Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Reading Challenge for April


Eight books this month?!?!  That's a whole lot of reading for me!  Especially since I tend to read very slowly!  Haha!  However, I did get quite a bit of reading in while waiting at the hospital this month! I don't think I will be finishing anymore books before May so here's what I read in April:


2016 Reading Challenge

1.  A book published this year
2.  A book you should have read in school, but didn't
3.  A  book you have been meaning to read
4.  A book with an interesting cover
5.  A book you own but haven't read
6.  A book that received bad reviews
7.  A book with water on the cover
8.  A book in a genre you have never read
9.  A favorite book from your childhood
10.  A book by an author you have never read before
11.  A book that deals with an issue close to your heart
12.  A book "everyone" has read but you
13.  A book about the decade you were born in
14.  A book based on a true story
15.  A book set in the summer
16.  A book set in a country you wish to visit
17.  A Young Adult best seller
18.  A book that's longer than 500 pages
19.  A book that makes you smarter
20.  A book you can finish in a day
21.  A NY Times best seller
22.  A book about a culture with which you are unfamiliar
23.  A book with an apocalyptic theme
24. A book set during Christmas time
25.  A funny book
26.  A book with a one word title
27.  A popular author's first book
28.  A cookbook
29.  A book by someone with the same first name as you
30.   A book of your choosing









Here's What I Read:

15.  A book set in the summer

Lost Canyon by Nina Revoyr
This is by far one of the most God awful books I have ever read!  Seriously it was just THAT bad!  If I could give it a negative rating I would in a heartbeat!  As it is, I am giving it zero out of five.  The premise of the book was promising enough...Three people from different walks of life decide to take a four day hiking trip with their common demoniator - a fitness instructor at the gym where they all belong. The story is told by each of the three characters, alternating chapters and points of view.  Due to a rapidly spreading forest fire the group is unable to take the trails they originally planned for but, wink wink, the forest ranger gives them a thirty year old hand drawn map of an area that is NOT affected by the fire and is rarely ever used anymore.  But, the ranger declares, it is one of the best off the beaten path hiking trails out there.  Of course the group gets into trouble....Spoiler alert - they stumble into a large pot farm run by the Mexican cartel.  Oh and then a white supremacist has been tracking them because hey, he had his own pot farm and the Mexicans were cutting into business.  This book is so cliché it boggles the mind.  All the characters are so one dimensional - the white businessman who is disgruntled with the lavish lifestyle he has (mostly due to his wife's family's money), the black social worker woman who is unsure of herself and can't get over the death of a child she had tried to help, and a Mexican real estate agent who has a chip on his shoulder and is struggling financially due to the housing bubble burst.  The "glue" to this group is Tracy, a half Japanese very deranged and neurotic fitness instructor whose behavior is completely bizarre throughout the entire book.  I'm sure you noticed that I did include ethnicity in the description of the characters...I did this because it was brought up again and again - ad nauseam.  I realize I have spent a lot of time recapping this story here but, honestly, I am so pissed to have wasted the time on this garbage.  Towards the end of the book I just began skimming the pages because I wanted to see if the dog they picked up along the way was okay or not in the end.  
I hope I can find another book to fit #15's criteria so I don't have to use only this piece of junk for my challenge.
END RANT  LOL

  28.  A cookbook (Revisited)
Eat Clean Stay Lean by Prevention Magazine
If you recall, last month I read a part cookbook/part memoir (Life from Scratch by Sasha Martin).  This book however is an actual complete cookbook with beginning chapters about the clean food movement and its basics.  Since I have been reading up on this for quite some time, I didn't find any new information but it is definitely a useful few chapters to anyone "new" to the clean eating movement.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars because it is seriously filled with 300 delicious recipes!  I have tagged so many that I will probably run out of printer ink just copying them all down!  Haha   I have one more "renew" on this library book and plan on using it!  Check this out if you feel in a cooking rut!

