What Good Books Have You Been Reading Lately Vol 11

It’s summer. And that means more reading time for most people. To newcomers of this blog, this is a semi-regular feature on my blog. I have no set date on when these posts will go up. It all depends on how much I read and how good the books are that I read. Lately, I have been picking good books so it’s been good reading times for me.

On the Noodle Road by Jen Lin-Liu (Riverhead Books, 2013)

My blurb: I’ve really been on a foodie memoir kick lately. This one takes me into a journey through Asia and Europe and combines it with my love of pasta. After reading this, be prepared to eat a bowl of noodles. Doesn’t matter how. You’ll start craving noodles.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (Ecco/Harper Perrenial, 2007)

My blurb: If you’ve ever watched No Reservations or that new show he has on CNN, then you can pretty much know what you can expect from Bourdain. It’s written exactly how he talks. It really gives a great insight to what goes on inside a restaurant and includes many things that you wouldn’t even think about. You’ll still want to go out and eat after reading this one too.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (Knopf, 2014)

My blurb: This book is more of a history book than a book about the comics. That wasn’t what I was expecting when I picked this up but I was still quite delighted by it. I learned a ton of things that I never knew was connected to Wonder Woman such as the creator was a bigamist and was closely connected to Margaret Sanger, the famous birth control activist. It’s a fascinating read and you won’t look at Wonder Woman in the same way again. It’ll make you look forward to her movie (more so than you did for that Batman V Superman mess of a movie.)

The Pug List by Alison Hodgson (Zondervan, 2016)

My blurb: IT’S A BOOK ABOUT A PUG. So of course I had to read this. Pugs are the best. This is actually a nice memoir about a family and how pugs had a huge impact in their life and what they did for the morale of their family during a very tough time. The only thing I wished was there had been pictures of pugs. You can never have enough pictures of pugs.

Raising the Barre by Laruen Kessler (Da Copo Press, 2015)

My blurb: The premise of this book is that a middle-aged woman decides to try out for the Nutcracker ballet. The Nutcracker is my favorite ballet of all time and based on her findings, so is almost everyone else’s. Reading this book definitely makes me want to see the ballet live again one day. But not this version which still gives me nightmares.

Close to You by Kara Isaac (Howard Books, 2016)

My blurb: Hobbits! Lord of the Rings cosplay! New Zealand! This book appeals to my geeky side as it is a contemporary romance that goes on a tour of Middle Earth. Plus the female lead has a PhD! It’s one of the VERY few romances I’ve read that the story ends and I’m 100% satisfied with how everything turned out. My only complaint is the cover does absolutely nothing for the story. I suppose it’s licensing issues but with such a LOTR heavy plot, couldn’t there be a hobbit door or someone having hairy feet on the cover?

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick Press, 2015)

My blurb: Finally! A YA historical fiction read that doesn’t involve girls in fancy dresses who basically are modern girls disguised in a “historical” setting. This book follows the story of a girl who runs away from a horrible home life to become a house maid. There was a bit of controversy of how there might be some disparaging views of religion in the book but personally I feel that they represent the time period. It may be uncomfortable to read now in modern age but in a historical context, I believe they were accurate. Overall if you like books like Little House or Anne of Green Gables, you’ll like this one too.

That’s what I’ve been reading. What good books have YOU been reading lately?


Reading in 2016

This year in 2016 my goal this year is to once again read 200 books. I figured, it’s a safe number that over the past few years, I’ve been right on target with meeting. Well….it’s just now April and I’ve already read 105 books. Perhaps I should increase my goal. At this rate, I’m almost at my 2010 reading level. This is what happens when you work in a library and are surrounded by books 5 days a week.

In addition to reading a certain number of books, my goal is to read at least 50 books by POC authors. I was very dismayed that despite reading over 200 books last year, I read only 8 books by non white authors. I didn’t change my reading habits at all last year so that means that without reading intentionally, I gravitate towards white authors, particularly white female authors. This year I’m being more aware of what I read. I’m not trying to fulfill a quota and just check off a box. But I want to diversify my reading and by reading at least 50 books by POC authors will help me see what else is out there.

