On My Bookshelf: My 2015 Reads

Cozystyle 2015 Books I Read Image

Happy 2016!  I can hardly believe we’ve started a new year, much less that it’s almost the middle of January.  It’s been awhile since I posted, so I wanted to pop in and also share that I will be posting on a regular basis going forward.  I have tons of things to share, but I thought I’d start the year off by posting about what I read in 2015.

So, last year I set a goal (Goodreads challenge) of reading 25 books, basically the same goal I’ve set the past few years.  But, I really wanted to focus on good books – books I really enjoyed and wasn’t feeling like I had to slog through.

During the holidays (2014) we watched The Red Tent on tv.  I’d had the book on my bookshelf for years, literally, and had never read it.  I’m so grateful that the mini series reminded me that this book had sat for far too long unread and I decided to pick up the book and start it on January 1st.  A friend was going to read along as well so that we could discuss the book.  The book is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.  I loved this book. I loved Dinah’s “voice”. I loved the small details like the Taweret pitcher Benia gives her, the lapis ring of Rachel’s, the widemouthed frog idol, etc. Overall I loved the pivotal role that the community of women plays – sharing, teaching, loving, comforting, grieving with each other.  This book left me with a similar feeling as from The Mists of Avalon or The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I highly highly recommend it.

The next book I read was the complete opposite end of the spectrum – Fifty Shades of Grey.  This was actually a re-read for me.  I wanted to read it again before seeing the movie on Valentine’s Day.  I enjoyed visiting Christian Grey again and if you’d like to check out my previous post on this series, you can find that here.  As for the movie, I’m glad I went to see it and thought it was well done.  My only comment is that I wanted Christian to have a little more…something.  More fire to him?  I only re-read the first book, I imagine I would re-read the others if/when movies are released.

Next up I decided to pick up Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  I was gifted this book in December and after reading Attachments, I was really anxious to read Fangirl.  I loved this book.  I loved that it was about writing fan fiction, particularly since I’d just finished reading Fifty Shades (originally fan fiction) and I’d spent a good amount of time immersed in the world of reading fan fiction.  I can’t say enough good things about her books, her characters, and specifically in this one her stories within a story. I really enjoy Rowell’s writing and will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.

After Fangirl, I moved on to a book that Eric had picked up on one of our trips and enjoyed so he recommended it to me, particularly since it had to do with art and archaeology.  He was right, I did enjoy it.  This book is actually part of a series and I haven’t read the other books in the series, but I think this book can stand on its own.   I didn’t feel I was missing anything from not having read the others.  I enjoyed this book and following the story from the Vatican to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and all the twisting turns in between.  Coincidentally, at the same time I was reading this book we were watching a show called Dig that was excellent and had a lot to do with some of the same subject matter and focused on the Temple Mount.  If you missed the show when it was on, I highly recommend it.  Anyway, I will probably read more books by Silva in the future, likely circling around to read the other books in this series.

Next up I read Sublime by Christina Lauren.  I have read several other books from them (the Beautiful series and Sweet Filthy Boy, the first book in their Wild Seasons series), in the adult romance genre and thoroughly enjoyed them, so I was anxious to see how their first YA book was.  Sublime is a beautifully haunting and romantic ghost story, and it did not disappoint!

