Winter Reads, 2017 {QuickLit with MMD}

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Linking up to Modern Mrs. Darcy for her monthly QuickLit post, where we share “short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately” – in this case, what I’ve read so far this month.

We were supposed to be hit by a catastrophic Midwestern ice storm over the past three days. Catastrophic, y’all. I was so prepared. I stocked up on food, water, candles, etc. But most importantly, I charged my reading devices: My Paperwhite, my Fire, my iPhone, and even my ancient android tablet for backup. I was not going to run out of reading juice on this watch, no-sirree-Bob. And then – and then – nothing. Well, we got a little bit of ice, I suppose. But it barely dipped below freezing for most of the time. Mostly, it was just enough ice to make the trees and surrounding structures look stunningly beautiful in the morning sunlight and to keep the sidewalks and porches slippery for part of the day. But you know what, y’all? I still read like there was a raging blizzard out there. I holed up in my house with my blankets and my Ruby and I read and read and read. It was great!! Can’t wait for the next storm…

I’ve read twelve books so far in January, 2017 and have many more waiting in my haul. I’ve been on a winning streak, as well – haven’t hit a dud yet! I told y’all 2017 was going to be a charmed year! Let’s take a look at what I’ve been reading:


born-a-crimeBorn a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah’s intense and unforgettable memoir of growing up in post-Apartheid South Africa is beautifully written. Full of tales both hilarious and heartbreaking, Noah takes readers from his birth to his early adulthood with grace and humor far beyond his age. In addition to learning about his own experiences and life, I also learned much more about Apartheid than I previously knew – I clearly need to do some more reading on this – while I knew it was awful, I had no idea of the magnitude of its systemic evils.


endless-numbered-daysOur Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller

When a prepper Dad abducts his eight-year-old daughter, they abscond to a derelict cabin deep in the woods. Daddy Dearest tells his daughter that there has been a cataclysmic event and that they are the only two surviving humans on the planet Earth. Peggy offers a unique narrative in this compelling coming-of-age novel that will hit you in the gut when you least expect it. The shocking ending is something you will never see coming – I wanted to go back and re-read several chapters of the book so I could relish the brilliance of this twist.


the-underground-railroadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead’s interpretation of the Underground Railroad as an actual, brick-and-mortar railroad, is nothing short of brilliant. As Cora flees the Randall plantation in Georgia, she travels the rails to South Carolina, North Carolina, Indiana, and further yet.  At each stop, Cora experiences a different aspect of the times, each of which magnificently mirrors racial issues/attitudes in America to come as history moves forward as well as those present today. Whitehead’s portrayal of slavery and the cultural exploration visited upon in this novel are its greatest strengths, creating an atmosphere of grief, hope, and longing. While the stark and difficult subject matter precludes me from saying this book was a pleasure to read, I will say that I am glad that I did. {Thanks to Doubleday Books & NetGalley}


i-am-the-messengerI Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

I Am the Messenger is a beautiful tale from beginning to end. Following Ed on his journey from going-nowhere, underage cab driver to quiet champion of the people is an honor. As he moves from mission to mission to save the underdog of the day, Ed grows in leaps and bounds. Zusak’s writing is hypnotic; the sharp, emotional impact of the way he breaks his sentences is poetic. His humor is on point throughout the novel. This story is truly a lesson that anyone, no matter how ordinary, can be strong, be courageous, be mighty. This one has all the feels, y’all.


how-it-always-isThis Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

This emotional and compelling novel takes on subject matter that is both timely and so, so important for us to read about. Frankel’s sharp and witty dialogue perfectly complements her deep exploration of tough personal, family, and societal issues. Powerful and captivating, Poppy’s story – and that of her family’s – will leave you doing some serious soul-searching, while giving you insight on the multitudes of ways children’s minds are at work. Each character is exquisitely drawn and woven into this tale, bringing them to life such a way that you cannot help but see yourself and those you love within them. Everyone, especially parents, should read this book. {Thanks to Flatiron Books & NetGalley}


the-wolf-roadThe Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

In this postapocalyptic  psychological thriller, a young girl is lost in the wilderness and is taken under the wing of a woodsman she calls “Trapper.” Now a young adult, having learned a terrible secret about her adopted “father,” Elka strikes out on her own in search of her birth parents. Lewis has created a strong – no, a badass – female lead here, who narrates in a stark and frank manner. Her journey across a dystopian wasteland brings her across more discoveries, experiences, and interactions than she had ever imagined existed. It took me a bit to devote myself to this one but once I did, I was hooked.


