The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

the-enchanted-april
Title
The Enchanted April
Author:  Elizabeth von Arnim
Length:  227 pages
Genre:  20th Century Literature
Content Notes:  Brief Language


Four women agree to share the expenses of renting an Italian villa for the month of April. They don’t know one another in the beginning; but by the end they’ve become good friends. This story takes a look at their lives and how this holiday helps them learn more about themselves, helps them grow personally, and helps them each find needed healing in their lives.  Some of the tough issues dealt with are struggles with love, with marital relationships, and with faith. This novel is about love and relationships; but most of all, it’s about restoration:  restoring themselves, their lives, and their relationships.


Quotes from the Book

All the radiance of April in Italy lay gathered together at her feet. The sun poured in on her.

She had frightened love away, precious love, and that couldn’t be good. Was not Lotty right when she said the other day that nothing at all except love mattered? Nothing certainly seemed much use unless it was built up on love.


 

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood

the-one-in-a-million-boy
Title
The One-in-a-Million Boy
Author:  Monica Wood
Length:  336 pages
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Content Notes:  Strong language


When Quinn’s son died, he agreed to finish his son’s boy scout project…helping a 104 year old woman with chores around her house; what he didn’t count on was becoming like family. The several storylines weaved throughout this book make it a deep and layered novel. It is a moving story about unlikely friendships, grief, forgiveness, reconciliation, second chances and the Guinness Book of World Records.


Quotes from the Book

Because the story of your life never starts at the beginning.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

and-every-morning-the-way-home-gets-longer-and-longer
Title
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
Author:  Fredrik Backman
Length:  96 pages
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction


From the publisher’s description:  “From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go. With all the same charm of his bestselling full-length novels, here Fredrik Backman once again reveals his unrivaled understanding of human nature and deep compassion for people in difficult circumstances. This is a tiny gem with a message you’ll treasure for a lifetime.”

This story gives a glimpse into what it must be like not just for the elderly man who is losing his memory, but also what it must be like for those that love him. It is heartwarming, sad, real. While it’s a short read, it’s packed with lots of heart.


Quotes from the Book

Noah holds the old man’s hand, the man who taught him to fish and to never be afraid of big thoughts and to look at the night’s sky and understand that it’s made of numbers. Mathematics has blessed the boy in that sense, because he’s no longer afraid of the thing almost everyone else is terrified of:  infinity. Noah loves space because it never ends. It never dies. It’s the one thing in his life which won’t ever leave him.

 


 

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

the-language-of-flowers
Title
The Language of Flowers
Author:  Vanessa Diffenbaugh
Length:  334 pages
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Content Notes:  Language (including brief strong language)


Victoria was raised in the foster system from the time she was a baby. When she turned 18 years old, she had a certain amount of time in a transitional home to find a job and get set up on her own. But instead of looking for jobs, all she wanted to do was grow flowers. For Victoria, flowers were a part of her world that was therapeutic for her. She also has a gift for matching the right flowers with the right person. This gripping novel takes you on a journey through Victoria’s life as she tries to deal with the past and find healing. You will not want to put this book down.


Quotes from the Book

…it seemed that Earl, and then Bethany, walked home with a bouquet of flowers expecting change, and the very belief in the possibility instigated a transformation.” (pg. 113)


 

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

the-storied-life-of-a-j-fikry
Title
The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
Author:  Gabrielle Zevin
Length:  258 pages
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Content Notes:  Language (including some strong language)


A. J. Fikry and his wife opened a bookstore several years ago. After his wife passed away, A. J. continued to run the bookstore. One day, someone unexpectedly leaves a baby in his store. This novel is a heartwarming story of loss, finding love again, and the power of books to bring people together.


Quotes from the Book

Remember, Maya:  the things we respond to at twenty are not necessarily the same things we will respond to at forty and vice versa. This is true in books and also in life.” (pg.41)

You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?” (pg. 87)

Sometimes books don’t find us until the right time.” (pg. 92)


 

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

big-little-lies
Title
Big Litte Lies
Author:  Liane Moriarty
Length:  458 pages
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Content Notes:  Strong Language


In the beginning chapters of the book, you find out that there’s an investigation taking place in a small beach-side community. The book switches back and forth from the present time and the investigation to the past and all that happened in the months before the incident occurred. The main focus is on the lives of three women who all have hard issues they are dealing with. From the bookflap:  “Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.” This was one book I couldn’t put down.

