2016 Reading Wrap Up

2016

Remember this time a year ago I set some really ambitious reading goals? I am here to report, that I failed. Miserably. I’m not ashamed though.

I read 24 books this year. This is way less than I read in 2015, where I read almost double that at 37 books. I started my first job this year where most weeks, I work and average of twenty hours. In addition to that, I’m a full time college student. It really saddens me  but I haven’t had the time, or even the energy to read as much as I’d like to.

Remember how I said that I wanted to finish the Harry Potter Series this year? Hehehe, that didn’t happen. I did, however, read the second and third books in the series and I loved them. It’s not that I didn’t want to read more of them. It’s that i’m now at the point in the series where the books are super duper long and it goes back to not having the time.

Another goal I had set for myself reading wise this year was to reread/ finish reading Ally Carter’s Gallager Girl series. I had every intention of doing this- I even bought the books in the series missing from my collection in late January or early February. Sadly, I haven’t touched any of them. Also, I did this right before the rerelease of the series with the cool new covers. I mean, i’m happy I have them with the covers I knew them having when I was initially reading the books in middle school/ high school but damn, those new covers are cool.

The third reading goal I had set for myself this year was to read at least one nonfiction book per month. I did this in January, with Kelly Cutorone’s book Normal Gets You Nowhere Then, I pretty much forgot about that goal. I am not going to set this goal for myself again for 2017 but there are some nonfiction books that i’d like to read such as Yes: My Impossible Journey to the Main Event of Wrestlemania by Daniel Bryan, Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham and The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gains. I’m not making any promises and I’ll talk more about my 2017 reading goals in next week’s post.

So at this point you’re thinking, what did you read in 2016, Kaitlyn? I read 24 really good books, that’s what I read. And with the fact I have zero free time, i’m really proud of that. In those 24 books, I had one reread, The Clique by Lisi Harrison, that’s my favorite book of all time. I read one comic book WWE: Then, Now, Forever. I read seven American Girl books, a short story (it was for a writing class I took), a memoir, and thirteen novels.

Best and Worst of 2016:

I hope you had a fabulous 2016 and accomplished all your reading goals. If not, I hope you read some really good books!

Much Love,

Kate

 

2016 Reading Wrap Up

No Ordinary Sound: A Melody Classic 1

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Melody Ellison is American Girl’s newest historical character. No Ordinary Sound: A Melody Classic One by Denise Lewis Patrick is the first book of two about her.

Melody Ellison is nine years old and she’s living in Detroit in 1963. She’s been choose to sing a solo for youth day at her church and she’s having a hard time decide what song to sing. She takes advice from her older bother who is a really good singer and whose dream is to be a Motown singer. She also takes advice from her grandmother, Big Momma, who is also a singer. What ultimately, inspires Melody to choose a song is the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There are many unfair things happening during Melody’s time, even to Melody’s own family. It’s a tragedy that happens at a church in the south that leaves Melody silent. Will she be able to raise her voice and sing at youth day?

First things first, Melody is such a cute doll. I got her a week ago right when American Girl released her and I don’t like to play favorites with my dolls but she’s definitely one of mine.

Melody’s story struck a cord with me (musical pun intended). I remember learning about the Civil Rights Movement all throughout school but reading about it from Melody’s point of view. I liked seeing how Dr. King influenced her and gave her hope. They way that melody took the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church broke my heart. I almost cried reading that part.

I loved how bold and brave Melody is. She fights for what’s right and she won’t stand for the discrimination. Eventhough she’s a fictional character, I admire her.

I liked this Beforever bind up better that Maryellen’s. My biggest problem with Maryellen’s volume one was that it felt like it was three different short stories tied together in to one novel. This was not the case with Melody. Melody’s story was one story and I really appreciated that.

This story was beautifully written and because of that, I give it 5/5 stars. I will definitely be reading part two of Melody’s story in the very near future.

Much Love,

Kait

No Ordinary Sound: A Melody Classic 1

The One & Only: A Maryellen Classic 1

img_7257Sick of the American Girl book reviews yet? Well, too bad if you are because i’m coming at 1bc1d5232ecc045155b91fa789de7fd9you this week with another one (and there are more to come). This week, I’m telling you about Maryellen, A girl who is growing up in 1954.

First, let’s talk about how adorable this doll is. Her dress is so pretty and those side bangs are just too cute! Especially when reading the story and you learn how they come about. I want this doll and I can’t promise that I won’t buy her at some point during the year…

I don’t know how to start with describing this book because it’s like three stories in one. You get to meet Maryellen and her family, go with her when she starts the fourth grade and spend the holidays with her and her family. Maybe it’s because when I was a kid, the books that went with American Girl dolls was a series of six so I can see where one “book” would have ended and where the next would have started. I know Maryellen is the newest doll in the historical, or beforever (as it’s now called) so her books were never released as a six part series. I don’t like these new bind ups and will not be buying anymore expect for the ones that are only releases in this way, such as Maryellen.So basically, a very valid excuse to be a frequent visitor at half price books!