unfuck-your-habitatUnf*ck Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman

As a huge fan of the Tumblr site Unfuck Your Habitat, I was thrilled when I learned Rachel Hoffman had secured a book deal. This how-to manual on developing a housekeeping and organizational system for those of us who have been past failures in these areas is perfect, both helpful and hilarious. Hoffman takes a realistic approach to these tasks, addressing living situations other than that of the everyday homemaker usually depicted in most books of this genre. Her engaging manner keeps readers’ attention and breaks tasks down into their simplest forms so that even the most domestically challenged person can find success. {Thanks to St. Martin’s Press & NetGalley}


lucky-boyLucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

Lucky Boy is the devastating and haunting family saga of two women – Solimar and Kavya – both mothers, both to the same little boy. Exploring such timely issues as immigration, undocumented workers, infertility, motherhood and more, readers will be captivated by the stories of the women who give their hearts to a small boy named Ignacio.  The alternating tales of Soli and Kavya will capture you and hold you until the very end. This is an absolutely important book that adds much to the global conversation regarding immigration in today’s world. {Thanks to Penguin Group/Putnam & NetGalley}


a-perilous-undertakingA Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

After waiting impatiently for the last year, Book #2 of Raybourn’s new Veronica Speedwell series was released this January. Book #1 was a tough act to follow, but Raybourn did it with aplomb. Veronica and Stoker return only to be roped into a murder investigation with the intent of proving the innocence of the accused murderer. Their sharp and witty banter flows as they romp through each escapade, making it through by the skin of their teeth. This one wasn’t as fabulous as Book #1, but it did come close – can’t wait for its follow-up next year!!


i-liked-my-lifeI Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

I Liked My Life is the heartwarming and clever tale of a father and daughter struggling to connect as they grieve the death of the woman they both loved. I adored this novel, narrated by Madeline, Brady, and Eve – Madeline being the late mother and wife to Eve and Brady, of course, back from the grave and working behind the scenes to help her family move on without her. Fabiaschi is a master of real, true-to-life internal dialogue. This book about survival, moving on, personal growth, and finding your family again will warm your heart – and tingle your spine with an unexpected twist at the end. {Thanks to St. Martin’s Press & NetGalley}


charlie-freemanWe Love You, Charlie Freeman by Kaitlyn Greenidge

This debut family saga tells the tale of the Freeman family, who have moved from Boston to live in the countryside at the Tonybee Institute while assimilating a chimpanzee into their family and teaching him sign language in an experiment that is just waiting to go awry. While sweetly titled, do not be fooled – this is not a heartwarming novel. The Freemans’ story and that of the Tonybee Institute is messy and sorrowful and wrong, and there is an underlying tension throughout the novel that eats away at your nerves. There’s no holding back in this one; Greenidge goes for broke and takes you along for the ride.


always-sarah-jioAlways by Sarah Jio

Sarah Jio is at it again in this poignant and gripping novel about love lost and love found as the past and the present collide in the most tragic of ways. Ten years after losing the love of her life, Kailey has moved on, never knowing that the past is about to catch up with her and tear her newly built world apart. As she tries to piece together the shards of what could have been, Kailey is faced with a decision – one that only the heart can make. Jio’s newest novel, while slightly predictable, is full of tragedy, love, and intrigue – a definite must-read for her fans and more!


As I mentioned above, twelve hits so far this month! Not too stinking bad, if I do say so myself. Hopefully you’ll find something on this list to add to your TBR, because really – can you ever afford to run out of good book ideas? Not on my side of the woods, you can’t. Thanks for joining me for a look at my Winter Reads so far; I’ll catch you up with my next round-up near the end of January. Happy Reading, y’all!!

