What Nikita Read: February

I am slightly disappointed with myself for I was having a good run with reading. Sadly, I only read three books last month. It is almost as if there was a dry spell just waiting to happen and it had to happen when I was happy reading away my life. Which somehow this meme pops into my head:

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Even though I read just three books, each book was deep and evoked feelings for me. That could be the reason of the dry spell, two of them were good, but majority a sad tale, while the other has some sad moments, but by far a better ending. I would recommend all three, but my favorite was: Letters from Home by Kristina McMorris

Credit: Goodreads

Credit: Goodreads

My reasoning of making this the favorite of February was simple. It dealt with letters to a Soldier, but also followed the lives of three women during World War II. I have always liked stories that dive into the era of the Greatest Generation; there is just something about that time that almost feels surreal to what I live in. Another reason is hand-written letters are more of an extinct practice in today’s society, if anything many of us cannot write decently with a pen and paper. (I would give the example of my sister who is in high school and I feel her handwriting reminds me of a 5th to 6th level. Not saying my sister is stupid, just most people type now and that means we lose the muscle memory that is needed for good hand-writing.)

As I mentioned this story incorporates the story of three women, but also one man, the Soldier. While the main focus is on the woman who is writing letters to the Soldier, the author does an amazing job pulling the other women’s stories in the mix without confusion. (Always a nice touch.) As I was reading I was rooting for certain things to happen, while I was not surprised about the ending, how it played out was not what was to be expected. Even though one of the things I was rooting did not happen, doesn’t mean I cannot think it could. It is left open-ended for one character’s story. And I read it quite quickly, so a good page turner.

The other two novels I read this February were: Lost Saints of Tennessee by Ann Franklin-Willis and The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. The Forgotten Garden was a suspenseful, drama, and tragic story, was still a good read. It made me cry a lot, but there was a sort of happy ending to it all. But, I am not going to spoil that for you. Now, Lost Saints of Tennessee was a book I read before my husband, who wanted to read it as well. If you read this book, I will recommend picking a day where you can stay in your little corner. It is a sad tale that has a happier ending, but nevertheless sad.

My husband was happy that I recommended him to not read it until he had enough time to focus on the book and let it sink in. I think the only thing that bugged me was the transitions from one time period to another were not as clear as I think the author thought they were. Other than that good book.

Well that is all I read for February, until next month, happy reading!

Nikita

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My Favorite Books I Read in 2013

Looking back into 2013, as I mentioned in a previous post I read a lot. But, did I have favorites ? Of course I did! While I found that majority of the books I read during the 2013 were amazing and good, I decided to list out my favorite five from 2013. Just to note, they are not in order of most favorite of favorites.

By Alan Brennert

By Alan Brennert

Moloka’i: this book was part of our book club list. This became one of the five favorites for the simple reasons, it was a beautiful story written very well. It was a part of the history of Hawaii I knew so little of. This fictional story not only informed me of what happened, but I felt I was experiencing the girl’s life.

Editor: Hallie Lord

Editor: Hallie Lord

Style, Sex, & Substance: what happens when you get a group of Catholic women writers/bloggers, and ask them to write something….a great compilation of reflections that truly reflect, I think Catholic women on issues that inflict us in this modern time. I never knew this book existed until I saw it in a Catholic Bookstore in Charleston, SC (where I was stationed at this past year). I knew of all of the writers because I follow their blogs or have met them once in my life.

By: Lynn Sheene

By: Lynn Sheene

The Last Time I Saw Paris: I cannot help but promote this book, I love this book! I was never one to read about the French Resistance during WWII for I felt it was over-played and I do not know it never struck me as interesting to read. That changed with this book! (Or it just could be that this book was really good!) The twists, the spying, and writing, I actually re-read it after I finished it.

By: Bob Thomas

By: Bob Thomas

An American Original: Walt Disney : I have always loved Walt Disney, but I did not know much about his life or some of the myths that were a part of Walt. After reading this book, I found myself respecting Walt Disney even more than I did before. This biography makes Walt, well human not an idol or god, which from what I know of Disney then and now he never was something he wasn’t. Sometimes, what made him an idol of how he wished things to be done or how things seem to just come out of no where. If you want to know Walt, I suggest reading this book.

By: Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI

By: Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI

Jesus of Nazareth, Book II: With this being in my list it proves something for me, I am a woman for Holy Week and the Sorrowful Mysteries. (I have mentioned this to Em and even my own husband.) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s trilogy was one of my favorite series of last year or really all time, but my favorite was book two. The way he approached parts of the Holy Week helped me reflect more on the Crucifixion and the Resurrection more.

