Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Can’t Believe I’ve Read

This tag hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl looked fun, so I thought I’d play along. Here are 10 books I can’t believe I’ve read:

Not all of these books are on the list in a bad way. The top 3 books: ‘The Signature of All Things,’ ’11/22/63,’ and ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ are on this list based on page number alone. Woah! I can’t believe I tackled those large books. I loved two of the three of them, but I may or may not have thrown ‘The Signature of All Things’ across the room when I finished it. I hate that book….all that work reading it and nothing ever happened!

The next four books are on here because they were outside of my comfort zone/ not my usual genre.

‘Station Eleven’ was a book club choice that I was nervous about reading… because super viruses wiping out nearly all of mankind is my biggest fear! But I read it and enjoyed it…not as much as every one else in the world seemed to, but more than I thought I would.

‘An Unseemly Wife’ was a Barnes and Noble impulse buy. I had a couple dollars left on a gift card and wanted to grab something I knew nothing about. It was so sad. I can’t believe I didn’t bail on the ending. I can’t believe I was able to sleep after finishing it. I did get it out of my house and into a donation bin the very next morning, though. I couldn’t stand it’s nearness. Not a bad book though…just too sad for me.

‘Geek Love’ was a thrift store buy. I had no idea what it was about, or that it had such a cult following. I thought it would be a nerdy romance. NOPE! I still don’t know what to think about it. I gave it to my sister in law and she had the same reaction. The weirdness of the first half of the book was enjoyable, but then the second half got really crazy.

‘Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand’ was a book club choice I can’t believe I read simply because I would never have picked up myself… but isn’t that the point of a book club sometimes?

The next three are my WTF books:

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and ‘Twilight’ are two series I enjoyed while I was reading them, but very VERY soon after had a total change of heart.

And last on my list is ‘The Haunted Vagina.’ I cannot believe I read that. It was so bizarre. This book came up as a joke in a Facebook group, but reviews of it made it sound like it was actually a worthwhile read. It is so short that I read it on one sitting, and the next day I kept thinking about it- the imagery and symbolism in it. Still, don’t think I’ll be trying any more from this author.

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Review: ‘Fish-Boy, an Inuit Folktale’ by Vanita Oelschlager

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‘Fish-Boy, an Inuit Folk Tale’ told by Vanita Oelschlager comes out May 1, 2018. We read this through Net Galley for review purposes.


My kids and I keep a world map on which we mark off books and stories we’ve read. Our goals is to visit as many different places as possible through books. I was very excited to come across this story available for review, as it goes along with our North America continent study for the day.

In summary:

The story starts with an Inuit boy traveling with a group of men to the little island their people call ‘Ignaluk’ to trade with a great hunter. Journeying through the water in their umiak, they see a large number of sea-parrots, or arctic puffins. The boy is astounded by the number of birds and asks the elder if there have always been so many of them. In answer to that question, the elder tells the boy the tale of Fish-boy.

Fish-boy is exactly what his name would suggest: half fish and half boy. He becomes the adopted son of a lame fisherman, helping him catch many fish to trade in the village. Their success brings them fame far and wide, and Fish-boy is asked to come to the aid of a village across the water. He is met with much hostility for his unusual and magical nature and must transform his people into puffins in order to escape pursuers and return home.

Of course there is more to that part of the story, but I don’t want to give too much away.

Review:

First of all, the artwork by Mike Blanc is beautiful. To be honest, my favorite part of children’s books is probably the art.

When it comes to what we look for in a picture book, my kids and I tend to steer away from large blocks of small print on the page. We prefer to have more pages with less words on them, than a book with lots of text on a single page. This story was on the wordier side. My six and a half year old lost interest immediately. But my 8 year old stayed through to the end.

The story paints a beautiful picture of life in the far north- their customs and means of survival. There were a lot of similar sounding names of people and places that could be a bit confusing, though. I understand that they were included to provide extra information for the reader to get an all around understanding, and from a homeschool mom perspective, I appreciate that. But from a casual reader perspective, some of that detail could have been easily omitted.

