2015 Reading Challenge: Book # 39 – A Book with Magic

I did not forget that I need to finish off last year’s challenge while simultaneously reading this year’s challenge.  I finally tackled “a book with magic,” one I thought I would read much earlier on in the challenge.  For this one, I chose Harmony Black by Craig Schaefer.

I’m not sure where to start.  Let’s go with, Harmony Black is a witch who works for the FBI.  She has just joined a special team other other supernatural beings to help solve supernatural crimes that the general public can’t see (at least not as is).  Her past comes back to haunt her when the same creature who abducted her baby sister thirty years prior returns, stealing more babies.

And there you have the basic plot before it goes off on complicated tangents. I can’t exactly say that I disliked the book, but I didn’t exactly like it either. Indifference would be the best emotion I can come up with? The storyline was interesting, but I wasn’t particularly enthralled with it’s execution. I felt like a lot of the dialogue was too forced, too much of a stereotype (though I couldn’t even tell you what the stereotype was!). The female characters were all strong, but the male characters all seemed like bumbling fools a lot of the time.

Harmony works the most closely with Jessie Temple, whose powers I didn’t quite understand, but she was the daughter of an otherworldly creature criminal determined not the follow in her father’s footsteps.   Her favorite line of attack seemed to be to simply yell “fuck you” to anyone who annoyed her or insulted her in any way, shape or form.  Her powers were unpredictable.  Useful when they worked against evil, but they could also potentially turn on the good, something Harmony experiences a few times in the book.

The mystery unfolds with a lot of twists and turns, impossible to figure out until the details are revealed by the author himself.  The end result was somewhat interesting, but the different roads that led there confused me a bit, and I found myself backtracking a lot just to make sure I had the whole thing figured out.

Because I got myself invested in the story pretty early on, I saw it all the way through – plus, I needed to get rid of this category on the book challenge.  I wouldn’t say it wasn’t worth the read, but I don’t think I’ll be seeking out the next books in the series.

Other Posts in this Series:
Book # 38: A Book with More than 500 Pages – The Stranger, by Camilla Lackberg
Book # 37: A Book Originally Written in Another Language – The Preacher, by Camilla Lackberg
Book # 36: Memoir – Normally This Would Be Cause for Concern, by Danielle Fishel
Book # 35: A Book You Own But Haven’t Read – The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith
Book # 34: A Book from your Childhood – Matilda, by Roald Dahl
Book # 33: A Book You Can Finish in One Day – Fudge-a-Mania, by Judy Blume
Book # 31: A Book By An Author You Love But Haven’t Read – Pretty Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
Book # 30: A Book That Scares You – Broken Grace, by E.C. Diskin
Book # 29: A Funny Book – The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion
Book # 28: A Book of Short Stories – Interpreter of Maladies, by Jhumpa Lahiri
Books #25-27: A Trilogy – The James Women Trilogy, by Eric Praschan
Book # 24: A Book Made into a Movie – This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper
Book # 23: A Book with a One Word Title – Us, by David Nicholls
Book # 22: A Book with a Love Triangle – Euphoria, by Lily King
Book # 21: A Book Set in Your Hometown – The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, by Andrew Sean Greer
Book # 20: A Book with Nonhuman Characters – Gods Behaving Badly, by Marie Phillips
Book # 19: Nonfiction – Gumption, by Nick Offerman
Book # 18: A Book Set During Christmastime – A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Book # 17: A Popular Author’s First Book – Carrie, by Stephen King
Book # 16: A Book Based Entirely on It’s Cover – Paper Towns, by John Green
Book # 15: A Book Your Mom Loves – Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
Book # 14: A Book Set in a Place You Want to Visit – Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter
Book # 13: A Book with a Number in the Title – Eleven, by Mark Watson
Book # 12: A Book by an Author You’ve Never Read – Let’s Cure Diabetes with Owls, by David Sedaris
Book # 11: A Book with a Color in the Title – One Lavender Ribbon, by Heather Burch
Book # 10: A Book at the Bottom of Your To-Read List – If You Were Here, by Jen Lancaster
Book # 9: A Book Set in a Different Country – The Secret Place, by Tana French
Book # 8: A Book with Antonyms in the Title – Together Apart, by Natalie Martin
Book # 7: A Book Set in the Future – Cinder, by Marissa Meyer
Book # 6: A Book By a Female Author – We Have Always Lived in the Castle, by Shirley Jackson
Book # 5: A Book More Than 100 Years Old – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
Book # 4: A Play – Pygmalion, by George Bernard Shaw
Book # 3: A Book You Started But Never Finished – The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty
Book # 2: A Mystery or Thriller – The Silence That Speaks, by Andrea Kane
Book # 1: A Book Published This Year – The Glass Kitchen, by Linda Francis Lee

