2 In Review

Review: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

Review: Save the Date by Morgan MatsonSave the Date by Morgan Matson
on June 5, 2018
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.
The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.
There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.
There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.
Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.
Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.

Morgan Matson and I have a strange, rather tumultuous relationship. I loved and adored Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, and Second Chance Summer. But I DNFd Since You’ve Been Gone because it just wasn’t sticking to my ribs like I needed in that moment. I preordered Save the Date because Morgan Matson is, along with Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick, one of those authors you just buy automatically when they drop a new single, though in this case “single” means “Summer romantic comedy book thing.”

Rating: 

Unfortunately, it fell a little flat for me this year, much to my dismay.

How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend

We have all read or watched a variation on this plot, over and over. Whether it was Father of the Bride, My Best Friend’s Wedding or Something Borrowed, we all know this trope because we’ve run it into the ground. Big family comes together to celebrate a child’s wedding, shenanigans happen, hilarity ensues. Hell, it’s in the pilot for The Brady Bunch – this isn’t new.

Iconic, 10 out of 10, best monologue about hot dogs the world has ever seen.

If I had to guess, I’d say part of the reason this book just didn’t do it for me is because I don’t have a big, close-knit family. I have a dad who worked a ton to provide for his wife and kids so I hardly saw him, a mom who was just perpetually tired from dealing with life in general, and one sister who is nearly 10 years my junior. So while I could clearly see that certain parts of this book were touching and all that jazz, it just didn’t hit me with any sort of “Frozen Anna and Elsa sisters 4eva omg” vibe.

Add that to the fact that this is generally a fairly formulaic book – the family comes together in the Ancestral Home™ to celebrate Linnie’s wedding day. Something goes wrong. Charlie fixes it with the help of someone (her brother’s girlfriend, the cute wedding planner assistant boy, her own sheer force of will). Everyone breathes a collected sigh of relief. And then, uh oh, more shenanigans! I know there is a comic strip based on this family’s fictional circumstances, but it’s like The Family Circus came to life and started barfing up rainbows in the living room.

There are a couple of fairly strong B-storylines, mostly including relationships gone awry, but they are overshadowed by the Hilarity Of The Wedding™ – this book could have been titled Murphy’s Law: Wedding Edition and nothing would have changed. Charlie is fairly one-dimensional, focused solely on her family and them not changing ever ever ever – but it’s OK, because most of her family is equally static. JJ exists just to be the comic relief, her newly-minted brother in law Rodney exists just to be the voice of reason – they’re all pretty pigeonholed into their rolls. Don’t get me wrong – it works, but that doesn’t lead to many surprises.

The Bottom Line

If you have a big ol’ honkin’ family and your blunder years have a fair bit of nostalgic hold over you, I’d pick this one up. But if you are like me, fairly “eh” about weddings in general and don’t have a giant close-knit, hilarious family, maybe give this one a skip and pick up a Jenn Bennett book instead, or any of Matson’s other books. It’s not that this is a bad book, per se – more like it’s over 400 pages of wacky shenanigans and we could cut out 100 pages and the plot would not be affected in the slightest. Normally not a big deal, but by page 300 I was pretty over it.

You know what? Just go pay $2.99 to rent Father of the Bride on Amazon. It’s faster, cheaper and better overall. Sorry, Morgan. It’s not you, it’s me and weddings.

7 In Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Book Blogs

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (as always, hosted by the inimitable Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl) was hard because I could list so much more than ten blogs that I love and adore. The book Twitter community has been so wonderful, open and accepting of everyone who crosses paths with it. I have so much fun scrolling down my feed every day – one of the best things I ever did was revamping my old website, dusting out the cobwebs and making it into what I’d always hoped it would be – a repository for my bookish thoughts, feelings and reviews.

To honor that, today’s TTT is ten of my most favorite blogs, run by ten of the people I’ve connected with the most over these months. This is (obviously) by all means not an exhaustive list! There are way more than ten blogs that I follow and love, but this is just …

… a small smackerel.

