Tag Archives: reading

Random on a Monday

  1. In the past week, I preordered a book for the first time ever. Something Other Than God: How I Passionately Sought Happiness and Accidently Found It by Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary I’m looking forward to the e-book she’s giving to those who preorder: The Family-First Creative: 42 Tips for Following Your Dreams While Putting Family First.
  2. I think birthday party planning for the little one is coming together. Yay!
  3. I need a train engineer’s hat for said party, but I’m having trouble finding one that will last beyond the one day. Any ideas?
  4. I’m thinking about trying oil cleansing for my face. Have you tried it? With what results? Here’s a brief intro, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
  5. I’m working on getting our meals all written on little slips of paper for this menu planning system. I think this might finally be the solution for my meal-planning woes. Thanks for sharing, Trish!
  6. How do you do birthdays and holidays in your family? Are they a big deal? I love the idea of really celebrating as a way to show what’s important to us. But I don’t love the stress of over-doing. I don’t think I’m a Pinterest Mom, but I like going big for birthdays and holidays. Where’s that balance for you?
  7. I’m paying attention to what we spend and where we spend it again. What budgeting tools have you found helpful? How do you stay motivated to work toward long-term goals?
  8. How do you keep your mind active in stages of life when it feels like you don’t have the opportunity to exercise this muscle?
  9. Some of these feel like they can or should be posts of their own, expounded upon, but hey, at least I’m posting?
  10. Oh! I got a new reading chair, since my old chair completely broke. I like it — and it’s red — but it’s not as good for sleeping in as the old one was. (I often sleep in the recliner when I’m sick and congestion keeps me from being able to breathe in a prone position (thus also preventing sleep).) The redness of the chair brings to the forefront of the mind the fact that our living room doesn’t have any kind of a plan or design to it. It’s kind of haphazard. So I’m casting about for ideas in my spare thinking time. (Ha!)
  11. While I not blogging, earlier this month, this blog turned 7 years old. Happy blogiversary to me! At least I don’t usually feel guilty for my paucity of posting these days.


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Best of Reading for 2013

I’m borrowing shamelessly from Trish at Love, Laughter & Insanity (who got it from Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner) so I didn’t have to come up with the questions, too. Just the answers will be enough blogging work for me these days, thank you very much.

2013 EOY book survey

1. Best Book You Read In 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird. Lots of other great ones, but they pale in comparison to this one.

2. Book You Were Excited About and Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I wasn’t really all that underwhelmed by any books that I finished. Although Theodosia and the Serpent of Chaos was kind of annoying. And The Explanation of Everything was pretty disappointing, too, actually.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
Maybe Daystar by Kathy Tyers?

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2013?
Daystar, The Dragon’s Tooth, The Reluctant Prophet (not a 2013 read for me, though; does that count?), With a Name Like Love … And then there are the book club books; since I picked them, does that count?
:: How to Save a Life, Small Damages, Maisie Dobbs

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
• the ND Wilson one
• Robert Liparulo’s series that started with The 13th Tribe
• Also, started (but not really discovered this year): Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles books.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2013?
Harper Lee? Except my standard for declaring someone a favorite author generally includes having read more than one of their books. So. ND Wilson?

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Looks like I stayed mostly within my comfort zone for reading this year.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
The Doll / Dragon’s Tooth / Eleanor & Park

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
Um, maybe Eleanor & Park, if I pick it for book club. I only very rarely reread, but I did more in 2013 than normal, by a lot. And that’s mostly because I picked them for book club and then needed to refresh my memory before the actual discussion.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
Small Damages / How to Save a Life

11. Most memorable character in 2013?
Well, it’s hard to say it’s not Maisie Dobbs, since I’ve read like 10 books starring her, but Sherlock Holmes might be a strong contender … Oh. Also Scout Finch, and Eleanor and Park.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird. Small Damages. How to Save a Life.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
TKAM? Me: Broken Record.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?
I don’t really keep track of quotes.

16.Shortest and Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest: Man of Action is a standalone short story (87 pages); The Sign of the Four clocks in at 136 pages, according to what I can find.
Longest: Daystar (652 pages)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Eleanor and Park
Maisie Dobbs and James Compton

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You Read Previously
The Doll. Small Damages. Eleanor & Park.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
With a Name Like Love, I think.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?
mystery/thriller

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Atticus Finch?

23. Best 2013 debut you read?
I’m not even sure I read any 2013 debuts.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
Small Damages.

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?
The Dragon’s Tooth

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?
To Kill a Mockingbird, maybe?

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?
Into the Free. Daystar. With a Name Like Love.

