5 Books I Basically Consumed

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. I have a hundred things going on and when I finally have a minute to myself, my brain is SO not in a place to engage with words on a page. So I decided this week to reflect back on some books that sucked me in and that I finished in less than one day. Sometimes I’m able to do that simply because I have the time to spare, while others involve me burning the midnight oil with zero regrets. Here are 5 books that I read so quickly that I may as well have devoured them.

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

I think what connected for me so well with this book was how different it was from anything else I’d been reading at that time. This book’s main character, Tatum, is SO REAL that the storyline just flowed and I was deeply rooting for her. I just had to know how the conflict played out and whether or not it would all fall in place. Click HERE for my full review!

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

This was the last book I read in 2016 and I read it on the LAST day. I started it while I was alone at my parent’s house around 6 PM and was on the last page before midnight. I was SO hooked in by this premise and the gripping characters. This is a book that you should read about before diving in. The conflict and the world are both pretty complex, so it’s good to kind of know where it’s going. Click HERE for my full review! Girl power! The second book comes out this year and is titled One Dark Crown…I. Can’t. Wait.

My Lady Jane by C. Hand, B. Ashton, J. Meadows

This book is SO GREAT. The longer I sit here and think about it, the more I want to start back at page 1 and give it another go. Magical elements that make sense, a fun twist on a sad bit of history, and good use of parenthesis…oh my! Read my full review HERE! If you like the style and humor in The Princess Bride, then you’ll enjoy the way this story is told.

The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

I picked up this book at a time when none of the books on my shelf were calling to me. I couldn’t figure out what genre I was in the mood for. Did I want romance? Fantasy? Classics? I was coming up empty. So I went to the book store and was drawn in by this book’s cover. When I read the synopsis, it left me with a lot of questions…so it was perfect. All throughout this book, I wondered what the author would do with the ending. Would there be a magical cure-all happy ending? Or would it be sad and real? I was really satisfied with this story! My full review is HERE.

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

When this book came out, I decided to re-read the previous two books. Since this was the last book in the trilogy, I wanted to be able to pick up on everything and really enjoy it. I was worried that reading 3 books in a row would burn me out, but it didn’t. This book energized me! The author pulled out all the stops and didn’t do anything the way I expected her to and I LOVED it. This may be one of my top favorite series ending books ever. That’s saying something! I downed it. Then I wanted to have my memory erased so I could do it all over again. My full review for this book is HERE.

What are some books that you flew through? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

“Doubt and defeat have no place in the sacred sanctuary of your heart.”

Synopsis from GoodreadsThe enemy wants us to feel rejected . . . left out, lonely, and less than. When we allow him to speak lies through our rejection, he pickpockets our purpose. Cripples our courage. Dismantles our dreams. And blinds us to the beauty of Christ’s powerful love. In Uninvited, Lysa shares her own deeply personal experiences with rejection—from the incredibly painful childhood abandonment by her father to the perceived judgment of the perfectly toned woman one elliptical over. With biblical depth, gut-honest vulnerability, and refreshing wit, Lysa helps readers: Release the desire to fall apart or control the actions of others by embracing God-honoring ways to process their hurt; Know exactly what to pray for the next ten days to steady their soul and restore their confidence; Overcome the two core fears that feed our insecurities by understanding the secret of belonging; Stop feeling left out and start believing that “set apart” does not mean “set aside.” End the cycle of perceived rejection by refusing to turn a small incident into a full blown issue.

Feelings: Sometimes I struggle with non-fiction. It’s hard for me to get into the flow or get used to the writer’s tone. And I start longing for a good plot. Give me a conflict and falling action any day. But then other times I need words of encouragement or a perspective shift. That’s where non-fiction comes in to play. Christian non-fiction is usually what I reach for when I’m in this mood and I’d heard great things about Lysa’s Uninvited.

