Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My Favorite Books of 2014

In 2014, I managed to read 129 books, which is the most I've ever read in a year!  Some of them were rereads, but the majority of them were new.

Out of those first-time reads, some were not so impressive and others quickly became favorites.  I want to share my top 10 favorite books of 2014 with you.  These are in no particular order except for number one, which was my favorite book of the year.

Number Ten

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This is my favorite Rowell novel.  Cath is such a unique character in that she's a true introvert.  But she's also totally relatable and nerdy cool.

I loved the dynamic between the two sisters, especially since I have a younger sister who is really close to me.  There was a lot of truth in that relationship.

Of course, the Harry Potter, er, I mean, Simon and Snow fan fiction didn't hurt either.

I did an author spotlight on all of Rainbow Rowell's books, including Fangirl, if you want to see more of what I thought.

Number Nine

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis

This is the only nonfiction book that has made it onto my list, but it absolutely deserves to be here.  It's written by a young woman who went to Africa for a mission's trip and ended up moving there, adopting a dozen children, and starting an organization that ministers to children in poverty.

It's a really powerful story about saying yes to whatever God has for your life, even if it means not living up to the expectations set before you.  And it also shows what one person's love can do to change the world.

Reading this has made me think differently about missions and helping those in poverty.  It's also put a desire in my heart to adopt.

 Excellent read, and I highly recommend it.

Number Eight

Jerusalem by Boaz Yakin

2014 was definitely the year of the comic and graphic novel for me, and it all started with this graphic novel about Jerusalem becoming a nation in the 1940s.

It follows one family as each member finds their place in the tumultuous politics of the time.  It's gritty and gripping, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction or graphic novels.

I did a full review on it, so check that out if you're interested.

Number Seven


Watchmen by Alan Moore

I finally read the king of all graphic novels.  This has been hailed as one of the best graphic novels of all time, and I finally understand why.

I have never read a book like this before.  There were so many layers, and each of the characters was dynamic and mysterious.  I wasn't ever quite sure where the story was going or who the villain was, and it caught me completely off guard.

The art is rough, which fits the story completely, enhancing the tone of it all.

Definitely a must-read if you like graphic novels.

Number Six

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

I know that I am ridiculously behind on this, but I finally started A Song of Ice and Fire, and this first book was AMAZING.  Honestly, I was nervous about reading it because, even though I've heard universal praise for this series, I've also read some really critical reviews, and I wasn't sure if it would be something I would like,

Well, it turned out to be something I loved, and I will definitely be plodding my way through this series.

Number Five

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This is the only children's book to make this year's list, and it was my favorite children's/middlegrade book this year.

The art, the story, the's an excellent story that traverses all ages.  I wrote a full review of it if you want to know more of my thoughts.

Number Four

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles by CLAMP

I adore manga, and I read a few series this year, but this one stood out above all of the others.

It's a shonen manga, so it has a lot of action in it, but it's also about relationships, romantic and platonic.  

The four main characters are some of my favorite characters in all of literature.  I love their complexities and how each of them interacts with the group.  And each one of them has an amazing and tragic back story.  

This series made me feel ALL of the feels.

If you haven't read this manga yet, and you don't mind really complicated plots, definitely pick this one up.  I wrote a review on the entire series, as well.

Number Three

Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte

I'm not quite sure how I escaped reading this in high school, but I did.  So, I finally picked it up this year as a book club read, and I am so happy that I did because I adored every second of it.

Heathcliff is an absolute scoundrel of a character, but I love him for it.  I was completely transfixed by him and all of his foulness.  At the same time, however, I felt so much compassion for him over his broken heart.  

If you haven't read this, and you love passionate romance and revenge tales, I can't recommend this enough.

Number Two

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

This book wasn't on my radar to read at all, but one of my book clubs ended up reading it so I decided to try it even though I didn't think I would be into it.

Holy moly!  This book is genius.  

Faulkner wrote it in such an intelligent and creative way.  Even though it can be confusing, I really like that this book makes the reader work.  A lot of times we just want a book that we can coast on auto-pilot with for an hour.  Not so with this book.  It gave me some mental exercise, and I was so grateful for it.

