Saturday, August 31, 2019

State of the ARC #19


State of the ARC is a monthly feature hosted by Avalinah's Books. I am so glad I stumbled upon it, because it helped me so much in tackling my ARC list in 2018. Now things are under control, and this post doesn't cause me as much worry as it used to. Links go to Goodreads, unless I have finished the review, in which case it goes to that. All ARCs are from NetGalley unless otherwise noted.

*Evelina is on a hiatus but I still wanted to get my post up for August, and will hopefully be done with ARCs after this...for a few days anyway...*

Pending/Wishlist = One
Crusaders: The Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands by Dan Jones

Not Started = Zero

Started = One
Why We Can't Sleep by Ada Calhoun

DNF = Zero

Finished/Review to Come = Two
You be You! by Jonathan Branfman

Something Bad Happened by Dawn Huebner

Review or Feedback Sent = Zero

What does you ARC situation look like for this month?

Happy Reading!
Sarah

Book Review | The Favorite Daughter

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Rating: ⭐...and that's being generous

I don't often read fiction, but one thing I really enjoy is an unreliable narrator. There is something about that point of view that is so much fun and truly keeps the reader on their toes, trying to discern what is actually true and what isn't.

Unfortunately, this narrator was not only unreliable, she was boring and every single thought she had was so forced, like we had to be convinced just how unreliable she was, in order to understand she was unreliable.

The only reason I finished the book in one day was simply to get it done and over with. I have been really good about DNF-ing books that are awful, but I thought surely with something like this there would be some kind of plot twist that I didn't see coming that would at least make it a decent read.

Turns out I was wrong. It's not that there was a predictable plot twist, it is that there was no plot twist at all.

Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

It's clear from the start that the main character is a sociopath. It's also obvious she was the responsible party and there was absolutely nothing unexpected or thrilling about this book at all. Jane was completely unlikable, as she was supposed to be, being that she was a psycho and all. But her family and all the other characters were  just as unlikable, because there was nothing to make them stand out, or be worthy of attention. We don't care about them because they too are boring, but because we are seeing them through Jane's eyes, OF COURSE they are boring because that's how she views them. We hardly know any of them because Jane hardly knows them either. She is so wrapped up in herself and her schemes that she thinks she is pulling of this grand charade; we don't get to know them because it is impossible for her to truly know anyone else.

So, basically, everyone in this book is lame, the ending is completely anticlimactic because nothing happens, and don't bother reading it.

Tackling the TBR | Week 32: Aug 22 - Aug 31, 2019



I am desperately trying to get my TBR under control. I have a huge backlog of books and often end up reading new books that are not even on my list, instead of trying to whittle down the list that continues to balloon up on Goodreads. Chuckles had the idea first, and we are going to use this as a chance to encourage each other to get those books read instead of always grabbing new ones and thus never making a dent in the physical and digital stacks we already have. It will also give us a chance to take a good look at our lists and see if there are ones we are no longer interested in. We will be posting on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and the last day of the month.


Previous Week's TBR Total: 3,237

Currently Reading: 6

Books Added to TBR: 3

Books Removed from TBR: 1

Books Read: 3

Books DNF-ed: 1

Duplicates Removed: 3

New TBR Total: 3,231


Seems back to normal now, thank goodness. The wonky numbers were driving me, well, wonky.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

First Line Friday #71


First Line Friday is brought to you by Hoarding Books. Playing along is easy. All you have to do is open the book nearest you and share the first line. Then check out the link to see the other first lines offered up this week.

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"Curtis Welch was the only doctor for hundreds of miles along this forgotten edge of the Bering Sea, and for the past eighteen years he had watched winter descend suddenly, as it tended to do up in the far north."

I have been wanting to read this one for ages and finally got it from the library. In the 6th-grade reader I used with my students, one story we read told a condensed version of the race to stop a diphtheria outbreak from decimating Nome, Alaska. This heroic and grueling journey has been commemorated yearly since 1967 when, every March, the Iditarod is run from Anchorage to Nome. Even more so, it is a celebration of musher Leonhard Seppala, who took part in delivering the serum, and won several All-Alaskan Sweepstakes that were run in the early 1900s.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Books From The Backlog #9


Books from the Backlog, hosted by Carole's Random Life in Books, is a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your shelf unread.

I stumbled onto this one thanks (again) to Chuckles. I have been toying with this one for a while because I have so many memes and features that I participate in, there are hardly time for reviews it feels like. But I am hoping this will also help with my whole TBR situation, so I can find some treasures that I have forgotten about.

Neglected Book of the Week
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Why did I add From Camelot to Kent State to my TBR?

Because this is time period I would love to have experienced. Not lived through, just experienced. Like with a time machine. But since those don't exist, books.

Have you read this book, or is it somewhere on your TBR? If you've read it, would you recommend it to others?

Monday, August 26, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday | Books I've Read That I'd Like In My Personal Library



Welcome to another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week is all about books we read that we want to own forever. And while owning books is all well and good, currently Eleanor and I simply do not have room. Her toy room contains three overflowing three-shelf bookcases. I have two five-shelf bookcases also overflowing; one is actually my 'To-Read' bookcase.

