Archive from December, 2016
30 Dec
2016
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Favorite Books of 2016

I’m a bibliophile. I have a rotating stack of books on my bedside table, a never-ending list of books on hold at the public library and keep track of the books I read each year. This year I read 60 books, not including the countless books read to and with children. What follows are my favorite books from 2016:

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This is not only a favorite book from this year but one I’ll be talking about and sharing for years to come. It’s a story of meeting people where they are, acceptance and how judgement can lead you far from the truth of a situation. I cried, and I haven’t loved characters like that in quite a few reads. The characters felt very real and the emotions raw. You won’t regret choosing this one.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Put this author on your go-to list. She has yet to disappoint. This book takes place during WWII, which happens to be one of my favorite settings for books. It’s a story of promised salvation, unlikely unions and tragic consequences. It’s told from alternating points of view which is a writing style I enjoy. It’s a young adult book, so it’s a quick read.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Larson is known for his narrative nonfiction. Dead Wake is set in WWI and is the in-depth story of the disastrous sinking of the Lusitania. I only knew of the Lusitania as a few sentences in a long-forgotten history text book. I found the dichotomy of Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson to be fascinating, with one bent on having the United States enter WWI and the other hindered by the loss of his wife and new love on the horizon. I met and heard Larson speak in April. It was interesting to hear how he takes his ideas for nonfiction and generates them into a work that is engaging while also educational.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

This is a collection of short stories from the Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, and Winter). I enjoyed the background stories on characters from the series, some major players, others not. Meyer is a young adult author. I read quite a bit of YA because I have children who read YA but mostly because I enjoy the genre. The Lunar Chronicles are an imaginative twist on fairy tales with a science fiction twist. She’s a seamless storyteller with fresh plots and intriguing characters. I suggest starting with Cinder and working through the Lunar Chronicles before tackling Stars Above.

Side note: After you read the Lunar Chronicles and enjoy them as much as I did, read Meyer’s Heartless which is a twist on Alice in Wonderland. No book, in recent memory, has made me quite as angry as this one, even if I should have seen the ending coming. At one point, I closed the book and contemplated throwing it. Big props to Meyer for drumming some seriously strong emotions from at least one read.

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

This book won’t ever be one of the top books I recommend to people and is in jeopardy of becoming a book I vaguely remember reading, but it was one of the more unique books I read in 2016. The book deals with reincarnation and a mother’s journey to help her young son. The book is slow in sections but has an interesting twist that will keep readers motivated. I enjoy works of fiction that have me researching topics in conjunction with the book. There are studies purported in the book from cultures across the globe dealing with reincarnation, many that were new to me. I researched a few of those cultural beliefs and find it fascinating how different people can be in their belief systems yet how very similar we all are at the core of our humanity.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne

Technically this selection is a script for a play and dubbed the eighth installment in the Harry Potter series. The story is set 19 years after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It seems Harry’s past refuses to let him be and now one of his children, Albus, must deal with what it means to be the son of Harry Potter. Script reading as opposed to novel reading takes getting used to and may take readers longer to become invested in the story. Once I was used to the format of the story, I had a difficult time putting the book down. The underlying Potter theme of love conquering all is still present in the story as is the importance of friends. I do have lots of questions about characters in the series and how they are 19 years later and more importantly where they are during this story. Make peace with the story being about Harry and one of his children. Potter fans that I talked with either enjoyed this installment, like me, or give it a solid one-star rating. If you have a love affair with all things Potter, it’s worth a read.


 
Take a Trip: Great Lakes Love
By     |    Dec 29, 2016
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Take a Trip: Great Lakes Love

For someone who has spent almost 40 years living near mountains, I sure do love the beach. I love the sound of the waves crashing. I love the feel of sand in my toes. I love the pure joy my kids have in the water. However, I don’t love what the salt does to skin or hair. I don’t love the smell of the saltwater-soaked towels or swimsuits. This summer I learned the perfect substitute for the ocean is the... [Read More]

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Take a Trip: Discovering History
By     |    Dec 28, 2016
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Take a Trip: Discovering History

We’re only a few weeks into winter in Wyoming, and I’m over it. The mounds of snow followed by hurricane-strength winds, seriously 70+ miles per hour, wears me down and makes me irritable. I’m finishing 2016 with a few posts looking back on our summer adventures while I begin planning our 2017 vacations. For me, gifting our children with experiences is the most ideal way to teach them. We travel a lot by car because it allows us to see... [Read More]

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Finding Solid Footing this Christmas Season
By     |    Dec 16, 2016
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Finding Solid Footing this Christmas Season

I was sprawled at the bottom of the stairs to our basement two weeks ago, my foot on fire with pain, thinking that I did not just do that. I had slipped and fell down the last four stairs. It was late at night, and thankfully, my husband was home and awake. He helped me upstairs where I passed out for a few minutes and suffered a mild case of shock with uncontrollable shivering. I have given birth to four... [Read More]

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Gifting Experiences Over Things
By     |    Dec 12, 2016
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Gifting Experiences Over Things

I watched our seven-year-old come on stage to walk-through her part in The Great Russian Nutcracker with big eyes and slightly hesitant steps. The stage was bigger than she’s used to dancing on with movable backdrops and multiple props lining the stage’s wings. Professional dancers from the Moscow Ballet company waited in the wings or on the stage. They were speaking Russian and looked aloof and marginally bored. As I watched our daughter and her fellow snowflakes, I was impressed... [Read More]

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