What have you been reading so far this month?

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My Bookish Resolutions for 2017

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It’s a new year, y’all, and time for a fresh start. Last year I set a precedent for myself when I shared My Bookish Resolutions for 2016 in the hope that it would make them more real to me, and thus more attainable – also, to create a little accountability for myself, thereby creating some motivation to actually reach those goals I was setting. How did that work out for me? Well, I wrote all about that last week in Reflections on My 2016 Bookish Resolutions – feel free to check out the post to see how things went.

In 2017 I plan to revisit some of last year’s goals as well as set some new ones for myself. I’ve chosen five main areas I want to work on. Let’s take a look at where I’m headed with this:

1.  Read a minimum of 175 books in 2017

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I originally set a goal of reading 150 books in 2016. Surprising myself, I far surpassed that goal, reading a total of 192 books! I’m upping the ante a bit this year and going for 175 books in the 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge. We are homeschooling high school this year so I didn’t want to aim much higher than that as I know we’re going to be busier than ever before. That said, I do plan to re-evaluate things in October to see where I am at with my reading totals and perhaps adjust my challenge goal at that time.

2. Read the Books I Own

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Based on the large number of books I’ve amassed on my Kindle Paperwhite (my preferred reading medium), one would imagine I would have no need to purchase any new books nor have any use for the public library. Not so, y’all. Not so at all. Despite my plans to the contrary, out of the 192 books I read in 2016, only a measly 29 of them were books that I personally owned. Pathetic, right? With renewed vigor, I am pledging to #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks in 2017!! Now, this is more of a “you do you” reading “effort” versus a reading challenge hosted over at Estella’s Revenge. Once again, I’m not yet sure exactly how I’m going to approach this goal, but I am going to tackle and at the least significantly reduce this collection of books on my Kindle. I’m off to a decent start already, too – we’re only 1 1/2 weeks into January and out of the six books I’ve read so far, two of them have been books that belong to me. I’ll be totally pleased if that ratio were to continue throughout the year. Yay, me!

3. Create a Private Reading Log

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Now, as we all know, I track my reading on Goodreads; I also keep track of the books I read each year on Pinterest. What my bookish little heart really desires, however, is cold, hard data. The kind, my friend, that you can track and collect and evaluate and transform into… yes… that’s right… PIE CHARTS!! I found an excellent template for a private reading log right here that I’m going to be using. I did find another great one here, but decided the original template I’d found fit my uses better. Each template is editable once downloaded, of course, so should you, too, choose to do so there’s nothing stopping your data collecting little souls from customizing it to your heart’s content. This was a goal of mine for 2016 as well, which bombed spectacularly. It bombed so spectacularly, in fact, that I never even downloaded the template. OMG. So sad, amiright? 2017 is a different story, my friends. Not only did I download the template already, but I have customized it to my needs and have been keeping it updated with the books I have read so far (granted, that is only six books, but still…). I would say we are off to a great start, wouldn’t you? It’s only onward and upward from here, people. All I have to say is be prepared for some major pie chartage in January, 2018.

 

4. Read *More* More Diverse Books

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I’ve made it a goal of mine since the beginning of 2015 to read more books written by or about people of all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. The problem I came across in the previous two years is that I was simply not mindful enough about this. I thought about it, yes. I added plenty of books to my TBR list, yes. But when choosing the books I actually read, I just picked up whatever sounded good at the moment or whatever was available, and didn’t pay that much attention at the time as to whether or not the book I had just chosen was meeting the standards I had set for myself. I want the books I read to reflect the person I am and the values and beliefs I hold, and if that is the case then I must be more mindful when I’m in the moment of actually picking up my next book. In 2016, I read 37 books that fell under the category of diverse literature as defined above. In 2017, I would like to at least double that amount.

