Top Ten Tuesday: Titles with Numbers (II)

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic today is “Books With Numbers In the Title.” It’s interesting to me that in the fairly short amount of time I’ve been doing these posts, I’ve done this topic before. But when I looked through the list of books I’ve read since then and my current TBR, I was able to easily come up with 10 more. Whereas last time, I decided to find 1 book for each number 1-10, this time I just went with any numbers. The first 7 books are in the order of when I read them, and the last 3 books I haven’t read, but are on my TBR.

1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
 See my review here.

2. 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep
The 2nd book in this trilogy has a number in the title too (A Tale of Two Hearts), but I chose this one because I liked it more than the other. See my review here.

6. 4 Years Trapped in My Mind Palace by Johan Twiss
See my review here.

4. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkein
See my review here.

5. The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
See my review here.

6. Mayday at Two Thousand Five Hundred by Frank E. Peretti
See my review here.

7. Hill 568 by Ellen Emerson White
See my review here.

8. The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans
The rest of these books I have not read. This series was recommended to me by my husband.

9. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
I watched this movie long ago, but the only thing I remember about it is that I liked it more than I expected to.

10. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
Since I ran out of books with a number in the title, have one with the word number! I read this in middle school, or maybe earlier than that, but I don’t remember it much. I plan to re-read it soon(ish).

Have you read any of these books? What’s on your list of books with numbers in the titles?

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 That Made Me Want More Like Them

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic today is “Books I Loved that Made Me Want More Books Like Them.” My time of serious reading is short enough that if I did this topic straight, it’d resemble many past TTT posts, simply restating my favorite books over the last 2 years. So I’m changing it up just a bit. Most of the books on this list are books that I didn’t like, but make me want to try to find other books like them. Maybe the premise was super interesting, but the execution was poor. Or it didn’t turn out to be the type of book I was expecting at all, so now I want to go find something that actually is what I was looking for. I’ve ordered them lower ratings to higher ratings (as rated by me), and the last few actually are books I did like that made me want to read more like them.

10. The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson
While I’m not much of a horror fan, the idea of a group of kids investigating local ghost stories and urban legends sounds like it could be fun. Sadly, the urban legends and such are a much smaller part of the book than I expected, and the book seemed more drama than anything to me. See my review here.

9. Rabbits by Terry Miles
Based on the premise, I was expecting something like the movie The Game crossed with Ready Player One, maybe even with escape room elements thrown in. Boy, would I love to read that! This wasn’t it.  See my review here.

8. Seconds to Live by Susan Sleeman
This is really just a representative of an entire genre that has let me down. I keep trying Christian mystery/suspense books like this one and keep being disappointed (though I have liked a couple). Usually there’s a romance sub-plot that gets in the way, but the mystery is often convoluted and un-suspenseful too. I’d love to find some good ones, but am about ready to give up on the genre instead. See my review here.

7. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
This is one of a few entries that are here specifically because of the audiobook. I listened to 2 books in this series and just couldn’t stand the main character, but I think that has a lot to do with the narrator. The MC is independent, bucks society, and is often haughty…and the narrator takes that to an extreme. I almost hated her by the time the book was over. My sister, who recommended the book in the first place, said there’s another version with a different narrator that is a lot better. I think the story might otherwise be one I’d like, so I plan to give it another try with the different narrator. See my review here.

6. Wingfeather Tales by Andrew Peterson and various authors
This entry may be sort of cheating. I’d love to try to find other books that are more what I would have liked to see from this, but they’ll never exist. This is a collection of short stories set in the world of The Wingfeather Saga, which is a wonderful series of 4 middle-grade fantasy books. Like so very many others, I’d love to see a continuation of that series, even if not directly picking up where the series left off, written by the author himself, but he’s said he’s not going to do that (well, for sure not the direct continuation, at least). While this book had its good moments, most of the stories were written by other people, so it just wasn’t the same. See my review here.

5. Time and Again by Deborah Heal
This was a pretty interesting idea—a dual timeline story where the people in modern day use a mysterious computer program to watch events unfold in the past. The execution was lacking, sadly; though I’m not exactly a history buff, I really like the idea of the pre-teen who hates to learn seeing history literally come to life before her eyes, and that history influencing the viewers. The first book in the series (shown here) was okay, but the 2nd killed my interest. See my review here.

4. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
I liked this book, though I didn’t care for the atmosphere and author’s writing style. The mystery itself and the culmination of the story I really liked, though, and I’d love to find more books with this kind of out-of-the-box approach to presenting and solving the mystery. See my review here.

3. The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham
I don’t know if I’d call myself a Marshmallow, exactly, but that might just be because I’m not much of a follower. Be that as it may, I do love the show Veronica Mars, so as soon as I heard that Kristen Bell narrated the audiobook of the 1st of 2 books written as a follow-up to the movie (which was a follow-up to the show), I knew I had to listen to it. Now that I’ve started to move on to books written as additional stories for other TV shows I love (with varying degrees of success), I would just love for more of those to have audiobooks narrated by their main stars. So far, though, I’ve not found much of that. See my review here.

2. There I Go Again by William Daniels
I’m not much of a non-fiction reader and have never really cared much for biographies. But as soon as I saw that the actor who played Mr. Feeny wrote a book about his time in the spotlight, I didn’t even hesitate to get it into my hands. Since then, I’ve discovered that I actually don’t mind autobiographies or memoirs, but apparently I’m kind of particular about the subject matter (I suppose that’s probably normal, actually), as I’ve since read books by John Cooper (only partially autobiographical) and Cary Elwes and have also acquired autobiographies by Tim Conway and Steven Curtis Chapman. See my review here.

1. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
This entry is also specific to the audiobook. I absolutely loved the narrator for the version I listened to, Nadia May. From my review: “The way she differentiated all of the larger characters was astounding, and I especially loved her voice for Mr. Gibson (Molly’s dad). There were times that I’d get so caught up in it that I’d completely forget this was one person doing all of the voices.” I badly want to listen to other books narrated by her (though sadly I don’t seem to have access to many that interest me, even though I can see she’s narrated several I’d like to read), and hope to come across other narrators as amazing as she (I’ve already discovered a couple I like almost as much).  See my review here.

Have you read any of these books? What’s on your list?

Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Stars or Not?

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic today is a completely open freebie. Back in February of 2020, there was a TTT topic that I participated in titled “Books On My TBR I Predict Will Be 5-Star Reads.” Every single one of the books on my list that Tuesday I have since read, save one. For today’s post, I thought it would be fun to see how my predictions and hopes turned out. With each entry, I’ve included my original thoughts on the book back in February 2020, before I’d read it, and then the update.

1. Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time a few months ago and loved it. It was one of the 5-star reads I mentioned above. I plan to read the 2nd book in the series this month, and while some of what made me love the first book will likely be downplayed in the 2nd one (because Anne isn’t a kid anymore), I still anticipate loving it!

Sadly, this did not turn out as great as I’d hoped. I gave it 3.5 stars, and that’s largely due to the loss of Anne as a child. See my review here.

2. North! or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

This is also book #2 in a series, and I loved book #1 (On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness). The first book was mostly the story of how this family went from a normal family in an oppressed land to finding out that they were so much more than normal. The 2nd book will build on that and start the real saga, and I’m looking forward to it!

This was an accurate prediction! I loved the 2nd book in the series, and went on to love the rest just as much. This book series has become a huge deal in my family! See my review here.

3. The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin

I read the 3rd book in this series recently and loved it so much that I knew I needed to read the rest of the series. Normally I don’t like to read out of order, but when I requested the 3rd book on NetGalley, I thought the series was basically stand-alones. However, I realized while reading it that the three books in the series are all about 3 brothers. Though I’ve read a few spoilers of the first 2 books now, it’s not much more than what I would know just from the fact that they’re in the romance genre.

I wasn’t too far off on this one. I gave this book 4 stars, and the 2nd book in the series, the final one for me to read, 5 stars like the 1st one I read (which was 3rd in the series). Overall, it was a great series that I look forward to re-reading someday (in order). See my review here.

4. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

I have watched the BBC mini-series several times. I love it so much. I’ve heard from others who felt that Mr. Thornton (the male lead) has a lot more depth in the book, and I already really like his character. So I’m looking forward to reading it!

Another accurate prediction! Technically, I gave it 4.5 stars, but that’s close enough for me. See my review here.

5. Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

I was invited to be part of a blog tour for this book, which comes out in June. This is a first for me, and I’m really hoping to be able to give it a good review as part of the blog tour.

Here’s where my predictions turned into hopes–less certainty that I’d like it, and more the hope I would for one reason or another, like being part of a blog tour for this book. Unfortunately, this one didn’t turn out so well. I gave it 3.5 stars. See my review here.

