Book Review: Forgotten Carols by Michael McLean

Rating: ⭐⭐

Summary

A nurse named Connie Lou is assigned as a caretaker for “Uncle John” during Christmas time. She’s very starched and straight-forward and has no family of her own. She is a by-the-book rules follower. Uncle John is the exact opposite – eccentric, unpredictable, and charismatic. He shares Christmas with Connie Lou by telling stories about each of his unique ornaments.

What I Liked

  • Not much. This would have gotten one star, except that is reserved for books I loathe. And to be honest, this one wasn’t written well enough for me to loathe it.
  • Some of the messages were sort of okay? Or could have been, if written better.

What I Didn’t Like

  • It was very heavy-handed in its messages. Even as a Christian, I found it a little overwhelming.
  • For as heavy-handed as it was, it wasn’t very Biblically accurate.
  • I didn’t get it? I’m sure there was supposed to be a very obvious, heart-warming message in there somewhere, but I just didn’t get the story. It was weird and I didn’t understand the ending at all in the context of the rest of the book.
  • It was inconsistent. Half of the characters you meet are obviously supposed to be from the Bible. But the other half seem to be pretty random. There was no cohesiveness in this story whatsoever.

In Conclusion

I guess this is popular as a play, but as a book, it isn’t worth your time.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

(affiliate link)

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10 Backlist Books I Want to Read

I have a huge TBR, so pretty much everything I want to read is a backlist book. So for today’s post, I chose ten books that I want to read that it feels like everyone has already read. (This is part of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. I’ll be linking up there. Pictures are affiliate links.)


Cinder by Marissa Meyers
A friend got this for me for my birthday last year, and I still haven’t gotten around to reading it! Which is a shame because it seems very much up my alley!

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

A couple of friends of mine really loved this series, so I will probably love it too. I just have to actually pick it up.

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
I’m really curious to see what J. K. Rowling’s writing is like in another genre.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling
I just don’t feel like I’ve completed the Harry Potter series anymore, since I’m missing this. I also very much want to read the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them screenplays.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
I wanted to read this before the movie came out, even though I’ve heard mixed reviews about the book. Regardless, I better pick this one up soon!

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
Everyone and their mother (including my mother!) has read this series and enjoyed it. I miss long series since there doesn’t seem to be very many for adults. (Remember the Boxcar Children? Or Babysitter’s Club? Or Nancy Drew? Where are the adult versions of those?)

The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
I’ve only heard good reviews of this book.

The Selection by Kiera Cass
It’s just so pretty…

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
I’m halfway through this one, but then had to return it to the library. I’ve heard good things about this book.

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
I bought this on Black Friday years and years and years ago. And since then it’s been on my shelf reminding me that I still want to read it!

Which book do you think I should start with? What’s on your backlist?

❤ Annette

backlist

10+ Bookish Dog Costumes

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is a Halloween freebie. So here are more than ten Halloween Dog Costumes – that are inspired by books! Even if you don’t want to dress your dog up, it is fun to see all the cute costumes on other dogs. (Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, so I’ll be linking this post on her blog. Also, pictures are affiliate links to Amazon. :))

1. Dumbledore

2. The Mystery Machine

3. Wonder Woman

4. Red Riding Hood

5. Superman

6. Dorothy

7. Eeyore

8. Hungry Caterpillar

9. Scooby Doo

10. Charlotte

11. Julius Caesar

12. Waldo

Which one is your favorite? Have you ever dressed your dog up for Halloween?

❤ Annette

dog costumes

3 Tips for NaNoWriMo

Hi all! If you don’t know, next month is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel between November 1 and November 30. There are lot of events and write-ins, and ways to meet your local community. The goal is to get everything on paper, no matter how “good” it is. Once you have a novel written, it’s much easier to edit and polish it up.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo a couple of times and only “won” (by writing 50,000 words) once. But that doesn’t stop me from trying! I will be participating this November, but with a tweak to the rules. I plan on writing 50,000 words of blog posts, instead of a novel! So you may not hear from me during November (except for schedule posts), but that means lots and lots of content for you all throughout the next year!

Since I’ve done NaNo quite a few times but only won once, I thought I’d share with you some tips I have, since I’ve definitely learned from the years that I didn’t win!