5. Pay More Attention to Pathologically Literate

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Once upon a time, I posted daily on this blog. Then, it was three times a week. Then, a few times a month. In 2016, it was more like a few times that year. That is not the vision I had for Pathologically Literate when I created it. I wanted a forum where I could gloat and enthuse about my love and passion for all things books and reading, where others could read and relate to those words and perhaps share some of their own thoughts on those subjects. I would like to get back to that. Now that we’re homeschooling high school, there is no way I have time to review every book I read the way I did once upon a time, but I do intend to do so more often. I also plan to write more about other bookish delights, as well homeschool life and other events in the Pathologically Literate household. Saddle up, y’all. Momma’s comin’ home!

2017 is going to be a year full of good reads, good writing, and good times. I can’t wait to get started, and I hope you will be here with me for the journey. Happy Reading in 2017, y’all!!

What are your reading goals for 2017?

Reflections on my 2016 Bookish Resolutions

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In early January of 2016, I did something I don’t usually do. I spoke up. I went out on a limb here and shared with you my Bookish Resolutions for 2016 in the hope that seeing those words in black and white would make them more real to me, and thus more attainable – as well as to put the fear of God into myself to meet said goals so I didn’t look like a loser in front of my millions of followers and fans.

Um. Yeah. So… that didn’t necessarily work out the way I had hoped. As you’ll clearly see below.

I originally set five main bookish goals for the year of 2016. I was ready. I was motivated. I was not going to fail. Hmmmm… Let’s take a look at how things ended up, shall we?

1.  Read a minimum of 150 books in 2016:

Now, this particular goal was a not a problem for me. In fact, I surpassed my original goal by a long shot. Instead of the proposed 150 books, I finished the year off by reading a whopping 192 books! Not quite as many books as I finished in 2013 and 2014, but I beat my numbers from 2015 by 21 books!

2.  Keep a private reading log (separate from Goodreads and Pinterest):

Nope. Nothing. Nada. Did not happen. Maybe next time, folks. This was a disappointment for me, as I had been hoping to be able to keep track of certain statistics regarding my reading habits via this visionary reading log I was going to keep in Microsoft Excel, allowing me to create an end-of-year post with one of my favorite things ever, pie charts. Well, so much for that one.

3.  Read the books I own:

I have amassed a huge collection of novels on my Kindle Paperwhite (my preferred reading medium), and some in print as well. In January of last year, I pledged to #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks instead of completely ignoring them while continuing to purchase new ones and checking out new releases from my libraries. Well. First of all, while the acquisition of new books did not stop, it did at least slow down a bit – so I suppose there was a small amount of success there. As far as reading my own damn books, however… Out of the 192 books I read in 2016, only a measly 29 of them were books that I personally owned. An equal number of books (again, 29) were galleys/ARCs gifted to me from publishers for review. That means that the remaining 154 books were acquired from my beloved libraries – NOT quite what I’d originally had planned.

4.  Continue to read more diverse books:

I am a big-time supporter of We Need Diverse Books (a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature). Reading about and supporting its activities really shed a light on the lack of diversity in my own reading habits. Thus, I pledged to read a minimum of fifty diverse books in 2016 (although ideally I would have liked to have read even more than that) – that would mean, if I were to have reached my original goal of 150, that 1/3 of those books would be written by or about people of all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. As we know, I exceeded my goal of 150 books in total. But how did I do with my 50 books from diverse origins? Well. Out of a total of 192 books, only 37 of them fell under the definition of “diverse” that I mentioned above. That is so not OK with me. I expected better from myself. I was simply not nearly as mindful about it as I planned to be – as I needed to be – and I’m disappointed in myself. But we’ll address this more in my resolutions for 2017…

5.  Join a book club:

For years and years, I wanted to be a part of an honest-to-goodness, real-life book club. Well, in 2016 that wish finally came true! I joined the online MomAdvice Book Club, created by the fabulous Amy Allen Clark, in January of last year and it was so fulfilling and so, so much fun. I even hosted our October discussion about Lily and the Octopus by Stephen Rowley. Me! Can you imagine? I promise you that those who know me well, can NOT imagine. In addition to the awesomeness of the MomAdvice Book Club, I also joined an IRL book club here in good ol’ Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s The Best Ever Book Club! Seriously. That’s the name of the book club. Fun, right? So, I joined it – kind of. Theoretically, anyway. I belong to the Facebook page, at least, and am friends with one of the members. I truly do intend to attend a meeting… at some point. I won’t go into the myriad reasons why it’s difficult for me to go out in public with groups of people, whether it be for small gatherings or large events – it’s a long story and it would bore you beyond belief. However, up to this point I have been unable to actually attend a meeting. I have, however, read most of the assigned books – and that counts for something, right?

