2017 Reading Stats

I may end up finishing a book or two before the year is actually over, but here we go.  A mostly finished year in reading thanks to an (edited) Survey created by Jamie!

Number Of Books You Read: 58
Number of Re-Reads: 4
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary Fiction

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

This is always the hardest question to answer.  I’m going with All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood, though.  For taking us to dark and scary places and daring us to find beauty in something that we feel we shouldn’t.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I still enjoyed it, but I felt like Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas kind of dragged in comparison to the other books in the series.  I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping to.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore. There were definitely a few surprises – at least for me.  I knew some history, but this filled in some blanks.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I’m a terrible book pusher.  I really should be better about that.

 5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?  (I read LOTR again, but I’m not counting that).

Best Series Started: Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with any of the series I started this year.  The Diviners was okay, and War Cross was lacking.

Best Sequel:  Read a few sequels this year.  Loved Saga #5 and for romance The Staff and the Blade

Best Series Ender: No ended series this year!

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Fredrik Backman.  He definitely grew on me fast this year.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

I’m going with Blankets by Craig Thompson. Not because it’s a graphic novel, but because of the heavy religious tones, which I typically avoid.  His art alone is worth picking this book up for, though.  Such a talented artist.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – This wasn’t a great book, but I did get sucked in at first despite there being issues.  It ended up being a quick read, though.

 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Probably Harry Potter and the Cursed Child because 2018 seems like a good year to re-read the whole series again.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

Warcross by Marie Lu – Love the colors!

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Not a character per se, but the character(s) she has played are indeed memorable – Carrie Fisher.  It was a sad year with her passing at the very end of 2016, and I picked up Wishful Drinking, which was really interesting and humorous. I’ll be picking up her other books in the future.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.  This was not an easy book to read for a number of reasons, and is highly controversial, but was so well written.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – I’m a big Harry Potter fan, so the fact that I waited this long is a bit of a surprise.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

I can’t pick just one… so you’re getting several.

“People in the real world always say, when something terrible happens, that the sadness and loss and aching pain of the heart will “lessen as time passes,” but it isn’t true. Sorrow and loss are constant, but if we all had to go through our whole lives carrying them the whole time, we wouldn’t be able to stand it. The sadness would paralyze us. So in the end we just pack it into bags and find somewhere to leave it.”
― Fredrik BackmanMy Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

“For me, faith involves staring into the abyss, seeing that it is dark and full of the unknown—and being okay with that.”
― Nina RiggsThe Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying

“You can look up keening in the dictionary, but you don’t know what it means until you hear somebody having their heart ripped out.”
― Bryn GreenwoodAll the Ugly and Wonderful Things

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

According to Goodreads:

Shortest: Saga, Vol 5 (Love this Graphic Novel series)

Longest: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

The Lake House by Kate Morton

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

I’ve said it before, but Clare and Jamie for life.  Haha!

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship of The Year

The trio of characters in Mr. Mercedes.  They’re an unlikely trio, but I loved Bill, Holly and Jerome’s unlikely friendship.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From an Author You’ve Read Previously

Is it cheating if I say the LOTR trilogy?  Haha!  Probably.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

I don’t think I read any books solely based on a recommendation by someone else.  Most I had my eye on or were just random ones I picked up.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

I can’t say I really fell hard for anyone this year.

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

There weren’t many to choose from on my list, so I’m going with Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt.

Honestly, it was the way she wrote about the city and the paintings and apartments. I felt like I was in the room and could see everything around me.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea by Melissa Fleming

The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Can’t say I read any hidden gems.  I think I read more stinkers this year than usual.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

Honestly, I really didn’t branch out this much that year, so I can’t say that I read anything terribly unique.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry (Unlikeable characters)

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll  (Horrible, frustrating characters

1.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? 

Surpassed my Goodreads goal of 55 books this year!

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

Time to finally read A Game of Thrones.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

I’ve got a large stack of books to get through… several that I’m looking forward to!

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Waiting and seeing.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas

Week In Review – Ren Fest, Books and Games, Oh My!

Happy Monday!

Linking up with Meghan from Clean Eats, Fast Feets for another Week in Review!

It’s been an interesting week, and from the sound of things it has been that way for a lot of people.  I think an eclipse is like a full moon on steroids in that regard! Considering today is only getting weirder… I’m going to keep this short.

I was so stoked to get the Lego Disneyland Castle finished last Monday night.

We discovered that Enzo loves these sriracha chips from Trader Joe’s as much as I do.

Had a decent book haul!  I love, love sales and awesome pricing. Haha!

On Saturday, Kendra and I went to the Ren Fest, which was a blast!

We were up late Saturday night so Sunday was a very relaxed and laid back day until I suggested we go get some shopping done at Target, which turned into lunch because Josh hadn’t eaten anything and then we ended up at a massive candy store and spent a boatload of cash on a ridiculous amount of junk food… we never even made it to Target. I blame the eclipse entirely.

May the rest of the week be balanced… please??  Especially considering the house could have burnt down this morning, but we’ll talk about that another day.  Just… oy.

Book Tag!

A few other Book Bloggers (Brona’s Books, Howling Frog Books) are doing a fun questionnaire, so I thought I’d join in as well since I haven’t done any book blogging in a while and what better way to get to know someone than through the books they read?

  1. What book has been on your shelf the longest? 

I have a lot of books from childhood including some old classic favorites like the Little House on the Prairie series and the Anne of Green Gables series as well.

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  1. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next? 

Current Read:  The Fellowship of the Ring, In a Dark, Dark Wood

Last Read: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Clasp

Next Read: The Two Towers

  1. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

I thought the Twilight books were awful – same with the first 50 Shades of Grey.  The dialogue wasn’t good and the writing in general I didn’t think was very well done.

