But also it's time for me to start looking at my plans for the "not outdoors" season. One of the things I let fall by the wayside this summer was blogging. (oh gosh, let's be honest, I let a lot of things fall behind.) I decided to spend the summer doing some different things and now I need to start shifting my mindset to include some of those things I let lapse.
Not sure yet WHEN I'll fully get back to all those things or what things I will attempt to recapture this *sob* winter. But here's starting off with something fairly easy.
One of the things that I did a little bit of was reading, so here's my favorite books from this summer(okay and spring too). I chose to just mention my 4 and 5 star books as usual for my book trees. :)
So pretty!!!! Anyway, kicking it off with my 4 star reads! I have an interesting assortment here, starting with a classic!
- After the fun I had last year, I did choose to set myself a classic challenge again this year. And as I'd loved Pride and Prejudice I gave Sense and Sensibility a shot. Now I actually didn't like the tv series or the movie of this book. (though to be fair the series was closer to the book than the movie) So this was a challenge to choose because I wanted to see if I'd dislike it or not.
I'm happy to say that I did enjoy it. Though I didn't love it like I did P&P I did enjoy it and found it immensely better than either of the adaptions. I'd sooner reread this book than watch a movie of it.
- The Enemy's Service was the final book in a series that I finished up this summer. I really loved the variety of view points and the story of what a war might look like for a regular person caught on the losing side. As this was MG, it prevented me from being completely sucked in as I have a hard time relating to really young characters. I'm too far past that stage in my life! Full review
- Chasing Lady Midnight was a new adventure for me. I can't recall reading many(if any) superhero books and mysteries have become a rarity since I was a teenager. This was both and though it took me some time to decide if I liked the MC's voice, I ended up really enjoying the story. Lady Midnight's personality and voice shown through everything. Very good work on the author's part. Full review
- Next up is Joss the Seven another MG book that was based on a young boy determined to make the best of his last summer on top of the middle school food chain. Things go awry when he discovers he has magical talents. But who is friend and who is foe? To the best of my knowledge, the boys in this book rang very true to what middle grade boys are like. Thought the twist was pretty ingenious.Full review
- My last 4 star book was The Trouble With Demons. Number 3 in an adult fantasy series, this is a book that I couldn't put down. There's some parts that were a little . . .meh for me. (not fond of romance or love triangles) But overall this was another humorous story in the series. I love the voice of the main character. Raine really shines through the pages and if for no other reason, I'd keep reading this series. The plot is fast-paced and you never want to set the book down. I mean, everything that can go wrong or make Raine's world more crazy, yeah it happens.
Everyone and their evil uncle is after a special rock that is the source of Raine's power. (not that she asked to have the stupid rock, thank you very much.) They're bringing hellfire and brimstone to the hub of the world if that's what it takes to GET THAT ROCK. Full review
- The Door That Came to Dinner
Confession time. I'm a chicken when it comes to all thing scary or creepy. Long periods of continued suspense, no thank you. No to horror, etc. I have an active imagination that can't handle ideas that cause me no end of trouble.
So when I picked this up, I really didn't know it was horror. I'm reading along and I'm like, "wow, something isn't right here." I was engaged by the very defined character voice. The story was well-built. And there was clearly something strange going on. I knew that. Something wasn't right. But whatever I was thinking wasn't a "horror" reason.
I then had to immediately go engage my mind in something else so I didn't dwell on that ending. *shudders* But it didn't change the fact that until like that last paragraph or two I was really hooked by this story and completely enthralled. This is probably right up a horror lovers alley and for folks like me, this is what I imagine is a light trip into horror where if you're not expecting it the ending is the only thing that's going to make your brain scream. Full review
- Lost in a Book
A retelling of a retelling? And oh look, it came out from DISNEY in time to celebrate their retelling of their original retelling. See where I'm going with this? Gorgeous cover, interesting sounding blurb . . . but . . . it was a clear marketing ploy building on the hype of a movie release.
Basically I went into this book thinking I was going to hate it and then roll my eyes at all the other people too blinded by "OH MY GOSH IT'S DISNEY AND THEY HAVE A NEW MOVIE ABOUT THIS COMING OUT. OHMYGOSH. OHMYGOSH." Yep, I wasn't going to get taken in like those suckers!!!
I say all of that for two reasons. First if you see this book and the above is your thought also, I encourage you to give it a chance. I was in the same boat as you! Second reason I share that is to say that I went into this already predisposed to not like it and the opposite happened.
I actually really really really enjoyed this book. Retellings of retellings are kind a weird thing to me, but since it was only like a small portion it didn't drag me out of the story. The premise is that what if after Belle finds the library there's this whole section we didn't see in the movie.
