the kite runner | book review

You know that book that seems to take you forever to get comfortable in?  Be it audio or paperback, you can’t seem settle in and enjoy the story.  Then, all at once, it grabs you and pulls you in and you can’t stop until you’ve read the whole thing.  That’s what happened when I read The Kite Runner.

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The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Rating: 5.0 – 5.0

My Thoughts:

Okay so I didn’t read the paperback that’s sitting on my shelf.  I came across the audiobook and decided to listen instead.  It took me a couple of tries. While it was good from the beginning, it didn’t grip me until about halfway through.  It was a fascinating ride though and I’m glad I stuck with it.

It’s an extraordinary look at life through the eyes of a boy named Amir whose coming of age is anything but happy, peaceful, or normal.  Political upheaval is on the horizon and family life has much to be desired.  From his boyhood in Kabul Afghanistan to his adulthood in America, Amir’s life takes twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat, wondering what would happen next.  His is a story of betrayal, a fierce, unconditional love that is strong enough to forgive, and redemption that didn’t seem possible.

This is the first book I’ve ever read set in the Middle East and I have to say, for the first time, it wasn’t just a place on a map, images on the news, reports on the radio, or overheard bits of other peoples’ conversations.  For the first time I saw actual people who live in actual villages and lead actual lives with their actual families.  And it was ridiculous because I know this stuff.  I know there are people in other countries who eat, sleep, drink, breath, laugh, cry, fear, and feel and experience all the millions of things I do be it as differently as it is.  But it wasn’t until I stepped inside the pages and walked around in Amir’s shoes that I got a better perspective of what it’s like on that side of the world–I LOVE that about reading!!

I haven’t seen the movie but I plan to now that I’ve finally read the book.  One thing I will say about the audio version–it’s an abridged performance.  I didn’t realize it until I was halfway through and I was flipping through my hard copy to see how far I was and compared what was on the page with what I was hearing.  Yeah, kind of disappointing.  I’m not planning on picking up the paperback anytime soon but it sits on my shelf if the desire ever arises.

The movie is rated PG-13 and I would give the same to the book.  Some of the scenes are more than a bit intense.

I’m planning on reading Hosseini’s other books A Thousand Splendid Suns  And the Mountains Echoed. Anyone else read them? What did you think?

Happy reading, y’all! :)

This book counts towards the following challenges:

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Operation Deepen Faith

I’ve been trying to make a habit of taking my goals in strides–one at a time, here and there–rather than all at once, thus overwhelming myself.  My final and the most important reading challenge is Operation Deepen Faith.

OperationDeepen

This is something I did not keep up with last year but I’ve already started this year.  Here’s how it works:

There are multiple sections and as the host says, participants don’t have to sign up for each one but picking multiple sections is encouraged!

  1. Wonderful Words of Life: Goal–Read the Bible
  2. How Firm a Foundation: Goal–Study 1 book of the Bible throughout the year
  3. Deep & Wide: Goal–Read multiple books in multiple translations
  4. Meditate or Memorize: Goal–Choose about a verse a week to reflect and meditate on
  5. Christian Nonfiction: Goal–Read different Christian nonfiction

Click HERE for full details.

I’m going to commit to

  • Wonderful Words of Life: Goal–Read the Bible
  • How Firm a Foundation: Goal–Study 1 book of the Bible throughout the year
  • Meditate or Memorize: Goal–Choose about a verse a week to reflect and meditate on 
  • Christian Nonfiction: Goal–Read different Christian nonfiction

I’ve already begun reading the One Year Bible and picking my verses and other titles.  My goal is to post monthly on my progress and maybe break down goals into quarterly tasks.

Now, I’m officially set with all my reading goals for 2015!

