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August Book Reviews

One of my personal goals for the year was to challenge myself to read 100 books. Easier said than done even though I love reading, I still have to work, have a life and pursue my other interests as well. I suppose that is why it is a challenge. I did a little spotty math, and if my calculations are correct I have to read eleven books each month for the rest of the year to meet my goal. I’m happy to say for the month of July and August that I have reached that goal! Below I’ve listed the books I’ve read this August with a short review, hope you enjoy!
four ways‘Four Ways to Click: Rewire Your Brain for Stronger, More Rewarding Relationships’ by Amy Banks, Leigh Ann Hirshman, and Daniel J. Siegel left a lot to be desired. Perhaps the audio book format I listened to it in was at fault, but it was dull and un-imaginative. Spend a few minutes brainstorming ways to form relationships and then how to keep them… and you will have this book in a nutshell. The science that is included is frankly boring, which is extremely unfortunate, and the methods of personalizing it for oneself are ridiculous.



Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_Child_Special_Rehearsal_Edition_Book_Cover‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne is a tough one for me. As a HUGE Harry Potter fan I have a hard time accepting this book as canon. If I look at it as fan fiction it is genius. The entire plot is out there with so many holes in the believably of it because of the canon that books 1-7 give us. I feel like the script – I cannot speak for the play not having seen it – lacks the heart and life that J.K. Rowling  gave the books. I am a little loathe to call it the ‘8th story’ but I’ll read it again after a few months to see how I feel. 🙂



pioneer woman‘The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels’ by Ree Drummond is such an entertaining listen on audio book- I’m still thinking about it weeks after having finished it. Basically it is Ree’s love story of how she met, fell in love with, and married her husband. We hear her thoughts, slightly more personal than one might think- but not too much so- from just before she met her ‘Marlbolo Man’ to a little after the birth of their first child. You have to listen to it on Audiobook, Ree narrates it herself and thus it is perfection.



tearling queen‘The Invasion of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #2)’ by Erika Johansen is a fantastic follow up to the first book. I spent much of the beginning of the book a little annoyed at our heroine, while still respecting most of her decisions, but the ending is spot on and wraps up the rest of the novel nicely. I can’t say much without giving the entire plot/ending away so I’ll just say that I’m looking forward to reading the last book in this series due out in November!




crazy love‘Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God’ by Francis Chan is a fantastic and guilt-inspiring book. I would recommend it to a Christian at any stage in their walk because it is eye opening on several levels. It is probably the most convicting spiritual book I’ve ever read. It challenges you and asks you to examine what really matters to you. With that said, it does have some flaws – it is not always gospel centered at heart, and often focuses on the self and not the church. SO read it- but with a grain of salt and in prayer.



love-and-gelato-book-cover‘Love & Gelato’ by Jenna Evans Welsh.  I loved, loved, loved, loved this book. I loved the stuffing out of it. Yes it is a ‘teen’ novel. Yes, it is a typical ‘oh- I really love the boy right in front of me instead of the hunk’ novel. Yes, it is predictable. Despite these things it was fantastic. It reminded me of my trip to Italy in 2007 and made me want to go back SO BAD. It was so stinking cute, and while predictable… but sometimes not- it is interesting in a way that made you want to keep reading. I would actually purchase this novel. Seriously.



margheritas-notebook‘Margherita’s Notebook: A Novel of Temptation’ by Elisabetta Flumeri was not what I was expecting- but in a good way. Judging it by it’s cover (which sometimes works but not in this case) I thought it was a memoir, which I am ALL over. Nope. It was fiction- but not a let down at all because it was a fun read and all the talk of food made me want Italian food. In fact, I’m pretty sure the person who checked this book out from the library before me cooked Italian food while reading it because the pages smelled of basil and Tuscany.



Flyover lives‘Flyover Lives: A Memoir’ by Diane Johnson was such a let down for me. It held such promise with the background of the author coming from the Midwest (home for me) connections with Europe, history and a heavy background on the author’s ancestors. All of these things I am interested in, but it felt so rambling, scattered and worst of all- Johnson comes off as elitist with a heavy dose of ‘I’m the best!’ It started off so well. Bummer.


The Lost Heiress‘The Lost Heiress (Ladies of the Manor, #1)’ by Roseanna M. White was a very well written and interesting work of fiction. I’ve never read a novel by White before but the mix of history, romance and mystery was delightful to read. I was reminded strongly of Anastasia’s story in the plot, but this only added to the story. There are two more novels in this series and I can tell already this would make a fantastic mini-series or even tv show. It is the perfect thing to fill the hole missing now that Downtown Abbey has wrapped up. Somebody call Hollywood!


hillary-clinton-hard-choices‘Hard Choices’ by Hilary Rodham Clinton was very interesting to listen to, and nice to hear her side of how she got to certain places in her life, and the thinking behind decisions she made. It focuses on the time just after she lost the 2008 primary up until her daughter Chelsea has her first child and Clinton is still undecided weather or not to run for president in 2016. I appreciated listening to it on audio book, although I would have loved if Clinton had read the entire novel and not just the forward.


Lady Almina‘Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle’ by Fiona Carnarvon was incredibly interesting to read, and such a fantastic time capsule of Lady Almina’s life and her wonderful impact on Highclere Castle, otherwise known as Downton Abbey. We hear of her support of her husband, how she found her true love of nursing during WWII after opening up their home to convalescing and wounded Veterans, and how her husband- along with Howard Carter discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt. A thoroughly lovely read.



That’s books 43 through 53 of 100! Stay tuned at the end of September for a wrap up of all of the novels I read in the next month!


Click here to see my goals for 2016

You can also see my goals for 20152014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!



July Book Reviews

One of my personal goals for the year was to challenge myself to read 100 books. Easier said than done even though I love reading, I still have to work, have a life and pursue my other interests as well. I suppose that is why it is a challenge. I did a little spotty math, and if my calculations are correct I have to read eleven books each month for the rest of the year to meet my goal. I’m happy to say for the month of July that I reached that goal! Below I’ve listed them with a short review, hope you enjoy!

LOVE-LOSS-AND-WHAT-WE-ATE-Padma-Lakshmi‘Love, Loss, and What We Ate’ by Padma Lakshmi is a beautiful memoir of a very interesting life. My knowledge before reading this book of Lakshmi was contained to watching a few episodes of Top Chef and the occasional celebrity news article. If you are at all interested in her life this is the book to read. I listened to it on Audio book and as it was read by Lakshmi herself it added another level of personalization.



Harry_Potter_and_the_Goblet_of_Fire_Book_4‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ by J.K. Rowling. Up until the seventh book came out this was my favorite. The tasks, and the level of work that had to be done to accomplish (most) of the tasks was incredibly entertaining to read. I feel like this novel starts to shape who Harry will become, and he is really truly tested for the first time at the end of the novel and proves himself strong and worthy. This kid is only fourteen! I also really want to have a go in the Prefect’s bathroom.


Everything Everything‘Everything Everything’ by Nicola Yoon is a book like none other I’ve ever read. It is YA lit, yes- but despite that it has a plotline that sticks with you. Despite the icky ‘first love’ pains, and the computer IM conversations it is fun and quick to read. Not everything is the way it seems- and everyone in the story has something to overcome and learn.




Harry-Potter-And-The-Order-Of-The-Phoenix‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ by J.K. Rowling – is the novel in the series in which we get what I call ‘Caps Lock Harry’ as he yells all the time, (teen angst), he should have been informed a little bit more than he was, and Umbridge, arguably worse than Voldemort. Despite all of that, I absolutely love the plot line of Dumbledore’s Army and how they come to play in later in the series.  Harry is starting to notice girls (that took awhile) – and he and his friends again prove themselves worthy. Also, Harry is vindicated- finally!


Billy-and-Me‘Billy and Me’ by Giovanna Fletcher fell flat for me. I read this book because it was one of Zoella’s summer read recommendations, but I didn’t get what she must have out of it. The start was promising, but the heroine is just so annoying I could never put myself in her shoes. It’s a classic ‘normal girl’ meets ‘celebrity boy’ plot but he has to kiss other girls in his line of work and he doesn’t spend time with her. Instead of talking about her feelings with him it like a normal person I had to put up with the whining for most of the novel. Sheesh.


But Mama always put Vodka in her Sangria!‘But Mama Always Put Vodka in the Sangria!’ by Julia Reed is a collection of short stories and personal memories in each chapter with normally three to five recipes following each one. For this reason it reads quickly. Several of the stories are very interesting, and I made photocopies of some of the recipes to try out later. I spent the first part of the book thinking, who IS this person?! Her life seems so crazy and certainly in the fast lane.  She is a journalist and author, a down home southern cook. This is a book for foodies!


HP and the Half Blood Prince‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ by J.K. Rowling is where Harry starts really learning what it will take for him to defeat Voldemort. Dumbledore teaches him Voldy’s background and just enough to have Harry continue on by himself. Harry, Ron and Hermione have always been a team, but in this book we see that team cemented as one with the goal to defeat Voldemort. Gosh, I love this series.



With Malice‘With Malice’ by Eillen Cook is a book I’m still thinking about over a week since finishing reading it. It is reminesent to me of ‘Foxy Knoxy’s’ story- Amanda Knox, the American girl who was accused of killing her roommate in Italy. The difference with this novel is that Jill wakes up with amnesia, and is shocked to learn that she has already been to Italy and is accused of killing her best friend over a boy. The end. OH MY GOSH. Perfection.