Set in the south during the early 1900's, it gives the portrait of a family falling apart as society around them changes.  The entire novel revolves around one character, but she isn't even the main character.  Instead, it's divided into four parts from four characters' points of view, and it shows how their lives have been affected.  

This is definitely not for the intellectually lazy, but if you're up for a challenge, check it out.

Number One

Absent by Sherri Vanderveen

This should be absolutely no surprise if you read my blog regularly.  I have raved about this book all year long.

It shows what happens to a family when the father abandons them, taking place over many years and involving several different character perspectives.

It's such a gorgeous novel, and it captures the truth so eloquently without being preachy.  If you want to see my full review, you can check it out here.

So, those are my top 10 books of 2014.  I'm glad that I was able to explore the world of comics and graphic novels, and I hope to continue to do so in 2015, as well.

What were your favorite books this year?  What would you recommend to me?  Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Historical Books

Time for another top 5 Wednesday. If you are interested in joining in, please check out the Goodreads group.

This week's topic is favorite historical books. 

Because it makes it into every list and I want to highlight different favorites of mine, I am excluding Pride and Prejudice. It goes without saying that I love it.

With that, let's get started.

Number Five

Guernica by Dave Boling

I have heard very little about this book, but I originally picked it up because Benedict Cumberbatch did a review on it. (That is a perfectly legitimate reason to read a book, right?)

I'm glad that I did because I really enjoyed it. I knew nothing about the Spanish Civil War going into it, and it really moved me. I connected to the main characters and was really invested in their lives.

This book is heartbreaking but beautiful.

Number Four

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Who doesn't love this book? Dorian is such a despicable character, but I still love him. And Wilde's writing is witty and hilarious.

Number Three

A Free Life by Ha Jin

One of my favorite book settings is in China during or after The Great Leap Forward. I am really interested in the lives of the people during this time.

This book explores this period and one family trying to escape from it really beautifully.

Number Two

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

I fell in love with this book earlier this year, reading it twice in row.

Not everyone likes the style and organization, which I understand, but I felt like it added so much and was so creative.

Number One

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

This book is not for everyone, but it is one of my absolute favorites. Wharton's writing is so subtle and clever. Her characters are full and likeable, even the stupid ones. And I love the setting of old New York.

What are your favorite historical books?  Tell me in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bout of Books 12

I have been on a major reading slump for the past few months.  I mean, I haven't even been averaging one book a month.

I think that this is partly because I was reading so quickly that I burnt myself out.  However, with the school year starting, a lot of my reading time is now dedicated to teaching and lesson prep.  And when I'm not doing that, I'm just so tired from the day that I end up watching YouTube videos during the time when I could be reading.

I miss reading, though.  I miss getting so absorbed in a story that I forget how tired I am.  That's why I am looking forward to Bout of Books 12.  It's at the tail end of my Christmas break, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to spend all day every day with a book, but I am hoping that it will break me out of my book coma and set a solid pace for 2015.

If you want to know more about the Bout of Books read-a-thon, here is a blurb from their blog:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 5th and runs through Sunday, January 11th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit thBout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

You should definitely sign up and participate in this reading event. It doesn't matter how much time you have or how many books you can finish in a week. It's not about competition. Rather, it's about community. We all read anyway, so it's awesome to be able to connect with other readers around the world to discuss, recommend, and debate the books we love, as well as encourage each other in our personal reading goals.

I'll be keeping track of my progress, as well as participating in the various challenges, on this blog. You can hold me accountable!

Are you planning on joining Bout of Books 12?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Rereads

I am actually not much of a rereader.  There are very few books that I like enough to want to experience again or that I feel have more to teach me.

That being said, this list is comprised of a few of the books that I find myself returning to over and over again.  I've also snuck in a few honorable mentions.

Let's get started.

Number Five

I really love this book, and I have since I was a young teen.  The tone of it, the writing, and the tortured character of Louis have brought me back to this book at least three times since the first time I read it.  I enjoy it every time.

Number Four

I don't reread this very often just because I like to take my time with it.  With the language, each of the characters, and in the world that Austen created.  But it's one of my favorite books of all time, just as it is to many others.  Every few years I reread it and fall in love with Darcy all over again and hope that I am a little like Lizzie.