All right, y’all. That there was my year in books. While I did meet (and in one case surpass) some of my goals, and while I am pleased about that, I didn’t meet enough of them to my satisfaction. Will I do better in 2017? Time will only tell. Keep your eyes peeled for My Bookish Resolutions for 2017, coming up next week.

Did you have any bookish goals for 2016? How did that work out for you?

End-of-Year Roundup: Best Books of 2016

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Well. Thank goodness THAT is over, amiright? It’s good to be in 2017 and starting off fresh, is it not, friends? I love the New Year. I love so many things about it: the feeling of renewal, of fresh starts, of second chances, of redetermination, of hope. This year is gonna be my year, y’all, I can feel it – and I just know it’s going to be your year, too!

I originally was not going to write a “best books” post for 2016 because of the fantastic amount of excellent fiction (and wee bit of non-fiction) I read last year, but several people requested that I did write one, so… here we are! In no particular order, I will proceed to share with you my Top 11 Fave Books of 2016. Why eleven, you ask? Because I can, that’s why.

Y’all, these books were so amazing. Please do not ask me for a top one, two, or three. I honestly could not break it down for you. Each one has its own unique personality and charm, and you must read each of them! I will say that A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold is such an important book to read, especially if you are a parent or someone else who works closely with children. It truly changed the way I think about and interact with my son on a daily basis. Also, major trigger warnings if you are going to read Difficult Women by Roxane Gay – while this is a truly compelling collection of short stories, she does write about sexual violence toward women on multiple occasions.

Oh my gosh, you guys – I am so excited for the books to come in 2017! I’ve already started my year off on a great note – more to come on that later – and plan to keep it going strong. Woo-hoo!! Happy Reading in 2017, y’all!!

What were your fave books of 2016?

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November, 2016 Reading Roundup

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I hope everyone had a pleasant Fall holiday in November; we certainly did here at the Pathologically Literate Household! We do things small over here, so it was just Poppie, The Boy, and myself with a ham and some yummy side dishes… nice, peaceful, and more importantly, zero family drama – LOL!!

Reading slowed down a bit this month (compared to October, anyway) mostly because I’m sleeping again at night (thank you, sweet baby jaysus!). I still made it through seventeen good ones, however. Let’s take a look:

    • The Girl Before by J.P Delaney  {4 stars}
    • Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall  {4 stars}
    • Good as Gone by Amy Gentry  {3 stars}
    • The Wrong Side of Goodbye (Harry Bosch, #21) by Michael Connelly  {4 stars}
    • Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan  {3 stars}
    • The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan  {3 stars}
    • Night School (Jack Reacher, #21) by Lee Child  {3 stars}
    • Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight  {2 stars}
    • Paris for One and Other Stories by Jojo Moyes {4 stars}
    • The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon {4 stars}
    • Bloodroot by Amy Greene {4 stars}
    • The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan {4 stars}
    • The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner {3 stars}
    • The 4th Man (Quincy & Rainie, #6.5) by Lisa Gardner  {3 stars}
    • The Whistler by John Grisham {2 stars}
    • The Madman’s Daughter (The Madman’s Daughter, #1) by Megan Shepherd (3.5 stars)
    • The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes  (4 stars)

I have to say that The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon was a standout read, as was Bloodroot by Amy Greene and Sweeping Up Glass by Carolyn Wall. If you’re looking for Christmas gifts for loved ones, these three are good places to start.

