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The Reading Picnic

Grab a picnic basket and blanket, and I'll help you find something to read!

Currently reading

Tiger Lily
Jodi Lynn Anderson
Experiencing God: God's Invitation to Young Adults
Richard Blackaby, Henry T. Blackaby
Percy Jackson's Greek Gods
Rick Riordan, John Rocco
The Story: Teen Edition: Read the Bible as one seamless story from beginning to end
Zondervan Publishing, Anonymous

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods - Rick Riordan, John Rocco

I was super super pumped for this book, mostly because I love Greek Mythology, and also because, well I love Percy Jackson. Although I will say I didn't expect this book to be so big in size. I think that's part of the reason why it ended up taking me awhile to get through, it was hard to just sit and read it, as it had to stay in my lap most of the time.

The content in this book was amazing, and I wish that I had it when I taught Percy Jackson for the first time. It would be amazing to use it in conjunction, especially with one of the activities where the groups were divided to research the Greek gods. It's amazing that now I could easily make it cohesive. Percy Jackson book, and Percy Jackson talking about the Gods.

The illustrations are seriously breathtaking. Once I get my own apartment, I, no lie, plan on buying this book again so I can rip out the pictures and frame them. Sure, some of them are dark, but they're seriously so breathtakingly beautiful that I can't stand it.

Overall, easy read. Sometimes a little heavy, especially for middle readers, but I would probably recommend this before any other mythos book.

Also I now own my first coffee table book and I feel very adult.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, or how I somehow need to cast Chris Pratt in things.

Attachments - Rainbow Rowell

This book was our first book back after our book club hiatus, and I was glad it was something that was really readable. I don't mind sitting through books I don't like as long as they're readable (see [book: Will Grayson, Will Grayson]), but I will say I had pretty high expectations for this book. One of my closest friends whose book recommendations I trust more than anything LOVES Rainbow Rowell, and has even said that Rowell is now her favorite author over John Green (which is saying something!) and while this book was pretty adorable, I expected more. I liked the characters, and absolutely adored the email format, and watching the friendship between the women happen, but Lincoln still struck me as kind of creepy? I also seemed to be the only one at book club who actually LIKED Beth's boyfriend and maybe it's because I cast him as Chris Pratt although apparently NO ONE ELSE DID.


Rowell's writing is amazing, readable and relateable, and I loved Doris so very much, mostly because she reminded me of my grandmother whose name was also Doris. I loved the parts about Y2K, and I also loved that the book slowly made you invested in the characters. One particular part, when we discover the miscarriage, was written so extremely beautifully, and made me realize how attached I actually was to these characters. I wanted to know more about Jennifer, I liked Beth and Lincoln, but Rowell left me wanting to know more about Jennifer and how her life turned out. How everything ended up with her husband and just...how her life is. I'm such a sucker though, in all honesty, for when writers aren't afraid to write huge issues like the one she wrote for Jennifer, and watch as the characters grow around it.


I really loved the email format. I'd read a whole book in that type of format, and I did find that the alternating between email and narrative felt slightly jarring. This was Rowell's first book, so I can only imagine that they keep getting better and better.


But really though, when did my standards get so high?

"Jesus Feminist" by Sarah Bessey

Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women - Sarah Bessey

This book is seriously one of the most phenomenal that I have EVER read. Ever. I have an entire note devoted to this book on my phone with quotes, and things to remember. When I came to Christianity, I was really worried that I was going to be told that I couldn't be a feminist. That I couldn't believe in what I always have. I am a really strong, outspoken feminist and I didn't want to give up any of that. When I found this book, I knew I had to read it.


I almost just think that my own words on this book are pointless and I should just include my favorite quotes so you can all understand why this book is so fucking amazing.


"If a woman is held back, minimized, pushed down, or downplayed, she is not walking in the fullness God intended for her as his image bearer, as his ezer warrior. If we minimize our gifts, hush our voice, and stay small in a misguided attempt to fit a weak and culturally conditioned standard of femininity, we cannot give our brothers the partner they require in God's mission for the world."


