Tag Archives: Jaclyn Moriarty

2019 Reading Challenge: My 5 Star Reviews, Part 3

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

Before being killed by pirates, Bronte Mettlestone’s parents leave a will requiring their daughter to deliver a series of gifts to her many aunts. If she fails, the world ends. NBD. Precocious heroine, odd adventure, cast of caricature characters…you know the type. At the end of the day, a wonderful story that tugged on my heartstrings. It deals with grief, laughter, extended family, and the memories that bring us together. It was very sweet, very heart-aching, and satisfying. Generally aimed at middle school readers but good for all ages. 

Transformed: The Perils of the Frog Prince by Megan Morrison

Megan Morrison is one of my favorite authors and her fairy-tale retellings are creative and wonderful.  Transformed–book 3 in the Tyme series–did not disappoint. The series provides a wonderfully developed world with great, memorable characters, solid, believable character change, and unexpected endings. I do recommend reading the first one, Grounded, and the second, Disenchanted, before tackling this one. That is why I am keeping my description vague. But let me tell you, it is worth it. Highly recommend for all adults, but series aimed at high grade school/middle school readers. 

When You Read This by Mary Adkins

This is the story of a woman given six months to live. Of a blog where she processes chemo and dreams and memories. A boss left grieving. A sister unable to move on. Like Where’d You Go, Bernadette or a book by Jaclyn Moriarty, it tells a story through texts, e-mails, and blog posts. It shows and it tells. Most of the action happens off-screen but it works because the real power of the story comes from the grief of the characters and the way they process it. And that’s not something you see up close. It is something that happens slowly and over time. I loved this book from the first chapter. Almost made me cry.

The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants: A Foundation CEO Reveals the Secrets You Need to Know by Martin Teitel

An odd book for this list of favorites but I found it an interesting and informative read. It reached 5 stars because of the writing. I really liked the engaging tone. This isn’t where you go to find something mind-boggling, or even specific advice. You go because it feels like grabbing coffee with someone who knows more than you and sometimes that’s just the encouragement you need.

Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits: Real-World Strategies That Work by Ilona Bray

Where The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Winning Foundation Grants gives general advice, Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits provides strategy.  The book covers a very wide range of topics, is chalk full of relevant information, and left me with several new ideas. (I particularly appreciated the chapter about non-profit websites.) The writing is easy and enthusiastic, yet also structured enough that you can pick it up and jump around as needed. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for more from Nolo generally and Ilona Bray specifically. (And if that is not high, albeit odd, commendation for a reference guide, I don’t know what is.)

The Tyranny of Clichés by Jonah Goldberg

Some political books do not age well. They feed off the outrage of the moment and rely heavily on names and places. So despite its 2012 publishing date, The Tyranny of Clichés reached five stars because it did not fall into this trap. The book (at its heart) deals with ideas and languages. No references to popular politicians date it because any reference circles back to the idea being discussed. It was a very thoughtful discussion packaged more controversially than it actually is. 


2019 Reading Challenge

I read a lot of books last year! 319, to be exact. Over the next two weeks, this blog is going to be all books all the time as I review the best–and worst–reads of 2019. I have posted my favorite and least favorite reads for six years now, but this year broke a lot of records. So, to help make it more manageable, tomorrow I will post a schedule with what to expect over the next few days. 

Until then, here is a recap of my year!

My 2019 Reading Stats

319 books spanning 91,483 pages. Of the 319, 58 were re-reads

Average rating: 3.3 stars.

Average Book Length: 286 pages.

To Read List: Jumped from 901 to 979. Whoops.

My Favorite Book This Year: Probably Sanditon by Jane Austen and Anne Telscombe but I will have an entire post listing my favorites. 

Most disappointing book: The Big Kahuna by Janet Evanovich 

Best Re-Read: Either Bargain Bride by Evelyn Sibley Lampman or The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis 

Most Read Author: Georgette Heyer (27 different books!)

Best New-To-Me Author: Mary Stewart   

Best Middle School Read: The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

Longest Read: Understanding Immigration Law and Practice by Ayodele Gansallo at 736 pages (and yes, it is a textbook, but I read it!)

Shortest Read: On Fairy-Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien at a whopping 27 pages

Most Popular Read: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (a re-read) 

Least Popular Read: Mae Om Ki: The Life of the Forest and Ideals of the Justice System by Laofang Bundidterdsakul (I will never again complain when people misspell my last name.)


2018 Reading Stats

My 2018 Reading Stats

255 books across 75,094 pages. Of the 255, 39 were re-reads. A disconcerting number were set in the regency era. (That kind of defined my reading this year. At this rate, I could get into a time machine to 1815 and probably survive quite nicely.)

Average rating: 3.4 stars

Average Book Length: 294 pages

Achievements: I got my to-read list under 900. For like, a day there. Currently at 901.

My Favorite Book This Year: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Read my Mind Blown post tomorrow for why!

Most disappointing book: Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

Since this book received 2 stars, it does not come up again in my posts, so here is the brief version: YA novel with a K pop star love interest? Um, yes. Sign me up! But unfortunately, it was terrible. The end.

Best Re-Read: The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

This was such a hard category. I re-read several books this year that pleasantly surprised me or delighted me as old favorites. However, in the end, this one wins because it wasn’t actually an old favorite. I originally gave it 4 stars but kind of forgot about it. This time through, though, I loved it and won’t soon forget it. I ran through the gamut of emotions reading it. Jaclyn Moriarty really is a fantastic author. Her strength lies in her unique way of telling a story – in this case, through letters between pen pals at two different high schools. Warning: some language.