10 of My Bloggy MVPs

  1. Katie at Pages & Pugs – Katie is my blogging BFF, we have almost the exact same taste in literature (though she likes romances more than I do, and I like adult thrillers more than she does), and is such a great friend in general. Super glad that she’s in my life.
  2. Destiny at Howling Libraries – Destiny is hilarious. She is always posting interesting Twitter threads to read up on, and has such a kind heart.
  3. Katie at Too Old For YA – There must be something about people named Katie and snarky goodness, because this Katie is also a cynical darling. I’m buddy reading The Kiss Quotient with her and Destiny next month and I’m pretty jazzed about it! Her blog always makes me laugh.
  4. Lauren at Northern Plunder – I don’t know how Lauren does all that she does! She maintains her blog with so much finesse, as well as a super-giant Discord channel for nerds like you and me. She still manages to find time to sleep. Don’t ask me how.
  5. Sarah at Book Hooked Nook – Sarah is almost singlehandedly responsible for making me want to read more romances. She also always has the best tags on her blog!
  6. Nicola at Fantastic Book Dragon – Nicola does lots of really awesome interviews with authors, and reviews so many things besides just books, like conventions. She’s not afraid to tell it like it is!
  7. Kris at Boston Book Reader – Kris maintains a vlog as well as a blog, and I don’t know how on earth she manages to do that. Despite the fact that she’s busier than a tick in a dog park, she still manages to make her audience feel seen via both mediums.
  8. Kaleena at Reader Voracious – I’ve seen Kaleena pop up in more than one of these now, and for good reason! She is always posting a new review, and has her finger on the pulse of the latest and greatest tags and memes. Plus she’s just adorable.
  9. Adrianna at For the Love of Books – Adrianna manages to post just about every single day, which is no small feat. I love her blog for its mix of so many different types and genres of literature – there is something for everyone on her blog and she’s super cute while doing it.
  10. Paige at A Conjuring of Lit – Paige is a new friend of mine, and we’ve been brought together via a traveling book annotation project. She is snarky, hilarious, and generally a joy to be around. I can’t wait to get to know her better!

I adore all the blogs I follow, though – if you aren’t on this list, please don’t be offended! It felt like I was 16 again and having to choose my MySpace Top 8 – a lot of social pressure to fill a small number of spaces with gobs of my favorite people. Thanks for being you, everyone. I can’t wait to read your responses!

5 In Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Mash Together

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (as always, hosted by the inimitable Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl) took a lot of thought, fancasting and daydreaming – I think I can safely say now that I am confident in my choices, though it took me way longer than I expected it to!

This week, we’re looking at 10 books we’d mash together – I am interpreting this to mean 5 pairs of books that I’d like to see cross over. And I mean a good crossover, not the Scooby Doo x Supernatural weirdness that left me slightly emotionally scarred and vulnerable for weeks to come.

Pair 1: The Book of EssieLittle Do We Know

Both of these books contain, at their cores, a questioning and rebellion against the organized religion these characters have been born into. While of course the struggles these girls face are very different, I think they would both get some peace and comfort out of talking about their feelings and inner demons.

Pair 2: The Last Time I LiedBroken Things

 

Each of these books contains a strong storyline about a manipulative teenage girl who is intent on controlling and “leading” their closest friends. I would love to see a Vivian vs. Summer cage match – I am not sure who’d win, but I would put my money on Vivian – she seems a touch more ruthless, and is I believe a year or two older than Summer.

Pair 3: Truly DeviousStalking Jack the Ripper

Let’s have some suspension of disbelief and pretend that time travel is a thing and we can get these characters together – can you imagine Stevie and Audrey Rose scuttling through the streets of London, or Ellingham Academy late at night, looking for clues together? Stevie would also have no time or energy for Audrey Rose’s dalliance with Thomas Cresswell, and I see a hilarious buddy cop sort of situation blooming here.

Pair 4: Eliza and Her MonstersGirl Made of Stars

Eliza and Mara are sweet, fluffy, Care Bear teenagers who must be protected at all costs. I think that Eliza’s social anxiety combined with Mara’s anxieties about life in general would make them a really good pair – I can picture them sitting on Mara’s roof, gnawing on pizza crusts and talking about fangirl stuff, Eliza sketching out Mara’s stories about the twins in the stars.

Pair 5: The Wife Between UsJar of Hearts

This is really just an excuse to get together two women who have been through the wringer as far as relationships are concerned, and who have had to go to the end of their rope – and just slightly past it – to make it out of those relationships alive. I’d like to think Vanessa and Geo meet at some “my ex was really fucked up” AA-esque meeting, where they sip coffee and trade horror stories. They might very well wind up Thelma & Louise-ing it out of there, but that’s another story …

Do you agree with any of these? What’s on your list? Let me know in the comments!