Happy reading, y’all!

everyday matters | book review

Whoot! Finished my very first book of the year! Well, it did contain mostly pictures BUT it was a book and it was a good book so I’m happy :D

Everyday Matters

Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory

Rating: 4.0 – 5.0

Danny Gregory is just a regular guy living in New York with his wife Patti and their 10 month old baby.  A tragic accident turns their lives upside down and Danny is forced to look at his life in a completely different way.  Needing an outlet to deal with the challenges and this new perspective, he turns to drawing.

Everyday Matters isn’t about the details of the everyday struggles that happen when your life is turned upside, rather it’s what goes on in your head when your faced with those struggles.  How do you cope?  What are you feeling?  What are you considering?  It’s like the author hands you a sketchbook and says “Wanna see what I did after the accident?”  And those moments aren’t very often brilliant–they’re messy, mundane, and seemingly insignificant.  But therein lies the beauty.  The accident forced Gregory to be more deliberate in living life, to pay attention to his surroundings, to pause, to muse, to consider, capture what he saw with pen and paper.  What he discovered was that life does go on and everyday has something about it to enjoy, something that matters!

As much as I enjoyed the book, I didn’t give it a five-star rating because it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be and I would have enjoyed a little more writing.  However, it was a book about drawing so I think the art was what it needed to be and I enjoyed the pictures as well!

There were a couple of word-bombs dropped, just so you know.  There’s no explicit content but it is adult life stuff so I’d still have to rate it closer to a PG-13 than just PG…(I’m trying to think what I’d do if I had kiddos…)…yeah, closer to a PG-13.

It’s a quick read, quite inspiring for the writer or artist.  It makes you want to take out pen and paper and get words and/or sketches out for yourself!  Definitely a good first-book-of-the-year :D

Happy reading y’all!

This book counts towards the following challenges:

2015 TBR List

I’m almost done with one of the titles off of my TBR list and I just realized I never posted my list!

Here’s what I’m hoping to complete this year:

  1. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  3. Stop Dating the Church by Joshua Harris
  4. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  5. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
  6. Happier at Home Gretchen Rubin
  7. Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory
  8. Shadow of the Almighty by Elizabeth Elliot
  9. What is He Thinking? by Rebecca St. James
  10. Defiant Daughters: Christian Women of Conscience by Marcy Heidish
  11. When Dreams Come True by Eric & Leslie Ludy
  12. Here I Stand by Roland H. Bainton

TBR 2015

Alternates:

  1. Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters by Jon Acuff
  2. Paper Towns by John Green

I’m suuuuuper excited!!

Happy reading y’all :)

Book Challenges for 2015

Another year has gone by!  It’s time for a new set of book challenges for 2015!!  Here’s my master post for signing up and linking up with the events I’ve chosen for next year!

2015 Audiobook Challenge

Hosted by The Book Nymph Hot Listens

I didn’t quite make my 2014 goal but I’m going give it another go in 2015!

Here are the levels:

  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30-50
  • Marathoner (Look Ma no hands) 50+

I’m going to try for Stenographer.

Click HERE for full details!

2015 Authors A to Z Reading Challenge

2015-authors-bannerHosted by Samanatha Lin

The goal is to read a book by authors with last names from A to Z by December 31, 2015.

Click HERE for full details!

2015 Bookish Resolutions

Hosted by Laura & Michelle

I’m reeeeeeally loving the concept of this challenge.  I’ve been scouring Pinterest for the past few weeks looking for all kinds of different resolutions and challenges so this looks super fun!  The goal is to create 1-5 resolutions related to book/blogging.  At the end of every month, blog your progress and link up with the hosts.  There is a giveaway at the end of the year and a list of example goals to choose from at the sign-up post.

Click HERE for full details!

