What I Read – January

I just barely achieved my book goal of 36 books in 2015 (thanks to a productive couple of weeks at the end of the year I actually read 38 books for the year). Not a super ambitious goal, I know, but I need balance in my life and last year’s goal seemed to give me a nice balance of reading + time to enjoy other activities. This year I decided to up my goal just slightly to a nice round 40 books for the year. I could read all the time, but I do actually like to do other things as well. You know, like talk to my kids and husband. lol. Some people are fast readers, but I’m not one of those people.

It’s been awhile since my last blog post, so I thought I’d start with something nice and simple…what I’ve been reading since 2016 started!

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Girl On a Train (not to be confused with The Girl on the Train) – Girl On a Train was written before The Girl on the Train, but sales picked up when buyers started getting it confused for the one that was getting all the buzz. I was intrigued and it was kindle unlimited (free to borrow) so I figured why not!

It’s a murder/mystery and the story goes like this…Anna Rothman is riding home on a train, there’s another woman on the train that’s acting strangely. Said woman gets off at a stop and jumps in front of the train, committing suicide. But Anna doesn’t believe it’s suicide and the journalist in her pushes her to investigate into this woman’s life which takes her on a rollercoaster of a ride.

It had some story lines/characters that weren’t relevant and the end was just “meh”. To be fair, I read it fairly quick so it kept me interested, but it was just okay.

Rating: 3 Stars 

 

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The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant – This book had been on my radar for awhile and after waiting in line for months, it was finally my turn to borrow it digitally from the public library!

It’s set in the early 1900’s and it’s a nice coming of age story about a woman born to an immigrant family in Boston.

Nothing really earth shattering, but it was a good read.

Rating: 3.75 Stars

 

 

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Henrietta Lacks: The Immortal Woman – This one was the January book club pick with some friends and it’s not one that I would have picked on my own, but I really enjoyed it.

In 1951, an immortal line of cells were discovered that gave scientists the building blocks for many medical breakthroughs, starting with the cure for Polio. Those cells were harvested from a woman name Henrietta Lacks and this is the story of how the infamous HeLa cells came to exist.

It was a little slow in some parts, but overall I found the story fascinating. The science of the cells, but also a glimpse into the life of a black americans in the mid 1900’s.

Rating: 4 Stars

 

I also read a murder/mystery, Hit the Road Jack by Willow Rose and a YA fiction, One + One = Blue by M.J. Auch. I gave both 4 Stars. Worth reading, but nothing to write home about.

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Just finished: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Next in queue: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Did you make a reading goal for 2016? What book(s) are you reading or what was your favorite one from last year? I’m always looking for good books to add to my list. I’m on Goodreads if you want to add me. 🙂

It Was Me All Along // Book Review

If you had asked me a few years ago what my favorite genre of books was, I would have told you murder/mystery. It’s still mostly the case, but last year when I made a concerted effort to read more, I realized I have another genre I really like…memoirs.

I’d tried to read memoirs before. Back when Oprah was still on TV and she would rave about certain books, I was pulled to read a couple…or at least try to. I started A Million Little Pieces and loved it, but when I was about three-fourths of the way through, it came out that the author embellished a little (or a lot…I can’t remember). Anywho, after that I was sort of bummed out that what I had been reading wasn’t all true. I think it would have been different if I’d know from the beginning, but after reading the bulk of it, I felt duped. So I never finished it. Then came the massively popular Eat, Pray, Love. UGH! I tried reading that particular book several times, but it was so B.O.R.I.N.G that I eventually gave up trying. I didn’t read a ton at the time, but I was completely turned off from memoirs after the second memoir let down. I figured I’d just stick to what I know I like and what didn’t usually let me down.

Last year’s reading threw me for a loop though because some of my favorite books from the year were memoirs. I loved Brain on Fire, Glitter and Glue and Wild so when It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell was one of my book options on Blogging for Books, I snatched it up before they were all gone.

