Favorite Books of 2018

Reading has slowed down significantly as the holiday season arrived.  Plus, I’ve been spending a good portion of my time in November putting together furniture.  Still, I thought it would be fun to look back over the books that received five stars.  I definitely saw some trends that I thought I would share with you.  All of the links will send you to my reviews of each book.

Favorite New Author:  This year, I started following Victoria “V.E” Schwab on social media.  I had heard of her books, and that people really loved them.  So, I started with The Archived series, which I checked out of the library.  I absolutely loved both The Archived and The Unbound.  Which led me to pre-order her new middle-grade book, City of Ghosts, which I again, of course, loved.

Favorite YA Books: In addition to the above books, I also really loved a few newer authors, as well as a couple of authors I was already familiar with their writing.  Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi introduced me to a new African mythology, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was a poignant and beautiful contemporary novel about grief and racism.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Thunderhead (the second book in the Scythe series) by Neal Shusterman and Library of Souls (the third book in Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series) by Ransom Riggs.  I’ve read Unwind by Shusterman many years ago, which I liked.  I’ve also been reading Riggs’ series for a couple of years now and plan to read this next book (which I already own) Map of Days that continues the story of his Peculiar series.

Favorite Adult Books: All of the adult authors I enjoyed this year were new to me.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was an impulse buy that I really enjoyed and probably prompted more impulse buying this year than I have in a long time.  How to Stop Time by Matt Haig made me tear up at the end.  It actually answers the question of how to stop time through this fictional, magical story.  And What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty was a surprise because it wasn’t the main story that made me love it so much, but the subplot of her sister and infertility that kept me turning the pages (and I think I cried at the end of this one, too).

Favorite Non-fiction/Memoir: Kathy Khang’s book Raise Your Voice is a perfect narrative of this moment in history.  It challenged the reader to face the excuses used to stay quiet when we need to speak up.  And on a completely different level, Anne Bogel’s book, I’d Rather Be Reading, was a perfect collection of essays for any reader to relate to.

All of these authors have inspired me in so many different ways and prompted me to see life from new perspectives.  I think they have all taken a part in shaping me this year, and I look forward to seeing what new favorites will come into my life next year!

What are some of your favorites? 


The Immortal Series: A review

When I went through my books earlier this year, I came across this series.  I started the series several years ago, but I never finished it.  So, I decided I would start purchasing the books and read all the way through the series as part of my summer goals.  I got every book but the last one by the beginning of June and dug in (I borrowed the last one from the library).

Spoilers ahead.

The first book introduces Ever, a girl who loses her family in a tragic car accident and gets shipped off to live with her aunt.  When she wakes in the hospital after that accident, she finds out that she has psychic powers, including the ability to see her dead sister.  At her new school, she meets Damen who reveals that not only are they soulmates, but he made her immortal at the scene of that car accident.

Lots of conflicts and other characters ensue.  I won’t go heavily into the stories of the other books.  Basically, Book one was good, Book two was okay.  Book three I wanted to throw across the room because Ever made the same stupid mistake that she makes in book two.  Book four was just annoying.  Book five was better.  And Book six literally wraps up every single loose end from every other one of the books.

I liked the first book because of the ideas of alchemy and past lives.  I thought that the other books would dig deeper into these past lives, and I love a good historical fiction.  But I feel like the past lives were just a means to an end.  There were a couple of quips about the differences (like medieval times didn’t use toilets…so different!), but it was just so shallow.

The themes finally came out in the last book, which helped me to appreciate the journey, but not as much as I would have liked.  The idea that we live in abundance and not scarcity was a good one and that we should make our choices out of living in abundance That our soul is immortal and that we shouldn’t hold onto our physical self so tightly, knowing that there is more eternal meaning to our life, I can agree with that, too.  But the rest of it got really new age-y, maybe even too much for me.

