Monthly Digest

Monthly Digest | September 2022

Reading

Maledictions: A Horror Anthology by Cassandra Khaw, I ended up really enjoying this collection of horror short stories. It was just great to pick up here and there and read something when I didn’t have a ton of time. That being said, it is a collection and I liked some sort stories better than others. I feel like that is just how collections work though in general. This was also my first introduction to the WarHammer universe and I enjoyed how vast it is through these little stories. I am interested in diving into this universe a bit more, I just need to figure out where to dive in fully.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy, I know a lot of people have been talking about this memoir so I won’t ramble on too much. I really loved this memoir because of McCurdy’s voice and her ability to explain her story and her feelings. This book has a lot of tough topics throughout, various types of abuse, which no child should have to go through. Let alone from their own mother. This book was one I had a hard time putting down because I just wanted to keep reading and I have to say I am so happy for McCurdy and where she is now. In charge of her own decisions and her own life.

Crochet, Knitting and Crafting

Sadly, I did not finish my sweater by the end of the month, but I am so close! I had to wait for a needle to get here, in the mean time I ended up starting and finishing another project while I waited. I ended up crocheting a Float Tote by Knitty Natty, which is like a project bag, but you also create an insert to organize different skeins of yarn. I ended up making the biggest size, 5 skeins. I plan on using this to make a sweater where I am knitting together 3 strands at a time and this is perfect so all my yarn doesn’t get tangled and roll all over the place.

Life

This month I really focused on my making my space comfortable and relaxing. I ended up doing an unhaul a bit of books to donate locally. I also reorganized my dressers and closet to better work for me as well. It was a lot of work, but now that it is done I am really happy and feel a bit more at ease when I walk in the door since I am not faced with so much clutter and stuff piled everywhere. I do have one more drawer, my crafting drawer, that I want to tackle still, but I am waiting until next month and the colder months to look through those items. The main reason being I tend to do more crafting during that time of the year and I want to see what I use and don’t use.

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Monthly Digest

Monthly Digest | August 2022

Hello and welcome to a monthly recap post that takes a look at my reading, crafting, and random things I did this month. This month was a ton of fun and relaxing at the same time. I was able to spend a lot of time outside enjoying the summer weather, but also enjoyed some time cooling off indoors with a good book. Anyway, here are some of the things I was up to this past month!

Reading

Finished The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager, I read this with my friends Jenna and Reg earlier this month. I was slow to get into it, but once I did it went pretty quickly. I think what made it hard to get into was the fact I was not a huge fan of the main character. To be fair they are a untrustworthy narrator because of their drinking very frequent, so I think this was the authors point. Personally, I am kind of sick of this in thrillers. Apart from that I really enjoyed the lake setting, it really lent itself to the story. I was able to clearly picture the scenes from the pages and felt that each person we met had their own personality. I did really enjoy the use of lore in this story, it was interesting and really engaged me in the story.

I am currently in the middle of Maledictions: A Horror Anthology by Cassandra Khaw and I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy. I am really enjoying both of them for completely different reasons. Maledictions is a wonderful collection of horror short stories that is great for when I don’t have a ton of time to sit and read. On the other hand I’m Glad My Mom Died is a nonfiction book written by a now grown child actress sharing her story. With this book, I really enjoy being able to dedicate time to reading it.

Crochet, Knitting and Crafting

Textured socks on sock blockers with contrasting heels and toes.


This month I ended up finishing a complete pair of knitted socks! I decided to follow a pattern this time around instead of doing a plain sock, I ended up using Picnic Blanket Socks by Helen Stewart. All her patterns are just wonderfully broken down line by line with stitch counts and % progress shown. They are really great patterns for when you are trying as new technique and want more than just the section ending count. These were a ton of fun to make, the texture was super easy and I can’t wait to wear them this winter.

