Month In Review: November 2015

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I still can believe tomorrow the last month of 2015 will begin. When did that happen?! Spring has been quite wet so far in Argentina and I’m still waiting for a chance to start kayaking again… November was quite a busy month so I didn’t finish as many books as previous months. Thirteen is still not a bad number though, and with some luck I will finish Melophobia by James Morris today and make it fourteen. I’m still cooking and baking as always, but I haven’t been posting as much at my new food blog Easy Peasy Delicious Food as I would have liked… I guess having two blogs is more work than I thought haha.

  • Number of books read in November: 13
  • Total number of books read this year: 172
  • Total number of pages read in November: 5.377
  • Total number of pages read this year: 57.749

I’ve only listed twelve titles below; I haven’t decided on the rating for Liars, Inc. yet and I still have to finish Melophobia… Last month was more than excellent with no less than 4 titles with the full 5 stars rating. I don’t think that has ever happened before!

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5 STARS: Absolutely and entirely mind blowing! I suggest you to pick up a copy now. 
Carry On – by Rainbow Rowell // Six Of Crows – by Leigh Bardugo // Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda – by Becky Albertalli // Winter – by Marissa Meyer

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4 STARS: Wow, this was really good. Close to amazing!
Girl Of Nightmares – by Kendare Blake // George – by Alex Gino // Between Shades Of Gray – by Ruta Sepetys

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3.5 STARS: Great read. Really entertaining!
Why Not Me? – by Mindy Kaling

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3 STARS: It was a nice read, but not fantastic. 
The Valentine Circle – by Reinaldo DelValle // The One Plus One – by Jojo Moyes // Where’d You Go, Bernadette – by Maria Semple

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1.5 STARS: The story wasn’t horrible, but there still isn’t another word to describe it but ‘bad’.
Love And Other Foreign Words – by Erin McCahan

This year I’m doing things slightly different and I’m including an update for the different challenges I’m participating in as well. That way I won’t be having a dozen update posts wandering around. No progress with my last two pending challenges this month; hopefully I will be able to finish them next month!

# CHALLENGES #

bookishbingoprogressGoodreads Reading Challenge: FINISHED!! (60/60)
Updated Goodreads Reading Challenge: FINISHED!! (90/90)
Yet Again Updated Goodreads Reading Challenge: FINISHED!! (120/120)
The Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge: FINISHED!!
Dusting Of The Shelf Reading Challenge: FINISHED!!
Bookish Bingo 2015: 42/45
2015 When Are You Reading? Challenge10/12
Reading Through The Centuries Challenge: FINISHED!!
Bookish Bingo Ready For Spring: FINISHED!!

As far as the other reading and blogging goals go: I’ve finally managed to read a book over 800 pages! I was supposed to continue Outlander, but I put that one on hold and read Winter instead. As far as the other goals go: I don’t think I will be able to finish them…

# OTHER READING/BLOGGING GOALS #

  • Read at least 5 classics
  • Finish rereading the Harry Potter series 
  • Complete at least 5 series
  • Bring my physical TBR pile below 150 books: 241/150
  • Read at least one book over 800 pages
  • Read at least 5 books in Spanish: 0/5
  • Join at least 5 challenges during the year
  • Finish older reviews that haven’t been posted yet: 0/10
  • Update older reviews to new format: 18/32

Happy December and Happy Reading!

BOOK REVIEW: Love And Other Foreign Words – by Erin McCahan

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Title: Love And Other Foreign Words
Author: Erin McCahan
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
First published: May 1st 2014
Finished reading: November 25th 2015
Pages: 336
Rating 1,5qqq

“In someone else’s language, you become a visitor, a guest – sometimes a very welcome guest received with shrieks and hugs – but still always a guest. Because as soon as you stop speaking the native language of the group, you stop being one of the group. And then you’re just alone, no matter who you’re with.”

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I’m not sure if it’s because I misread the blurb, because I actually studied sociolinguistics back in Uni or because it’s simply that bad, but I was more than disappointed by Love And Other Foreign Words. I was especting a story a story about two people not understanding each other because they speak a different language, not what should be called social dialect or sociolect. I thought I would be able to connect to this story since my hubby is Argentinian and Spanish is not my native language, but I was in for an unpleasant surprise. Not only did the many erroneous sociolinguistics references bother me, I was really annoyed by the characters in general. Josie, Kate, Geoff… I’m not sure which of the three wins the prize for most irritating character, because they were all equally frustrating. I even almost came to the point to DNF this novel by Erin McCahan, which doesn’t happen often… And I only made it to the end because I let myself skim through the last hundred pages or so. Sure, the prose is easy to read and the pace is fast, but the humor felt forced and the characters are simply unbearable. You can probably already guess I wouldn’t recommend reading Love And Other Foreign Words

