

Woah. I’m on fire. I think I can officially say that.

Wool


I finally finished yet another book on my summer reading list, Wool by Hugh Howey. Libraries are so great (when I don’t owe them money).

This book is sci-fi dystopian, which put me off it for a bit. There’s so much dystopian going around it’s hard to be enthusiastic about a new one. However, I’d heard about this from an Apple store Genius (at the Genius Bar) and he got me excited.

I love this cover.

The story is about Juliette, a woman who works in the Mechanical section of the Silo. An apocalyptic event happened and now all people live underground in this silo, where their only view of the outside is through sensors. Those sensors occasionally need to be cleaned, so as a capital punishment deal, when people commit a crime against the Pact, they are sent out to cleaning. Jules is appointed shortly after the former sheriff volunteers to clean and soon finds why he would commit such a mad act. She finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy and begins to wonder what secrets the menacing IT department has been keeping from the people of the Silo.

I loved this book. It was difficult to get started, but after I reached a certain point, I couldn’t put it down. Jules was conflicted and brave. She wasn’t your typical “strong woman.” She even had a bit of a romance with Lukas. I liked that she was freaked out and unsure a lot of the time. She went with her gut and tried to figure it all out.

I liked the way Howey wrote it. It was initially meant to be short stories, but you couldn’t really separate them. He gives the readers different points of view though, and I liked that. You saw from Jules, Lukas, Bernard (the evil IT man), Walker (the mentor to Jules), Holston (former sheriff), and others. It wasn’t stilted or awkward though, the flow was natural and kept up the steady pace.

The ending wasn’t surprising, but I couldn’t say I was expecting it. I didn’t have much knowledge about this book before I started it, which was nice because it meant I couldn’t predict the outcome.

Lukas and Jules relationship was a little…cliche. I wasn’t sure I would have bought it if I hadn’t really needed something happy. There’s a lot of sorrow in the book and their semi-whirlwind romance brought a smile to my face. It was a needed break from the sadness.

I would recommend this to dystopian lovers, but it isn’t so much science-fiction. So if you aren’t keen on the genre, it might not be for you. I don’t care for dystopian literature, but I did like this because of the characters and the mystery of it. So if you think it sounds interesting, go for it.

Bout of Books 11 Day 4


It’s the end of another awesome reading day. I finished two books today.

*DANCE RECESS*

I finished Wool which simply makes my heart happy and I finished The Proposal which made me laugh. I had a good day. I’m excited about tomorrow and getting some more reading done. I’ll be starting Gone With the Wind. I’ve never read it before so I’m STOKED! How have y’all been doing?

Monday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Number of pages I’ve read today: 400 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 400
Reviews written: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
Books: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Tuesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Number of pages I’ve read today: 600 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1000
Reviews written: None
Books: The Knight and the Dove by Lori Wick, Wool by Hugh Howey

Wednesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Number of pages I’ve read today: 150 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1150
Reviews written: None
Books: Wool by Hugh Howey, The Proposal by Lori Wick, The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene

Thursday
Number of books I’ve read today: 2
Total number of books I’ve read: 4
Number of pages I’ve read today: 650 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1800
Reviews written: None
Books: Wool by Hugh Howey, The Proposal by Lori Wick

Bout of Books 11 Day 3


EVERYONE! I just found out that Tim Curry is the voice of Nigel Thornberry from The Wild Thornberries!

And that is why virtually no reading got done today. I was on Pinterest and Tumblr and Youtube and Netflix and at the library. That pretty much filled up my day. I read maybe 200 pages. We’re actually gonna go with 150.

Monday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Number of pages I’ve read today: 400 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 400
Reviews written: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
Books: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Tuesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Number of pages I’ve read today: 600 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1000
Reviews written: None
Books: The Knight and the Dove by Lori Wick, Wool by Hugh Howey

Wednesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 0
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Number of pages I’ve read today: 150 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1150
Reviews written: None
Books: Wool by Hugh Howey, The Proposal by Lori Wick, The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene

Bout of Books Day Two


Okay, so I was hoping to finish Wool but that’s some heavy stuff. I’m enjoying it, but it’s harder to get through than I imagined it would be, so I read a few other things on this fine day. I read The Knight and the Dove by Lori Wick because I’m re-reading her Kensington Chronicles and laughing my way through each book. I read more of Persuasion. And that’s it. I have three requests in at the library, so I need to go pick those up. Only one of them will be a fast read for me. Sigh. I also listened to more of The Fairy Godmother. Altogether not a bad day.

Check out my OTP challenge! I liked it.

Monday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 1
Number of pages I’ve read today: 400 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 400
Reviews written: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
Books: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Tuesday
Number of books I’ve read today: 1
Total number of books I’ve read: 2
Number of pages I’ve read today: 600 (approximately)
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1000
Reviews written: None
Books: The Knight and the Dove by Lori Wick