January Highlights

It’s hard to believe February is upon us. January didn’t necessarily fly by for me, but a lot of things happened in my life and I know February is going to be just as eventful.

So here’s what I was up to last month!

I read 12 books!

Lonely Postman IMG_0063 from-the-15th-district mac amostinconvenientmarriage
princess diaries princess in the spotlight earnest soulprint Legend
                                             mara dyer theevolutionofmaradyer

This was a huge surprise for me, because last month I was all upset that I couldn’t find enough time to read as often as I did before finding a full-time job.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Book Club Reads – I had so much fun chatting with other bloggers about these books! Tuesday’s posts always bring the best conversations :)

What I Watched

Gilmore Girls – Ok, HUGE surprise to everyone: my dad has gotten hooked on Gilmore Girls. My mom and I started watching the show back in September, but we’ve been taking our time. And this month we started watching it again and my dad watched one episode with us and was completely pulled in. So much so that he’s gotten upset when we watched episodes without him. I feel like I’m in some alternate universe where my dad, whose favorite shows are The Walking Dead and Forensic Files, suddenly enjoys Gilmore Girls. But hey, I’ll take it!

East & West Vlog – A new YouTube series based on Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. It’s just starting, but I really enjoy the actress who plays Margaret (also, she goes by Maggie!). I’m looking forward to seeing what the creators have in store for this one.

The Writing Majors – Another new YouTube series, but this one is really unique! It imagines Jane Austen, Emily Dickenson, and Oscar Wilde as grad school roommates. The actors are incredible and the episodes so far have been very enjoyable.

What I Listened To

This month I really dived into audiobooks! With my long commute, I’ve been trying to use the time for books, and it’s only taken me a couple of months to really get adjusted to listening to audiobooks. It’s amazing how weak my listening skills have become over the years. I have to really concentrate to actively listen, but I think it’s a good exercise :)

I also listened to Serial! For those who know me, when I discover something I love, I completely binge watch/read/listen. So, I listened to the first Serial podcast on my way to work last Friday, and I finished it just after midnight on Saturday. I HAD to know how it ended. The story-telling was so captivating that it’s hard to stop listening.

January Highlights

  • Watching Gilmore Girls with my family!
  • Starting to find my feet in my new job – things are finally starting to make sense!
  • Having deep conversations (or just really interesting conversations) with fellow bloggers! Meeting and conversing with other readers and bloggers is my favorite part about having a blog :)
  • Feeling more “adult” – This month we bought a car and paid off more bills, and I also just did a lot more “adult” things, like wine-tasting and making more independent decisions.

January Challenges

  • Although we moved back to the States at the end of August, we’re still transitioning. We’ve had to make big decisions about our future, and although I can’t reveal them yet, I am excited about them & about sharing them with the blogosphere in a month or two :) (and before anyone speculates, NO, it’s not about a baby).
  • Trying to multitask less. I read this blog post from I’d Rather Be Reading about singletasking, and it really helped me grasp how attached I am to multitasking. If I’m not doing two or more things at a time, I literally feel like I’m wasting time. So I’ve been actively trying to only do one thing at a time sometimes, for instance, while I’m eating. Lunch time at work is a great time for me to just take a step away from the computer or my phone or even from reading. It gives me a half hour of reflection time instead, and it’s also nice to detach from technology, too.
  • I almost forgot this one: we bought a new car!New Car

In February I’m Looking Forward To

  • Crossing off as many things from my 25 Things List as possible! I feel so behind, but some of those things I’ve known for a while I won’t be able to do (like visit England), and that’s ok. I made this list thinking we would still be in France and hopping on a train to the UK was easy to achieve. Instead I’m trying to enjoy the bucket list items I am able to cross off. Right now I’m crocheting myself a nice afghan :)

February To Be Read

MTLGTM IMG_0061 athousandpiecesofyou

I’m still getting through My True Love Gave To Me for my book club (our next read is A Thousand Pieces of You which I’m stoked about!). I’ve also started the last book in the Mara Dyer series, but I’m sad for it to be over so I’ve been taking my time.

What were some of your highlights from January? Are there any books you’re looking forward to reading this month?

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Soulprint by Megan Miranda

soulprint

Most people agree it’s better not to find out who you once were. And if you do find out, it’s best to keep that knowledge to yourself. Because while the soul has no memory, the world does, and that is usually enough.

Soulprint by Megan Miranda
Published Feb 3, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Young Adult/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Format: e-book from Netgalley; 368 pages
Also By This Author: Fracture, Hysteria
                                                            Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website

                                                            My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Synopsis:

With the science of soul-fingerprinting a reality, Alina Chase has spent her entire life imprisoned for the crimes her past-self committed. In an attempt to clear her name, Alina unintentionally trades one prison for another when she escapes, aided by a group of teens whose intentions and motivations are a mystery to her. As she gets to know one of the boys, sparks fly, and Alina believes she may finally be able to trust someone. But when she uncovers clues left behind from her past life that only she can decipher, secrets begin to unravel. Alina must figure out whether she’s more than the soul she inherited, or if she’s fated to repeat the past.

Thoughts:

Alina is a 17 year-old girl who is being “contained” on a guarded island for her own protection (or for punishment). Why is she being contained? Because in a past-life, Alina’s soul belonged to a fugitive named June Callahan. The science behind “soulprinting” is that when a person dies, their soul is essentially reincarnated into a newborn, who grows up to lead his or her own life but studies showed that they would exhibit similar tendencies. Throughout the course of the novel, Alina is trying desperately to prove to the world that she is not June, but unfortunately for her, the more she tries to break away from June, the more she starts to understand and sympathize with her.

