Posted in Book Reviews

Final Five Books of 2016

It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.

-Mockingjay

Hooray! And with this, I finally finish my 2016 reading posts. I’m looking forward to telling you about what I read last year because I read some really good ones!

If you didn’t get the chance to read my previous posts, you can find books 1-5 of 2016 here, books 6-10 here, books 11-15 here, books 16-20 here and books 21-25 here!

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

26. * Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – As I mentioned in the previous post, you can find a very detailed review of this trilogy (which I wrote for Literature Approved) here.

27. Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace – This is the fifth book in the Betsy-Tacy series, but the first I happened to read. This series was written in the 1940s (though it actually takes place in the very early 1900s) and so I very much enjoyed the vocabulary and enchanting writing style. Like me, Betsy is a writer, but unlike me, she has a burning desire to be popular. I have a feeling I would have loved watching Betsy and her best friend Tacy grow up in the earlier books, but by the time I jumped in the series, they were starting high school and all Betsy could think about was: boys. Tacy, on the other hand, has no desire to catch a beau and only wants to have a good time with her friends. Unfortunately, though I relate most to Tacy, she is not the main character. Being unable to relate to Betsy’s immature struggles was definitely an obstacle to enjoying this book. While I loved her little family and their traditions and habits, so much of this book centered around Betsy’s desires for a beau, that I soon grew tired of it. (She’s only 14 for crying out loud!)

Continue reading “Final Five Books of 2016”

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Posted in Book Reviews

Fifth Five Books of 2016

Here it’s safe, here it’s warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.
-The Hunger Games

After this post, I will only have one more left to conclude the books I read in 2016 and I can move on to the books I read last year in 2017! Unfortunately I only read 14 or 15 books last year, but I’m hoping to beat that goal this year. Considering I’m about to finish reading my 11th book and we’re only halfway through the year, I think this may be doable!

You can find books 1-5 of 2016 here, books 6-10 here, books 11-15 here and books 16-20 here!

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

21. Fairies and the Quest for Neverland by Gail Carson Levine – This is the final book in the Fairy Dust trilogy. As mentioned in an earlier blog post, I listened to this trilogy on audio during a few road trips and on my way to and from work. What’s different about this book in comparison to the first two is the addition of Peter Pan and Gwendolyn, one of Wendy’s descendants (I think this book is the reason why Gwendolyn is now one of my favorite names). I’ve always loved anything Peter Pan and I used to wish that he would pick me up from my bedroom one night and take me to Neverland (unfortunately, that never happened, by the way). Gwendolyn is spunky, but also full of compassion. She loved fairies so much–too much–and there is such a thing as too much love. Gail Carson Levine has this excellent way of exploring deeper truths in the context of a children’s story and this trilogy was no exception to that.

22. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games is, I’m unashamed to say, one of my favorite series–up there with Dear Americas and the Anne of Green Gables books and The Chronicles of Narnia–as different as it is from all those things. But that just goes to show that we all need is a good writer to tell us a good story, no matter the genre. You can read all my feelings on the Hunger Games trilogy on the Literature Approved website here.

Continue reading “Fifth Five Books of 2016”

Posted in Book Reviews

Second Five Books of 2016

Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine.

-Jane Eyre

You can find books 1-5 of 2016 here!

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

6. A Line in the Sand by Sherry Garland – Another Dear America. 🙂 You would think that I’ve read all of them, but nope, there are still plenty more I need to check off my list. This one was about the fight at the Alamo. I loved the look into Texan history and the presence of danger the author gave us of the Mexicans marching forward. Not one of my favorite Dear Americas, but certainly a unique one.

Continue reading “Second Five Books of 2016”

Posted in Book Reviews

First Five Books of 2016

“It is very pleasant dining with a bachelor,” said Miss Matty softly, as we settled ourselves in the counting-house. “I only hope it is not improper; so many pleasant things are!”

-Cranford

This first post beginning the discussion of the books I read in 2016 is long overdue, but here I am at last! I just now decided that I’m going to do something different this year by starting each of these posts with a quote from my favorite of the five books I read in the current post, so…enjoy!

