Sunday, October 23, 2016

I didn't spend time editing this before posting. 'Cause I'm tired.

I only managed two books in the month of June. July was only a teensy bit better with 3 books—or 4 if I wanted to get cute, because Maus is broken up into two books. And boy howdy, I'm making up for it now! With the end of October quickly approaching, I'm working up a sweat trying to complete my last nine books.


Category: A book based on a true story
Outrun the Moon, Stacey Lee
Goodreads review: 5 stars

This book was published in early 2016. In fact, I originally had it in the category "A book published this year." But then I had to move it, and I guess technically, it probably doesn't really fit in "a book based on a true story," but it sort of does. It's historical fiction, my fave. It's about a girl named Mercy Wong living in Chinatown in San Francisco, 1906. Her family is living in poverty, but she has a plan to solve that. She's a girl all about business, and she manages to finagle her way in to a ritzy all-girl school on the other side of town, in San Francisco's wealthiest area, by striking a business deal with the dean of the school. To save the school from embarrassment (over having a Chinese girl as a student) the dean tells the other students and their families that Mercy is a Chinese-royal-heir-foreign-exchange student. Despite her new royal status, a lot of the girls still refuse to accept her, and some of them are cruel to her. This is the part of the story that is not based on a true story, because the author even admits that in 1906, it was completely unlikely that a Chinese girl would be accepted into a wealthy all-girls school—business deal or not. Then, early one April morning, the famous 1906 San Francisco earthquake strikes. From then on, the girls are forced to ignore their social statuses and come together to help each other. Most of the girls don't know where their families are. Mercy tries to rush to Chinatown to save her family from the fires. I enjoyed this book immensely and I loved the writing style. The book does have some teen drama, but it's not so much that it becomes obnoxious. The story made me feel the need to go hug my babies, and everyone I care about. I recommend it.

Category: A book of short stories
Stars Above, Marissa Meyer
Goodreads review: 5 stars

Let's be honest. This book is 100% for Lunar Chronicles fans, and really, we could all use a little more of that series in our lives. If you've never read the books in the Lunar Chronicles series, prepare yourself for a description that sounds OH SO STUPID and I always feel oh so embarrassed when I try to explain it, but I promise it's a lot better than the book jacket describes. Also, most of the people I've recommended it to have also liked it. So there. So Cinder, the first book, is like a dystopian twist on the classic Cinderella. It's got cyborgs, a plague, and a prince charming all rolled up into one. Scarlet, the second book, is a dystopian twist on Little Red Riding Hood. It incorporates new main characters that build upon the characters from Cinder. Cress, the third book, and my favorite, is a twist on Rapunzel, and Winter—the fourth book—a twist on Snow White. By the end there are 8 main characters all with their individual stories that are intertwined with the main plot. They don't follow the fairy tales exactly, so you don't need to get all caught up on that. Anyway, the characters are great, it's a cool story line, and it's fun. I read them all the time—when I'm not bogged down with a 50-book reading challenge. So anyway. Now that that's out of the way. Stars Above includes more stories to fill in some of the gaps about the characters. I enjoyed the one about Thorne, of course, because he is the best. And then I enjoyed the retelling of the opening scene in Cinder from Prince Kai's point of view. And then I enjoyed the last one, for obvious reasons. I couldn't have cared less about The Little Android, which is one of the short stories that was getting a lot of hype. It didn't have any of the Lunar Chronicles characters in it except for a short conversation with Cinder, so why would I care about it?


Category: A book more than 100 years old
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Goodreads review: 3 stars

I read this book back when I was 16, or some young impressionable age. In recent years, I couldn't remember a single thing about it, but I remembered that I had loved it as a teenager. So for that reason I've always just held on to the idea that Wuthering Heights was one of my favorite books. Does anyone else do that? You loved something as a kid and then 15 years later you remain blindingly loyal to it? Well anyway, I felt like it was high-time I re-read it, and GOOD GRIEF. This book is insane! This book isn't a romance! These people are nuts! Did I even understand what I was reading when I was 16? It's not likely. And this is another one of those classics where the story is told by someone not pertinent to to the story—like I was ranting about in a few posts back. Shoot—I want to hear the story from Heathcliff's point of view. That guy is the Sociopath Next Door. Anyway, of course it's worth reading, but I certainly have let go of my childhood ideals that this is one of my favorites. Puh-lease.