Number Three

The first time I read Peter Pan, I felt like I had found something that I had forgotten.  I first read it as an adult, and it awakened the sleeping child in me.  There is a real magic found within these pages, and that is the ability to connect adults with the children they used to be.  Whenever I feel myself getting too old, I reread this book.

Number Two

This book is in the same vein as Peter Pan, and I like to read it to remind myself not to take the "serious" things in life too seriously.  Again, I first read this children's story as a young adult, and I was so enchanted.  I was at a point in my life where I was just overwhelmed by the transition into adulthood and responsibility, and I was just about losing my grasp on things.  But when I picked up The Little Prince, it helped to put everything into perspective.

Number One

How could this not be on my list?  This series defines more than half of my life.  The first book came out when I was in the 4th grade, and the last one was released my freshman year of college.  I grew up and changed and learned so much alongside these characters, just as many others did.  It was truly something special being a part of the Harry Potter generation, and it is still something that ties a lot of people around the world together.  I will reread these books until I die.

Honorable Mentions

I have said many times before in my blog posts that Siddhartha is a book I read when I'm in transition.  I've read it many many times.  The only reason that this isn't making my top five is because the last time I read it, I realized that I may have outgrown it.  So, I don't see myself rereading it in the future.

I have praised this book non-stop ever since I read it earlier this year.  I definitely want to reread it in 2015 because it is my favorite book of the year and of all time.

So those are my top five rereads!  Did Harry Potter make your list?  Which books do you find yourself going back to?  Tell me in the comments below.

And if you want to join in on Top 5 Wednesdays, just check out the Goodreads Group.

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Couples

I can't begin to tell you how much I love this Top 5 Wednesday topic!  I ship so many couples (both canon and non-canon), and I love talking about my OTPs.

If you want to join in discussing fun topics like this, check out the Goodreads group.

Now, without further adieu...

Number Five

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables Series

What I love best about Anne and Gilbert's relationship is its slow growth throughout the entire series.  This is not a case of instant love, and it's development is really believable.  They start out as enemies, and it takes Anne until the end of the first book to even acknowledge Gilbert.  

She is so fiery and passionate, and his wise, calm demeanor perfectly balances her out.

Number Four

Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli from The Namesake

This couple is very special to me.  Most Western literature depicts romance in a very loud, obvious way.  But there is something I enjoy and relate to in how their relationship is all about context.  

In the movie adaptation, after their children are grown, Ashima teases Ashoke and asks him if he wants her to tell him, "I love you" like the Americans do.  Ashoke just laughs, and neither of them say it, but there is still no doubt that their love runs deep.  I really appreciate how the book expresses this same sentiment.  

Number Three

Arthur and Molly Weasley from The Harry Potter Series

With these two, it's not so much their relationship that I enjoy as the fact that they are just an amazing pair of people.  They give so much of themselves to others, have a beautiful family, and are so brave.  Plus, they practically adopt Harry without ever questioning that decision even though it puts their own children in danger.  

Number Two

Sakura and Syaoran from Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles

I gush about these two all the time.  I had to have at least one tragic pairing on this list, and these two are it.

Their love for each other is of epic proportions, which only makes it even more devastating that Sakura can't remember Syaoron.  Despite that, he still travels through space and time to save her, knowing that she will never regain her memories of that.  

This pairing induces ugly sobbing.

Finally, my number one OTP...

Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice


I know that this is the most cliche pairing, but I don't even care.  There are OTPs, and then there are Darcy and Lizzie.

This is the very first literary couple that I truly shipped.  Everything about their story enchants me, and I love to read or watch it repeatedly.

So, those are my top 5 OTPs!  Who are your favorite pairings?  Share with me in the comments!

Happy reading!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Red Covers

This weeks Top 5 Wednesday topic is red covers.  I don't actually own too many, so I am limited in my selection.

Top 5 Wednesday was created by Lainey from gingerreadslainey, and if you want to join in on the fun, check out the Goodreads group!

Let's get into it.