 


 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Title
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author:  Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Length:  274 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Content Notes:  Language


Juliet Ashton is a writer known for her light-hearted series about Izzy Bickerstaff; but she doesn’t want to write light-hearted pieces now. One day, she receives a letter from someone she doesn’t know who happened to find her name in a book he now owns. He lives on the island of Guernsey and wants to know if she will give him the name and address of a bookshop in London where he could find more books by Charles Lamb. They begin writing back and forth and what transpires is an unforgettable story that is delightful and charming, deep and moving. One minute you’ll be laughing , the next minute you’ll be in tears. It is funny, heartbreaking, sassy, genuine. Written in the epistolary style, these characters come to life as you read about war, love, loyalty and the power of books to unite and sustain.


Quotes from the Book

That’s what I love about reading:  one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book.” (pg. 11)


 

What I’ve Been Reading – February 2017

This is just a quick look at books I read in February. This was a big reading month for me. I don’t typically read this many books in a month’s time! Look for upcoming posts for more about some of these books.


big-little-lies

Big Little Lies
By Liane Moriarty

Reading for Fun Reading Challenge Category
A Book in a Genre You Usually Avoid

This was the first Liane Moriarty book I’ve read. It was recommended to me by a friend who said it was un-put-down-able. And was she ever right! I don’t typically read mystery novels (in fact, I generally avoid that genre); but this one I couldn’t put down. While the mystery is part of the story, the real focus is the lives of three ladies in a small beachside community. Moriarty crafted the novel with such precision that the reader is drawn in from the very beginning and the characters seem real. In addition, Moriarty does a superb job of mixing humor amid heavy, heart-wrenching issues. (Heads up for strong language)
READ MORE


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
By Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Reading for Fun Reading Challenge Category
A Book You’ve Already Read

When I saw this category on the Reading for Fun reading challenge, I knew that one of the titles I’d totally re-read would be The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I loved this book when I read it last year. In fact, it should have been in my blog post about favorite books I read in 2016. Reading it again, I was reminded once again of just how much I love this book. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an historical novel centered around the German occupation of Guernsey in World War II. It blends the hard, terrible, and sad details of this time in history with plenty of humor and sass. It is by far one of the best World War II historical fiction novels I’ve read.  READ MORE


the-one-in-a-million-boy

The One-in-a-Million Boy
By Monica Wood

Reading for Growth Reading Challenge Category
A Book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks Author

This book had been on my to-read list for awhile. I was intrigued by the description on Amazon; but just hadn’t taken the plunge to read it yet. When I saw that it qualified for this category in the reading challenge, I finally decided it’s time to read it and I’m so glad I did. The One-in-a-Million Boy is a moving story primarily focused on an unlikely friendship between an elderly woman and a father whose son died. This book would be a great pick for a book club because when you read it, you’re going to want to talk about it! There are lots of themes that can be discussed such as loss, grief, redemption, and second chances.
READ MORE


the-storied-life-of-a-j-fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
By Gabrielle Zevin

Reading for Fun Reading Challenge Category
A Book about Books and Reading

I love reading books about books and reading, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is just that. Yet, it’s also much more than that. It’s an heartwarming story of loss, finding love again, and the power of books to bring people together.  READ MORE


the-enchanted-april

The Enchanted April
By Elizabeth von Arnim

Reading for Fun Reading Challenge Category
A Book You Were Excited to Buy or Borrow but Haven’t Read Yet