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It Was Me All Along, a memoir // Andie Mitchell, the author of the wildly popular food blog, Can You Stay For Dinner?, writes about her mind and body journey of losing 100+ pounds, keeping it off and also keeping her love of food. I’ve never struggled with the emotions or feelings she writes about and I don’t have 100lbs to lose, but I still found her journey inspirational and captivating. The book opens with a binge session, goes right into her early childhood and follows her through the teen years and into adulthood. I really enjoyed reading about her journey from rock bottom to the woman she is today.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. All views in this post are my honest, unbiased opinions.

the kitchn cookbook // review

Y’all, I love to eat (who doesn’t, really?). However, I’m not totally in love with cooking. It makes a mess and most of the time, I wish I could have just skipped the whole preparation part and gone right to the eating part. Which is why it’s so weird that I constantly find myself drawn to cookbooks. Whenever I’m out browsing at the bookstore, I inevitably make my way over to the recipe/food section.

Seeing as I have this unlikely obsession with cookbooks, when I got the opportunity to review this book from Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand of Apartment Therapy’s amazing cooking site and blog, The Kitchn, I jumped at the chance!

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UPS dropped this little beauty on my doorstep last week. I couldn’t wait to tear open the box and start flipping through it’s 285+ hardcover bound pages splattered with gorgeous photos! Being pretty to look at meets one of my requirements, but the real question was whether it has great content or not.

First, a little about the book (via Random House)…

From Apartment Therapy’s cooking site, The Kitchn, comes 150 recipes and a cooking school with 50 essential lessons, as well as a guide to organizing your kitchen–plus storage tips, tool reviews, inspiration from real kitchens, maintenance suggestions, 200 photographs, and much more.
 
“There is no question that the kitchen is the most important room of the home,” say Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand of the beloved cooking site and blog, The Kitchn.

The Kitchn offers two books in one: a trove of techniques and recipes, plus a comprehensive guide to organizing your kitchen so that it’s one of your favorite places to be.

For Cooking:
·         50 essential how-to’s, from preparing perfect grains to holding a chef’s knife like a pro
·         150 all-new and classic recipes from The Kitchn, including Breakfast Tacos, Everyday Granola,  Slow Cooker Carnitas, One-Pot Coconut Chickpea Curry, and No-Bake Banana and Peanut Butter Caramel Icebox Cake
For Your Kitchen:
·         A shopping list of essentials for your cabinets and drawers (knives, appliances, cookware, and tableware), with insider advice on what’s worth your money
·         Solutions for common kitchen problems like limited storage space and quirky layouts
·         A 5-minute-a-day plan for a clean kitchen
·         Tips for no-pressure gatherings
·         A look inside the kitchens of ten home cooks around the country, and how they enjoy their spaces

The Kitchn Cookbook gives you the recipes, tools, and real-life inspiration to make cooking its own irresistible reward.

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My thoughts…

The book is separated into two parts. Part one is “the kitchen”. It talks about setting up your kitchen,suggestions on where to put things, the tools you might include, and how to care for your kitchen. The great part about this is that they don’t tell you this is how you have to do it. They give suggestions on how and why and then encourage you to think about how you use your kitchen and how you can make it more efficient for you. They want you to make your kitchen YOURS, not a carbon copy of theirs. They show lots of examples of different real life kitchens (hello pretty photos!) and talk about how each family has them set up and why. Then they go into cleaning and organizing your kitchen. Sounds pretty basic, but I love that they suggest using natural cleaning products and even include a few basic DIY cleaning products.

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Part two is “how to cook well”. In this section the ladies go over some basic tips for stocking your pantry and planning meals. Then, before they dive into the recipes, they give you 50 essential skills that you’ll need for the kitchen. Things like “how to thicken a sauce”, “how to adapt a recipe to the slow cooker”, and “how to use a meat thermometer”. Sure, if you are experienced in the kitchen, you will know most, if not all of these “skills”, but I appreciated even the very basic “how-to’s”. While I knew about half of these skills already, it’s nice to have them in one place that’s easy to refer back to quickly!

The recipe section looks heavenly! There are some basic recipes such as homemade granola and buttermilk pancakes, but also a Bolognese Pasta Sauce, Slow Cooker Carnitas and Black Bean Edamame Burgers. I thought there was a great mix of simple and complex dishes. I’m more of a simple gal so I was drawn to the easier ones with fewer ingredients. Even if I could easily find simple recipes online, I love having them all together in one book.