Number 5

Waiting by Ha Jin

I really like the simplicity of this cover with just the red background and the bottom of a long, black braid.  Even though it's simple, it already speaks to it being about China during the Cultural Revolution, when a single black braid was the hairstyle for women.  

Number 4

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

I just like the feeling of this cover.  I've always enjoyed the illustration style of this graphic novel, and I like seeing little Marjane on the cover.

Number 3

Dracula by Bram Stoker

This book is not the best for reflecting the story, but I just think it's so pretty.  It almost looks like velvet to me, so that is why it's on this list.

Number 2

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

I think that this cover is so cool looking, but it also has a lot from the book on it.  You've got Victor looking out over the city from his balcony, his hand still bloody from crushing a glass.  And he's staring out, knowing that Eli is out there somewhere.  

This cover makes me wish the book were a graphic novel.

Number 1

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

This is easily one of the most beautiful books in my library.  I know that there are quite a few other colours on it, but the spine and back are entirely red, so I'm counting it.  

I haven't read this book yet, so I can't say how the cover reflects the book.  It's just so gorgeous that it gets the top spot on my list.

So, those are my top 5 red covers.  What books am I missing?  Share your favorite red covers with me in the comments below!

Happy reading!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Some Scary Recommendations

'Tis the season for spookiness!  And even though I don't celebrate Halloween, I do appreciate a good scary book.

Here are 5 spooky recommendations for you!

Number 5

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

This book isn't the scariest of the bunch, but it remains one of my favorite horror books.  The characters and story are so well-written and compelling.  This is one of the few books I've read several times.

Number 4

Strangers by Taichi Yamada

I cannot make a list of scary books without putting some Asian horror on it.  Some of the scariest stories come out of Asia, which is evidenced by how many of their horror films America remakes.

Strangers is a classic Japanese ghost story about a man who thinks he meets his long-dead parents one night in Tokyo and ends up at risk of losing his life.

Number 3

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

I know that this is supposed to be a children's book, but I would never read it to my kids because it would scare the crap out of them.  It creeped me out!

Coraline is a little girl who wanders into an alternate world where her "other" parents are waiting for her.  But will she ever be able to get out?

Number 2

Ring by Koji Suzuki

This is the book that the popular horror film is based off of.  It's so creepy!

Koji Suzuki is a highly respected horror writer in Japan and is also the author of Dark Water.  He is actually regarded as the Japanese Stephen King, so if you are a fan of King, you should check out Suzuki.

Number 1

The Shining by Stephen King

Stephen King is one of my favorite authors, and I find several of his books scary, but it is pretty difficult to beat a possessed hotel.  Plus, this is just a classic and is something that anyone who loves horror should read.

So those are a few of my favorite scary books.  What books do you recommend?  Leave them in the comments below!

Happy reading.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: A Monster Calls

"Stories are wild creatures, the monster said. When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?"

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Candlewick Press, U.S., 15 September 2011
204 Pages
Middlegrade Horror
5 Stars
Barnes & Noble; Book Depository; Goodreads

The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

Monday, September 22, 2014

What I've Been Doing Instead of Blogging

This is the post where I make a bunch of excuses as to why I've been so blog negligent.  Enjoy!

But seriously, I haven't been posting regularly for awhile, and even though this isn't book-related, I thought I'd explain why.

I am a stay-at-home wife, which most people think means unboundaried reading time.  And, during the summer, that's exactly what it meant.  Besides taking care of the home, cooking, and running errands, I didn't have much on my schedule during the week days because mostly everyone else in my life works.  Therefore, I was able to read and blog from the time I woke up until my husband came home with breaks for responsible things like cleaning and eating.

Towards the end of August, however, I visited the States for a week, and immediately upon returning, my daily schedule completely changed because school started.

I homeschool a 4th grader and a 7th grader three days a week, which completely fills up my morning and afternoon.  And my evenings are then spent doing all the home things I used to do throughout the day and spending time with my husband.  Because I have to wake up earlier (and because teaching is tiring) I no longer stay awake as long as I used to, so that also cuts down on my reading time.

Honestly, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, which are the days I homeschool, I usually only read about four chapters in my Bible and maybe a chapter in one of the books I'm reading right now.  I just don't have the time or energy for anything else.