There are a lot of things that Lysa does well in this book. Each chapter is formatted in a similar way – starting a story or anecdote, digging into scripture, closing the story with hope and practical application – making her ideas easy to track with. Her writing voice is so inviting and she gets downright vulnerable in her honesty, so I trusted every word she said. I felt like she understood my struggles. This trusting voice also led to a lot of affirmations. She reminded me that my life and my voice are beautiful and that I was created to be pursued and for pursuit. There’s a lot of hope in this book, friends.

Takeaways: I highlighted SO MANY things from this book. One of my greatest takeaways, though, where the prayers she lists out. For the times in our life that feel in-between, Lysa shares 10 different prayers we can use and apply in our lives. I copied all of them down in the notes app of my phone so I can keep them close by and at the ready. She also provides questions to ask when we get to these points and to difficult moments in any relationship. I found these to be really practical and relevant.

This book is about the aftermath of rejection and how we cope with it. How do we approach life after feeling tossed into a pit? Lysa reminds us that rejection isn’t the end, the destination. It can be a delay or a pitstop, but it’s never the end of the course. We are destined for something so much greater. There’s a lot we can learn from these seasons and she gives us some things to remember during these times.

Final thoughts: I think this is a great read. Lysa’s ideas and voice are easy to follow, poignant, and gritty. She doesn’t dumb things down or scold – nothing like that. Her writing, instead, is more like a hug mixed with some hard truths. As a side note, I wouldn’t recommend the audiobook necessarily. I found it to be done in a cheesy, kind of annoying way. I started with the audio, but ultimately switched to the ebook version…also because I wanted to be able to highlight and make notes!

Pick this up if you liked:

Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst

Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

Goodreads rating: 4.35/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.8/5

My rating: 4.5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

5 Classics I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read (Yet)

It’s no secret that I read a lot. (But if you need evidence, see my book blog….) While I love new releases and running book series, I also occasionally enjoy dipping my toes into the pool of classics. There are so many that I’ve read over the years, especially way back when I was in high school. Assigned reading was 95% “old” stuff, so I racked up my classic count during those 4 years.

As an adult, I occasionally hear or read where people refer to these classics in conversation or as reference. Most of the times, I can track with it. But sometimes, it’s over my head. These are 5 books that I surprisingly haven’t read (yet)!

The Grapes of Wrath byJohn Steinbeck

My understanding is that MOST people read this in school. I think I missed that year…meaning when I moved high schools, my former classmates read it and my new ones didn’t. Or something like that. I know a lot of people that read it maybe their sophomore year of high school? I was reading Pride & Prejudice and Lord of the Flies that year. One thing I’ve heard about this book is that it’s culturally relevant and it’s important as a classic, but it’s not necessarily enjoyable to read. So that makes it hard to motivate myself to start it! And yet, I do like being part of the crowd.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

I know people would say that this is their favorite book ever. Then I also know people that have told me it was OK, but the upcoming movie will be great. I know that Mindy Kaling will be in it…so I’m sold. Ha! I love a good time travel story, so I would probably enjoy this. I did try to read the graphic novel adaptation a couple of years ago and was bored. But I only read like 5 pages…so it’s worth giving another go!

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I realize that this book isn’t even a hundred pages long. I get that. But I’ve also heard that it’s dripping in philosophical symbolism. So while it may be 80-something pages, the content seems DENSE. And yet, this is one that I hear people refer to sometimes. I think there’s a Netflix adaptation…but come on…80 pages or so? I can do it. (I CAN do it, right?)

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Ok, so I haven’t read this book…but I HAVE seen a TV adaptation for the BBC. I couldn’t name characters and dish out exactly what happened, so I would probably be interested in picking up this story to read. I remember the female characters being particularly interesting, albeit a touch crazy. This kind of story isn’t one that I usually crave to read, so I would have to force myself to start it. But then the language sweeps me up and I’m hooked.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I debated a few different classics to list as #5 and ended up going with this one. Some of my favorite book reviewers have said great things about the characters and the writing in this book. I’ve also been told that it’s slow at first, but then you fly through the rest of it. This seems like it’d be right up my alley, gothic literature with a bit of mystery and romance. I may just give this one a read soon!