  1. Plan ahead. There always seems to be a debate whether it’s better to plan ahead, or just go with the flow. For me, I definitely need to plan ahead. I make sure to lay out 30 plot points before November starts, so I never have a day where I don’t know what to write. Sometimes I write two plot points in one day, sometimes it takes two days to write one. It’s just great to have that guideline so I don’t get stuck. It’s also helpful to have some generic story twists to throw in if you need more words or find a lull in your story.
  2. Do Reverse NaNo. (Full details/wiki article on this here.) This is the only way I’ve won NaNo. Normally, I run out of steam towards the end and then Thanksgiving happens and then I just never finish my project. With Reverse NaNo, instead of writing a flat 1,667 words a day (50,000 words divided by 30 days), you start with a high daily goal 3346 and then end with 1 words on the final day. This is great because it capitalizes on your energy at the beginning and accounts for the holiday season near the end of November. Plus, if you miss a day or two, it’s easy to make up by getting rid of your 1 word day. I also know people with inconsistent schedules that will take the varied daily word counts and assign different amounts to each day based on their schedule for the day.
  3. Don’t let yourself go home until you’ve reached your word count. I work a basic 9-5, so I have a pretty consistent schedule. The year I won, every day after work I would go to a coffee shop and write until I reached my word count. I wasn’t “allowed” to go home until I reached my goal for the day. This worked really well for me, because once I get home from work, I usually just want to relax and not do much, and then I forget to pull out my laptop and write.

Those are my best tips for NaNo! Except maybe “don’t get a new dog in November”, which is why I lost last year. But I don’t regret it. 🙂

Are any of you participating in NaNoWriMo? Or have you participated in the past? Do you have any tips or tricks for me?

❤ Annette

Nanowrimo

1 year ago: Why Books Are Good for Babies

Books Around the World: Monticello

This post won’t be as exciting as my one about Einsiedeln, but if you’re looking for a bookish place to visit, Monticello is a great place to go! I only have pictures of the outside of the building unfortunately, since you aren’t allowed to take pictures on the inside.

Monticello was Thomas Jefferson’s house, and is located near Charlottesville, Virginia in the United States. The grounds are beautiful and the inside of the house is super interesting. As a book lover, the best places was (obviously) the library. According to monticello.org, at the peak of Thomas Jefferson’s book collecting, he had over 6000 books in his library! He sold them at one point, but if you tour the library today you will see a collection similar to the one he had at the time.

I visited this in January, which was beautiful. If you’re interested in the gardens though, I’ve heard spring or even summer is a better time to go.

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Welcome to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello!
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Isn’t it pretty? (This is the building on the back of the nickel, by the way.)

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The grounds!

This place is much cooler than I’m making it sound! Have any of you ever been to Monticello? What did you think? And what place should I add next on my bookish travel list?

❤ Annette

1 year ago: Books Around the World: Einsiedeln, Switzerland

Bookish Happenings in November 2018

Here are bookish happenings for November! And with enough time that you can plan for them! 😛 I’ll share with you exciting bookish events such as new releases, movie releases related to books, holidays, conferences, and others. I can’t get everything, but hopefully you enjoy the information I have provided. 🙂

Release dates are for the book/movie in the United States, so it may not be accurate if you’re living in another country.

Links to Amazon are affiliate links, other links are just for your convenience. 🙂

Movie Releases

(images from imdb.com)

Boy nutcracker girl grinch fantastic widowfront becoming if beale

November 2- Boy Erased
November 2 – The Nutcracker
November 9 – The Girl in the Spider’s Web
November 9 – The Grinch
November 16 – Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
November 16 – Widows
November 21 – The Front Runner
November 23 – Becoming Astrid
November 30 – If Beale Street Could Talk

Book Releases

(The Novel Knight keeps track of pre-order swag here.)

November 6

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer (Book 2 of Renegades)
Empress of All Seasons 
by Emiko Jean
Frozen Reign by Kathryn Purdie (Book 3 of Burning Glass)
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie Dao
Umbertouched by Livia Blackburne (Book 2 of Rosemarked)

archenemies empress frozen girls umbertouched

November 13

The Storyteller by Traci Chee (Book 3 of The Reader)

storyteller

November 16

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald by J.K. Rowling (Book 2 in Fantastic Beasts the Original Screenplay)
Merciless by Tamara Leigh (Book 1 in The Age of Conquest)

fantastic merciless

November 20

Art Matters by Neil Gaiman

art matters

Events

All Month – National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
All Month – National Family Literacy Month
All Month – Picture Book Month
November 1 – National Family Literacy Day
November 1 – Author’s Day
November 3 – Buckeye Book Fair
November 3 – Rochester Children’s Book Festival
November 3 – York Book Festival
November 6 – National Non-Fiction Day
November 10 – Portland Book Festival
November 10 – Louisiana Book Festival
November 12-17 – Kentucky Book Festival
November 15 – I Love to Write Day
November 17 – Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading
November 18 – High Five a Librarian Day

Let me know if you go to any of these events, I’d love to hear about them! What bookish happenings are you most looking forward to?

