what I've been reading lately | march

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 Once again I am linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for What I've been Reading  - the March edition (see all my other editions here). This is the time where I share 1) a scrapbooking page of what I read over the course of a month (this is how I am documenting what I am reading over the course of the year, besides here on the blog) and, 2) what I actually read with a short synopsis, overview, or mini-review about the book. Some of these titles you might have already seen here because they've made the list for my 2017 Reading Challenge which I share, as well.

91k5yUp1X7LEchoes in Death by J.D. Robb. It's curious that I am not a Nora Roberts fan at all but Nora Roberts' pseudonym, J.D. Robb, the author of my all-time favorite series with Echoes, her #44 title in the series does not disappoint. Robb has superbly grown her main character, Eve Dallas, the sharp but very smart-aleck female Lieutenant of the NYCPD in the year 2062, along with her billionaire husband,her trusted female detective partner, and a host of growing favorite characters over the course of this series. Readers are not given an endgame to the series, but fans of the In Death series would be disappointed should the series end anytime soon. The ease with which I settle into reading this book is like an old pair of well-worn gloves, the book(s) and I fit perfectly, together. 16/100 

 

718Y9ftcIhLThe Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva. Number ten in the Gabriel Allon series, the renowned art restorer and even-more-renowned Israeli spy on the side, sets out to reclaim a stolen Rembrandt and gets caught up in another save-the-world intelligence operation pitting the evil against the...good (but slightly bad because they have to be if they want to save lives and restore what went wrong). I continue to enjoy this series, immensely, as I have already pull the next one, Portrait of a Spy, off the shelf. 17/100

 

 

 

 

51KtrZbp0iLWomen of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both our Hearts and our Minds by Jen Wilkin. Phenomenal! If you are new to studying scripture or even if you have some time under your belt this book is totally, completely applicable and worth your time. Jen is cut and dry, no holds barred, and gives the goods on how to study the Bible. You'll be glad you read this little 152-page book. Now, go study the Word! 18/100

 

 

 

51nnz1HL7+LThe Forgotten by David Baldacci. This is the second in the John Puller series. I didn't like it as much as the first one, not in the least. It felt somewhat disjointed, disheveled and I found myself saying "Huh?", "I'm totally confused!", or "Move on, already." The last 1/3 of the book was redeemed but it was a struggle to get there. That being said...I like the character John Puller and really am looking forward to reading another in the series. 19/100

 

 

 

 

41vf-iaOjlLNone Like Him by Jen Wilken. Know God, knowing who God is matters, and changes the way I see myself, and know how God is different from me is imperative to finding out who I am in Him - and how to be a God-fearing woman. One thing I love about Jen's writing is she does not conform to the patterns of the world as I see many Christian authors doing. She speaks God's truth. 20/100

 

 

 

For the digital scrapbooking layout: I used a 12 x 12 digital template by Cathy Zielske, modifying it by enlarging the 3x4 boxes to cover the entire page; pieces of a Little Lamm Co. digital kit and from Ali Edwards Design Story kit READ chipboard/word art.


2017 Reading Challenge | read three books by the same author

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For this challenge from Modern Mrs Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge I completed read three books by the same author.

I assumed for this challenge I would read three of Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series as I've been reading this series regularly, picking one up every couple of weeks, at least. Since I only have five left of the current selections I'm sure I will read three this year, but my first three books by the same author came from David Baldacci, the popular author, who I've only recently found, and enjoy.

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These are three books from three different series', Amos Decker, John Puller, and the Will Robie series'. The Amos Decker character, by Baldacci, is a fairly new series and it, and he - the character - is phenomenal. He is a former football player who took a hard hit in the head, woke up with a condition whereby he doesn't forget anything, became a police officer, had his wife and child murdered, left the police force because he lost it after the death of his family and entered into psuedo private investigation which has led him to being used by the FBI for special investigations.

Of the three series this one is my favorite.

I do like the John Puller series, an active duty Army Criminal Investigator, special division. The first in the series was good. In fact it was gripping, but the second one was just confusing, but okay, hopefully he'll redeem himself in the third, which I think is out on hardback so I'll be waiting on that one.

