Book Challenge by Erin 7.0

I've been wanting to join Erin's book challenge for a while, and am really excited to catch it this time. I love this challenge because it makes me pick some books that are not my usual genre. I have less time to read now that I'm back at work, but the challenge is pretty relaxed and I'm going to do my best. 


Rules:

·     First and foremost, have fun. Don't stress. No one is being judged, graded, or penalized. Even if you finish only one book the entire challenge, if you enjoy it and it's an accomplishment for you, then that's awesome.


·     The challenge will run from JULY 1, 2017 to OCTOBER 31, 2017. No books that are started before 12 a.m. on July 1 or finished after 11:59 p.m. on October 31 will count.  (We live in different time zones – follow this according to your own time zone.)


·     Each book must be at least 200 pages long.   Audio books are fine too.


·     A book can only be used for one category, and each category can only be completed once. If you want to switch the category of a book, or change the book you originally chose, no worries. 

·      You can read your books in any order you choose.

·      Rereads can be used only once.  If a book you love fits into a category, go ahead and visit it again. Read it in its entirety.  But, only do this once for the challenge.

·     There will be a photo album for each category with links to books chosen.  Please comment on the photo for each of your books when you finish reading them.  A comment can include a review, a rating, a recommendation…other readers want to hear what you thought of your choice.  (if you need help with this, let me know…or there is a file attached to our group explaining what to do.)

·     There will be 10 book categories with a possibility of earning 200 points.   That’s 10 books in four months.  For some of you, this will be a BIG challenge; for others it will be easy peasy.  It’s all for fun, remember!

·      Book categories will be posted June 1st to give you time to gather books in preparation. 

·     After the categories are posted, please post a preliminary list with books of your choice according to their categories on the facebook group page by June 15th (if possible).  If you need help with a particular category or want a book suggestion, we as a community of reading enthusiasts can help each other.  (Late entries will still be accepted.)

·     The first three people who finish the challenge will be invited to contribute a category for the next challenge. The following will get a small prize from me (1st to complete 1st round; 1st to complete both rounds; most points accumulated; and WILD CARD random draw – all who finish the 10 book challenge will qualify as an entry)!  Plus, everyone who completes the challenge will gets all sorts of recognition and support!

·    Lastly, have fun.  Don't stress. No one is being judged, graded, or penalized. Even if you finish only one book the entire challenge, if you enjoy it and it's an accomplishment for you, then that's awesome.  Wait, I’ve read that somewhere before…Good luck!

My picks:

· 5 points: Freebie – Read a book that is at least 200 pages
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I've heard so many good things about this one and can't wait to read it.

· 10 points: Read a book that starts with the letter “B”
Beartown by Fredrik Backman
Same here - I've heard lots of good things and I am excited to get into it. I haven't read anything from this author before and have several of his books on my TBR list.

· 10 points: Read a book that has a (mostly) yellow cover
Slade House by David Mitchell
I haven't read a ghost story in a long time so this is unusual for me. I'm excited/scared.

· 15 points: Read a book that has a picture of an animal on the cover
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
I admit half the reason I want to read this one is because the author has an amazing name, but the story sounds fascinating, as well.

· 20 points: Read a book that was published in 2017
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
I love books with a little bit of fairy tale and mythology in them.

· 20 points: Read a book with a compass or cardinal direction in the title
East by Edith Pattou
This sounds very similar to Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, which I really enjoyed. I guess I love stories about anthropomorphic polar bears.

· 25 points: The ALA’s “Banned Books Week” occurs while our challenge is happening. Read a book from this list of the most commonly banned books in America: https://en.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_most_commonly_challenged…
Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik
I've never read a Chuck Palahnuik book so this will be different for me. I'm a fan of the movie, but not sure if I'll like Palahnuik's writing.

· 30 points: Read a fictional book about mental illness
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
I loved this movie and I hope I love the book as much or more.

· 30 points: Read a book with a non-human main character; i.e. animals, elves, gods, robots, merpeople, etc..
Watership Down by Richard Adams
I read this when I was a teenager and it was one of my favorite books. It's a reread for me but it's been so long, I barely remember what happens.

· 35 points: Read a book a Disney movie was based on OR a book based on a Disney movie
As Old as Time by Liz Braswell
I wanted to reread Cinder since I wasn't a huge fan for the first time and thought I'd give it another try, but I'm already doing one reread for the challenge, so I'm trying something new. It was hard to find a Disney-related book over 200 pages. I love Beauty and the Beast, which is why this ended up being my pick. Let's see how it goes.

I'm excited for this challenge and need to start gathering my books once we're closer to July. Are you thinking of joining Erin's challenge?

What I've Been Reading

I have been in a reading hiatus for a week or two because some weeks I just want to watch Big Little Lies, Westworld, AND American Gods. I'm caught up on all of them. Those are the only shows I've watched, lately. Also, I just started a new job this week, so bye bye TV time. I did a lot of reading before my reading break.



Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris - 3.5 stars

This was a decent thriller featuring a fairly messed up character. I liked it, although sometimes I get tired of crazy husbands/stalkers/male characters. I think I've read enough 'woman must get away from bad guy' books for now and need a break 'cause it makes me want to berate everyone in the book.

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown - 3.5 stars

I have never read a book by Sandra Brown and I was surprised by how much romance there was right in the middle of the mystery. I did enjoy it and it was a good mystery/thriller.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys - 4 stars

I liked the format of this book; it skipped between characters but you never got too far into one character that you felt tugged away from them when it switched to another, and they were bound together in the same scenario. There was one character which obviously I did not enjoy reading as much - if you've read it, you'll know which one.

I had never read about this tragedy before and it's shocking. The author did a good job describing it in a fictional story. It made me feel upset and horrified and it's an indescribably sad event. The characters were very easy to want to follow along with and I was hoping the whole way that things would somehow go well for them. I will not spoil whether they did or not.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskins - 2 stars

I'd always wanted to read this and thought I would like it, but it wasn't for me. There were red herrings and lots of characters. I couldn't keep up with who was who and didn't get attached to any of them. I used to love Agatha Christie when I was in school but this style of mystery didn't grab me.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente - 4 stars

This was a fun traipse around Fairyland. Every part was imaginative, and the ending was perfect. It was a little slow for me in the beginning, but I got into it in the second half and the ending sealed it. There's another book or two after this I would not mind checking out.

Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah - 4 stars

I didn't know much about Trevor Noah going into this (apart from that he hosts The Daily Show), and it was a fascinating read for me. There are lots of stories about apartheid, his mother, and growing up - almost nothing about his career, and the stories are entertaining and heartbreaking. I recommend it even if you don't know much about him, yet.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon - 4 stars

This was an easy read - it read a little like a YA Me Before You style book, but I enjoyed it more. I'm not sure if I felt that one part of it was totally necessary - I can accept it since it wasn't really a heavy read before getting to that part, which made it a little more twisty. The drawings and things in between were cute, although a little distracting. Overall, it didn't make me feel all fangirly over it, which is okay, because I'm not exactly the target audience.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin - 4 stars

A book for book lovers - reminds me of everything I love about reading. It also has a great story and sweet characters and was easy to pick up even when I was sort of in a book funk.
Currently reading:

I'm linking up with Steph and Jana today for Show Us Your Books. You can find me right here on Goodreads.

Currently... May


Eating:
This pizza we Frankenstein'd together using a Minimalist Baker recipe. We used her vegan pesto breadsticks recipe with Publix pizza dough and actual parmesan because we were out of nutritional yeast, and we added some crumbled tofu with olive oil and seasonings on top. I think I could eat this pizza every day of the week.

Reading:
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I don't watch the Daily Show regularly, but he is smart and funny and the book is about his childhood growing up in South Africa during apartheid. It is disturbing reading about apartheid, but it's also from his childhood memories and he has some great stories.


Also, if you haven't added me on Goodreads yet, please do so I can stalk you. I am in a Goodreads stalking mood.

Wearing:
Just kidding. I don't buy clothes anymore. I bought myself some Old Navy shorts and those are on rotation all summer. I bought Ellie some leg warmers from Amazon so that she can crawl around without getting carpet burn. I like them because they are big enough that she should be able to wear them for a long time and snug enough on her legs not to fall off.

That is also a TARDIS cloth diaper we got from The Fluffy Penguin Company since I am trying to get back on track with cloth diapering part time. The cuter they are, the more likely I am to continue using them. Same rule applies to gym clothes.

Watching:
I still don't watch TV much, but we started Game of Thrones from the beginning last night, so I hope we can continue that. I forgot almost everything that happened in the first episode. It is extremely sad seeing the Starks so happy before all the shit went down.

Tyrion remains my favorite character.

Hope you're all having a fabulous weekend! We are filling ours with Chick-Fil-A and hopefully a bookstore visit, because I can never get enough books even though I am backed up with my library holds.

Penelope: 7 Months

Happy Mother's Day! I haven't updated a ton because literally almost all I take are baby photos. And her nap time is usually chill and read time. It's been a while since I've done a baby update, so why not? She's SEVEN. MONTHS. OLD. She's going to be 18 and I'm going to be wondering how it happened so quickly. Hopefully not. There are lots of years in between. Babies grow ridiculously fast, though.

First of all, here is her looking extremely unimpressed at Chick Fil A. That wine list is not up to par. She sits in high chairs now. She also whacked herself in the eye with my salad lid after this and promptly had to be carried out of the restaurant, but she was okay soon after.

