Sep 13, 2016

Mo' Books Mo' Bettah

While I did make an effort to make progress on my book challenge, I didn't bother to stray too far outside my favorite genre.  Plenty o' fantasy and YA here!  (BUT, as I pointed out to Ryan when he "challenged" me to read at least one nonfiction book a month, I already do that.  I just read far more silly fluff books.  :P)

♥♥♥♥♥ - Loved!

Beyond the Shadows (Night Angel Series)

No surprise here.  I was about halfway through in my last post and the ending did nothing to dissuade me from my 5 star rating.  To sum up: dark, grim world, awesome complex variety of characters, well-built plot.

The Happiness Project

So, so good!  I knew I would like this, but I was unprepared for how much I thoroughly loved it.  Will probably need to purchase a paper copy so I can dog ear and take notes and because this belongs on my bookshelf.  In case you didn't already see my happiness project post/summary: I loved how organized Rubin's approach is to building her project and how most of her prompts are based on research (although she also asks other people and her blog readers for ideas).  It made me think about a few different concepts and it gave me specific ideas to try and, better yet, she has a website full of resources to build my own project.  Occasionally there would be a topic I was less interested in or that I disagreed with her answers for how to improve happiness in that area (for example her solution to not nagging her husband is to just do everything herself) but, as Rubin reminds us, everyone is different and it makes perfect sense that each person's project will look different.  Also, random side note: after listening to a couple episodes of her podcast, I had developed a very clear mental image of Gretchen Rubin.  She was brunette, with a long face, and a tiny bit chubby.  When I saw her picture on her website bio, I had to laugh at how wrong I got it.

♥♥♥♥ - Liked

The Princess Series

New favorite Kindle Unlimited author!  I was bad and renewed my subscription to get caught up with KM Shea (although I got lucky and hit a promotional month so it ended up being free), and then was looking for other authors to make use of it.  Aya Ling's books are super, super cute.  Like KM Shea, it's not the most polished writing in the world and this series was very short romance-y type books, but I enjoyed them shamelessly and thus: 4 stars.  Note: at least 2 of the heroines start out kind of sucky, but the story is all about their personal growth, so by the end of the story you should like them much more.

Also, I saw criticisms of Princesses Don't Get Fat because people were offended that the fat character was painted as someone who just enjoyed food a lot.  I didn't have a problem with that - I mean, the food sounded delicious and the whole point was learning to be healthier while still indulging and that your body shape isn't what's important.  So... get over it, whiny Goodreads reviewers!

Red Queen

This started a tad bit slow for me, but once I was in, I was fully engaged.  I've always found writing in the present tense to be very urgent and compelling.  There was a little bit of YA trope-y-ness going on.  Awkward teen romance, with love triangles galore, and they even had her be a skilled pickpocket and fighter, but too clumsy to dance, which is just silly.  BUT, if you can get past those tiny foibles, the book is really good.  The world is interesting, the plot unfolds really well, and it surprised me more than once.  I particularly loved the powers that everyone had and that the "nymphs" and "greenies" were the oppressors instead of being oppressed like they are in a lot of folklore based stories.

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

This was really, really interesting.  A bit slow to get into, and then I was enthralled for most of the book up until the end.  There were definitely moments where I had trouble suspending disbelief.  (May was very open-minded for that time period and I kept wondering, "Would a white women really be that liberal?" and there were also parts where I couldn't decide if the divide between her way of thinking and mine were due to the time period or the fact that it was a man who wrote the book.)  But the take on Native American society was very interesting - much more complex and fleshed out than many other stories I've read, which seek to portray the native society as good and pure and the European as entirely evil.  Which is not to say the Europeans didn't do horrible things, but it felt like a more complete picture of the Cheyenne tribe to also show the negatives as well as the positives.

Note: when I was reading, I was mystified by the idea that this was based on true events.  I have since tried to see how much, if any, actually happened and I don't think it really did.  Some people said the request to trade the women was made, but never completed, and other sources said none of it is true.  Sooo... still an interesting premise, but "based on historical events" is a stretch.

Eleanor & Park

It kept me reading, but I'm never going to enjoy realistic YA as much as dystopian "save the world" YA.  And all the over-the-top "I love you" "I live for you" stuff when they were still too embarrassed to be open about their relationship made me gag a bit.  Teenagers!  I went ahead and gave it 4 stars anyway, because it did keep me enthralled despite my personal preferences and the details about their family lives gave it a lot more depth than just a teenage romance.  I won't spoil anything but the ending drove me crazy.  If you've read it you probably know why.

♥♥♥ - Ambivalent-ed

The Queen's Poisoner

Meh.  It wasn't bad, and there were parts I enjoyed, but I just never felt fully invested in the story.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I thought for a play the writing was rather quirky and fun BUT it was still a play, which meant you're really just getting a brief overview of their emotions and mostly reading into their actions.  I missed the depth and complexity of reading a full novel.  The plot was also a bit cheesy and the whole conflict felt like a shallow excuse to resolve family issues in a touching way and to undo some of the stereotypes Rowling built with the first 7 books (Gryffindor good, Slytherin bad, etc).  I think a diehard HP fan would get more out of this than I did.  But I did really enjoy the time travel aspect and seeing what tiny changes in the past did to their present.

♥♥ - Mildly Disliked

The Diary of a Chambermaid

The beginning seemed promising, but I lost interest about halfway through.  Just more and more and more stories of scandal, sex, and debauchery.  It also felt like the plot tapered off while she was busy telling stories of the past, and then when it wrapped it up at the end, I was entirely displeased with her decision.  It made no sense to me.

