Top Ten Books that Have Been on My TBR List the Longest

These are just a few of the books I've had on my TBR list for way too long. | Book reviews by NewberyandBeyond.com
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I’m linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday to share my top ten list!

Some of these books have been on my TBR list for so long I’ve forgotten what they’re about or why I even put them on my list. I’m going to try to explain why these books are on my TBR list, and maybe that will prompt me to finally read them!

  • A Grown Up Kind of Pretty. I have absolutely no idea why this book is on my list…
  • While Beauty Slept. Gothic Beauty and the Beast retelling.
  • There is No Dog. Quirky MG (or possibly YA).
  • The Escape from Home. I always love Avi’s work.
  • The Broken Teaglass. Murder mystery + tea.
  • Orlando. I want to read a lot more of Virginia Woolf, but I struggle with her writing.
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson. Because I’ve only read one John Green book, and I feel like that’s not enough for me to judge if I like his writing style or not.
  • You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know. Crazy but true neurological issue that keeps the author from recognizing faces.
  • The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Why was this the first Terry Pratchett book that made it to my list? (It wasn’t the first I read, obviously.)
  • Human.4. I’m always a sucker for dystopian YA.

Have you read any of these books? What books have been lingering on your TBR list the longest? Leave your thoughts and links in the comments!

Small Goals + What I’m Into, February 2018

I'm sharing my February 2018 small goals + the things I'm into right now. | Book reviews by NewberyandBeyond.com
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As always, I’m linking up with writes like a girl for my February 2018 small goals, and Leigh Kramer for my monthly what I’m into.

What a whirlwind January was! It was stuffed with craziness, some of it good, a lot of it… not good. To be honest, I totally forgot what my small goals were until I re-read my post this morning!

  • Make appointments for upcoming events. I’m working on it. Some appointments finished, some scheduled, some still waiting to be decided. But I’m counting this one finished for now.
  • Read at least three books in the towering TBR pile by my bed. I actually did great on this one! I read five books from my TBR stack, I only checked out one book from the library, and I requested only four ARCs (usually I go a little crazy and request a bunch at the beginning of the year), two of which I’ve already finished.
  • Make dinner more often. Well… mostly. I’ve made dinner twice, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s a start.
  • Do a digital declutter. Sigh. Yes. I hated it, but I did it.

I am amazed that amidst the stress and busyness of January, I was able to complete all four of my goals! Here’s hoping my February goals go even better:

  • Design a library bag. I need a big canvas bag to carry all my library books. I saw an adorable one on Etsy that sadly is no longer for sale, so I’ve ordered a plain canvas bag and iron-on transfer paper. Now I just need to design it!
  • Start meditating again. Whether you call it mindfulness or meditation, it helps keep my anxious thoughts from spiraling. And I’ve been neglecting this lately. I want to get back into meditating more consistently.
  • Go on a spending freeze. It’s that time again! Whenever a particularly large bill hits, I like to go on a spending freeze so we can start rebuilding our savings.

What I’m Into

Books I’m looking forward to reading: The one new thing I have requested recently is comics! I have several digital copies awaiting me, and they’ve been a really nice, relaxing thing to read in between heavier books.

TV shows I’ve watched: I just started watching The Good Place, and it is bizarre and wonderful.

Instagram account I’m loving: I’ve been laughing at Overheard New York‘s hilarious (and often swear-filled, so be aware!) overheard conversations.

My favorite Instagram:

Curious what my TBR stack looked like at the beginning of the month? Here it is:

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram (I post lots of book pictures and the occasional selfie), you can do so here.

If you want to see more of what I’m into every month, along with sneak peeks and my favorite posts from the blog, sign up for my email newsletter! It’ll show up in your inbox about once a month and bring you the latest blog news and the things I’m loving.

What are you all up to this month? Let me know in the comments!

10 Books I Can’t Believe I’ve Read

I'm linking up to share the ten books I can't believe I've read, for one reason or another. | Book reviews by NewberyandBeyond.com

.I’m linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday to share my top ten list!

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is all about sharing the books I can’t believe I’ve read. Combing through the past couple of years of books I’ve read, I was surprised at how many books I have read recently that are either out of my comfort zone or from genres that I typically don’t care for.

  • Crime and Punishment. Even after reading and loving Anna Karenina, I never thought I’d pick up another Russian classic. But I did, for the 2017 classics challenge.
  • Wild. I had been aware of this book for a long time–who hasn’t?–but I never wanted to read it. I finally gave in when my book club decided to read it, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I anticipated.
  • Dracula. I tried reading this classic in college and was totally freaked out by it. But I decided to give it another shot in 2017, and I’m glad I did.
  • The Husband’s Secret. I read this book for book club as well. It wasn’t my favorite, but I can see why it has been so popular.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This is one more book club read, one that I had seen floating around for years before I finally read it. And it was fascinating! This is one of my favorite things about the book club I’m in: it forces me to read popular books that I otherwise wouldn’t have tried.
  • Anna and the French Kiss. I don’t usually like YA romances. And I didn’t like this one, either, despite the assurances of many bookish friends that I would.
  • American Gods. This is another book I tried in college and quickly abandoned. This time I listened to this monster of a book on audio, which helped me get through it.
  • The Beautiful and Damned. I can’t even remember why I picked this book up. I felt like it was just a rehashing of the themes from The Great Gatsby (even though this book was written and published before Gatsby), and I didn’t much care for it.
  • Middlesex. The incest in this book totally freaked me out. But I still finished it.
  • Bare Bones. I actually read this book for a challenge, which required you read a book that was a recommendation from a stranger. I had never heard of this guy before, so it was really weird reading his memoir, but I didn’t hate it.