There was a whole love triangle (there were more than one, actually, but I’m talking about the main one) that I did not agree with.  The “loser” of the triangle I thought should have been the soulmate, and I think the author didn’t do a good job to convince me otherwise, even though there were chapters and chapters of explanation.  It just wasn’t a very good explanation.  Of course, this could probably be true for a lot of YA love triangles.  I just happened to be on the dissenting side this time.  And I feel like out of all the loose ends, this guy’s end wasn’t tied up very well, either.

I feel like I also need to address the fact that sex is a major theme in the book.  The two main characters are unable to consummate their love for much of the story (with some really weird exceptions), and while I think the author was trying to create tension, I don’t think it was very well done.

I feel like the book could have been better in a trilogy, not six books.  The author seemed to draw things out just for the sake of making more money by selling more books than what was necessary.  It just made the plot more tedious to me.  As far as any graphic violence or sexual content, it’s not really there, but it’s very heavy on the new age aspects.  The if I just believe hard enough I can manifest anything for myself, which I don’t think goes well with my own Christian beliefs of struggle and dependence on God and not self.

I give it two out of five stars for the series itself.  You could almost read the first and last books and enjoy the series just as well.  It’s prompted me to get rid of any book series where I just bought the first book and enjoyed it.  I may go back some day and read those other book series, but for now, I’m going to focus on my growing present book-et list.

Turning the Office Into a Library

I have always had a list of things that I’ve wanted to do in our house.  Lately, Michael and I have been watching seasons of Fixer Upper since it showed up on Hulu, and that has sparked some conversations between whether or not we wanted to move or focus on renovating in our current home.  After a lot of thought, and a lot of time on Zillow and Houzz, we decided to stay where we are for now and focus our energy here.

So, Michael told me that I need to create a bucket list of things I want to do to the house.  A lot of it will require some research and planning, but one thing was just going to require some elbow grease and rearranging.  And that was moving the bookshelves upstairs into my office and creating a library.

This room has gone through a lot of transitions.  First, it was my office and craft room.

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I don’t know what I was thinking with the camo walls.  I also had a little library there in the original room.

In 2013, we decided to combine both of our offices, and I took that opportunity to do a complete overhaul.  I painted the desks white, the walls gray, and I covered the chair to match the new office space.  016.JPG

I actually wrote more about this transformation here, and there is a video room tour.

But what I’ve always wanted was a library.  Originally, the downstair front room was the library, but with Michael’s growing aquarium hobby, it was getting a bit cramped. Michael hasn’t worked from this desk upstairs in over a year, so we decided to forgo that office space and turn my office into more of a library, giving Michael more room downstairs for his aquarium things.  It’s the best of both worlds!


So, I didn’t start taking pictures before I had already done some of the work.  I moved the chair and my office chair out of the room and began wiping down the baseboards and vacuuming as I moved things around.  Wiping down baseboards make such a difference to me.  It makes the room look clean, even if the baseboards need to be touched up (and they do, but that’s a different project and a much bigger one since all of our house’s baseboards probably need to be touched up).


You will also notice that I have an oversized crate in the picture.  I use that crate for various things like behavior fosters from the SPCA or the occasional pet-sitting client (Depending on what that dog is comfortable with.  Sometimes, they come with their own crate or sleeping arrangement).  The crate was moved downstairs into a new space, and Michael’s desk chair and the white bookshelf moved out of the room altogether to make space for the new library.

And here is the finished product!


I moved my desk in front of the window so that it helps with any video conferences I do (like the summer bible study I’m doing right now).  I also hope to make more spontaneous videos in the future and I know that this will enable to do that because I don’t have to work out some weird set up for lighting.  I can just make it at my desk!


And I love my little reading nook.  In April, one of my goals was to organize my books.  I got rid of a lot of them, and Michael was surprised that we actually don’t have a whole lot of books.  None of the bookshelves are extremely full.  That’s not to say that it will stay this way, but for right now, I like the way it all turned out.  Very happy with my new library!

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Do you have any house projects that you completed this summer, or are hoping to complete?