Gray cropped tank top with bows on the straps


The second item I completed this month is the Georges Top by Johanna Gehrisch. I have some mixed feelings about this pattern. While I was making it I came across some things that I would change if I were to make this again. I would complete the bottom section on the round then pick up stiches to do the shaping. I also had to do ribbing around the bottom so the bottom did not curl, if done again, I would do a folded hem, the only reason I did not this time was because I didn’t know if I would have enough yarn. When finishing this pattern, at the time of making it, there was not a lot of guidance, did not tell me how far up to stich the halves together. I ended up guessing the the section I would do in the round in the future, well turns out I needed to do it higher for this items to sit correctly. Some guidance would have been helpful in that regard. Do I like this item? Yes, I do. Would I make it again. No, idea. I really loved the pattern, but having the lack in support towards the end was a bit of a turn off. If I did make it again I would remove the bows and make it longer as well as the changes I mentioned above.

Life

Kindle on table and dog sitting by feet of the reader

This month I was able to get a new ereader, if you want some more detail you can see my post called; My New eReader. Overall, I am loving using this, I take it everywhere and I really feel like I get more reading done. Yes, even though I only finished one book. Also, because it is not a computer screen I feel a difference in my eyes, they don’t feel as fatigued after a longer reading session.

mentioned tweet and described four items, Saraya Shawl, Anker’s Summer Shirt, Kari Shawl, Socks.

A milestone I really wanted to celebrate is the fact that August marked one year of knitting. I did a post over on my twitter celebrating it as well. It is so hard to believe I have only been knitting for a month and have created things I never thought I would be able to and have fun challenging myself. Some of the more notable ones include a red textured and cabled shawl called the Saraya shawl, a textured brown shirt called Anker’s Summer Shirt, a gray shawl with eyelet details on the edge called the Kari Shawl and lastly some socks I am very proud of with contrasting heels and toes that I made from memory based on a vanilla sock pattern.

Rock beach next to the woods and water

One of the most relaxing things I did this month was taking walks outside and just enjoying nature. While there were some VERY hot days, it was great to just get out and walk on the days it wasn’t too bad or in the morning or evening. I took the above picture on one of my walks.

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Monthly Digest

Monthly Digest | July 2022

Hello and welcome to a post highlighting my reading, crafting, and life over the past month. This month I finally felt like I had free time and I could relax a bit. I for sure kicked up my feet and read some thing month, which I am thrilled about. I also was on a making kick and was able to go on some adventures as well.

Reading

Gwendy’s Final Task by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, I went into a bit more detail of my thoughts of this book in my post, The Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag, but I will say I ended up DNF’ing this book about halfway through. The reason I DNF’ed the book was because all of the real world references within the book kept taking me out of the story and into the real world and I kept drifting into my thoughts. I will try this book again down the road because the writing was great.

The Facemaker by Lindsey Fitzharris, this was one of my most anticipated books of the year. I read Fitzharris’ first book and adored it as well, The Butchering Art. This book took a deep dive into the the beginnings of reconstruction surgery during and after World War I. While this is a nonfiction read, the author is very talented and made this read as if a friend was telling you about something interesting them learned. There is a lot of information in this book, but you never feel bogged down etc. You also got to know the life of the doctors, the patients, and nurses so you they don’t come across as just people who worked there or just subjects.

The next two books I ended up reading during a impromptu 24 hour readathon. If you wanna see some more details on how that went, you can see that in my post, Impromptu Personal 24 Hour Readathon Wrap-Up.

The Employees by Olga Ravn, Martin Aitken (Translator), I really enjoyed this wild ride of a science fiction. It is very hard to put into words why I liked this book so much. But, trying my best I think it comes from they way the story is told through very brief interviews. Even from these small interviews you get a clear picture of the ship, those on the ship, and the challenges they face. The atmosphere that is created is so detailed you find yourself reacting to the interviews subconsciously, you just get feelings deep down in your gut. Not only this, but it explores the idea what it means to be human.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (Translator), this book is really a wild ride. You go into it thinking you are going to read a general fiction about a man who was left by his wife for whatever reason and going to explore him navigating this. Well, as always Murakami always seems to add another layer to his books. This novel takes a supernatural/magical realism turn that makes this novel addicting to read. When I picked this book up I didn’t think I was going to finish it during the 24 hour readathon, I was wrong. I ended up reading this 600 page book in a single day.