The Enchanted April is about the complexities of the lives of four women who decide to go on a holiday and share an Italian villa. I love the BBC movie adaptation of this book (starring Polly Walker, Miranda Richardson, Josie Lawrence, and Joan Plowright) and have seen it many times. I was really looking forward to reading the book; but for some reason, it sat on my Kindle for months. I’m so glad I finally got it read! There are definitely some movies that I like better than the books; that’s not the case with this one. While there may be some things I do like about the movie better, overall I loved the book more because I found that the novel had even more depth to it than the movie portrayed. (brief language)
READ MORE


and-every-morning-the-way-home-gets-longer-and-longer

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer
By Fredrik Backman

Reading for Growth Reading Challenge Category
A Book in Translation

I don’t know about you, but something about many of Fredrik Backman’s book covers draws me to the books. In fact, I could easily put this one down for the category “A Book You Chose for the Cover.” When I saw the cover for And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer I immediately picked it up, read the description, and knew I wanted to read it. I loved A Man Called Ove and have been wanting to read more of Backman’s books. This is a very quick read, but packed with lots of heart.  READ MORE


the-language-of-flowers

The Language of Flowers
By Vanessa Diffenbough

Reading for Fun Reading Challenge Category
A Book with a Reputation of Being Un-put-down-able

The description of this book was intriguing to me when I first read it. I jotted the title down as a possible book to read and then out of the blue, the very next day a friend asked me if I had read this book and said that she loved it. I bought it and immediately started reading. When reading reviews of this book, it was described as un-put-down-able. So I chose it for this category. And indeed, I didn’t want to stop reading it. In this novel, Victoria has a knack for matching the right flowers with the right person. But where did she learn so much about flowers? And what role did flowers play in her own life? This novel is about dealing with the past and finding healing. (heads up for brief strong language)  READ MORE


Children’s Literature I Read This Month


charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
By Roald Dahl

Such a fun book…especially after having watched both movie productions many times. It was interesting to compare both movies to the book.


alices-adventures-in-wonderland-and-through-the-looking-glass

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
By Lewis Carroll

This is one that I simply finished in February. I had begun reading it awhile back and needed to finish it. Then I followed it up with Through the Looking Glass.

Through the Looking Glass
By Lewis Carroll

Both this and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were among my favorites I read aloud to my daughters several years ago. Not all books work well as read-alouds; these did. It was fun reading these again. Humorous and at times lyrical, these books will have you laughing out loud.


What I’ve Been Reading – January 2017

This is just a quick look at books I read in January.

robert-frosts-poemsRobert Frost’s Poems
With an Introduction and Commentary by Louis Untermeyer

Reading for Growth Reading Challenge Category
A Book of Poetry, a Play, or an Essay Collection

I am not a big poetry person; so I am trying to be more intentional about incorporating more poetry into my reading life. What I liked about this book is that it contained commentary that gave insight into Frost’s poetry. While I didn’t like every poem in the book, I did have some favorites. My favorite poems were Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, The Road Not Taken, and A Time to Talk.   READ MORE


david-copperfieldDavid Copperfield
By Charles Dickens

Reading for Growth Reading Challenge Category 
A Book That’s More Than 600 Pages

I started to read David Copperfield several years ago but never finished it. I decided it was time to pick this one back up and start it all over again. In this classic novel, Dickens tells the life story of David Copperfield. He does a superb job of developing the characters and leaving no loose ends when you finish the last chapter.   READ MORE


persuasionPersuasion
By Jane Austen

Reading for Growth Reading Challenge Category
A Book Published Before You Were Born

I’ve seen I don’t know how many movie/mini-series productions of Jane Austen’s works. But until last year, I had not read any of her books in their entirety. I had tried to read several of them in years past but never finished any of them. Last year, I finally read Pride and Prejudice and loved it. I found that I didn’t like Persuasion quite as much as Pride and Prejudice though. It felt tedious to read at times with its wordiness. However, the novel grew on me and I think this is one I would read again.   READ MORE


the-bookshop-on-the-cornerThe Bookshop on the Corner
By Jenny Colgan

Reading for Fun Reading Challenge Category
A Book Set Somewhere You’ve Never Been But Would Like to Visit

England, Ireland, and Scotland are all places I’ve never been to but would love to visit sometime. And The Bookshop on the Corner happens to take place in England *and* Scotland. The main character, Nina, leaves her home in England to start a mobile bookstore in a small town in Scotland. This is a lighter read but has its moments of depth. (Heads up for language, course talk, and brief racy content.)   READ MORE


welcome-to-silver-street-farmWelcome to Silver Street Farm
By Nicola Davies

This is a cute children’s chapter book about three children who end up starting a farm in their city.
READ MORE