What were your favorite books of 2013? Comment below with either the list or even your blog entry link. We would love to know!

Happy Reading,

Nikita

Reading Goals of 2014

As we start the year of 2014, I am reminded that people make resolutions. But, resolutions do not have to be about health; it can actually be about a reading goal. Goodreads, a readers’ paradise (I really believe it is) has way for you to not only share your reviews of books, but a counter too! Last year, I read over one-hundred books! Shocking for me, for the year before I barely take out twenty-five books. This year I have made the goal of reading another one-hundred books.

Does anyone think I can read over that goal? 

Does anyone have a reading goal for this year? In the comments tell us what your goal is!

Happy Reading,

Nikita

What Nikita Read: March 2013

source: bemz.typepad.com/google image search

source: bemz.typepad.com/google image search

March has come and gone, Easter has begun! Happy Easter to all readers! The month of March I think I slowed down a bit, do not ask me why, but I did. Reading only ten books last month. Let us hope I can read a bit more for April.

I was trying, and I think succeeded in keeping with my Lenten goal of reading non-secular books, unless it was Sunday. Of course during Holy Week I went on a huge surge of reading secular books, do not ask me why, actually I can tell you the reason was I had library books due on the 29th and I needed to have them read and turned it. (Then to find out later that because they [library] are finally moving back to their permanent building, they renewed the books until May 5th….I worried over nothing!)

Also another little notice before I leave to my reviews I would like to mention that I have decided to make a new bookshelf on my Goodreads account, which is called “I do not own them” and then hopefully through Amazon or Barnes and Noble I will create a wish list for them. Christmas ideas? Absolutely!

Alright time for reviews! (And this is not going to be placed in order of how I read them, sorry!)

Genre: Religion/CatholicismSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Religion/Catholicism
Source: Goodreads.com

Saved in Hope or Spe Salve is Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s second encyclical. I have only two of his encyclicals. I think one of the main things I have learned after reading again this encyclical and really the works I own of his was this: this GERMAN who people assumed and criticized saying he would be a tyrant and what not (I think I am mainly speaking about secular media on this) was in all honestly firm in the teachings, but was more like that grandfather who wanted what was best for his family.

I have particular found much of his works especially his encyclicals deeply moving and quite honestly something I cannot help but want to try to emulate in my life. Two of my very favorite quotes from the encyclical are actually at the end of the book:

As Christians we should never limit ourselves to asking: how can I save myself? We should also ask: what can I do in order that others may be saved and that for them too the star of hope may rise? Then I will have done my utmost for my own personal salvation as well.

He has a firmness that is brought by soft words, deep devotion, and an understanding of faith and the teachings of the Church, and people were saying he would be a tyrant?!

Human life is a journey…Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all shadows of history.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Genre: Religion/CatholicismSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Religion/Catholicism
Source: Goodreads.com

I have never truly been that fond of Saint Paul. No, I am not saying he is a terrible Saint! I think I have to explain by reasoning of this…I have not been fond of how his letters has been twisted and butchered by some of my Protestant brothers and sisters and even by those who which to disregard Christianity all together.

Plus, I had also felt even before I became Catholic that many would rather think of St. Paul as the Son of God than Jesus. Just saying that is how they presented it! Papa Emeritus’ book which was a collection of his sermons on St. Paul during the Year of St. Peter and Paul.

It is really though Benedict that I have been able to look at the works of St. Paul in a new way and find more of an appreciation of the Saint who before I was little weary of. I would recommend the book to all including my Protestant brothers and sisters.

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Genre: Religion/CatholicismSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Religion/Catholicism
Source: Goodreads.com

There are many times when even I, who understand almost everything you tell me (unless it is high up there is math or something I need a Ph.D for), yet many will laugh that works of Popes, yes even Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI where I am having a difficult time understanding. Part of that is because I have never had any real faith background in my life up until 2008. I had no understanding of Christianity let alone Catholicism. So, there are times where I will be reading of something of Benedict’s and literally say, ‘ummmm I am unsure what I read, let me read that again’. Not so much anymore because I have been digging deeper into the teachings,Traditions, and Scripture to understand more of Jesus and his Church.

With that being said I bring you, the readers to my next review, Come meet Jesus: An Invitation from Pope Benedict XVI written by Amy Welborn. In her book she really brings a better understanding of Benedict XVI’s works, but also his views and understanding of the Catholic faith.