2016 Reading Challenge: Book # 2 – A Book That’s Becomming a Movie This Year

mebeforeyou

When I saw the trailer for Me Before You, I knew it had to be the second book in the 2016 challenge.  I have long seen this book on my recommendations list and have wanted to read it, but my ever growing list kept it towards the bottom.  It took the movie being about five months away that made me finally get the book.

It only took two sittings to get halfway through it.  First off, if you are looking for a book that will make you deliriously happy when it’s over, this is not the book for you.  That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable and won’t make you smile but… well, it’s bittersweet.  I think it’s best to leave it at that.

Me Before You tells the story of Louisa Clark (Lou), a twenty-six year old who has just lost her job and must find a new one quickly.  She stumbles into the position of caretaker for Will Traynor, a quadripeligic who needs around the clock care.  Lou, however, is not his nurse.  She is hired by Will’s mother as a companion of sorts, in the hopes that he will feel less depressed about his life bound to the wheelchair with a host of impending medical problems.

Overall I liked Lou.  She was quirky but not over the top, and I always like when fashion descriptions are included.  She is content to remain in the familiar small town she has grown up in, admitting many times that she “never really thought about” the future.  Her life simply is: she works, she has a steady boyfriend named Patrick and she lives with her mother, father, grandfather, sister and nephew in the same house she’s always lived in.  She has never believed herself to be the clever one in the family.  It isn’t until she meets Will that she starts to grow out of this mindset and begin to realize that there may be more to life than just the tiny world around her.

Will was harder to like, but at the same time, understandably so.  He’s not a grumpy, depressed character for no reason: his entire life gets smashed into pieces when he was in the accident that cause him to be paralyzed.  And as Louisa begins to like him, the reader begins to see what she sees (though it helps that she narrates).  The two of them together have a witty, teasing relationship that steadily develops into love in the time they spend together, something neither of them can immediately see.  Somewhat formulaic?  Sure, but that didn’t take away from the story for me.

My least favorite aspect of the book was Lou’s family, who all seemed to exist to make her look like a bumbling fool most of the time.  At times this seemed an attempt at comic relief, but after a while I started to really not enjoy any of the scenes that took place when Lou was at home.  I didn’t really get the conflict between her and Treena, her little sister, other than to really stress that 1.) she has a sister and 2.) sisters fight.  Maybe I missed something, but the author went back and forth between the two of them teaming up to help Will and fighting over a bedroom.

As their relationship develops, so does Louisa’s character.  She begins to broaden her horizons as she tries to find fun things for her and Will to do, and she realizes, as she takes care of him, that she is capable of more than she ever thought possible.  And that is where I will leave the description, for to say much more would give away essential details.

I’m glad that I saw the trailer the other day so that I remembered to get this book and read it.   Can’t wait for the movie!  And just in case you are enticed by the same thing as me, here’s the trailer for your enjoyment (I was dared not to cry… I did):

Other Posts in this Series:

Book # 1: A Book Based on A Fairy Tale – The Girl’s at the Kingfisher Club, by Genevieve Valentine

2016 Reading Challenge: Book # 1 – A Book Based on a Fairy Tale

kingfisher

Book: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club
Author: Genevieve Valentine

I have a stockpile of books in my brain that fit this category (I love a clever adaptation of a classic), yet I ended up choosing The Girls at the Kingfisher Club for the sole reason that it is based on one of my favorite fairy tales, “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” (see the Faerie Tale Theater movie version if you get a chance!).

