Monday, December 28, 2015

Reaching Goals

I never intended for this blog to become mostly a series of book reviews. The advent of a boyfriend (now husband), the goal to journal daily, and joining the world of Instagram fundamentally altered my writing habits. That said, it's worth noting that this year I not only reached my goal of 24 books read this year (another habit affected by my Mr. Mann) and actually read 35. I know I mentioned this once before, but as I finished my last book review of 2015, I looked back at what I read and reflected on what an amazing year it's been. I will forget later that I read some of these books this year, but I will remember certain ones - like reading "Anne's House of Dreams" as I set up my own little home as a newlywed or reading "All the Light We Cannot See" overlooking the ocean on my honeymoon. Those little details are now irrevocably tied. I love that. Reading really is a defining backdrop to my life. It's a love that fills in all the spaces of my life. But now the Christmas tree lights have just turned off (yes, my tree is still gloriously up on December 28th) and I should probably go to bed. As always, happy reading and happy living. So grateful for 2015 and cannot wait to see what 2016 holds. Good night. 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was one of the most clever books I've read. Snark and wit like I've never encountered in print form, unique characterization, wildly different story telling style - all in all, fantastic originality packaged into a bizarrely heart warming story. Read it - you won't be disappointed.

Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For a long time this was my favorite of the Harry Potters - I can't say that I have a clear favorite anymore, but I love the cleverness of this book - the twists and character development I didn't see coming. I still am looking around for a time turner and a Marauders Map and, of course, my Hogwarts acceptance letter. If you've never read the Harry Potters, for this book alone, you really should consider giving the series ago. Happy reading!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This has always been my least favorite of the Harry Potters, but listening to it again I noticed so many nuanced details that Rowling layered into her creation of Harry's world. She really is amazing. I love that this book sets up the sixth and seventh books so well. I seriously can't get enough. Jim Dale's audio versions really are the way to go. Happy reading and happy listening!
(Dear Ron Weasley - you're adorable. The end.)

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Songs of Willow Frost

Songs of Willow FrostSongs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bought this book merely because Jaime Ford wrote it - that's how much I loved his first novel "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" - and then after trying to get into it, I let it sit on my shelf for two years. When I finally did jump in, I found so much potential, but never quite the execution that I craved. "Orphan Train" meets "Joy Luck Club" meets a few other's a decent book with an exceptional reason for creating the story (maybe I should have started with the author's end note and then read the story??), good enough that I'll read whatever Ford writes next.

Slightly incoherent review that is one part a slightly jumbled book and one part writing when it's almost midnight. As always, happy reading!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Maus...Round 2

The Complete Maus (Maus, #1-2)The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rereading this with my sophomores made me even more impressed with Spiegelman's story. My only complaint is that Maus isn't longer. I'd love more insights into his family's experiences surrounding the Holocaust - perhaps the details I, as a reader crave, are the ones that Artie himself was trying to pull out of his father. Happy reading!

Home and Away

Home and Away: A World War II Christmas StoryHome and Away: A World War II Christmas Story by Dean Hughes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cheesy, but heart warming. Perfect read in front of a fire with a cup of cocoa (or on a beach in Maui) to get you in the mood for Christmas. Mostly, this just made me want to revisit Hughes' Children of the Promise series. Happy reading and happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis, #1-2)Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wanted to love this book. People use it in the same sentence as Maus, but I just didn't love it the same. I think I would like Satrapi's story as a teenager. Kids don't understand what's going on around them, so the descriptions of Iran's tumultuous history are interesting, but not quite as compelling as I would have thought. So I give three stars overall, and the fourth star is for originality and educational purpose. This book would be great for a class alongside other Middle Eastern themed literature. Happy reading and happy December--

ps. This is Hawaii book 2 of 4. Yes, I am reviewing them out of order.