3 In Review

Review: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Review: Broken Things by Lauren OliverBroken Things by Lauren Oliver
Published by HarperCollins on October 2, 2018
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Goodreads

It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods.
Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.
The only thing is: they didn’t do it.
On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.

Three best friends, very different girls with not much in common. Mia – the ballerina, the quiet, gentle girl with a secret crush. Brynn, the tough, boorish loudmouth. And Summer – the force to be reckoned with, the planet the others orbited. The three were thick as thieves, never could be seen without each other – and a strange book from the 1960s. The Way Into Lovelorn, the story of three teenagers who stumble into a secret world of fantasy and magic.

Which is why it is so odd that one day, Summer goes missing and is later found with her head bludgeoned in by a rock. Brynn, Mia, and Summer’s ex – Owen – are blamed, which seems to make sense given that they were connected to Summer so closely. The problem? They didn’t do it.

Review: 

How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend

Maybe I’ve just been reading too many thrillers lately? This plot just felt so two-dimensional and blah to me compared to The Last Time I Lied. The characters, on the other hand, were where this really shines – we get to know them quite well, and they have very distinct voices – even Summer, who we never actually meet and know only through memories. The girls are obsessed with The Way Into Lovelorn and spend a lot of their time pretending to be in that universe – writing a fanfiction sequel to the book that never truly got an ending. One day, Mia and Brynn sort of grow out of Lovelorn – after all, it’s a story and they’re about to be in high school. But Summer? Lovelorn is real to Summer. And she’s not ready to let it go. Along with Mia, Brynn and Owen, we meet Abby – Mia’s best friend once Brynn leaves town once and for all – and Wade, Brynn’s mother’s cousin. Together, they get to the bottom of who murdered Summer – and why.

Unfortunately, the answer to that question – the central driving force of the entire plot – is kind of weak at best. Having completed the book, I am still not 100% sure why Summer was murdered – and we never really figure that out. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I didn’t care a whole hell of a lot by the end why Summer was dead, I was more concerned with Brynn and Mia and Owen – with Mia and Owen making their love connection, with Brynn getting out of the nasty habit of avoidance she’s spiraled into. The plot was no longer a main concern – rather, it was the B storylines that had my heart.

There is a huge trigger warning here, also – for animal abuse. I am not usually very triggered by most things – it takes a lot to get me to feel grossed out or disgusted by a book. But there is a very graphic description of the murder of a cat near the end of this book that made me sick to my stomach, and if I’d been at home when I read it I’d have tossed the book aside to go hug my own babies. If you’re squeamish about animals, it’s probably in your best interest to avoid this one all together, or at least skip over that one chapter. There is a nice LGBT representation here, as well as fat positivism, but it felt like they missed the mark even if I can’t put a finger on why or how.

The Bottom Line

I once attended a Counting Crows concert, and Adam Duritz described one of his songs as “incandescently mediocre.” It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad. It just was. That’s how I would describe Broken Things as well – it’s not a bad book, but it’s not exceptionally good either. It would have gotten another half star, but that cat stuff just bothered the hell out of me, so maybe I am biased. It might also be that I read this, as I mentioned, on the heels of The Last Time I Lied – another book about close female teen friendship, with one girl being the ringleader who is a little more twisted than you might think at first – I’d recommend that book way before I recommended this one: both because the storyline’s twists are better, and because … you know, no cat murder.

Here is a picture of my cats alive and well to offset the sad:

Have you got this book on your TBR? Did you get your hands on an ARC yet? What did you think? Talk to me in the comments! 🙂

5 In Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: 5 Books That I Hope Live Up to the Hype & 5 Books That Did

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (as always, hosted by the inimitable Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl) is a fun prompt! It’s especially fun because I only have, like, 10 minutes to write this week’s entry and it should be a fairly easy one! This week, we are focusing on 5 books that you think lived up to the hype, and 5 books you hope will when they release!

These are my top 5 books that, in my opinion, lived up to the hype surrounding them, either as preorders or just in general:

  • They Both Die at the End
  • The Last Time I Lied
  • Illuminae
  • Legendary
  • Scythe

 

These are my 5 books that I either haven’t gotten my hands on yet or am anxiously awaiting a preorder for, and I hope they don’t suck.

  • The Darkest Legacy
  • Spinning Silver
  • The Wicked King
  • A Spark of Light
  • Escaping from Houdini

What about you? Are any of these on either of your lists? Let me know, I am always looking for new TBR pile fodder!