I’m trying to read more non fiction this year as well as, oddly, more male authors. Really anything out of my normal reading habits is fair game.

I think I’d like to try to do a weekly post on what I’ve read this week. Not necessarily posting about EVERYTHING I’ve read but the top books of the week. I find that I personally like reading what others have been reading (especially if they post the covers) so I figure maybe other people would like to read that about me too.

I’ll start off by posting the books I’ve liked best over the past 3 months.

Armada by Ernest Cline (Crown, 2015)

My blurb: I’ll start off by admitting that it’s not as good as Ready Player One and the ending comes REALLY fast in a slightly unsatisfying way. And there’s a bunch of namedropping of everything nostaglically pop culture. But it was still really fun to read and I couldn’t stop turning pages. If Cline writes another book, I do hope he veers away from this formula but I’ll be glad to read it as well.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert (Gallery, 2015)

My blurb: Foodie fiction is my favorite kind of fiction. And look at that cover. It’s a chick lit book, about a restaurant owner and a food critic, and miscommunication. And a lot of food.

You’re Never Weird On The Internet (almost) by Felicia Day (Touchstone, 2015)

My blurb: Truth, I didn’t know much about Felicia Day before reading this book. I knew her name but I couldn’t figure out why she was so internet famous because I hadn’t really seen/heard much about her outside of the internet. But her book is delightfully geeky and even though I still don’t actually interact with things she’s in, it’s a great funny read.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (Grand Central, 2015)

My blurb: I’m just going to say this is basically Prince William and Kate Middleton fan fiction with Kate being an American. I mean look at that cover. If you like the royals and you’re a Will and Kate fan, you’ll love this book.

Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans (Thomas Nelson, 2015)

My blurb: I’ve loved everything Rachel Held Evans has written. While I don’t necessarily agree with EVERYTHING she says, I do think that her thoughts challenge what most Christians blindly believe and makes one take a deeper look at their faith. Some people never really think about leaving the church but for those who have, this is a fantastic read.

Every Crooked Path by Steven James (Signet, 2015)

My blurb: Ever since I discovered Steven James about 8 years ago, I look forward to every Patrick Bowers book. I don’t care that this is as prequel to the main series and that I technically know what happens to Patrick, Christie, Tessa in future books. The story deals with child predators and child molestation so it can be an uncomfortable read at times. But it’s so gosh darn written well that you CANNOT put the book down. James is one of my favorite authors ever so I HIGHLY recommend these books. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

The Distance From Me to You by Marina Gessner (GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2015)

My blurb: This is a novel about a teenage girl hiking the Appalachian Trail by herself. I’ve had a friend hike it so it was really cool to know the lingo and recognize landmarks mentioned. I don’t have plans on hiking the trail myself but it was fun to live vicariously in this story.

My Brother’s Crown by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould (Harvest House, 2015)

My blurb: This is glorious historical fiction that I love combined with a modern story that goes back and forth weaving the two together. I’ve never read a Mindy Starns Clark book that I haven’t loved (even her Amish fiction is SUPER good because it really isn’t Amish-y) and I couldn’t put this one down. If you enjoy French history or just a darn good story, read this one. And then be left dying for book 2.

Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge (Waterbrook, 2015)

My blurb: More foodie fiction. And traveling overseas. And mentions of Doctor Who and Josh Groban. When does book 3 come out?

The Annotated Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and John Matteson, editor (WW Norton & Company, 2015)

My blurb: This is one of my favorite classics of all time. This version includes annotations throughout the story that add more insight to Alcott’s life and her writing. There are also colored pictures throughout the story including drawings from Alcott’s sister, pictures of historical artifact’s from Alcott’s life, as well as images from all the movies and Broadway show based on the book. If you haven’t read the book or it’s a been a while, this is a great way to experience it. Warning it’s a HUGE and heavy book, not for toting around everywhere.