Soulprint is one of those stories that stays inside your brain for a few days after you finish reading it, and I think that’s because the world that Megan Miranda creates is not far-fetched. The idea behind categorizing people has been around for ages; sometimes it’s used to protect others (for example, identifying people as sex offenders and making that database public), but it has also been used to control and annihilate people (in the case of the Holocaust). In Soulprint, people are defined by who their soul belonged to in a past life. Officially, this is meant to be private knowledge. Only an individual can find out who they used to be. But since this is a dystopian novel, you already know that there is something much bigger going on here. In the novel, June Callahan became a fugitive after she publicly called out people for being criminals in their past lives. And at the start of the novel, Alina Chase is paying the consequences…but are they hers–or June’s–to pay?

Read This Book If…

…you’re intrigued by sci-fi/fantasy stories, especially if they deal with ethical issues.
…you’re a fan of dystopian themes in literature.
…you’ve ever been curious about genetic memories or other similar sci-fi motifs.
…you’re looking for a book that fits into multiple genres like science fiction, fantasy, young adult, suspense, and romance.

“Yes, I wanted out,” I say, my voice firm and practiced. “I always wanted out. Because I was being held, inhumanely and unconstitutionally.” The speech I’d come up with last year pours out of me. “Because my soul is my own, and the world is punishing me for something that no longer exists. The world is the only one with a memory. Not my soul. June is dead. I am the only one here. I am Alina Chase.”

Final Musings:

Soulprint captivates you from the very first page. There is a constant suspense looming that something huge is about to happen, and the characters have solid motivations that anyone can identify with: greed, love, guilt, innocence. I found myself having a hard time putting this book down, and for anyone who enjoys intriguing sci-fi/fantasy novels, I would recommend Soulprint to you in a heartbeat!

My soul was not meant to be in a cage. Not then, and not now.

Top Ten Tuesday: Winter Reads

toptentuesdayEven though winter is still a good month away, I’m glad this is the topic for TTT this week! It gives me a chance to get excited for winter vacation and catching up on my reading!! I feel like since I started working full-time, it now takes me a week or more to read 1 book when it used to take 2-3 days. But no complaining! I’m so thrilled and thankful to be employed again, I just wish I could read all night instead of having to sleep ;)

So, here you go!

Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR List:

FullSteamAhead MatchMadeInTexas MontanaChristmas LifeIntended Legend

Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer – For some reason I LOVE reading western historical romances during Christmastime. I think it’s the weirdest thing since most of them take place during the summer, but then again I think they’re the perfect reads since they instill that warm, family-time mood. Karen Witemeyer is one of my favorite authors, and I actually just checked out Full Steam Ahead from the library yesterday! I may read it BEFORE winter starts ;)
A Match Made in Texas – To continue on with the western historical romances theme, this book is a compilation of novellas by four different authors: Karen Witemeyer (Full Steam Ahead, The Short Straw Bride, To Win Her Heart), Mary Connealy (Kincaid Brides series, Lassoed in Texas series), Regina Jennings (Ladies of Caldwell County series, A Most Inconvenient Marriage–which I’m reading during Thanksgiving break!), and Carol Cox (Truth Be Told, Trouble in Store). I’m particularly excited about reading Witemeyer’s novella since it is a spin-off of The Short Straw Bride, my favorite book of hers.
A Sweet Montana Christmas by Roxanne Snopek – I don’t know much about this book or the author, but I saw it on Netgalley as a Read Now and decided I needed to read it during Christmas :) Like I said, I’m a sucker for western romances this time of year.
The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel – The Goodreads synopsis compares this book to P.S. I Love You only a bit darker. I requested this book to review and I’m excited to actually open it up!
Legend by Marie Lu – I just checked this out from the library yesterday as well! I’ve heard so many good things about it and picked it up on a whim.

LizzieBennet CantAlwaysGetWhatYouWant SoulPrint DressShopofDreams HusbandsSecret

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick – I was a HUGE fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (and it’s what got me into watching YouTube series). This diary came out earlier this year but I never saw it anywhere because I was in France. But yesterday at the library I saw it on the “New Fiction” shelf and grabbed it up in a heartbeat. Can’t wait to dive back into the sarcastic and theatrical mind of Lizzie Bennet!
Can’t Always Get What You Want by Chelsey Krause – I know, this book cover does not fit the typical winter read, but it’s on my shelf for review and I think I’m going to enjoy it. It’s all about letting go of your past and healing broken hearts.
Soulprint by Megan Miranda – The book summary describes Soulprint as part Minority Report and part Looper, both of which are movies I really enjoyed. So that means I should love this one! Plus, the cover is pretty :)
The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praac –
This book sounds like a warm and fuzzy read, and those are the types of books I love reading in the winter! Maybe it’s to help overcome the cold ;)
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty –
Ok, my Secret Santa sent me this book last December, but I never got around to reading it :( But now that Liane Moriarty’s other novel has been out for a while and it also looks like an interesting read, I actually want to read The Husband Secret and find out if this is the type of author I’m going to enjoy.

What books are on your winter TBR list? Is there a specific genre you find yourself turning to whenever it’s cold outside?