Have you read these classics? What are some that you haven’t read, but maybe should? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June

“Nothing this summer had gone the way I imagined. But maybe it was supposed to be that way so I could turn the page and move onto a new, clean chapter in my story.”

started-with-goodbye

Synopsis from GoodreadsSixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

Feelings: This story is really fresh and different! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up on the Cinderella-twist vibe, but this book handles it really well. It wasn’t TOO parallel to the original fairy tale, more like…loosely inspired by. Modern twists and unexpected turns kept it interesting!

I liked that we saw a budding romance, struggles in friendships, and a disconnected family. There were a few realms of conflict keeping everything going, but it wasn’t ever that there was TOO much going on.

Issues: In terms of reality, I thought the punishment from the court and from her Dad were kind of extreme. No one was listening to her at all and she was treated like she’d done something MAJOR. I don’t know…it just didn’t totally come together, in my opinion.

Characters: Tatum is a very REAL character. She’s flawed and she messes up, she fights against the machine, but also comes around and is humble. She works hard, struggles with her reality, and finds ways to make things work. She’s so relatable and I enjoyed going on this journey with her.

I understand what it’s like to have a step-parent and how difficult it can be to adjust. I appreciated how the author twisted the traditional “evil stepmother” trope and made her a human being with motivations.

This story has a great cast of friend characters. Ashlyn is the imperfect BFF. Abby is the mature friend. Hunter is the cool guy. Tilly is the wild card. And SK adds some mystery (and hunkiness). It’s a diverse group where each person has their own “thing”, keeping the story moving and breaking up any chance of monotony.

Final thoughts: The writing style is really simple, so I finished this story in a day. It wasn’t necessarily that I just HAD to know how it turned out, I was just enjoying the writing and easy to follow plot. There’s a pretty high “cheese” factor in this book, but I like that from time to time!

Pick this up if you liked:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Goodreads rating: /5

My rating: 4/5

*This book will be out May 9 of this year. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Reading Challenge Update #1

Hey friends! This week, I wanted to update you on my reading challenge. In case you missed it, I decided to shake up my reading goals for this year. I usually create a list of challenges and then force books to fit the list by the end of the year and that totally defeats the point.

My goal this year is to travel in my reading. I want to learn about other cultures and perspectives and to also just experience life somewhere else. Reading is a great way to accomplish this. I’ve also decided to not limit myself to one year. I’ll reach this goal when I reach it! You can also keep track with me on the tab above. I track places my reading takes me that actually exist. I do read a lot of fantasy, so unless these stories start out in the real world somehow, they won’t count.

Here are where my reading travels have taken me so far this year!

Travels Completed: 8/80

Africa

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (South Africa)

Asia

– Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai (Vietnam)

The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen (Bombay, India; Modern Day Mumbai)

Europe

London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton (London, England)

– May I Have Your Attention, Please? by James Corden (London, England)

North America

– March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell (Washington, D.C.; Troy, Alabama)

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer (Brooklyn, New York)

It Started With Goodbye by Christina June (Alexandria, Virginia)

Do you have any books to recommend? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianna Baer

“If she couldn’t believe herself, how did she know whom to believe?”

life-of-quinn

Synopsis from the publisher: Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets—strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?

Feelings: I thought this story was really captivating! I was SO into what was going on and living every second with Quinn. I had some theories and was really putting my Law & Order: SVU-honed skills to use. I thought the political element was an interesting touch, making Quinn’s story carry more weight in the public eye.

Issues: It took me a while to enjoy the minor character POV chapters. The first few times, it seemed disconnected and like it didn’t necessarily ADD anything to the plot. Some of the later chapters did, though.

I also didn’t care for the way the story jumped around at times. This may be because my copy of the book wasn’t totally finished and still had some errors. But if that’s not the case, there were a few jerky jumps that broke up the flow of the story.

