Thursday, December 7, 2017

Fierce Kingdom - Gin Phillips

Fierce Kingdom
Title: Fierce Kingdom
Author: Gin Phillips
Publication Date: 7/25/2017
Pages: 288
Genre: Thriller / Fiction
How I Found It: I can't remember.
Date Completed: 11/25/17

Summary: A mother and her young son find themselves trapped in the zoo, trying to avoid becoming victims of a mass shooting.

What I Thought: I read this book in a day. It's not long and it goes quickly. It's hard to put down at points. You just want to know the characters' fates. 

To me, this is a perfect book to pick up if you want a quick thrill and aren't as worried about character development or a perfect plot. It's not perfectly crafted, but it's does it's job. 

I was a little disappointed by the lack of animals in this book. I know that sounds weird, but it takes place in a zoo. It seemed like there should have been more presence of the animals and their keepers. Most of the book felt like our characters were running around a basically abandoned zoo and that did not ring true to me. This really could have been the story of a mass shooting just about anywhere (ugh...I hate that these events are so frequent they seem commonplace) and I wanted more of the zoo-specific element.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Three - Sarah Lotz

The Three
Title: The Three
Author: Sarah Lotz
Publication Date: 5/20/2014
Pages: 471
How I Found It: Unabridged Chick reviewed it a few months back.
Date Completed: 11/25/17

Summary: Four commercial airlines crash on the same fateful day. In three of the crashes, a young child miraculously survives. The premise of the book is a reporter investigating the events and what followed. 

What I Thought: I picked up this book because one of my favorite fellow book bloggers, Unabridged Chick, reviewed it a while ago. I was looking for something creepy to read around Halloween. While I didn't get this around the holiday, it still made for a creepy read over Thanksgiving. She has a fabulous review of the book, so you should definitely go read that (link above). 

I started this with Kevin as an audiobook. He lost interest really quickly and we switched to another option. I was intrigued, though; enough to keep reading the ebook version. Having experienced both formats to an extent, I definitely think the print version worked better for this book. The audiobook dragged, something Unabridged Chick warned. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

November 2017 Chapter

Welcome to the Read.Write.Repeat. monthly wrap-up.  Every month, I give a quick overview of what books I read, the progress made on my reading goals, a few book-related links, and general blog news.  

November News 

It's been a busy month. As we near the end of the semester, it always feels as though everything is happening at once and it all needs my immediate attention. I am so ready to be done for the semester. Just another week and a half to go! Of course, I already have a long list of things I want to accomplish over the break. What kind of person plans out and schedules their relaxation activities? Me. That's who.

As predicted, November proved too crazy to really do much NaNoWriMo work. I did pretty well for the first ten days or so. I didn't have a concrete idea, so I dug out the very first manuscript I ever wrote as an pre-teen and attempted to rework that. I actually got pretty excited about it; it's surprisingly not terrrible. Well, it's terribly written, but the bones of the thing are decent. Half way through the month, however, Kevin snagged me a temporary part-time job in his office reading applications. They only need extra help for a few weeks this time of year, but it's basically as many hours as I want for that time. So, I dropped NaNoWriMo and starting reading applications in every spare moment. I decided, though, to make a 2018 goal to write consistently. I'd like to finish 2018 having written the equivalent of 500 words per day. That's 182,500 words. If I can stick to it, I should be able to work through several projects and ideas I've had for ages.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

What Happened - Hillary Rodham Clinton

What Happened
Title: What Happened
Author: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Publication Date: 9/12/17
Pages: 512
Genre: Memoir / Political / Nonfiction
How I Found It: Duh. 
Date Completed: 11/24/17

Summary: Clinton reflects on the 2016 campaign and what led to its surprisingly outcome.

What I Thought: I planned to post this review yesterday, but, ultimately, decided I needed another day to think about what I wanted to write. In our fraught political times, writing anything about Clinton feels like stepping into a minefield. She is a polarizing figure and I know nearly everyone has some sort of strong opinion about her and her place in our political zeitgeist. However you feel, though, you must admit she is an influential and historic figure. She has blazed a trail for women in our country and taken a beating along the way - some of which she brought on herself. 

