First Quarter Reads

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The first quarter of the year ended on March 31st. I had every intention of doing this post in the beginning of April and linking up with Janssen, but then life got in the way. Winter felt interminable to me this year, but now Spring seems to be flying by! Anywho, here are my first quarter reads. Maybe I’ll be able to finish my second quarter post in time to join the link-up. No promises, though. I feel like I got the year off to a good start with reading. My goal was one book per week, and I seem to be averaging that. I just need to do a better job of writing my reviews in a timely fashion. I don’t think I’ll be doing full reviews of every book, but I’ll definitely be highlighting my favorites. Here’s what I read from January to March:

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (full review here)
I really enjoyed this one, despite the supernatural stuff. Jodi Picoult at her best.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman (full review here)
A quick read, though emotionally taxing. Great character development.

Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
I wasn’t a big fan of this one. Although I do believe in heaven, something about this story didn’t sit right with me. It felt forced. This family did go through an incredible ordeal, though, and I’m glad their son is okay. The one thing that I learned from this book is to take your child to a children’s hospital if at all possible, not necessarily the closest and most convenient hospital.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
Very well-written but emotionally draining. I could only take this book is small chunks because of the subject matter. I’m working on a full review.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell
This book talked about why certain people end up being so much smarter or more successful than the rest of us. Think Steve Jobs, The Beatles, or a musical prodigy. He argues that not all success is related to hard work, sometimes it just means being born at the right place, in the right time, with the right set of advantages.

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
When I was younger, I read Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech, and I really enjoyed it. That novel features a character introduced in Walk Two Moons, so I always wanted to read this one as well; I just never got around to it. When I was looking for an audiobook to listen to in my car, I spotted this one at the library and checked it out. I think that my younger self would have enjoyed this book a lot, and my adult self did as well.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Some people liked this better than If I Stay. I did not. It was okay. I was glad for the closure from the first novel, however. I’ve heard that the audiobook is really neat, because you can actually hear snippets of Adam’s music rather than just reading the lyrics. My recommendation is to listen to the audiobook if you choose to read this.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Two re-reads. Hubby was reading the series for the first time, and I needed to refresh my memory so that I could discuss it with him. After he finished each book, we watched the movies together, too.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
This was the first novel that I read by Jojo Moyes and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I listened to the audiobook, and I liked how each character’s perspective (it changed by chapter) was read by a different narrator.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 
I have a list of “bucket list” classics that I never got around to reading or never had to read for school. It was great to finally cross this one off my list. I alternated between the audiobook and a paper version. Although I enjoyed it, it felt very long. After I read it, I re-watched the film version from the 1990s. It’s one of my favorites. I tried to watch the film version from the 1930s, but Katharine Hepburn’s portrayal of Jo got on my nerves. Also, except for the actress playing Amy, they all seemed to be entirely too old to be playing teenage characters.

Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
This is a middle-level children’s novel about students in a sixth grade classroom and their experience with their teacher that year. The novel changes point of view quite often, and it is interesting to see how the various characters experienced the events throughout the year, and how they are changed by them. I think this would be a great novel for 5th graders and up. I listened to the audiobook version and thought the narration was great.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch by Jennifer Reese
An interesting read. The author took the time to make from scratch everything from english muffins, to bacon, and even maraschino cherries. She then breaks down the price of store-bought vs. homemade to make a judgement as to whether it’s better to buy it or make it yourself. Although I appreciated some of the recipes and it was an interesting read, there is no way that I’d ever make my own bacon, or some of the other things in this book, no matter how much money it would save me.

What have you read so far this year that you’ve enjoyed?

Review of Leaving Time

So, if i’m going to get 52 reviews up by the end of the year, I’d better get going. I’m already behind! Here’s #1:

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The first book that I read this year was Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult.

Several years ago I went on a Jodi Picoult kick and read a bunch of her books in a row. Although I enjoyed them, I kind of got burned out after awhile. She explores some heavy issues, and reading several of her novels in a row can be emotionally draining.

This one wasn’t as heavy as some of her others, so that was a plus. There was a lot of information about elephants, which might turn off some readers, but I found it interesting.

The main character of the book, Jenna Metcalf, is trying to find her mother Alice, who disappeared when Jenna was three years old after an accident that occurred on the elephant preserve that her parents owned. A woman who worked on the preserve was trampled and killed, and Alice was injured. She was taken to the hospital, but she signed herself out the next day and hasn’t been heard from since.

Together with a washed-up psychic and a sometimes drunk cop turned private investigator, Jenna sets out to find the truth about what happened to her mother 12 years ago. She ends up discovering more than she ever imagined.

I really enjoyed this book, and without giving too much away, the ending took me by surprise. So much so that I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me, and I was angry at first. I think I was angry that I didn’t see it coming. I like to try to guess the ending, but I sometimes get disappointed when I am right, because then it’s too easy.

Before this book, I read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and I saw the ending of that one coming a mile away. I was so disappointed when I figured it out so quickly, that I just didn’t appreciate the second half of the book as much. I was bored.

This book did not bore me. It kept me guessing. That it was Jodi Picoult is such a master storyteller. She keeps you guessing until the end, then she knocks the wind out of you.

Has anyone else read this? What did you think?

Resolutions and such

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Hello everyone!

My resolutions this year were to read and write more, so hopefully this blog will be a way to combine the two. I was planning to read a book a week (52 total), and I’m already on number 4, so it’s going well so far! I thought I would post a book review each week, and maybe see what some others thought of the same books. I’m open to suggestions of what to read, too, so fire away!

I’m hoping to get my first review up by Sunday for Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, which I loved! Check out my Goodreads widget on the side to see what I’m reading next. I’m going to try to read a mix of fiction, non-fiction, and hopefully a few classics that I never got to read in my youth. We’ll see how it goes. I hope you’ll stick around, beacuse there are good things coming! Leave me a note to let me know you stopped by.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, what was yours this year?

Are you reading anything good?