Friday Finds #66 – December 25th

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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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BOOK REVIEW: The Happiness Project – by Gretchen Rubin

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Title: The Happiness Project
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Genre: Non Fiction, Self Help, Memoir
First published: December 29th 2009
Finished reading: December 16th 2015
Pages: 315
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“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”

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I normally quite enjoy reading memoirs, but honestly I’m really not that into self help books. I decided to pick up The Happiness Project anyway since I got a free paperback copy at a book exchange earlier this month. I actually quite enjoyed the first part… The idea of investing time and start a project to bring more happiness to your life sounds interesting, but unfortunately reading about Gretchen Rubin‘s own experience started to turn into something annoying after a while. I mean, she pretty much already had a great life before the project: an according to her handsome and succesful husband, two healthy little girls, a job she loves and a great home in NY. I don’t mind her wanting to be happier, but she did come over as a bit hypocrite in some chapters. I know some people see her as a great example, but I personally would have preferred reading about someone with a bigger and more genuine challenge. As far as the prose: it shows that Gretchen Rubin did a lot of research for her project and I liked that she incorporated blog comments in her chapters. Do I agree with everything she said? No. But I do believe the right person might benefit from at least part of her message.

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Gretchen Rubin was taking the same city bus as she always did when she had the realization that “the days are long, but the years are short”. She also realized she wasn’t as happy as she could be and wasn’t focusing enough on the things that really matter. Hence the happiness project was born, where she wanted to try and focus on improving a different aspect of her life each month. Every chapter tells the story of her adventures during a specific month, giving advice and contemplating both the good and bad parts. Novelty and challenge turn out to be powerful sources of happiness, money can help buy happiness when spent wisely and small changes can truly make the biggest difference… All those conclusions and more can be found in the happiness project.

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Gretchen Rubin had some very interesting ideas in her book, but I can’t say I agree with all of them nor do I think her already almost perfect ‘before’ situation is the best example of a ‘proper’ happiness project. Everybody has the right to be happier and I’m not saying she was wrong doing the project OR writing about it, but I didn’t like her tone in some chapters. Would I recommend this read? Only if you like self help books and are interested in the theme.

BOOK REVIEW: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century – by Rachel Harris

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Title: My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century
(My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century #1)
Author: Rachel Harris
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction, Time Travel
First published: September 11th 2012
Finished reading: December 12th 2015
Pages: 264
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“I’m supposed to learn something. A lesson, like in some teenybopper show. I stare at the door and wait for Miley Cyrus to come barreling in, singing tunelessly about our pasts being the key to our futures.”

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I have to admit I only picked up a copy of My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century because I needed a book set in the sixteenth century to complete a challenge. I like time travel books in general, but this first novel of a series just sounded too much like a romance/chick lit story to my taste. While this novel by Rachel Harris turned out to be slightly better than expected, I still cannot say I have actually enjoyed reading it. The setting in sixteenth century Italy is without doubt interesting and I liked how the author tried to demostrate the clashes between two different eras in the prose. Still, I can’t say I actually liked the characters OR the way they behaved in general. A mayor part of the plot and characters was either cliche or not really original. Also, the prose felt almost forced-funny at points… It was quite a quick read and I suppose it will work perfectly as a beach read as long as you are not expecting too much. Personally, I wouldn’t actually continue this series though.

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Cat Crawford doesn’t enjoy being in the spotlights as her mother and her bubbly stepmother do, but somehow they are going to throw and extravagant gala for her sixteenth birthday. Cat is desperate to find a way to stop the gala, and even forced her father to go on a trip to Florence, Italy as a peace offering. Her mother is Italian, and Cat is excited to be discovering more about her past. But when she enters an unusual gypsy tent, she suddenly comes really close to her ancestors. When she exits the tent, she walks right into Renaissance Firenze. She still has her backpack full of future gadgets, but is forced to live the life of a sixteenth century teenager… Complete with new relatives and a gorgeous teenage artist to distract her. Will she be able to learn the lessons she needs to learn and find her way back to the future?

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The summary of this novel sounds quite interesting, but after seeing the cover and some of the reviews I was already expecting My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century wouldn’t be for me. Why did I pick it up, would you say? I had trouble finding another title set in the sixteenth century, so I was keeping my fingers crossed this one wouldn’t be that bad. All in all this novel isn’t horrible and I give it the benefit of the doubt, but it’s not exactly a great read either. The prose, characters and plot all lack that extra something that makes a story into something really good.

WWW Wednesdays #70 – December 23rd

wwwwednesdaysWWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below. But first: Happy Holidays!!! I hope everyone will have a wonderful time.