A pope does not leave his own interests and expertise at the door of the Sistine Chapel when he is elected.

She does an amazing job with the flow of the book and doesn’t make you sit there and go, ‘your point?’ she has a clear writing style that I would truly recommend more use! (Maybe I should take notes of this myself, I know how I can confuse many of you with my writing.)

This is my first Amy Welborn book, it shall not be my last I tell you! I would suggest this book though to teenager and those coming into the faith, many of them will hear the Clergy, Religious, and Lay-people quote Benedict and when they decide they wish to read his works, it could be difficult for them. (I am not saying anyone isn’t smart!)

Rating: 5 out of 5

Genre: Religion/CatholicismSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Religion/Catholicism
Source: Goodreads.com

When I got this book from my godmother for Christmas (I believe in 2011) a few things came to me (I did not read the back-cover either): oh this is about St. Catherine of Siena, maybe this can help me understand and know my Dominican Sister more (yes, if you did not know she was a Dominican!), and it looks short. Finally last month I got down to reading the book. Published by the Daughters of St. Paul (a wonderful order!) it was not what I was thinking though.

This book is a collection of quotes and excerpts from her (Catherine of Siena) with an introduction from the editor of the book. In all honestly when I rated 5 out of 5 on Goodreads it was because for what it was it did its job. But, personally I was hoping for something more. St. Catherine like many other Medieval Saints can confuse the heck out of this poor ignorant Dominican laywoman. So, reading the quotes and excerpts were of course nice they gave me things to contemplate, but in all honestly it did not give me the insight I was hoping for on this beautiful Saint.

Rating: 3 out of 5

 

 

Genre: Historical FictionSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Goodreads.com

I was hoping more from this short novel! As many of you know or maybe do not I am a lover for history, and historical fiction whether it deals with romance or not I am a sucker for. Also, from the back cover it seem so interesting, a middle of the road leaning more towards Tory side deals with a son who becomes a Patriot and the other son tries to decide what is best choice. It sounded interesting, but actually….

I could not stand reading the book, I finished it, but I will never pick it up again. I will keep it in my collection for others in the household (like my husband or our future kids) to read, but not me. Why you might ask? First, it felt unrealistic to me, or maybe not realistic enough. I use the best example of last month’s other short novel Dear America book. It had hope, but could not make it for me. This book as well as the other book I mentioned lacked realism for me, but also it seem never bring the history of that time to me either.

The boy, Tim who seem very intelligent felt dumb in regards of everything, the author mentions newspaper he would read, but his decision-making was almost stupid. Plus, I felt there was really no true interaction with the family at all. Tim, who wanted to understand things should have done what most children do, listen in on his parents’ conversations or others who he had come to know because his parents pub.

Another thing it felt at times it would rush and then die in the plot. Though others might disagree with me, I know this story plot could have been.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Genre: Historical FictionSource: Goodsread.com

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Goodsread.com

This historical fiction novel was realistic to me! I remember reading this book oh-so-long-ago maybe back in high school or middle school. (I cannot remember!) Anyways, when I was going through the library I found this book in the teen section. I had to read it again!

Based on the author’s father’s account during WWII this story by far out of the two historical fictions for teens I read last month. The author was not watering anything down and you felt the emotions that the main character was going through. I am a crybaby and so there were many times I had to stop reading so I could cry it out and then move on.

I would say that this story is a story many who as in current military action can relate to in a way. They may not have or will go through the same experience, but understand the character’s decisions and actions. I would highly recommend anyone from the ages of 16+ to read this book, especially if you wish to find a good book to understand WWII and Occupation France.

Rating: 5 out of 5

 

Genre: Historical FictionSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Goodreads.com

Back in 2011 or 2012, maybe Em can confirm this I went with Em and my future husband to see an outdoor play in German Village (Columbus, Ohio). I had never attended one of these and so, it was going to be an interesting experience. The play was based on a book (I later found out) titled: The Scarlet Pimpernel.

After the play I would not come across another version of the book, but this time on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) which was a great adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel. Yet, I had not read the book. Finally last month while going through Books-A-Million (I love that store) I found the novel. I had to get it and so, I purchased the book and read it.

What did I think of it?