And then looking forward…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?
Jane Eyre
Count of Monte Cristo
Cloister Walk

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014?
The new Maisie Dobbs? Really want to get to Matthew Quick’s latest, too.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?
Actually blog, maybe? Continue clearing the TBR book case.

So what did I read in 2013? (links lead to posts)

1. The Theory of Everything by J.J. Johnson (2012)
2. The Stars Shine Bright by Sibella Giorello (2012)
3. To Far to Say Far Enough by Nancy Rue (2012)
4. Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear (2013)
5. Doors Open by Ian Rankin (2010/2008)
6. The Missing File by DA Mishani (2013)
7. The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman (2008)
8. Into the Free by Julie Cantrell (2012)
9. Seeking Unseen by Kat Heckenbach (2012) (ebook)
10. Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore (2012)
11. Dead Man’s Hand by Eddie Jones (2012)
12. A Light in the Darkness by Heather Sutherlin (2012)
13. The 13th Tribe by Robert Liparulo (2012)
14. Daystar by Kathy Tyers (2012)
15. Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker (2012)
16. Freeheads by Kerry Nietz (2011)
17. Placebo by Steven James (2012)
18. Cake: Love, Chickens, and a Taste of Peculiar by Joyce Magnin (2012)
19. With a Name like Love by Tess Hilmo (2011)
20. Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan (2012)
21. Soul’s Gate by James L. Rubart (2012)
22. Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins (2012)
23. The Dragon’s Tooth by ND Wilson (2011)
24. Caught by Margaret Peterson Haddix (2012) (ebook)
25. So Cold the River by Michael Koryta (2010)
26. A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans (2012) (ebook)
27. The Judgment Stone by Robert Liparulo (2013)
28. Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by RL LaFevers (2007)
29. Still Midnight by Denise Mina (2009)
30. A Red Herring without Mustard by Alan Bradley (2011)
31. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1887) (ebook)
32. The End of the Wasp Season by Denise Mina (2011)
33. Goodness and Mercy by Patti Hill (2013) (ebook)
34. A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell (2013)
35. The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1890) (ebook)
36. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1892) (ebook)
37. Sidekicked by John David Anderson (2013)
38. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
39. The Explanation of Everything by Lauren Grodstein (2013)
40. The Doll by Taylor Stevens (2013)
41. Small Damages by Beth Kephart (2012)
42. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (2013)
43. Motorcycles, Sushi & One Strange Book by Nancy Rue (2010)
44. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (2011) (reread)
45. The Drowned Vault by ND Wilson (2012)
46. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1894) (ebook)
47. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (2003) (reread)
48. The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen (2001)
49. The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen (2002)
50. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1902) (ebook)
51. Man of Action by Matt Bronleewe (2013) (ebook)

Quick Stats

Book Posts: 18 (44%) [not counting this post, oops]
E-books: 10 (20%)
Library Books: 4 (8%)
From the Shelf: 11 (21.5%)
Male/Female Ratio: 21:30 (41% : 59%)
Book Club: 3+
Fiction/Non-Fiction Ratio: 50:1 (98% : 2%)
Books Abandoned: 20

How was YOUR 2013 reading year? I’d love to hear what your favorite book of the year was.

Mini-reviews: Mysteries

Warning: Some of these reviews contain spoilers.

leaving everything most lovedLeaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear (March 2013, Harper), 352 pages

I loved the color and spices of India that infused this novel, the tenth in the Maisie Dobbs series.

I felt a little manipulated by Winspear. I wondered if she was delaying a decision on Maisie’s relationship with James just to prolong the series (ugh!). On the one hand, I just want to see them together. I think they’ll work well, and I want to see that. But on the other, I think Maisie still acted within her very independent nature. So mostly I’m just sitting here wishing and hoping. And a little sad.

Another great installment in one of my favorite historical mystery series.

doors openDoors Open by Ian Rankin (Reagan Arthur (Little Brown), 2010), 368 pages

I’d heard lots of great things about Ian Rankin’s books, so I was glad to get the chance to pull this one from its lingering spot on the TBR shelf. Mostly, though, I was disappointed by this one. If I hadn’t heard such great things, I probably would have put it down mid-read (and I maybe should have abandoned it regardless).

I did enjoy the Edinburgh setting, though.

I plan to give Rankin another try, starting with book one of his Inspector Rebus series, Knots and Crosses.

missing fileThe Missing File by D.A. Mishani (Harper, March 2013), 304 pages

This is another one that didn’t really live up to my expectations. Again, I enjoyed the setting (Israel this time). But most of the book really plodded. The protagonist’s low self-esteem seemed to pervade the book. We have this supposedly great detective, who doesn’t do or learn anything really. It’s like he’s living in an allergy fog like those commercials, except we’re given no explanation for his inaction.