Keeping a Reading Journal

Last year, I shared about Commonplace notebooks and reading journals. And recently, I shared how keeping a reading journal can enhance your reading life. I’ve noticed that for me, sometimes reading and writing about a book work together. For example, I took some time this weekend to write more about the books I’ve read in January and as I was writing about David Copperfield, I noticed that I was processing my thoughts about the book even more while I was writing. Right when I finished reading the book, I needed time to think about it…time to decide what I thought about the book, time to think about themes and characters and decisions characters made. Yes, I do this while I’m reading; but I find that sometimes there are some books I need more time after I finish reading them to just process the books more. My reading journal sometimes helps with that.

blue-divider

So what do I put in my reading journal? Last year, I actually created my own reading journal printables that I used and I kept them all in a binder. This year, I’m keeping it simple by using a good ‘ole basic notebook, binder, and my book reading log printable. (You can grab a free book reading log I created HERE.)

Here’s what I did. First, I printed out my book log and also the reading challenge pages from the free reading kit I received from Modern Mrs. Darcy. I grabbed my binder, put my notebook in first and my reading log next. This is the same binder that has all my pages from last year’s reading journal; so a simple tab divider keeps them separate. In my notebook, the first couple of pages are for me to jot down titles of books I’d like to read. Then after that, I  glued in the blank reading challenge pages for me to log the books I read for that. Next, I created a pocket and this is where I keep the reading challenge pages I printed off that have the various book title options I have jotted down for each category. It’s also handy to have a little pocket to put miscellaneous papers in as well. If you just want to use a binder, you could just add in a couple of page protectors to use as pockets to hold papers.

From there, it’s just blank paper for me to jot down notes for the books I’m reading. At this point, I keep the notes in the notebook until I’ve finished reading and writing about the book. Then when I’m done, I tear out the pages, type up my notes, print it, then put it in the binder. Pretty simple. And extremely inexpensive!

keeping-a-reading-journal

What kinds of things could you write about books in your reading journal? You can keep it simple by just jotting down notes about the books you are reading. Or you can include a number of different things. There’s no one right way to keep a reading journal. 🙂 I will, though, share with you some things I typically include in my journal.

Book Information

I like to write down a few basic pieces of information about the book:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Genre
  • Pages

I usually write all of this at the top of the paper. It’s handy to have all this information written down, especially if it’s a book you checked out at the library and therefore don’t have a copy of the book yourself. If you want to recommend the book to someone, you’ll have all the pertinent information handy. Some other basic information you can include are the Publisher and the Publishing Date. You could jot down if this book was recommended and who it was recommended by. Also, you can include the date you started reading the book and the date when you finished the book. I log these dates on my book reading log; but I decided to also add this in my basic book information section in my journal.

Notes

This really is the main point of the journal….getting your thoughts about the book down on paper. In my journal you will find phrases and sentences, page numbers, character names, and more as I jot down anything from who different characters are while I’m reading (which is extremely helpful with books that introduce a lot of characters at once!), to page numbers for quotes I like, to thoughts I have about something from what I’ve read. Oftentimes, I won’t actually take the time to write out quotes while I’m reading. I will just jot down the page number and then go back after I’ve finished reading and write out the quote(s). But other times, I do stop and write the quotes down right then and there.So as you can see, I include a variety of things in my notes. These are just things *I* include. Your notes are just that:  *your* notes. Include the things *you* want to include. 🙂

Short Summary/Book Review

One of the things I’m working on this year is writing up short summaries of the books I’m reading. I’m trying to work on crafting short, simple overviews. However, you might like to do a more in-depth book review. Both of these are great things to include in your reading journal. What’s interesting is that even this can help in processing the book.

Narrations

You could stop every so often and do a written narration of what you’ve just read. Basically, a written narration is telling back what you’ve just read in your own words but you do so in writing. This is not the same as writing down your thoughts about the book.

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These are just a few simple suggestions of what you can include in your reading journal. Remember, there’s no one right way to keep a reading journal. It is *your* journal. 😉

If you keep a reading journal, I’d love to hear what things you include in it!