She's growing into a toddler - AAAHHH! That sums up my thoughts on it.

Even further back.. this week, two days old, and me 40 weeks pregnant. She used to be so tiny!

Okay, all recent pics now. She is wiggling all around this week and almost crawling. She gets everywhere somehow without actually crawling. It has something to do with her rolling around like a turtle.

We fell off the cloth diaper wagon but I'm trying to get back on and we are doing them part-time. We're trying pockets and I just got in a Harry Potter one and a Doctor Who one, yesss. Here's her rainbow butt.

We call this chillin and Black Books. We watch a little Netflix every now and then. Mommy needs entertainment.

Family portrait. Also, I found her H&M dress at Once Upon a Child and was really excited.

She passed out on the way back from Target and I could not stop laughing at her. She was too adorable.

After bathtime is naked butt time and pile things on baby time.

She loves looking in the mirror and at our phone cameras. We bring her up to the door mirror after every nap to put her in a good mood.

Hope you have a fantastic Mother's Day and weekend!

What I've Been Reading

I have been enjoying some other life stuff instead of blogging, but I started writing my book post early because priorities, you know. Apparently, what I've been enjoying besides blogging is reading lots and lots of books.


Here is what I read last month in no order other than when I read them.

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit - 3 stars

This is a collection of essays focusing on feminism and I really wanted to like it more than I did - it was actually kind of depressing. The stats mentioned in one of the early articles really hit me hard. It carries a punch, and it's not lighthearted at all like I thought it would be going into it. The essays are also written in a very essay-like format - not colloquial writing.

I don't NOT recommend it but if you want to get into some information about women's rights around the world, it's a hard but good read. I still think about some of the things I read in it.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch - 5 billion stars

5 billion stars is definitely an exaggeration but I loved this book that much. Blake Crouch is becoming one of my favorite authors. Science + thriller was basically crack to me - I couldn't put it down. I had read some reviews that mentioned the science bits were hard to get through but I found the whole thing fascinating. I did have trouble with that in The Martian, but it wasn't a problem here. I also love the endings of his books.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - 5 stars

I kept putting off reading this book, because I thought The Husband's Secret was just okay. I am so glad I finally read it because it was a completely different read for me. Also, I've said before, but Erin sent me this in an awesome package all the way from Australia, and I hope I can pass it on to another reader sometime.

I started off the book thinking that I didn't care about the drama surrounding a kindergarten class, but somewhere along the way, I got immersed in the characters' lives, and they were each fascinating. I think the characters were way more likable and intriguing here than in The Husband's Secret, and I will give her other books a chance. I haven't seen the TV show but I couldn't help but imagine some of the characters as their counterparts on the show.

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson - 3.5 stars

I enjoyed parts of this book, and other parts I felt were repetitive. Also, there were many chapters told from a creepy perspective, similar to You, so if you're into that you may like it. I wasn't a huge fan of You for similar reasons - I find it creepy but not more interesting to read from the stalker/lurker's viewpoint.


You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero - 3 stars

There were lots of good ideas in this book, and others that had me thinking, "Whaaaaaaaatt." There was too much universal energy talk for me, but it did have some good points.


Perfect Little Town by Blake Crouch - 3.5 stars

I read this in about a day. It's a quick read and is very reminiscent of the Pines trilogy. If you like horror novellas, you would probably like this one.


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson - 3.5 stars

Clearly, I am not meant to be reading a lot of self help guru style books, because I have not been incredibly amazed by any, yet. BUT this was more straightforward and had zero fluffy energy stuff. My number one read for self-help-but-not-really-self-help has been Year of Yes - still my favorite so I hold it way above all others, even though it's not even self help. It's more biography, but I still compare all others to it.

I enjoyed the personal story parts of this, and felt like skipping through the relationship advice since I didn't really relate to the problems he had. I'm not convinced on reading any more self help since it's not my favorite genre, but he did have a ton of great points.


I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh - 3 stars

The first half of this book was slow-paced, and then it picked up. I felt a bit frustrated with the characters, although I know all of this could happen in real life. I think I had different expectations going into it, and I ended up being distracted by my frustration with the characters, so it was hard for me to get into the twists. I sometimes wanted to intervene and tell a character to get their butt in gear and do something else, but obviously I can't control the story and things like this do happen in real life (minus the twists) so I feel a bit conflicted.


The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers - 4 stars

There were many elements in this story that reminded me of Firefly and Doctor Who, and it was kind of a combination of both but also created its own identity - there was nothing repetitive about it. It was not fast paced at all but the worlds were so intricate and the characters so loving that it was a fascinating read.

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton - 4 stars

Funny comics about history. A few I didn't get because I don't know history well, lots made me laugh out loud. I highly recommend if you like making fun of history.