Elizabeth-the-Queen-Smith-Sally-Bedell‘Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch’ by Sally Bedell Smith was a joy to listen to on Audiobook. It is long, but so very interesting. I gained a new understanding of Elizabeth the Second, a steadfast, hardworking woman who values her family, and her commitment to her country. This book covers literally every possible aspect of her time on the throne, from before her coronation up to the wedding of William and Kate. This book gets two thumbs way up from me!


None-Like-Him-Book‘None Like Him’ by Jen Wilkin is a novel explaining the greatness of God, and how no one is like Him- and why that is a good thing. It has some really great nuggets of information, many good parts that make you think, but still many others that made me feel like I was being talked down to like a teacher to a kindegarner, or worse- like a fake friend. I know Wilkin did not intend that to happen, but it was just the voice of the novel. With good editing all of this could have been fixed.


Harry_Potter_and_the_Deathly_Hallows_(US_cover)‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ by J.K. Rowling is my favorite of all of them. It has been knit together from the genius that is Rowling with plot lines and little nuggets from each of the novels. It’s an absolute joy to read, to imagine these incredible things happening, to see the man Harry has become, the solid team the trio has worked to be, and the absolute vindication at the end of the novel.

*Side note, I’m still SO MAD at how they screwed up the end of the war in the movie. Grrrr….

That’s books 32 through 42 of 100! Stay tuned at the end of August for a wrap up of all of the novels I read in the next month!


Click here to see my goals for 2016

You can also see my goals for 20152014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!


Catching up + ALL of the books!! [Review]

Despite all of the best intentions, sometimes life gets in the way. Since my last post I moved myself and my little fur-baby to a house, lost my very dear grandmother and have been going through very good but very stressful changes at work. Needless to say my little blog took a back seat, but I’ve been (mostly) faithfully carrying on with my goals for 2016- just not writing about them here. I have posted a photo a day on Instagram- check them out and maybe follow me if you like at ‘kflakes’! I’ve also been planning excursions, got adventurous with my hair and had it ‘painted’ (balayage), and I’ve been reading like crazy. The rest of this post I’ll devote to mini-reviews of all of the books I’ve read since the last one I talked about in my goal toward 100 this year. In the future I’ll write similar posts monthly, reviewing all of the books I’ve read. Hope you enjoy!

jurassic‘Jurassic Park’ by Michael Crichton- Book 17 of 100 was pretty fantastic. It varies drastically in places from the film we all know and love, but is no less entertaining or lovable. The back story behind the novel is extensive, the dinosaurs have already started to escape- and good gracious, the ending is terrible and poetic all at the same time. This is a must read- and made for a very entertaining book to listen to in the car.



Glass-Sword-Victoria-AveyardGlass Sword (Red Queen, #2) by Victoria Aveyard- Book 18 of 100 was very interesting. In this book the elite class has silver blood and the common folk have red blood. Our heroine Mare Barrow has red blood, but also the powers of a Silver- and incredible powers at that. In the first book she discovered and struggled to cope with the repercussions of that fact. In this novel she discovers she is not the only one to have red blood and silver powers. They basically start a war in this novel, and it’s pretty great. Can’t wait for the next book!


richestThe Richest Man in Babylon by  George S. Clason- Book 19 of 100 is a must read for those wanting to make something of themselves financially and also in their community. The novel holds the key to personal wealth (very simple, really) and is entertaining to boot. A great book to listen to on tape.




accentYes, My Accent is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told YouYes, by Kunal Nayyar- Book 20 of 100 is highly entertaining and intelligent. We see behind the scenes of Nayyar’s life, and he is every bit as lovable as his character Raj on ‘The Big Bang Theory’. We see what it took for him to get where he is, funny stories from his childhood, an entire chapter on his week long wedding festivities and other hilarities. I loved this book, it’s witty and inspiring and a lighthearted read.



FirstlifeFirstlife (Everlife, #1) by Gena Showalter- Book 21 of 100 is an odd duck. I kept going back and forth between loving it and thinking it was terrible. It is basically a tug of war between the two locations for one’s afterlife. Each person is to choose where they want to go before they come of age or they may not get a choice. They may be killed and end up in neither. Both realms, Troika and Myriad will do anything to recruit our heroine Tenly ‘Ten’ – but she has reservations about both. It’s a trip, but at least is fairly original!