The Will Robie series...not sure yet if I like the character. He's an assassin for a governmental organization who goes off the grid, to help a teenage girl, and solve a mystery. He's a redeemable character, not at all someone I don't like, but I just haven't fallen for - yet. 

I think Baldacci has written enough books that I'll find plenty to enjoy in the future. 

Only 15 more books to go in this reading challenge. But, as I've only read 20 books thus far this year, I have 80 more books in my 100 New Books in 2017 challenge.


what I've been reading lately | february

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My reading goals for 2017: Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge and read 100 New Books in 2017. I'm also linking up, monthly with Modern Mrs. Darcy's What I've Been Reading Lately. The following list are the books I've been reading from 15 January - 15 February 2017.

41DNuJfahyLThe Martian by Andy Weir. I will admit I watched the movie first. And, I'm glad I did. Truly, I am not sure I would have made it through the fictional journals of fictional astronaut Mark Watney while stranded on Mars without having the visual representation the movie offered. Granted, this is a hugely entertaining novel, funny in fact in many places, gripping, on-the-edge-of-your-seat-what-is-he-going-to-have-to-deal-with-next suspenseful intensity, but the scientific lingo would have been tough to swallow without having 'seen' it for myself. This is one time I am so glad I watched the movie first. While I couldn't be certain, I believe it made the book better. Some of my favorite lines when I laughed out loud: "Everything went great right up to the explosion!" "Damn it Jim, I'm a botanist not a chemist!" This one was in the movie too, " It's awesome to have a bunch of dipsh*ts on Earth telling me, a botanist, how to grow plants. I mostly ignore them. I don't want to come off as arrogant here, but I'm the best botanist on the planet." The Martian also earned favorite of the month.

51TkHNogRMLBeautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren. Ah - no! I should have known by the title but I was sent to a blog raved about by another reading blogger I love. I went through the bloggers favorite books of 2016 and this one was on the list along with some really good books. There was way, way to much s*x. I suppose the writing was okay but honestly it was hard to tell from all the steamy scenes I had to skim by. There was little story and read like a steamy harlequin romance. Definitely will not be buying anymore of these types of books. Not my cup of tea.

 

 

 

51+fIKU-U2LZero Day by David Baldacci. This is the first in the John Puller series. I am a brand new reader of Baldacci and after reading The Memory Man I hoped I would like more of his books. I absolutely do! This was an intricately woven criminal-investigator suspense thriller. I love the main character, an Army Criminal Investigator who handles specialty cases, who has done multiple combat tours and is a Ranger. I'm positive I'll pick up many more of his books in this series and anything else he has written. Since this is my Mom's favorite author [I think] - all the better.

 

 

 

41vD932YKVLA Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman. I loved Emily's Simply Tuesday. One of my favorite books in 2016 even. I struggled to connect with this one though. I think books, even some non-fiction books, are meant for us for seasons, or at a particular time. I'm not sure this one is for me at this time. Although, I find myself desiring something more in my life. Hoping I'll find in me what it is God has designed - for this season. Yes, the book was somewhat endearing and yes, I took notes and marked up pages and dog-earred others. But, I didn't come away from it feeling like it meant something for me.

 

 

51UsUob-5ULVeronica Mars and The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. Amazon says, "Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case. Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is no simple missing person’s case; the house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined. In Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas has created a groundbreaking female detective who’s part Phillip Marlowe, part Nancy Drew, and all snark, with sharp plots and clever twists.  Yep, I agree. I like it! Extremely easy to read while at the same time cunning and piercing. It's not a literary masterpiece but lots of fun.

517I2RO8x+LWatership Down by Richard Adams. Wonderful! I listened to this after reading Modern Mrs. Darcy's post on Audible. My Kindle Fire already had the Audible app loaded so that is how I listened to the free gift. I loved this book (audio). The author used to make up stories for his daughters during long car rides in the English countryside and this tale is one of those stories. True, it is about rabbits but these rabbits have thoughts and can speak, yet their actions and behaviors, how they live are solely - rabbit. There is death, and fear, and love within the story, Watership Down.