6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

My sister extolled the virtues of this book all through the holidays. She actually recommended several books to me during that time, but she seemed the most sure that I’d like this one. I really hope I love it!

I am happy to report that I did love this book! It earned all of its 5 stars, and I was quite relieved that I so enjoyed a book my sister highly recommended. See my review here.

7.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This is another book that my sister recommended, but it’s actually on this list because of the fact that, based on her recommendation, I picked up a copy for cheap at Half-Price Books. And even more than that, I later bought book #2 in the series also at a bargain price. It would be particularly disappointing to not like the first book.

I only read this book earlier this month, and was really caught up in it! I gave it 4.5 stars and am so happy that I already bought the follow-up book at a bargain price. See my review here.

8. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve never read any Tolkien, and it never used to bother me. But after the LotR movies came out, I found myself wishing I was a fan. I have good reason to believe that I would have a difficult time getting through those books, though, and I don’t really want to deal with that. But with this book being for a younger audience, I thought it might be a good way to start. If I still struggle with it, my sister mentioned that listening to the audiobook helped her to push through the LotR books, and while I’m not normally one for audiobooks, I can see the merit in this case.

I did read this book, rather than listening to the audiobook, and gave it 5 stars in the end. I did, however, listen to the LoTR books and have gotten into audiobooks more in general since February of last year. See my review here.

9. Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story by Jill Eileen Smith

I don’t know if other people have a favorite book in the Bible, but mine is Ruth. I have always found the romance in the story of Ruth and Boaz. I watched a movie based on the book once, but it was pretty bad (even though I like the guy that played Boaz as a musician, his performance was terribly stilted). So when I came across this book, I knew I had to read it. And if it doesn’t live up to my idea of the story…maybe I should just write my own version!

I literally just finished this book last night, which was perfect, since it was the only book on the list I hadn’t either read or passed on (see #10). And though I haven’t written the review yet or settled 100% on a rating, it will likely be either 3 or 3.5, sadly. Part of that is because of my own ridiculously high standards regarding this story, but I think there were some other issues too.

10. This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti

This entry is quite different from the others. I’ve read this book before, but it’s been at least 15 years. I remember loving it, and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads when I first signed up in 2015. I want to re-read this soon and see if it lives up to my memory of it.

I started reading this several months ago, then stopped. I only got a few pages into the story before remembering how long and drama-filled it is, and realizing that I just don’t want to put the time into it. Then I considered listening to the audiobook, but was disappointed when I didn’t have easy access to the version read by the author (I love hearing him read his own work). I may still come back to it for a re-read of a book I read many times in my younger days, but I have a feeling now that it won’t turn out to be 5 stars.

Have you read any of these books? Were any 5-star reads for you?

Top Ten Tuesday: Full Sentence Titles

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic today is book titles that are complete sentences, which turned out to be a little easier than I thought it would be. Not that I found a ton of them, but I did find more than 10 and had to narrow it down. So I went with only books that I’ve read, and I’ve put them in order of lower ratings to higher ratings (as rated by me).

10. Don’t Keep Silent by Elizabeth Goddard
The third in a series, all 3 of which have titles that are complete sentences. See my review here.

9. All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen & Jory John
My husband loves this book. I thought it was okay. But the important thing is that not only is the title a complete sentence, it’s even written in sentence format on the book cover, with a period at the end and everything!

8. His Name Was Zach by Peter Martuneac
The first in a trilogy, all 3 of which have titles that are complete sentences. See my review here.

7. Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman
See my review here.

6. Hope is a Dangerous Place by Jim Baton
See my review here.

5. Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
See my review here.

4. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
Somehow this book always makes my top ten lists… See my review here.

3. Mr. Monk Goes to the Firehouse by Lee Goldberg
First in a series of novels about the TV detective, many of the other books in the series have complete-sentence titles too. See my review here.

2. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
In a way, one could possibly read this in a different way than would be needed for it to be seen as a complete sentence. I choose to read it as an imperative with the implied “you” as the subject. See my review here. (Another similar title is Escape from the Island of Aquarius.)

1. I Want to Punch You in the Face But I Love Jesus by Sherri Lynn
This book has been in a few of my TTT posts in the past too, but come on, it fits so well! See my review here.

Looking for books for this list was more fun than I expected it to be. What’s on your list?

