Monday, April 11, 2016

March Reads // Finishing the Lunar Chronicles & Beautiful Non-Fiction

March Reads

Technically... I read Dumplin' and finished it on March 1. It was amazing, so if you want to hear my thoughts on it, click here.

I'm not going to say a lot in the Lunar Chronicles reviews, mostly because I know a lot of you are reading them, and I don't want to give any spoilers. Also, I don't think that I need to be the reason anyone gets more info about a book later in a series! If you want that info, I'd rather you look it up! :)

Cress by Marissa Meyer

5 Stars - I recommend if you have read Cinder & Scarlet. This is tied for first place as my favorite of the series with Scarlet!

OMG. I continue to love the Lunar Chronicles. This book is based upon Rapunzel. Cress is made to live in a satellite by herself, and hack into Earthen news feeds and secure documents to feed Queen Levana information. Little does she know, Cinder is looking for her. When things go wrong upon her rescue she and Thorne end up living out my life's worst nightmare. (ok maybe not worst... but it sounds AWFUL). During this book, you learn about Cress and various things going on on Luna, the plot develops between the other characters, you meet Jacin (a Lunar), and just very briefly... Winter. This one kept me so hooked, I immediately ran out to buy Winter. (even though I was not planning on reading it next!)

Winter by Marissa Meyer

5 Stars - I recommend if you have read Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. I gave it 5 stars because I think it is a good ending to the series, well written, etc. It is not my favorite of the series though.

Wow you guys, this is a long book. It is best enjoyed consistently, unfortunately I had quite a few days where I didn't do any reading, so it was a tad disjointed for me. Overall though, I really liked this one. The final installation in The Lunar Chronicles, where the characters battle to put Princess Selene back in power on Luna. There were times when I laughed, gasped, cried...  I was an emotional mess. No spoilers from me though, you'll have to read it yourselves.


Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce

4 Stars - I recommend if you like YA and fairy tale re-tellings, but are looking for something a little bit different.

I read this book in two evenings, it was very quick and compelling. This story is based around the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood." Two sisters are attacked by a wolf as children. Their grandmother dies, and the eldest sister loses an eye and gains some scars in the process of fighting it off. When they are grown, they become wolf hunters. When their friend Silas comes back to town, and the population of wolves increases, they hear of a rumor that the wolves are seeking a potential new wolf. They head to the city to track down more wolves, and figure out who these potential wolves are. This story is a lot of things... it's a little bit fairy tale retelling, it's a little bit of a love story, and a little bit Frozen. It's ultimately a story about sisterhood and following your heart. I will admit, I was worried it would get really predictable on me... but it ended up having some nice twists and turns. I also appreciated that the wolf part wasn't based around what we think of as stereotypical werewolves. It looks like this author writes more fairy tale re-tellings, I don't know that they are related at all, but I would be interesting in reading more of her books!

Radical Self Love by Gala Darling*

4 Stars - I recommend if you like "self help" books that are practical with specific examples built in. It's written from a fresh perspective.

Radical Self Love is a "Self Help" type book written by blogger Gala Darling. She put her heart and soul into changing her own life, and passes some information along to readers in this book. Most of the "self" chapters in this is book are about mindfulness, and the different forms it comes in. How thinking in certain ways can affect how you feel and how you are perceived outwardly. This goes much further than positivity alone, it also includes shaping the life you *want* to have, by visualizing and taking it on mentally. Then turning those thoughts, and desires into actions. I appreciated the way it was organized, easy to read sections, with examples and bullet points with ideas, as well as "homework" at the end of the sections. I found this book really interesting and helpful and assessing where I am right now. I sometimes feel like I can look back at myself at 17 or 20 and think, "wow, I had so much more zest for life then..." - it doesn't have to be that way, I am working hard to eliminate negativity, and focus on creating the life that I want. This book, is PERFECT for that time in your life. I found it extremely enlightening, and I appreciated all of the specific and creative ideas that Darling shares in this book. I am excited to look into some of these topics more on her blog, and possibly read more books from her in the future! I thought that the social and relationships chapters at the end of the books were a little bit out of line with the other chapters, but I can sort of understand why she put them there. I almost think they would have made a good start to a second book.... or maybe they just weren't what I needed to read.. ?  Overall, I definitely recommend this one for anyone who is working on themselves right now!