I don't want to dive too deeply into my own thoughts on Clinton, but I do think we have lost our nuance in talking about her. She is imperfect, of course. She has made mistakes and they have played out on the national and international stage. She has made powerful friends and enemies. She also has had an incredible career and advanced a lot of important work. We have to stop seeing her as exclusively evil or exclusively good. She is complex, as are we all. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

One Thousand Gifts - Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts
Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope this day finds you with people you love, eating good food, staying warm, and filling your heart with gratitude. In a only slightly contrived coincidence, today's book is all about practicing gratitude on a daily basis. 

Title: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
Author: Ann Voskamp
Publication Date: 1/26/2011
Pages: 232
Genre: Faith / Memoir / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I've heard several people recommend it. 
Date Completed: 11/16/17

Summary: After facing some challenging circumstances in her life, Voskamp set out of on a mission to document one thousand gifts in her life. They range from simple to profound. Along the way, the challenge became a way of life. 

What I Thought: Voskamp's writing style was not what I was expecting at all. It is so beautiful and lyrical. She weaves stories in and out of her prose focusing more on the emotional experience of each moment than the plot details. As I was not expecting it, this approach took me a bit to adjust to, but I could not help loving it from the start. You must read expecting poetry, not straight-forward prose.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

10 Books I'm Thankful For

Every once in a while, I like to jump in and join The Broke and the Bookish family for Top Ten Tuesday (these are the same friends that do #TBTBSanta in December!). It's an opportunity for book bloggers around the Internet to talk about the same thing once a week. It's a fun way to connect and also to talk books with you Read.Write.Repeat. readers. Please jump in with your additions to my Top Ten list!

10 Books I'm Thankful For

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I know that's a controversial stance, but I'm holding to it. I love Christmas, but there just seems to be more stress around that holiday. Thanksgiving is much more relaxing. Although, I'm likely making the full meal this year again, so maybe relaxing isn't the right word. I enjoy the challenge, though, so don't take that as a complaint. 

I also just love the emphasis on gratitude. I believe strongly that increased gratitude in our lives leads to increased joy. While we should be practicing gratitude year round, it's nice to have a calendar catalyst, a time to purposefully contemplate the blessings and privileges we have. 

Among a litany of other blessings, I'm very thankful for books and the role they play in my life. There are so many people around the world who will never have access to the information and adventures that I do through literature. The ability to read and unlimited access to books are privileges so easy to take for granted. Also, I can't write this post and not acknowledge how incredibly thankful I am for family and teachers who encouraged me to read voraciously and made sure I had plenty of material to work with. 

I love this week's Top Ten Tuesday challenge because I've never really thought through what specific books I'm thankful for. This was a fun exercise! This certainly isn't an exhaustive list, but here are some books for which I'm especially thankful, in no particular order. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Origin - Dan Brown

Title: Origin
Author: Dan Brown
Publication Date: 10/3/17
Pages: 482
Genre: Thriller / Fiction
How I Found It: I've read all of the Robert Langdon series.
Date Completed: 11/1/17

Summary: Robert Langdon once again finds himself entangled in a dangerous race against the clock. This time, he's out to avenge a friend and reveal research about the origin and destiny of humanity. 

What I Thought: Anyone familiar with Dan Brown's work knows he's waded into his share of controversial topics. Ever since The Da Vinci Code, people expect him to be edgy and world-shaking. I have been an avid reader of his work since about that time and I do really enjoy his books. A few thoughts, though...

First, Dan Brown is not a great writer. He has an awesome ability to research, a great ability to weave together a thrilling story, and a decent imagination. All of those are fabulous qualities, but they don't always correlate to a high-level skill with the English language. I, and likely most of his audience, come to him for something other than Faulkner-esque prose. Still, I'd love to see his story-telling ability combined with the linguistic and character mastery J. K. Rowling brings to the Cormoran Strike series

Second, ever since Da Vinci, I think he feels the need to really lean into controversy. It's his niche. I get that. But, honestly, I found this to be his least controversial book. I know everyone was out there hyping it up as his most controversial since Da Vinci, but it's just not. It does directly tackle the age-old "conflict" of science vs. religion and try to play off of that, but it's end game was just not that controversial. Ok, I'm gonna use some spoilers here...

Seriously. Spoilers. Beware.