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut, Adrian Nathan West (translator), this fiction book takes real life players and events and takes the reader on a wild ride. It does talk about both mathematicians and physics, not knowing too much about both, just general knowledge, I was not lost in the slightest. The author did a great job of blending fact and fiction and really makes the reader think about the question if humanity is going forwards or backwards through discoveries. It plays on the quote from Jurassic park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” It for sure is a book that sits with you and makes you think.

Willie the Weirdo by Stephen King, this was a mere 18 pages so I don’t really want to say too much, but I will say this this short story really had the creepy vibes I have been missing from his more recent works.

Slow Boat by Hideo Furukawa, David Boyd (Translator), this book was meh. It was not bad by any stretch, the writing was very well done, but this story was kind of boring. I read 45 pages the first sitting, which was a huge dent since this book is so short, but it was a struggle to pick it up again. If this book was any longer I probably would have DNF’ed it because it just didn’t pull me in personally. Like I said, the writing is really good, for a short book, the author did a lot in those pages, which is impressive.

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune, this story made my heart hurt, It was imaginative in all the right ways. I read this in a 24 hour period from cover to cover. I don’t get too emotional while reading, but this book certainly pulled at my heart strings between friendships, found family and just the growth of the main character . Plus, GHOSTS, I am 100% on board.

Crochet, Knitting and Crafting

Anker’s Summer Shirt

Anker’s Summer Shirt by PetiteKnit, this was my first time working a pattern by PetiteKnit and I can see why other knitters lover her patterns so much. They are simple, but have enough going on to keep you engaged. The styles are classic and timeless and are great for layering. I want to work another one of her patterns already. I made this project out of Sandnes Garn Line, which is a blend of cotton, rayon, and linen so it was perfect to make this summer shirt for sure. I really loved the textured yoke of this top down sweater.

Duotone Cowl

Next project I completed was a Duotone Cowl (Non-ralvery Option) by Orange Flower Yarn. I did this project as a stash busting project with the intent of donating it come colder months. I happened to have two skein of
Ritual Dyes Marona in a pink color and a dark green so I whipped up this project. I really loved how this pattern didn’t work with equal sized stripes all around, but made one color dominate in one half and then reversed on the second half. It makes this scarf look more intricate than it is and I love that in a project, plus it is a free pattern and very well written!

Vanilla Socks

The next and final project I finished was a plain vanilla sock with a contrasting heel and toe for sock week 2022, I did an entire post dedicated to this project and you can find that here, Sock Week 2022 Journal. It was a fun quick project before jumping back into some larger ones.

Life

This past month I did a bunch of fun things. I went to the beach a few times, getting that fresh salt water air really helped me get over a cold I had for over two weeks. While at the beach I was able to get some reading and knitting done as well. It was just truly a relaxing experience and I needed it greatly. I always forget how much I need to be around nature and how calming it is personally to me.

Showing off Slow Boat by Hideo Furukawa on the beach

I also went on a lovely nature walk with my boyfriend this month. We walked around for about 2 hours easily looking at statues and enjoying all the different plants, flowers, and trees. We even found one that looked like it was growing tiny bananas. I think my favorite part of this walk was any time we came across the water. We found a water fall, a stream with a ton of koi fish, and even found a frog among the water lilies.

waterfall through a stone window

As you can see I spent a lot of time doing the things I love and enjoy this month and I really hope to keep this going. I want to go to the beach a few more times before it gets chilly again. I do have some fun plans coming up in August that I am really looking forward to sharing with you! But, that was my month of July! I hope your July was just as wonderful if not more so.

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Monthly Digest · Reviews · Wrap Up

My Most Recent Read

Hello and welcome to a little recap of books I have recently read and my quick thoughts on them. I have been inconsistent on my little slice of the internet and I wanted to get to a point I could do my monthly digest posts once again. The last one I wrote was Monthly Digest April 2022, so I have a few months to cover before getting in to July’s later this month.

I will admit my reading was very inconsistent as well, most likely the main reason I was not posting a ton. I wasn’t in a reading mood because I had so much going on, which left me with very little relaxation time. So, without much more rambling, here is the single book I managed to read between May and June.