The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn (Viking Adult, 2007)

My blurb: I love to cook but there’s not way I could study to be a chef. Especially not at the hardest culinary school in the world. But it’s so fun to read and live vicariously through Flinn about living in Paris and training to be a chef. Plus there are recipes! Foodie memoirs are a delicious read.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (Crown Archetype, 2011)

My blurb: Based on my Goodreads, I think I am the last of my friends to read this book. I’m honestly not quite sure why it took so long for me to read it. It’s really hilarious and I want to be Mindy Kaling’s best friend after reading it. I’ve already go her next book on hold for me at the library.

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke (Bethany House, 2003)

My blurb: This is a reread of a Christian fiction classic and despite the fact that it was originally written in 1979, it’s still held up quite well today. It’s not groundbreaking or edgy by any means, but it’s a sweet read that’s very comforting. Better than those hacked up TV movies that are supposedly based on the books any day.


2015: A Year in Books

2015 was a stellar year for reading. It was the first year that I filled out a reading spreadsheet and I’m so glad that I did. I realize that not everyone is as gung ho about keeping track about what they read (and into so much detail) but I am.

Books read: 221

Ebooks read: 4

Source of books: 96% from library

I did notice several habits about my reading. I didn’t intentionally change any of my reading habits this year, instead choosing to see what I naturally gravitate toward. 96% of the books I read were from the library so that means I didn’t really buy any books this year or read any of my own personal books.

12% non fiction (This is more than I’ve ever read in a year)

24% YA or MG

13% male (Again, more than I’ve ever read in a year)

8 books by POC authors

Now that final stat really disturbs me. Because a large number of my books were Christian fiction, this means that the majority of the books I read are written by white, female authors. That genre is almost exclusively written by that demographic because that is who their reading audience is. And unfortunately those readers seem to want to read that what they know and therefore there is almost no diversity in that market. Many of these books feature smiling happy white women or white couples on the cover. I’ve resigned to the fact that the market isn’t going to change. But I can make a change about what I read.

Not in any order, here are the top 10 books I read in 2015. I recommend any and all of these.

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pamela Smith Hill, editor (South Dakota State Historical Society, 2014)

My blurb: Well this book just destroyed my childhood. So it’s Wilder’s REAL autobiography as the Little House series was a) mainly written by her daughter Rose and b) heavily fictionalized plus the editor’s commentary on the sides chock full of facts and trivia. Like I said, my childhood is now ruined because I found out things like (SPOILERS) Jack, the brindle bulldog, never went to Plum Creek and onward with the family or the fact there was an extra family who lived with the Ingalls family during The Long Winter and she just chose not to add them in. It’s a great long read but be prepared to be like WTH.

Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle (Drawn and Quarterly, 2008)

My blurb: This book is fantastic for so many reasons. 1) I’m half Burmese so WOOT. 2) It’s a graphic novel. 3) The author is French so it’s not from an American POV. 4) It’s like a travelogue and a memoir in one. 5) It’s a very enjoyable read. Once you get started you don’t want to stop. 5) Also parents, especially dads will like it. I borrowed Delisle’s other books about living in China and North Korea because this one was just so darn good.

The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel (Gallery Books, 2015)

My blurb: So the funny thing about this book is that it’s really not one of my favorite books from this author. I felt the main character to be a bit whiny and I really wish she would have just TOLD her feelings instead of hiding them or assuming that people would just understand them. But what made this book stand out is that the overall plot is something I’ve always imagined “what if” to myself and it filled out the technical holes I always wondered in that situation. If you got transported into another version of yourself, how would you know everything in that life and still be aware of your real life?