Category: A graphic novel
Maus I & II, Art Spiegelman
Goodreads review: 5 stars

This was my first graphic novel(s) that I've read. It comes in two books, part I and part II. If there ever was a graphic novel that you should read, this would be it. Art Spiegelman shares his father Vladek's story of surviving the Holocaust inside a Jewish ghetto and later at a Nazi death camp. His mother also survived the Holocaust, but she later committed suicide, and the book addresses that as well. In the graphic novel, the Jewish people are drawn as mice, and the Germans are as cats. There are other animals too, each portraying a certain group of people. It is an extremely sobering and difficult book to read. I enjoyed the breaks it took from the Holocaust story to give a glimpse into Vladek's life while Art is interviewing him for the story. Vladek is much older, he's stingy, obnoxious, and so endearing. It's obvious through the dialogue, that no matter how exasperating Vladek is about his money and what not, Art really cares for him. I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

Category: A book with bad reviews
Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Roald Dahl
Goodreads review: 2 stars

Okay. Of all the far-fetched category synchronizations or stretches I've come up with to fit books somewhere, this is the worst. Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator does not have bad reviews. But! It is one of Dahl's lower-rated children's books, plus, I gave it a bad review—so that should count for something. This is one of many Roald Dahl books that I've read with my girls this year and this is the ONLY one that I could find a home for in my list of never-ending categories. We read The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. So that means by the time I'm done with this blasted reading challenge, I'll have read MORE than 50 books this year. Anyway, I enjoyed all of the others, but Glass Elevator didn't have the magic. The plot was all over the place. First they're in space. Then they're being chased by Vernicious Knids. Then the grandparents are turning into babies. And the grandparents! They were the wooooooorst! I was bored and annoyed. It has some funny and clever parts, but it doesn't hold up to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. THAT book is the best.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Two and a half books

As the summer approached my reading rate started losing it's momentum. Throughout most of the summer months I was lucky enough to have a freelance project to work on, and devoted a lot of my time in the evenings to that instead.

I managed only three books in May. Wait, scratch that. Two, because one of them I didn't finish 'cause it was dumbo.


Category: A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet.
First Boy, Gary Schmidt
Goodreads review: 2 stars

I've read three other books by Gary Schmidt and LOVED them all. Wednesday Wars, Okay For Now, and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. I loved the writing style in each and wished that they wouldn't end. But unfortunately First Boy didn't hold up as well for me. The book is about a teenage boy named Cooper. As the plot opens he's living with his grandfather on a dairy farm in New Hampshire. The country is currently in the throws of a presidential election, although theirs wasn't, um, as hilarious (?) as ours is right now, because they didn't have the privilege of watching Bad Lip Readings after presidential debates. Oh, and one other important thing, his grandfather isn't his biological grandfather—because Cooper doesn't know anything about his true parents and lineage. It's just one of those classic show-up-on-the-doorstep-as-a-baby type things. Anyway, his grandfather passes away and Cooper is left alone with the dairy farm, which is not in good shape financially. But Cooper soon learns, as the title hints, that he's no ordinary orphan, and all these crazy things start happening. One of the presidential hopefuls shows up at his school and invites Cooper to campaign with him. Cooper turns him down. Someone else official looking driving a black sedan shows up at his farm and asks him to come with him to see someone. He turns that guy down too. Someone burns his barn down. Someone breaks into his home and steals some important documents. Then he's kidnapped. Has a special meeting with the president. The usual. In theory it's all very thrilling, but the problem is that none of it is at all believable and even if it were believable, there are way too many unanswered questions. Plus the ending was slightly appalling. Is it too dramatic to use the word appalling? Possibly. I feel like maybe I could have enjoyed this as a 12-year-old, because then perhaps I wouldn't have noticed the gaping plot holes throughout the book. Granted, Gary Schmidt books are marketed towards adolescent readers, but his other books are far more enjoyable even to an adult audience. So unless you're 12, I wholeheartedly recommend Wednesday Wars and Okay For Now (in that order!) instead. I own them and you should borrow them right away.