Food Swap: Recipes and Strategies for the Most Irresistable Gourmet Foods to Barter and Share by Emily Paster *

4 Stars - I recommend if you are looking to learn about food swaps, to host swap nights in your home, or even just give hand-made share-able food to friends and family.

This book was such a unique concept, I just had to read it. The author co-founded one of the largest food swaps in the world in Chicago. She dispenses her knowledge is food swaps and swappable recipes in this beautiful and useful how-to manual. From discussing strategies to starting and operating a food swap, to sharing particular recipes to take to a food swap this book covers it all. Is this book specific? Yes! Do you have to want to join or start a large-scale food swap to enjoy it? No! While Paster gives excellent specific advice on how to start a food swap, what type of location to pick, supplies to have on hand during your swap etc. she also shares alternative ways to use these recipes and ideas. A soup swap, a harvest swap, a holiday swap etc. She gives great advice on packaging, display, and swapping item of choice as well. I also like that she slips in sections that talk about real-life food swaps across the country. From Austin, TX to Philadelphia and everywhere in-between, it's interesting to read her interviews with the folks who run these swaps and how they organize their swaps. Last thing to note, is that the design, photography, and organization of this book is just lovely, and makes it easy to find what you are looking for!

I doubt that I will ever be involved in a large-scale food swap, but I can definitely see hosting a small one at our home. We tried having a soup-swap (where we didn't swap so much as ate a lot of soup) last fall and it was really fun! I could see pulling friends together to do something like this in the future. If nothing else, these recipes are fabulous ideas for giving food gifts! Mother's Day Gifts, New Mothers Gifts, a Thank You Gift, Holiday Packages for friends and family... this book has over 80 recipes to get you started. Giving gifts and being with loved ones are two of my very favorite activities, so I can't wait to take what I've read and apply it practically throughout the rest of the year! :)

The Flower Workshop by Ariella Chezar *

5 stars - I recommend if you are looking to learn more about flower arranging from top to bottom. This book is a valuable resource! Also, just very very beautiful to flip through!

I have made it a goal the past few years to learn how to arrange flowers, but I never seem to make it. This book was an incredible one to read, because Chezar's passion for flowers as well as incredibly approachable advice really help you dive into the idea of arranging flowers. She gives very helpful insight into choosing a palette, arranging by size, working in rules of three, tools you need, etc. She even goes so far as to share which flowers come in various colors seasonally. So you can search for yellow spring flowers, and not feel like you might get to the market to purchase your flowers... only to find out they aren't in season. Chezar takes it one step further in showing you specific arrangements, and exactly how to reproduce them. I think this is an incredibly helpful addition to the book, that allows beginners and experienced floral arrangers alike the chance to copy a successful arrangement. The last thing I want to note, is that this book is absolutely gorgeous. It is filled with passion, understanding, helpful advice, as well as some of the most beautiful floral arrangements and photography I have ever seen. If you have been looking for a source on flower arranging, I highly recommend this one!


The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek

I just couldn't get into this one. I was hoping to, it sounded interesting enough... two step sisters inherit a beach house in the Hamptons... they are very different but have to work together to decipher a clue their aunt left them related to "the most valuable thing" that she left them. I just really didn't like one of the sisters, and the other one wasn't showing a lot of personality, it's like she was overshadowed and therefore just reflected her sister. I don't know, it just wasn't my thing. Even the voice it was written in was just fast paced and self-important. I had to abandon it. I don't like to abandon books... Oh well!

Currently Reading:

Pretty Happy by Kate Hudson
Posession by A.S. Byatt
Entwined by Heather Dixon

Other recent book posts: February Reads5 Books to Add to Your TBR (If I Could Only Recommend 5!)January Reads, & Erin's Book Challenge 4.0.

What are you reading? Or hoping to read?

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!

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