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The last chapter of the book dives into hosting a dinner party or gathering. It’s not too in depth, but they give you advice on everything from mood music to dealing with special dietary restrictions!

Bottom line…it’s a keeper! If you, like me, need step by step directions on navigating your kitchen, this book will not disappoint! As someone who has started to weed out kitchen books I’ve accumulated over the years, I can tell you that this book will be staying! It’s an insanely good book for someone just moving out of their parents house or someone who wants to learn their way around the kitchen. It’s also good for those who may know a few things, but still have a lot to learn. And let’s not forget that even if you already know all the tips/tricks for the kitchen, there are still 150 recipes to drool over!

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. All views in this post are my honest, unbiased opinions.

Virtual Bookshelf

*step into confessional* It’s been 4 months and 8 books since my last book update

I’ve lost a little steam since the beginning of the year, but I’m still chugging along…slowly chugging…but moving nonetheless. However slow I may be moving though, I’m pretty happy with crushing my yearly goal. I know it wasn’t a super lofty goal or anything, but I crushed it dangit. Maybe in 2015, I’ll actually set a goal that I have to work at. Or maybe not. If it starts feeling like work, I’ll likely drop it like it’s hot.

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The worst of the last 8 would definitely be The Blue Hour.  It took me for-ever to finish!  The premise is an older, semi-retired, sick detective, gets pulled into a serial murder investigation and partnered up with a chip on her shoulder, younger detective.  I love a good serial murder mystery, but this one was just all over the place. It was really interesting, it was a snoozefest, then it was interesting again, snoozefest.  And not to spoil the ending for you, but, it wasn’t the best. If I could go back in time, I would skip this book!

My favorite recently is probably If I Stay.  It’s a YA novel about a girl who gets into a car accident and she is having an out of body experience while in a coma in the hospital and she’s deciding whether to stay or go.

Wonder is a book that has gotten a lot of attention over the past year.  It’s about a disfigured boy and how he copes with entering 5th grade at a mainstream school for the first time.  It’s a young reader book (my 11yo & 14yo thought it was great), but adults will enjoy it too!  .

The Beginning of Everything, Where’d You Go Bernadette, Reconstructing Amelia and The Paper Magician were all solid reads.  Some better than others, a couple slow here and there, but I enjoyed them all.

The Four Year Career was a super short read about MLM companies and how to succeed.  Great read if you’re interested in that kind of thing!

I’m reading a book right now, but it’s hard for me to get through so I’m not really that excited about it at the moment.  I can’t find a book I really *want* to read.  I read a couple pages of a sample and then decide I don’t want that type of book so I move on to another sample.  I swear I have probably 20 samples on my kindle.  I want to read books, but I loathe the process of starting a new one. You are mourning the loss of the characters from the last book you read and then you have to meet new people and get into new plots. Bleh.

Y’all read anything good lately?  I could use some suggestions.

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Disclaimer: Katie Higginbotham (aka Freckled Latte) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  In other words, if you click one of my links up ^^^ there, I could “possibly” receive an income from it. Not enough to feed my family or anything, but hey, maybe one day I’ll be able to buy us lunch. 

Summer Reading

I’ve been busy this week getting back on the healthy train (more about that tomorrow!), but I haven’t done a book update lately and I’ve still been reading a lot.

Btw, if you’re visiting from Stitch Fix Reviews, thanks for stopping by!  I hope you stay awhile and feel free to just say “hi”!  🙂

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April/May/June was a little busy so I slowed down some, but I’m back in full swing now!  I’m on my 19th book at the moment (The Beginning of Everything), but let’s discuss the ones I’ve read since the last update.

Everywhere I turned people were raving about Gone Girl, so I finally broke down and read it.  The story, in a nutshell is…a missing wife, with signs pointing to a struggle and the husband as the prime suspect.  Now, it’s much more than that, but I found myself having to push through the pages at times.  Up until about 50% through I was really needing it to pick up the pace and that’s exactly what it did.  It gave the mother of all plot twists and then I was hooked for the next 30 %.  In the end it was just an okay read.