Category: A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Goodreads review: 4 stars

A distinction I've noticed among "the classics," and a reason they can be harder to read, at least for me, is because of the point of view they're written in. No one writes a story in first person! The stories always have to be told through someone else's recounting of it. I've come across it in several of the classics I've read this year—the plot is told by Rick, the neighbor, or Rhonda, the housemade, or Trixie, the grocer. People that lit-er-ally have nothing to do with the story, but they're placed in it to tell the tale—because heaven forbid we actually hear the story from the person actually involved in the story. In Frankenstein, the story is told through a series of letters that some explorer writes to his sister. While he's out searching the icy arctic he finds Victor Frankenstein, and Victor tells him his whole ordeal and that's how we hear it: through the perspective of somebody who has nothing to do the story. Apparently a first person point of view wasn't something accepted or explored back then. It's one thing I believe modern books have over dated books—we've come a long way in story telling. That being said, Frankenstein is a very interesting, albeit disturbing read. It takes a good 30 pages to really get into it. Maybe more. Most of us are familiar with the story. Victor Frankenstein becomes consumed with this idea of creating life through his knowledge of chemistry and other sciences, but after he succeeds in creating it, things DO NOT GO WELL. First off, his new dude is disgusting, and although I don't remember it specifically mentioning it, he probably stunk to high heaven. Plus he's horrifying, and gross, and huge, and a monster, to name a few. Secondly, the monster gets super ticked off and starts killing off people that Victor is close to. But the poor guy just wanted a friend! I wondered: would it have been so bad if Victor had just created him a friend to spend his life with, like he'd asked? Probably. It probably would have been SO bad. Throughout the whole story—concerning how Victor was dealing with everything—I kept thinking: There has GOT to be a better way of handling all of this. Victor's unwillingness to tell anyone about what he had done—because he accurately assumed no one would believe him—and the consequent deaths that resulted from his silence drove me crazy. Who cares if you don't think anyone's going to believe you? Tell someone anyway! Quit trying to solve the whole problem yourself, bub. So that was the only reason I gave it four stars instead of five, because Victor bugged. I would absolutely recommend this book. It'd really get a book group blazing! It has such great insight on the ideas of how far is too far, or just because you can doesn't mean you should, and things and such. And fun fact: Mary Shelley was only 18 when she wrote the book. That might explain some of Victor's oversight in dealing with mistakes...

Category: A book written by an author with your same initials
Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
Goodreads review: 1 star (did not finish)

I got so downright excited when I found this book, because as it turns out, it's difficult finding an author with my initials. And then I thought: Plus they made a movie about it, so it MUST be good! This book wasn't for me. I didn't like it and I didn't finish it. This is especially noteworthy, because up until very recently, I always had the opinion that I HAD TO ALWAYS FINISH a book. But upon making it halfway through, I said to myself, "Self? You don't care about these characters. You're not interested in this circus story. Nor do you even care how it ends." And so I haughtily slammed it shut and flung it back to the library. I'm exaggerating. But really. I didn't like it. It's sexually explicit and the characters are flat. I thought it was dumb right off the bat that Jacob gives up on his veterinary degree and hops on a train to do....what exactly? And his infatuation with the circus performer? What do we know about her? That she looks pretty doing her circus routine all bedecked in sequins? Yes, that's about all we know. (I've always wanted an excuse to use the word bedecked.) Flat, flat, flat. I will not be reading any more books by this author with my same initials.

Monday, October 3, 2016

A whole bunch of 5 star reviews, with a smattering of 3 stars.

As the spring weather started to not improve outside, my ferocious book reading started to not wane. Five books—some with a considerable amount of pages—were checked off the list.


Category: A funny book
Sideways Stories From Wayside School, Louis Sachar
Goodreads review: 5 stars

This book remains amazing to anyone who read it as a kid. It's one of those you grow up on and you'll remain faithful to your whole life. It's the same way I feel about Goonies. Or The Boy Who Could Fly. Don't you dare try to tell me that movie isn't one of society's greatest feature films. Anyway, this was another bedtime read-aloud. It's the greatest book! The girls were a little thrown off by the first chapter when all the kids are getting turned into apples and then at the end the teacher becomes the apple and is eaten by Louis the recess guy. But we forged onward and they were amused. Or maybe they were amused just because I was amused. Who can tell. My favorite chapter—by far—is the one about the little boy who pulls Leslie's braids because the braids keep talking to him and begging to be pulled. This book should be required reading for every 3rd grader.