I loved it! I had seen the play and the movie adaptation so I had a picture of what it was about, but I still found it interesting. It was a fast read for me, but it is one of those novels that if you wish to just go and sit waiting for the doctor this is the book to take. I found myself really wanting to read more of the adventures the Scarlet Pimpernel, how he saved more of those from near death, just because they were from the aristocratic line.

Some will not like that much, such people as Em (who I highly regard when it comes to books to read, she is great at find those great books!). Yet, I would recommend it great for those 12+ up to read. It gives this a dash of what was going on in France and then afterwards try to find the movie adaptations I think made in 1930s or go see the play, especially outdoors that was fun!

Rating: 5 out of 5

Genre: Historical FictionSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Goodreads.com

Em, one of the co-founders of TBG I remember recommending me to reading The Shoemaker’s Wife. I had seen reviews about it and in fact wanted to, but at the time I did not have money to buy the book and certainly since I was moving soon, I was not wanting to borrow from the local library. Finally, while I was searching through the temporary housing of the Base Library there it was. I grabbed it and well…

Have I mentioned I am crybaby? If I haven’t you, the readers should know about this. I am very emotional person, it comes with all the holding of my emotions to life experiences that when reading a book it just help me to let it all out! The Shoemaker’s Wife was highly detailed and I felt I was actually walking with the characters through their lives as it was told.

What made me the crybaby was a lot of time the main character, Ciro would remind me of my great-uncle who passed away last year. I took care of him and sometimes when he would tell stories of his life I soaked them in. Ciro in attitude and sometimes his decisions reminded me of Darrell. And the female character reminded me sometimes of myself with certain situations, but most especially at the end of the book.

I do not want to spoil it for everyone, because it just that good of a book. Recommended age for this book though I would sit at age 17+.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Genre: Historical Fiction/Re-make AustenSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Historical Fiction/Re-make Austen
Source: Goodreads.com

I know for many and for certain good friends (Em you know I am talking about you) we are absolutely picky about “What Ifs” and “the story continues” of Jane Austen novels. There are reasons because of this. One of those main reasons is the characters themselves can sometimes be changed drastically by an author, which would then kill what made us love the character in the beginning. In a way, The Truth About Mr. Darcy has that problem.

I cannot say I disliked the novel itself, more of the problem was I cannot see it as a Lizzy and Mr. Darcy novel. If it was not to be based upon the beloved novel it would get a higher rating, but being that it is I cannot but lower the rating. Mr. Darcy’s character is probably the main issue, the other is Lizzy’s character. While this is to appeal to more modern audience (yes, there is sex involved) Lizzy acts more like Lydia. (I cannot help but shake my head) And, Mr. Darcy, that loveable nature we see that he shows in the second half of the famous novel is too out there and too quick.

I liked the way the beginning began, it worked and was looking to be a good read and then BAM their character changed drastically. I think many would laugh, but I had to finish the book by making it out they were not Lizzy and Darcy, but came up with other names for them. That is just sad, it could have been a good adaptation of P&P.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Genre: History/AmericanSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: History/American
Source: Goodreads.com

I am a lover of history, recently thanks to books like “John Adams”, “Dearest Friend”, and then “The Dreamer” the American Revolution has become a central love again. Really when taught in school revolution they spoke of the same battles, mainly the ones with General Washington and that was most it.

This particular book, though most of the information I have read before I still found an interesting read for the history lover. I learned a little more about some of the other generals, but also learned about other battles and skirmishes throughout the Revolutionary War.

I would have liked to learn more about Knowlton’s Rangers (which thanks to Lora Innes I constantly look for things about Nathan Hale and Thomas Knowlton) and also I would have liked to learn more about the only Catholic signer of the Declaration (which they just mention by name and nothing else). Of course John Adams was mentioned, but alas never given as much credit as he is in his biography by David McCullough.

I would still recommend reading this book especially if you love learning about the American Revolutionary War, it gives some great insights, and it is not really bias, more to the point very factual in nature.

For the average reader, it might bore you, because it is not in detail description of battles and the likes (which you cannot expect in every books you come across)

Rating: 4 out of 5

What Nikita Read: February 2013

Hello Readers! I hope your February went by quickly! This was supposed to be written on the first of March, but with Pope Benedict XVI last day as Pope and a sinus cold I was unable to get this out until now.

Goodreads is such an addictive site, I mean it is a good site, but addictive (Everyone needs to check it out!). When I fully decided that this year I would make a low goal for my reading of 2013 I would either reach it or overcome the number. As it happened I was in a good start last month with nine books read; this month I read fourteen books! I am very impressed with myself.