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Reads from 2020

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl, which I haven’t done in a while now. The topic today is a look back at our favorite books from the past year. After a full year of reading, this was a little more difficult than it was last year, when I’d only been reading for half the year. Last year I had to include some 4-star books too, but this year, I had plenty of 5-star reads to choose from!

After narrowing it down to 10, these are in no particular order. I did clump similar genres together, though. Also, I did not include any re-reads, and I’m lumping series into 1 entry, even if the entire series wasn’t 5 stars.

1. Unoffendable by Brant Hansen
I love all of Brant Hansen’s books, and I did give 5 stars to his newest book this year too. However, this one took the edge over The Truth About Us just a bit. Brant has a way of cutting to the heart of the matter. He speaks simply and honestly, makes some really good points, and is funny to boot. (See my full review here.)

2. I Want to Punch You in the Face But I Love Jesus by Sherri Lynn
Continuing in a similar vein to the previous book, considering that Brant and Sherri are radio co-hosts, Sherri’s book is a hilarious take on PMS, the difficulties women face, and how they don’t have to be alone in their misery. (See my full review here.)

3. The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
This series of books has dominated my year. I read the entire series of 4 books between January and June, and then listened to the first three again as the author read them live online to beat the quarantine blues. He just started reading book #4, The Warden and the Wolf King, 3 nights ago. My 10-year-old daughter read the series upon my suggestion, watched the live readings with me, and has basically become obsessed. And my husband bought me the entire re-released series, with beautiful new covers and new illustrations inside, for my birthday back in May. It’s been a Wingfeather-heavy year. (See my full review for the first book in the series here.)

4. Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
My daughter returned the favor of my recommendation on the previous series with this series. I’ve only read the first one so far, though she’s read all but the newest, and it was so much fun! It’s basically an escape room in a 3-story library with Willy Wonka as the game master. I mean, what can be better than that? (See my full review here.)

5. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
I love a well-done time travel story, and this is one of the best I’ve seen. It’s written for a younger audience, but I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway (I’ve always been a little childish). (See my full review here.)

6. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
I’d never read any Tolkien before this. I have seen all of the movies, though. I love the LoTR movies, though I had only watched the Hobbit movies once (I watched them again after reading the book). I decided to start with The Hobbit, because it’s written for a younger audience, and after enjoying it, I went on to listen to the audiobooks of the LoTR trilogy (on the third one now). It has been very interesting seeing the differences between the books and the movies, and I know I’ll need to read it all again multiple times to really get a decent understanding of the depth. (See my full review here.)

7. The Shepherd’s Wife by Angela Hunt
This is the second book in a series of Biblical fiction set during and after the time Jesus was an adult on earth, from the perspectives of people on the peripheral of his ministry. I liked book #2, Daughter of Cana, but I loved this one. The book is character-driven, inspirational, and so engaging. I’m waiting anxiously for the 3rd book in the series to come out! (See my full review here.)

8. The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer
I so loved the combination of characters and their arcs in this book, and how they brought out the themes of looking for blessings during difficulties and using love and kindness to drive away hatred. A plot that seems complicated was very well written by Sawyer, and I’m now looking into her other works. (See my full review here.)

9. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
My sister highly recommended this book written entirely in epistolary form, and I wasn’t sure how I’d like it. But I loved it, unsurprisingly mostly due to the characters. But I found that the format of the story being told through letters made it a particularly quick and easy read, because there’s not a lot of description. I know that might bother some people, but I really liked it. (See my full review here.)

10. Sunrise at Normandy trilogy by Sarah Sundin
I read all of this trilogy this year, starting with #3, The Land Beneath Us (shown above), because I got it as an ARC. The third one was my favorite of the trilogy, but only by a little bit. The entire trilogy tells the story of three brothers who were separated by a very unfortunate series of events that led to three years of estrangement. During that time, each of the brothers trained in different branches of the military and became part of the invasion of Normandy. I love the way these books tell each of the brothers’ individual stories during WWII, but also tells the complete story of the broken relationship between the brothers and their family. I can’t wait until I read these books again, in order this time, of course. (See my review of the book shown above, which is third, but I read first, here.)

Have you read any of these? What were some of your favorite reads this year?

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles as Band Names

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is “Titles That Would Make Good Band Names”. I went through the list of books I’ve read and reviewed first, then to my TBR to round out the 10. Below is my list, in no particular order, with minimal discussion (because why justify titles that struck me as decent band names?), with a bonus at the end. There are some with words in parenthesis, because the band name should be without those words.

Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

 

(Blessed Are) The Misfits by Brant Hansen

 

His Name Was Zach by Peter Martuneac

 

Gemma and the Mites
This one does require a little explanation. The series is called Nanostealth, and none of the books are title what I listed above. However, in writing my review for book #2 in the series (Stealth Power), I used the phrase “Gemma and the mites,” and knew instantly it would be a good band name. So it was the first thing that actually came to mind for this TTT, even if it doesn’t exactly fit.

 

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(The) Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

 

(The) Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

 

Synapse by Steven James

 

Redshirts by John Scalzi

 

(An) Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

 

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard

 

BONUS #11


Outcast
Yes, this is sort of cheating, since there’s already a band called Outkast, but I still thought it was funny that it worked so well.
Shown here: The Outcast by Taran Matharu and Outcast by Kristi Drillien

What do you think of my band names? Link your TTT post so I can check out yours!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books of My Youth

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is “Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About”. Considering that I’ve only been reading seriously for 9 months, all of the books that I’ve really liked have been in a TTT post at some point or other (some multiple times). So I searched a little further back and came up with 10 books that I read back when I used to read avidly, a pastime that had ended by 15 years ago. Only 2 of these books have been on a TTT post of mine before this.

This list is mostly made up of books I read in high school (some for English class, some for myself), with maybe one or two a little later than that. Most I’ve read multiple times, but just not within the last 15 years. I own almost all of these, as I liked them enough back then to buy a copy, and all of them I will most likely again soon and give them a proper review.


Hangman’s Curse and Nightmare Academy by Frank Peretti
There are many reasons why Frank Peretti is my favorite author, and this far-too-short series is one of them. I’ve read both of these several times and love them so much, especially the 2nd one. I only wish Peretti had written more of them.

Obsessed by Ted Dekker
I read this book several times after it came out in 2004. It fed into my serious interest in the Holocaust as a teenager and young adult (as is evidenced by several more of the books below), even though it’s fiction.

Maus and Maus II by Art Spiegelman
In the AP English classes I took for the latter 3 years of high school, we had some assigned books, and were allowed to choose our own classics. At one point, the school librarian came to our class to talk about a list of books that had won or been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Award in the past, referring to them as modern classics. Our teacher told us that we could pick one of these in place of an old classic. Considering that the books on this list were generally shorter and easier to read…I picked them as many times as I was allowed. Maus II was on that list. Of course, it was the 2nd half of a story, but I liked it so much, I later bought both books.

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
Corrie ten Boom’s story is incredibly inspirational. I’m pretty sure I wrote a research paper using this book in some way. I did a lot of papers and speeches on Holocaust-related subjects in high school.

Night by Elie Wiesel
I don’t really have any to say about this one besides that it’s just more testament to my fascination with the Holocaust. I don’t remember this book very well, so it’ll probably be almost like reading it new when I do get to it again. Also, there are other books of this subject that I read back then, but those I included in this list are the ones I remember the most.

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Ophelia Speaks by Sara Shandler
Like with Maus, this book was one I was allowed to read for English class as a “modern classic.” Though I’m pretty sure it was Reviving Ophelia that had won the award. This book gives a voice to the teenage girls that the other book discussed, and even I, in my sheltered world, really identified with a lot of the essays. Written by adolescent girls with a range of topics about struggling to become a woman–about family, friends, physical and emotional trauma, and much more, I will likely have my daughter read it in a few years.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
This is one of the few classics I read in high school that I actually enjoyed (and frankly, one of the few I could actually follow very well). However, being that I was in high school at the time, I definitely need to read it again now, partly because I can read it for pleasure (not having to analyze every chapter) and partly because I’ll most likely pick up on a lot that I missed back then.

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
After we read Hamlet, our teacher had our class read this play. I remember thinking how great of a teacher she was, considering how much fun the play is. And then we watched the movie with Gary Oldman and Tim Roth, of which I can really only remember the tennis scene…and papers flying everywhere that I didn’t get the point of. I’ll have to re-watch that after I re-read the book.

