Archives

Top Ten Tuesday – Goals

Top Ten Five Bookish Resolutions/Goals

 

1. I plan to read… less. I know that sounds weird, but I know that pushing myself to read the same amount of books (or more) is going to be harder this year as I move overseas and take on more hours at work beforehand.

2. Streamline reviews. I’m used to setting up my reviews in advance, but it’s getting harder to make time for blogging, so I need to come up with a system of giving myself less work to do. Maybe have Goodreads publish directly to my blog? I’m not sure yet, but doing a blog review, photo review, and Goodreads review is 3 times the work.

3. Tackle the TBR. I am moving overseas this year and get to move all of my books with me. I need to be sure that I’m not dragging books that will sit unread for 3 more years and actually read them!

4. Purge the shelves. If I’m still holding on to a book I’ve had for 5+ years that I still haven’t read, it’s time to get rid of it.

5. Less impulse buying. This will be easy once I move, as shipping will be much longer and more difficult to deal with. There’s no reason I need to preorder a book because “everyone is talking about it” if I know I’m just going to stick it on my shelf for years.

 

Advertisements

Challenge Completed – 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

 2017 POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE

I completed this challenge. It was diffcult in some areas, but I finished at the end of November. I can’t wait to start the 2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, which I’ll be sharing soon.

 

 

A book recommended by a librarian – All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

A book that’s been on your TBR list for way too long – Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

A book of letters – The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

An audiobook – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (cheat, the book involves tapes, but I didn’t listen to it on tape)

A book by a person of color – Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

A book with one of the four seasons in the title – The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich

A book that is a story within a story – A Book of Spirits and Thieves by Morgan Rhodes 

A book with multiple authors – Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

An espionage thriller – Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

A book with a cat on the cover – The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

A book by an author who uses a pseudonym – Thinner by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

A bestseller from a genre you don’t normally read – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

A book by or about a person who has a disability – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon (autism)

A book involving travel – Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

A book with a subtitle – New World: Rising by Jennifer Wilson

A book that’s published in 2017 – RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

A book involving a mythical creature – Daughter of the Pirate King by Trisha Levenseller (sirens)

A book you’ve read before that never fails to make you smile – Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

A book about food – Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot (eating disorder)

A book with career advice – How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

A book from a nonhuman perspective – A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (literally everyone is nonhuman)

A steampunk novel – Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

A book with a red spine – Second Life by S.J. Watson

A book set in the wilderness – Hunted by Meagan Spooner

A book you loved as a child – The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

A book by an author from a country you’ve never visited – The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (from South Africa)

A book with a title that’s a character’s name – Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

A novel set during wartime – The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

A book with an unreliable narrator – In a dark, dark wood by Ruth Ware

A book with pictures – A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A book where the main character is a different ethnicity that you – The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

A book about an interesting woman – Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

A book set in two different time periods – NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

A book with a month or day of the week in the title – A Million Junes by Emily Henry

A book set in a hotel – The Shining by Stephen King

A book written by someone you admire – The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

A book that’s becoming a movie in 2017 – Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James

A book set around a holiday other than Christmas – The Fill in Boyfriend by Kasie West (set during senior prom)

The first book in a series you haven’t read before – The Merciless by Danielle Vega

A book you bought on a trip – Firestarter by Stephen King (…a trip to a bookstore!)

 

Advanced:

 

A book recommended by an author you love – The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

A besteller from 2016 – Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

A book with a family member term in the title – Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

A book that takes place over a character’s life span – Gwendy’s Button Box by Richard Chizmar and Stephen King

A book about an immigrant or refugee – City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

A book from a genre/subgenre you’ve never heard of – Rant by Chuck Palahniuk (cyberpunk)

A book with an eccentric character – The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

A book that’s more than 800 pages – The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

A book you got from a used bookstore – Horns by Joe Hill

A book that’s been mentioned in another book – Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

A book about a difficult topic – Exit, pursued by a bear by E.K. Johnston

A book based on mythology – Flame in the Mist by Renee Adhieh

 

2017 Book Challenges – Halfway Point Check In

 

 

Since we are about halfway through 2017, I wanted to take a look at how I’ve been doing on my book challenges for the year.

 

I’m only doing 2: The 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge and my Goodreads 2017 Challenge. 

