Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic today is “Books I Wish I Could Read Again for the First Time.” Several books came to mind almost immediately when I saw this topic, so it wasn’t too hard to fill the list. Though apparently it wasn’t too easy, either, since I stopped at 9. Most of the books on the list I wish I could forget because something about the plot, story, characters, or climax was grand, epic, or twisty and made the first reading spectacular in a way that no successive reading can possibly be (at least until I’m old enough to have memory issues…and then I could probably read all of my favorites like it was the first time again). In no particular order, here are 9 books I wish I could completely forget so I could read it for the first time again.

1. The Oath by Frank Peretti
This has long been my absolute favorite book, written by my single favorite author. I’ve read it many times in the last 20ish years, but would love the chance to read it again with fresh eyes. See my review here.

2. Three by Ted Dekker
I first read this book at least 15 years ago. I actually started it, put it down before the end of the first chapter, and took quite some time to get back to it. But when I started it again, I got into it. This is one of those stories with a Big Twist at the end that I, at least, did not see coming. The way the whole thing played together was great! And while it can be fun to read it again and see all of the clues, I wish I could wipe my memory of the ending and be surprised again. See my review here.

3. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
I actually read this book based on the recommendation of a fellow TTT participant, and I really wish I could remember who it was so I could thank them profusely. I loved it, and have already read it a second time. It’s another one with a twist, and while I actually saw the twist coming, I just loved how it all worked together. I wish I could read it again without any foreknowledge of it and relive the joy of getting to that ending.  See my review here.

4. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The mystery in this book was interesting enough, but the way it was presented and unfolded were unique and pretty amazing. It was such a great ride that might not be quite as exciting the 2nd time around. See my review here.

5. Holes by Louis Sachar
The beauty of this book is the way multiple seemingly unrelated storylines come together by the end of the book. I’ve read the book and seen the movie quite a few times, so I know the story really well, but I think it’d be fun to be able to experience the whole thing for the first time again.  See my review here.

6. 4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace by Johan Twiss
I was amazed by this book, a little-known gem that was self-published by the author. There’s no huge twist in the story, but the way it plays out is beautiful and touching. I am already looking forward to re-reading it some time, but it probably won’t be the same as the first time. See my review here.

7. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Oh my gosh, this book…I loved this book so much. It made me laugh, cry, and cheer. I know I will enjoy re-reading it, but nothing will ever compare to that first time the story unfolded before me. My husband recently listened to the audiobook, after strong prompting from me, and seeing it through the eyes of a new reader was the next best thing to reading it again for the first time myself. See my review here.

8. The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson
As the culmination of an epic middle-grade fantasy series, this book had all the feels. Seeing the triumph and tragedy for the first time was amazing, and I know it can never quite be that way again. See my review here.

9. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
This is a divergence from the rest of the books on the list. It’s not the first time I’ve mentioned this in a TTT post, but I did not like the narrator of the audiobook, at least the version I listened to. The story itself wasn’t bad, though, and I can imagine really liking the series. I have plans to give the books another try, but I worry that I won’t be able to forget how this narrator made me dislike the main character. It would certainly be helpful if I could re-do the first reading of this book. See my review here.

10. Outcast by Kristi Drillien
Another divergence from the most common reason I wish I could read a book for the first time again. I’m sure I’m not alone here amongst authors in wishing that I could see my story through the eyes of someone who doesn’t already know the story.

Have you read any of these books? What books do you wish you could read again for the first time?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books With Single-Word Titles

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is “Books With Single-Word Titles.” I thought this would be really easy, and then I looked through my list of books on Goodreads and realized…it’s not so easy. At least, not for me with the amount of books on my Read and Want to Read shelves, which I generally want to stick to for these weekly posts. And because it is a Top Ten list, after all, I didn’t want to include any books I didn’t really enjoy. Below is what I came up with, which includes 8 books I’ve read and 2 that I haven’t, but have a very good feeling I will like more than the average books I read. For once, my list is ordered 10 to 1, with #1 being my favorite of all the books on the list.

10. Redshirts by John Scalzi
Between enjoying the 2 books of Scalzi’s that I’ve read so far and being a Star Trek fan, not to mention my husband’s recommendation, I expect to really like this book too.