When we got to the end of the story there was a glossary of terms and list of teaching points. The homeschool mom side of me leaped for joy. When we came across the word umiak in the beginning of the story, we used the illustrations to help us understand this new thing we’d never heard of. To our delight, it was defined in the back! Some examples of the teaching topics are:

  • Differently-abled people and how they are viewed or treated
  • Killing for food and clothing
  • Environment
  • Telling stories that explain nature
  • Transmitting values generationally

There are more topics, but these are the ones that we actually paused to discuss or note during our reading and were happy to see included.

One last point to note: the publisher, Vanita Books, donates all net profits to charities where “people help people help themselves.’ Ten percent of this book’s net profits will be donated to the Oak Clinic for Multiple Sclerosis.

My kids and I love using literature to learn about the world, and this was a great story for that. Overall it I’d give it 3 stars out of 5. I would point out again though, it is a bit wordy, and a kid like my 6 year old who loses interest quickly may not enjoy it as much.

Currently Reading

As I settle down for the night, I thought I’d share what I will be reading, or at least hoping to read, this week.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Hopefully the kids and I will get through a few more chapters of this book together. Dare I hope to finish it? This book is amazing. I don’t think my boys appreciate just how good it is, but they love being read to and keep asking for more.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

This book was chosen as The Marauders Book Club book for February. I learned about this Facebook based book club on LeeNichole’s booktube channel and figured I would join since I was looking for an excuse to re-read the series before buying The Book of Dust. I read the first seven chapters before switching to the audiobook for a while. Oh. My. Gosh! The full cast narration is amazing! Not sure what format I will be finishing the book in, but I should be able to get it done well before the end of the week.

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older

I really don’t know what this is about, but I found the author on YouTube, he amused me, and I thought I’d give it a try. I requested this book and its sequel through my library consortium and oh boy, they both got to my local branch faster than I expected! So I figure I should get started on one soon and see how it goes before I have to return them.

In addition to these books, I took out several graphic novels from my library. If you head over to my Instagram you will see that I am currently obsessed with Saga by Brian Vaughan. I could have sworn I hated graphic novels and comics. NOPE. Turns out, I just hate when my son checks out crappy Star Wars ones from the childrens room and expects me to read them out loud to him… “That’s a book to read with Daddy, honey.”

I had devoured volumes 1 through 5 of Saga, and was crushed that 6 through 8 were not available. Instead, I checked out several volumes of Fables and the first volume of Rat Queens.

Will I get to them this week? Will they deepen my love of this new (to me) genre? Maybe. Maybe not. But they’re there for me should the mood strike.

What are you reading?

Review: Glass Sword (Red Queen #2) by Victoria Aveyard

I loved Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. LOVED it. I gave it FIVE FREAKING STARS on Goodreads. I was actually surprised at just how much I enjoyed it…although the twist right at the end broke my heart, I’m not gonna lie. So I went into Glass Sword expecting another great ride.

I borrowed the audiobook from Overdrive and was ready for more Mare Barrow and company.

Oh man. Oooh man. I was so disappointed. One star.

Without giving anything away, this entire book came across as whiny and melodramatic. ‘Well, she’s a teenager,’ I told myself, so maybe Aveyard is actually doing a wonderful job at capturing teenage angst at its most annoying. Maybe… but that doesn’t make it an enjoyable read.

Gone was the brave girl. Gone were the interesting character interactions. All I heard was basically: “I don’t trust him… I trust him.” “I hate him… I love him.” “We can do this… We’re all going to die.” “I miss him… I will kill him.”

Blerg.

Mare was just miserable. Again, maybe the author is actually an evil genius- destroying her character only to have her rise back up, like a Phoenix from the ashes of the book I wish I had a copy of to burn. From what I’ve heard, book three gets better. Maybe I’ll read it. But for now, I need a break.

Have you read this series? What did you think of Glass Sword? Drop me a comment and let me know.

2018 Reading Goals

Because it is still January, I’m going to sneak a New Year’s post in while I can.


I know it isn’t Wednesday, and I know this was the topic from the beginning of the month, but I’m going to include this on the TOP 5 WEDNESDAY tag.  Check out the Thoughts on Tomes YouTube channel, as well as the Goodreads group, for more information.


At the beginning of each year my little family of four makes a list of things we would like to do or try together.  Here is what we came up:

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Cute right?