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

I actually buddy read this in a way with Reg and Jenna. We each took a turn reading the book, annotating it, and then sending it to the next reader. This very cute love story was just the perfect amount of cute and twists I needed and didn’t know it yet. It was really great to read on its own, I loved the story. It was imaginative, much more so than I thought going into it. The writing was inviting, I ended up actually reading this in a day or two. If that alone isn’t saying how much I enjoyed it, I don’t know what else will. I told you my reading was pretty much nonexistent, but since reading this book I have read a few more, I give this book credit for kick starting me reading. I really enjoyed the characters as well, in fact I enjoyed them so much I mentioned them and this book in my recent post. The Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag. I know I am not saying too much about the plot, but I really think I liked it so much because I knew so little about the books itself. I really only knew it was about a girl who takes the train, other than that I really knew nothing. But, like I said this book was enjoyable on its own, it was really great fun reading my friends reactions and their thoughts on everything.

I am happy to report my next wrap of reading will have much more to share. I have been bitten by the reading bug and I am really thrilled. I hope it continues in the coming months so I can share more great books with you.

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Monthly Digest

Monthly Digest | April 2022

Hey all and welcome to a bit of a review of the previous month! Spring has officially sprung bringing with it a ton of rain and pollen. While I did really enjoy falling asleep to the steady rain this past month, I am not too thrilled with the pollen that is making me sneeze left and right. But, I will say overall this month has kept me busy in a really good way!

Reading

The first book I read this month was The War of the Poor by Èric Vuillard. I originally picked this book up because I read a book by the author in the past. While I really enjoyed the writing style of this book, I was not too keen on there not being footnotes or endnotes to support their nonfiction book. I will be honest though, I am not sure if the intention of this book was meant to be nonfiction as well so I decided to do a little digging. The reason I had the expectations of this book being nonfiction is due to it’s tags on goodreads; History, Nonfiction, French History, but on the publishers site is quoted as saying, “A dazzling piece of historical re-imaginingPan Macmillan. So, I feel like individuals are mislabeling this historical fiction novella as nonfiction, which is unfortunate. Obviously, this is no fault of the author by any means, but it does change how I see this novella. The writing was engaging to say the least. This was a topic I studied a lot during my time in University, but it was really interesting seeing it portrayed in this manner. Even though I read about this time in history I was not bored or felt like I was experiencing Déjà vu. I read it in two sittings and I only put it down the first time because I needed to get to sleep. Overall, I ended up giving the book 3 stars!

Crochet, Knitting and Crafting

I completed two large projects this month, the first being a Ranunculus, my first wearable and I am actually quite proud of it. I ended up wearing it the day after I finished it! I can see why so many people love this pattern, it was a project I never hesitated to pick up and it worked up quite quickly. It had some new things I needed to learn, but I am always open to learn something new.

Ranunculus Sweater – Short Sleeves

The second big project I finished was my Saraya Shawl, which I plan on wearing to a friends wedding later this Spring. This pattern was written by Saysha Greene and was published in Worsted. It was a really fun knit that challenged me, but didn’t leave me burnt out.

Saraya Shawl

Life

This month I did a lot of fun things, especially since the weather started to warm up. I had a really lovely date with my boyfriend to celebrate our anniversary where we got to have a really delicious meal while enjoying the beautiful weather outdoors. Then we adventured to our favorite ice cream shop and enjoyed them while hanging out on a bench talking and people watching.

I also went on a few adventures with my friends. I went to the movies for the first time in YEARS, which was nice because no one else was there really. So the two of us were not holding back our reactions to the movie in the slight, it was funny because the few other people watching the movie did the same thing. Then, with another friend of mine we went yarn shop hopping, I ended up picking up yarn for a few projects I want to make this year. We ended up going to about 8 shops, the discounts were so good I could not resist. I would have bought this yarn anyway, just for later down the line. We also ended up getting takeout after all that shopping and the food was just AMAZING!

This month was really great, mainly because I was able to hangout and create some great memories with others. I really hope to have a few picnics with some of my other friends I need to catch up with in the upcoming months.