"Often when a woman exhibits leadership, she's accused of having that Jezebel spirit. I look forward to the day when women with leadership and insight, gifts and talents, callings and prophetic leanings are called out and celebrated as a Deborah, instead of silenced as a Jezebel."


"The Kingdom is a glimpse of true manhood and womanhood without fear or stereotypes or abuses from the world. We are restored image bearers in concert together, all participating, all parts functioning with holy interdependence. It's trust and laughter and holy risk taking; it's vocation and work and worship. It's sharing leadership and responsibility. It's turning away from the language of hierarchy and power to the posture of servanthood. It's affirming all the seasons and callings of each other's lives. It's speaking out and working and advocating on behalf of our oppressed brothers and sisters around the world."


"One needen't identify as a feminist to participate in the redemptive movement of God for women in the world. The gospel is more than enough."


If you aren't blown away, you absolutely should be. I LOVE THIS BOOK.


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Isla and the Happily Ever After

Isla and the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins So this book took me forever to get through, relatively compared to "Lola" and "Anna" and I'd read someone elses review first and I knew this one was going to be different. I do enjoy how Perkins writes similarly to Sarah Dessen where the characters all exist in the same universe, and unlike other people I was NOT ready to say goodbye to these characters.

But I wasn't ready for Isla either. Again, I thought it dragged and was kind of annoyed by parts of it, but I thought it was sweet and I just wanted to be a passerby watching all of this happen in real time.

But then the breakup scene happened and I shamelessly started sobbing. I realized that I see so much of myself in Isla, that it was throwing me off. I have a tendency to not really like characters that resemble myself much, which is a psychological thing I should figure out at some point, but everything she said in the limo scene with Josh just shattered me, because it's exactly how I feel about relationships and even the thought of being one. It petrifies me, and it broke everything to read a character saying the exact same things I've felt.

This is why I read, this is why so many of us on this site read, for moments where a character has a breakthrough that you realize that you needed just as much. Or just to know, if even for a brief moment, that someone else in this world, even if it's just a fictional character has spoken the words you've always wanted to say, or felt the feelings you thought you were alone in feeling. Maybe this is a silly book for me to see that in, but in my mind, there is no silly book, especially when it gives you an experience like this.

""You know exactly who you are. You know how to be yourself, but you also know how to be a different kind of yourself on television and society...I don't know any of that. I've never cared about anything like you've cared about your work. I don't even belong to a single country. I'm nobody. I'm nothing.""

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Dead to You

Dead to You - Lisa McMann So over Labor Day weekend I decided to fly through a bunch of books, because why not? I had gotten a ton of recommendations from my local bookstore and this was one of them.

As I said in my original review, Have I just gotten really picky lately? I was yet again underwhelmed by this book, I saw the ending coming pretty early on. Sigh.

I was expecting this book to blow me away, I really thought that it was going to be a nail biter, that I wasn't going to anticipate the ending, but I saw it coming a mile away, especially once one of the siblings started to study genetics.

The ending was actually disappointing, how it all unraveled, and overall, it was absolutely more like 2.5 stars, but my only 2 star rated book is "Will Grayson, Will Grayson" and I didn't hate the characters in this book like I sort of did in that one? Anyway, it seemed super predictable to me as I've said before. Sorry not sorry?

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If I Stay

If I Stay - Gayle Forman Not bad. Not good. Underwhelming if that's even a word.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - April Genevieve Tucholke So I did like this book. But I was expecting more. I was expecting really creepy, can't put it down until you know what the hell is going on, almost akin to Julie Berry's "All The Truth That's In Me", or Kate Karyus Quinn's "Another Little Piece", the latter of those I haven't been able to finish yet because it is seriously that creepy.