*SPOILER!* I may include some of the book’s plot/content in my reviews for them, so if you haven’t read one or more of these yet and want to read it without spoilers, then you can just skip down. *

  1. Thursdays with the Crown by Jessica Day George – My mom, sisters and I listened to this series on audiobook together. This is the third book in the series and I believe a fourth was published recently. It is an enjoyable series with sassy characters and interesting plot twists, but I’ll admit that I remember little of the content a few months after listening. In conclusion, I have enjoyed listening to these books, but I’m in no hurry to read them again.
  2. * Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell – THIS. BOOK. I am a total sucker for the classics, so if you don’t read “the old-fashioned books” then you will not understand my love for this novel. Needless to say, Elizabeth Gaskell is by far one of my top favorite authors and this book of hers does not disappoint. Cranford focuses on a small town, the majority of which are older women who are either single or widowed. The result are many shenanigans, misunderstandings and scandals–basically, I was laughing out loud pretty often–but at the end of the day, I was also tearing up at the tender hearts these women had when faced with the everyday trials of their time. Gaskell does such a beautiful job of creating both hilarious and witty conversations and moving descriptions of a character’s death. I am already itching to read it again (and I don’t often re-read books).
  3. * The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – We read this together for school (back when I was homeschooled 😉 ) and it was my little brother’s first time hearing the story. This series is a must-read for anyone who claims to love reading good literature. I enjoyed reading this book for the second time and recalling the differences between the book and the movie. To me, the Pevensie children will always be those brothers and sisters I grew up with…even though I never met them.
  4. Not a Nickel to Spare by Perry Nodelman – This is a Dear Canada book about a Jewish girl living in Ontario during the Great Depression. Growing up, I hadn’t realized how badly the Great Depression hit Canada along with the United States. But an even more devastating discovery was the discrimination some Canadians held against Jews. Certain places specifically banned Jews from entering–including a beach!–and there were gangs that gathered to threaten and hurt any Jews they came across. It was a fragile time between the world wars when people were unsure just how worse life would get before it got better. I really enjoyed learning more about this time period while reading this book.
  5. Janitor’s Boy by Andrew Clements – My family loves listening to books by Andrew Clements in the car. While none of his works can ever beat Frindle, Janitor’s Boy was still a funny and heart-warming story about a boy embarrassed about his dad’s job. Until he realizes just how hard his dad works and how unappreciated he is. One of my (many) pet peeves is children being unnecessarily embarrassed by their parents, but this book held the most perfect response to such behavior. In the end, the janitor’s boy told his class that he wants to be a janitor when he grows up–just like his dad.

* Books that I highly recommend have a * next to them

Posted in The Ponderings of Life, Words Upon Words

Farewell 2016!

Long time, no see! As I’m sure it has been for everyone, it’s been a very busy holiday season for me. But as I near the end of my holiday break and as it’s the last day of 2016, I thought I might write a little post filled with tidbits of news.

First, I never did write a final post to end NaNoWriMo season. NaNo 2016 was very different than previous years, but it went really well. As most of you already know, I reached 50,000 words on the final day in my newest project, Endeavoring, prequel to Everlasting. Each year, NaNo gets easier. I remember when I first truly attempted NaNoWriMo in 2013 and how hard it was to write even 1,000 words a day. Now, with enough spare time, I can write 3,000 words in a day no problem. Since I was so busy last year, I wasn’t expecting to reach the 50,000 again. But I was able to balance studying time with writing time well enough to make sure I was never too behind on my word count that I couldn’t catch up. As to Endeavoring, I’m not quite halfway, so I can already sense how long this book is going to be. But I’m enjoying watching Zechariah and Crystal’s relationship begin to develop and look forward to their future conversations together. Currently, I’m still re-working a few kinks in the plot and rewriting what I’ve already written accordingly. I’m hoping to smooth everything out soon so I can keep writing while free time permits!

Second, as for my 2016 New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Read 40 books. I did not reach this goal. As I did last year, I adjusted my goal to 30 once I realized that 40 books wasn’t going to happen. When I passed my Sociology exam (therefore, all done studying), I counted up all the books I’d read so far and figured out that I needed to read 7 books in roughly two weeks to reach my goal. So I hunkered down and read like a maniac. I’d missed reading so much, anyway, that I really didn’t mind. 😉 We spent Christmas in Canada with relatives, so during our time there and the long car rides there and back, I listened to three audiobooks and read four books. I look forward to writing about my opinions on them next year! 🙂
  2. Finish writing one book. I did reach this goal! I finished writing Bridget Returns, my NaNo 2015 novel, in late September. Hooray!

What are my 2017 New Year’s Resolutions?

  1. Read 40 books.
  2. Finish writing one book (probably Endeavoring).
  3. Edit Bridget Returns.
  4. Edit and self-publish The Whistler Daughters.
  5. For this last resolution, I wanted to mention something non-book related, but is even more important. Year after year, I want to become more like Christ.  As Colossians 3:12-17 (NIV) says so perfectly:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

A lot happened this year, mainly graduating from high school, going on a mission trip to Kenya and starting my first real job. Next semester, I begin my college classes online. My life has changed more this year than any other year. Managing my time and money has never been more important. I look forward to all the blessings and challenges God has for me in 2017!

What are your New Year’s resolutions?