What books are you amazed that you’ve read? Leave your thoughts and links in the comments!

Small Goals + What I’m Into, January 2018

I'm linking up to share my small goals and the things I'm into in January 2018. | Book reviews by NewberyandBeyond.com
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As always, I’m linking up with writes like a girl for my January 2018 small goals, and Leigh Kramer for my monthly what I’m into.

December was a crazy month for me, despite all my planning to make it a little easier! I was so glad to have some time off work at the end of the month to hibernate and prepare for the new year.

  • See the Christmas lights at a nearby historical house. Done.
  • Finish learning music for my church’s Christmas program. Yes, and it went so well! This is always one of my favorite events of the Christmas season, even though it means a lot of extra work for me.
  • Reevaluate work, volunteering, and other activities for the coming year. Yes. I spent some time during the last few days of 2017 to plan how I want my 2018 to go. Time to make some changes!

I kept my goals simple for December, but now that it’s January, I’m feeling a little more ambitious!

  • Make appointments for upcoming events. This goal is vague because this encompasses a lot of things. Basically, I want to get started putting plans in motion for those changes I mentioned earlier!
  • Read at least three books in the towering TBR pile by my bed. This stack of books has gotten out of hand. I really need to read some of the books I own before I go back to the library…
  • Make dinner more often. Since I get home super late most nights, my husband ends up doing most of the cooking. He enjoys it, but I’d like to take some of that work off his hands this month.
  • Do a digital declutter. Delete old files, change passwords, back up photos, organize bookmarks… It needs to be done. This is my boring goal for the month.

What I’m Into

Books I’m looking forward to reading: That. huge. stack of books by my bed. There are so many good books in that stack (Tana French, Dashiell Hammett, Emily Henry)!

TV shows I’ve watched: I’m rewatching Psych with my husband–he has never seen it all the way through!–so we can watch the movie. So fun!

Instagram account I’m loving: Guinea Pig Lovers always posts such cute photos and videos!

My favorite Instagram:

This Page Habit box was one of my favorite gifts this year:

Got this awesome Page Habit box for Christmas! #mypagehabit

A post shared by Monica Fastenau (@monica.fastenau) on

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram (I post lots of book pictures and the occasional selfie), you can do so here.

If you want to see more of what I’m into every month, along with sneak peeks and my favorite posts from the blog, sign up for my email newsletter! It’ll show up in your inbox about once a month and bring you the latest blog news and the things I’m loving.

What are you all up to this month? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading in 2018

I'm linking up for the last Top Ten Tuesday of the year. These are the books I'm most looking forward to reading in 2018! | Book reviews by NewberyandBeyond.com
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This post is part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme by The Broke and the Bookish.

It’s the last TTT of 2017! I have so many books that I’m looking forward to reading next year, but these books made my top ten list.

  1. Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America
  2. Redefining Girly
  3. Sourdough
  4. Year of Yes
  5. Peas and Carrots
  6. The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery
  7. Bellweather Rhapsody
  8. Heartless
  9. Putin Country: A Journey Into the Real Russia
  10. When Dimple Met Rishi

What books are you looking forward to reading in 2018? Let me know in the comments!

Book Challenge Wrap Ups!

It's time to wrap up both of the book challenges I completed this year! Classics + Newbery books. | Book reviews by NewberyandBeyond.com
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It’s the end of the year, and somehow I was able to finish both of the book challenges I started! I joined Smiling Shelves for the Newbery reading challenge and read 75 points worth of Newbery winners and honor books (and one Caldecott!). You can find the reviews for these books here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. Whew!

I also completed the Books and Chocolate classics challenge, which was definitely more difficult for me. Listed below are the books that I read for each category and a link to my review of that book. I earned all three entries into the drawing–woo hoo! (Contact email for this drawing–monica@newberyandbeyond.com)

1. A 19th century classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899. The Awakening; Kate Chopin

2. A 20th century classic – any book published between 1900 and 1967. Dead Man’s Folly; Agatha Christie

3. A classic by a woman author. Murder at the Vicarage; Agatha Christie

4. A classic in translation. Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. Candide; Voltaire

5. A classic originally published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category. Translations can be modern in this category also. Othello; Shakespeare

6. A romance classic. It can have a happy ending or a sad ending, as long as there is a strong romantic element to the plot. Lady Susan; Jane Austen