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Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge | Reading a Shortlist Vol. 2

Hello and welcome to another check in for one of my reading goals for 2021. Every year I make it a goal to read the International Booker Prize short list, so far this year I have done one update, Reading Challenge | Reading a Shortlist Vol. 1 Update, where I talked about my thoughts on The Memory Police and Hurricane Season. In this update post I am going to be sharing my brief thoughts on Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann.

The Book

Image
Picture of Tyll

Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann

Honestly, this book gave my some serious Loki vibes with the tricker that we follow and hear tales from. There was magic, lore, and a court jester. Following the adventures of Tyll was a very interesting ride that was woven with historical events and was a bit of historical fiction. I have to say, it is hard to pin down what this book is, but I did very much enjoy it. It was fast paced, kept me engaged from page one till the end. I honestly would have kept reading about Tyll if the book went on a few more hundred pages.

Tyll himself was a very interesting character and has a very interesting personal history. I really enjoyed learning about him. From my little research I found that this Tyll is apparently based on a Till Eulenspiegel from German folklore. I want to explore this more, because I feel like it could be really interesting. I have always loved reading folklore from different places around the world.

The only thing I can really see as difficult about this book is the way it jumps around in time. It was an adjustment for me at first, after the first few jumps I was fine.

Overall, I am very happy with how this challenge is shaping up this year. I have read books about places I heard of, but didn’t really know about. This years shortlist involves quite a bit of magical elements, but I feel like even with the fantastical elements of the books I have read so far, they cover serious topics from a life changing events, historical events as well as sharing legends and myths from the authors culture. At this point in time I have few more books to read from this list.


Have you read either of these books? Would you add either of these to your TBR?

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Reading Taste Test · Reviews

Reading Taste Test | @jacksepticeye

Hello and welcome to a new thing I have been wanting to introduce on my blog for some time. I am always getting book recs and such from book blogs, bloggers, and friends who love reading a ton. While I LOVE the recommendations, I have always been curious to see if books recommended by those who are not known for their love of books would be just as enjoyable or maybe even a new favorite. So over the past few months as I watched youtubers or their other social media accounts who are not book centric and started to take some notes of books they mentioned. This month I decided to give jacksepticeye’s or Seán McLoughlin’s book recommendation a try.

This pick I came across in his video entitled, Jacksepticeye’s REAL Personality Revealed (Enneagram Test), who would have thought a book rec would have come from a title like that? lol. But, this just comes to show you that you can find books anywhere. Anyway, the book mentioned in this video is How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius by Donald J. Robertson. When I studied history for my degree I did take quite a few philosophy courses, but have not really touched it since then, a shame because I really liked those classes because they challenged your own thinking. So, when he mentioned this book, I knew it was one I was going to use in this series.

Description

“Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, cognitive psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius together seamlessly to provide a compelling modern-day guide to the Stoic wisdom followed by countless individuals throughout the centuries as a path to achieving greater fulfillment and emotional resilience.

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes readers on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian—taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day—through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity, and guides readers through applying the same methods to their own lives.

Combining remarkable stories from Marcus’s life with insights from modern psychology and the enduring wisdom of his philosophy, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor puts a human face on Stoicism and offers a timeless and essential guide to handling the ethical and psychological challenges we face today.” –goodreads.com

First Impressions

Even though I was already sold on this book because it is a topic I want to explore again I didn’t know too much about the book itself until I got my hands on it and read the above description. What stood out to me most was the fact that this book seems like a combination of a history, philosophy, and self help. On top of that it seems like the author is going to be taking ideas that many scoff at because they are “old” and revitalizing them though a modern lens. As someone who has studied history, you really can see a lot of parallels to old idea and civilizations and the modern day if you only took the time to really see the connections. Obviously, this is not to say the past is perfect in anyway, but nor are we perfect now. One thing for sure is that the past and present are connected.

What I Liked

While I really loved this book quite a bit, there are a few things that stood out the most while reading this book. The first being the authors ability to showcase ancient philosophy in a way that is easily understood. Not only was it easily understood, I liked how the author connected this philosophy to modern psychology. As someone who studied both of these a bit in the past, it really solidified my understanding as well as cementing the fact that this does in fact have a place in the modern world. I would like to make it clear that I feel like this book would still be easily understood and impactful if the reader does not have any background or previous interest in these fields. The authors plain language and explanations don’t come across as belittling or condescending, but like a friend talking to you and explain something new to you. Nothing is overly complicated in the slightest.