So what did I read?

Genre: ReligiousSource: Goodreads.com

Genre: Religious
Source: Goodreads.com

 

At the beginning of February I finished a book that I had tried last year to read. Three to Get Married is a very deep, but beautiful book by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. It was one of the books that everyone I knew said to read, especially great for those getting married.

As I mentioned it took me a LONG time to finish this book. It is not because Archbishop Sheen is terrible at writing; for it is quite the opposite his writing was beautiful. And it was not that he did not know what he was talking about (if you have ever seen his television show you can understand he knows what he is talking about). I think what made me take so long in finish this book was I did not understand all the terminology.

This book while is amazing and hits just right in the understand of mutual love in a marriage, but to remind yourself that you are not living for yourself but for each other and for God. I feel this book if you wish to read it you must have a firm stance on the terminology he uses, but a firm understanding of the theology and teachings of the Church.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

Source: JuliaQuinn.com

Source: JuliaQuinn.com

 

You have read readers my love for the author Julia Quinn so I will be kind to your eyes and brain for my praises of this woman’s work. Right before the Lenten Season this year I made a bet I would be able to read all the Bridgerton books before Ash Wednesday. I did succeed!

Julia Quinn normally writes books in series, so this set of stories was about a family with eight children and how they found love. I find if you wish to start reading her work, starting with her first book Splendid is wonderful, but I would highly recommend these books first.

It is difficult for me to pick my favorite book in the series, because I love all the characters! They are so funny (My favorite line is either Anthony, the eldest saying he was done with marrying off his sisters his only hope is that all his daughters will convert to Catholicism and become Nuns or Anthony saying “Oh hell, she has the mallet of death” when they are going to be playing the Bridgerton version of past-time game), have a wit about them, and so loyal and loving to each other. There is only one of the books (When He was Wicked) I am not a big fan of so I did skipped it when I vowed to read the series. I have read it once and never really wanted to pick it back up. It is not a bad story, but not for me.

Anyways, think of this family like the seven brothers from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. (Yes the children are names alphabetical order *giggles*) The books do not start out in order of the age of the children (Book One and Two are not in order). You will see ties of the other books in the series, which is always fun for me.

I highly recommend these books, you will find yourself laughing more than you would think you should.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Genre: ReligiousSource: Catholicworldreport.com

Genre: Religious
Source: Catholicworldreport.com

Even before Papa Benedict XVI’s announcement of stepping down from the Papacy, I had already decided for Lent I would read all of Jesus of Nazareth Series. Afterwards, I believe because Papa’s announcement it furthered my determination to get through the books.

The first of the series I had yet to finish, I was just not getting half way in the book. I was quite displeased with myself because I was not hating the book, I just was being slow. Of course some and many will say because Benedict XVI is very deep. That is true, but I just do not believe that was the reason. I think it was because I felt I had little time to actually contemplate what I was diving into.

So, on Ash Wednesday I began back at the beginning of Jesus of Nazareth Book One. It was completely outlook that the previous attempts to read this book. I found myself hearing Papa’s voice as I read. It was as if I was being placed in a classroom with him giving us a lecture. This trend of thought was the same as I went through both Book Two and Three.

One thing I also noticed is my love for the way he writes, it is very similar to the way St. Thomas wrote his Summa. Where there are many questions in the chapter and Papa was giving two different view points (or more than two) which he then gave the commentary of how it was against what is not just his opinion, but the teaching of the Church.

Book One and Two were thick books, but the thinnest was the third book, which focused on the Infant Narratives. Now, for many there is nothing new in this department that he is writing about, but I actually found myself liking the book. Papa gives a different look at something we know with the Narratives.

Rating: 5 out 5

Genre: Historical FictionSource: Amazon.com

Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Amazon.com

During the Week (Monday through Saturday) I read almost not secular books (I do read some comics/mangas, but not enough to worry), but during Sunday I read at least one secular book. You might be asking yourself why, well simply it is a little Easter and so technically Lent does not fall on the Sundays. But, it is also because I have books from the Library and I want them done so I can turn them back in.

So, one of those Secular books is going back to my childhood. I was a huge fan of Dear America and American Girl series. When I went to NWS library (Base Library) and saw this book, I picked it up and knew I wanted to read it.

Recently I have been craving fiction books of some kind dealing with the American Revolutionary War, it might be because of the comic I read. Yet, I think it is because I love historical fiction in general, always have. Many a nights I have even come up many historical fiction stories to help me sleep.