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Josie and her best friend Stu are gifted and not even Stu seems to fully understand her when she speaks ‘Josie’. She lives her life in translation, switching between High School, College, Friends, Boyfriends, Family and other social groups. Josie feels most comfortable with Stu and her sister Kate, but everything seems to change when Kate gets engaged to a guy that according to Josie is all wrong for Kate. She and Geoff are off to a rough start and Josie is determined to stop the wedding. Kate on the other hand is determined to prove Geoff is the one and wants Josie to change her look to to fit in with the other bridesmaids. Their discussions turn into battles and both want to win… Will Josie be able to find out what the real meaning of love is as well as sort out her own feelings?

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The work of Erin McCahan has been compared to John Green and Rainbow Rowell, but honestly I don’t see other similarities than all three authors writing (mostly) YA contemporary novels. The prose and character development Love And Other Foreign Words is nowhere close to the same level as the novels of the authors mentioned above. The main characters were simply unbearable and I came really close to just DNFing it. Josie has a horrid character and the way Kate and Geoff treated her was just despicable. I don’t like handing out low ratings, but I just couldn’t get myself to give this novel a higher rating. If you ask me, stay away from this one; there are so many great YA contemporary novels out there in the first place…

Sunday Post #5 – November 29th

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Today is Sunday, which means it’s time for another installment of my Sunday Post where I will share a summary of my blogging week and other random facts… Here we go!


# CURRENTLY READING

I started Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes earlier this week but I decided to finish my ARC and read another book before continuing it. I’m still working on the ARC but I’m going to try and finish this one first. It feels like a fast read, so hopefully I will be able to finish both before the end of the month.

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# LATEST ADDITION TO MY SHELVES

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I got a few new titles this week and I don’t remember which was last, but I’m definitely most excited about Paperweight by Meg Haston. It’s what you call a heavy read, but it has been recommended to me various times and I’m really looking forward to it!

# OTHER (BOOK) NEWS

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I went looking for some Christmas themed reads yesterday for my December TBR and it turns out I only own two titles I haven’t read… Let It Snow and My True Love Gave To Me. I was supposed to read these last year, so hopefully I will be able to finally finish them in 2015. Any other Christmas titles that should be on my wishlist?

Also, my cat Sienna and I say Hi. 😀

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# WHAT’S NEW ON IT’S ALL ABOUT BOOKS


That’s all for this Sunday Post… I hope everyone is having a great Sunday!

BOOK REVIEW: Between Shades Of Gray – by Ruta Sepetys

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Title: Between Shades Of Gray
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
First published: March 22nd 2011
Finished reading: November 24th 2015
Pages: 344
Rating 4qqq

“I shut the bathroom door and caught sight of my face in the mirror. I had no idea how quickly it was to change, to fade. If I had, I would have stared at my reflection, memorizing it. It was the last time I would look into a real mirror for more than a decade.”

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I have always had a special interest for historical fiction novels set during WWI or WWII. I normally prefer non fiction or adult fiction, although there are exceptions: The Diary Of A Young Girl, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas and now Between Shades Of Gray. I wasn’t fully convinced by Ruta Sepetys‘ prose itself in the beginning mostly because I felt it sounded too childish, and not in a The Boy In The Striped Pajamas good way. Still, once I got over the ‘young feel’ of the prose I actually enjoyed how it was narrated. WWII survival stories are never pleasant and Between Shades Of Gray is definitely heartbreaking. It’s impressive how Lina and the other characters are able to survive against all odds, especially once they are set to work in a work camp in freezing Siberia… This novel is quite a quick read and perfect for those who enjoy historical fiction and don’t mind reading a story ment for young teens.

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Before the war changed their lives, Lina was just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl. She can draw wonderfully and is about to her her dream fulfilled of studying art and learning from the best… But all that is taken away from her when Soviet officers barge into her home and take both her, her mother and her little brother Jonas away. Lina doesn’t know where her father is and is forced into a crowded and dirty train with unknown destination. By chance they cross the train with her father inside, and his promise to find Lina again gives her hope. They travel all the way north to Siberia, making stops in work camps on the way. Their living conditions are inhumane and the Soviet officers treat their prisoners as pigs. But Lina, Jonas and her mother are determined to survive and return home one day. Lina finds solace in her art and draws everything she sees, hoping these drawings will find their way to her father’s prison camp. Will they ever see each other again? And will they be able to survive against all odds?

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Aside from the somewhat childish prose in the beginning, I really enjoyed this novel. For such a heavy topic, Between Shades Of Gray is quite easy to read and the character development is very well done. My favorite characters would probably be Lina and Andrius, but I liked most characters. Ruta Sepetys is able to describe the emotions and suffering perfectly and even though this is a fictional story, it feels real. Recommended!

