Monday, September 26, 2016

Reading Challenge: What I Read In September

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

16.  A book set in a country you wish to visit:
The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Families can be a messy sort of affair - emotionally AND physically.  This is the story of The Bird family, living an idyllic life in England.  Or so it was thought until one Easter Sunday, tragedy strikes the youngest Bird which begins an unraveling of the entire family.  I LOVED this book!  But, hoarders have always sort of intrigued me. Loreli Bird - mama of the brood - is a hoarder and I love how the author was able to explain hoarding thinking and actually put a tiny bit of a whimsical spin to it - which I didn't think ANYone could ever do!  But, this book is definitely not just about the hoard.  It's about family tragedies, growing up in a house with secrets, and trying to find a way to make peace with life.  Total 5 out of 5 stars on this one!  And, okay, I admit, I *may* be cheating a tiny bit with crossing of #16 on my list with this book since not a ton is discussed about England but I'm going with it for now!  =)

2.  A book you should have read in school, but didn't:
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Time to tell the truth....I read every single book ever assigned to me in my high school English classes!  But, truthfully, I was bored in high school because they wouldn't allow me in Honors English because, back then, you had to be able to do Honors English AND Honors Math!  Hahahahahaha!  Yeah, if you knew me, you would KNOW that that wasn't going to happen in a zillion years!  I was never ever any good at math and got penalized.  Anyway, I'm not bitter at all about it right? LOL  So, what I decided to do was pick a book I would have had to read IF I was in the right high school English classes.
I don't get this book.  I really tried, I did.  And, I'm sure there are quite a few of you shaking your heads at me since I am supposed to be a writer and writers enjoy the classics, right?  This book is vastly overrated in my opinion.  Now, I admit when I read it, I didn't feel like going into any in-depth psychoanalysis of the main character, Holden Caufield.  I'm positive the author intended almost every action/reaction Holden had to reflect something about him (i.e. actually being the hypocrite he always complained about).  But, I didn't even like Holden Caufield enough to care.
Papa and G1 loved this book!  They were shocked I didn't like it while I was shocked that they did!   So, my guess is that this is one of "those" books that you really love or despise.  Or, maybe I'm not giving the book enough credit and just read it at the wrong time - a time when I didn't feel like really delving into the psyche of a teenager when I have two of my own at home to deal with already!  (haha)
Two out of five stars.

1.  A book published this year
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
You would think that, since I love the Harry Potter series, I would have loved this new book right?  I have mixed feelings on this book.  So, basically we flashed forward and Harry is a 40 year old man and having problems understanding one of his three children - Albus Severus who was named after the two bravest men Harry said he ever knew  (Dumbledore and Snape).   Albus is having his own troubles which include at the top of the list 1.being Harry Potter's son and 2. struggling with his studies at Hogwarts.  Of course, Albus becoming best buddies with Harry's old school nemsis' son only complicates matters as well.  One night Albus overhears a conversation at home between his father and Mr. Diggory.  Albus gets it into his head that he and his best friend will use the time turner to go back in time and change events that happened when Harry himself was young.  But, as he finds out, changing the past has far reaching and rippling effects.
A LOT of people are complaining that this was written in play form.  Well, yes it was since that's how plays are written!!  So, reading a play didn't bother me at all.  I did find the story very simplistic but, I had to keep reminding myself, it was written to be performed on a stage so how complex can a story line get?  I also couldn't wrap my head around Harry Potter not being able to understand Albus. Oh, and at one point Harry is completely rude to Professor McGonigal.  Too far fetched for me to digest. But, I did really like the nostalgia in revisiting some of the old characters/scenarios. It's a play I would definitely go see but a book that is only three stars out of five.

23.  A book with an apocalyptic theme
The Blackout by Stephanie Erickson
What would you do if a solar flare took out all the modern conveniences of your life?  No electricity, no working phones, no running machinery.  This is the scenario face in this story.  Gary is a pilot and is waiting for clients in Pennsylvania when the flare hits.  His wife, Molly, is teaching her college English class in Florida when it happens.  The story flips between Molly and her community banding together to survive and keep their area safe from "The Wanderers" - vagrants who have no resources and steal from those who do - and Gary who is desperately trying to walk his way home to the love of his life.  I got this book free from Kindle so, I have to admit, my expectations were on the low side.  However, I was pretty surprised to find that I did enjoy the story.  While there were a few plot issues, my biggest problem with the book was the ending.  Maybe the author is planning on writing a sequel and that's why she left so many loose ends open.  If not, then the story would have benefited greatly from an epilogue.  Three out of five stars.

*Extra Reading*
How to be More Productive: A Guide On Using Free Time Effectively by Mary Ann Templeton
I don't know how to write a review on this "book" that isn't harsh.  I guess the only positive thing I can come up with is the fact that I was able to finish the entire book in about thirty minutes.  This is by far one of the WORST books I have ever attempted to read in my entire life!  Besides being mundane and unimaginative (got free time?  Visit family! Volunteer!), the writing was horrendous!  I can't decide if the author was adding in extra words like "the" and "a" to try to fill out the word count OR if the author's first language isn't English.  I got this book for free from Kindle and I still want my money back! So, here's a tip:  Be productive with YOUR free time and don't try to read this book!  All joking aside, zero out of five stars.

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