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki (Howard Books, 2015)

My blurb: I didn’t know anything about Elisabeth or Sissi, the Austrian empress before this book but after reading it, I’m now like MUST FIND OUT EVERYTHING. This is a wonderfully written historical fiction. It’s lush with detail and I really felt transported into the story. I’m really not sure why this book is published with a Christian publisher as there’s nothing that stands out as being really Christian (which is fine for me but I know problematic for others). Pataki’s last book (The Traitor’s Wife) was outstanding as well and I cannot wait for her next one.

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor (Basic Books, 2014)

My blurb: The cover isn’t amazing but if you’re a huge Star Wars fan, then this book is going to be one of the most fun reads you’ll have this year. It gives a history of the franchise but not in a chronological order. Taylor focuses on different aspects of the movie making process as well as reactions and opinions. You can tell he’s a fan but he’s doesn’t shy on criticizing when it needs it. Almost every little thing I personally like that deals with the franchise (both good and bad) gets a shout out. To be honest, it makes me really want to go back and watch all the movies and TV shows and read some of the books to prepare for The Force Awakens in December. I highly recommend this one.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (Random House, 2011)

My blurb: I talked a bit about this already on the blog but I had a BLAST reading this book. My “book club” decided to read it and I’m really glad because it’s been recommended me for a while and I kept putting it aside. Basically if you grew up in the 80s and know a lot about pop culture this is the book for you. It was so fun reading it too! Granted some of it seems a bit like name dropping at times and how many references can the author cram in a passage. But overall it’s really fun and I’m looking forward to the movie directed by Spielberg in a few years.

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs (Quirk Books, 2015)

My blurb: This book is the handbook of my life. Seriously, if you ever wanted to understand my interests better, please pick up this book. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, young or old. All the things I like that are geeky are in this book. All the things I want to like but haven’t had the chance to are in this book. It’s written in a fun way and well…I’m just geeking out right now thinking about it.

We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist (Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2014)

My blurb:

I realize I normally don’t write reviews on here, but this really was one of the best books I have read this year. I could not stop laughing while reading this book. I also developed a major crush on the author while reading. Alas it was not meant to be. This was by far the best memoir I read this year. If you are someone who grew up in Christian youth group, you’ll get this book as well.

Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon (GP Putnam’s Sons, 2015)

My blurb: First, I’m only going to recommend this book if you read the rest of the books in the Mitford series. I can’t say you’ll enjoy it as much if you didn’t read the others. That being said, if this book is the FINAL book in the series, then it goes out with a wonderful bang. Everything I loved about everyone in this series happens and it’s a wonderful way to wrap things up. I came away highly satisfied and, as always with a Mitford novel, highly comforted.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

My blurb: I normally wouldn’t have picked up this book had it not been a recommendation from Book Riot as it falls out of my normal gravitational pull. But I’m really glad I did. It’s a book about books. And librarians. And a mystery. And I personally like the deckle edged pages that come with it because I feel it adds to the story. It’s beautifully written.

I’ll talk about 2016 reading goals in an upcoming post. Yes, a spreadsheet has happened again.


It’s Been Awhile….

Oh hello there. It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. To be honest, I’m not really sure who is still out there reading this.

As you obviously noticed, I took a long break from blogging. It was unintended and I had so many things that I wanted do during 2015 for the blog as well as with my own life. I had everything planned out of how I wanted the year to go. But to quote John Lennon: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

Last summer, my ex-husband passed away unexpectedly. It was news that I had not anticipated on hearing at this point in our lives. Maybe a few years ago, yes. In about 40-50 years, yes. But right now? No. Not at all.

I was completely unprepared for how the news would affect me. Even though we had both moved on with our lives, he was always going to be a part of my life. Hearing that he was gone hit me hard. Grief is a funny thing. Even though you think you know how you’ll act in a certain situation and you get all prepared, you never really are. Emotions that I didn’t know existed in me were everywhere. I saw the movie “Inside Out” during this time period and let me tell you, it is SPOT ON. Also tears galore.

I am glad that we had been able to talk to each other a few weeks prior to his death. It was a very good conversation. It was one that I believe that God blessed us with because we both got closure and was ready to truly move on.