  1. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

I actually can’t think of any… most books I keep telling myself I’ll read, I really do intend on getting to one day.

  1. What book are you saving for retirement?

I’m way too far away from retirement to put off reading a certain book until then.

  1. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?

Absolutely wait until the end. I think I’ve only peeked at the last page once or twice and immediately regretted it because it took away from the whole journey of the story because I already knew what was going to happen.

  1. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

Usually a waste, but occasionally I’ll read or skim through them. It all depends on how much I enjoyed the book, the topic, or my mood.

  1. Which book character would you switch places with?

I was going to say Clare from Outlander, but on second thought I don’t think I could handle war and everything else even if I did get to snuggle up with Jamie as reward. 😉  Haha!  Perhaps I’ll go for a slightly easier life and trade places with Elizabeth Bennett… or Darcy, rather.

  1. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?) 

I think there are probably a good handful of these.  Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon will always take me back to my teenage years when I first read it in Junior High over the summer.

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  1. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

I can’t say that I have ever procured a book in an interesting way… I’ve been gifted books, and bought most of them, but alas, I have no intriguing tales to regale you with.

  1. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

I have honestly not given away many personal books.  Usually the only time they leave me is if I have not really enjoyed them. Ha!  I have given some paperbacks to my mom that we both read and loved, though, and she wanted to read them again. If I am to give a book to someone from my own collection, however, it will be because it makes me think of that person and that I think they will gain something from the reading of it.

  1. Which book has been with you most places?

I can’t say that there is one in particular that has been with me most places over any other one… I’ve moved many times, and a good majority of my books have traveled with me each time much to the chagrin of everyone who has helped carry my boxes of books.  As much as I hate moving with them, I don’t see my collection ever growing to a manageable amount. Ha!

  1. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

I typically didn’t mind most of my high school reading assignments, though I did learn to appreciate ‘A River Runs through It’ more with age.  One book I read in college that I will most likely never read again was ‘Moby Dick.’ I hated it. There, I said it.

  1. Used or brand new? 

As long as it’s lightly used, I don’t mind.  I do also collect some antique books, so those are obviously used, but I have to “Feel” something when I pick them up for them to come home with me. Otherwise, I really do love a fresh, new book.

  1. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Yes.  Almost all of them.

  1. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

I actually enjoyed the Hunger Game movies more than the books.  At times I felt like the dialogue and some of the story was a bit cheesy and too juvenile when I was reading it.

  1. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included? 

It’s a given that looking at cookbooks will make me hungry.  Put one in front of me and I’ll likely start salivating in minutes. As for fictional books, though… none are coming to mind easily.

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  1. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

I’m open to suggestions from just about anyone, though I find the advice is always better when it’s from someone who has similar taste as me. Not very surprising, I know.

  1. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

I have recently started reading more YA novels and there have been a handful that I’ve really enjoyed. One of my new favorite series is the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas and I’m also enjoying The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer as well, which is also a YA series. Who’d of thought?

The Handmaid’s Tale – Review

 

It’s no secret that The Handmaid’s Tale has become rather popular recently, despite being written 30 years ago.  Without getting into current political debates, I will just say that there are some interesting parallels and I can see why many women are deciding to re-read this novel or read it for the first time.

Okay, so… I find most dystopian novels really depressing so I don’t read that many – unless they’re YA because those usually seem less realistic to me and I can more easily separate myself from the book.  The Handmaid’s Tale is downright depressing overall.  The story is told by Offred and is a mixture of things she is experiencing presently and memories of her past. If anything, that was something I found to be the most interesting about this book.  Unlike many dystopian novels, Offred remembers the way things were and experienced them personally rather than just relating stories of how things were as told to her by others.  She was there to witness the division in time between Then and Now.

As for the representation of this new American society, it’s an extreme one, to say the least. Is it perhaps unrealistic that in such a short amount of time society as we know it could leap from what freedom women have now to having zero freedom and prized strictly for their ability to produce offspring… probably, but then again, maybe not?  At the heart of this new regime is religious fanaticism, which as history has shown can lead to great extremes which includes violence and misuse of power. Food for thought.

From Goodreads:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

It’s been a while since I’ve read anything dark and even longer since I’ve read a novel by Mr. King.  Right off the bat, I wasn’t sure if I could go through with it.  Did I really want these dark and gruesome images stuck in my head? I’ve really become a wimp over the years.  I pressed on, though, and I’m glad I did.

For starters, Mr. Mercedes is a thriller without any supernatural aspects as many of Stephen King’s books have. King has never been one to skimp on words, and he has always done a really good job when it comes to describing a scene. You aren’t left filling in a lot of blanks in your mind – there’s no need to. Perhaps that’s what makes it even more difficult when something horrendous happens, like the mass killing of a group of people in the very first chapter. I have a difficult time reading about violent occurrences that could happen in real life because I just get sucked into books so easily… and movies, and video games, and you name it.

The further I got into it, the more I didn’t want to put it down and became more immersed in the characters and the story.  By the final ¼ of the book, I didn’t want to stop reading and was trying to read as fast as I could to get through it because I had to know exactly how it turned out. I knew on some level that there would be a “happy” ending, but I didn’t know at what cost because, let’s be honest, you don’t really expect a skipping through fields of daisies ending in a Stephen King novel.

My conclusion?  I’ll be reading the next two books in the trilogy. There’s something about the characters that I really, really like.  Perhaps it’s a tad cliché to have the unexpected friendship between such unlikely characters, but I enjoy the charm of it anyway.

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.

Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.