So, I am modifying this a little bit, because these are books that I really loved, but do not plan to purchase due to limited space. Think of it as my hypothetical bookshelf, if we were to have enough room for every book we ever wanted. (If you are a regular around here, you also know that any fiction making this list is a huuuuuuuge deal.)

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Have you read any of these? Are any on your TBR? Leave a link to your TTT also and I will be sure to visit.

Happy Reading!
Sarah

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Stacking the Shelves #59


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature co-hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It is a chance to showcase all the goodies you've collected throughout the week, whether they're bought on-line or in-store, an ARC or a final copy, borrowed from a friend or the library, physical or digital, etc.

Library Treasures
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Publisher Gift
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What did you add to your stash this week?

Happy Reading!
Sarah

Book Review | Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom

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Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this book. The end.

Just kidding.

Before we get started, take a moment to admire that cover. So simple, but very powerful all the same. It's beautiful.

It took a long time for me to actually be able to read this one, and not because there was anything wrong with the writing, or my eyes. It is because sometimes technology is really stupid and makes life hard when it does not need to be.

In 2016 I read a collection of stories written to commemorate 1066, easily one of my most favorite (even though the outcome makes me so mad) periods. The book, 1066 Turned Upside Down, explores the various ways 1066 might have turned out differently, based on any number of variables. I loved it. It is still one of my favorite reads, because it contained such a variety of ways that England might have stayed Anglo-Saxon instead of becoming Norman (but then I remember we might not know who Eleanor of Aquitaine was, had 1066 gone differently, and it's all just very upsetting and confusing and I don't actually know what I would choose if I could have decided the battles myself). It was in this collection that I discovered the author, Annie Whitehead. I was very interested to find out in the following time that she was working on a book about Mercia, one of the kingdoms that existed prior to England becoming the country we know it as today.

I am absolutely enthralled by this early early 'England'. But due to the fact that education and writing wasn't exactly a big deal until my fave king Alfred came along, we have so little information to go on in any great details about these kingdoms - Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria, East Anglia, Essex, Sussex, and Kent. Sometimes what we do know of one kingdom comes to us from the viewpoint of the enemy, either being the conqueror or the conquered. Needless to say, I was pretty excited when the project came to my attention. I was even more excited to get an ARC of it from Amberley (seriously, so many fantastic titles, and tons of great sales. Can't be the $15 flat shipping rate to the US, either.)

But, then the problems began. I could only read the file from my laptop and this was problematic, as sitting at a computer, or sitting in general, for long periods of time is not great for my hip and knee. I love to read while I am exercising, so that was also another issue. It is not as though I could carry my laptop as I biked or walked. Philip from Amberley and I tried to make it work, he even tried sending the file directly to my Kindle and nothing worked. So, I kind of gave up on the idea of reading the book before everyone else and bragging about how good it was. I recommended it as a purchase for my public library and got my hands on it the very day it arrived for me.

Let me tell you, the wait was worth it, 100%. I loved this book.

There is always a danger when one writes about these people and places from long ago. With written records being somewhat sparse, history texts often get bogged down as basically just a list of names and dates and 'might haves' or 'probablys'.

Not so here, I am happy to report.

Whitehead has crafted a wonderful tapestry of words woven together to give the clearest possible picture we might get of this kingdom lost long ago. It is one of those books I wanted to climb inside and live in, just to be closer to the people and action. (If anyone ever invents a time machine, we all know which periods I will be taking trips to, right?)

The book begins with Penda, and is off and running from there. We are taken through the whole of Mercia's rise and fall as a powerful kingdom to be reckoned with. Whitehead uses all available sources to complete said tapestry, such as the work of Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which those with an interest in the time will already be familiar with. The author uses multiple sources though, drawing on other chronicles, documents, and annals that have survived at least in partial form. Mercia too, happens to be one of those cases I mentioned previously, in that much of what we know about Mercia comes from her enemies, and thus was written about with bias. Whitehead does an incredible job of looking at the sources and guiding the reader through those biases for an honest look at some great and not-so-great kings - so many of whom are largely unknown today. The love the author has for her subject is clear in the research and time she must have devoted to tracking down every possible scrap of information. Often times when the contemporary sources seem to contradict one another, Whitehead offers explanations of why those conflicting stories occur, and what the likely truth might be - while remaining impartial herself.

This is a must-read for anyone interested in the time period. Highly, highly recommended.

Friday, August 23, 2019

First Line Friday #70


First Line Friday is brought to you by Hoarding Books. Playing along is super easy. All you have to do is open the book nearest you and tell me what the first line is. Then check out the link to see the other first lines are offered up this week.

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"America is in trouble, and a lot of that trouble - perhaps most of it - has to do with race."

Preach, Brother.

Race is 100% a social construct and until we demolish that idea, America herself will continue to be pulled apart at the seams.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Books From The Backlog #8

Books from the Backlog, hosted by Carole's Random Life in Books, is a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your shelf unread.


Why did I add In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World it Made to my TBR?