Category: A book that scares you
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
Goodreads review: 5 stars

I actually just switched this book to this category 30 seconds ago. I was planning on reading a book about famous unsolved murder cases (because those DO scare me! Think: Jack the Ripper!) but I'm just plain running out of time with this reading challenge. So I did some fancy switch-a-roo work and The Half-Blood Prince landed here. It didn't quote on quote scare me, but it's dark and dismal enough to fit the bill. Anyway, despite the ending, I enjoyed this book immensely because it went into great detail of Voldemort's history, Harry and Ginny get together (that scene was so cute!), and Ron's lovestruck episode for whats-her-face is amusing. It might have been my favorite book in the series. Despite the ending. And was it this book that you find out that Harry's dad was kind of a jerk? No, I think that was a previous book. Beats me.

Category: A book a friend recommended
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
Goodreads review: 5 stars

First things first: Harry was born in 1980?! Who woulda guessed? Second things second: The best way to get through a series is to charge right on through. I hate getting roped into a series before it's all the way finished, because then you end up having to wait at least a year, usually more, to gain closure. So charging right through the Harry Potter series is just what I did, and then Tom and I borrowed the movies from a friend and had a movie marathon. Who doesn't love a movie marathon?! Although these movies don't come close in comparison to the books. There are about 300 more details taking place in the books that add to the plot that the movies don't ever address. This last book is the only one where I felt like the pacing was a little slow—in the middle of the book. I think Rowling meant it to be that way. It reflects the bleakness of Harry and Hermoine's situation. I was blown away by Snape's reveal at the end! Am I the only one who felt all the feels for him? Overall, this was a great series. I'm glad I finally got around it. Someday I'll re-read it with my girls. Oh! And before I forget, Maren keeps confusing the name and calling it "Peter Potter." It's adoracute. Plain, pure, adoracuteness.

Category: A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit
Heist Society, Ally Carter
Goodreads review: 3 stars

Teen books are often annoying to me because they're full of inappropriate stuff—and I find it particularly annoying because it's all aimed at teenage audiences. Why do book publishers think teenagers need or even want to be reading these types of things? What do I know though—when I was a teenager I was putting 300 play pen balls in my car for kicks and giggles. Or throwing on a Blockbuster uniform to secretly measure walking distances inside a Hollywood Video. Or donning a home-made army hat and driving aimlessly through the Las Vegas suburbia to locate extra-bright street lights. Don't ask. Anyway. However! This book steers clear of teenage sex and underage drinking (I'm pretty sure?), so it's a fun little read for young girls. The premise is kind of ridiculous—it's about a 16-year-old who can pull of heists similar to something you'd see in an Ocean's Eleven movie. She travels all over the world and speaks a couple of languages like it's no big deal for a 16 year old girl. But I guess if you were 14 and reading this book, you'd probably think it was kinda cool. This book is the first of a series, but I haven't bothered with the others because I didn't care enough about it.

Category: A book you own but have never read
Emma, Jane Austen
Goodreads review: 5 stars

I finally did it! I finally read Emma! I've been meaning to for 10 years. This book is considered a romance, but to me it feels less like a romance, and more like a commentary on the different social classes that existed during Jane Austen's time. Emma's character both amused me and annoyed me. Like at the end, when she realizes her friend—Harriet, is it?—has the hots for Mr. Knightley she totally drops her! It's funny and depressing at the same time. I enjoyed Emma better than Sense and Sensibility because there is more interaction between Emma and Mr. Knightley. And shucks, I'm just a romantic at heart. Emma's father is also hilarious. I don't know, you'd need to read it to understand what I mean. But if Jane Austen's writing isn't for you, then try the BBC version! I loved it. Loved.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

March for the win with 7 books

March holds the record for highest number of books finished. The only way this can be accomplished is through the strictest of self disciplines. One must ignore all outer distractions, like dinnertime. Laundy. Showering.  "Mom, when are we going to eat dinner?" Ignore it! Tell them to make their own dang dinner! Press on to the next chapter! That is how seven books in one month is obtained.


Category: A book with more than 500 pages
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
Goodreads review: 5 stars

More than 500 pages of words and I can't really remember much of anything. Harry gets chased by a dragon. He grows some fins at one point. There's the fight between he and Ron. He's got a crush on Cho. Oh—I liked the dude that goes after Hermoine because he calls her Hermy-own-ninny. I'm just glad that Cedric goes on to become Edward in another life. (Another series that I've never read! What is WITH me??)

