Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 MMD Reading Challenge - January Edition

I'm participating in MMD's Reading Challenge this year. (If you don't know what that is, click here and here.) Below are my January picks, plus a few contenders that almost made this month's picks.

READING FOR GROWTH:Stretch yourself in 2017

  • a Newbery Award winner or Honor book
My pick

Strong contenders
Moon Over Manifest
The One and Only Ivan
Ella Enchanted
Out Of The Dust

READING FOR FUN: Put the oomph back in your reading life

  • a book you chose for the cover
My pick

Strong contenders
The Innocents
The Sweetness of Forgetting
San Miguel
One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

What are your January picks?

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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bible Origami

Bible Origamiby Todd Huisken
I am happy to bring you another book review today. Today I am reviewing Bible Origami by Todd Huisken.

Bible Origami is a fun and unique book. It is filled with over twenty five origami designs, all from the Bible. The designs are divided into two categories -- Old Testament designs and New Testament designs -- and are rated by three difficulty levels, level one being the easiest and level three being the most difficult. Designs include Tower of Babel, Ten Commandments Tablets, Fishes and Loaves and Manger and Wrapped Infant. The step by step directions include pictures and are well organized and easy to follow. Fun facts are included with each design as well.

My kids (ages 15 and 12) and I had a lot of fun with Bible Origami. Being new to origami, we started with level one designs. (My son has done a little origami. He loves the Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda 1)by Tom Angleberger! If you have sons, you must check this book out! It is the first in a really great series.) We each made a whale, a fox and a fish. My son also made a serpent. I think they turned out pretty good.
If you are looking for a book that would bring hours of fun for you and your family, I think Bible Origami is a great option. It really helps bring the Bible to life!
I received a copy of Huisken's book in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links are included. Thanks for supporting Fashion & Fiction.

What I've Been Reading - December 2016

The Sheriffs of Savage Wells (A Proper Romance)by Sarah M. Eden (3 stars)
I love Sarah Eden. She is one of my favorite authors. That being said, her latest novel fell short for me. I am honestly surprised. It has left me wondering why this book fell short. It is about two people vying for the job of sheriff in a small Western town in 1875. So, was it the story that fell short? Was it the new setting? (Most of her books are set in Regency England.) Was it not the book itself, but the fact that I read it during a really busy time of the year and found myself having to put it down too often? I'm not sure, but, because it is written by Sara Eden, I will be giving this one a re-read. I think it deserves that. In the meantime, I highly recommend her first book, Seeking Persephone!

Two by Twoby Nicholas Sparks (2.5 stars)
I am officially done with Nicholas Sparks. I am not sure if his novels have changed or if I have changed as a reader, but I am no longer enjoying his novels like I used to. I had hoped his newest would be better than his other recent novels, but I did not like it. The first half, possibly more, had too much bickering and self-pity for my taste. I'm not sure how I made it through all of it. It got a bit better in the end, but not enough to raise its rating in my eyes. This novel is about a man's failed marriage and his unexpected roll as a single-dad.

The Flower Arrangementby Ella Griffin (2.5 stars)
I will admit, I picked this book up from my library because of its cover. Please say I'm not only one who does that? Well, this book proved that covers are often deceiving. This book was just okay. It wasn't bad. It just didn't do anything for me. It is about the many lives connected through a little flower shop in Dublin.

Little Women (Puffin in Bloom)by Louisa May Allcott (5 stars)
How beautiful is the above copy of Little Women?! I want it! I have lost track of how many times I have read Little Women. It is one of my absolute favorite books and never disappoints. After three disappointing books this December, I needed a guaranteed good read. If you've never read Little Women, please do! I may snag this beautiful copy for myself. My old paperback isn't going anywhere though. I believe you can never have too many copies of your favorite books. My library is living proof of that.

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Readerby Anne Fadiman (5 stars)
I loved this book! My love is proven by how many book darts are now resting happily in this book! At just 154 pages, it is a quick read. It is a woman's collection of short essays on books, reading, words, and so much more. I read this for my book club. I'm not sure I would have ever discovered it on my own, which is why I am so grateful for book clubs! If you love books, reading and words even just a little bit, I think you will love this book a lot!

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

2017 Reading Goals (a.k.a. 2017 MMD Reading Challenge)

Up until this past year, I had never set reading goals. I'd like to say 2016's goal was set with a lot of thought, but it wasn't. I was browsing on one day early in January and was prompted by the site to set a reading goal for the year. I figured, why not? I began by checking how many books I had read in 2015 and then set my goal for one more in 2016. My goal was 61 books! Well, I surpassed my goal. I read 73 books in 2016! I am not sure how I read so many books. (Well, actually, that is a lie. I know how I fit so much reading into my life. If there is interest in how I do so, I may write a post about it in the future.) Anyway, after such a successful reading year, I thought I would set reading goals again this year, but this year I knew I wanted to put more thought into my goals. I thought I would try something a little different than simply aiming for a specific number of books to read. Aiming for a specific number wasn't really motivating for me. In fact, not once this past year did I think about my specific number. I simply read books and then recorded them on So, what are my goals for this year?