 - Did Not Finish or Wanted to Burn in a Fire

None here!  Always a good thing when this category is empty.  <3


I got the rest of my challenge books from the library, so I'll be powering through!  Last week I got distracted and reread the Lunar Chronicles (I was writing my own "Book Olympics" post and my choice for "loved from the first page" was Cinder, so I opened it to see if it still grabbed me.  Spoiler alert: it did.) so now it's time to focus again.  I've got The Secret of Happy Families, Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold, and Mara Daughter of the Nile and 9 days before I need to return them to the library.  Time to DO THIS!!!

Challenge Updates

Erin 5.0

Much better this month!  Challenge books this month: The Happiness Project, Red Queen, One Thousand White Women, The Diary of a Chambermaid, and Eleanor & Park.  With my 55 points from last month, that adds up to 160 (out of 200 possible).

What have you been reading?  Have you read anything from my list and what did you think?

Linking up with Steph and Jana
Life According to Steph

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design


  1. Being a diehard fan, I definitely loved The Cursed Child 100% ;) But glad you still enjoyed it. That Princess series sounds like fun...I'm going to keep that on the back burner when I need some books like that in my life (i.e. after the challenges haha). I totally know what you mean about Eleanor & Park and I felt exactly the same way.

  2. I will check out Beyond the Shadows when I'm up for a good violent, fantasy series haha. I've seen The Happiness Project everywhere and somehow never added it to my list. I just checked out the description and it sounds really good. Real life-ish teenage romance can be too much for me, too. That's probably why I haven't read Eleanor & Park or other similar books, yet.

  3. i'm on the fence about the red queen.... i've heard mixed reviews but might give it a go.

  4. i think i read a variety of books, but i definitely read more of the silly fluffy kind vs anything else. eh. whatever makes you happy, right?!
    ugh, whiny goodreads reviewers are the worst! i haven't read that author, i'll check her out next time i renew my kindle unlimited thingy haha.
    i liked eleanor & park for other reasons, but i am with you. realistic YA just doesn't do it for me like 'lets save the world' YA. realistic YA just makes me realise i am very much not a teenager anymore, and teenagers are annoying.
    awwww you make me want to read the lunar chronicles haha! i definitely gobbled up that series from the get go as well. that's a series i can re-read a bunch. i just read the short story collection and it made me love the series all over and want to read it again haha

  5. I have gone back and forth about reading The Red Queen.

  6. Lots of people have been talking about the Red Queen series this month and I am intrigued by it. Eleanor and Park is on my TBR and I am hoping I like it better than Fangirl! We have already discussed my fear for reading the new HP book today so I will leave that one alone. Sigh.

  7. I liked E&P well enough, but as I was reading I honestly didn't understand why so many people had been like "THIS IS THE BEST YA BOOK EVARRRR." It was fine. I like her writing. The story was fine.
    I haven't picked up The Cursed Child yet, and I'm sure I will eventually, but I'm not in a hurry. I don't obsess over HP, and I didn't grow up with it. I read all the books for the first (and so far only) time when I was 24. I do plan to reread them all soon, and maybe that has to happen first before I feel compelled to read the Cursed Child.

  8. I really liked the Harry Potter book. But I am a die hard fan. Play form didn't really bother me but I can see how it could be weird to others and I always try to remember to point that out to people when I recommend it. I haven't read E&P but my daughter did and she still complains about it. So I doubt I will read it. The princess books sound cute. I may have to read them next.

  9. As a ride and die HP fan, I loved Cursed Child, although I would have super loved it if it had been a traditional novel. :) I'm reading The Happiness Project this month based on your post about it and how you're incorporating into your life. I'm really looking forward to reading it - hopefully next week! Adding the Night Angel series - it sounds right up my alley!

    1. Haha, I noticed when I read your post today. It was pretty much all the things I didn't like that you did, but that's ok. Different strokes! I'm so glad you're reading The Happiness Project!!! Can't wait to hear what you think!

  10. Your lack of love for E&P is just another demonstration of how different our tastes are!

    I read The Happiness Project years ago but, since I bought it, I've been wanting to reread it now that I'm older and have a different perspective on everything. I'm thinking I'll do that early next year.

  11. I can't decide whether to read The Red Queen! I probably will eventually. I think I need to pick up Eleanor and Park soon. I'm in the mood for a cute YA.

  12. bahaha, get over it whiny Goodreads reviewers. Love it. I also feel like Brent Weeks can do no wrong. Except he could hurry up and publish his next book :)

  13. I loved your "note" after the One Thousand White Women book review because I'm the same way. After I read a historical fiction book "based on actual events", I start googling away and perform my own "research".
    I actually liked the ending of Eleanor and Park, but I'm a weirdo.
    The way you are rolling, you'll definitely finish the challenge! Very nice :)

  14. I haven't read HP yet, but I think that I have been hearing a lot of mixed reviews for sure. Excited to pick it up at some point. I love the idea behind these princess books here, and I am definitely looking into the first book's series. ;) I want to read The Red Queen, Eleanor and Park, and 1,000 White Women. XO - Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

  15. RED QUEEN, so much yaaaassss! And then I read the 2nd one and wanted Mere to die. I will be picking up the 3rd book as soon as it hits the proverbial shelf. I wonder if I can pre-reserve it from the library, lol.

    Fangirl was difficult for me. I like Rowell, but I didn't enjoy this book like I've enjoyed others by her. I feel you on the YA drama.

    I think I'm going to hold out on HP and try to see it as a play rather than reading it. I just have a feeling that will be better for me.

    I'm tempted to read The Happiness Project, but I've seen mixed reviews, so I haven't decided.

  16. I didn't love Eleanor and Park (it was okay), but I'm pretty sure I still don't quite get the ending. It's been like 3 years since I read it.
    LOVE The Happiness Project.


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