But that's not what I got. I got some kind of weird, semi Twilighty romance stuff. I didn't hate Violet like I hated Bella Swan, but she was...kind of dumb like girls in these books tend to be. Maybe it's just maybe it's just me that I wouldn't want to date a guy who has supernatural stuff going on or whatever, but I will never understand why people think it's sweet to have a girl just say "It's totally okay that you're doing really weird shit to my town! Like telling kids there's the Devil in the graveyard" etc etc etc.

If it was me I would have just been like, "Peace out, it's a shame too cause you're hot." But no. Violet didn't do that. Instead she mooned over him the whole book while I attempted to tell her through the pages VIOLET SWEETHEART YOU DON'T NEED NO MAN.

This was another one of the books I marathoned through on Labor Day Weekend. It did get creepy towards the end, but when someone tells me that it's a Gothic novel, I guess I just expected a little more? I feel like my standards are getting really high and I don't know how to feel about this...

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Random - Tom Leveen This book started my Labor Day book marathon and it set the tone for the rest of the books I read that weekend.

Honestly, I was kind of talked into buying this book. The woman at my favorite bookstore told me that she LOVES this author etc etc and his writing style didn't disappoint. I also loved that the copy I ended up buying revealed that he was a local author (double the local!) and ended up being signed. Pretty cool.

Overall, this book was a really quick read. I knew I was supposed to feel conflicted or whatever, and I didn't really get that. Tori royally fucked up, this is true. But cyberbulling is so heavily covered these days that the whole intrigue of "is this guy for real or not" just...I didn't care. I was more interested in the actual Facebook posts that this book included. The phone call was...I don't know how to describe it, it seemed a little weird? But again that was probably intentional on the authors part.

I did fly through this, wanting to know more about the characters but in the end, when Tori found out that everyone had planned this to teach her a lesson it felt like an after school special. I don't like books that tend to leave me feeling like I've been lectured at, which this did in a way. Bullying is so heavily covered in the world now that I feel like I've beat my head against with it.

Yes, bullying is real. Yes, I was bullied, I'm not discounting those experiences, but I didn't feel a visceral connection to many of the characters in here. I know that bullying is bad, I've experienced it, but I think because I work with kids and I repeat that so many times, maybe that's why this book didn't connect with me? I would have much preferred something revolving around the trial? Maybe because I'm weird and like law and order-y like things.

ANYWAY, I did love the writing style, it flowed, I wanted to keep reading, which is why this gets four stars. There are absolutely people out there who need to read this, no doubting that, just not sure if it was me.

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Lola and the Boy Next Door


The Blood of Olympus


Star Cursed

Star Cursed - Jessica Spotswood Holy God. This book series. Every time I think it's murdered my soul sufficiently it comes up with a way to kill me even more. I just...holy god. It's been like a month since I've read it and I still haven't recovered enough to start Sisters' Fate. It's that bad, y'all. But in the most amazing way.

Y'all. If you haven't read this series you need to. I'm such a sucker for a great dystopian with amazing world building built in. AND dystopian female characters that aren't dealing with awkward love triangles and that defines their main conflict. THIS SERIES IS SO FAR FROM THAT. It murders everything you love though, so just be fully aware.

ANYWAY, this book actually took me much longer to get through than [b:Born Wicked|11715276|Born Wicked (The Cahill Witch Chronicles, #1)|Jessica Spotswood|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1332157702s/11715276.jpg|15706987] which I didn't want to put down and I'm not sure why that is. Once it fully picked up though it was amazing and I didn't want to let it go. It would probably be like 4.75 stars just because I didn't just fly through it? But seriously this series y'all.

Also, I think I can say I've never hated a female character more in my life than Maura. Like I just can't stand her. She's had SO MANY CHANCES TO BE A DECENT PERSON AND SHE JUST WON'T TAKE THEM. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT. FUCKING MAURA.