In this book, the “princesses” are the twelve Hamilton sisters. They are growing up in the 1920’s in a house they are never allowed out of. Their father, desperate for a son, kept having daughters and was then embarrassed by the sheer amount of children he had, and thus kept them locked away on the third and fourth floors of their 84th street house. The girls have very little to do with outside society, and it is through the oldest, Jo, that they learn to dance. Soon after, they begin sneaking out to go dancing. This begins with the four eldest, with the others joining them as soon as they are old enough.

They set rules: don’t fall in love, don’t give anyone your real name, and it is because of this that they become a mystery in the underground world that is 1920’s speakeasies. No one knows that the twelve beautiful girls who go dancing every night are even related, let alone twelve sisters who are essentially being imprisoned by their father.

Eventually, their careful plans begin to unravel. First off, their father becomes suspicious and also decides that it’s time to start marrying off his daughters. Second, Jo begins to break one of her own cardinal rules and starts falling for Tom, the owner of the Marquee. Through a series of unfortunate events and a suspected betrayal, the girls are found out and have to venture out on their own for the first time.

There were times within this book that I found myself a little bit confused – there WERE a lot of characters to keep track of – but overall enjoyed the interpretation. The dancing princesses is a fairy tale that doesn’t get a lot of attention, at least not in my experience, so it was nice to read an alternate version of the story. It was a good kick-off to the 2016 reading challenge.

(P.S. Yes, I know I still have 13 books to finish for 2015… I’m getting to that soon…)

The 2016 Reading Challenge

A new year means a new reading challenge, and I’m tackling this one starting the beginning of the year this time instead of halfway through (as we all saw how that ended, with my thirteen book deficit that I need to make up for as I’m ALSO starting the new challenge).  The books are in the process of being determined, but also pop up one by one.

2016challenge

These are brand new categories and I’m excited about them.  I don’t know how I’m going to do “a book recommended by someone you just met” as I don’t really make new friends very often (I’m a major introvert), but I’ll do my best.  I already have some ready to go in the kindle, and will have to see how the others pan out.  I’m also just noticing that “a graphic novel” appears on this list as well, which is not my favorite repeat category but it’s guaranteed to be a fast one.

The only one I can see that I am not particularly looking forward to is “a political memoir.”  Not even a little bit into politics, so I’ll have to be create when I look for one… and hopefully find a short one!

Bring on the reading!  (And yes, I am likely to be interspersing posts between the 2015 challenge and the 2016 challenge until I finish the former… bear with me.)

Resolutions: 2016

2016

I’m fairly certain I tell this tale every single year, but when I was about eleven or twelve years old, my dad was trying to get us to go around in a circle and make resolutions.  I wanted nothing to do with this – I probably wanted to read or watch a movie or do anything that didn’t require this forced fun of family time.  Thus, when it was my turn, I obnoxiously said, “My resolution is to never make any resolutions ever again.”  (Yeah… we all think we’re not jerks in our adolescence, but we are.  We all are.)

In any case, I actually kept this resolution for a very long time.  I didn’t like the requirement of making resolutions on a specific day and time.  Truth be told, I still don’t.  Not really.  I think any day of the year is a good time to make and change, and sometimes using the new year as an excuse can actually be more detrimental than helpful.

However, that being said, the new year DOES bring about a feeling of wanting to do better.  It IS a new start, a new day, etc., etc., etc.  And so, I started making resolutions again a few year ago (however, I don’t limit them to New Year’s Eve; I find it to be much more realistic to “revise as you go,” I guess and make changes – otherwise you just feel like a ball of guilt when you don’t meet your goal and that’s a terrible way to spend a whole year).

That brings me to this year.  I have a few resolutions (three, to be exact) to share.

