Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Best Read Books of 2018 & Reading in Review

Top 10 Books of 2018
The Great Alone  K. Hannah
The Gentleman in Moscow  A. Towles
Cultivate  L. Casey
This Is How It Always Is  L. Frankel
Beartown  F. Backman
A House Without Windows  N. Hashimi
How the Light Gets In/Bury the Dead  L. Penny
A Man Called Ove  F. Backman
The Glass Castle  J. Walls
The Heart’s Invisible Furies J. Boyle
      **The One and Only Ivan  K. Applegate
        (Favorite Middle Grade Book)

This is how my visual countdown reading list looks for 2018.  It is my quick reference for all the
books I read during the year.  I am a visual and colorful person so I need see my progress in order to process my reading.    

In addition to Reading 123 books in one year for the first time has motivated me as a reader.  I did so
many things for the first time this year. I joined two reading challenges, Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading
Challenge and The Unreadshelf Project.  I also took a risk and joined a couple buddy reads on
instagram and loved sharing thoughts about books.

December 2018 Reading Log

This is my bookish bulletin board I created for outside my reading room.  Of course I found the idea
on Pinterest and then it was off to my library collection to find as many green covers as possible.  I
think it turned out adorable. I have had lots of compliments on it.

Happy Birthday Jane Austen!  I can not seem to pass up her books especially at second hand
stores.  This is my Pride & Prejudice book collection.  I started collecting books this year however, I
am finding that collecting books can be difficult.  Where do you draw the line? Do you collect new
books or a mixture of new and used? Collecting books can be very expensive.  There are so many
beautiful additions of this book. I have several titles I collect so I have decided that I need to limit my
finds to used book finds unless it is a gift.

December 2018 has been one of the best months for reading for me.   I have enjoyed all but one of
the books that I read. I was in three book clubs on IG and I really enjoy sharing thoughts with others
about the books.  It is a great experience that I hope to continue in 2019. The hardest part of the
book clubs is remembering to log on to share at the correct time. Many of the times are times when
the family is still over and I just forget.

I had so much fun reading and sharing comments in my buddy read last month I decided to join another
one this month.  The book this month is Nine Perfect Strangers by  Liane Moriarty,  The story is about
nine strangers who all go to a health resort for a bit of r&r and to re-evaluate their lives.

My favorite character in the story is Frances Welty. She is a fifty something  person who has had a
setback in her writing career. She has a bad back, a broken heart and a finger cut.  She spends a good
chunk of the beginning of the book judging other people. It is very humorous. She has funny names for
all the other guests, such as serial killer and she is quickly making new friends.

But there are rules at Tranquillum House  that the guests did not expect, for example, complete silence
for five days.  Things take a turn for the worst when Masha, the owner at Tranquillum House, decides to
drug her guests.  Lots of history and secrets of the guests is revealed as the guests work through the
#Nineperfectbuddies    #BOTM
In Louise Penny’s new book, Kingdom of the Blind, Armand Gamache  the former head of the Sûreté
du Québec receives a letter from a stranger where he is assigned to be one of three executors of a
complete stranger’s will.  The elderly women claimed to be a Baroness, even though she worked most
her life as a cleaning lady. She has three grown children, so why did she name three strangers to be the
Gamache is also balancing his suspension from the Surete because of the investigation into the opioids
he allowed on the street  in order to bring down the cartels. In addition to all of this Cadet Amelia Choquet
is expelled from the academy and she is back on the streets.  All these pieces make for an very interesting
story. #threepines

After reading the Quinn Christmas stories the last two years I was more than excited to see Elin
Hilderbrand come out with a new trilogy, Winter in Paradise.   Personally I was hoping she was going to
continue with someone from the Quinn family so I could still see into their lives, but I fell in love with
Irene Steele and her boys.  Irene is living a normal life in Iowa City with her husband who adores her. She
has two grown sons with lives of their own. However, it appears he has a BIG secret surrounding his
job.  When his helicopter goes down by a Caribbean island parts of his secret life begins to unravel.
When Irene and her sons arrive on the island to sort out her husband’s lies they come face to face with
the people who have also been affected by his deceit.
And the ending it is a perfect setup for the next book…….I can not wait to read the next one.

This was a second reading for me of this Newberry Award book, Sarah Plain and Tall.  I first read this
book for my Childhood Lit. Class in college, however it was great to read it again with a student this
quarter.  English is her second language so we had a lot of topics/vocabulary to discuss in this book.