While as I mentioned I love these series, I was a little bummed by this one. I have no idea why, maybe it is because I feel there could have been more to it than what was written. I know in a sense this is just a diary, but I do not know. It made me feel like I was still hungry. I feel one of the other Dear America books dealing with the Revolutionary War might be a little better.

Rating: 3 out of 5

At the end of this month I really focused on reading as many of the books written by Pope Benedict XVI so the last two books are written by him.

Genre: ReligiousSource: Logos.com

Genre: Religious
Source: Logos.com

Genre: ReligiousSource: mustardseed.org.au

Genre: Religious
Source: mustardseed.org.au

 

These two books were sermons and papal audiences of Papa’s on the subjects than actually in-depth books.

What It Means to Be a Christian is actually from 1965 before he was Papa! It was a difficult read for me because I felt it was too short and not as deep as his other pieces. It did shine through some good points about being Christian. So, even if it is short and blah I would recommend reading it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Great Teachers was very interesting because it his Papal Audiences that focus on his reflection on Saints who really helped with the foundation of the Church. I will say that he is truly a man who loves both Dominicans and Franciscans because he largely wrote about St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure.

These writings are really great ways of understanding not only great Saints, but also their influence one the teachings of the Church.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Well that is all for this month, hopefully there will be a better review post for the month of March.

Happy Readings,

Nikita

What Nikita Read This Month: January 2013

Hello Readers, this is one of the co-founders of “Three Bookish Girls” we have been hiatus for a while. Reasons or excuses it does not matter. I was hoping to bring this back up especially now since I am not even living near the other two co-founders. This is a way to not only give you the readers a chance to get some great read material for your life, but for Em, Camille, and I to see what each other is reading maybe find a way to make this book club in the ideas and core of the initial making of the club.

One thing I am hoping I can do almost every month is write a blog posting of all the books I have read and give a little brief summary of my thoughts of each book. So, without further excuses…..

This month I made a point to make a more realistic goal for 2013 and that decision was to read twenty-five books this year. I know that is such as small number, yet I think I work better with low numbers and over-exceed the number. Have you ever made a too high goal and then you over-stress about it? That would be me.

The fruits of this idea have been in my favor so far. I have read nine books in between all the moving, unpacking, cleaning, date nights, and cooking. I am quite proud of myself too. A few took me longer than the others, but all the same I averaged a book a day.

Genre: Historical Romance

Genre: Historical Romance

Most readers would say, “You read Romance novel?” I sadly can say I do, but I am quite picky (about as picky as I am about food). I would like to thank my aunt who got me involve in reading romance novels, but it also my aunt who helped me find the right kind romance novels.

What do I mean by that? Simply put, there are those romance novels which is nothing but porn in written word to which I cannot stand and then there are actually stories that have a plot, character development, and yes, sex. But those stories do not go heavily on sex. There are few authors who do this, where you can skip sex scenes and you still have a story.

One of those authors is none other than Julia Quinn. Mrs. Quinn was my first romance author that I read; instantly I fell in love with her way of writing dialogue. Not only dialogue but also her ability to write that amazing time period to a modern audience without it becoming more of a modern tale and not a historical story. Her characters are not those copy and paste stereotypical, but each have similarities to the other, but unique in their own way of handling different situations.  

Alright, I need to stop raving about this wonderful author and actually talk about the book. The Lady Most Willing is Julia Quinn’s second installment of “a novel in three parts”. What is that? Well in brief instead of three authors writing individual stories based on a common theme these three novelist wrote one plot, but put their own twists with the characters they chose to write about. I find it fun because one I have never seen a book done that way so well (unless it is a biography or non-fiction book), but two you can never truly tell who wrote what.

The Lady Most Willing is about a Scottish Lord who has no male heirs and his two nephews are being pain in the butts about getting married and having children so he takes it into his own hands. How? By going to a neighboring castle to which he knew that there will be a ball with good quality ladies there (for his nephews to pick) and kidnap them. Of course the Lord kidnaps a few ladies, but the twist comes when he grabs three ladies (the three he wanted) then one Scottish lass by accident who has no connection; then to top it off: a very angry duke who was kidnapped just because he fell asleep in his coach and the Scottish Lord stole it. Oh did I mention they are snowed in, the Scottish Lord is either lucky or very smart!

