Monday, October 10, 2016
September Reads // Woohoo Free Time!!! // All the Annas
September was an awesome reading month for me. We had so many free weekend days that I was able to read a TON of books. My first 4 books were reviewed in my August post. Considering all those books, plus these, I ALMOST read more than I did in January, which is crazy impressive! :)
I'm also doing this Book Ban thing... so read about that here, if you're interested.
Also, I have to laugh that 3/6 fiction books this month have a main character named Anna, Ana, Annabeth, etc.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
4.5-4.75 Stars - I recommend if you like cute YA romances. Or if you just like to be happy. It's not OVERLY sugar coated though. :)
This is my 5 word title pick for Erin's 5.0 Book Challenge. - check!
This book follows Anna as she is sent to a boarding school in France for her senior year of high school. She makes friends with a group of people and within that group is someone who she has a big crush on. Sadly, he's taken, so Anna tries her best to ignore it. ... - not the craziest plot around, but I promise it was cute!
I had heard a lot of people sing praises of this book, and I wasn't disappointed by it! It was written in a fun way, and I absolutely was reminded of what it's like to be a teenage girl (difficult, dramatic, ..). I liked that this wasn't overly saccharine, but it wasn't super dark either. It was real enough (minus the boarding school in Paris part...) and quick and fun to read. It was one of those where the couple communication was KILLING ME... but I still liked it. I am excited to read the other books! :)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
3.5 stars - I recommend if you like snarky characters, unique plots, and things that are just a wee bit creepy or strange.
This was my book-to-movie pick for Erin's 5.0 Book Challenge. - check!
This book surround Jacob who grew up with a grandfather who told tall tales of a home he lived in once, filled with odd children. Jacob doesn't believe him, and until his grandfather is gruesomely murdered, he doesn't seek to understand what he meant. With his grandfather's last words, Jacob and his father head to a remote island in Wales to uncover his this mysterious place and solve some mysteries. If only for Jacob's own mental health.
This has been around for quite a while, and with the movie coming out in September I wanted to give it a read. Overall, I think this book is pretty neat. I like that all of the photographs that are in the book are actual found photos, and how they work with the story. That was so unique, creepy, and fun. I really liked Jacob's character in the beginning of the book... very snarky. Very fun to read. However, that lets up not too far into the book. I wanted to LOVE this, but it was a little bit slow for me. I'm not feeling drawn to read more of the books at this point in time.
Stardust by Neil Gaiman
4 Stars - I recommend if you like fantasy novels, beautiful writing, and stories that are not sugar coated. Gaiman is a wonderful writer!
This was my freebie book pick for Erin's 5.0 Book Challenge. - check!
This book follows Tristran Thorne as he journeys from boy to man in search of a fallen star (a gift for his bride-to-be). In order to find it he must cross the wall into the realm of faerie, and weather all that he encounters there. To his surprise the star is not a star, but a woman, and he is not the only one in search of her.
I have been meaning to read this book for a while, I love the movie, (you guys know I don't watch first a lot!) and when my friend Rachel let me borrow it I was really excited. I instantly loved the way Gaiman writes, he painted a gorgeous picture of wall, faerie, and all of the characters. Some of the pieces that were different than the movie I enjoyed, other parts I did not like as much. It was a little more bittersweet or sometimes more brutal than I would have imagined. There's a bit more gruesome violence, mention of prostitutes, etc. which was not in the movie, and was a bit unexpected. That's ok I suppose, and more realistic I guess. We're not talking GOT level or anything, I just hadn't imagined it would exist at all. The last part of the book also felt a bit rushed to me. Where as a lot of the first part across the wall was very drawn out. Some of the differences in plot I liked more, others I liked less. Overall I enjoyed the movie more, but am glad to have read one of his books finally. I look forward to reading more. :)
A Very Vintage Christmas by Bob Richter*
4 Stars - I recommend this book if you are a sucker for vintage, a lover of Christmas, or interested in the history of Christmas and it's commercialization. This book is both beautiful and a treasure trove of information.
This is a lovely book filled with gorgeous photos of vintage holiday ornaments, details, as well as vintage advertisements, etc. but it is also jam packed with very detailed histories of how people decorated for the holidays and celebrated in the past. I was amazed by how much detail this book went into from the 1660's to the present. It was so interesting to learn how the social and economical issues and changes in the US influenced how Christmas was celebrated and decorated for. For example, during war times many families went without a traditional Christmas tree and celebrated more modest holidays, but after the WWII holiday commercialism was at it's finest. From bubble lights to space age decor, there was a big boom in holiday decorations in post war America. This book really covers every topic related to holiday decor, a historical topic I never would have thought to research. I also appreciate that the author adds in sections on vintage reproductions, finding vintage decor, and words of caution on using it. My favorite section was the one on ideas for giving vintage gifts. I love the practical advice of how to find vintage items, and personalize them! Also the section on vintage holiday vinyl - one of my favorite things to thrift for!
The New England Orchard Cookbook: Harvesting Dishes and Desserts from the Region's Bounty by Linda Beaulieu*
4 Stars - I recommend if you like New England or rustic fruit desserts and recipes. I'm such a lover of cobblers, crisps, and pies of all kinds. This book is not limited to desserts though! If unique salads, fruity panini, or fruity barbecued meats are right up your alley, consider checking out these recipes!
