Goodreads | 25 in 12 + Reviews

Goodreads_book reviews Happy Monday, friends! I had the most wonderful and relaxing weekend, which included lots of time to read—one of the goals included my New Year's Resolution for better balance in 2014. I realized last year that I was turning on the TV way more often than picking up a book, and half of the stuff I was watching was just plain stupid. I knew I would feel more accomplished and relaxed if I chose reading over TV, so I'm taking on a challenge: Read 25 books in 12 months. And guess what? I've already finished one book! It feels so good to fill my mind with meaningful and poignant stories instead of ridiculous stuff on TV. (This is not to say I'm not watching any TV. Of course I still have my favorite shows that I can't give up. :) )

So, I'd LOVE to hear your very favorite book recommendations to add to my list for 2014. Here's what I've got so far (taking care to mix fiction with non-fiction with spiritual with business, etc., for a well-rounded, book-filled year!):

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  2. Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott
  3. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  4. Film is Not Dead by Jonathan Canlas
  5. Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen
  6. Blog, Inc. by Joy Deangdeelert Cho
  7. The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak
  8. Emma by Jane Austen
  9. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
  10. Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter
  11. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
  12. Boundaries by Henry Cloud
  13. The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan
  14. The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
  15. Girl Meets God by Lauren Winner
  16. Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle
  17. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
  18. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

As a thank you for helping me complete my list, I have some reviews for you on my recent reads. Some are great! Some are not so great. Did you read any of these? What did you think?

The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe. I'll start with my least favorite and work my way on up. This book was just a little too corny? Unbelievable? Annoying? I can't quite put my finger on it, but I just couldn't get into it. The gist of the story is that Luz, who is recently left alone when her grandmother guardian passes away, goes on this journey to Mexico to follow the monarch butterflies as they migrate south. The butterflies symbolize her grandmother, which is beautiful and all, but the whole thing was just a little too much for me. (**)

Weird by Craig Groeschel. I really enjoyed the premise of this book—that we should try to be more than normal in a society that's all about fitting in—and the two sections on time and money were right up my alley (especially because I read this towards the end of the year when I was feeling out of sync). But then I realized I had some major ideological differences than Groeschel and I just couldn't get over them as I finished the book. Hint: He rags on Ellen. ELLEN! (**)

The Sisters by Nancy Jensen. This is good old-fashioned fiction at it's finest. The Sisters really surprised me. The story is intricately woven through multiple generations of women, all stemming from two sisters in the late 1920s. After a complete misunderstanding, the sisters are separated and start very different lives of their own. Their daughters and granddaughters add to the story that's not as black-and-white as it seems. (****)

Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. For some reason, I tend to avoid reading classic novels. That sounds pretty terrible for a reader like me, but I think it's because it reminds me of school and I don't want to be reminded of school when I'm reading for fun. Anyways, after reading Their Eyes were Watching God, I realized I need to read more classics now that I'm older and can appreciate them. What a beautifully written love story that stems from complete bitterness and despair. I loved the redemption after all Janie Crawford, the main character, went through. A must read! (****)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Oh my goodness, this book. I told my mom (who gave me this book!) just a few days ago that I couldn't get over how every character in this book talks (totally unrealistic! I obviously have a problem with using my imagination!), but after finishing it three days later, I don't even care. John Green weaves the most breathtaking and heartbreaking story, and I couldn't get enough. Hazel, who is the heroic narrator, suffers from terminal cancer, which doesn't define her necessarily but obviously greatly affects the way she sees the world and lives her life. When she meets Augustus, a fellow cancer survivor, her world is turned around. I really can't do the book justice with my words, so you'll just have to go pick it up! (*****)