On that family list I made a goal to read HP and the Sorceror’s Stone, Redwall, and A Wrinkle in Time with the kids.  My kids are 6 and (nearly) 8.  These might be overly ambitious goals, but so far they are enjoying listening to me read A Wrinkle in Time.  How much they understand is less important than how much they are enjoying the story… right?  And who says they can’t revisit it later?

Now, for my personal reader goals for 2018:

1. Goodreads Challenge-

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Last year I set a 30 book goal for my Goodreads challenge.  I ended the year at 57 books.  In that count I include audiobooks and some middle grade/ juvenile fiction that I read to the kids.  I don’t include books from series like ‘The Magic Tree House’ or ‘Ballpark Mysteries’ because those feel like cheating.  Books like ‘A Boy Called Bat,’ ‘The One and Only Ivan,’ and ‘Penderwicks’ make the list, because those stories stick with me and were more of a time investment (especially considering I’m reading them at my kids’ pace of a chapter or two at a time).  Check out all the books I read for 2017 here.

This year my goal is 45 books.  My husband wants to know why I didn’t set it higher than the number I ended last year with.

Because I didn’t want to and he can’t make me!

I don’t want to feel pressured by having a too-high number looming over me;  I want to read some of the bigger, more intimidating books that are on my TBR; and, while I love audiobooks, I want to make sure I read more than I listen to this year.

2. Read what I own-

I don’t regularly haul a ton of books, but I DO have books that I’ve brought home, put on the shelf, and not made the time for.  I won’t call it a Book Buying Ban- that just sounds so negative… and I don’t like being told I can’t do something, even by myself.  Instead, I will just do my best to read more than I buy.

3. Re-read-

I don’t usually re-read a book unless my book club selects it for the month and it’s been a while since I’ve read it.  Even then I’ve shown up like “ehhhh…. I mostly remember…. I just needed to leave the house.”

I’m not sure why I don’t re-read books.  I mean, I HAVE to keep them.  I’ve even returned a library book, bought my own copy, and not re-read it.  I tried explaining it to my husband once, but I’m not sure if he quite understood: each of the books on my shelf was an experience.  I look at them and remember what I felt while I was on that reading journey, even if I can’t remember the plot exactly.  Each book that I’ve read and loved becomes a part of me.  Besides, they’re pretty.

There’s also this crazy little imp that lives in the back of my mind, tapping his foot impatiently, constantly reminding me: “Too many books, too little time.  Can’t turn back now.”  Silence, imp.  I will never read all the books I want to read, and darn it, there are more and more every year!  I need to accept that and appreciate the books I do have.  I need to get over that fear of missing out on something new, and take a minute to rediscover myself in a favorite.  I will not feel guilty about it.

4. Monthly TBR-

I did this in December and again this month- a stack of books set out from the rest that I think I will enjoy at the moment.  I may or may not do this every month.  But it did keep my pace up… I had an idea of what to move on to, and they were pretty reflective of my current reading mood.

5. Branch Out-

One of the things I love about being in a book club is reading things I wouldn’t typically pick up on my own.  While I enjoy just about every genre, I tend to avoid non-fiction and memoirs.  I read more fantasy (especially YA) than contemporary novels, and I haven’t read nearly enough sci-fi.  Without putting too much pressure on myself, I want to try and keep my mind more open to trying new things.

What are some reading goals you have?

I’m Starting a Blog!

I’ve been circling around this idea for a little while now, and finally decided to just freakin’ do it! So what if no one follows me? (some one please follow me). I want to do this. Ok, then… lets do this.

So here’s my plan:

This blog will be where I share my book hauls, reactions, reading goals, and general bookish thoughts. While I don’t anticipate I will be posting videos to YouTube any time soon, I may even use my blog as a way to participate in book tags and such that make their way around Booktube (my most recent obsession).

An introduction:

Hi. I’m Alex, a 30ish year old wife and mother. I will probably tell you that YA Fantasy is my favorite genre, but in all honesty I will read almost anything. You can find me on Instagram @read.craft.repeat and on Goodreads here.

I have loved books for as long as I can remember. It is a love affair with no end in sight. Recently, I have joined a wonderful group of readers on Facebook, and have watched many (MANY!) videos on Booktube. I love the fact that social media platforms have made it so easy to start up a dialogue with people of similar interests that you would never otherwise meet.

I am so excited to get this blog rolling and share my bookish musings.

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