OMG!!!!  The Heart’s Invisible Furies is an amazing story.   When I first started reading the book I
didn’t care to read about Cyril’s childhood and his fantasies.  However as he grows up into a man his
life experiences begin to grow on me. Cyril is a man of compassion, understanding and forgiveness.
 Another character I enjoyed was Maude, Cyril’s adopted mother. She is so eccentric. I loved how
she wrote only for herself. I loved this book it is a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 star book.   #BOTM
#unreadshelfproject #The Jingle Jolly John

One Day in December by Josie Silver was not the typical December Romance book that I usually
read during the Christmas season.  However, it was my Book if the Month pick and I wanted to read
it right away. I read a lot a good reviews on IG and I was excited to get started.   I really enjoyed this
cute fun Christmas read. Even though it seems like Laurie falls in love with Jack at first sight, life
gets in the way when Laurie’s best friend Sarah comes home with Jack.  Sarah is heads over heels
in love with Jack when she introduces Laurie to Jack. Laurie does not want to ruin her friendship so
she does not tell Sarah this is the guy she has been searching for, instead Laurie moves on and
finds a new love. However it is Jack that can not let go of  Laurie.
As their lives progress separately in different directions in different countries can they find their way
back together.  The biggest surprise is who helps them find their way. I give this book 4/5 stars.
#BOTM #Christmas Reading

Christmas in London by Anita Hughes is a must read if you plan to go to London during Christmas
time and you love food.  This was an adorable dual love story. The story centers around Louisa
Graham, a baker in New York City, who makes some amazing cinnamon buns.  She is discovered
by a tv assistant producer and her life changes during the Christmas Season.

Louisa is offered the opportunity of a lifetime, she is going to replace a TV cook show host on a
London Christmas Special. The producer of the show, Kate, also reconnects with a boyfriend from
the past.  Both Louisa and Kate have to learn to trust their own instincts. #unreadshelfproject2018
#bookstagram #instabooks #ilovereading #fiction #booknerd #audiobooks #christmasreading

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon, was an adventure down a rabbit hole before the time of DNA
testing.    The author takes a look back over Anna Anderson’s life as she struggled to be
acknowledged as The Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov.  Why was this so hard?? Well because
after an extended period of imprisonment, the Royal Imperial family faced a firing squad in a
basement somewhere in Siberia.    How could Anastasia survived?

When Ana is found three years later in Germany and resembles Anastasia Romanov.  She doesn’t
remember her name. When she does begin to speak she claims to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia

The Romanov family is not convinced she is the Grand Duchess, they say she is after the Romanov
fortune.  This book has a lot of historical information and even resolved the mystery for you with modern
dna information.
#bookstagram  #instabooks #ilovereading  #fiction #booknerd #audiobooks  #historicalfiction

The Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb is adorable.  The story is set in
England/France during WW1 and the story unfolds as Tom looks back over his life with Evie during
his last visit to Paris over Christmas.   Evie and Tom exchanged many letters during WW1. Evie also
wrote to her brother, friend, and publisher. She saved all her letters and Tom’s too. It is a
delightful, romantic and historical story all rolled in together to create an amazing five ⭐️ book.
#unreadshelfproject2018 #bookstagram  #instabooks #ilovereading #fiction #booknerd
 #bookquotes #audiobooks #historicalfiction #christmasreading

This is not your typical Christmas love story, although yes there is romance in the story. The book
starts out with two devastating events for the main character, Joy.  However, I did see the twist
coming and you had to believe in the unbelievable to make the ending work. That was the point of
the book…..BELIEVE in your dreams and your dreams will come true.   Bonus points for this book,
the main character was a school librarian and she taught the little boy Bobby to read Green Eggs
and Ham. This is a charming 3.5⭐️ book. #bookstagram #instabooks #ilovereading  #fiction
#booknerd #audiobooks #christmasreading

Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan has a beautiful cover with this amazing little town.  I
would love to visit this place. It looks so charming. Once again Jenny Colgan writes about Flora
and her relationship troubles with her boyfriend Joel. (Cafe By the Sea & Endless Summer)  The
story revisits other relationships from the previous books as well. The story will tug at your heart but
in the end Flora and Joel take a step closer in their lives together.

#bookstagram  #instabooks #ilovereading  #fiction #booknerd #audiobooks  #christmasreading

Sunday, December 2, 2018

November 2018 Reading Log

This is my bulletin board outside my reading room so far this year.  It started out as just the Mo
Willems characters and book covers and the saying “Read “MO” books!”.  Then as it turned to fall I
added the leaves, pumpkins and the saying, “Fall into “MO” Books!” For Thanksgiving I added the
headdress and hats and a jazzed up Thanksgiving Banner from the the dollar section at Target.
 Some of the students already asked me when I am going to put Santa hats on them.