❤ Annette

 

bh nov

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookstores and Libraries I’ve Always Wanted to Visit

This post is part of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

The top ten bookstores or libraries that I want to visit are:

  1. Library of Congress – To be honest, this is probably the only one that was already on my someday list. The one day I had in Washington DC was a Sunday, so the Library of Congress was closed, which was a huge disappointment. I’ll make it there one day though!
  2. Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon – The country’s biggest independent bookstore. I’d be a sad bookworm if I didn’t get to visit this one some day.
  3. New York Public Library on 5th Ave, New York, New York – You know, the one with the lion statues outside. (After some Googling, I now know these lions are named Patience and Fortitude, which is pretty cool.) Anyways, the New York Public library has always held a sort of gleam for me. And I was quite jealous of my friend who got to use the library regularly while she lived in New York.
  4. The Seattle Public Library – This library looks architecturally really cool. Plus, I sort of just want to go to Seattle. 😛 Arizona is finally at a managable temperature, but I know it won’t last long! Seattle would be a nice break.
  5. Central Library at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico – This library looks SO COOL! I can’t imagine how much information and culture is there to soak up! (Fun fact – I almost studied abroad in Mexico until my university changed its programs.)
  6. Vatican Library – I’ve been to St.  Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum, but not the Vatican Library. To be honest, I’m not even sure that’s a place the public can go? Regardless, it would be an amazing place to visit!
  7. Singing Wind Bookshop, in Benson, Arizona – This bookstore sounds… interesting. But as an Arizonan book lover, I would be remiss if I never made it here.
  8. Strand Book Store in New York, New York – Apparently this place has 18 miles of books! I’d love to get lost in this place.
  9. The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona – It’s totally possible that I’ve been here before – but I don’t remember so I guess I’ll just have to go again! They’re relatively local to me and have a lot of great events.
  10. The Well Read Moose in Couer d’Alene, Idaho – My friend visited this place and can’t stop gushing about it. It’s now her top favorite spot, probably ever, which means it would definitely be something up my alley!

As I did research for this post, I realized that I have been to some pretty cool libraries and bookstores already. If you want to see pictures of one of my favorites, you can check out that post here. Hopefully I’ll share some of my other literary journeys soon!

What libraries and bookstores are on your list? Any that I need to add to mine?

❤ Annette

Copy of fall list

Bookish Happenings in October 2018

So sorry for the unexpected month-long hiatus on blog posts! I’m working to make sure I have enough posts queued that that doesn’t happen again! 🙂 For now, here is an almost finished post on the bookish happenings in October. Not all links/pictures/etc. are present, but I wanted to get you the information while at least half of it was still relevant!

Here are bookish happenings for October! I’ll share with you exciting bookish events such as new releases, movie releases related to books, holidays, conferences, and others. I can’t get everything, but hopefully you enjoy the information I have provided. 🙂

Release dates are for the book/movie in the United States, so it may not be accurate if you’re living in another country.

Links to Amazon are affiliate links, other links are just for your convenience. 🙂

Movie Releases

(images from imdb.com)

oct4 oct5 oct2 oct1 oct 3

October 12 – First Man
October 12 – Goosebumps 2
October 19 – Galveston
October 19 – The Hate U Give
October 26 – London Fields

Book Releases

(NovelKnight has a fantastic list of pre-order incentives here.)

October 2

9 from the Nine Worlds by Rick Riordan
Boneless Mercies by April Tucholke
Clash of Beasts by Lisa McMann (Book 3 of Going Wild)
The Darkdeep by Allie Condie and Brendan Reichs
Grim Lovelies by Megan Shepherd
The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
The Last Wish of Sasha Cade by Cheyanne Young
The Lost Sisters
 by Holly Black (Book 1.5 of the Folk of the Air series)
Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo
A Map of Days by 
Muse of Nightmares
by Laini Taylor (Book 2 of Strange the Dreamer)
Shadow of the Fox 
by Julie Kagawa
The Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke (Book 2 of Balloonmakers)

October 9

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zuzak
The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell (Book 2 of The Last Magician)
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody

October 16

Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (Book .5 of Ella Enchanted)
Wind Rider by P. C. Cast

October 23

A Brand New Ending by Jennifer Probst (Book 2 of Stay)
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas (Book 7 of Throne of Glass)
One Giant Leap by Heather Kaczynski
Not Quite Over You
by Susan Mallery (Book 4 of Happily Inc.)

October 30

Crush by Svetlana Chmakova (Book 3 of Awkward)
The Darkest Star by Jennifer Armentrout

 

September 25

The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli (preorder swag details here)
For a Muse of Fire
 by Heidi Heilig (preorder swag details here)
Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis (Book 1 in the Give the Dark My Love series)
The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare by Shannon Hale (Book 6 in The Princess in Black series)
Sadie by Sarah Price (Book 3 in the An Amish Fairytale series)
Unleashed by Donna Kauffman (Book 1 in the Hamilton Christmas series)
Unstoppable Moses by Tyler Smith
Vengeful by V.E. Schwab (preorder swag details here)

caged for a muse give the dark princess sadie unleashed unstoppable vengeful

Events

(There are so so so many going on this month that there’s no way I could list them all! Here are just some.)

October 1 – Scotiabank Giller shortlist announced
October 5 – World Teacher Day
October 5-7 – National Story Telling Festival (Jonesborough, TN)
October 6 – Mad Hatter Day
October 6 – Collingswood Book Festival (Collingswood, NJ)
October 7 – Dead Poets Remembrance Day
October 7-13 – Teen Read Week
October 7-13 – Alaska Book Week
October 10 – National Book Award finalists announced
October 12-13 – Morristown Festival of Books (Morristown, NJ)
October 12-14 – Southern Festival of Books (Nashville, TN)
October 12-14 – Burlington Book Festival (Burlington, VT)
October 13 – Twin Cities Book Festival (St. Paul, MN)
October 13 – Boston Book Fest (Boston, MA)
October 13-14 – Seattle Antiquarian Book Festival
October 16 – National Dictionary Day
October 21-27 – National Friends of Libraries Week
October 25 – Kirkus Prize winners announced
October 26-27 – HallowRead (Ellicott City, MD)
October 30 – Talk Like Jane Austin Day

What bookish happenings are you most looking forward to?

❤ Annette

The Ultimate Fall Bookish Bucket List

It’s still hitting 100° F almost every day here (ick), but I’m trying to get into the fall (autumn) spirit! Here’s a list of bookish things to do before fall is over!

  1. Make (crochet, knit, etc.) a Harry Potter house scarf
  2. Curl up with a pumpkin spice latte (or any fall drink) and a good book
  3. Read a fall-themed book
  4. Dress up as a book character for Halloween
  5. Have book club around a bonfire
  6. Take a walk while listening to an audiobook
  7. Read a spooky novel/thriller
  8. Light a candle to read next to
  9. Build a blanket fort to read inside of!
  10. Make a fleece blanket for cozy reading
  11. Read a novel with a supernatural character
  12. Make butterbeer
  13. Make an autumn recipe from your favorite book
  14. Find a new bookstore
  15. Read a book about football
  16. Carve a pumpkin with a bookish theme/character
  17. Make autumn decorations out of books pages
  18. Find a new coffee shop
  19. Buy a used book
  20. Learn archery (because so many book characters know how, why shouldn’t you?)
  21. Donate books you don’t need/want anymore
  22. Do a fall photo shoot for Bookstagram
  23. Attend a library hosted program
  24. Have a picnic! When you’re full, lay down and relax with a good book
  25. Find out of there is a free little library near you
  26. Make a list of books you are thankful for
  27. Go antiquing and find a vintage book
  28. Create a 3D pumpkin out of book pages
  29. Create a kindle cover out of an old sweater
  30. Read about a fall holiday (such as Dia de los Muertos, Oktoberfest, etc.)

Which one are you most excited to do? What should I add to this list?

❤ Annette

fall list

Book Review: Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman and Skottie Young

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

This is a middle grade graphic novel. The father of two children goes out to get milk so they can have their cereal and tea for breakfast, but he takes a really long time to get back. So, over breakfast, he tells them the tale of what happened that made him take so long.

What I Liked

  • This was sort of a fun story. It involves many different settings (like pirate ship, alien spaceship, etc.) and time periods. It’s exactly the sort of story you would want to make up if you’re camping under the stars or trying to distract your child from a storm. It was intriguing and unpredictable, especially since it involved time travel.
  • I just love that graphic novels are now a thing for all ages. I think they’re important to reach those who otherwise might not read at all. (I know this isn’t specific to this book, but I wanted to mention it anyway.)

What I Didn’t Like

  • At one point the father comes across ancient gods and interacts with them in some capacity. Depending on your religion or your child’s knowledge of such things, this might not be a good book for them. (Like, if they’re already reading Percy Jackson, they’ll probably be fine. But if you’re reading it to a younger crew who doesn’t quite get the concept yet, maybe not.)
  • How safe is that milk?? I read this book right after I read Fast Food Nation, so my food-safety brain was very concerned about the germs this adventurous milk must have acquired! 😛

In Conclusion

If you have a reluctant middle grade reader, you’re an adult who loves a whimsical story, or you have curious children who love hearing stories, this might be the book for you.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

(affiliate link)

1 year ago: Book Review: Undeniably Chosen by Shelly Crane