5 In Wrap Up

July Wrap-Up & August TBR

I can’t believe July is over. But I can’t say that I’m not extremely, incredibly grateful for its leave of absence. July ending means August, and August is practically September, which means it’s basically Halloween, like, tomorrow. You don’t need to check my math, just trust me. #AlternativeFacts

 Pages Read: 1,350 – an average of 337 per book.

 Average Rating: 4.75 stars

 Least FavoriteThe Book of Essie

 Most Favorite: The Benefits of Being An Octopus

I unfortunately can’t say that July was my best reading month. I work full-time but I also take night classes to pursue my Masters of Public Administration (aka my Leslie Knope degree), and the course load in July in preparation for Summer course finals was brutal. This Fall will be equally brutal as one of my two classes is in Constitutional Law (oh boy?), but it’s spread out over a semester so hopefully I’ve had worse. That is my mantra after finishing my statistics class with an A – if I can manage that, I can punch a hole through the sky with my fist. Or something. Anyway.

As always, I have no idea what I am going to be reading in August. I can extrapolate based on hypotheticals, but currently I am going to go with:

 A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – I am participating in the Darker Shade of Readalongs this Fall, and August’s book is ADSoM! Here for it.

 Save the Date by Morgan Matson – August is the last month of summer, and that means that this sucker needs to get gulped down like sweet tea on a muggy afternoon.

 One or more books by Jenn Bennett for the same reason as above (they’re summertime books, y’all) – ideally, both The Anatomical Shape of the Heart and Starry Eyes, but we all know what they say about wishes …

 I need to read Sawkill Girls and get it back to Katie before she disowns me for holding her ARCs hostage.

How was your July? Did we read any of the same books? What did you think? Tell me down below!

3 In Review

Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

Review: The Last Time I Lied by Riley SagerThe Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
Published by Dutton Books on July 3, 2018
Pages: 370
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads

I had so much love and adoration for Riley Sager’s Final Girls last year – I wasn’t sure if a book existed that could top it. Technically, it didn’t, because Riley Sager was still writing it.

There is something masterfully ethereal in the way Mr. Sager writes his books – and for a male author, he absolutely has a deft grip on the twenty-something female psyche. While Final Girls dealt with the trope of the one woman left standing in the wake of a serial killer’s murder spree, The Last Time I Lied takes a quieter, softer approach – which makes it that much more devastating when the hits start coming.

Review: 

How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend

Emma Davis is a painter – 28 years old, she’s exploded onto the market with a series of almost ghostlike paintings of forests and cool, misty dwellings that could hide anything. It turns out, they do hide something – the silhouettes of three girls, in every single painting Emma completes, covered over in layer upon layer of paint.

When Emma was 13, she went to Camp Nightingale. And on the night of the Fourth of July, Emma watched her roommates Vivian, Natalie and Allison sneak out, hushing her with a finger pressed to their lips – and on the morning of the July fifth? They were gone.

It’s been fifteen years since Emma’s bunkmates went missing. Emma lives with their ghosts each and every day, hoping against hope that maybe, this time, they won’t haunt her any longer. But the more time that passes, the more doubt creeps in. So it’s no wonder that when the eccentric Frannie – millionaire and former matron of Camp Nightingale – finds Emma and asks her to return to Camp this summer as the Painting instructor, Emma jumps at the chance to exorcise some demons, and maybe find Vivian, Natalie and Allison at last.

What follows is the story of Emma’s homecoming at Camp Nightingale – the same family-run business she knew 15 years ago. Lacking in counselor accommodations in the Lodge, Emma winds up staying in the same cabin she was assigned to all those years ago, with three perspicacious and nevertheless empathetic and lovable teenage girls to watch over. But surely this can’t be a coincidence, can it? One morning, walking to the bathroom, Emma notices a glint outside her building – a camera, trained on the front door of her cabin. This can’t be a coincidence. But when she unearths a secret map in the lining of Vivian’s old trunk, a series of events unravels that pushes Emma to her absolute limit, and leaves you gasping for breath.

The Bottom Line

Emma is an only child, the byproduct of two disinterested parents. She latches onto female role models quickly and effortlessly, and when the cool, 16 year old Vivian takes a liking to her scrawny, 13 year old self, she warms up instantly. Emma wants desperately to be cool in Vivian’s eyes, and copies her every move, down to exactly how many bites of each food she eats in the dining room each day.