On Mondays and Fridays, I'm running errands all day, so I also don't get to read very much on those days.  And weekends are spent with family.

Additionally, I've spend all of August preparing for a women's retreat that is coming up in the first week of October, so all the time that I would devote to reading is being concentrated on event prep.

So, I have done very very little reading this month.  When you see my September wrap-up, you will shake your head at my lack of progress.  And no reading means no blogging.

One book-related thing that I have been doing this month is leading a book club discussion on Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse, over in the Goodreads' group Classics Without All the Class.  Even though September is drawing to a close, it's a short book, so you can still join us if you want!

After October, I should have more time to read, and therefore more content to blog about.

I am sorry that I haven't been blogging as much, but I'm also not going to stress about it.  Sometimes life changes, and we have to reorder our priorities.  And that is ok with me.  I do this for fun, so I'm not going to push myself until the enjoyable aspect of it turns compulsory.

I just wanted to update you all and let you know what I'm up to.

How is your reading going?  Has school or just life upset your reading schedule?  Empathize with me in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Series I Won't Finish

I have a love/hate relationship with series.  Personally, I think the market is oversaturated with them, especially trilogies.  Stories that could make a great duology get stretched into three books (and four movies) just to make a profit.

And while there are some excellent series out there, a series does not great literature make.  For every Song of Ice and Fire series, there are a handful that aren't worth finishing.  So, let's get into the series that I've started and will never finish.

Fifth place...

The Ender Saga by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game is one of my favorite books of all time.  So, you would think I would be eager to read the rest of the series, right?  However, the first novel was so amazing that it makes my standard impossibly high.  That, coupled with the fact that the other books got less than raving reviews, makes me want to just enjoy the novel as a stand-alone.  However, I may read the books one day out of curiosity, and that is why this is so low on my list.

Fourth place...

The Little Women Series by Louisa May Alcott

I really enjoy Little Women, the book and movies, but I honestly have no interest in what takes place after that book.  Therefore, I won't be picking up the others.

Third place...

The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

I liked Divergent, but I didn't love it enough to go through two more books and a novella.  Plus, I already know the huge plot point that happens in Allegiant,  I don't want to waste my time reading mediocre series.

Second place...

The Vicious Series by V.E. Schwab

I didn't hate Vicious, but it didn't impress me either.  It would have been an ok stand-alone, but then came the completely foreseeable plot turn that led into a second book.  I honestly can't imagine what else could happen to the characters that I want to know about.

First place...

The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld

I will NEVER finish this series.  I hated the first book so much that I didn't even finish it.  There are just so many things wrong with the plot and writing, and I can't stand the main character.  So no thank you!

So those are my Top 5 Wednesday picks.  Which series will you never finish?  Tell me in the comments below.

And if you want to join in on Top 5 Wednesdays, just check out the Goodreads Group.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Top 5 Wednesday: Fictional Schools I'd Want to Attend

I'm back to doing Top 5 Wednesdays!  I missed a few because either they were topics I couldn't complete, or I was traveling.

This week, though, I am home, and I can definitely tell you what my favorite fictional schools are.

If you are interested in participating in Top 5 Wednesday, just check out the Goodreads group.  It is open to anyone!

With that, let's get started.

Fifth Place...


Cross Academy from Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino

If you haven't read this manga, Cross Academy is an ordinary boarding school by day, but its night class is for vampires who desire to coexist with humans.  

I want a vampire best friend!

Fourth Place...

Xavier Institute from Marvel's X-Men

If I happened to be born a mutant, there would be no other place for me.  Not only did Professor X create a safe place for those whose differences are misunderstood, but he also teaches kids how to use  their gifts, as well as see them as gifts.

Of course, I'd still have to learn all the subjects I dislike (math), and there would be no guarantee I'd be accepted as an X-Men, but just being in such an accepting environment would be worth it.

Third Place...

Battle school from Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

You have no idea how upset I was that there were so few battle scenes in this movie.  Whenever I read the book, these are some of my favorite parts.  Not only because they reveal how Ender thinks and plans, but also because they look so awesome in my mind.  

Who doesn't want to play ultimate laser tag for PE?

Second Place...