If you’re into memoirs (I didn’t realize I liked them so much until I started this challenge and noticed that some of my favorites were the memoirs) , Love With a Chance of Drowning and Wild are good ones.  I liked Wild more than LWACOD.  If you’re a hiker and you want to read about hiking, that is NOT what Wild is about.  It’s a memoir of how she got back to the person she once was…hiking just happens to be how she got back there.  I was hooked within the first chapter!  LWACOD is about an Australian expat who meets a charming man and decides to spend the next several months with him crossing the Pacific Ocean even though she hates the ocean and gets seasick.  It got slow at times, but overall I enjoyed it.

Orphan Train, Out of the Easy (YA) , Blur (YA) and Dead Like Me were all great fiction reads!  3 out of the 4 are murder/mystery, which I’m a big fan of.  Orphan Train is more historical fiction so I was surprised I enjoyed it, but it was interesting and kept me engaged the whole time.

I wasn’t a fan of Long Gone.  I’m not extremely picky in my reading (except that I need it to keep me engaged or I won’t be able to read and comprehend it), but this is one that I could have done without reading.  It took me several chapters to get into it, but then it kept me somewhat entertained.  Unfortunately, there were several things that left me scratching my head as to why they were even included in the story line.

I love Goodreads for keeping up with what I’ve read so far and what I want to read.  I have a ton on my to-read list, but I’m always game for adding to my ever growing list.  So tell me…

What are some of your favorite books or ones you read lately that you enjoyed?

*Full Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

On a roll

Woot!  I’m now 3 books closer to my 2014 book goal!  I’ve read 10 out of 14 for the year.  Maybe I should up my goal.  At this point, 14 books doesn’t seem like much of a challenge.  😛

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I already told you how much I loved Me Before You.  Seriously, if you haven’t read it yet, put it on your list!

After that though, I needed some excitement and mystery.  Enter…The Weight of Blood.  This book covers not one, but TWO murders…one from the present and one from the past.  I liked that the narration jumped back and forth from a 17yo girl in the present to her mother in the past (who disappeared when the daughter was only 1 and no one had heard from her since).  Excellent read!  I tore through it pretty quickly.

Still Alice has been on my “to-read” list for awhile and I finally got around to it.  I have no rhyme or reason for picking which book I read next.  It just depends on my mood and which sample pulls me in enough to continue reading.  Still Alice is about a successful 50yo woman who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers.  It was sad and draining and made me paranoid, but it was a great read.

I just finished Still Alice last night, so I’m reading a few samples to try and figure out which book I want to read next.  I currently have samples of Where’d You Go Bernadette, Attachments, Gone Girl, Veronica Mars, Orphan Train and Shotgun Lovesongs on my kindle.  We’ll see which one makes the cut?  😉

Devoured

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Devoured would be a good word to describe what I did to the book I just read.  Since I finished Eleanor and Park, I was having difficulty getting into a new book.  I started a few, but none quite peaked my interest enough to keep reading.  I was worried I was going to lose the momentum I had built up and fall into a lull.  And then, I found Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

One reviewer said it had a slow start, but being one who needs a book that pulls me in immediately, I didn’t feel like that was the case.  I was hooked right from the start with the sample I downloaded to my kindle.  I tore through the sample, downloaded the rest of the book and read 20% the first night I started it.  I finished the rest of it over the next 2 days!

You only get one life. It’s actually your duty to live it as fully as possible. – Me Before You

The story is pretty simple.  Plain, ordinary girl finds herself as the caretaker of a quadriplegic man even though she has no experience doing so.  They are both from extremely different lives, but they (albeit reluctantly at first) bond with each other like no one else they’ve met before.  The story is about their 6 months together and how they change each other for the better.  It’s a funny, sweet, moving story that kept me interested the whole way through.  **warning** It is SAD so prepare yourself and have some tissues within reach!

Have you read Me Before You?  What did you think?

copyright freckled latte 2017
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