 

 

 

51eYqSeYwdLIsaac's Storm by Erik Larson. I read this for the 2017 Reading Challenge: a book about a topic you already love. It's is meteorology at it's barest, earliest, and roughest forms. The investigative techniques and narrative in which Larson crafted from thousands of sources of the killing hurricane in 1900 that besieged the thriving, busting gulf city of Galveston, Texas, and translates them into a gripping story, is truly inspiring. It is a ripping account of the United States Weather Bureau in it's infancy, with a wondering, "how did we (meteorologists and me) finally gain ground?" But, the telling of the storm from the accounts of a ships log, to the description of the storm as it set its sights on Galveston was detailed and exciting reading. Although not my favorite book of the month it was definitely in the top five.

 

51GesqDmCBLThe Last Mile by David BaldacciConvicted murderer Melvin Mars is counting down the last hours before his execution--for the violent killing of his parents twenty years earlier--when he's granted an unexpected reprieve. Another man has confessed to the crime.
Amos Decker, newly hired on an FBI special task force, takes an interest in Mars's case after discovering the striking similarities to his own life: Both men were talented football players with promising careers cut short by tragedy. Both men's families were brutally murdered. And in both cases, another suspect came forward, years after the killing, to confess to the crime. A suspect who may or may not have been telling the truth.
The confession has the potential to make Melvin Mars--guilty or not--a free man. Who wants Mars out of prison? And why now? But when a member of Decker's team disappears, it becomes clear that something much larger--and more sinister--than just one convicted criminal's life hangs in the balance. Decker will need all of his extraordinary brainpower [he has hyperthymesia] to stop an innocent man from being executed - Amazon. So, so good. When I can use the words, "I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING!" at least once in a book - yes! Baldacci's books are rapidly becoming favorites and I can't wait to read more! 


41o7yXZPwfLCold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist.
I think this is Shauna's first book. It's, to me, a collection of stories, a spiritual memoir of sorts about everyday life, but, that everyday life and God woven in...and out...and in. I was most encouraged by Shauna's real life personal experience with God, not Shauna on a pedestal but the Shauna that makes mistakes, sometimes for a long time, and then gets it right. It is honesty and hope and redemption. It is really good reading.


2017 Reading Challenge | a book about a topic you already love

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My selection for the 2017 Reading Challenge, reading for fun category: a book about a topic you already love

51eYqSeYwdLIsaac's Storm by Erik Larson. As a meteorologist I was intrigued by the early understandings of meteorology, and even, what people considered, hoped for, of meteorologists. The meteorology, how Larson approached discussing in layman's terms, the raw meteorological side of the hurricane was superb. Interestingly, meteorologists determined accurately that storm surge was the most damaging and deadliest aspect of a hurricane. While there were some slow points of the historical account, I was most impressed by the compilation of the use of thousand's of sources into an avid, visual representation of the events before and after the 1900 Galveston hurricane that rocked the country.

If anything, this book made me, as a meteorologist, appreciate the advancements made withing the field of weather forecasting and prediction. But, and this is a hearty but, there is nothing compared to the the hardened skills, educated science, the personal application that comes from the person - the meteorologist. All the computer models, all the advancements of technology cannot replace what the meteorologist sees with the naked eye. A computer, not piece of equipment cannot tell you those early signs of advancing weather. Only the meteorologist can, who sees it for himself.

Very good book. 

 


2017 Reading Challenge | a book you were excited to buy but haven't read yet

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I believe I'm off to great beginnings on this 2017 Reading Challenge. I have only read a couple other books outside of the challenge. Realizing this, though, means I will need to get my reading butt in gear if I want to read 100 New Books in 2017along with completing this challenge.

41DNuJfahyLMy selection for the Reading For Fun category a book you were excited to buy but haven't read yet: The Martian by Andy Wier. I guess in a way this could have been many of the titles on my bookshelf as I'm usually very excited when I put a book in my Amazon cart and then receive it. Inevitably, it is within a stack of books purchased and if they all get me excited I just have to pick one, right?

But, having recently watched the movie...

I know, right? I watched the movie first. Highly taboo! A disgrace. Watching the movie before reading the movie.

But, you guys, the movie was really good.

I'd heard, through blog reviews of The Martian that many people actually enjoyed the book way more once they watched the movie. After flying through the book in a day and a half, because of the visuals the movie afforded me, I can totally see how they came to that conclusion. I loved this book!  I'm not sure I would have liked it half as much if I'd read the book first. The science, the chemistry, I think, would have become overwhelming and instead of plowing through the science I might have put the book down. But, the movie! The movie made the science so much more interesting - exciting even!