Best Author: Georgette Heyer

Hands down. She ties with C.S. Lewis for my Favorite Author of All Time, but I did not re-read any Lewis this year. Just Heyer. All the Heyer. (Actually, only 19 Heyer. But still. I re-read 19 of her books this year.)  

Best middle school read: All Rise For the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor

You’ll find a full review somewhere in my 5 Star reads posts.

Longest Read: Process of Constitutional Decisionmaking: Cases and Materials by Paul Brest at 1,856 pages

A decent textbook but heavy on history over caselaw.

Shortest Read: Thief! by Megan Whalen Turner at 8 pages

But since it was Megan Whalen Turner, those were probably the best 8 pages I read this year. If you haven’t read her Queen’s Thief series yet…go and do.


2015 Reading Challenge: My 5 Star Reviews, Part 3

The Silver Bowl and The Cup and Crown by Diane Stanley

I have mixed feelings mentioning these two. I loved them. The Silver Bowl was adorable, full of danger, wicked curses, a hint of romance, and evil family members. In short, everything a good fantasy novel should have. Its sequel, The Cup and Crown, only adds to the adventure. Our heroine has come of age and now stands out as a butt-kicking, name-taking, epic young lady of magical proportion. It concludes with an ending just bitter-sweet enough to give some emotional pull. And then…the third book happened. I hated it so much I gave it one star. (You will have to read my One Star post to find out why!) So I’m not really sure what to tell you to do with these. Either read just these two and miss one third of the story, or read two excellent fantasy novels and weep as you finish the third, or only read the first because it kind of can stand alone.

The Abolition of Man and The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

I waited much too long to read these excellent books. Both are short and profound. They are philosophically challenging and will take many re-reads to fully grasp. The Abolition of Man masterfully summarize the importance of universal values for societies. The Great Divorce is an allegory of heaven and hell and the decisions people make when confronted with them.  I cannot praise Lewis adequately enough so I’ll leave this one short and sweet. Go read them.

5 To 1 by Holly Bodger

The plot takes place in 2054, where India is suffering from an immense gender gap. There are 5 boys to every 1 girl. Tired of being sold to the highest bidder, women in India split from the government and form their own country where boys must compete in a series of tests to “win” a wife. The plot flips between the poetry of Sudasa, the girl to be won, and the prose of Contestant 5, who only wants to escape. On the one hand, it is an emotionally appealing and brief (250 page) story that succeeds where most dystopian novels fail because it doesn’t try too hard. There is no insta-love or cliff-hanger ending leading to multiple, pointless sequels. On the other hand, it is also a serious message about elevating one gender over the other, and the danger of valuing sons over daughters or vice versa. Good truths wrapped in a beautiful little YA novel.

Kisses From Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis

The inspiring true story of Katie, an average American teenager who discovered a passion for Uganda. A single mission trip quickly became a life calling for 18-year-old Katie, who returned after graduating and ended up adopting 14 girls. This book is inspiring and encouraging. Katie’s passion and joy comes through the pages, and I found myself helplessly grinning as I read it! This is a woman who has found her calling and it is beautiful to behold.  

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

A brilliant addition to the world of well-told stories. I Am Princess X is a pink and purple book that tells the story Libby and May: the dynamic duo. Best friends since 5th grade, they were co-creators of Princess X, a katana-weilding, ghost defeating princess of their imagination. Libby drew the comics, May wrote the plots, and Princess X made them the perfect trio. Until Libby died in an accident at age 13. Three years later, only May is left. Until one day she sees a Princess X sticker on a building. Then graffitied on a wall. And again on a backpack. Princess X is everywhere, made popular by an online webcomic. Only two people knew about Princess X, and one of them is dead. Or is she? This book is full of convenient coincidences and implausible moments but it really is one of my favorites from this year. It is a fairy tale and a thriller and a story of friendship with a superhero feel. Bad Guys are Bad and Good Intentions save the day. What more could you want?

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

Elizabeth Is Missing is a riveting story with a double mystery and an unreliable narrator. Maud can’t remember. She knows her friend Elizabeth is missing, she wrote it down. However, no one believes her, not her daughter, her caretaker, or the police. But Elizabeth is missing. Or is it Maud’s sister, Sukey, who is gone? The years get mixed up for Maud – a woman with dementia – as she recalls the mysterious disappearance of her older sister. Except now it is her friend, Elizabeth, who has disappeared and no one will listen! A very well written mystery that simultaneously echoes the frustration of growing old and the hardship of caring for an aging parent.

Feeling Sorry For Cecelia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Jaclyn Moriarty is quickly becoming one of my favorite YA authors. Feeling Sorry For Cecelia follows a teenage girl named Elizabeth and the struggle she feels losing her best friend, Cecelia. However it is not told in the usual way. The plot is laid out in notes between Elizabeth and her mother, letters with her pen-pal, postcards from her best friend, and occasional letters from her self-esteem. It is very well done. The book handles serious issues (divorced parents, changing friendships, relationships, etc.) but does so in a funny, wry style that kept the story bitter-sweet instead of just plain depressing. The book is peppered with a variety of wonderful, quirky characters. PG13 for content, but well worth it if you’re looking for a solid YA read.