 

 

Goodreads:

 

 

POPSUGAR:

 

Review – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

 

Dumplin’

By Julie Murphy

SummarySelf-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Source: I received this book in the September 2015 Owlcrate

Add to Goodreads

Review:

This book has sat on my shelf for a year and a half. I participated in the Owlcrate-athon last month and one of the mini challenges was to read the Owlcrate book you’ve had on your shelf the longest. I received Dumplin in my very first Owlcrate and it has sat on my shelf ever since.

Let me start by saying that I think there should be way more body positivity in literature. I think it’s important for readers to connect with characters and that means there should be a variety of main characters and I support diversity in all aspects. I cannot emphasize that enough. With that being said, the few books that have been hyped as having a “fat” heroine have not worked for me. I feel like a lot of times when I’m reading, I have no idea whether the main character in a story is fat or skinny in most books. Seriously. And I think maybe it’s assumed that they are skinny if the author doesn’t specifically mention they are fat. But I read a lot of books and many of them have main characters who are not confident in their own skin and I think any person who feels like that can identify no matter what the specific issue is and I like that about books. When I read books with specific fat girls who are supposed to be a breath of fresh air in a world of skinny literature, I typically pick up a book riddled with the opposite of body positivity. It’s more about their looks than it is about anything else and I just don’t get it. If there ARE going to be books about growing some confidence, I certainly hope they take a specific issue and make it positive instead of being more awful than the stereotype they are trying to fight against.

So I went into Dumplin with a ton of reservations and wariness.

I’m on the fence about whether I liked it. I don’t feel like Dumplin was all that amazing in terms of making readers feel confident or promoting body positivity in general. I felt like everything came down to weight and the confident heroine wasn’t at all confident. I honestly think I would’ve rather read the same book from Millie’s point of view because she didn’t seem to be as negative or judgmental about the way other people looked. Willowdean was just as bad as the rest of society because she judged people all of the time for everything. It was almost as if she felt that, as a fat person, she had the upper hand and could look down on the rest of the world AND also judge her fellow ugly people because she was one of them. It was kind of awful. I think her feelings about herself could have been conveyed in a way that didn’t put other people down. We all feel self conscious, that doesn’t give us a right to judge other people more harshly in return.

At the same time, I think it’s unrealistic to expect a contemporary book about the issue of weight to ignore the fact that teenagers are awful and judgmental. Of course, as a teen girl, Will was going to be hyper aware of looks and social status and judge people. It’s what teen girls and boys do. And of course, while being judgmental, she would simultaneously be insecure while projecting false confidence. That is also what teenagers do. So I applaud the book for not trying to be some rainbow and fairy dust covered contemporary that makes us all better. Also, I think it did hit the point that we are our own worst critics and whatever we are worried about, we judge and notice in others as well. I know that as an awkward person, sometimes I get snotty about people who seem really comfortable in a new place and I realize that it’s not fair to the person I’m judging or to myself to do that. So Will’s awfulness has a point and it certainly does add to story, even if having that takes away from the whole positive message.

I can’t help but be torn. I liked the book and I felt like it did a good job of being realistic while attempting to be about learning to be comfortable in your own skin. By the end of the book, Will was better. She learned her lesson, stopped being so concerned about looks and how other people looked/were in comparison and I think that’s the point. It’s just that we had to watch Willowdean learn that lesson and she was quite awful about it. I’m just not sure if it helps or hurts the issue. 

Star 3

 

An Adventure – Harry Potter Reread

After completing my 2016 challenges and setting up reviews to take me into the new year, I decided to take the time to do a full reread of the Harry Potter series. It was the first time I was rereading.. I read books 1-3 as a kid, and then later, 1-7 as an adult. I’ve never actually read the series more than once as a whole! Partly, I’m just not much of a re reader, but also, being a blogger makes it hard to take the time to reread something longer because I need to have reviews scheduled.

However, I’m really glad I took the time. The movies are great, but they miss so much.. so many details! It was nice to get back into the series and savor all of the details. Also, I never read the books from any other perspective other than just experiencing the story. It’s a lot different knowing what happens and being able to analyze it all. Also, I’m a Slytherin, which makes for an interesting reading experience.

I’ve decided to document some of my thoughts during each book.