Jedi Academy from the Star Wars Universe

Using the force?  Getting a light saber?  Having Master Yoda as an instructor?  Becoming a Jedi Knight?  Of course the Jedi Academy is second on this list!  

First Place...

Hogwarts from The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

I realize that this comes as no surprise to anyone, and I'm sure that this is in first place on pretty much every list.  But that doesn't change the fact that Hogwarts is my dream school.  Not only are the subjects infinitely more interesting than algebra and biology, but the school itself is an adventure.  There are so many secret corridors to explore and secrets to be revealed.  Not to mention Quidditch, trips to Hogsmeade, and visiting Hagrid.  

No competition here.  Hogwarts all the way.

What schools do you wish you could attend?  Does Hogwarts not impress you that much?  Tell me in the comments below!

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

August Book Haul

I was so naughty in August.  Between Book Outlet sales and a trip to the States, I managed to add 20 books to my shelves!  That isn't even counting the books I bought for others.

I am turning into a book buying glutton, so I'm going to try to slow down after this month.  I'm not putting myself under a book buying ban; don't get crazy.  But I am going to try to work through my TBR shelf without adding massively to it.

So, let's get into my last (for awhile) large book haul.

 The first set of books I got I ordered from Book Outlet.  They had several sales in August, and I had coupons, so I went a little crazy.

I have been wanting to read Let the Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist, ever since the movie came out in 2008 (the Swedish movie, not  the American remake).  The movie was one of my favorites of the year, and I loved the fresh take on vampires.  Some booktubers read it last month and loved it, so I am looking forward to it.

In line with Let the Right One In, I finally bought a copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula.  I am not sure how I have managed to put off reading this, but I will forestall no longer!  It's time for me to read the original vampire story.  Plus, the edition I bought has a beautiful cover!

I know that everybody loves The Bone Season, by Samantha Shannon, so when I saw it on Book Outlet for $6, I decided to get it.  I'm always pretty wary of hyped-up books, but this way I won't be too disappointed if I don't like it because I didn't spend much on it.

I also picked up The Rithmatist, by Brandon Sanderson.  I've never read anything by him, but a lot of bloggers and booktubers I follow are fans of his.  I saw this and was immediately interested in the plot, so this was an impulse buy that I hope is fruitful.

Another book I got purely because it sounded interesting is Dancing on Broken Glass, by Ka Hancock.  It's about two people who have several genetic issues, including bipolar disorder, who fall in love and get married.  To keep from passing on their genes, they decide to abstain from having children.  But, of course, something happens that totally redefines their lives.  It has a ridiculously high rating on Goodreads, so I am expecting great things from this read.

I added to my Asian and Indian libraries with Samuel Park's This Burns My Heart, Gus Lee's China Boy, and The Space Between Us, by Thrity Umrigar.  The first explores Korean culture and romance, the second what it's like to be American-born Chinese, and the latter two women of separate castes in modern-day India.  Asian literature is one of my favorite genres, and I love books about India, so I can't wait to read these.

The last book I purchased from Book Outlet explores a topic that is heavy on my heart but which I am not the most educated about.  The Lemon Tree, by Sandy Tolan, explores the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the rocky and controversial friendship of two young men.  From reading the back, I have high hopes for this book, not just to be good in a literary sense, but to also carry a message of hope.

My local bookstore had a $5 hardcover sale, so I was able to pick up In the Shadow of the Banyan, by Vaddey Ratner.  This is my first book about Cambodia, and I know very little about the country outside of their clashes with Thailand.  I really want this book to enlighten me about the country and the people.

I spent the first week of the month helping my mom, who is a grade school teacher, set up her classroom.  In gratitude, she gave me a gorgeous children's book called The Magical, Mystical, Marvelous Coat, by Catherine Ann Cullen with illustrations by David Christiana.

The cover of this book is so vibrant and beautiful.  The illustrations inside are not all as colourful, but they are still pretty.

It's a story about a colourful coat with magic buttons that each fulfill a different purpose.  It's a whimsical story with a happy ending, and I'm sure that children would love it.  I only wish that it had a stronger moral running through.

Toward the end of the month I flew off-island to another island, Hawaii, to attend a church conference.  This was my first time back in the States in five years, which also means it was my first time in a Barnes and Noble in five years.  Oh, what a joyous reunion was had.

My husband and I landed on Oahu on Friday night, and I was in Barnes and Noble by Saturday evening.  For four hours (or so my husband says).  I wandered through the shelves, deliberating about which books I was going to grant my limited luggage space.  I actually bought a basket full of books, but only three were for me.

Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite authors, and I had been waiting for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage to make it to Guam.  So, when I saw a lovely display of Murakami novels, I grabbed it.  To be honest, I don't even know what this book is about, but it really doesn't matter.  I will buy anything that Murakami writes.

I also picked up a copy of Wuthering Heights.  When I read this Emily Bronte novel, I did so on my Nook.  However, it became one of my favorite classics, so I needed my own copy, and I always like Barnes and Nobles' hardcover classics, so I bought one of theirs.

Finally, I spent about 45 minutes amongst the graphic novels and manga.  I was frustrated because they didn't have complete series of any of the mangas I wanted to buy, and I didn't want to buy just a few volumes because I hate having to wait to read the next one.  But I really wanted to buy some sort of graphic novel or comic.  I ended up purchasing Alan Moore's Watchmen because it is such a classic, and I haven't read it yet.  It's another book that I've been looking for on Guam but haven't been able to find, so I'm satisfied.

The conference I went to was at Calvary Chapel Honolulu, which has a Calvary Chapel bookstore.  Needless to say, I was in there every morning, during break, during lunch, and every night.

A.W. Tozer is such an inspiration to me.  His faith, his wisdom, his writings...he was truly a man who loved God.  Knowledge of the Holy is one of the most important books I've ever read.  So, I picked out The Pursuit of God while scanning the bookstore's classic section.

The continual walking with God, through the busyness of life, loss, joy, and distractions is something that I need to improve on.  Not just being obedient but spending time reading the Bible, praying, and worshiping every day are all things that I don't always makes a priority.  I know that Tozer will have many challenging and encouraging things to say about this, so I will definitely be reading this book soon.

Along those same lines, I bought Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, by Joanna Weaver.  Mary is the sister who sat at the feet of Jesus while her sister, Martha, ran around the house preparing food.  When Martha complained to Jesus about Mary not helping, Jesus told her that Mary had chosen the one necessary thing - Him.  I desire to be a better Mary.

My husband and I like to go through Christian marriage books together.  It keeps us connected and spiritually in check, and in our five years, we have never had a serious marital issue.  Just recently, we finished the book we were going through.  So, my husband picked out A Couple After God's Own Heart, by Jim and Elizabeth George.  We both really like the Georges' books, so we are excited to go through this one together and let it strengthen and purify our relationship.

One of the workshops I attended at the conference was for children's ministry.  My husband and I run the children's ministry at our church, so we went to gain wisdom and new ideas.  Somewhat surprisingly, the main focus of the workshop was security, and one of the books that was recommended was Policing Innocence by Rebecca Andrews, which is all about profiling child predators.

This is not at all something that I want to think about, but it is reality.  The woman who wrote this book was a police officer and the head of her church's security team in the U.K.  She writes from personal experience, which is perhaps the most horrifying thing.  I have already started this book, and it is not an enjoyable read.  It's an easy read in that it is simply written, but it is really disturbing.  However, if you have children or are in charge of children, I would recommend this book just to make you more knowledgeable and on-guard.

Skip Heitzig is one of mine and my husband's favorite teachers, and we were blessed to hear him teach multiple times during the conference.  We were tempted to buy all of his books, but we settled on a devotional collection he wrote, The Daily God Book.  It's really supposed to be my husbands since I have several devotionals, but I have been "borrowing" it on a daily basis.

Lastly, I picked up a little pamphlet by Lenya Heitzig, Skip's wife, called Don't Tempt Me.  I am giving a message about resisting temptation to the women in my women's ministry this month, so I thought I would see if she had any pearls of wisdom for me to add.

Twenty books.  Aren't they beautiful?

What did you buy in the month of August?  Have you read any of my recent purchases?  Tell me about it in the comments below.

Happy reading!