The-Life-Changing-Magic-of-Tidying-Up-718x1024The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo- Book 22 of 100 is a helpful if not fairly impractical look at how to clean up the clutter in your home. I imagine it works incredibly well for some, but for someone like me who has borderline horder tendencies- but who also has fantastic organizing and ‘tucking’ skills, it is impractical and unnecessary. If I wanted to live as though my life were on display I would maybe look into it more. 🙂


"Furiously Happy," by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson- Book 23 of 100 is outrageously funny. The novel is essentially a memoir of Lawson’s struggle with mental illness, but don’t let that deter you. It’s an honest, brilliant and clever look at how Lawson handles her illnesses, and the humor that gets her through. There are plenty of stories and side bars that had me in stitches, and others that made me cry. In other words? Perfection.



obsession-by-nora-robertsThe Obsession by Nora Roberts- Book 24 of 100 is one of Robert’s most recent novels and I very much enjoyed it. It follows Naomi, who discovers as a child her father’s darkest secret and makes him infamous. In the present day she settles in a small town only to have her past catch up with her- but she finds roots and a man to love. She finds part of herself and a loving dog as well. The only thing that annoys me is the image on the cover- it makes no sense to me in relation to the story- the view of the sea from her new home would be what I would have showed!


The Crown by Kiera CassThe Crown (The Selection, #5) by Kiera Cass- Book 25 of 100 was a book that I really wanted to like but couldn’t. The writing was subpar, the plot was stagnant, and the relationships seemed forced. I enjoy Cass’ ideas and dedication to the storyline, but it fell short for me again. The idea is a bachelorette style process to find a king for a future queen. Eadlyn is the daughter of the couple featured in the first series Cass released which I really liked, but this one just didn’t work out. It probably would make a much better film or tv show than books.


originals-how-non-conformists-move-the-worldOriginals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam M. Grant- Book 26 of 100 is a hugely popular book. As good as it was though, it was only minimally inspiring for me. I wanted so much more out of it that it didn’t give. The book talks about how to recognize a good idea, speak up, building alliances, choosing the correct timing and managing fear and doubt. It also touches on how to prepare kids and how leaders can get more from their employees. This all sounds great, but I felt like it only skimmed the surface. Maybe it needs a second read.


harry-potter-1Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling- Book 27 of 100 is the first in the Harry Potter series. It is my favorite book series and I decided the time was ripe to read them all again before the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is released July 31st. I love the first novel, showing Harry’s discovery of his magic powers and his introduction into a new world of friends and situations he can control and start to become his own person in. All eleven year olds need to learn how to fight the darkest wizard in history, right?


hp-chamber-of-secretsHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling- Book 28 of 100 is the second in the Harry Potter series. This book makes me laugh because all of the antics and his involvement in the Chamber of Secrets aren’t really required of him- he just has a solving problems thing. These first novels always make me think of how even from a young age he is destined to do what he does and even become an Auror (dark wizard fighter) as an adult.



no fears no excusesNo Fears, No Excuses: What You Need to Do to Have a Great Career by Larry Smith- Book 29 of 100 was a fantastic read. This book is basically a kick in the pants to strive for the future you design for yourself. A huge part of the novel is spent on explaining how a person can stop preventing themselves from holding themselves back- and also find not only a good job, but a career that they love. Something they would do if they weren’t getting paid for it. Inspirational.



hp prisonerHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K Rowling- Book 30 of 100 is the third novel in the series. Many people count this book as their favorite in the series. It introduces Harry to his godfather, a connection to the past he desperately desires. The plot of this novel steps it up entertainment-wise as they continue to do for the rest of the series. It is incredible to me how J.K. Rowling even from the start of the first novel takes things that happen and tie them into the last novel. Goosebumps.


caperThe Corsican Caper by Peter Mayle- Book 31 of 100 was a easy read. Mayle’s books on his personal life are incredible so I decided to pick up one of his fiction stories. This one focuses on a man trying to take another man’s home that falls in love with- through any means he must. It is entertaining listening to how they attempt to stop this from happening, although as a short novel it was hard for the characters to be fully developed, and at times it was confusing as I was listening to it. Overall I enjoyed it, but I prefer his memoirs.

That’s books 17 through 31 of 100! Stay tuned at the end of July for a wrap up of all of the novels I read in the meantime! Read all the reviews here.


Click here to see my goals for 2016

You can also see my goals for 20152014, 2013, 2012 and my bucket list!

Book 1. Wake Up Happy by Micheal Strahan

Book 2. Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke

Book 3. The Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

Book 4. Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed

Book 5. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Book 6. Binge by Tyler Oakley

Book 7. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Book 8. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

Book 9: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

Book 10: The Siren by Kiera Cass

Book 11: Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Book 12: Rhinoceros Success by Scott Alexander

Book 13: Quidditch Through The Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp (J.K. Rowling)

Book 14: Wildflower by Drew Barrymore

Book 15: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Book 16: The Moviegoer by Walker Percy