9. Unoffendable by Brant Hansen
I read Brant’s second book before reading this, his first, and have plans to get to it soon. His second book (Blessed Are the Misfits) is great, so I have high hopes for this one.

Pithea cover, Kindle

8. Pithea by Kristi Drillien
Bridging the gap between the books on the list that I haven’t read and those that I have is my own book (which, of course, I have read).  (See more about this book here.)

7. The Battlemage by Taran Matharu
I sort of cheated with the “The,” but ran out of books and wanted to fill out the final spot. This is the third book in a trilogy that that I really liked, and my favorite of the 3.  (See my review for this book here.)

6. Sneak by Evan Angler
This is book 2 in the Swipe series, which contains 4 books with 1-word titles. I’ve only read 2 of them so far. (See my review of this book here.)

5. Holes by Louis Sachar
Great book, great movie. If you haven’t read or seen this, you really should! (See my review of this book here.)

4. Thr3e by Ted Dekker
Great book, not such a great movie. I definitely recommend the book, though. (See my review of this book here.)

3. Priceless by Joel & Luke Smallbone
This book has a subtitle, but I’m ignoring that for this list. Actually, the 2nd book on the list has a subtitle too…oh well. (See my review of this book here.)

2. Obsessed by Ted Dekker
I tried to not include any 2 books by the same author, but oh well. I have not read this book for many years, but I read it a few times in my early adult days. I remember loving it, but plan to re-read it soon to see if it holds up.

1. Illusion by Frank E. Peretti
A new favorite of mine by my favorite author.  (See my review of this book here.)

What are your favorite books with single-word titles? If you also posted a TTT, share your link so I can check it out!

Top Ten Tuesday: Difficult Reviews to Write

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is “The Last Ten Books That Gave Me a Book Hangover.” I kinda get what that means, but it doesn’t really happen to me much. The most I could really say that about are books that ended up being my favorites, and listing the last 10 of those would be rehashing other posts I’ve made in the last few months. So I twisted the topic a bit. Sometimes the books that I love the most give me a hangover in the sense that I put off writing the review, because I don’t know how to put into words what I want to say. But there are other reasons that writing a review seems like a far more daunting task than normal. So my topic today is reviews (of those I’ve posted on this blog, the book review part of which only goes back to last July) that were the hardest for me to write, for various reasons. Here is my list in chronological order, starting with my very first book review on this blog:

1. Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren
Just by virtue of being the first book review I’ve written since school days, this was a difficult one to write. It was also written by a friend, so I wanted to make sure to be honest and kind. I wish I’d liked it more, but I’ve always had a different taste in literature than her, which I think influenced my view of the story. I’ve written a couple reviews since then that I knew the author was going to read, and am about to write another. It hasn’t gotten easier so far. (See my review for this book here.)

2. The Oath by Frank E. Peretti
This has been my favorite book for probably 15-20 years. I’ve read it many times. After reading it again for the first time in at least 10 years, I had a very difficult time putting what I liked about it into words. I don’t know if that’s because it was all too familiar, or if everything I liked had melded together over the years, or what. It turned out to be a fairly short review (compared to most of my others).  (See my review for this book here.)

3. Tilly by Frank E. Peretti
Same author, very different problem. I read this book for the first time last year, and it is incredibly short. It’s really hard to say much in a review without giving away what I thought was meant to be a mystery in the book (though it’s flat-out stated in the synopsis on Goodreads…I honestly don’t get it). But just in case, I skirted around it, and there just wasn’t much else to say. (See my review for this book here.)

4. Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble
As it turns out, I’m a pretty picky reader. If a book has 95% 4 and 5 stars on a review platform, I will usually be one of the 2 stars. I don’t really know why…maybe it’s that I have a harder time getting past things that others can ignore to see the positives. Maybe writing has ruined me for reading. Maybe I just have all the wrong personal preferences for books these days. Whatever it is, this is one example of a book that many others lauded, but I had a lot of problems with. I remember starting to write this review and having so much I wanted to say, I didn’t know how to organize it to even start, or how to make sure the review didn’t turn into a rant. (See my review for this book here.)