Category: A book that became a movie
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
Goodreads review: 5 stars

I'll admit, by this point I was definitely getting pulled into the storyline. The book is filled with frustration but it still had plenty of quirkiness to enjoy. Harry's a bit snappy in this one though, isn't he? The movie got Umbridge to a T. THIS is the book where I decided to love Neville even more than before. And Ginny starts to emerge into the light, a little. And how 'bout that duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort?

Category: A book with nonhuman characters
The Cricket In Times Square, Garth Williams
Goodreads review: 5 stars

This is a wonderful read-aloud. I read this with my girls and we all enjoyed it. It's interspersed with the perfect amount of illustrations to keep Maren's attention. It's about a country cricket who wanders into a picnic basket to sneak some food—but ends up traveling all the way to subway station in Times Square. He befriends a mouse named Tucker, a cat named Harry, and boy named Mario. The cricket happens to be a prodigy who can listen to any song and then play it with his wings. Wings and feet? I don't know the anatomy of a cricket. Anyway, I would recommend this book to parents and children.

Category: A book you started but never finished
Increase in Learning, David A. Bednar
Goodreads review: 4 stars

Confession: When it comes to nonfiction books, I have the attention span of a 3-year-old. I can't ever seem to get through a chapter without wondering what I should wear tomorrow, or what nail polish I should use for my toes next, or what the weather will be next week. Actually, I should clarify. I can handle a nonfiction book as long as it reads like a story. This book does not read like a story and therefore it took my about 7 attempts to get through it. I believe I started it in 2012. But don't misunderstand me! It's an interesting book. It takes an in-depth look at the process of learning, particularly with how the scriptures describe learning. Lots of examples from scriptures and prophets are given. Another confession: this book has a ton of related reading pages and I skipped right on over them. I mean, a TON of related reading. Some might say that it's cheating to read a 200 page book and skip 120 pages of related reading material (I'm just making up numbers here). I've heard it both ways. 

Category: A book based entirely on its cover
We Have Always Lived In The Castle, Shirley Jackson
Goodreads review: 4 stars

This book. Boy howdy. Here's what I wrote on Goodreads directly after reading it (I'm quoting myself here!): "What on earth did I just read? I have so many questions. Namely, what on earth just happened??" Here's the thing. Going into it, the only other thing I had read of Shirley Jackson's was The Lottery, which was a school assignment back in tenth grade. And I had the EXACT same reaction when I finished it: What on earth did I just read?! Okay, so let me try and explain, whilst utter failing at the same time. There's this totally crazy girl—and saying she's crazy is NOT a spoiler because it's obvious from, like, the second paragraph that she's totally nuts—and she lives a reclusive life with her sister and uncle and cat in her family's estate house. She occasionally goes into town to pick up supplies but the townspeople hate her—and p.s. what is with that insane townspeople chapter? My brain was spinning into micro-knots. Oh, I forgot to mention that the rest of her family is all dead from an accident involving arsenic, and we won't go into THOSE specifics. Despite how disturbing and downright weird the whole thing is, you can't help but get completely engrossed in it. It's like a train wreck you can't look away from. Pull out your black lipstick and goth wardrobe from the 90s, and read it in a graveyard on Halloween.  

Category: A book from your childhood
The Whipping Boy, Sid Fleischman
Goodreads review: 5 stars

This book is one of the first books I ever read when I was little. I loved it. But—it was pretty much my very first book, so I mean, I didn't have anything else to compare it to. That's beside the point. Here's the premise: Jemmy is a poor boy dragged into the castle from off the streets to take all of the prince's whippings. See, the prince, Prince Brat, is just a troublesome little dude and drives everyone nuts, but they aren't allowed to whip his royal hide, so Jemmy gets whipped, because his hide is regular. He never bawls about it, and the prince can't stand that. It really just ruffles his feathers. Rubs his elbows the wrong way. Tickles his royal chin hairs. Pulls on his princely patella. Noodles his entitled noggin. I've gotten off track. Anyway, then someone decides to run away (I can't remember if it's Jemmy or the Prince) and they run across two dimwitted highway men. Jemmy tricks them into thinking he is the prince, and Prince Brat is the whipping boy. Also during their escapade, they run into a circus bear named Petunia, and who doesn't love a bear named Petunia? I recommend this book whole heartedly. The reading level has got to be first or second grade. I read it with my girls and they enjoyed it.