 

Back to the Classics Challenge 2015

backtotheclassics2015BUTTONHosted by Books and Chocolate

2014 was a complete fail as I did not keep up with this one at all!!  For some reason my fiction focus fell more on historical fiction than classics so I didn’t finish any title on my Classics Club list. AAAGHHH!! Sooooo, I’m going to try again!  Here are the categories to choose from:

  1. A 19th Century Classic — any book published between 1800 and 1899.
  2. A 20th Century Classic — any book published between 1900 and 1965.  Just like last year, all books must have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify as a classic.  The only exception is books that were published posthumously but written at least 50 years ago.)
  3. A Classic by a Woman Author.
  4. A Classic in Translation. As in last year’s category, this can be any classic book originally written or a published in a language that is not your first language.  Feel free to read it in its original form if you are comfortable reading in another language.  
  5. A Very Long Classic Novel — a single work of 500 pages or longer.  This does not include omnibus editions combined into one book, or short story collections.  
  6. A Classic Novella — any work shorter than 250 pages.  For a list of suggestions, check out this list of World’s Greatest Novellas from Goodreads.
  7. A Classic with a Person’s Name in the Title.  First name, last name, or both, it doesn’t matter, but it must have the name of a character.  David Copperfield, The Brothers Karamazov, Don Quixote — something like that. It’s amazing how many books are named after people!
  8. A Humorous or Satirical Classic.  Humor is very subjective, so this one is open to interpretation.  Just tell us in the review why you think it’s funny or satirical.   For example, if you think that Crime and Punishment and funny, go ahead and use it, but please justify your choice in your post. 
  9. A Forgotten Classic.  This could be a lesser-known work by a famous author, or a classic that nobody reads any more.  If you look on Goodreads, this book will most likely have less than 1000 ratings.  This is your chance to read one of those obscure books from the Modern Library 100 Best Novels or 1001 Books to Read Before You Die.  Books published by Virago Modern Classics,Persephone, and NYRB Classics often fall into this category.  
  10. A Nonfiction Classic.  A memoir, biography, essays, travel, this can be any nonfiction work that’s considered a classic, or a nonfiction work by a classic author.  You’d be surprised how many classic authors dabbled in nonfiction writing — I have nonfiction books by Dickens, Trollope, Twain, and Steinbeck on my shelves. 
  11. A Classic Children’s Book.  A book for your inner child!  Pick a children’s classic that you never got around to reading.  
  12. A Classic Play.  Your choice, any classic play, as long as it was published or performed before 1965.  Plays are only eligible for this specific category.

There are no required categories and there is a drawing for a giveaway at the end.

Click HERE for full details!

 

Full House Reading Challenge 2015

Hosted by Book Date

The goal is to complete the card below by December 2015.

Full House Challenge final A

There is a giveaway at the end!

Click HERE for full details!

 

2015 Library Challenge

PrintHosted by Geeky Bloggers Book Blog & The Book Nympho

The goal is to read at least 12 books from the library.  They can be in any format and can be from any genre.  Here are the levels:

Dewey Decimal: read 12 books
Thrifty Reader: read 24 books
Overdrive Junkie: read 36 books
Library Card on Fire: read 50+ books

Click HERE for full details!

 

2015 Monthly Key Word Challenge

15854036895_c3087978fb_zHosted by Bookmark to Blog

 

Each month as a list of keywords. At leas one of those words must be in the title of the book you read that month.  How fun!!

Click HERE for more details!

The host suggests the extra challenge of pairing this event with this next one she is also hosting.

 

2015 Monthly Motif Challenge

15852031811_8813f0bf11Hosted by Bookmark to Blog

Each month has an assigned motif and the task is to read a book within that theme.  The rules are not strict so no worries if you skip a month or read out of order.

Click HERE for more details!

New Authors Challenge 2015

NAC.2015Hosted by Literary Escapism

The challenge is to read books by 15, 25, or 50 new authors by the end of the year.  Yeeeeeeah, I’m shooting for 15….lol.

Click HERE for full details!

New to You 2015 Reading Challenge

Hosted by Herding Cats and Burning Soup

Lovely flexible rules.  Whatever is ‘new to you’ counts in this one.