The twist at the end is pretty great, though, I thought. And how the main points are never really, truly, nailed down.

red herring without mustardA Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (Bantam, 2011), 432 pages

This third Flavia de Luce mystery was the needed rebound after the sophomore slump that was The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag (my review). Our precocious protag is back at it, and I quite enjoyed this one. I hope it’s not too long until I can return to the series (I think I’ve got books four and five on my shelves waiting patiently).

I received some of these books from the publisher. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Board Book of the Week: Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton

Books can be hard to talk about. And children’s books — especially ones with less than 20 pages — can be particularly tough, at least for me, so far. But I think I found a way to make this work.

I finally started taking A to the library. And when you go once, there’s a pretty strong pull to go back — the books have to be returned at some point, and the drive through drop box seems almost cruel when there’s so much fun to be had inside (there’s some seriously great play areas set up, let alone all the books).

I brought home a stack of books this week, as you do. Seven books last time, nine this time. Most I considered quickly but somewhat carefully, and a few I added to the pile after A pulled them off the shelves.

Some books I like, but he either doesn’t get or doesn’t have the patience for, or something. And others he insistently brings me over and over, but they make me want to gouge my eyes out. You know how it is.

This post highlights A’s hand’s down favorite, which is one I really appreciate, too. (Which is not to say *I’m* saying “again, again,” once he tires of it, but still.)

red truck

Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton, illustrated by Valeria Petrone (2008, Viking Penguin, board book) is a delightful book.

A likes:
• Pointing at all the trucks and making truck sounds.
• Also the “Vrooom,” “Sploosh,” and “Zoom” exclamations usually elicit big smiles.

Mama likes:
• The writing is clear and engaging, the perfect balance of fun and educational, no wording is awkward or annoying. There are rhymes, but it’s not over the top. There are just the right amount of words, too. I never have to read/recite at break-neck speeds to get all the words in before he turns the page.
• The illustrations are whimsical and clear, cheerful. The background recedes and yet remains fun. The colors are bright and mostly primary without being overtly so. The tow truck driver looks enough like a cross between Mario and Luigi to make me smile but still unique enough to be his own character.
• I like the text treatment, too. Colors and sizes vary some, but it’s still completely legible. And it’s not all caps. Also, there aren’t exclamation points on every. single. page. (Ahem.)

Maybe it’s just the perfect timing in terms of his attention span and vehicle fascination, but this book certainly hits the spot. I’ve enjoyed Hamilton’s YA books in the past (Tyger Tyger (my review) and In the Forests of the Night — ooh, looks like book 3 of that Goblin Wars series is out this week: When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears) and I’ll definitely be looking for more of her children’s books now too.

For more on children’s books this week, check out Booking Mama’s Kid Konnection.

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

8721893974_1f51cdfb67_zFor Mari’s Sherlock Holmes reading challenge, I’ve read the first two books (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of course) so far.

I honestly can’t remember if I’ve read any Sherlock Holmes books before. I mean, surely I have, at some point, especially given my love of mysteries? But at any rate, I’m reading afresh now.

The first one, A Study in Scarlet, introduces the reader to Sherlock and we see him meet Watson. I did get a bit confused when a new second section started and, instead of the familiar London, we’re abruptly in Utah. It took me a long time to even feel confident the chapters of my ebook hadn’t gotten jumbled with another book somehow! It all became clear in time, though.

The second, The Sign of the Four, also had a somewhat similar detour, but it was much less abrupt and I didn’t get confused nearly as much. :)

Each is less than 200 pages (somewhat significantly less, actually). They read very quickly. Despite the (very rare) French or German quote that aren’t translated (a sign of a true classic, maybe?), the language is flowing and easy, not too stilted or old fashioned.

Reading these, I’m appreciating the adaptations I’ve been loving (both BBC’s Sherlock and Elementary) even more, both as treatments of the books and as their own, individual works.

I just love these stories!

On to The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes!

(I got these ebooks from Project Gutenberg.)

A Sherlock challenge

8721893974_1f51cdfb67_zI’ve been wanting to read some Sherlock Holmes, especially with the recent spate of great screen adaptations (BBC’s Sherlock, I’m looking at you!), and Mari’s challenge is just the impetus I need. I generally have a dismal track record when it comes to challenge completion, but maybe I’m giddy on the heels of my #PinItDoIt success? Whatever the case, I’m signing up for this one.

Mari set forth lots of participation levels:

Inspector
Read all 9 listed above.
Lieutenant
Read 6 of your choosing.
Detective
Read 3 of your choosing.
Officer
Read 1 of your choosing.

I think I’m going for the Detective level, aiming to read the first three books: A Study in Scarlet (1887), The Sign of Four (1890) and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892).