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  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I have started reading The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson the other day and so far it’s just as good as I’ll Give You The Sun. The story is a bit sad though; not exactly the right mood just before Christmas. That’s probably why I’m going to try and finish Let It Snow by John Green today or tomorrow as well.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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Four books finished since last week, although two of them were short and quick reads…
* The first book I finished is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It’s not a terrible read, but somehow this project would have been more interesting if it was about someone with a less privileged life and more interesting goals… I don’t mind the author wanting to be happier, but she did come over as a tad arrogant.
* I then picked up my last pending ARC of 2015: Rough Roads With Reckless Drivers by Lara Pass. A short read, which was probably the only reason why I actually finished it because it wasn’t good at all. More details in the upcoming review…
* I also finished Memories by Lang Leav; a collection of poems and thoughts that wasn’t necessarily bad, but I just couldn’t relate to the sad broken relationship poems…
* The last book I finally finished is The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, a book I have been wanting to read for too long now. I really enjoyed it and it’s definitely a lot better than the Wolves Of Mercy Falls series, but I did have some minor issues with it.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I want to try and read My True Love Gave To Me before the Holidays are over, and I have been wanting to read The Young Elites by Marie Lu as well. I might pick up The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury as well and Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is still my latest TBR jar pick.

Teaser Tuesdays #73 – December 22nd: The Sky Is Everywhere

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TEASER TUESDAYS is a weekly book meme originally featured at A Daily Rhythm. To participate, just open the book you are currently reading to a random page, and choose two ‘teaser’ sentences from somewhere on that page. (no spoilers!)

I’ve started another book on my December TBR the other day: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. I haven’t been having a lot of spare time to read because of the upcoming Holidays, but hopefully I will be able to find time soon! I really loved her other novel I’ll Give You The Sun, so I’m looking forward to continue this one.

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My teaser (14%):

“I’m in self-imposed exile, cradled between split branches, in my favorite tree in the woods behind school. I’ve been coming her every day at lunch, hiding out until the bell right, whittling words into the branches with my pen, allowing my heart to break in private.”

What are you reading right now?

When Are You Reading? Challenge COMPLETED!

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Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words is hosting the When Are You Reading? Challenge this year, a challenge that is all about reading more books that either travel to different eras or are actually written in different times. There are twelve eras in total, and by finishing Hamlet and My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century last week I was finally able to complete the challenge! 😀 😀

For an (almost) complete list of the books I’ve read by era, check out this post here. I have to admit I haven’t updated my TimeToast timeline in months, but I have taken the time to make a shiny timeline of my own. With no less than 180! titles finished this year, I haven’t added all of them to the timeline below; I have only added one per year and picked the most important ones. Books have been divided by publish date and by setting, and in those cases the setting is not specified or is roughly the same as the publish date, I have used this color.

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Thank you Sam for hosting this excellent challenge! Make sure to visit her blog if you haven’t already… 

BOOK REVIEW: November 9 – by Colleen Hoover

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Title: November 9
Author: Colleen Hoover
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
First published: November 10th 2015
Finished reading: December 10th 2015
Pages: 320
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“When you find love, you take it. You grab it with both hands and you do everything in your power not to let it go. You can’t just walk away from it and expect it to linger until you’re ready for it.”

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Those who follow my blog already know I’m not a big romance fan and I normally tend to stay away from the genre. But since I was in a increasing reading slump at the time I picked up this novel, I tried beating it with by stepping out of my comfort zone. And Colleen Hoover‘s magic worked! I already knew her work was good since people kept recommending it to me and I really enjoyed her writing style in the novellas Never Never Part One and Two. But November 9 is simply brilliant. The character development is perfectly done and I absolutely LOVED the prose. Trust me, romance is really not my thing, but Colleen Hoover was able to even make the romance scenes entertaining for me. And that dirty book talk: YES!!! I think every book blogger will be able to connect to a story after seeing the vocabulary used:

“Don’t stop” I tease in a seductive voice. ” Give me more, Ben. Did you read eBooks or…” I run my finger slowly down his chest.”Hardbacks?”
He pulls his hands behind his head and a smug look washes over his face. “Oh, they were hardbacks, all right. And I’m not sure if you’re ready for this, but…I have my own TBR pile. You should read it, Fallon. It’s huge.

Yes, this is a sexy scene and it didn’t even bother me because of the book talk. A miracle! A minor flaw is that part of the plot and plot twists is not that original, but to be honest I just didn’t care. Colleen Hoover has personally proven to me I can enjoy a genre I normally don’t like and I will definitely start reading more of her work soon!

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When Fallon meets her father for lunch before she travels to New York the next day to start a new life, a stranger steps in when her father keeps talking down on her. Ben, an aspiring novelist, poses as her boyfriend and gives him a lesson. After Fallon’s father leaves the restaurant, Ben also convinces Fallon to spend the day with him. They both know it’s Fallon’s last day in L.A. and Fallon doesn’t want to fall in love until she is 23… Still, it soon shows that they are attracted to each other even though they have just met. Both decide to not give up their individual dreams and agree to meet each other exactly one year from now in the same restaurant they first met. November 9 is now their new tradition, where the two will meet again each year even without having exchanged phone numbers or email. Will they be able to put their feelings on hold for this long? And will they be able to meet again and again until Fallon feels old enough to have a relationship?

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I loved the plot, the character development of the main characters and especially the prose. Colleen Hoover has a way of writing that simply sucks you into the story and makes you forget all around you. November 9 is entertaining, well written and has just the right dose of humor, drama and romance. Before saying no to this novel, remember that I normally don’t like romance either! Colleen Hoover is a welcome exception and I thank her for letting me enjoy yet another genre.