After all that happened, I just didn’t feel like blogging again. I didn’t feel like reading either. I just wanted to live my life and move on but my creativity levels had decreased like whoa. Weirdly enough, I also felt that I was ready to really start dating again. And so I decided to bite the bullet and signed up for actual online dating websites. Unlike the last go round, I actually went out on a bunch of dates (free food! free beer!) and had a good time. I got to meet a lot of new people that I normally never would had the chance to have encounter. But honestly, dating is hard. It’s an emotional roller coaster. There were periods where I felt frustrated, my self-esteem seemed like it was going down the drain, nights of crying and praying, and long venting of anxiety sessions with friends. I wanted to give up several times.

And then the day before my birthday, I got a message from a guy about my name and reference to the show The Oblongs. We texted for a bit and he asked me out that same day. We went bowling a few nights later……and we’ve been together ever since. I am glad to say that I’m in love and I’m happy. Happier than I’ve been in a LONG time. He’s a pretty awesome dude if I do say so myself. We don’t have a PERFECT relationship (because I’m sorry, NO ONE does and if you think someone does, they do not) but we’ve been working on it together. There’s a lot of learning about each other and one’s self and sometimes it’s hard. But it’s a good relationship and like I said, I’m happy. So things are good.

Oh and my laptop broke several months ago and I’ve only JUST now replaced it so I can finally stop using my phone 100% for the interwebs and can finally type properly again.

I can’t promise that I’ll be blogging regularly like I used to. I don’t think right now blogging three times a week is in me at the moment. But I do miss writing so I’ll be back. It may be sporadic but I have things to say, things to share. Especially books. I have missed talking with you guys about all the books I’ve been reading. We need to bring that back.


I Saw The Sign

I’m not the type of person that goes around looking for meaning in everything that happens in my life. I don’t try to read into things and I don’t think that anyone can will God into making things appear for you.

And yet for the past few years, I can truly say that I believe that sometimes God does send you signs to show you that He’s watching over you and showing you that yes he indeed is there.

Prayer is a wonderful thing. You can talk to God all the time and tell Him everything. It’s how He wants us to communicate with him and therefore the relationship (just like with any other kind) grows stronger. But sometimes you feel like you’re not getting any feedback and you feel like you’re just talking to no one. It can become extremely frustrating when you want an answer.

I myself have yelled several time at God to “PLEASE JUST GIVE ME  A SIGN SO THAT I KNOW THAT YOU’RE THERE!” Of course I’m always half afraid that right after I say that, something’s going to blow up right next to me but thankfully that usually that isn’t the case.

Instead I think (and I may be wrong) that God sometimes finally decides to throw us a bone and just decides to show us something. I know for me, I’ve seen THINGS. Sometimes, it’s exactly what I needed to see and sometimes it’s exactly what I asked for. Then there are also times when God used a repeated sign over and over again to show me that He had not left me or forsaken me. Even though the sign didn’t end up representing what I personally wanted it to be, it instead showed me what God wanted me to see. It became a reminder that His presence was always there.

I personally don’t think it’s always a good idea to demand God to show you a sign. But every now and then there’s no harm in asking. Perhaps it’ll open up your eyes after you see it.


Back again!

Well, hello there again!

I realize that it’s been an embarrassingly long time (at least for me) since I’ve updated here. I didn’t do the the fade out/disappear thing (because believe me those suck) in case you were wondering. Yep, I’m still here.

There were things that happened in my life over the past few weeks that caused a pause for a while and I needed to take some time off.

But I’m back! And I’ll hopefully will be back to a regular schedule soon.

Because I’ve missed writing and doing this. And I want to do this again.

So here’s to more posts coming up again!


Genre Geeking: Graphic Novels and Comics

I’ve decided that I want to talk a bit more about the things I like on here, mainly because 1) it’s my blog and 2) I like talking about things I like.

This time around we’re going to talk genres of books that I’ve discovered that I like reading. Today we’ll be talking about graphic novels and comics.