This darling book is a collection of New England orchard recipes and orchards around the region, as well and tips and tricks for visiting said orchards. From orchard etiquette to a full directory of orchards mentioned in the book (organized by state) this is quite the resource for anyone who wants to do seasonal picking and cooking. Also, apparently New Englanders eat pie for breakfast. Who wouldn't love that?! We should all be New Englanders, I say! The recipes range from classics like apple pie and cherry cobbler, to things like fresh salads, savory tarts, panini, quesadillas, sangrias, smoothies, and canned goods. I appreciate the wide variety of fruit recipes in this book, it even includes helpful hints on freezing, microwave recipes, and grilling tips. One of my very favorite ways to cook meat is with jams or fruit - so I cannot wait to try many of these recipes!
101 One Dish Dinners: Hearty Recipes for the Dutch Oven, Skillet, and Casserole Pan by Andresa Chesman*
5 Stars - I would recommend if you are a busy person who enjoys the simplicity of one-dish meals. This is a huge number of recipes with something for everyone!
I don't know about you guys, but one pan meals make my life easier. Less clean up, less space being taken by skillets, sauce pans, and other gadgets. They're quick, simple, hearty, and after this book... available en masse. Right off the bat this cookbook has great branding - the cover grabbed me, and opening it up the contents are immediately well organized making things very easy to find! The recipes are divided up by type of meal: Soups and Stews, Skillet and Other Stovetop Suppers, Oven Baked Suppers, and Salad Suppers. Chesman gives a bit of advice on supplies, and maintenance of said supplies, but then dives straight into the recipes. From things like Homemade Broths to Tom Yum Rice Noodle Bowls, and Arroz con Pollo to Chili Mac, and back to Lamb Couscous, this book is filled to the brim with home style American classics to many delicious ethnic options. From Pad Thai to Cajun, Spanish style Paella to Greek Moussaka, and Vietnamese Shrimp and Noodle Salads, this book covers all your bases and won't leave you bored just a few recipes in! I'm already picking out recipes to try on my own, and I hope that many will become one dish family favorites around here!
Etta By Gerald Kolpan
4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical fiction, wild west adventures, and strong female characters. You'll be rooting for Etta throughout the entire book.
This was my historical fiction pick for Erin's 5.0 Book Challenge. - check!
This book follows a young woman who is put into a make-shift witness protection program and sent out West. She is now called Etta and spends time as a Harvey Girl, an outlaw, a friend to Eleanor Roosevelt, a Wild West Show Girl, and "wife" to the Sundance Kid. While much of this book is imagined (no one knew much at the real Etta!), it's very interesting to read and richly imagined.
Overall I didn't know what to expect with this book, but I liked it a lot! :) I thought all of the pieces of the story were very detailed and well researched even if they were fictional. Because I don't read a lot of Westerns, or even a ton of historical fiction I was worried that this book might drag a little bit, but I did not find that to be the case at all. I really liked the way that it was written, broken up into chunks ranging form narrative, to diary entries, newspaper articles or police memos, to letters. This formatting gave the reader different points of view and lots of context for the situations going on in the book. I really enjoyed that! The only thing that was kind of weird for me was that it got a little bit socialist. Some of it made sense, but some of it seemed like a stretch. Overall not enough to hugely detract from the book for me.
Annabeth Neverending by Leyla Kader Dahm*
3.5 Stars - I recommend if you like YA fantasy/romance, plots with flash backs, or that have to do with ancient Egypt.
This was my book with twins for Erin's 5.0 Book Challenge. - check!
This book follows Annabeth as she finds a ankh necklace at a flea market, and discovers that touching it reveals memories of her past life in ancient Egypt. When she notices that the boy she is dating is also around in her past, and so is his brother, she starts to question if one of them might be her soulmate. Every time Annabeth uses the ankh to learn her memories, her body is put through serious physical strain like seizures, hypothermia, and extreme bouts of sleepwalking. How will she find out about her past if it's killing her to do so? And who can she really trust?
Overall this book was a very fun, quick read. I thought it was a little young (expected) but had some really entertaining parts to it. All of the parts in ancient Egypt were really detailed, and gave me a lot of insight into the stories and characters. I wanted a little more from Annabeth's background in the present. She sleepwalks before she finds the ankh, but there's very little info on it in the book. I also thought it was a tad unusual that Annabeth just *knows* that's she's been reincarnated. Usually that's something the character would struggle with ahead of the plot really picking up. I also though the ending was a little bit quick for me. It all "resolved" at the last second. I wanted a bit more, but I can see that it's been set up for another book. I would probably read more of this series, just because I enjoy YA plots that have a flashback element. - it reminds me a bit of TVD. :)
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
4 Stars - I recommend if you like horror, or YA Fantasy novels. This book wasn't too scary, but is a bit spooky. I also recommend if you like Supernatural.
This book follows 17 year old Cas, who moves around the country with his mom hunting and killing ghosts. When they move to a town in Ontario, and Cas seeks out the local legend "Anna Dressed in Blood" he immediately realizes that Anna is not like other ghosts he's hunted. As he finds out more about Anna's past and curse, he realizes that Anna's situation may not be something he can handle on his own.
This book was a lot of fun. Cas is pretty sarcastic, which I think is fun to read. I enjoyed the concept of the ghost hunting, I enjoyed a lot of the characters. I don't read a lot of horror, so I can't say how "original" the themes and plots are, but I found it a nice change of pace. It wasn't quite as romantic as I would have liked... but that's just me! haha I might read the second book, but I am not in a hurry. Excited to read more of Blake's work in general though!
I didn't abandon any books this month! :)
A Fork in the Road and Possession. Attempting to start War and Peace (SO MUCH FRENCH!) for Erin's challenge. Also reading The Secret Healer and Be Your Own Fairytale. - clearly having a hard time committing....
Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books tomorrow. :)
What have you guys been reading?
Have you read any of these? What did you think?
Let's be friends on Goodreads!
* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley!