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!