2017 Reading Challenges

I recently learned about the reading challenges on Goodreads forums. Nothing better than chatting with other readers, taking part in fun challenges, to boost the number of pages I fit into my life πŸ˜‰

Here are the challenges I’ve joined (click on name to open new window for each):

Dewey Decimal Nonfiction Challenge 2017

Let’s Turn Pages Challenge 2017

A To Z Challenge – Location Edition 2017

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Christmas Day

My day started quite early with my seven year old waking me at 4am; “Merry Christmas Mommy”, he said in the cutest kiddie voice ever. He thought by being cute about it would inspire me to jump outta bed at an insane hour, wake up his Daddy and sister, so he can open his gifts. He’s a funny guy. My husband and I tried to convince our son to go back to sleep, which was unsuccessful. We finally gave in around 6:30am LOL Our two kids opened their stockings while munching on Cheerios, and us adults drinking coffee, attempting to trick our brain to wake up feeling sleep-fulfilled.

We had a wonderful day opening gifts, playing board games, watching Christmas movies. In the afternoon my husband drove to his mom’s house so Grandma could open gifts with the kids. I roasted a turkey, with boiled potatoes, cabbage, turnip, and carrots, delicious dressing (Newfoundland version: bread, savory, butter, onion, salt, and pepper. Simple yet delicious) and gravy. Pumpkin pie with Cool Whip for dessert. I’m glad my tummy troubles from a few days beforehand were gone.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas Day. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Spoiler-Free Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

 

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“Long before she was the terror of Wonderland β€” the infamous Queen of Hearts β€” she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.” http://www.marissameyer.com/stand-alone-novels/

Marissa Meyer, New York Times bestselling author of The Lunar Chronicles, has written yet another imaginative fantasy story.Β  Heartless, a young adult fiction novel published in 2016, is set in the silly upsy-turvy world from Alice in Wonderland. Lady Catherine Pinkerton, heir to Rock Turtle Cove, daughter of Whealagig T. Pinkerton and Lady Idonia Pinkerton, Marquess and Marchioness of Rock Turtle Cove, dreams of opening a bakery with her best friend Mary Ann.

At a ball thrown by the King of Hearts, Lady Catherine meets Jest – the King’s court joker. Just as the King is about to propose to Lady Catherine in front of everyone, Cheshire creates a distraction allowing Catherine to make her escape. A Jabberwock attacks the party – sending everyone running for their lives. Lady Catherine meets Jest in the woods.

“He smiled at her, and it was the friendly sort of smile that reached to every corner of his eyes. Cath’s heart tumbled. During his performance, she had been hypnotized by his magic, amused by his tomfoolery – but she had not realized that he was also quite handsome.” page.51

While Lady Catherine attempts to maintain her plans of opening a bakery, avoid the King’s proposal, evade the Jabberwock, she somehow falls in love with a fool.

Heartless is a wistful story filled with my favourite characters like Cheshire, Hatter, and the caterpillar. Meyer, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, used lines from his work for Jest’s sidekick, Raven. I don’t want to give away too much, but will say I could not put this book down. I give it 5 stars. I recommend this to teen+ who is an Alice in Wonderland fan, or if you enjoy magical thrilling stories.

http://www.marissameyer.com/

Book Review: Spoiler-Free: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

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WhenΒ Cinder (book one of Lunar Chronicles) was published I heard a lot of buzz and friends sharing how much they loved it, however, a cyborg Cinderella story did not appeal to me in the least bit. I was part of a local book club at the time – who chose to read Cinder. I put it off all month long, then finally picked it up a couple days before our meeting, so I would at least have given it a shot. I powered through that book faster than I’ve ever read anything. I couldn’t put it down. I love the way Meyer crafts her stories, and characters. I found myself frustrated with character’s flaws but then at the same time cheering for them to succeed. Which is exactly how a reader should feel in my opinion – a delicate push/pull, love/hate relationship with the characters – as you would with people in “real life”.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer is a must-read for any Lunar Chronicles fan. It’s a wonderful collection of nine short stories about the main characters from the series.

Story #1 The Keeper: shares Michelle’s story: Scarlet’s grandmother who helped to take care of Princess Selene after the fire.

Story #2 Glitches: Takes us back to when Cinder first met Garan’s family, Adri, Peony, Pearl, and Iko. Cinder is still getting used to her new cyborg body and brain.