Hosts suggest:

This can be a debut author.
A brand new to you author.
And old favorites “debut” book.
A new series.
A first time reading a new genre (ex if you read your first New Adult book)
or any other new that crosses your path

Annnd here are the levels:

Level 1: 6 “new to you”s

Level 2: 12 “new to you”s

Level 3: 24 “new to you”s

Level 4: 36 “new to you”s

Level 5: 48 “new to you”s

Level 6: 72 “new to you”s

Level 7: 100+ “new to you”s

Click HERE for full details!

2015 Nonfiction Reading Challenge

Hosted by The Introverted Reader

 

Out of the titles I read this year, a good number of them were non-fiction so I’m looking forward to knocking out more titles.  Anything non-fiction counts on this one. Pretty straight forward!

Here are the levels:

Dilettante–Read 1-5 non-fiction books

Explorer–Read 6-10

Seeker–Read 11-15

Master–Read 16-20

I have chosen to try for Seeker.

Click HERE for full details!

 

2015 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge

OY2015_bannerHosted by The Book Vixen

The title says it all, yeah?  This was my goal anyway but why not get some real blogger credit while I’m at it? Here are the levels:

  • Getting My Heart Rate Up: read 1–5 more books (or 250–1,499 more pages)
  • Out of Breath: read 6–10 more books (or 1,500–2,749 more pages)
  • Breaking a Sweat: read 11–15 more books (or 2,750–3,999 more pages)
  • I’m on Fire!: read 16+ more books (or 4,000+ more pages)

Click HERE for full details.

 

 The Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge

2015tbrbuttonHosted by Adam @ RoofBeam Reader

Once again, it’s time to select 12 titles from that TBR pile and tackle them through a new year.  I have yet to accomplish this, but here I go again!  I haven’t put my 2015 list together but I will post it as soon as I have chosen my 12.

Click HERE for full details.

Whew!!  Here’s to another year of great reads!

What are you reading this year?

spin number reveal

The eighth spin number has been chosen and it is

13!

That means I will have until January 5 to read George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. 

I’ve never read this book but I have seen My Fair Lady so I know, what I am assuming is, the general gist of the story.  I haven’t read a play in a veeerryyy long while so this will be interesting!  I’m looking forward to finally reading this one!

Hope y’all got satisfying spin books and enjoy reading!! :)

 

forevermore | book review

I love this book! Figured I’d just get that out of the way :)

forevermore

Forevermore by Cathy Marie Hake

Rating: 4.0 – 4.0

Hope Ladley doesn’t stay in one place for very long.  Guided by her Heavenly Father, she goes from place to place, helping families that need an extra pair of hardworking hands.  When she and her mule arrive at Jakob Stauffer’s farm in Gooding Texas, she quickly discovers that his family needs some extra TLC.  Taking Jakob’s sister Annie and his little daughter Emmy Lou under her wing, Hope gently lends healing and joy to hearts once held by fear. Making a pact with her boss to take care of Annie and Emmy Lou, Hope is determined to do whatever it takes to make sure she keeps her promise. Her unconventional ways, zany sayings, pure honesty and willingness to get the job done transforms Jakob’s house into a well-ordered home.  Little does she know, her own heart is transforming to. What exactly did God have in mind when He sent her to Jakob Stauffer’s home?

This is one of my favorite audiobooks.  The story is sweet and inspiring and fun and Stina Nielsen’s performance is a pleasure to listen to!  Hope is a lovable character and her honesty and straightforward ways are commendable.  She’s the kind of person you want to sit down and have a cup of tea with or work along next to while sewing or doing laundry. She’s the kind of woman I want to be–hopeful, cheerful, hard-working and trusting in God’s ways and wisdom.

I totally recommend this if you’re looking for something fun and inspirational.  Hake does a fantastic job telling this sweet story :).

Happy reading y’all!

P.S. There are a couple of other books in her series, Only in Gooding!. I read them out of order and have started reviewing them out of order! Sorry about that!  