The Black Death is endlessly fascinating - the 'treatments' and 'preventions' especially. People do not realize what world-altering events these bouts of plague were. We are talking hundreds of millions of people, gone. Imagine what possibilities, discoveries, creations, advances, died with any one of the untold numbers of victims.

Have you read this book, or is it on your TBR? If you've read it, would you recommend it to others?

Tackling the TBR | Week 31: Aug 15 - Aug 21, 2019


I am desperately trying to get my TBR under control. I have a huge backlog of books and often end up reading new books that are not even on my list, instead of trying to whittle down the list that continues to balloon up on Goodreads. Chuckles had the idea first, and we are going to use this as a chance to encourage each other to get those books read instead of always grabbing new ones and thus never making a dent in the physical and digital stacks we already have. It will also give us a chance to take a good look at our lists and see if there are ones we are no longer interested in. We will be posting on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and the last day of the month.

Previous Week's TBR Total: 3,236

Books Added to TBR: 1

Books Removed from TBR: 0

Books Read: 2

Books DNF-ed: 0

New TBR Total: 3,237

I experimented with removing two aspects of my data collection for this week - one that I listed here all previous weeks as 'Currently Reading' and one where I actually tally the data in a note on my phone that includes the category of 'books moved from tbr to currently reading'. BUT, I also think the numbers are off anyway because of the craziness of the last couple weeks.

I will be getting everything righted again this weekend, that is fo'sho'.

Plus new reviews, even. Yay!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Update on My Previous Update

Hey all! Students started on Wednesday and I had most of my posts lined up ready to go...and then forgot to post them. Oops! So, there is a whole slew today (including this one, oi). I have read the comments you have all left and will be coming around this afternoon to catch up on everything I missed in the last two weeks.

I have not talked about my job too often, but have shared that for the last seven years I have had a very difficult teaching position. I was a Special Education teacher in the Behavior Skills Program, meaning I taught in a self-contained classroom of mixed grade-levels for students verified with various disorders. These include Emotional Disturbance, Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, Attention Deficit-Hyperactive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Bi-Polar Disorder, Mood Disorder, just to name a few. Students may also have been verified with an Specific Learning Disability and/or a Speech-Language Impairment as well.

Needless to say, it was a stressful job. I loved it for much of the beginning of my career, but the last three years were especially hard and I knew I was not doing the job as well as I used to. That stress spilled over into every other area of my life and it was time for a change.

This year I have transferred to Resource, which means I am primarily working with kiddos verified with one or multiple SLDs. The first three days with the kids have been a-may-zing. I am really excited for this fresh start, and a chance to recharge my batteries, so to speak. I go into their classrooms and work on various reading and math interventions with them, and I am happy to say that I think this year is going to be fantastic.

Happy Reading!
Sarah

Books From The Backlog #7

Books from the Backlog, hosted by Carole's Random Life in Books, is a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your shelf unread.



Why did I add Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen to my TBR?

Blah blah, her life was so hard, blah blah. I love Tudor history but I absolutely can not stand Elizabeth. She was a spoiled, manipulative brat. So, mostly I added this to my list because I like reading about those rivals and foes especially.

Have you read this book, or is it on your TBR? If you've read it, would you recommend it to others?

First Line Friday #69


First Line Friday is brought to you by Hoarding Books. Playing along is super easy. All you have to do is open the book nearest you and tell me what the first line is. Then check out the link to see the other first lines are offered up this week.

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"Maybe I should be a vampire instead of a princess," said Annie.

Eleanor and I LOVE this series. She can pretty much read them to herself at this point (she's six), but we love reading them together.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Stacking the Shelves #59


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature co-hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It is a chance to showcase all the goodies you've collected throughout the week, whether they're bought on-line or in-store, an ARC or a final copy, borrowed from a friend or the library, physical or digital, etc.

Library Treasures
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School started this week for students, so reading has been minimal - as has the acquiring of new treasures. Once we are back into a routine, this will be back to normal!

What did you add to your stash this week?

Happy Reading!
Sarah

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Tackling the TBR | Week 30: Aug 8 - Aug 14, 2019


I am desperately trying to get my TBR under control. I have a huge backlog of books and often end up reading new books that are not even on my list, instead of trying to whittle down the list that continues to balloon up on Goodreads. Chuckles had the idea first, and we are going to use this as a chance to encourage each other to get those books read instead of always grabbing new ones and thus never making a dent in the physical and digital stacks we already have. It will also give us a chance to take a good look at our lists and see if there are ones we are no longer interested in. We will be posting on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and the last day of the month.

Previous Week's TBR Total: 3,237

Books Added to TBR: 1

Books Removed from TBR: 0

Books Read: 2

Books DNF-ed: 0

New TBR Total: 3,236

Eleanor started school Monday, and my students came back today. I will get around to everyone's blogs this week, maybe even before the weekend.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Stacking the Shelves #58


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature co-hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It is a chance to showcase all the goodies you've collected throughout the week, whether they're bought on-line or in-store, an ARC or a final copy, borrowed from a friend or the library, physical or digital, etc.

Library Treasures
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What did you add to your stash this week?

Happy Reading!
Sarah