Can you believe it’s December already, y’all? I just put my Holiday wreath up and we’re picking up a tree later this weekend. Time went crazy fast in 2016! I think I’m going to slow things down for myself a little bit this morning by making a delicious pot of coffee and curling up with a cup and my current read… Ahhhh, I feel cozier already!! Stay warm, everyone and I’ll catch you on the flip side!

What are you reading to keep yourself warm this month?

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October, 2016 Reading Roundup

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October just flew by this year and oh, lawd, y’all – did I get some reading done or what?! Twenty-three books in thirty-one days! Whew! How did I do it? More importantly, how can YOU do it? I’m going to let you in on the secret, y’all. Pay close attention, now.

INSOMNIA.

Yes, you heard me right. Insomnia is the trick to hitting your reading goals and beyond! October, 2016 will forever be known as the Month of No Sleep in the Pathologically Literate Household, let me tell you. It was not a fun time (although, as mentioned, I did read like a fiend). Magically, as soon as November hit, I began sleeping like a baby. Go figure. But let’s take a look at the reading gold I hit this month:

    • Cop Town by Karin Slaughter  {3 stars}
    • City of Thieves by David Benioff  {3 stars}
    • Certain Girls (Cannie Shapiro, #2) by Jennifer Wiener  {4 stars}
    • The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel {4 stars}
    • Witness to a Trial by John Grisham  {2 stars}
    • Redemption Road by John Hart  {3 stars}
    • In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware  {4 stars}
    • News of the World by Paulette Jiles {5 stars}
    • The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan {4 stars}
    • The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott  {3 stars}
    • Winter at the Door (Lizzie Snow, #1) by Sarah Graves  {3 stars}
    • The Violets of March by Sarah Jio  {4 stars}
    • A Most Novel Revenge (Amory Ames Mystery, #3) by Ashley Weaver  {4 stars}
    • The Mothers by Brit Bennett  {4 stars}
    • Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan  {4 stars}
    • Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan  {4 stars}
    • Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles  {3 stars}
    • The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold  {4 stars}
    • Faithful by Alice Hoffman  {5 stars}
    • If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch  {4 stars}
    • The Lost Girls by Heather Young  {3 stars}
    • Inherit the Bones by Emily Littlejohn  {3 stars}
    • The Twilight Wife by A.J. Banner  {4 stars}

I grabbed a couple of books from the distant past to re-read this month, which is rare for me – I’m usually of the “so many books, too little time” frame of mind. Jennifer Weiner is a favorite author of mine and it was great to re-read Certain Girls, the sequel to Good in Bed, one of my fave books of all time. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold was my other re-read (from nearly fifteen years ago!), and it was just as spellbinding as I remembered.

But the book that stood out the most for me this month was something truly special, y’all. News of the World by Paulette Jiles is a finalist for the 2016 National Book Awards. News of the World is my most recent Favorite Book of 2016. Captain Kidd and Johanna have stolen my heart. This is a beautiful, enchanting, rollicking, and humorous love story between an old man and a ten-year-old girl (but not in a creepy way), set in the wilds of Texas shortly after the end of the Civil War. I laughed, I gasped, I wept – and I devoured it in one sitting. You have to read this, y’all. Promise me. Promise. Or I won’t be able to sleep…

What have you been reading this Fall?

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I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan

i-almost-forgot-about-yoiu“The #1 New York Times bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting To Exhale is back with the inspiring story of a woman who shakes things up in her life to find greater meaning.

In I Almost Forgot About You, Dr. Georgia Young’s wonderful life–great friends, family, and successful career–aren’t enough to keep her from feeling stuck and restless. When she decides to make some major changes in her life, quitting her job as an optometrist, and moving house, she finds herself on a wild journey that may or may not include a second chance at love. Like Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, I Almost Forgot About You will show legions of readers what can happen when you face your fears, take a chance, and open yourself up to life, love, and the possibility of a new direction.” – Goodreads

I’m just going to say this up front, y’all: I have not yet met a Terry McMillan novel that I didn’t like. I began reading her novels twenty years ago, when I picked up Waiting to Exhale at a bookstore clearance sale (this was long before it became a movie – just sayin’). I then began gobbling up everything McMillan had written, that I could find, and have remained a loyal fan to this day. She has never let me down. And I can say the same for I Almost Forgot About You, her most recent novel, published June 7, 2016. It is a winner through and through.

54-year-old Georgia Young is a successful optometrist living in the San Francisco Bay area. As the single parent of two grown daughters, she is twice-divorced and growing tired of her rather pedestrian, routine daily life. After learning of the death of a man she once loved, Georgia comes up with the grand plan of hunting down all of the men she has loved in her lifetime. She wants to let them know what they meant to her, to ask what they loved and didn’t love about her, to gain understanding and closure – but most of all, to forgive and to be forgiven. Cheered on by her two brutally honest best friends and distracted by her two troubled grown daughters – and 81-year-old newlywed mother – Georgia embarks down memory lane and discovers that there is much more to life than the one she has been living.

Georgia Young – what a character! Such a loving woman – although those she loves get on her last nerve. Georgia is wise, experienced, and street-smart, yet in the next moment can appear clueless and blind to something she is feeling or experiencing – though not to worry, her eyes are always opened sooner or later. McMillan has created a superstar cast of supporting characters to surround her protagonist, imbuing each with enough personality and spark to last long after the story has ended. As usual, this novel is laced throughout with strong, intelligent, proud women – something I’ve always loved about McMillan’s writing.

Initially I was concerned that I wouldn’t bond with Georgia – I focused on the age disparity between she and I – but there was nothing to worry about; she was as relatable as I have always found McMillan’s characters. Indeed, there was no better guide than Ms. Young for this journey through a middle-age crisis – and no better creator than McMillan for a story and characters who spread their arms to include us in their loud, crazy, joyous lives. I Almost Forgot About You is a summer read you do not want to pass on – go and get you some, y’all!

I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan: Read it today!

4 stars

Source: Crown Publishing {via NetGalley}

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What I’ve Been Reading – May, 2016

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All right, all right, all riiiiight! This is more like it, y’all. I’m ramping up the reading, and managed to crank through twelve books in May. Still not up to my usual count, but still plenty enough to keep me occupied and always thinking. Let’s take a look at the list:

As you can see, while I did continue with the Outlander series, I took a little breather before I read the last (for now) book in the series. I definitely found some great reads during that time, so I’m certainly glad I made that choice! Out of all of the books I read in May, however, I have to say that the one that stood out the most was Sue Klebold’s memoir, A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy. If you are a parent, teacher, or any other person who in some way is connected to youth: if you read only one book this year, this should be it. Sue’s frank discussion of brain health and brain illness, and the frightening revelation that the ones we love the most aren’t always who we see them as, nearly dropped me. To. The. Floor. Other good reads worth mentioning include Everyone Brave is Forgiven, All Things Cease to Appear, Night Shift, and Juliet Takes a Breath. All four of these are definitely great for summer reading picks! I can’t wait to get started on my haul for June – have I got some doozies waiting for me! Hope the rest of you have some good ones to look forward to, as well. Happy Reading!!

What books are you kicking the summer off with, y’all?

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

salt-to-the-sea“Winter, 1945. Four teenagers. Four secrets.

Each one born of a different homeland; each one hunted, and haunted, by tragedy, lies…and war.

As thousands of desperate refugees flock to the coast in the midst of a Soviet advance, four paths converge, vying for passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship that promises safety and freedom.

Yet not all promises can be kept.

Inspired by the single greatest tragedy in maritime history, bestselling and award-winning author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) lifts the veil on a shockingly little-known casualty of World War II. An illuminating and life-affirming tale of heart and hope.” – Goodreads

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys is a woeful and fictional depiction of the true story of the world’s most disastrous maritime tragedy known to man.