BOOK REVIEW: Where’d You Go, Bernadette – by Maria Semple

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Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery
First published: August 14th 2012
Finished reading: November 23rd 2015
Pages: 330
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“That’s right,’ she told the girls. ‘You are bored. And I’m going to let you in on a little secret about life. You think it’s boring now? Well, it only gets more boring. The sooner you learn it’s on you to make life interesting, the better off you’ll be.”

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My TBR jar decided it was about time I read Where’d You Go, Bernadette. I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction, but I can’t deny this novel by Maria Semple is an entertaining read. The story is fast-paced, easy to read and takes you on a journey all the way to Antarctica. Why did I give it only 3 stars? Because I did have some problems with it. Living in Argentina, I found some of the cliche descriptions of the locals almost insulting. And not only that, most of the other less important characters felt flat and almost appear to be cartoons. Part of it could be described as ‘intention to be funny’, but I wasn’t convinced. The main characters were quite annoying as well at points; especially Bernadette could come over as peevish and moody. I did like the prose and general plot and I loved the descriptions of their journey to Antarctica. The last part of Where’d You Go, Bernadette is quite obvious, but if you like the genre you will probably enjoy the ride.

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Bernadette Fox used to be a successful architect, until something happened and she disappeared from the radar. She left LA with her Microsoft-guru husband and has been living in Seattle ever since… A city where Bernadette still doesn’t fit in even after all those years. Her 15-year-old Bee is quite a genius and when she aced her report card, Bee claimed her reward. Her parents had promised Bee a family trip to Antarctica. The problem? Her father is more than busy with his Microsoft job and her mother doesn’t really like being around people in general. Bernadette even hired a virtual assistant in India to run her errands… And when things in Seattle seem to go out of control, Bernadette simply disappears. Where did Bernadette go? And what is the truth behind all the things that are happening in their lives?

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I wasn’t sure what to expect of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, but I think that overall it was quite an entertaining read. Sure, I had some problems with it (especially with the characters and cliche descriptions), but I really liked the general plot and journey to Antarctica. Even if I didn’t like all descriptions, I can’t deny Maria Semple‘s prose reads easily and I was able to finish this novel almost in one sitting. If you like the genre, you will most likely enjoy this read.

Friday Finds #62 – November 27th

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FRIDAY FINDS is originally featured at A Daily Rhythm and showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Winter – by Marissa Meyer

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Title: Winter
(The Lunar Chronicles #4)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Retelling
First published: November 10th 2015
Finished reading: November 20th 2015
Pages: 827
Rating 5qqq

“She was prettier than a bouquet of roses and crazier than a headless chicken. Fitting in was not an option.”

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The Lunar Chronicles is probably one of my favorite series I’ve read this year and in a way I’m sad it’s over. It’s one of the first times I’ve read a book as soon as it was published (not including ARCs), and even six days after finishing Winter I am still trying to get my thoughts together. I really loved this last novel by Marissa Meyer despite its length. My heart did almost stop at some points in the story; damn you plot twists! I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s hard to see your favorite characters suffering if you love a series as much as I do. I kept thinking: please give them a happy ending, they have totally earned it! It took me some time finishing Winter, but that’s mostly because I didn’t want it to be over… And what I can say is that this book was everything I was hoping for. Thank you Marissa Meyer for an excellent series! I do hope there will be a Thorne novella at some point in the future…

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WARNING: do not read this summary if you haven’t read the first three books in the series yet! It will most likely contain spoilers, even though I’ve made sure to keep it short.

Queen Levana has always been jealous of little princess Winter. Winter has been admired by the Lunar people ever since she was little and despite the scars on her face it is said that she is even more beautiful than the queen. The princess doesn’t want to use her gift to manipulate others and is slowly turning mad… But she is not as weak as Levana believes her to be and Winter has been undermining her stepmother for years. And now the Lunars are on the border of a revolution, will Cinder, the princess and their friends be able to stand up to Levana and find their happily ever afters?

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I know this review probably doesn’t make a lot of sense if you haven’t read The Lunar Chronicles yet, but I find it really hard to write a review without fangirling over the place. Marissa Meyer has created with this series a new way of retelling fairy tales and mixes these elements perfectly with the rest of the story. After four books the main characters feel like old friends and it’s really hard to see them suffer… Marissa Meyer knows how to draw you into the story and keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. If you are looking for a good YA fantasy series, this one is more than recommended! The fact that there won’t be any new books pending to be published (if you don’t count novellas) is a huge bonus as well.