April 4, 2016

What I've Been Reading

I have already read more books in three months than I read all of last year. 2015 was not my year when it came to reading. I am making a conscience effort to make time for books this year. Below is what I've read so far. I'm currently in the middle of four different books right now so expect another list in a few months.

Must-Read Books: You're life won't be complete until you read these.

"A moving, exciting, and heartfelt American saga inspired by the author's own family memoirs, these words belong to Sarah Prine, a woman of spirit and fire who forges a full and remarkable existence in a harsh, unfamiliar frontier. Scrupulously recording her steps down the path Providence has set her upon - from child to determined young adult to loving mother - she shares the turbulent events, both joyous and tragic, that molded her, and recalls the enduring love with cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot that gave her strength and purpose."

I wasn't sure if I was going to like this one when I first picked it up. I'm usually not a huge fan of books that take place on the Western frontier, but this is probably my favorite book I've read in a long while. It was fantastic and I recommend it to everyone!

"It is 1939 France. It is the period when the country surrenders to the Germans, and the Nazi regime begins its occupation. While the city of Paris takes in most of the heat, the quiet village of Carriveau is on the brink of changing forever. The once peaceful and bucolic town has turned into a horrific show of airplanes, war tanks, bombs, and the scary sight of Nazis from the SS, the Gestapo and the regular Wehrmacht all over. Vianne Mauriac, the young wife of a recently drafted soldier, is obligated to host a Nazi in her home while the war goes on. Her younger 18 year-old sister, the impetuous Isabelle, chooses the dangerous path of joining the French Resistance and risking everything in the process: her life, her safety, and her emotions."

Another book you have to read! I'm sure you've seen this one going around, it's been quite popular as of late. I love World War II books and this one is worth the read.

Great Books: Some entertaining books I would recommend, but maybe not life-changing.

"A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage.
 A strange collection of very curious photographs.
 It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive."

I thought this quick read was fantastic! This is soon to be made into a movie (directed by Tim Burton. Yay!) so make sure to read it fast. It's a series, you can get the full box set here.

"On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?"

As a warning, this is a slightly twisted book with a bit of language if that bother you. But it's suspenseful and will keep you reading until the end. I thought the twists throughout were brilliant. If murder mystery is your thing, you'll love this one.

"Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time? Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations."

This is definitely a feel good book. It's a fairly easy read too. I think I sided with the grumpy old man a few too many times. Haha.

"Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price--and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone. Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction - if they don't kill each other first."

I thought this book was so interesting! It's a bit difficult at first keeping all the characters straight, but once you get in the thick of things, you won't be able to put it down.

Okay Books: If you have some extra time, you could give these a read, but aren't missing out if you don't.

"Tane and Rebecca aren’t sure what to make of it—a sequence of 1s and 0s, the message looks like nothing more than a random collection of alternating digits. Working to decode it, however, they discover that the message contains lottery numbers . . . lottery numbers that win the next random draw! More messages follow, and slowly it becomes clear—the messages are being sent from Tane and Rebecca’s future. Something there has gone horribly wrong, and it’s up to them to prevent it from happening. The very survival of the human race may be at stake!"

I really wanted to like this book. And the first half was great. But in the end, things got weird and didn't quite make sense. The logic of it all is quite a stretch and I hated the conclusion.

"Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives. 

So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits?Better than Before answers that question. It presents a practical, concrete framework to allow readers to understand their habits—and to change them for good. Whether readers want to get more sleep, stop checking their devices, maintain a healthy weight, or finish an important project, habits make change possible. Reading just a few chapters of Better Than Before will make readers eager to start work on their own habits—even before they’ve finished the book."

Most people I know loved this book. I was so excited to get started on it and I ended up not really liking it. Since so many people liked it though, maybe don't listen to my opinion if this book has been on your radar.

"Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch - "Scout" - returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one's own conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee."

I know a lot of people didn't like this book because it's so different from To Kill A Mockingbird. I was sure I'd be able to separate the two books and give it a chance, but even with that, it turned out to be just okay. I didn't think the ending was that profound. 

If you want to see what I'm reading, you can visit this page or add me on Goodreads. I'd also love to know what your favorite books are. Leave a comment telling me what I have to read next and it will be added to my mountainous "to-be-read" pile.

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