We feel for Emma – as a 13 year old, lost in hormones and anguish but also as a 28 year old, just trying to make sense of the world she’s spent the last 15 years sleepwalking through. I found her to be just the right mix of unreliable narrator – a brief stint in a mental hospital as a young teenager has left her damaged and slightly ill – and empathetic leader. I wanted so desperately to know what had happened to the girls that summer, and when I finally found out … my guess was definitely wrong.

If you’re in the mood for a thriller with an ethereal, otherworldly setting like Camp Crystal Lake in the Friday the 13th series, but you’re tired of the same domestic thrillers about the philandering spouse that are cluttering Target’s bookshelves, look no further than Sager’s latest novel. This is the perfect book to read on a summer night, legs up on the porch railing, a drink in your hand – provided, of course, you’re in a well-lit area and are not prone to stress nightmares.

5 In WWW

WWW – July 25, 2018 Edition

Hey there innertubers, it’s Wednesday, and we all know what that means – it’s time for WWW! Which I will always and forever call “Whatcha Wreading Wednesday” in my head, and you can’t stop me.

This beautiful gem of a weekly post is brought to you by Taking on a World of Words, and on this blessed and hallowed day, we answer three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Freakin’ Katie at Pages & Pugs – my blogging BFFFFF who understands my sense of humor and love of strange memes – let me borrow her ARCs of this and Sawkill Girls, because I don’t deserve her and she is too good for this world. I just started this one yesterday between bouts of student test proctoring, but 40-odd pages in I can safely say that this is another Lauren Oliver standalone slam dunk (her series don’t usually work for me).

What did you recently finish reading?

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, who wrote Final Girls which I absolutely devoured like a renaissance festival turkey leg on a muggy Georgia morning, and ooof now I wish I’d gone to Renfest this past spring. Anyway! A review for this one will be posted tomorrow – look out for it, this book was … dope? Fly? Bangin’? I don’t know what the kids say these days.

What do you think you’ll read next?

  

Girl I have no idea. Probably something summery, since it’s almost August and I’d like to keep my theme reads intact. I can knock out Sawkill Girls in super early September before I mail it back to Katie, and after Broken Things I will probably have had my fill of thrillers for a minute anyway. This means my top two contenders are Save the Date and The Anatomical Shape of the Heart.

What’s on your WWW docket this week? Can’t wait to hear about it!

6 In Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books Linked to Sensory Memories

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (as always, hosted by the inimitable Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl) is a prompt that I really enjoyed puzzling and turning over in my head – ten books that you link to certain sensory memories, or that are just linked to things you remember. I really enjoy this prompt because it’s not going to just have the same 50 popular books that everyone else’s list does – it’s probably going to have some interesting, unique books too. How cool is that?

1. All That Glitters, a terrible Sabrina the Teenage Witch novelization

I was an only child until I was nearly 10 years old, at which point my baby sister was born. I remember being in the hospital after her birth, overcome with emotion and all sorts of “10 year old in 1999” feelings – jealousy, excitement, you name it. My dad went down to the gift shop of the hospital and came back up with this book – the glitter on the borders sparkled, of course. I had owned and loved a few of these, but this one was special. I’ll always remember watching the edges catch the light in that hospital room.

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I was on a car ride to my ex boyfriend’s family’s lakehouse when I finished this book. I remember getting so worked up over the last ~50 pages that I couldn’t even form words. When I read the last line and shut the cover, I turned around and pitched the book into the backseat. He asked no questions.

3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Another ex, another drive. I believe this was right after we got engaged (lol!) and were driving home from our anniversary trip to the Georgia mountains. I had bought books 2 and 3 at the bookstore we’d found near an outlet mall – Mockingjay had just come out – and I was so happy, watching my ring glimmer in the sunlight streaming through the car window. Then he turned out to be a colossal asswagon. Oops.

4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

My grandmother engineered a Scrabble tournament between herself, my two cousins, and me when there were just two HP books released into the world. Naturally nobody lost, and she had bought two copies of Chamber of Secrets and one of Sorcerer’s Stone, accidentally thinking SS was the first book (my cousins were brothers). I read Chamber of Secrets first, therefore, and had to figure out what the heck was going on from an in media res standpoint. I remember being curled up under the heated blanket in my grandma’s narrow single-sized bed, just agog at this world. I’ll never forget that.

5. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

As I mentioned above, my sister is 10 years younger than I am. I have been a book nerd since the day I was born, and she has never much cared for reading. However, she loved for me to read Goodnight Moon to her. So much so that I, in fact, have the entire narrative still memorized from my endlessly repeating it, over and over, her little head balanced on my arm. In the great green room, there was a telephone …

6. King Bidgood’s In the Bathtub by Audrey Wood

My maternal grandmother – the same one of the Harry Potter debacle – loved to read aloud to me and my cousins. She kept a large collection of story books, but the one I’ll always remember most fondly is this one: the story of a king who is just having too much fun in the tub, and makes his court come do their business with him in the water instead of out in the castle. Always a fond memory.

7. Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood

Speaking of my Gran’s book collection, this is one she had that was beautifully illustrated, and terrifying. A witch comes to this house where there are 7 kids who’ve been left under strict instructions not to answer the door. So naturally, the kids do. The witch turns them into food items and whisks them away to her scary witch hut. The mother figures out what happened and goes to the witch’s hut in the woods, pretending to be a beggar. She winds up having to pretend to amputate her legs to get the witch to take enough pity on her to let her in the house. Somehow the mom uses her Mom Logic to figure out which kid is which food item, and then they kill the witch somehow and go home. I have no idea what the moral of this one is, don’t answer the door to witches? Anyway, it’s terrifying.

8. Matilda by Roald Dahl

When I got chicken pox, I was very young – probably 6 or 7. But I was reading full-on chapter books at that stage, however old I was. My aunt dropped off a care package with my mom, and in it was a copy of Matilda. I remember laying in my bed, transfixed, and absolutely in love with this story. Matilda still remains one of my most beloved and favorite stories to this day, and is on the top of my baby names list for future children that may or may not ever exist.

9. The Cay by Theodore Taylor

Our fifth grade teacher, Mrs. McDermott, would read to us after lunch every day. We always protested because we were too grown for that, but deep down we all enjoyed it. I don’t remember a whole lot about this book, but I remember exactly where I was standing, washing the red popsicle stain off my fingertips at the sink in the back of the classroom, when we finished it. A hushed silence crept over the room, and someone in the front asked in a quiet voice, “Can we read the next one?”

10. Holes by Louis Sachar

No wonder my love of reading has been lifelong, I’ve had so many teachers who read to us. My sixth grade Gifted teacher, Mrs. Medina, was not a nice person. She was rough around the edges, old, close to retirement, and about as grumpy as you’d expect a woman who is those three things and constantly surrounded by 12 year old children to be. But every day after lunch, we’d all crowd into the art classroom, sit on the metal stools with tennis balls on their feet, put our heads on top of our folded arms on the table tops, and listen to her read us this cool new release book she’d heard about: Holes. This book has all of the fame it deserves these days, but at the time it was just a cool book fair find. I’ll never forget gasping with my classmates when we learned why they were digging those holes, either. What a magnificent book.

Are any of these books sensory memories for you? What are some of your “sense” books? I’d love to hear about it!

7 In Housekeeping

52+2 Challenge

I read about the 52+2 Challenge on the books subreddit, believe it or not – /u/nacho7258 posted about this idea they’d conceptualized, where you use a deck of cards as bookmarks and assign each book you read to a different card. You write the name of the book on the playing card you’re using as a bookmark, and that way when you’ve read 54 books (52 cards in a deck plus 2 jokers), you’ve got a personalized deck of cards showcasing your most recent reads!

Now, most people on this post apparently had a deck of cards lying around and were excited to just use those. But I collect bookmarks – the one thing I collect, really – and I didn’t want just any ol’ red diamond playing cards. So I took to Amazon and typed in my favorite things in the world until I landed upon these beautiful babies:

It looks like this company makes a deck of cards for pretty much every animal and kind of animal imaginable. Lucky for me, they had this – big cats, specifically lions, are my most favorite thing in the world, and it was a thrill for me to see these! Each number features the same animal, but in 4 different poses, so I truly do have 54 unique playing cards. How fun is that?

This is my first 52+2 challenge read: The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, which I am loving so far. I don’t plan on going in any particular order – I will likely just pull random cards out when I get to new books – but this is such an interesting, refreshing way to do a challenge that I couldn’t say no!

Have you ever attempted a challenge like this before? Are you interested in this one? Tell me about it!