I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de Los Santos, is the third
book in a series of stories.  (Loved Walk In & Belong to Me).
Each story stands on its own but has shared characters.
 This is an enjoyable, light story. I does touch on abuse but
from the perspective of the people who try to help the victims.
I'll Be Your Blue Sky focuses on Claire and the uncertainty
she feels right before her wedding. Claire is dealing with her
unstable fiancee and she struggles because she wants to be
there for him and help him however she is afraid of him.  She
meets an old lady in a park who changes her life forever.
This is a 3.5 star book. #audiobooks

I read many mixed reviews about Educated, however I really enjoyed this book.
 It reminded me of the book, The Glass Castle in that both authors really had to take
responsibility for their own
education.  They really had to push and challenge themselves
and rely on others to guide them through school decisions. It
gives hope to those who want to obtain a high school education
and beyond. If YOU put the time and effort into it, it is possible to
get an education.   I was surprised with the abuse that took
place and her parents did nothing to stop it. #audiobook

I finally finished, Love Ruby Lavender.  This book was for school and I just had a hard time staying
motivated to read it when there were so many other great choices arrived on Overdrive.  It was a
cute story about Ruby, who is dealing with the death of her grandfather. Ruby and her grandmother
have a lot to work out but when Ruby’s grandmother goes to Hawaii, Ruby is on her own.  

I have been reading, Shiloh, with my fifth grade reader this month.  What a great story!! I have not
read this story before and it was just amazing.  It dealt with so many real-life issues and Marty’s
character was great. We had lots of wonderful discussions about honesty, withholding information,
animal cruelty and following the law.  

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center is one of those books you look at the cover and just know it
will be good because the cover is so beautiful.   At first I thought the character, Maggie, was just like
a typical early twenty something, totally focused on herself. She is in love with Chip and she
appears to be willing to  follow him anywhere. As the story progressed I thought she faced adversity
with grace and positivity. She was kind to everyone who helped her and she never gave up. I
thought this was a wonderful three star book.

I started reading, Fates and Furies, early for a buddy read for December because I knew once
Thanksgiving came I would be all about Christmas romance novels.  WOW, this is a good book.
There were times in this book I was frustrated with the character Lotto, could he really be that full of
himself.  But like any great story there are two sides to everything. So not only did Lotto have flaws
so did his beloved, Mathilde. The first half of the book is from Lotto’s perspective and the second
have is from Mathilde’s.  You will be shocked!!!! I think this is a five star book. It makes you think,
what is your spouse really thinking??? I think I know. I hope I’m right. #audiobooks

I have read several Ann Patchett books and enjoyed them.  Bel Canto has been on my tbr for a
while.  This book did not disappoint me. It had some interesting characters and how these
characters adjust to different roles in captivity.  I found it interesting how both the prisoners and the
rebels bonded over the music. #audiobooks

Mississippi Bridge is a short story with a powerful message. Jeremy is a young boy living in
Mississippi in 1930 and confused by the separation of whites and blacks in his community.   Jeremy
wants to be friends with the Logan children but they don’t want to hang out with him nor does his dad
want him hanging out with the “colored” children. The Logan children don’t trust him because he is
white.    When the Logan children witness the bus filled with people go over the side of the bridge.
Jeremy has to convince them that their grandmother was sent off the bus because seats were
needed for white people who arrived late.     Will they believe him? #battleofthebooks2018

Mr . Miracle by Debbie Macomber is about an angel who is sent here to help Addie get her life
together.   Although I never really felt like Addie was the one who needed the help. She had already
made the decision to go back to community school where she met, Harry the angel/teacher.  She
was working through her problems on her own when she stepped in to be nice to her mom and her
mom’s friend and take care of Erich. This is where the Christmas romance begins. This is a fun feel
good love story and a quick read.  

Karen Kingbury’s The Baxter Family Christmas has several different stories going on all at once.
 First there is John Baxter who feels compelled to invite Kendra to Christmas Eve.  Kendra received
his daughter’s heart several years ago after a terrible accident. Kendra is going through some
personal issues herself and John feels if his family could show Kendra what family really means it
would help her make sense of her world.  Not all of John’s grown children agree with him.
Then there is Maddie’s guilt about her sister’s accident.  She can not move forward with her life and
relationships and she prays for a Christmas miracle.

Lost of family drama, love, togetherness and understanding makes this a wonderful Christmas story.

Starry Night by Debbie Macomber, is a wonderful Christmas story set in Alaska.  When Carrie goes
off to Alaska totally unprepared for the environment to interview the reclusive author, Finn.  Love is
in the air. The story is predictable but it is a cute romance novel.

My favorite Christmas story in November was, Christmas in Eternity Springs, by Emily March.  It
had an interesting storyline beyond the girl meets boy at Christmas time and falls in love.  Claire has
had a rough life. The latest break-up with her fiancee, the liar, has her running away from the city to
a little town.  She opens her own little Christmas shop. Here she meets a single father with an
emotional young boy who is afraid of Christmas. As Nick, the little boy, faces his fears, so do Jax
and Claire.  Jax and Claire learn to believe in each other and learn that Christmas is truly about love.