I looooove missing pieces. I like to wonder what might've happened between events. What we didn't see. Behind the scenes!
I thought Belle's journey into a book, the lesson not to miss out on real life, and the one plot thread about how if you want something to be true, you'll believe it.
The one thing that irked me was how blatantly obvious the evil was. "My name is Dark Evil and this is my leering henchman Black Slayer. Come to my Palace of the Dead that is dark and spooky and has creepy eyes leering at you."
But at the end, there's this awesome bit where Death(the villain) tells Belle she made it so obvious and therefore Belle couldn't say she hadn't been given a fair chance. Belle comments that she had so badly wanted the lie to be true that she'd closed her eyes to the truth.
It was definitely a twist where the MC misses something not because the author goofed or because the MC is stupid, but rather because much like real life, the MC simply wanted what was a lie to be true so they let themselves believe it. Full review
- The Enemy of an Enemy was another book I started out a bit leery of. This time it was because of the first page of reviews. Eek! Not a good feeling to pick up a book where most of the top rated reviews aren't promising. I already had the book at that point, so I figured I might as well give it a shot.
Perhaps I'm just not use to the genre so it was a new adventure for me, but whatever the reason I really liked this. My only real complaint was the ending could've been handled better. This was the book I couldn't put down. I was up late, then up early again to keep reading it. I HAD to know what happened next. Full review
- My mom read to me a lot when I was a kid and one of the books I distinctly remember her reading was When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. I haven't read it since then, but had a nostalgic summer and decided to go back and read it for myself.
I can so see why this made an impact on me as a kid, and it had an impact on me now. This is truly an amazing story. Judith Kerr may have given her characters fictional names, but this is HER story. This is her WWII experience. It's her family's experience. And yes it's different from most WWII books.
The little girl in the book is Anna. Her father is able to get himself and his family out of Germany before it's impossible. It covers from right before the family leaves through their journey after. Anna has such a bright spirit and she says near the end of the book that as long as she has her family and they're together, she can forget she's a refugee.
This book had both a theme of two kids who find a way to stay optimistic when their world is turned upside down, while not undermining what was happening at the time. As an adult I see that a man lost his job, had his books burned, had to leave his family temporarily to escape, and then wait for them to join him. He has to find a way to provide for his family when no one will hire him and he lost everything.
A woman who has to rush herself and her kids out of the country alone. She has to leave her home and possessions behind. And they never do get them back. Having to watch her kids be treated like less-than because of who they are.
And it goes on. There's moments we see where like a German family forbids their kids to play with them. A story from a visitor about a professor who was humiliated, degraded, and eventually his mind broken. A brilliant person lowered to the state of an animal. That's probably one of the darkest moments in the book.
And then again at the end with Anna's uncle. I teared right up for that part. A quiet man who loved his work at a library and was fired. Then his one other passion had been regular visits to the zoo. He was such a familiar face that that animals responded to him and were excited by his visits. Because he was a Jew, he was forbidden from ever coming back. And it just broke him and I so did cry.
This is perfect for young kids who aren't ready for the full ugliness of the time, but who can learn from Anna's attitude and get glimpses of the horror in a small measure. Full review
- Little House in the Big Woods
This was part of my classic reading challenge, so I'm saving up my thoughts for that post. But again, here's more of me being nostalgic.
- Anne of Green Gables
Same as above.
- The Bloodstone Chronicles was another childhood favorite for me and my siblings. I actually read the book and listened to the audiobook at the time. I will say that after rereading the book if my memory serves me correctly the audiobook was better.
A MG allegory that follows three kids on their adventures into an alternate dimension. There they meet new friends, enemies, and Creator. If you love allegories, then this is one that shouldn't miss your to-read list. I distinctly remember crying over the story of Denise when she gets to create her own little people and understands what that kind of love is like. Full review.
- Den of Wolves closes up this list! If I still have your attention, I'm telling you, READ THIS BOOK. I don't normally read adult fantasy(hard to find stuff that's not over-the-top adult) but this is a series I stumbled on and is just beyond words.
The characters are some of the most well-developed and "real" that I've come across in any book. Such a level of depth to this series and though I felt like this book was the weakest of the series(like the author felt rushed to end it and hurried the ending), it didn't change that overall this series is simply amazing. The sequence of events are so gripping that putting this down was nearly impossible. Not to mention that I was overcome by a desire to READ faster. I couldn't read this fast enough, it was so good it was killing me to not know what was next.
Definitely my number one book for the summer. Full review
What did you read this summer? Anything that really stood out as a must read?