I also need a shirt that says "So he calls me up again and he's like 'I still love you' and I'm like 'but you're not Finn Belastra'" just because...yes I need this. Even remembering this book is making me freak out again. Time to read Sister's Fate I think.

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Greater - Steve Furtick I received a copy of this book from Random House Publishers for an honest review.

I did a book study on Furtick's book "Crash the Chatterbox" and was immediately intrigued by this fairly young pastor writing such a compelling and optimistic, loving view of God in his books. I'd heard rave reviews about "Sun Stand Still" which within 20 minutes of reading it became one of my favorites. While "Greater" is still amazing, truly, Furtick is one of the only Christian non-fiction authors I really seem to enjoy reading and relate to, this one falls short of "Sun Stand Still".

"Greater" felt like a take off of "Sun Stand Still", that it was an extension of the ideas, without using the same terminology. Sure one talks about audacious faith, and this one is using the catch phrase "greater", but they both said essentially the same thing. Maybe that's because the message does boil down to the same thing, to trust God with his plan for you, and when you do that, things all seem to fall into place.

It's still amazing, and half of it is underlined, so don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved and enjoyed this book as much as his others, but I felt like I was getting the same message over and over again. Maybe I needed to get this message over and over, honestly. It could be that God needed me to hear it, and it's good then, that it's being ingrained in my life. I also feel slightly biased because recently I did discover what I feel God called me to do, so "discovering" it, doesn't really apply to me anymore.

Furtick is always spot on with theology in my opinion. I honestly value what he has to say, and usually take it to heart and I will take this book to heart as well as recommend it to a friend (as I always do with his book), and I have to say that even my friend who is well versed in the Bible hadn't really read the story of Elisha so that was an amazing eye opening experience. I enjoyed his writing style, mostly because when he writes I always feel like it's just so obvious that what he's saying is true. I've experienced so much of it.

I love Furtick's books, and I am so happy I got a copy of this one to review, he is one of my favorite authors of all time who continuously puts out books that enlighten and make me feel inspired to live a better Christian life.

Juliet Immortal

Juliet Immortal - Stacey Jay I loved this book and the idea of this book and couldn't stop ranting and raving about it to everyone else BUT THE ENDING RUINED THE WHOLE THING FOR ME. I actually have never liked the love story of Romeo and Juliet, but at one point Romeo talks to Juliet about what their fate would have been had they lived? And for once that made sense to me why he would do what he did, but the ending was terrible. Ruined it.

The One

The One - Kiera Cass This series is like that Fanfiction that is so cracked out that you can't stop reading it, but as you read it you wonder why you're reading it. And ask yourself out loud why you read it. Cause that's what I did. Multiple times.

The Elite

The Elite - Kiera Cass This review was originally posted on my book review blog, The Hufflepuff Whovian. Check us out and follow!
Sigh. Well I guess it was too good to be true. Seriously, what I liked about the first book is that while there was some drama, it was mostly cheesy romance in a dystopian Bachelor like setting. I liked that, I really did. But then Kiera Cass had to make this like the Hunger Games drama and I just...I wasn't expecting it, and really didn't want it. Gah. WHY KIERA. Semi-Spoilers follow

This book started the way I expected. I'm seriously so sick of Aspen though like it's ridiculous. I was sick of most of the people in this book except for my fav Maxon who, now that I think about it, deserves way better than America Singer. But seriously, I feel like my GoodReads updates speak for themselves.

This book starts up where the last book finished, The Elite are now competing for Maxon's love, and I was hoping for more Bachelor like competitions, Maxon being utterly adorable, and Aspen being a dumb jerk trying to get America to second guess herself. Honestly though, I'm not sure if my anger towards Aspen is because he's a dumb jerk who broke America's heart, or if it's because WHO THE HELL EVEN THINKS TWICE ABOUT BEING A PRINCESS?