Sublime

After finishing Sublime, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to read.  I dug around on my shelves and came across the last book that my friend Missy had loaned me/recommended.  So far from her I’d read a couple of the Charlaine Harris Sookie Stackhouse series, the Stacia Kane Downside Ghosts series (my post on those here), and Stacia Kane’s Megan Chase series (no post yet – coming soon!).  I’d put off reading Kushiel’s Dart because it was the lengthiest of the stack.  But, I decided I was ready for something a bit more substantial.  I ended up picking this book up, reading it for awhile, and then setting it aside.  Mostly it was because I was not getting much time to read and this book was involved enough that it did not lend itself to reading it in 5 minute increments.  So, I set it aside for a couple other ebooks that I’ll get to in a minute.  I took a trip to Michigan mid-November and had a flight and a LOT of time in the airport at both ends, which for most folks would be annoying but I was thrilled.  It felt so decadent to do nothing but sit and read for hours.  And because of my long reading stint, I was able to really sink my teeth into the book and really enjoyed it.  Never was I bored with it, never was I uninterested, but the intricacies of the plot, characters, and intrigue required a fair bit of focus which I did not have in great supply. Even after setting it aside for days or weeks at a time though, I never lost the thread of the story. Carey’s debut novel is impressive, and detailed, and shockingly not on every best seller list. I am sure that this book has been passed over by readers due to Phedre being not only a courtesan, but more predominantly an anguisette (deriving pleasure from pain). I think that’s what makes her a much more complex character and understanding her nature is exactly what makes her memorable. I will definitely be reading the next book in the series, and I am sure it will not disappoint.  If you like Game of Thrones, I think you would enjoy this book.

Ok, so I mentioned that I set Kushiel’s Dart aside at a couple of points to read some ebooks.  One was a free ebook called Club Shadowlands.  Meh.  The other was Iced by Karen Marie Moning.  You may have read my post on the Fever series (here if you haven’t), and Iced is a spin off of that series.  Same world, but you are now following Dani O’Malley rather than Mac.  I didn’t love Dani as a character previously, so I honestly never had any interest in reading Iced.  But, the quickest way to get me to read a spin off focused on a character I’m not that into?  Tell me that there’s a new book featuring Mac and Barrons that this one leads into.  KMM surprised me with this book.  It was an enjoyable read and Dani didn’t bug the crap out of me like I thought she was going to.  I feel like I understand her a bit better having been in her head now.  I’m also very curious to see where KMM is going to go with Dani’s character.  She’s far too young for her possible suitors to become anything at this point, but I feel like that’s where we’re headed.  So…maybe she’ll go through some sort of time shift and age several years miraculously?  Who knows, but it was enough to keep my attention anyway.  So, I’d recommend reading Iced…particularly if you want to get to Burned.  *evil grin*

Iced

The last book I read in 2015 was A Discovery of Witches.  I’d had this one on my to be read list for awhile and sitting on my bookshelf for far too long.  I was immediately hooked by “the combination of magic and history” as a friend put it.  As an Art History major, I found Diana’s studies about alchemy and ancient texts (which crosses over into the art history realm) fascinating.  As Diana struggled to learn more about her own history and explore her powers, I found that it was echoing a similar process I’ve been going through (not magical, obviously!) with finding and reacquainting myself with my authentic self.  I cannot wait to read the next book in this trilogy!  This one was another I would highly recommend.

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So, that’s my 2015 year in reading and I’ve got a fun plan for my 2016 reads that I’ll share soon.  Happy reading!

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December in Photos

★ Treated myself to the Shoshanna Amulet from BaubleBar to wear for our annual Eggnog & Dessert party after seeing it here.  I adore this statement necklace.

★ Put the finishing touches on our living room tree and on the blue tree in the hallway.  The lights make me so happy.

★ I’ve been saving this book for December – the perfect book to curl up with on a chilly winter night (it’s My True Love Gave to Me).

★ Lots of baking –  chewy chocolate ginger cookies and orange cranberry mini loaves for our party; cannoli cheesecake for Christmas dinner (my first cheesecake!).

★ Eric took me to an amazingly beautiful display at the Dallas Arboretum of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

★ Participating in a fun book photo challenge and remembering some books from earlier in the year.

★ A holiday isn’t a holiday without a holiday mani!

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July in Photos

July 2014 in Photos

★ Outdoor jazz concert working on the mini quilt for the swap

★ Finished swap mini quilt – so in love with that octopus!

★ Finished my re-read of Interview with the Vampire – my copy is autographed too!