I’ve always liked comics (really, you’re kinda boring if you don’t). But it’s only very recently that I’ve truly enjoyed them as a form of literature. It probably comes from a childhood where one was taught that reading a comic book wasn’t really reading. They were for leisure only and therefore not to be taken seriously. Plus growing up it was mainly a guy thing, girls didn’t really read comics.

All that’s changed now. Graphic novels are super popular among the middle grade and YA set. Our copies at the library fly out at a tremendous rate and are read by both boys AND girls. It’s now become acceptable to be of any age reading them, really. Sure you’ll have naysayers who will disagree but who cares. It’s a medium that is done very creatively because you can either have an original story and make it come alive with good art or you can take a story that’s already been established and the graphic novelization of it makes it into something new.

I think reading graphic novels and comics is a ton of fun (though sometimes with the comics, I have issues with how women are portrayed but for right now we’ll let it pass) and there’s so many good ones that I’ve read in the past year.

Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson (Marvel)

Thor by Jason Aaron (Marvel)

Jeffrey Brown’s Star Wars series (Chronicle books)

Guy Delisle’s travelogues (Drawn and Quarterly)

The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman (Image Comics)

Now I know that these don’t even begin to scratch the surface of comics and graphic novels at all. I’m not an expert and there’s still so much to learn and explore. One excellent website to learn more is Panels, from the folks who also do Book Riot.

Tell me what graphic novels and comics you like and based on what I’ve shown here, give me some recommendations!


An Update on Trusting God with the Impossible


I got a comment the other day from my Trusting God When Thing are Impossible post asking for an update. They wanted to know as I had written that post a few years ago if God had come through for me. This post continually gets hits every week, it’s the second most popular post on my blog. This is something that many people have to struggle with every day.

So has God come through for me since I wrote that post? I will have to answer that as yes*. The * means that He DID work through and made the impossible happen. It just was not the impossible I originally had wanted/planned/hoped but it turned out to be what I needed. Funny how it always works out like that right?

The thing I’ve learned the past two years about trusting God is this: sometimes you have to realize if you are holding onto something because you want it or because you know that God wants it for you. There have been times when I’m 100% certain this is the path God wants me to take and I need to trust that decisions and circumstances will come my way that will lead me toward that path. But then there are other times when it feels more like I’m manipulating the circumstances to make things go the way I want them to and then just trying to credit God with whatever happens.

There were a lot of times over the past two years when I got frustrated because I truly could not see how everything was going to work out the way I had wanted. There are passages in my journal that are basically water stained because I’m crying as I’m writing angrily over how I just could not see how this was going to work out. I knew I had to trust God with everything.and yet it kept seeing more and more impossible each and every day.

But those were the worst days. And even during that time period, I can look back now and see that God really was working behind everything. It sounds so cliché to say this but everything that happened was the best for me at the time. It helped to strengthen my faith and helped me to grow. Looking back now, I can see that what I wanted wasn’t necessarily what was best for me but I needed to go through it.

Everyone’s circumstances is different. And your impossible may actually become a reality. For me what I learned is that you cannot base your trust in “whatever the impossible is”. You have to place the trust in God and that HE is in control and that HE will make whatever your impossible needs to be come true.

All the worries of this world
I will lay them at Your feet
Surrender every anxious thought
For perfect peace, Your perfect peace

All the loved ones I hold dear
All my hopes and dreams and all my fears
I will choose to trust Your name
In everything, with everything
I will look back and see that You are faithful
I look ahead believing You are able

Oh and addendum: do you know how I know that God was working throughout ALL of this? God kept using Abraham and Sarah’s story as a way to show me to keep trusting in him. When everything was finally revealed at the end of this, the name Sarah became signficant and it really became clear that God was with me the whole time. And all I could do was laugh when I realized this. Never say that God does not have a sense of humor.

“Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” (Genesis 21:6)

I’m still praying and still trusting that God will continue to make what I think is impossible become true for me…..according to His plan.