But seriously. I knew there'd be the "struggle" between Maxon, America and Aspen, as seems standard these days when you have a strong female character protagonist, and I am so Team Maxon it hurts. But then, Kiera Cass decided to maybe make this more Hunger Games, because apparently, dystopian literature that's not cute doesn't sell (or so it seems) when they PUBLICLY CANED ONE OF THE CHARACTERS.

Yes, you read that right, publicly CANED a character. I was listening to the audiobook and honestly felt like I was going to vomit. I didn't really understand why that had to be in there, what that even really did for the story development except to show that the regime was flawed and who didn't know that already? Also I guess because you were supposed to be shocked that Maxon just sat by while it happened. I wasn't. and I also wasn't surprised when America jumped up after her and how that gave people hope~

Seriously, it felt like Cass was thinking to herself "Let's make this a little more Hunger Games-y".

America Singer is not Katniss Everdeen. She isn't. But it honestly seems to be a trend in dystopian literature to make a teenage girl the protagonist where she has to decide between two guys, and also save the world and bring about justice to inequity. Katniss seemed much more...realistic in this, while with America it seems like I've seen this a million times before.

So yeah, this book frustrated me, a lot. But will I read the next one? Absolutely. Because Maxon better take this.

Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the People's Temple

Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor's Story of Life and Death in the People's Temple - Deborah Layton This was originally posted on The Hufflepuff Whovian. Check it out for more book reviews!

So I have this thing about cults. Mostly that I’m obsessed with them, and while I knew the story of where “don’t drink the Kool Aid” came from (sort of) before I knew about Jonestown, I honestly had no idea the extent of it. I, like most people, seem to be addicted to Netflix documentaries, and I found some on Jonestown and decided to watch. I was entranced. This was after I watched a crap ton of documentaries on North Korea, so I was just in the right mind set I think. But, when I got “Going Clear” a book about Scientology, I decided to find books on Jonestown and I’m so glad that this is the one that I found.

“Seductive Poison” follows Deborah Layton, often referred to as Debbie in the book, and her journey through the People’s Temple. She joined fairly early on from what I could tell, and was really active right away. It became clear later in the book that Jim Jones took an interest in attractive young women and got them involved, mostly for his own sexual satisfaction. She ended up pretty high up in the Temple, was trusted with many secrets, which is maybe why I loved this book so much.

It starts off in a way that I could totally understand, she was drawn to the temple because of a charismatic leader, and a revolutionary new church, which made promises to give her a place to be radical. She joined after her brother joined, and even though Jim encouraged his wife to divorce him, that didn’t seem to warn Debbie. Don’t think I’m coming down on her, because I can completely understand how she was thinking, and saw everything at the time, but as a reader you absolutely start to know that things are amiss.

The entire time that you spend in Debbie’s brain is amazing. It truly is interesting to see how things went from what seemed totally normal, to more and more engrossing, and how this happened extremely gradually to where things just didn’t seem that crazy. One of the things that was extremely interesting to me was how Jim Jones brought in white people. He did this by talking extreme amounts about white privilege to the point that white people who could possibly pass as a minority, including Debbie, began to WISH and try to turn into a person of color. I’d never heard of a group where shaming the dominant group who came was there way of attracting that group. It was super interesting, and something that I’d never heard of working in my many Anti Racism/Anti Oppression/Multicultural trainings.

The book was really interesting, but not “harrowing” like I’d expected and been told it was. Until her escape. Oh my goodness her escape. I seriously felt like I was going to have a panic attack. I just wanted to scroll to the next page on my Kindle immediately because I had to know what was going to happen. That part was like a heart attack in two chapters. The way she wrote it made it truly feel like you were there, and all the backstory and the long discussions of before her trip to Jonestown set up the severity of what she was about to do. It was amazing, and it really made the book for me.

Overall, I did give this book five stars, because I found it all so interesting. There really weren’t any parts that I wanted to skip over, or that I wished was over. It was extremely well written, informative, and hungering for more information and books.