 

Reread Thoughts:

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 

In book 1, I realized how short sighted Harry could be. At first, I felt really bad for him because of all he endured at the Dursley’s, but it was clear that Dumbledore had a point when he decided to stick Harry there. The fame could’ve easily turned him into an awful person. Even with a ton of hardship and perspective, he still had his faults. All of his actions were based on his point of view, but he never stopped to think about how he appeared to other people. He completely disregarded and offended Draco and, if you look at it from Draco’s point of view, it was a really awful slight. The famous Harry Potter just treated him like dirt.. and he didn’t even really deserve it. He did later, he really did bully Harry, but that short exchange is what started the whole thing. If Harry was nicer, he could’ve avoided an enemy. Of course, I am a little more defensive when it comes to Draco because I know that he’s ultimately not evil and neither is Snape. And in the beginning, Harry seemed to associate people who didn’t like him with evil.. and that’s kind of a problem. I’m glad he has Ron and Hermione to help balance him out.

 

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

 In book 2, I realize I totally forgot Ginny’s role in the diary from Tom Riddle. It’s been a really long time since I’ve even seen the Chamber of Secrets movie. I feel like Harry’s insistence that Snape and all of Slytherin is evil is completely over the top. So far, the only house involved in anything is Gryffindor. Obviously, we know why and we know that stuff just happens to Harry and it’s not like he wills it, but just imagine how it looks to everyone else! It’s kind of unfair. It was interesting to see Harry struggle with his fame and find things he is good at.

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

In book 3, I had forgotten just how much I absolutely love Professor Lupin. He was such a great teacher and person and remains one of my favorite characters. I also enjoyed the whole dementor thing and the existence of Sirius Black. I also liked that we got to know Snape a little more and realize that Harry’s father perhaps wasn’t the amazing person Harry thought he was if he bullied Snape. I’m still completely bothered by how Harry can continue to be a jerk to Malfoy, yet act like it’s so unfair that Malfoy treats him like crap. It’s a two way street and yet Harry just walks around like he’s the victim. I understand why Snape hates him. Unless you’re in Harry’s head or his friend, it’s probably really easy to assume he’s full of himself.. he certainly acts like it at times. 

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I stopped at this book as a kid. Honestly, I just didn’t know when it would end and I didn’t want to get stuck in another Harry Potter is good at everything and solves another mystery while also becoming champion of everything. It wasn’t until later, as an adult, when I discovered that Harry would struggle, lose people he cared about, and not always come out on top. To me, that’s what makes fiction interesting. So I read this one in full as an adult. I think Goblet of Fire is a bit too long, but I just wasn’t into the whole Triwizard Tournament or the Quidditch match. This is the one book where I feel like the things that attract people to the fandom differ from what attracts me. However, there are some of my favorite moments, like S.P.E.W. and Dobby and the more complicated plot involving He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. 

 

 

And here come my favorites… I love 5-7 so much!

 

 

 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 

 This is where the series starts to really improve in my opinion. Harry struggled a lot in this book and I think that’s what I needed him to do. His life was chaos. He spent his summer feeling isolated. He returned to school and few of his classmates believed You-Know-Who was back. The Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts butted heads throughout the entire book because of the issue of whether or not Voldemort was back. Dumbledore backed Harry, but the Minister felt threatened by Dumbledore and it turned into the worst situation. And this was the book that introduced Umbridge, perhaps the worst sort of person in the entire series. She makes me cringe in ways that Voldemort and even Bellatrix don’t do for me! She’s the evil we see everyday and I think that’s what makes her such a great evil character. We really got to see some parallels in this book about government interference. 

I love meeting all of the characters in this book. The Order of Phoenix was made up of some pretty unique characters. Harry got to see the Black home with Sirius and meet Kreacher, the disgruntled House Elf. I also loved meeting Luna Lovegood, the quirky Ravenclaw that could also see Thestrals. 

In my opinion, this book is the one that sets the series apart and gets super serious. It crosses out of fun middle grade adventure territory and becomes a serious piece of literature. I can’t wait to crack the next book open.