In 1945, near the end of World War II, four youth from different war-torn countries and of different backgrounds converge on a frozen path, intent on traveling to board a ship – the ill-fated Wilhelm Gustloff – bound for Kiel, Germany, where they are purported to be safe from Stalin and his army, who are pursuing them. What follows is the largest maritime disaster and loss of life in recorded history

Joana is a compassionate and knowledgeable nurse from Lithuania who brands herself a murderer as she grieves for her lost cousin and family. Emilia has been fleeing the Russian troops since she left Poland and is harboring a precious secret under her coat. Florian is a Prussian art restorer who is enacting his vengeance upon the Reich as he travels undercover. Alfred is an SS officer and sailor who maniacally worships Hitler and fantasizes about proving his heroism to the world at large.

Through the voices of these four young narrators, Salt to the Sea reveals to readers the calamitous tale of the Wilhelm Gustloff – which, despite the loss of over 9,000 lives when it sank at the hands of Russian torpedoes, is to this day a much overlooked tragedy in maritime history. This enormous pit of loss, horror, and despair is where Salt to the Sea is at its best. The fear and hopelessness of these characters is palpable, as is their will to survive and continue on toward salvation and a better life. It is easy to feel their grief and guilt for those they were forced to leave behind, and for those who died along the way during the long, hard trek.

It is quite clear that Sepetys was meticulous and exhaustive when it came to her research. The content of this novel meant much to her – one need only to read her touching Author’s Note at the end of the novel for proof. Unfortunately, I found that I was unable to forge an emotional connection with the novel, nor did I form any sort of attachment to one or more of the characters. The structure of the book was short and choppy, with each chapter only a few pages or less – this isn’t always a problem for me, however, with four separate narrators it cut short the time spent with each character and put me at a disadvantage when it came to forging a relationship with anyone.

Salt to the Sea is definitely a novel worth reading, if not for any other reason than this is a haunting tale that needs to be told to the masses.  The horror and tragedy of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, the enormity of the impact on the people who were kicked out of their homes and forced to trek so many miles through vicious snow and low temperatures, and the fate of so many who were a part of Operation Hannibal as they attempted to escape the Eastern Front press of the Russian army are things that must not fall by the wayside of our awareness.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – Read it today!

3 stars

Source: Lincoln City Libraries

What I’ve Been Reading – April, 2016

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Well. Hmmph. So, here’s the thing. I’m almost embarrassed to share with you my reading exploits for April, particularly after comparing them to those of March of this year. You see, in March I read twenty-two books. Par for the course, for me. This month, however, I will be lucky to have read nine novels by the end of the month. Now, no less than five of those novels were 1,000+ pages long, which may be somewhat of an excuse, but not entirely enough of one. Granted, there has been some upheaval in the Pathologically Literate household in April – The Boy was in the hospital for a week with Pancreatitis, Poppie was sick with Strep Throat, and there were umpteen appointments to attend to related to these occurrences – however, I’m still not sure quite how this slowed my reading down by over half. I’ll be curious to see how things go in May (reading-related things, that is) so I have one more month to compare to these last two.

In the meantime… The last book that I read in March was one that had been on my TBR list for ages, and strongly influenced my reading list for April, which is why I’m mentioning it now. Y’all, I finally read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, and it was everything it was promised to be! I loved it so much and immediately moved on with the series (as I am wont to do when I find an author/book series I admire). Thus, my book list for April:

Now do you see what I mean? Diana Gabaldon up the a**! And while I’ve mostly enjoyed it, I am finding that the series is getting a little more out there and a bit less exciting as it moves on. Hopefully that will change with A Breath of Snow and Ashes, book six in the series, which I have just begun. The Murder of Mary Russell is a novel I had been eagerly awaiting – love me some Sherlock & Mary!! – and while it was refreshingly different from past novels, it didn’t have the Wow Factor I’d been hoping for. Alas, not much has held that Wow Factor for me lately; I don’t know if I’ve become harder to please or if people just aren’t writing as well anymore…

Depending on how quickly I get through A Breath of Snow and Ashes, I may have time before month’s end for one more book. If so, I’ll include it in May’s round-up. Until then, y’all, take care and don’t forget to get your Read on!

I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been reading this month! Please share in the comments below!