Category: A book with a love triangle
Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
Goodreads review: 4 stars 

I started this book probably 10 or more years ago, and something happened. I went back to college maybe? I can't remember, but it was lost by the wayside. So I dusted it off and gave it a second go, remembering absolutely nothing about it. The thing that always makes me giggle about books with propriety, is that so much trouble could be solved if people would just talk to each other! At one point Elinor and her mother have this conversation about whether or not Marianne is really engaged to Mr. Willoughby, and the mother is appalled at the idea of confronting Marianne about it. You can't just go around asking questions like that—it would be embarrassing! Also, it seemed to me like Mr. Brandon and Elinor had a lot more in common—they sure did talk to each other a lot more than Marianne and Mr. Brandon talked, at any rate. I enjoyed it well enough though. I enjoy Jane Austen's subtle humor throughout her books. Even greater is the reward after reading one of her books—the BBC miniseries version! 

Monday, September 19, 2016

A couple of Newberys, and a couple of HP's.

In a world of avid Harry Potter fanatics, I, Season Giles (with a handful of other nomads), remained alone and indifferent. After nearly two decades (two decades!) of people disowning me for my casual apathy towards this series, I finally decided to give it a whirl. I mean, if anything, it seemed like it was time to learn the name of He Who Must Not Be Named. Kidding! I'm kidding guys! I knew it was Voldemort. Ol' Voldie for short. 

I've never had anything against HP. I'd even seen some of the movies with friends in years past and they'd somewhat mildly amused me. It's just that fantasy hasn't ever been my genre—I'm a historical fiction kind of girl, thank you very much. But in my aging years I've learned to accept foreign genres—like science fiction (you should hear me rave about the Lunar Chronicles!)—and it seemed only appropriate to give fantasy an overdue, albeit arms-length hug. 

And THEN one night I had a conversation with my mother-in-law and it went something along these lines:
Me: I've never read the Harry Potter books.
Me: Really? I thought you had.
Her: Only the first two. SHOULD WE READ THEM????!!!!
Her: This could be OUR year!!!
Me: Let's do it!!
And then there was excited whoops, and tap dancing to beat the band.

Or something along those lines. And what with book challenge categories that fit so nicely with ALL of the Harry Potter books, it felt like a ray of heaven's light was shining down on those books like we were meant to be. I have goosebumps just thinking about it. However, unless I'm mistaken, I don't think Marilyn has tackled them yet. So hop to it, Marilyn. It's already September 19.

On that note, I'll begin my reviews of my February books. I realize there is nothing that could be said about the HP series that hasn't already been said. But I'm forging onward anyway. For the kids.


Category: A book with a one-word title
Paperboy, Vince Vawter
Goodreads review: 3 stars

Well shucks, nothing really stands out too much about this book. I didn't love it, nor did I hate it. Thus the 3 stars. It's a Newbery honor book and it's historical fiction, so it gets two gold stars for that. I believe I read somewhere that the main character was inspired by the author's own childhood? Don't quote me on that. Set in the 1960s, it's about a boy with a terrible stuttering problem who covers his best friend's paper route while he's on vacation. He's downright terrified to have to talk to people because of his speech. One of his customers has lots of wisdom to offer him and another customer, an attractive housewife, drinks to much because her marriage is bad news. And gosh, I guess that's all I've really got. It's a quick read and I'd recommend it, but wouldn't promise that it's life changing.

Category: A popular author's first book
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling (duh)
Goodreads review: 4 stars

Let's see, this is the one with that one owl, and that one dude, and then there's a few broomsticks and wizard hats and jelly beans—I think? Or maybe that's the second one. And then there's that monster named Grendel? No no no, I'm getting confused. Gosh, these books just all get swished around in my head and start to run together. I'm kidding again! That was just me trying to be funny. Harry Potter fans can be so sensitive sometimes! (But please note: these books DO all run together for me. I wasn't joking about that.) So the Sorcerer's Stone—I thought it was cute! Am I allowed to call it that? I will admit that a creepy guy's face on the back of somebody's head covered up by a turban is a liiiiiiitle weird. But don't mind me, that's just my aversion to fantasy showing. I thought the writing was clever and enjoyable and the quirky characters are superb. I'll read it to my girls someday, once they stop being afraid of everything. I mean—Clara works up a nervous sweat just from watching Sofia the First, so. Anyway. Go Harry Potter!!! Wooooooo!!!