Story #3: The Queen’s Army: Heartbreaking story of when Ze’ev is taken from his family in order to receive training and physical modifications to become Wolf. We also get to meet Wolf’s brother, Ran.

Story #4: Carwell’s Guide to Being Lucky: In this story we get a glimpse back in time to when Carswell was a teenager in school, swindling for money as usual – but always for a good cause.

Story #5: After Sunshine Passes By: The story of little Crescent Moon as a nine year old girl made me cry.

Story #6: The Princess and The Guard: Follows Winter from when she is a six year old girl playing with her best friend Jacin. We get to learn of the moments which motivated her to stop using her power.

Story #7: The Little Android: An interesting story about Mech6.0, who while working to repair airships, saves Dataran, gets a new escort-droid body from Cinder.

Story #8: The Mechanic: I quite enjoyed this one. We get to see Prince Kai’s side of the story when he brings Nainsi, his droid, to the best mechanic around – Cinder.

Story #9: Something old, Something new: A wedding πŸ˜‰

To learn more about The Lunar Chronicles check out the author’s website www.marissameyer.com

 

2016 Reading: Race to the End!

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I didn’t do much reading the first half of 2016, which is disappointing, however I’ve been reading a lot more the past few months and am loving it. This has been a really strange year for the world…a lot of uncertainty, tragedy, sadness. I’ve been reading a lot of Fiction: Fantasy, Thriller, Horror, Mystery – anything and everything that will bring me into another world, away from our current global worries. Do you feel like you’ve had enough of 2016? I have to admit I’ve been looking forward to the end of it – and it’s not far off is it?

I’m quite proud that the one thing my kids really wanted Santa to bring was a particular book! MOM WIN! My nine year old daughter wanted “Wreck this Journal”, and some Magic Tree House Books. My seven year old son asked for Dan TDM’s new Minecraft adventure book (for those who aren’t in the Minecraft Youtube world, Dan TDM is one of the most popular Gaming Youtubers). My husband and I spent a couple lovely days gift-shopping at Chapters. They have more than just books – all kinds of fantastic games, puzzles, crafts, and neat novelty gifts.

I recently finished Stars Above by Marissa Meyer, and am currently reading Heartless. After that I’ll be reading Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan and then Hollow City (the Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) by Ransom Riggs.

What books are you hoping to finish before we ring in the New Year?

Spoiler-Free Book Review: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed is a story about a parent’s undying love for their child, grief, revenge against those who do us wrong, forgiveness, the literal and figurative prisons we live in – forced upon us by others, and created on our own. You do not need to read The Tempest before reading Hag-Seed (I did, and I found it enjoyable to have Shakespeare’s work so fresh in my mind, but it’s not necessary).

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood, part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, is a re-telling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of The Tempest, but was pleasantly surprised to find how masterfully Atwood has crafted a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s work.

The prologue entitled “Screening”grabbed my attention from the get-go with words like “shots fired” and “lockdown”. I don’t usually like prologues because they are often used as information dumps for character backgrounds,or back story, but in this instance Atwood effectively used the prologue as a way to grab the readers attention.

As the novel begins we meet Felix Phillips, an Artistic Director for a Canadian theater company. Felix has lost his wife and child, which has affected his work, and he’s given the news that the Festival Board have voted to terminate Felix’s contract. He learns that he has been usurped by his colleague, Tony. (In The Tempest the usurper was Antonio).

Felix finds a worn-down cabin to rent, hiding away in his “cell” to plot revenge, using a fake name – Mr. Duke. He lands a job working at a prison where over the next twelve years he introduces the inmates to Shakespeare’s work, casting convicts in plays, leading up to his final play The Tempest. As an Educational Assistant I found his teaching methods interesting.

Other readers have said they had a hard time connecting with Felix. I would have to disagree. I felt sorry for Felix. He is at times over-confident, but I feel like this comes from low self-esteem, depression, and his struggle dealing with grief. His interactions with his dead daughter brought tears to my eyes. As a mother, I could see why he wanted to keep her alive.

My one complaint is that I wanted more –Β  more back story about Felix’s colleagues at the art festival, his wife, and the convicts.

Every single character in both The Tempest and Hag-Seed are imprisoned in some way, and each story provides a glimpse into how we are put into our “cells”, how others lock us up, and the struggle to be set free.

FTC disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

www.crownpublishing.com

Check out Margaret Atwood’s website http://margaretatwood.ca/