8.  A book in a genre you have never read
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
As weird as it is, up until this book, I have never read a book from the "Mystery" section of the bookstore or library.  I don't know why.  I think I just never had much desire to try a mystery.  However, I am pretty happy that I had this on my challenge for the year because I got to read this book!  Nora receives a invitation to Clare's "hen party weekend" (Hen party translates to Bachelorette party for us Americans! LOL).  Curiously enough, Clare and Nora haven't spoken in over ten years and Nora has no idea why she received the invitation.  The party takes place at a secluded "Glass House" where all the guests feel completely exposed and a bit unhinged.  When Nora wakes up in the hospital afterwards, she has to piece together what happened and what her brain seems to be unwilling to confront.  A solidly enjoyable book, although I did figure it out before the end....then again, it was a mystery and I was actively trying to figure it out!  I would rate this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars.


19.  A book that makes you smarter
The Money Saving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine
My original plan was that this book would satisfy my #19 challenge requirement.  I am going to keep it here for now but, honestly, I feel like I am cheating since I don't think I learned much from this book.  If I had been new to reading about frugality, this book would have been more helpful.  Since I am fairly sure that anyone who reads this blog is MORE knowledgeable about this topic than me, this book probably wouldn't teach you anything new.  However, if you need a jumpstart to realigning your money saving efforts, a quick skim through this book could be helpful.  I rate this book 2 out of 5 stars.


17.  A Young Adult best seller
Asylum by Madeleine Roux
Here is a quick synopsis:  High school student Dan Crawford decided to spend his summer at a New Hampshire college at an enrichment summer school.  Once there he learns that his dorm was once an asylum that housed the criminally insane.  With the help of the two friends he makes at the program, Jordan and Abby, Dan tries to get to the bottom of the strange occurrences in his dorm.  They explore hidden and locked areas of the asylum in an attempt to uncover the truth about its patients and the "warden" who attempted to "save" them.  My thoughts:  This book is a lot like the Miss Peregrine's series with creepy/strange photos dispersed throughout.  While I have only read the first book of each series so far, I have to say I think that Peregrine's is  far better at achieving its goal than Asylum.  Asylum leaves too many annoying cliff hangers where Peregrine's just left you wanting to learn more about the characters and their fate.  Anyway, I would rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.


5.  A book you own but haven't read
Headful of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
   This book had a little of everything that I loved...part drama, part horror, part psychological thriller.  The book is about eight year old Merry, her fourteen year old sister Marjorie, and their parents.  Marjorie begins to act strangely and, not only is it decided that she was possessed by a demon, but also the family would star in a reality tv series about the supposed possession.  The book is primarily told from eight year old Merry's point of view.  Seriously, throughout the entire book you are left to wonder if Marjorie is faking, mentally ill, possessed, or a little bit of each!  Highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a scare or thrill!  I rate this book 5+ out of 5 stars.

12.  A book "everyone" has read but you
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Seriously it seems like everyone has read this book and since it's going to be made into a movie, I figured I better read it now!  LOL  Truthfully, I can't say I really "got" the big deal about this book.  But, I think that is mostly because I just didn't believe in Rachel (aka "the girl on the train").  Her character just wasn't fleshed out enough in my opinion to carry me (the reader) into the whole "suspension of reality" to which books are supposed to transport us.  (Sorry for all the quotation marks! Haha!)  Because I felt that Rachel was a flat character, I couldn't figure out a lot of her motives as to why she got so involved with the mystery.  She ended up being more of a means to an end rather than a person, if that makes sense?  The other two women who narrated the story were Megan and Anna.  Megan was the most filled out and believable of all three.  Anna was along the same lines as Rachel in character development.  I give this book a 3 out of 5 stars.  Next question is....Would I see the movie?  Actually, this is one case where I do think that the movie will be better than the book.  I think there is a lot of visual potential surrounding the whole train theme and movie goers don't expect the same level of character development as readers.


Bonus Books:

The Zero Waste Home by Kate Anderson
Not at all impressed with this book.  It was an extremely quick read - which was good considering.  I think my biggest problem was that I knew about 95% of the material covered in this book.  Maybe someone who is completely new to the idea of "zero waste" would get more from it.  Or, maybe someone who needed a little refresher or extra motivation.  I rate this book a 1 out of 5.


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