Luckily, I’ve got plenty of time; the challenge runs from the beginning of June through December 31st.

Here is where I’ll be linking up reviews, as I get to them.

Care to join us?

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Word Lily review

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master” by Rachel Held Evans (Thomas Nelson, October 2012), 352 pages

a year of biblical womanhood

My first inclination is to say I learned stuff from reading this book. Valuable stuff, even. But after that first inclination is past — when you ask what I learned — I can’t come up with much I actually learned from the book itself.

I learned the labels for things. Complementarian vs. egalitarian, for example. I came to more deeply understand how flawed the idea that biblical womanhood = June Cleaver really is. June Cleaver wasn’t in the Bible, folks. Polygamy was, though.

Reminded again (Hello, philosophy minor!) how vital it is to recognize the bias and assumptions we bring to the table when we approach a text like the Bible. Pulling single verses to make our point(s) is rarely advisable. (context, context, context)

How liberating is it to learn that Proverbs 31, in Jewish homes, is memorized by the men as a way to honor and esteem, praise, their wives, rather than by women as a to-do list! I don’t need to live up to an unattainable, theoretical ideal of a poem; rather, I want to, along with so many others, begin to reclaim this idea and honor women when I see them persevering and doing hard things — “Woman of valor!”

I didn’t actually enjoy the author’s approach. She uses humor, which in theory is good, but which in practice fell flat and/or felt awkward to me at several points. She downplays the work she did and the points she’s trying to make with it, which bothered me. I could never figure out if she assigned herself certain tasks to make a flippant point or to sincerely explore/learn. The brief profiles of women from the Bible felt a little unconnected to the rest of the text. I liked them, and all the other parts, too, but the text overall felt disjointed.

Maybe the biggest thing I gained from reading this book — and it’s pretty big — is some encouragement to keep pursuing the idea that I am an empath/prophet and what that looks like. That my voice is valuable and should be heard. That I can and should speak for the marginalized and wounded. Now if only I could someday figure out what acting on this actually entails …

And now some quotes (without page numbers because I read the book digitally).

“I think this is one of the reasons why, despite the fact that I vote for Democrats, believe in evolution, and am no longer convinced that everyone different from me goes to hell, I don’t mind being identified as an evangelical Christian.

Evangelicalism is like my religious mother tongue. I revert to it whenever I’m angry or excited or surrounded by other people who understand what I’m saying. And it’s the language in which I most often hear God’s voice on the rare occasion that it rises above the noise.”

and

“We cause serious collateral damage to the advancement of our sex each time we perpetuate the stereotype that women can’t get along.”

I liked that she learned (and documented that she learned) things mostly not related to her quest. As she focused on gentleness and silence, contemplative prayer became attractive to her, for example.

A prayer from Teresa of Avila that Evans used:

“Let nothing upset you,
Let nothing startle you.
All things pass;
God does not change.
Patience wins all it seeks.
Whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone is enough.”

More quotes:

“Jesus once said that his mission was not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. And in this instance, fulfilling the law meant letting it go. It may serve as little comfort to those who have suffered abuse at the hand of Bible-wielding literalists, but the disturbing laws of Leviticus and Deuteronomy lose just a bit of their potency when God himself breaks them.”

and

“As a Christian, my highest calling is not motherhood; my highest calling is to follow Christ. And following Christ is something a woman can do whether she is married, or single, rich or poor, sick or healthy, childless or Michelle Duggar.”

Rachel Held Evans is a blogger I’ve followed since roughly the start of this project (so, for several years now). She’s also the author of Evolving in Monkey Town. She lives in Dayton, Tennessee.

Other reviews:
Have you reviewed this book? Leave the link in the comments and I’ll add it here.

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

Weeding the shelves

Word Lily thoughts

I’ve been weeding the shelves again lately, but they’re still overburdened. I’m still weighted down by the wealth of unread tomes. Despite my most recent culling, I’ve still got too many books. (Not possible, you say? Well, space constraints and more importantly my well-being beg to differ.)

My idea, recently, to further lift this weight from my shoulders and shelves, has been to take, say, a month and devote all my reading time therein to either reading or starting and abandoning as many of the books that I don’t think I’ll love as I can.

Given: that I have much more trouble getting rid of books that I haven’t read (all the potential book love!) than I do books that I’ve read.

Potential hazard: Since I have such trouble abandoning books once I’ve started reading them, a month might only get me through a handful of titles (at best).

Potential pitfall: This is, essentially, a plan to spend a given duration of time NOT enjoying my reading, since the goal is to make decisions about the ones I don’t think I’ll love — or at least that there’s potential I’ll hate.

Is this crazy?

Have you ever done something similar or thought about it? Is there a better length of time for such a project, do you think?