Maryellen reminds me a lot of myself when I was her age. She is obsessed with the movies and television and often pretends that she is a in a TV show. I love her active imagination. Something else I thought was relatable in the book was that like me, Maryellen’s first day of fourth grade was horrible. I loved reading about all her siblings and all their such distinct personalities.

I didn’t like how this was written in third person. It’s not something that took away from the story but is a personal preference in writing style. Also, I didn’t like how all the other family members are mentioned and have distinct personalities but Maryellen’s dad is barely mentioned- I think though that just has a lot to do with how families were in the 1950’s. The dad worked and that was pretty much all he did- provide for the family.

Overall, I had a fun time reading about Maryellen and I can’t wait to read her second set of stories. I gave The One and Only: A Maryellen Classic 1 4/5 stars.

What do you guys think about American Girl’s rebranding of the historical characters?

Much love,

Kate

The One & Only: A Maryellen Classic 1

A Great and Terrible Beauty

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Before I get into this week’s blog post, I want to apologize for being a day late on posting. Sometimes life just happens and you want to go and live it. Next time I post, I shall be on time with the usual Friday posting day.

So, like I promised in my last post, this one is going to be about a book that is not as heavy with the life talk and more fun. I first read this book during my freshman year of high school, and I fell in love with the trilogy so much that I bought all three of the books and continue to read them to this day. I’m going to discuss the first book in the trilogy (because you can’t talk about a series without starting from the beginning). So, without further ado, my book of the week is A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray.

Set in the late 1800s, the story is centered on a young sixteen year old girl name Gemma Doyle. Her whole world is turned upside down when her mother is murdered by a mysterious shadow in a packed market in India. Confused and dazed, Gemma is sent to England to study at The Spence Academy for Young Ladies, one of the most prestigious schools for young women. When she first arrives, Gemma is cast aside for being different: she is not good at any of the typical skills young ladies are expected to know, she is adventurous, and she always asks a lot of questions. However, after an exchange of a few scandalous secrets, she is pulled into a friendship with two of the most popular girls in school, Felicity and Pippa, as well as her roommate Ann, an orphan sent to Spence to train to be a housemaid for her cousins. While trying to navigate the politics of Spence, Gemma struggles to understand exactly what happened to her mother. She begins to have visons, vivid dreams of places and people she has never met discussing something called the Order and a place called The Realms. With the help and encouragement of her friends, Gemma discovers that she has a power inside of her to open the Realms – where she finds her mother. A Great and Terrible Beauty is the first installment of Gemma’s journey to understand who she really is and why she has the power she does.

Trying to explain everything that happens in this book would take way longer than a single paragraph. The plot is incredibly intricate, with many concurrent stories and backstories that all intertwine to create the current life of Gemma and her friends. This is one of my favorite things about this book and the series in general. Libba Bray is able to discuss multiple people and stories and somehow involve all of those stories into one main one. I think this is one of the many successes of the book. All of the characters’ are incredibly well written, and all of their stories are explained to their fullest extent while still being relevant to the main story of Gemma and the Realms. Keep in mind, since this is a trilogy, there are some unanswered questions and stories at the end of this book that will not be answered until the last book. However, I do believe Bray does a fantastic job in writing A Great and Terrible Beauty so that it can stand on its own memorably while still contributing to the genius that is the trilogy.

One of the other big successes of this book is the writing style. Bray goes into a fair amount of detail and depth when talking about the places and people in her book, which I as a reader greatly enjoy. I love being immersed in a story, and all of the description and heart Bray puts into her book makes it feel more like an experience and less like just reading a book. I guarantee she will suck you in from the moment you finish reading the first chapter and hang on for the ride until the last word of this book. Her descriptive writing and edge-of-your-seat suspense mixed with some Gothic era history makes for a thrilling ride with Gemma. You will want to find out what happens to her story guaranteed by the end of reading this book.

I am going to give this book an 8 out of 10 stars. I truly loved and enjoyed reading this book. It is a fun, exciting, refreshing break from a lot of the other typical young adult novels out there, which is one of the reasons why I like it. It encourages girls to break the mold of what everyone else is doing and be exactly who you are, even if who you are isn’t like everyone else. I love that. However, I am partial to books that actually have deep life lessons (as you probably already know). Those kinds of books are the ones that, in my internal ranking, are higher than this book. However, if you are looking for something different, something to spice up the young adult section of your book shelf, this is the book and trilogy to do so with.

If you have read this book or the trilogy before, let me know in the comments what you thought!

Best,

Tina

A Great and Terrible Beauty