 

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I love this one! Book 6 is intensely serious. Harry struggled with feelings for Ginny (which always seemed forced and weird to me, though I know that’s an unpopular opinion), watched Ron struggle with whatever it was that was happening between him and Hermione, and people were getting hurt at Hogwarts (but what else is new?) Harry was very suspicious of Malfoy, which was kind of annoying, even if we did figure out that he WAS indeed up to something. My one complaint is that Harry kept on being validated. His obsession with trying to catch Snape and/or Malfoy doing something dark was awful, but he wasn’t wrong. At least Dumbledore attempted to keep him on his toes. A lot about Voldemort was revealed and I enjoyed the darker side of things. This book is one of my favorites.

I love that Harry had some issues with his friends and had to make decisions alone. I love that he screws up and makes wrong decisions. And I love how the plot thickened and we got so much history of Voldemort.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This book is perhaps the darkest of them all and the one that ends it all. Harry did not return to Hogwarts, as Dumbledore gave him a mission and Ron and Hermione accompanied him. Without Dumbledore’s guidance, Harry struggled to complete the tasks, but ultimately persevered. I absolutely loved when Dudley said to Harry that he wasn’t a waste of space, which was quite touching after everything that happened while Harry lived with the Dursleys. 

I forget how much material is in the final book. The mention of horcruxes is briefly mentioned in the last book and then the final book, but it’s something I remember so clearly. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows isn’t much longer than the past couple of books, but I feel like it contains so much. Between the deaths, the Deathly Hallows, the epic battle, and the final understanding of some wizarding lore and quests for power, the final book really is pretty epic. 

I love this series and I love how it ends, at least until the epilogue. I still can’t help but cringe a little bit at the neat bow at the end with everyone paired off and the names of all of the children. However, I know I’m weird and most people like to have concrete where-are-they-now endings. 

Other things of note: I did not miss the way the memory of James Potter compared to Draco’s introduction to Harry in book one, the way he scoffed at Slytherin the same way Draco scoffed at Hufflepuff. Harry didn’t like Draco’s attitude and it completely set them up to be enemies the entire series, but his father had similar stuck up attitudes. I never noticed that before, perhaps because I was focused on the great revelation that Snape was not Voldemort’s wingman and hadn’t been for a long time. Harry is a humble and quite talented wizard, but his tendency to relax the rules really did make him seem like his father in a lot of ways, which explains how awful Snape was to him. (And I really don’t think Snape was very awful, just a tad stubborn and rude). 

Also, I can’t seem to get through the final movies or this book without crying. 

 

————— 

I’m really glad I decided to reread the series. It worked out perfectly, with me finishing on Christmas and ready to start reading books for 2017. I had plenty of time, having met my 2016 goals back before Thanksgiving.

I know a lot of people end up rereading the series often, even annually, but I can’t imagine reading it so often. I’m not much a re reader, so I’m happy to have experienced the series just a couple of times now. I do hope to reread other favorites because I enjoy it, perhaps even more so the second time around.

Also, the movies are fairly good, but I was amazed at how different some of the scenes were, aside from the material cut from the movies, like almost every amazingly hilarious Dobby scene. Since I’ve only read through most of the books once before, the movies kind of end up replacing my memories of events and it’s incredible how many details I’d forgotten were different. 

 

 

2017 Reading Challenges

I’ll be participating in the 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge. This will be the third year I’ve done these challenges and I enjoy them. I feel like they are a great blend of what I already read with just enough categories in there to challenge me and make me read a bit outside the box. 

I’ve also set my Goodreads 2017 Goal to 125 books, 25 books under my 2016 goal, but for good reason. My husband won’t be doing another 8 month deployment, so I’m likely to not read as often or as many books as I did this past year since he’ll be home the majority of the year!

2017_popsugar.jpg

What 2017 Challenges have you committed to?

 

2016 Reading Challenge Update – FINISHED

 

I have completed the 2016 Reading Challenge above and it’s only September!

 

He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker – a book published this year

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – a book I finished in a day

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith – a book I’ve been meaning to read

Vicious by V.E. Schwab – a book recommended by my local bookseller

Hamlet by William Shakespeare – a book I should’ve read in school

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk – a book chosen for me by my husband

The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys – a book published before I was born

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll – a book that was banned at some point

Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain – a book I previously abandoned

The Gunslinger by Stephen King – a book I own but have never read

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas – a book that intimidated me

Red Rising by Pierce Brown – a book I’ve read at least once

2016_reading_challenge_COMPLETED.jpeg