There’s a small part of me that likes how the author left the whole mystery kind of open and uncertain…but it’s a really small part. The majority of me is annoyed by it. I’m all for magical realism, but this book was 99% real world with a little dose of mythology thrown in, making the pregnancy disjointed. No spoilers, but it just seemed unfinished.

The side-story of Quinn’s baby being a holy, Messiah character felt like too much. I think that part could have been left out, or at least eased up, and the story would have still been gritty and mysterious. However, it made me feel confused and uncertain about the baby, itself.

Characters: I like Quinn. I thought she was spunky and had a lot of heart. I appreciated how she stuck to her guns and defended herself against…everyone. I can’t imagine going through something like what she endured, but I think her reactions made sense and were well balanced.

Quinn’s parents kind of surprised me. I really thought they would have somehow done more to figure out how Quinn got pregnant and by whom. They seemed resigned to the fact that they may never know. I did respect how they supported her decisions and didn’t force her into anything. It was difficult, for sure, which is realistic, but they didn’t pressure her. They were flawed parents and made some bad calls, but that’s relatable!

Final thoughts: Interesting story that fell a little flat for me. I did enjoy it! I just was so sucked in and invested that the ending left me disappointed. Great writing style and cool overall tone.

Pick this up if you liked:

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Goodreads rating: 3.47/5

My rating: 3/5

*This book will be out April 4 of this year. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review. All opinions are my own.

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

Wires and Nerve, Vol. 1 by Marissa Meyer

*This review may contain spoilers if you haven’t finished The Lunar Chronicles.*

wires-and-nerve

Synopsis from GoodreadsIn her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure — with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers’ leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

Feelings: I’m so glad to be back with this band of characters! This is one of my most favorite series of all time, ever ever amen. I’ve read the first 3 books in The Lunar Chronicles twice and then the 4th book once. And I read Levana’s story. And I read the short stories. I mean, it’s real.

I had this book preordered; that’s how excited I was. Not only because it’s Marissa Meyer, but because I love graphic novels and the way they tell different kinds of stories. I was so excited to visually see how Meyer intended her characters and their world to come across. Now that I’ve read this graphic novel, I almost want to pick Cinder back up again.

Issues: As you’ll see below, I was slightly disappointed by Thorne. This could be because I already loved him so much and had something set in my mind about how he presented himself and how he spoke. But still, he was just ever so slightly off.

Also, the overall tone of this story was different. I think it was partly because we were focused on Iko and she just generally sees the world in a different way, but also because of the formatting. We missed out on Meyer’s world building and character-driven insights.

Characters: Some of the characters were a little different than I’d imagined them in my head, but none of them were really way off base. Their personalities were all pretty well intact, too, which was something I was nervous about since the formatting of this story shifted to a graphic novel. Captain Thorne was just a bit off, in my opinion. I think I just imagined him being a little more enthusiastic and engaging.

I didn’t mind being shifted away from our usual main cast and focusing on Iko. I really loved her from The Lunar Chronicles, so I’m excited to see how this all plays out for her (and hopefully Kinney).

*sigh* I was so glad to see Wolf and Scarlet, even though their scenes were too short for me. Kai seems to be rocking his rule and I like that we’re seeing the in-between for Cinder and the future of the Lunar monarchy. Winter and Jacin are always a yes for me, too. We got snippets of these pairings, which like I said…I’m ok with, considering there’s so much previous material on them.

Final thoughts: I need more! It’s difficult to go from Meyer’s long-winded novels to this shortened, quick storyline. She does such a great job of getting you invested in her world, which worked well in those large page count books. But it made this story feel too short, like we were just getting started and were missing some real substance. Even so, I still enjoyed it and will probably read it again before the next volume releases. If you’re a fan of the original series, I would recommend this book. It’s fun and an easy to read continuation.

Pick this up if you liked:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Read my full review here!)

Goodreads rating: 4.39/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.5/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn