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2024 Bookish Books Reading Challenge (Hosted by Yours Truly)

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My Progress:

9 / 30 books. 30% done!

2024 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama (1)
- Alaska
- Arizona
- Arkansas
- California (3)
- Colorado (1)
- Connecticut
- Delaware
- Florida
- Georgia (1)
- Hawaii
- Idaho (2)
- Illinois
- Indiana
- Iowa
- Kansas
- Kentucky
- Louisiana (1)
- Maine (1)
- Maryland
- Massachusetts (2)
- Michigan
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- Mississippi
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- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York (2)
- North Carolina (2)
- North Dakota
- Ohio
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- Oregon (2)
- Pennsylvania
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- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Tennessee (1)
- Texas (1)
- Utah
- Vermont (1)
- Virginia (1)
- Washington (1)
- West Virginia
- Wisconsin
- Wyoming
- Washington, D.C.*

- Australia (1)
- Canada (1)
- England (6)
- France (1)
- Ireland (1)
- Scotland (2)
- The Netherlands (1)

My Progress:

16 / 51 states. 31% done!

2024 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

My Progress:

13 / 50 books. 26% done!

2024 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

19 / 50 books. 38% done!

Booklist Queen's 2024 Reading Challenge

My Progress:

37 / 50 books. 74% done!

2024 52 Club Reading Challenge

My Progress:

30 / 52 books. 58% done!

2024 Build Your Library Reading Challenge

My Progress:

22 / 40 books. 55% done!

2024 Pioneer Book Reading Challenge

13 / 40 books. 33% done!

2024 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

My Progress:

5 / 25 books. 20% done!

2024 Medical Examiner's Mystery Reading Challenge

2024 Mystery Marathon Reading Challenge

My Progress

22 / 26.2 miles. 84% done!

Mount TBR Reading Challenge

My Progress

19 / 100 books. 19% done!

2024 Pick Your Poison Reading Challenge

My Progress:

45 / 104 books. 43% done!

Around the Year in 52 Books Reading Challenge

My Progress

36 / 52 books. 69% done!

Disney Animated Movies Reading Challenge

My Progress

40 / 165 books. 24% done!
Saturday, January 28, 2017

Wimpy Kidish Series Offers Another Funny, Heartfelt Story

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note: Although this review will not contain spoilers for My Life as a Joke, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from earlier My Life as ... installments.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

Now that Derek Fallon has reached the ripe old age of twelve, it's time for him to grow up.  He even makes a New Year's resolution to take life more seriously.  And he's really, really trying to achieve that goal.  So why is everything going so horrifyingly wrong?  Fate is clearly conspiring against him to make him look like a baby.  First, his volunteering efforts have him collecting dolls (of all things!); then, like a total wimp, he faints while dissecting a frog in science class; a fall from the climbing rope results in a fat lip and an embarrassing lisp; and then the rocking party he plans ... well, it's enough to make an almost-adult go running straight to his mommy.  Can Derek survive all the humiliation the universe is throwing in his face?  If his life is one big joke, how will he ever learn to take it seriously?

With the help of his friends, his pet monkey, and support from an unlikely source, Derek just might make it through (relatively) unscathed.  In fact, he'll learn some very valuable lessons about honesty, priorities, friendship, and being true to himself.  

I haven't read every book in Janet Tashjian's heartfelt series starring Derek Fallon, but I've thoroughly enjoyed the two that I have.  Derek is a very authentic character, someone to whom young readers will no doubt relate.  He's funny, self-deprecating, and very likable.  My Life as a Joke, the fourth book in the series, is an easy, entertaining read enhanced by fun illustrations created by Jake Tashjian, the author's son.  Hand these books to Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans—they'll love this "kinder, gentler" series.  I sure do.

(Readalikes:  Other books in the series, including My Life as a Book; My Life as a Stuntboy; My Life as a Cartoonist; and My Life as a Gamer)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

To the FTC, with love:  I borrowed a copy of My Life as a Joke from the library at my kids' elementary school.

And My Harry Potter Love Continues Unabashed ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Let it be known:  I have been a Potterhead since Day One.  When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling was published in the U.S. in 1998, I was a young mother who read voraciously.  Back in the day, however, adults rarely ventured into the children's section of the library and never the YA area (if, indeed, there was one at all).  It wasn't a thing yet, so I felt a little silly reading a kid's book, let alone adoring it as I did.  My unabashed Harry Potter love continued unabated as the series went on and the rest of the world caught on to what I already knew.  Now, everyone's an HP fan.  I don't blame them a bit.  I loved the books as I read them and I love them still today.  My daughter claims to have read each of the installments in the series eight times; I've read each once and that was when they originally came out.  Clearly, a re-read of the whole series has been in order for a long, long time!

Naturally, I started at the beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  I'm not going to give you a plot summary as you all know what the book's about.  Suffice it to say that this is a magical, transporting read that is just tons of fun.  It's got action, adventure, suspense, mystery—all the good stuff!  The characters are lovable (most of them, anyway), intriguing, and unique; the supporting cast is as delightful as the main one (maybe even more so).  There are many, many reasons Harry Potter has be-spelled so many.  If you haven't read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone at least once, you're missing out.

I'm going to leave off with some of my favorite quotes from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  Enjoy!

"I hope you're pleased with yourselves.  We could have all been killed—or worse, expelled."  -- Hermione Granger, to Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, p. 162

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that."  -- Albus Dumbledore, p. 214

"Oh, honestly, don't you two read?"  -- Hermione Granger, to Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, p. 219

"... to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.  It is in your very skin."  -- Albus Dumbledore, p. 299

"There are all kinds of courage ... It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but just as much to stand up to your friends."  -- Albus Dumbledore, p. 306

(Readalikes:  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; Quiddith Through the Ages; and The Tales of Beedle the Bard—all by J.K. Rowling)


If this were a movie (and it is!), it would be rated:

for mild language, violence, and scenes of peril

To the FTC, with love:  I bought a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone back in 1998 when it first came out!

Fairest Asks, "How Did an Evil Queen Get So ... Evil?"

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

(Note:  While this review will not contain spoilers for Fairest, it may inadvertently ruin plot surprises from previous Lunar Chronicles novels.  As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

Long before Levana became the most powerful queen in history, she was just another princess ...

Bullied and disfigured by her hateful older sister, 15-year-old Levana hides behind the most alluring glamours she can imagine.  She's hoping to attract the gaze of Evret Hayle, a kind captain in the queen's army with whom she is madly in love.  So what if he's married?  Sol is a lowly dressmaker of little consequence—surely, Levana would make a better match for handsome Evret.  Even if she's awkward, shy, and ugly.

As Evret refuses her advances and her flippant, disinterested older sister assumes the throne, Levana feels increasingly hopeless.  She knows she'd be a better queen than flighty Channery and a better wife than Sol.  If only she could get what she really wants, Levana would have her happily ever after.  The question is, to what lengths will she have to go to take what's "rightly" hers?  Fueled by jealousy and frustration, Levana is prepared to do just about anything ...

You all know I'm a big fan of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series.  I love it for so many reasons.  Fairest, a short novel that fits between Cress and Winter, is my least favorite installment, yes, but it still has all the excitement and intrigue of its companion books.  It stars a vulnerable Levana, a young woman who yearns for happiness, even if she's looking for it in all the wrong places.  This makes her empathetic, although it's difficult to fully root for her knowing what kind of monster she becomes.  Reading her backstory did make me feel a little bit of compassion for the evil Levana, though.  It also gives insight into the cold, calculating behavior that defines her character in the rest of the series.  So, while I didn't enjoy Fairest as much as the other books in the series, I still found it to be a quick, compelling read that helps flesh out the Lunar world into an even more intriguing place.  Lunartics will not want to miss it!

(Readalikes:  Other books in the series, including Cinder; Scarlet; Cress; Winter; and Stars Above)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I purchased a copy of Fairest from Changing Hands Bookstore with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.
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