The Eagle and the Lamb by Darlene Mindrup
Story time: When I was a teenager, my family took a trip out to Arizona to visit my grandparents. My grandma had a huge collection of Christian romance books, and I read a few while we were staying there. There was one that I remembered liking more than all of the others, but years later, when I tried to find it again, I couldn’t remember the title. I thought it was something to do with “lion and lamb”, so over the last few years I’ve done Google searches for those words and what I could remember of the story, which is just that the main characters were a Roman centurion and a Jewish slave. For a while recently I thought it might have been A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers (it first in a series called Mark of the Lion and was published several years before my family went to AZ), but when I saw the length of that book–it wasn’t exactly the mass-market type romance I remembered reading–I dug a little more and was really excited when I found this book. The cover even looks familiar! Unlike when I came across A Voice in the Wind, I am 100% certain I have found the right one now. This will be an interesting experiment to find out if I even remotely like this book as much as an adult as I did as a teenager. (I still plan to read A Voice in the Wind at some point too!)

Have you read any of these, or are any on your own TBR? Link your TTT post so I can check out yours!

Top Ten Tuesday: Bargains of Unknown Value

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is “Books I Bought/Borrowed Because…” Last July, recent changes in my life had left me with more time than I’d had for the past few years. I realized then how much I really wanted to get back to reading regularly, which had dropped off some time after my first child was born, 18 years ago. As tends to be the way with me, once I decided to do this, I dove headlong into it, adding book reviews to my blog, building a to-be-read on Goodreads, and of course keeping my eye out for books to add to that list.

Suddenly I had a new purpose when I went with my husband to thrift stores, garage sales, and bargain stores. Even my husband started bringing home books for me that he thought I might be interested in, when he went to these kinds of places without me. I’ve since had to slow way down on buying physical books that I know nothing about, no matter the deal. But for today, my list will include books that I (or my husband) bought simply because they were super cheap (anywhere from $0.25 to $2, or even free), without really knowing much, if anything, about them.

At the time of making this list, I have not read any of these books except the first one, so the value of the bargain I got on each of them is still completely a mystery to me. Some I plan to read soon, others will likely take a while to get to.

Landry Park by Bethany Hagen
This was the very first book I bought with no knowledge of it but the blurb on the jacket. But it was a good deal at a bargain store, so I had to get it! After reading reviews for it later, I was concerned I wouldn’t like it, but I just finished it recently and felt it was worth the buy. See my review here.

Mrs. Murphy series books by Rita Mae Brown
At a local thrift store which tragically has very few books, I found 2 books from this series for 25¢ each. All I really know about these books is that they’re cozy mysteries and involve a cat. And my parents named their dog after the cat. I now own books #2 & #8 in the series, but will start at #1 if I can.
Shown here: Rest in Pieces

Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
This is one my husband picked up at a thrift store for maybe $1 when I wasn’t with him. We’re big fans of Jim Gaffigan, ever since seeing him on That ’70s Show years ago. Plus, he’s from Indiana, where we live. And he’s hilarious.

I, Q series by Roland Smith
My husband came home with the first 3 books in this 6-book series at the same time as he bought the previous book. It’s a YA spy series that I’d never heard of, but does sound interesting.
Shown here: Independence Hall

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
I actually got this book completely free when buying books for my sister on eBay. I took advantage of a buy 2, get 1 free offer from one seller, buying 2 for her, and when I didn’t see anything else in the eligible books list that she’d like, I grabbed this for myself. I watched some of the 1st (or maybe the 2nd?) movie at a hotel once years ago, and since then have been curious to read the series.

Redshirts by John Scalzi
This was already on my TBR list, as my husband had strongly recommended it, and then he shared with me an offer he found to get the e-book for free. As a Star Trek-franchise fan, I’m looking forward to reading this.

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
This is another one my husband brought home from a thrift store recently (he tends to stop by Good Will and other local used stores when he’s out by himself to look for the odd board game gem, and now he looks for books he thinks I might like too ❤️). I don’t know anything about it except what the blurb on the back says.

Dragon and Thief by Timothy Zahn
Another of my husband’s suggestions, though at least I was present for this one. We found this in our library’s used book sale section, and my husband figured at least this way I’d read a book by the author of some Star Wars books my husband likes (I have no desire to read Star Wars books). I’m starting to amass too many books that start a series in the middle grade or YA age groups. There are 3 just on this list!

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Great Illustrated Classics books by various authors
A few months ago, I read the GIC version of Little Women to my 9-year-old daughter, and then not long after that, the version for Anne of Green Gables. We both agreed that it was a nice way to read old classics. And we both quickly agreed we really wanted to read Pride and Prejudice next. But our library only had a few of these, and not that one. After searching for it to buy and not really wanting to spend upwards of $7, I found this lot of 40 GIC books on eBay for what came out to about $3.50 per book. I took a few days to think about it, and then my husband pulled the trigger. My daughter has already started reading one on her own, and after we finish the book we’re currently reading together (Anne of Avonlea), we’ll start on Pride and Prejudice.