I've decided to participate in 2017's MMD Reading Challenge. MMD stands for Modern Mrs Darcy. Modern Mrs Darcy (a.k.a. Anne Bogel) is an amazing blogger who blogs (mostly) about books. This is my first time participating in one of her reading challenges and I can't wait to dive in. In the past, MMD provided one challenge for the year. This year, she's provided two. Each of the challenges provides twelve categories, a category for each month. You get to choose which challenge you want to do or you can do both! (One challenge will provide twelve books for you to enjoy this year. Both challenges means twenty four books!) I couldn't decide between the two, so I am happily doing both. Here are the two challenges and their respective categories!

READING FOR GROWTH: Stretch yourself in 2017

  • a Newberry Award winner or Honor book
  • a book in translation
  • a book that's more than 600 pages
  • a book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection
  • a book of any genre that addresses current events
  • an immigrant story
  • a book published before you were born
  • three books by the same author
  • a book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author
  • a book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending
  • a book nominated for an award in 2017
  • a Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner

READING FOR FUN: Put the oomph back in your reading life

  • a book you chose for the cover
  • a book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able
  • a book set somewhere you've never been but would like to visit
  • a book you've already read
  • a juicy memoir
  • a book about books or reading
  • a book in a genre you usually avoid
  • a book you don't want to admit you're dying to read
  • a book in the backlist of a new favorite author
  • a book recommended by someone with great taste
  • a book you were excited to buy or borrow but haven't read yet
  • a book about a topic or subject you already love

What do you think? Sounds like fun, right?! I seriously can't wait to dive in.

On the first of each month I will share what I will be reading that month, as well as other strong contenders that didn't make the list. Stay tuned for what I will be reading in January. I can't wait to share with you! If you're participating, I'd love to hear what you will be reading! And if you're not participating, I'd still love to hear what you will be reading! Happy reading!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Favorite Books of 2016

I am excited to share my favorite books of 2016 with you. These are the books I loved. These are the books I couldn't put down. These are the books I am still thinking about today. Let's get to them, in no particular order. (I should note, these are my favorite books I read this year. They were not necessarily published this year.)

Rebeccaby Daphne du Maurier 
I am still amazed I had never heard of this book before this year. Written in 1938, Rebecca is a psychological thriller about a young bride who cannot shake her husband's first wife. Sounds terrible. It's not, trust me. It's quite the psychological ride and its ending left me wanting more, in a really good way. (Think Jane Eyre, with a twist.)

The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny
Finding new-to-me authors I love is not easy, so I will be forever grateful I discovered Louise Penny this year. I discovered her first book, Still Life, in March and finished her twelfth book in October. Yes, I read all twelve books in eight months. To say I flew threw her books would be an understatement. All twelve books are part of a wonderfully and thoughtfully written literary murder mystery series, that is so much more about the characters and their human hearts and minds, than it is about the murders.I have fallen in love with Armand Gamache and the many quirky characters in this series (Think Gilmore Girls, set in Canada, surrounding the solving of murders.) and can't wait to return to Three Pines very, very soon. (*Some language)

Navigating Earlyby Clare Vanderpool
I don't often suggest reading a book's blurb. I feel they give too much away. In this case I say do, because I find myself completely unable to adequately summarize this book. I can only say it is a great adventure filled with so much heart and I found myself in tears at its end. That doesn't happen to me very often. (Actually aimed at middle school readers, my twelve year old son loved this one too.)

What Alice Forgotby Liane Moriarty 
This book is an emotional roller coaster. It is about a woman who wakes up, after a nasty fall, with no memory of the past ten years and with a life nothing like she imagined it would be. I really enjoyed this book and found myself completely rooting for Alice. It's a quick and simple read, yet provokes a lot of thought. (*Brief language)

The One-in-a-Million Boyby Monica Wood
I am incredibly glad I read this book. I would have never picked it up on my own, but after hearing a rave review about it from one of my favorite literary bloggers, Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs Darcy, I knew I had to read it. Anne describes this book best. "Wood explores themes of love, loss and identity through a quirky 11-year-old boy who loves making lists, a wily 104-year-old woman, an absentee father, a Boy Scout project, and the Guinness Book of World Records." It's like nothing I have ever read before. So good. (*Brief language)

The Nightingaleby Kristin Hannah 
I may change my mind an hour from now, but at the moment, this is my favorite on the list. This book is insightful, heartbreaking and beautiful. It will stay with me for a very long time. It is about the experiences of two sisters living in occupied France during World War II. There are a lot of WWII historical fiction novels out there. This one stands out amongst the many. Simply amazing.

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novelby Gabrielle Zevin 
I don't know how to summarize this book without giving too much away or how to describe this book in a way that will capture its essence. Everytime I try, I fail miserably. Goodreads says it well. It's "an unforgettable tale about transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love." I loved it. (*Brief language)

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympicsby Daniel James Brown
I devoured this biography. It is filled with so much heart. I couldn't help but root for "The Boys in the Boat", especially Joe Rantz, whom is at the center of this book and truly gives the book its heart. I learned a lot while reading, from rowing to Washington State history to the 1936 Olympics. This is not a book I would have picked up on my own. It was recommended to me, but I am so glad it was. It is one of the best works of non-fiction I have ever read. 

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