★ Another re-read – this book has been on my mind a lot lately for some reason, so I decided to re-read it.  I absolutely loved this series by Zelazny

★ My ongoing travel project – hexies – perfect summer project Hex on the Beach quilt

★ Catching up on Downton – watched the end of Season 3 and the first two episodes of Season 4.  This show is breaking my heart!

★ New nail polish (365 Days of Polish Running Through Meadows) and new maxi dress

★ Wearing my new infinity scarf – my birthday gift from Sylvia – love it!

★ Started a new book while waiting to board my flight to AZ.  Enjoying the first book in this new series by Christina Lauren.

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December in Photos

December in Photos

 

December was a very emotional month, full of equal parts joy and sadness.  There was a lot of stuff going on that resulted in a lot of stress, upset, etc. in my world.  So I felt a bit like I was balanced on a razor’s edge throughout the holidays.  But, there was definitely a lot of good stuff in December.

Over the months leading up to the holidays, Eric and I spent some time doing some home improvement and a little bit of decorating.  We really wanted to have some things “done” before we had guests over for our holiday party.  One of the big things we did was buy two rugs.  We bought one for the living room back in October, you may remember, and you can see it in the photo of our dessert table.  At the beginning of December, our second rug arrived for the kitchen.  It took us a long time to finally find something we loved, and as you can see Thutmose loves it too!

We also got snow near the beginning of the month, and ice with it, so we were cozied up in the house for several days waiting for it to thaw out so that the roads were passable.  The ice storm put us a little behind in getting our tree, so we were rushing a bit to decorate this year.  Once all the decorating was done though, I always realize how happy the site of a decorated tree lit up makes me.  It’s amazing the transformation everything goes through at this time of year.  Magical!

I worked on some Christmas projects – one was a mystery stitching piece that a part was released each Sunday from Thanksgiving through December 10th or so.  It’s the little nativity scene you can see.  I loved working on it, and most especially I loved that each Sunday I was able to focus on a related Bible verse and really think about the season.  And I also bought the backing fabric for my Christmas quilt so that I could get it finished up.  Those hot cocoa cups just did me in.  So cute!  One of the things I do love about my time off around the holidays is getting to work on some of my crafty projects while I’m home.

We had our dessert party as usual, which was lots of fun.  Of course, I always love picking out recipes for treats I’m going to make so that each year it’s a little bit different.  I loved the vintage look of our Christmas cards too (Target!).  And Thut’s favorite napping spot was on the table with my Dickens Village.  He was so happy there, and every time we would see him, we’d comment that he was scaring the villagers.  So funny!

We took my niece to see the Trains at Northpark at the end of the month, our other annual tradition.  It included lunch at Pie Five and that chicken pesto pizza is to die for!

I also started and finished the last book in the Beautiful series on one decadent Saturday morning, had my very first macaron, and treated myself to a facial.  Such fun!  So, as I said, there were definitely some great moments of joy and peace during the last month of 2013.

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November in Photos

Nov in Photos

November started off with a bang!  The first Saturday I attended a book signing for Christina Lauren for their latest book in the Beautiful series – Beautiful Player.  I’ll have a post up soon on the series and the book signing too, but I finished Beautiful Player shortly after getting it at the signing!  And speaking of books, I also got to go see Catching Fire the night it came out in the theatre – loved it!

I spent some time during the month looking at my in progress craft projects, working on some, and planning for some new things.  One of my big projects towards the end of the month was working on finishing some Christmas ornaments I’d stitched.

Of course, one of the things I was excited about was visiting a local camera store and checking out a variety of camera bags in preparation for my trip to Germany/Paris.  I loved the bright yellow of the one in the photo, but I ended up going with something slightly different.  Post to come on that as well and why I chose what I did.

As the holidays approached, I celebrated with a super blingy manicure – I used my new polish, When Monkeys Fly, over a gold I already had on hand and wowza!!  Eric and I made apple pancakes for breakfast, which is our tradition for Thanksgiving morning, and then watched the parade.  We went to my mom’s for our cozy Thanksgiving dinner and it was really a nice, relaxing day.  So much to be thankful for!

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