Scores of free Kindle books by various authors!
Thanks to this blog (check out her Friday Reads posts) and daily emails from this site, just in the last couple of weeks I’ve acquired 9+ free Kindle books. I’m not going to list them all here by name, but below (and above) are the covers (some of them are probably still free on Amazon if you’re interested). For these, I do actually do a little research before I acquire them, even though they’re free, and only pick ones that seem interesting and don’t have reviews that scare me off.

Have you read any of these, or are any on your own TBR? Link your TTT post so I can see what you did with today’s topic!

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Escape Into

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is listed as “Genre Freebie,” which means we give our own spin to the list, with the broad theme of “genre.” I haven’t been reading seriously for long enough to be able to make 1 entire list with only 1 genre present, so I decided to let the current state of affairs inspire my list.

With dominoes continuing to fall as schools, businesses, and entire states close down in the US, it seems like a great time to escape into books. So my list today contains my recommendations for the best books (or series) to escape into. Simply put, I chose my single-favorite book from 10 different genres, so maybe there will be something for everyone, except for those who don’t read any of these 10 genres.

Some of these books can fit into more than 1 genre, of course, so I’ll mention that as well. I’m not going to say much about each book, though, because just the fact that they’re on this list says that I loved (or at least really liked) them, and I don’t want to go on at length today.

Sci-fi: Lock In by John Scalzi
Also a mystery, kind of a police-procedural. There is also a sequel, Head On, which I still liked, but not quite as much. See my review for the first book here.

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Fantasy: The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson
I have only read the first 2 of this 4-book series so far, but I highly recommend it.
See my review for book #1 here and my review for book #2 here.
The author, Andrew Peterson, has been reading the series on Facebook Live for the last 4 nights, and will continue to do so, I’m guessing at least through the first book, as a way to help people combat listlessness and to raise spirits during all of this virus business. He does voices and laughs at his own funny parts. It’s so much fun to listen to! If you want to check it out, the first day’s reading is still on his site, but due to licensing reasons, he said he can’t keep it up much longer.

Romance: The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin
Also historical fiction (WWII time period) & Christian fiction. It’s the third in a series, but they’re disconnected enough that you don’t have to have read the first 2 before you read this one. Though if you’re in the position to binge read, you might as well read them all in order. See my review here.

Historical: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
WWII time period, a stand-alone story. It’s been made into a Netflix movie, though I’m afraid to watch it. See my review here.

Mystery: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
Also could be classified as a thriller, and has a touch of fantasy. See my review for this book here.

Classic: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
It may be written for kids, but adults will love it too. This is a series of 9 books. See my review for this book here.

Non-fiction: Blessed Are the Misfits by Brant Hansen
I couldn’t decide between this and I Want to Punch You in the Face But I Love Jesus by Sherri Lynn. Both are funny and insightful. I only chose the one I did because, even though I firmly believe men should read Sherri Lynn’s book too, Brant’s book is a little less exclusive. See my review for this book here.

Thriller: The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek by Rhett McLaughlin & Link Neal
Also could fit the mystery genre and is labeled as horror, though I didn’t find it all that frightening. See my review for this book here.

Christian: Illusion by Frank E. Peretti
Could also be classified as a mystery or thriller with a touch of fantasy/sci-fi. See my review for this book here.

Comic: West of Bathurst and It Never Rains by Kari Maaren
This one will take a bit more of an explanation. West of Bathurst is a book only in the technical sense. It’s actually a webcomic, and when the 7-year-long storyline and comic came to an end, Kari compiled it into a book. A big, heavy book. I do own this book, but I’m sure she does not have any more to sell (it was crowdsourced and not an easy endeavor for her). But the comic in its entirety can be read online, and it’s good for many hours of binge-reading. Though it’s a web comic, and some of what happens in it is specific to the setting (a residence hall at University of Toronto), even someone like me who is completely lost in that setting can get caught up in the story and find the jokes along the way funny.

It Never Rains is Kari’s currently on-going comic, with 6 years of story. This one has more of an actual story feel, and it’s really gotten good recently.

The links in the bold above for both of these lead to the first comic in each series.

What are your favorite books to escape into? Link your TTT post so I can see what you did with today’s freebie!