Currently reading:

I'm linking up with Steph & Jana today for Show Us Your Books. Have you read any of these? If you're going to read any this month, I recommend Dark Matter and Big Little Lies.

Friday Things


We've been trying different foods. The only one she's a fan of so far is apples. Pears and prunes are not her thing but she chowed down on some apples.

This week has been filled with reading, eating Which Wich twice in one day (I missed you, Which Wich), shopping, walking in the park, and Ellie learning new tricks like flipping onto her belly and wiggling like a baby seal when she's supposed to be napping.

Food:
We started making pizza once a week. We did this most of the time already, but since we moved and started shopping at Publix, we started buying their pizza dough and it is hands down the best pizza dough we've tried. So fluffy and crispy. I like pineapples on my pizza sometimes.

Books:
I have two library memberships now! My one from Delaware is still good (until I don't know when) and I got a membership in SC this week. This is a recipe for madness. They both have Overdrive, so I can check out ebooks. My holds list is gonna be out of control. Also, the wait list for books in my county in SC is way shorter than Delaware.

Reading:
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. This was one of the books that had a wayyy shorter wait than my previous library, so I am pumped to read it. I'm almost halfway through and I love it. Blake Crouch is excellent at writing twisty books.


Baby Smiles:
Ellie's full-tilt these days. She wants to play all the time and her giggle is awesome. She goes absolutely bonkers in her bouncer and I am pretty sure she is going to get everywhere by jumping before walking or crawling.



Funnies:
I have been cracking up over the United memes, but here's something unrelated. I can't stop laughing.
Also, this is important:

What else should I put on my reading list RIGHT now? Are you reading anything good? I've already got a mile long list from the book link-up, but I am always curious what people are reading. Hope you have a fantastic weekend!!

What I've Been Reading

Quick updates: We moved! We're getting settled! I have kept up with blogging not at all! I keep my eyeballs on Instagram sometimes to see updates. Sometimes not. I can never decide what should take the front seat - Ellie obviously, and then I have a thousand things I want to do in the little spare moments I get. And sleep - I pretty much always choose sleep about an hour after she goes to bed.


I missed last month's linkup, so I have a bunch of really good books to share. I haven't read a ton but I have hit some fantastic ones, lately, and a couple just alright.

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham - 5 stars
I loooooove Gilmore Girls, so it's no surprise I loved this book. It was a nice surprise that Lauren Graham seems as down to earth and funny as you would think she'd be. There were so many good stories about Gilmore Girls and her life before, and she has a great sense of humor.

The Lauras by Sara Taylor - 3 stars
via NetGalley
This was a coming of age type story about a character named Alex, and it is not clear if the character is a male or female. It was definitely intentional and an interesting take. I didn't identify very much with the character although he or she was in a tough situation - the story follows Alex and the mother moving around the country and explaining the mother's backstory. I recommend if you like stories about disconnected families getting to know each other.

Double Dutch by Laura Trunkey - 3 stars
via NetGalley
I usually enjoy short stories - I think I prefer a certain genre of short stories. I was expecting more magical realism, which is probably my favorite, and this had more realism than magic. Some of them were unexpectedly sad (elephant!), others were interesting, and overall it was not bad but didn't hook me.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes - 5 stars
I knew nothing about Shonda Rhimes before starting this book and didn't expect to love it as much as I did. I was thinking it would be more of a self-help style book, so I wasn't that quick to take it off my to-read shelf, but it's a personal story/biography that's funny and a fascinating look at how one person changed.

Also, I was mildly interested in Grey's Anatomy before, and now I really want to see it. I've never actually seen more than the pilot. If I ever get TV time, I'm going to jump into it. The book feels especially relevant to me right now since she talks about motherhood and I agree with lots of her viewpoints, but I feel like it would be massively spot on even if you are not a mother.

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Iron Carmon and Shana Knizhnik - 4 stars
RBG is another lady I knew very little about before getting into the book, aside from what I'd seen Kate McKinnon portray on SNL ("you just got Ginsburnnnned!"). I knew I would be a big fan already, and it was interesting reading about her. This is the kind of book that makes you want to get up and become an activist or judge and feel both outraged by our nation and satisfied by RBG's wins or dissents. I loved reading about her personal life, especially the relationship between her and her husband. They seem like two people who were just perfect for each other.

The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison - 5 stars
This was something completely different and disturbing. In the beginning, it's hard to get a read on the storyteller, but by the end you fully understand her and it comes to a well-worth-it conclusion. This was strange, graphic without being descriptive, and unsettling. I could not wait to get back to it to find out what happened next when I stepped away.

Currently reading:
I can't get enough feminist/equal rights books.

I have realized that I read more non-fiction when I have real life stuff to focus on - anybody else do that? Somehow it's easier for me to jump in and out of non-fiction and it holds my interest.

I'm linking up with Steph and Jana today for Show Us Your Books.