The books go in this order:

  1. Fancy Pants 
  2. Forevermore
  3. Whirlwind
  4. That Certain Spark
  5. Serendipity

peeled | book review

I’m sneaking in this review. I should be doing a myriad of other things but I have a looooong list of reviews dating back to reads from last summer (oi vey!) so I need to get on it!

I read this book a few years ago and last year enjoyed the audiobook.  Joan Bauer became one of my favorite JF novelists when I was a teenager and I still enjoy revisiting her teen stories every once in awhile.  This one is no exception.

peeled-trv6n3

Peeled by Joan Bauer

Rating: 4.0 – 4.0

Hildy Biddle is a reporter for The Core, her high school paper, and has big dreams of being a journalist like her father. When the happy apple town of Banesville, New York is hit with the biggest story of the year, she and her friends are swept into the drama of lies, sensationalism and…ghost sightings?? Yeah, someone or something seems to be haunting Banesville and The Core is determined to find out who.  But when the heat gets turned up and the town becomes more fearful, Hildy questions whether she’s cut out to handle the truth.  She is, after all, just a kid and the bad guys have more power.  How is she supposed to fight through all the lies? How can one group of kids prove that it’s all just a big hoax when the story keeps getting deeper and deeper, feeding the public’s fear? How can they fight when the fear is hitting them too? One thing’s for sure, if they lose, their town will never be the same again.

I love Joan Bauer’s stories because they deal with great issues and her characters work through the challenges and overcome their fears and hang ups. This book deals with greed and yellow journalism.  Hildy is a determined girl who will not settle for anything less than the truth. She works toward excellence in her writing and takes advice and criticism from those who are older and wiser.  These kinds of qualities made her endearing to me when I first read the book and caused me to come back for another visit.

This book is geared for junior high aged kids.  I was a little old for it by the time I read it but I enjoyed it anyway. Probably called out to the writer in me ;).  It’s a fun book with great characters and dialogue – just as I’ve come to expect from Joan Bauer.  She never disappoints!

Woot!  I can cross off this review from my list :D

Happy reading, y’all!

the reluctant heiress | book review

One of my absolute favorite YA novels is Eva Ibbotson’s A Countess Below Stairs.  A few years ago, I picked up another one of her books hoping that I would enjoy it just as much.  A started it several times, not being able to sink into the story. I listed it as an alternate title on my 2014 TBR list and after spotting it on Audible, I decided to give the audiobook a shot.

5711852The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson

Rating: 2.5-4.0

Let me first just say that I have a hard time with the title.  This book, as well as A Countess Below Stairs, was re-released in 2009 from its original publication in 1982 with the title Magic Flutes.  I think the original title fits the story better, but whatever – it is what it is!

Eva Ibbotson tells the story of Austrian heiress Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein. With nothing to her name accept a castle that is far past its prime, this princess cheerfully hides her identity and secures a position as an under-wardrobe mistress for an opera company with its own financial struggles.

Completely unselfish and unwavering in her belief that everyone is equal, she throws herself into her work and her passion for music believing that it is the medium that will level the social playing field. Meanwhile, her broken-down old castle is purchased by self-made millionaire Guy Farne who has grand designs of his own.  Only Guy’s plans center around re-capturing the heart of a woman from his past. When their paths cross, both Tessa’s and Guy’s respective worlds are flipped around and each is forced to evaluate what love means and what they truly want in life.

This book definitely charming and has its clever moments just as I expect from Ibbotson. However, I wouldn’t put it up their with A Countess Below Stairs though.  I don’t know but there wasn’t the same level of dignity in this book. And while Tessa is very sweet and likable, I didn’t warm up to the other characters very much.

I think, perhaps, I’ll give the audio another shot in the future. Distant future….lol.

I’m glad I finally got through this read and I can cross it off my TBR list and add it to my Audio Book Challenge for this year!  Two birds, one stone. Yeah, baby!

Hope y’all are having a great week so far!

Happy reading!