And the humor - I laughed out loud on a number of occasions. Worth it! As a Star Trek fan (the newer Star Trek's) a favorite line when Mark writes in his SOL journal, "Damn it Jim, I'm a botanist, not a chemist!" Laughed. Out. Loud! 

While I understand this was completely fiction, it made me wonder that if this were to happen in real life, an astronaut getting stranded on the moon and needing to survive, what type of person would they need to be - to survive. I mean, this guy Mark had a sense of humor. I'm curious if that would be helpful, a certain outlook on life. Just wondering.

Anyways, if you're wondering about the book. Read it. And, if you're wondering about the movie - fabulous, too.

Again, this is where I stand with the 2017 Reading Challenge:

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Moving right along in this challenge. I have several books in my bag for work, on my nightstand, in my purse: Zero Day by David Baldacci, Veronica Mars, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas, A Million Little Ways by Emily P Freeman, Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson, and More to Your Story by Max Lucado.

 


2017 Reading Challenge | a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner

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Following Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge my selection for the reading for growth category (and my 5th selection of the 24-book challenge): a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner is

510mwjJ6sELThe Penderwicks, a Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy.

I loved the magical ambiance of this heartwarming and charming modern children's classic of a summer vacation filled with adventure - and mayhem. I adore the children's brilliant and gentle widower father who is absentminded yet attentive, and aware of his daughters' ramblings and trampling's at the same time. He understands his children something awesome.

Although this might be considered a children's book it's appeal will reach all ages and gender. And, I kept thinking while I was reading, "I think Ella would love this book!" But, I also thought, my boys (my 19 year old sons) would love me to read this aloud. I definitely want to get the next books in the series.

The four sisters are delightful and endearing. The boy - I just wanted to reach in and pull him close, with his preening peacock mother Mrs. Tifton to contend with. Thank God for the precious and understanding housekeeper and the hardworking teenager and father-trained gardener.

I used to shy away from children's books believing they were beneath me, although beneath me is not really what I mean, maybe not literary enough. But, not any longer!

This is 6  |  100 New Books in 2017

P.S. I created a new 12 x 12 template for the remainder of this reading challenge. I will use it for updates to the challenge, as well.

And lastly, where I stand with the reading challenge:

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what I've been reading lately | january edition

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Crafting a page every month of what I've read for our family scrapbook album. Besides reading...and swimming... scrapbooking is my other love and keeping a record of everything I've been reading is inspiring me to read more.

Slim readings this month...only six books read...but almost all of them were winners. I would never have reckoned my heart around some of these titles if not for the countless other readers willing to share their reviews - well, and my desire to read new books.

81jQzNuvy4LA Man Called Ove by Fredrick Brackman. A beautiful book full of laughter and tears, love and friendship, and connections(ing). And leaving a legacy. This was my first book of the new year and a 2017 Reading Challenge selection reading for growth: a book in translation. You can see my thoughts on A Man Called Ove here.

 

 

 

 

51Q+CphZ7rLBread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. Shauna's collection of essays are intimately personal and inspiring. In the least, I can't wait to make some of the recipes she's shared. At the most I am looking forward to how my One Little Word for 2017, NOURISH, will work itself out in my life with Shauna's book as part of the backdrop of the story. I have no doubt this will be tucked into a favorite's list for the year and one I will revisit again - soon. This book is for my 2017 Reading Challenge also: a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection.

 

 

 

71MT0ceUanLThe Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Um, not so much...I could probably count on both hands paragraphs - yes, paragraphs - I liked and the remainder of the book - um, not so much. This book, however, fulfilled a reading challenge (insert smiley face): a Newberry Award Winner or Honor Book for my 2017 Reading Challenge. We were talking at church, a couple of us ladies who serve together, all pretty heavy readers, plus homeschooling moms, when we had some downtown and I mentioned The Westing Game. Had anyone read it? Did they like it? When I shared my experience one mom said emphatically, "listen to the audio!!" I'm going to do just that and see how I like The Westing Game after listening to it read aloud.