The second things that really stood out to me, I kind of already hinted at, but the authors way of telling the story of Marcus Aurelius or Stoicism was phenomenal. As someone who had no idea about either of these topics. Though his narrative way to telling the history combined with his friendly way of giving examples of how to bring these practices to your life it is an enjoyable read. It neither reads like someone knowledgeable talking down to someone or like you are in a lecture. When reading about ancient ways of thinking or individuals, this can often happen. But, Donald J. Robertson stands out in this regard.

What I Didn’t Like

I have to say I really don’t have anything specific to note in regards to dislikes when reading this book.

Overall

I am really glad that I came across this video by jacksepticeye because otherwise I would have never read this book. If you couldn’t tell already, I loved this book. I annotated it quite a lot. You would be hard pressed to find a page without a scribble or underlined passages. It was organized very well, the narrator/ author had a very clear and kind tone, and I learned quite a lot without feeling like I was attending a class or seminar. My personal opinion is this is a wonderful book and if you are interested in this topic, look further into this book.

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Reading Taste Test · Reviews

Someone Picks My Books | Cousin Edition | Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

Hello and welcome to the July edition of Someone Picks My Books! This month I reached out to my cousin to pick a book for me. She ended up picking Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami, but you probably figured that out from the title. I have read a few of Murakami’s books so I was thrilled when she brought this one up so I get to read it. I was able to get it right from the library on my ereader so I got right to reading!

Description

A dazzling new collection of short stories—the first major new work of fiction from the beloved, internationally acclaimed, Haruki Murakami since his #1 best-selling Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.

Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.

Marked by the same wry humor that has defined his entire body of work, in this collection Murakami has crafted another contemporary classic. –goodreads.com

What I Liked

I really enjoyed the bite sized looks into the lives of those within the stories. I felt like the stories were well paced and the length of each one was perfect. I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything, but I also never felt like a story went on too long. A very difficult balance to maintain as a writer. I felt that while we got a snippet of each of these men, each was unique and I didn’t feel like a plot was recycled in any way.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the fact that these short stories has the same feel that I have previously loved in works I have read by the author. This is personally a worry for me when I am used to reading novels by an author, changing the type of fiction an author writes can at times ruin an author for me because they can loose a sense of what I enjoy about them. Happily that was not the case at all here.

What I Didn’t Like

As with short story collections there are some winners and some not great ones. I normally have this experience with collections, but I have to say I felt overall very positive about the collection and I didn’t outright hate or fully dislike one in particular.

Overall

This is a great collection of short stories and I am very glad that my cousin picked this for me to read. I was lucky enough to bring this with my on vacation and it was honestly perfect for that setting. It was bite sized chunks of great works by a very talented writer. The stories didn’t go to fast or drag on in any way. If you love Murakami or have been wanting to give his works a try, but 1Q84 is overwhelming I think you should look into this collection.

Up Next

Next month I am reading a book picked by the lovely Minna, where you can find them on twitter as @bookishminna and on their blog bookishminna. I really love their combination of book content and life where their personality shines through as well as their passions.

Have you read this book before or is it on your TBR?

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Reviews

Someone Picks My Books | Whit Reads Lit | Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

Hello and welcome to the second Someone Picks My Books within the past week! If you are are new to the blog, this is a series where I have other book lovers pick a book for me to read and I give it a try! I love it because I always end up reading books I might not have read otherwise. This month Whitney, who you can find on both twitter as @whitreadslit and over on her blog, whitreadslit.com picked a book for me to read. As someone who loves historical fiction, I was thrilled with her choice!