5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
When I read this last year, for the first time ever, and without having seen the movies either, I considered not even writing a review. Everyone has already read it, right? They already know way more about it than I do. What am I going to say that thousands of others haven’t? I did write it, but it took some time. (See my review of this book here.)

6. Stealthy Steps by Vikki Kestell
The main reason this review was difficult to write is that my mom had strongly recommended it to me and was really anxious to see what I thought about it. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t like it a ton either. I wanted to be careful not to write the review in any way that would make it seem like I was speaking negatively of her opinion or taste. (See my review of this book here.)

7. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
I don’t think it’s at all uncommon to have a difficult time reviewing a book that is about such a dark subject. If you say you liked it, it might seem like you’re being flippant about the subject. If you say you didn’t, it might seem like you’re heartless. I’ve written a few reviews with the same trouble, so hopefully I’m getting some practice at getting it right.  (See my review of this book here.)

8. Holes by Louis Sachar
The biggest issue with this one is that I saw the movie before I read the book, and I loved the movie. It can be difficult to separate them in my mind when writing a review. Even though the movie was very close to the book, there are some differences, and the book had a bit more depth to it. But in the end, I had to be willing to allow some comparison in my review. (See my review of this book here.)

9. I Want to Punch You in the Face But I Love Jesus by Sherri Lynn
Have you ever recommended a book (or substitute “movie or TV show” here) to someone and just wanted to be able to say, “Just read it! I promise it’s good!” without having to give reasons. This is that book for me. It was hilarious, relatable, and made me hate Patty Michelle Sinclair just a tiny bit less (well, maybe not).  (See my review of this book here.)

Pithea cover, Kindle

10. Blessed Are the Misfits by Brant Hansen
I finished this book 5 days ago, and I haven’t even started on the review. I never wait that long. I think part of it was because I knew I had plenty of time before it would be posted, but I’m also having a difficult time putting what I thought about it into words. I can say what I learned most from it, but that seems like a bit more soul-baring than I’m comfortable with. I can give some examples of Brant’s incredible humor, but I can’t tell his stories like he can. Hopefully by Friday, when this review will go up, I’ll have figured out something to say.

What books have you struggled to write a review for? Do you have a list of book hangovers to share? Link your TTT so I can check it out!

Book Review: Holes

Finished Reading: Holes
by Louis Sachar

My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Middle grade fiction

Holes

This is the story about 2 curses that come together in a place called Camp Green Lake, where there is no lake. Teenage boys are sent there for rehabilitation in the form of digging a hole the depth and width of their shovel every day. The camp’s newest inmate, Stanley Yelnats, quickly realizes there’s more to the hole-digging than character-building, but can he dig up the truth?

I like this book so much. I remember watching this movie about a year after it first came out, going into it without any clue what it was about. I was an adult, so not exactly the age group that the book was intended for, but I’ve never had a problem watching or reading things for a younger audience. I enjoyed the movie, and still do to this day. A few years after watching the movie, I found the book at a garage sale or thrift store or something like that, and picked it up. I’ve read it a few times, so this was a re-read, at least 10 years since the previous times I read it.

The way the author brought basically three different stories together, and in a really interesting and even believable way is so fun to follow along with. This book takes the idea of coincidence in storytelling (which is normally better to avoid) and embraces it to the point of being so well connected, you’re excited to see how the coincidences come together.

The kids are just trying to get by in conditions that definitely make it clear that the justice system has failed them, but they still have heart. The adults at the camp are apparently all terrible people, right down to the counselors who aren’t in the story much, which I think is a little unrealistic.

Since I saw the movie before reading the book, and have watched the movie several times now, of course I pictured the characters as they were portrayed in the movie, but I like the casting, so this isn’t a problem for me. There are some differences in the movie, a few things added to the movie, and of course some extra details removed, but overall, it is incredibly similar. My biggest issue with the book is that it is wrapped up awkwardly. There’s not a lot of closure. The movie did this better (even if a slight bit less realistically).

Overall, Holes is a fun, edgy book for kids approximately 8-12 years of age, but really can be appreciated by older people as well. The culmination of the different storylines in the latter half of the book is a lot of fun to discover, and I recommend it for all.

Find out more about Holes

See what’s coming up.

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!