 

51PTExXeL7LEndurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. Un-put-down-able! From the first page to the last this brilliant account of Sir Ernest Shackleton's incredible voyage to Antarctica where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent and how his plans failed and yet, Shackleton and his crew endured the unstoppable elements of nature to return home. This will surely be at the top of my list of favorite books in 2017. Beyond amazing!

 

 

 

81ghwLdY9LLThe Defector by Daniel Silva. I have enjoyed Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series immensely. This one is definitely not my favorite but the parts that held my attention (most attentively), far outweighed those that were ho-hum. As this is book 9 in the series of 16 I've come too far to allow minor ho-hum to stop my forward momentum. The main protagonist(s) have certainly evolved, with increasing depth and character through the series' progression.

 

 

 

 

 

510mwjJ6sELThe Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. Superb! And I'm planning on buying a second copy to send to my granddaughter Ella who is in the 4th grade. I think she'll adore this book, too! This is also a 2017 Reading Challenge selection: a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award Winner and book 6  |  100 New Books in 2017.


2017 Reading Challenge | a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able

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51PTExXeL7LFor Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge my selection for the reading for fun category: a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able is Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing and is book 4 | 100 New Books in 2017.

Hitting my list hard this is my fourth selection of the 24 book challenge and it was fabulous! I genuinely attest to Endurance as an un-put-down-able book! Amazon perfectly describes this gripping testament, "In August 1914, polar explorer Ernest Shackleton boarded the Endurance and set sail for Antarctica, where he planned to cross the last uncharted continent on foot. In January 1915, after battling its way through a thousand miles of pack ice and only a day's sail short of its destination, the Endurance became locked in an island of ice. Thus began the legendary ordeal of Shackleton and his crew of twenty-seven men.
 
For ten months the ice-moored Endurance drifted northwest before it was finally crushed between two ice floes. With no options left, Shackleton and a skeleton crew attempted a near-impossible journey over 850 miles of the South Atlantic's heaviest seas to the closest outpost of civilization. Their survival, and the survival of the men they left behind, depended on their small lifeboat successfully finding the island of South Georgia—a tiny dot of land in a vast and hostile ocean.
 
In Endurance, the definitive account of Ernest Shackleton's fateful trip, Alfred Lansing brilliantly narrates the harrowing and miraculous voyage that has defined heroism for the modern age."

I derived great pleasure and appreciated every cleverly crafted narration Alfred Lansing wrote, leaving no stone unturned, leaving nothing for the imagination except what we must imagine Shackleton and his crew endured.

This is a novel I know my husband would enjoy...if he had time to read. The plethora of information Lansing affords his reader, in his brilliant prose and nail-biting scenes and sequences - this is a great adventure!


2017 Reading Challenge | a Newberry Award winner or Honor book

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For Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge my selection for the reading for growth category: a Newberry Award winner or Honor book I read The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.

Sadly, I would say, "It's not going to win any awards!" But, The Westing Game is a highly- proclaimed award winning novel for over 30 years. Here is another one of those sought-after, avid-reader, acclaimed mysteries that 'just-everyone-should read' books and unfortunately it fell flat to me. I stuck with it until the end, though.  But, once I was finished I'd wished I hadn't.

It was confusing.

It was boring.

There were so many characters with little depth. I was quite frustrated.

And, the mystery. What mystery?

For me this book served two purposes. Check off a new book read in 2017 and my 2017 Reading Challenge - and that is it. Reading should not be just about quantity, but quality. 


2017 Reading Challenge | a book in translation

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From Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2017 Reading Challenge Reading for Growth: a book in translation

I hope to hit these lists hard, early on, because I have 100 books to read this year. The first book for the new year is A Man Called Ove by Frederick Brackman.

"Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations" - Amazon

I adore this book.

Written by Swedish author (a book in translation) Frederick Brackman, A Man Called Ove, is a charming, witty, and delightful book that made me look at life, relationships, community, friendships, and legacy differently. How does a fiction novel impact someone so much to want to do life - better?  

I cried.

I laughed often.

Which, by the way, is my favorite thing to do.

I rooted for Ove.

I rooted for his neighbors.

I rooted for love.

I love how Ove gave of himself and he didn't even realize he was doing it.

A feel-good book.

A wonderful first book to read for the new year.