Category: A book with magic
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
Goodreads review: 4 stars

I think we can all agree, these books are way better than the movies. Don't get me wrong, some of the movies were pretty great, but the books! There is so much more going on. Plus, Dobby bugged me in the movie but he doesn't anymore! And the twin Weasleys in the movie annoyed me as well, but they're enjoyable in the books. I get it now. I get it. Professor Lockhart is just a jolly ol' fellow, isn't he? I'd like to be his friend. It humored me that he didn't know how to do anything but kept on smiling. I can relate to that in so many ways. And then in the end Harry saves Ginny—thus the start of a blossoming relationship that we all saw coming. Or did we? I didn't. But I'm sure somebody did. I am getting carried away. 

Category: A book at the bottom of your to-read list
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
Goodreads review: 5 stars 

I'm not singling this one out or anything, I just needed to put it in a category. Really it was the whole series, if we're getting technical. But this book was a good one. How awkward that Ron was carrying around a human disguised as a rat for so many years. The time-hop trickery at the end was clever. And they were able to heroically rescue that...griffohip?? What was his name? Beakbuck? Kidding! Kidding again! I can sense the HP fans pulling out their hair and shaking their fist to the heavens right now. Anyway, I was glad that Harry managed to have an ally in Sirius. His death in a later book was a disappointment. So that's all. Oh, and my patronus would be a sloth. Or maybe a gerbil. Penguin? No, elephant. Final answer. And by the way—SPOILER ALERT.

Category: A Pulitzer Prize-winning book
Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
Goodreads review: 1 star

The only other Pulitzer I've ever read was All The Light We Cannot See. Considering how ah-mazing that book is, I thought all Pulitzers would be as such. I thought I was in for a potentially long-winded, possibly cry-your-eyes-out treat. This book was the worst. It got so much acclaim because of its writing and because it's just so gosh-darn honest. It features a cranky lady named Olive Kitteridge, living in a coastal Maine town, and a handful of other weirdos. It's told through a series of short stories. I should mention that I really don't care for short stories. Especially short stories that have nothing to do with each other except for one or two characters popping up here and there throughout each. Just pick one story and develop it, for Pete's sake. As far as I can tell, this book is about a whole bunch of old, miserable, messed up people—many who try to gratify their own desires by being unfaithful to their spouses—and who eat too many doughnuts. The book contains: infidelity, thinking about infidelity, suicide, thinking about suicide, loneliness, crime, sickness, and so on and so forth. I kept reading! Thinking that it might offer some sort of inspiration at the end, I plodded right on through. But nope. It's just a full-on downer. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the depressing characteristics listed above, or who has a loyal love of doughnuts.

Category: A book by an author you've never read before
The Crossover, Kwame Alexander
Goodreads review: 3 stars

This book took the 2015 Newbery Medal, and since I'm in the habit of reading Newbery winners, I picked it up. Upon reading a short summary and excerpt from the book, I was certain that I wouldn't like it. First, it concerns basketball. Second, it's written in verse. Poetry is not my thing, and I don't care how unsophisticated that makes me sound. And third, well, just read this and you'll know what I mean: "With a bolt of lightning on my kicks....The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I'm delivering."  ...Seriously. That's the line from the book that they use to advertise it to the world. If there was ever a book that did NOT have my name written all over it, it would be this. However! I was surprised to find that the book was a lot better than it's summary led me to believe. Once you get past the initial cheesiness of it, it's actually pretty witty and tackles tough issues. It's also a quick read because some of the pages only have a total of 10 words! That's the beauty of poetry, right there. And you'll find some fancy font-work throughout the pages too, which adds pep. And zip. And fun. Also? Sadness. Bet you didn't see that coming. The book has sadness too. The ending seemed abrupt. I would have kept reading for sure. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a Newbery aficionado like myself, and to 13-year-old boys, and to anyone who is dying to know what "fancy font-work" is.

In March I tackled 7 books. One of which I'd been reading since like, 2012. Or something.
Related Posts with Thumbnails