Description

Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.
It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.
As LUCIENNE CARLIER Nancy smuggles people and documents across the border. Her success and her remarkable ability to evade capture earns her the nickname THE WHITE MOUSE from the Gestapo. With a five million franc bounty on her head, Nancy is forced to escape France and leave Henri behind. When she enters training with the Special Operations Executives in Britain, her new comrades are instructed to call her HÉLÈNE. And finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉ, where she claims her place as one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, armed with a ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and the ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces.
But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she–and the people she loves–become. –goodreads

What I Liked

This historical fiction novel is both a story of a really awesome woman, but also a love story of sorts as well. I really like this balance that is was not one or the other, but we got two stories working side by side. I would have to say that throughout this book there were times that were lulling a bit, where other times there was so much tension I had to actually get my muscles to relax. This was an interesting thing to be because when I read a book it is usually one or the other. It really shows how this book is almost two stories in one.

I thought the author did a great job when it came to really sharing the characters with the reader. I felt that I really knew their motivations and why they did things. I was really connected to them and was emotionally invested because they were written in such a way that made them feel real. This is especially apparent when exploring Nancy and her husbands relationship, but really apparent throughout. Can I just say here and now that Nancy was just a total badass? Because I can’t think of another word to describe her. She was/is a badass.

What I Didn’t Like

While I really loved exploring the role of Nancy in her relationship as well as her role as being a spy, at times I felt like it was in the way. It was not that I didn’t enjoy these aspects, but I found myself wanting to get through them because I wanted to read more about this very strong female protagonist in the context of her espionage.

Overall

Overall, this was a really engaging read. I read it quite quickly because I was sucked into the story when I did pick it up. This surprised be because it is not on the short side with almost 500 pages. Sometimes historical fiction can be long winded and at times I did feel this, it was not a constant in my experience. I felt like this was a very well done historical fiction set against the backdrop of WWII. Not only did it highlight that atrocities, it also showed the story of female spies that helped get many to safety and the dangerous choice that some made to put their own lives at risk to safe the lives of others. With this there is discussion of violence and other dark themes, here is a full list of trigger warnings compiled by Book Trigger Warnings.

Up Next

The next round of Someone Picks My Books is actually picked by a family member who doesn’t have a blog or anything, but we often talk about books so I thought it would be fun to read a book picked by my cousin! I am really excited about her picked because I have read a book by this author in the past and really enjoyed their style.

Have you read this book before or is it on your TBR?

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Reviews

Someone Picks My Books | JJ Clapton | The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Someone Picks My Books where I ask for volunteers to pick a random book for me to read and see if I like it just as much as they did. This past May I had the wonderful JJ Clapton, who you can find over on twitter as @JJClaptonWrites as well on her website jjclapton.com. Yes, I am sorry I am late to posting this because I have been rethinking my blog a bit, but this series is one I truly love and wont to continue into the future. Anyway, I really excited to share my thoughts on this adventure of a book!

Description

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.
There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality. –goodreads

What I Liked

First and foremost, I absolutely adored the imaginative aspect of this book. I mean, the ideas of book characters jumping off the pages is something a lot of us book lovers say as a figure of speech and most likely has been around for a while. The thing is, the author actually made this figure of speech seem like a reality and created a whole book around it, amazingly I might add.

This book opened up the readers in such a great manner it was a mixture of explaining and showing that was balanced really well. I felt like the author explained just enough that the reader isn’t lost, but we are thrown right into the action of the story. The writing really was just wonderful throughout. The plot was well done, the atmosphere was great, and when I read it felt like I was falling into the book just as much as the characters in this story were coming to life because of Charley’s abilities.

What I Didn’t Like

Honestly, I really enjoyed this book and I can’t think of a single thing I did not enjoy about this book.

Overall

If you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. It was imaginative and unlike anything I have read personally and on top of that was executed amazingly. I was honestly shocked to see that this was the authors first book, but very happy too see that they have others out and another one in the works. This review was hard to write because all I wanted to do was gush about it and say, how much I loved it. I will say that there are a few scenes in the book that depict a few dark things that could be triggering to some such as violence, if curious here is a list of trigger warnings. If this is something that does not affect you, I highly suggest giving this book a try. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I could not be more ecstatic that JJ Clapton picked it for me to read!

Up Next

The next installment that is coming very soon was picked by the wonderful Whitney, who you can find on both twitter as @whitreadslit and over on her blog, whitreadslit.com. She is a very kind individual and her content is amazing!

Have you read this book before or is it on your TBR?

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