This book is funny and witty, especially in the dialogue. It took me just eight hours altogether to read the book, probably less if I had not stopped. I think many people would turn away from this book because it is a Historical Romance, but I tell you it is a good book that if you take the sex (the actually sex scenes, think there is two MAYBE) you still got a story.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Genre: Historical Non-Fiction

Genre: Historical Non-Fiction

My husband bought me this book; he knows how much I love history. But, the other reason he bought it was he knew I have been looking for information about four forgotten graves that are in the Alexandria National Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia.

Who is buried in those four graves? Who would care? Let me answer the first question by saying these four graves are the four men who lose their lives chasing John Wilkes Booth and his companion, David Harold. They are forgotten in history books and story-tellers of the chase. It was by chance reading the plaque that I had learned about the four men. I have since December 2008 researching to figure out: how they died, why are they not know, who they were. Loads of questions and no answers. This book was my hope to shred light on them.

Alas, after the small book no details of their death were made or even mentioned. Though I found no evidence of their deaths the book was in fact very interesting. It brings to life the plot (both the failed attempt JWB did before he thought of assassinate Lincoln), the shot, the chase, but also brings to life the other almost assassinations that night and the heroic actions that took place.

Finally thought on the book was it takes away much of the lore of Lincoln’s assassination and JWB. I would like to read the actual non-fiction book this book was just a summary for. Maybe I will find what I was looking for.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Genre: Fiction

Genre: Fiction

I try not to dislike reading a book, but this one book was not my best choice in reading. The Pub Across The Pond by Mary Carter was bought while I was at the Dublin Irish Festival (Dublin, Ohio). I met the author and my copy is an autographed copy.

The plot was interesting, a woman buys a raffle to win a pub in Ireland while she was attending the Dublin Irish Festival in Ohio. She has bad luck and knew she would not win, but her luck has changed for now she is the owner of the Pub. The Pub was made into a raffle because the owner (former owner’s eldest son) decided to gamble his pub in a hand of cards with his uncle. Her story of how she learns to deal with the community not wanting her to own the pub and her feelings about the former owner’s son.

Like I mentioned while the plot was interesting it (the book) did not in my opinion hold up to the plot. One of the big factors was the lack of character development  I felt some of the characters and their parts in the story were either too rushed, too much, or not enough. It was like a cut of the character when the character was finally developing.

Finally, while the description was okay I never felt I was sucked into Ireland or even in the scenes.

Rating: 3 out 5

Genre: Religion

Genre: Religion

This book was part of my ongoing studies with St. Catherine of Siena Dominican Laity Chapter. I was never able to read it all, for reasons that are stupid now. So this month I made a promise to finish this book.

One thing most who I know and who read Scott Hahn’s books he really focuses much of his work on explaining God’s Covenant. One thing that does cause is sometimes he repeats himself from one book to the next. Which is fine when you are making a point. But, sometimes I feel I have read it before from another book Hahn wrote.

While this book was really great in helping me understand how the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. I do think he kept going into circles (that is what my husband calls it).

I would still recommend this book, especially to understand God’s Covenant with His people and how God has never broke his Covenant.

Rating: 4 out 5

Genre: Fiction

Genre: Fiction

Back in High School I read To Kill a Mocking by Harper Lee and fell in love with the book. For those who have not read this book, please read this one!

The story revolves around a little girl growing up in a small town in the South during the Great Depression. Harper Lee has the ability to write a story and you can jump into that small town. The story of the innocence of Scout and the outlook of her journeys are amazing.

Of course I must say who cannot love her dad, Atticus. There are days when I was a teenager and going through the trials of pulling away from my own daddy that I wanted Atticus as my dad. But, I can say I can see Atticus in my dad.

One of the most important thing about this book is Harper Lee exposes the prejudice and racism of the south. The mindset of that time period and how injustice could be made so easily. And it all is shown through the eyes of a little girl.

If you, the readers do not mind I would like quote my favorite quote from the whole book:

People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Genre: Fiction

Genre: Fiction

In 2006 I was able to watch Hayao Miyazaki’s version of “Howl’s Moving Castle”. After watching the film I commented many times to those who wanted to watch a great animated film to watch that one for the story-line was so amazing, but the characters were GREAT! It was a few years later that I saw the novel and instantly I had to have it. I read it the day I got it and could never put it down. I could see that world that Miyazaki put in drawings.

This month I decided to re-read the book since it has been so long. Howl’s Moving Castle is a story about a young woman, Sophie who described as plain and boring, but wants to do something in her life, but because she is the eldest and like a pushover she is always placed into a corner.