  • Save more money.  This is no longer a wish, it’s a necessity.  I need to be better with my money.  End of story.  I’ve taken steps towards this already and am so far having great success, but it’s a long road and I still have a lot of work to do to get rid of my credit card debts AND be able to get myself a new car.
  • Lose 20 pounds.  For the last couple years I’ve been saying I don’t care about weight loss, I just want to tone up and get healthier.  Well, those things are still true but the fact is, I DO care about weight loss.  I’m at least twenty pounds over where I want to be, and – dammit! – I’d like to drop that weight off!  I figure by writing this, making myself say it “out loud,” I am holding myself accountable to it.  I DO want to lose weight.  I want to lose 20 pounds.  And if I can get that twenty off, then you know what?  I want to lose thirty.  However, both are within my healthy weight range so I’ll be happy with either (and truth be told, thirty pounds takes me to the lowest weight I’ve ever been in my life, and I found it incredibly difficult to maintain without being hungry all the time so it may not be worth it).  I’d love to lose at least ten of these pounds by my thirty-fifth birthday (March 12), but I will revise and edit my goals as I go along.  My weight at last check was 165, and so I’m using that as my jumping off point.
  • Be more organized.  This is kind of a strange one, because in certain aspects of my life, I am almost OCD organized (okay, that’s probably exaggerating, as OCD is a real disorder that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but there are certain aspects of life that I feel the need to organize in almost a manic way).  However, there are OTHER aspects of my life that look like a tornado and so I’d just like to be a little more all-around organized: and not just with stuff, but with my time as well.

Of course, it’ll be my goal to try and flesh it all out here, along with my various recaps of the books I read, the outfits I put together and the things I watch (but really, my organization may mean my time has to go to other things).  But no matter what, happy 2016!

What I Read: December 2015

decemberbooks

I suppose technically I really should have just done the reading challenge posts, as everything I read in December was to try and finish the challenge before the year was up.  However, I’m enjoying these little recap posts and so I made one for this month anyway.

1. Normally This Would Be Cause For Concern, by Danielle Fishel

This book became # 36 for the reading challenge. Read the full post here.

2. The Preacher, by Camilla Lackberg

This book was # 37 for the reading challenge.  Read the full post here.

3. The Stonecutter, by Camilla Lackberg

Yet another book that was done for the reading challenge.  Full post here.

4. The Stranger, by Camilla Lackberg

Here is where I veered from the challenge because I wanted to continue the Lackberg books. This one was by far the strangest, and the most difficult to figure out. In fact, with this one, I had absolutely no idea what the outcome would be – not even a single inkling about who the culprit might be. In this latest story, Patrik Hedstrom must investigate a crime that initially looks like a suicide. Within this story, another comes to light – the death of a reality show star that seems completely disconnected from the original case. In fact, the case doesn’t really make any headway until the latter half of the book. Much of the initial chapters deal with Patrik, Erica and Anna (Erica’s sister who, at the end of the last book, killed her husband in self-defense and is now living with Erica), and the planning of their wedding. As has been the case with Lackberg’s novels, the personal relationship issues seem to be solved in about ten seconds – a quick fight leads to a make up within pages. Anna’s depression following her incident seems to disappear in one quick walk with another character (who she predictably hooks up with later). They are also planning Erica and Patrik’s wedding, super quickly and without any major incident (except Erica tearing up in a bridal shop over feeling fat in the wedding dresses, only to try one on that actually fits and completely forget the previous issue). In any case, this book neatly set up the next book (The Hidden Child, which I am currently reading), and seemed to only serve as a bridge to get there.

The 2015 Reading Challenge: A Year End Update

With just two more days left of 2015, I am NOT going to complete the challenge on schedule. However, I still intend to complete it into the new year. Here’s what I have left to tackle (both the category name and the book I’ve chosen – the book may change depending on readability, or often I stumble upon a new book that fits the description that I really want to read):

  1. A Classic Romance – Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
  2. A Book Written by Someone Under 30 – Special Topic in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl
  3. A Book a Friend Recommended – Cobb, by Al Stump
  4. A Pulitzer Prize Winner: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
  5. A Book You Were Supposed to Read in High School But Didn’t – The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. A Book Published the Year You Were Born – The Heart of a Woman, by Maya Angelou
  7. A Book Set in High School – Carry the Sky, by Kate Gray
  8. A Book That Made You Cry – The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
  9. A Book with Magic – The Silver Witch, by Paula Brackston
  10. A Graphic Novel – Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh
  11. A Book By an Author with Your Same Initials: St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, by Karen Russell
  12. A Banned Book: Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
  13. A Book that Became a TV Show: Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin

I apparently miscounted the number of books at the beginning of the challenge, as I was under the impression that I would be reading 50 books.  Apprently it’s actually 51, unless I miscalculated somewhere…

In any case, I will finish these twelve books, however I will also be embarking on the 2016 Reading Challenge, which is a new list that I just found and will be piecing together soon!