As the story goes on Sophie meets with the Witch of the Waste and turns Sophie into a ninety-year old woman. Sophie leaves her home to find how to break the curse placed on her. While on her journey she come to the Moving Castle which is the famous wizard Howl’s.

I really do not want to ruin any of the plots, but I highly recommend this imaginative novel for any age and when you finish go watch Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle”. You won’t regret it!

Rating: 5 out 5

Genre: Teen Fiction

Genre: Teen Fiction

When I told my little sister that I loved the book Running Out of Time when I was in elementary School she would hand me a book titled, Turnabout by the same author. And autographed too!

This book was one of those books that reminds me of why I was so much against cloning. Story is about a woman who is part of an experiment that would make you young. Sounds fine right? No, instead of stopping at a certain age she will keep getting younger until what, not even she knows. What is worst is every year she turns a year younger, she loses memories of her “old” life.

Now she and one other woman who turn the same serum must find a way to keep themselves out of the lab, but who will take care of them when they are wearing diapers.

One of my favorite things about this book is the woman’s memory books, which she wrote when she learned that she would be losing memories of her “old” life every year she turned back.

I cried most through it, because so many people if they could would become a part of something like this, but never think about what the cost is for them.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Genre: Fiction

Genre: Fiction

In 2011 Brian Jacques passed away. When I had learned about this, I remember the book he wrote back in the nineties titled, Martin the Warrior. I decided to hunt down that book and re-read it.

Martin the Warrior is about a young warrior mouse who is captured and placed into Slavery. Rose, mousemaid is looking for her brother when she and her companion, Grumm meet Martin who had been punished for defy authority. Their journey to save all those enslaved by the Tryant and how Martin becomes who is Martin, the Warrior.

The book took me much longer than I had expected. I do believe the reason it took so long was the dialogue. Jacques has a brilliant way of capturing the dialects, but it can take time to read. I had to read over most of the dialogue, especially Grumm, the Mole and the Searats. Jacques was capturing the way they spoke not what they were saying in a way.

Just to mention this book is part of Jacques’ series Redwall. This is actually the last book of the series. Some would think I would have went in order. But, I think this book in all honestly will help me when I read the other Redwall books to understand more of why Martin does what he does.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Genre: Religion

Genre: Religion

Finally, the last book has to be one of the favorite new books I have read. Style, Sex, & Substance in as the cover says, “10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter”. My husband bought me this book while we went for the first time to the Catholic Bookstore in Charleston. Women like: Hallie Lord, Jennifer Fulwiler, Anna Mitchell, Simcha Fisher, Elizabeth Duffy are some of my favorite Catholic writers/bloggers. To read such work done by them in a book I could not pass it up.

Each chapter deals with something that most women go through, but the trick is how do we as, Catholic women handle it. I found a lot of their advice really helpful especially now that I am married. In these next few lines I would like to quotes these lovely ladies. I think I have favorite quotes in every chapter even well almost:

Jennifer Fulwiler

This is what I learned: To uncover your unique brand of holiness, you have to sift your God-given quirks and talents from your sins

Hallie Lord

But this much I know: We women have to got to find a way to be merciful toward ourselves without completely throwing in the towel; to surrender to the hard times while still fighting for our ideals; and to remain open to God’s grace while accepting that sometimes that grace isn’t going to look and feel how we might hope. 

Karen Edmisten

We’re proudly pope-loving, sterilization-eschewing, Eucharist-adoring, confession-going, twenty-first-century Catholic specimens of femininity who buck societal norms and balk at contemporary expectations. Yeah, we’re the face of the new rebellion.

Rebecca Ryskind Teti

In stressing the spiritual maternity of all women, the Church is neither imposing physical motherhood on anyone nor forbidding women to have careers. It’s simply standing up for women against those who would force them to be just like men (by devaluing motherhood) and those who would reduce them to baby machines (by valuing only physical maternity).

Rachel Balducci

Good friends build each other; they don’t bring each other down.

Danielle Bean

I’d like to say I have always handled the tough times as a model of maturity, leaning hard on the graces God gives us in the sacrament of marriage. But, I’d also like to not be a liar. 

Barbara R. Nicolosi

Our challenge is to baptize the goods of technology the way Christians through the ages have always entered into culture; finding what is good or neutral there and utilizing it for evangelization.

Well that is all that I have for this month, I am reading a book right now but I know that I will not have finished until the month of February.

Happy Reading