7. A Gothic or horror classic. Dracula; Bram Stoker

8. A classic with a number in the title. An actual number is required — for example, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None would not qualify, but The Seven Dials Mystery would. 1984; George Orwell

9. A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title. It can be an actual animal or a metaphor, or just the name in the title. Swallows and Amazons; Arthur Ransome

10. A classic set in a place you’d like to visit. It can be real or imaginary: The Wizard of Oz, Down and Out in Paris and London, Death on the Nile, etc. The War of the Worlds; H.G. Wells (London)

11. An award-winning classic. It could be the Newbery award, the Prix Goncourt, the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Award, etc. A Raisin in the Sun; Lorraine Hansberry (Tony Award for Best Play)

12. A Russian classic. 2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author. Crime and Punishment; Fyodor Dostoyevsky

These book challenges were so much fun! I’m not going to sign up for any this year, but I loved how these challenges pushed me to read more of the classics and Newbery books that have been lingering on my TBR list.

Did you participate in any book challenges this year? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Books I Want to See Under My Christmas Tree

I'm linking up to share the top ten books that I want to find under my Christmas tree this year. | NewberyandBeyond.com
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This post is part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme by The Broke and the Bookish.

I’ve already received a couple of books from my Christmas wish list (thank you, Secret Santa!), but there are always plenty more I’d like to add to my shelf. Here is this year’s edition of the ten books I want to find under my Christmas tree.

  1. All Clear. You guys know how I feel about this book. I have a copy of Blackout, so I really need the second book in the duology.
  2. Texts from Jane Eyre. This book is hilarious. It would cheer me up when I’m having a rough day and need something easy to read.
  3. The Year of Living Danishly. This sounds so fascinating!
  4. The rest of the Septimus Heap series. I’ve acquired copies of the first three books in the series. I know I want to re-read it in the future, and one day introduce the series to my children, so I need a complete set.
  5. The Complete Stories of Dorothy L. Sayers. I haven’t read any Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries (crazy, right??), so why not just get them all at once?
  6. Neverwhere. I’ve been wanting to read this Neil Gaiman story for a long time.
  7. Pioneer Girl. I think it would be really interesting to read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography–this time written for adults.
  8. Black Dove, White Raven. I loved Code Name Verity, and this book has been on my TBR list for a long time.
  9. Accidental Saints. To someone who spent a fair amount of time reading about non-traditional Christianity this year, this book sounds super interesting.
  10. The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. Because of course.

What books are you hoping to receive this holiday season? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017

Today I'm linking up to share my favorite books of 2017. Love these books! | NewberyandBeyond.com
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This post is part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme by The Broke and the Bookish.

I can’t believe it’s already time for end of the year lists! I’ve read some good books this year (and a ton of mediocre ones), but here are my favorites of 2017.

  • The Big Book of Christmas MysteriesThis enormous anthology kept me occupied for the entire month of December last year. I loved it.
  • InterruptedI read a huge amount of Christian books this year, and this was one of my favorites. Powerful and relatable.
  • The Septimus Heap seriesThe more I think about this series, the more I love it! I can’t believe it took me this long to finish reading it. Now I just need to acquire my own copies of these books so I can re-read them.
  • Misreading Scripture with Western EyesThis was another favorite from my dive into Christian living books. If you want to understand the Bible more accurately, this is a must read.
  • Fragile ChaosMythology + Beauty and the Beast = Fragile Chaos. I don’t really like mythology or romance, but somehow this book made it work beautifully.
  • The Last Dragonslayer seriesThis is another series that made my list of book series I wanted to finish this year, and I am officially current! Jasper Fforde, as always, is such a creative, fun writer, and I love this YA series.
  • Stars AboveI was sad to say goodbye to the Lunar Chronicles series, so I greatly enjoyed this related collection of short stories.
  • Doomsday BookYou all know how much I love Connie Willis, and this book set in her time travel world is no exception. It’s sad and beautiful and amazing.
  • The Inquisitor’s TaleThis was my favorite Newbery book of 2017 (which is saying something, because there were some really good Newbery books this year!).
  • GeekerellaThis book is just pure fun. It’s a great Cinderella retelling, set in the modern, geeky world.

What are your favorite books of 2017? Share your thoughts or links in the comments!

Small Goals + What I’m Into, December 2017

The last small goals and what I'm into for the year 2017! | NewberyandBeyond.com
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As always, I’m linking up with writes like a girl for my December small goals, and Leigh Kramer for my monthly what I’m into.

It’s hard to believe that December is already here! I’m looking forward to the rest of the holiday season (and a two-week break from work), so I’m keeping my goals simple this month. But first, let’s see how I did on my November goals:

 

  • Dentist. Check! My teeth are still sore, but I’m starting to recover. So glad I can cross this one off the list!
  • Shop sales for Christmas gifts. Yesssss. I delivered several presents to my family when we visited for Thanksgiving, and we spent the Black Friday weekend hitting up sales and finishing out our shopping lists.
  • Related: Shop for Secret Santa gifts! Also finished! This required making a stop by Books a Million at the end of an eleven hour drive in order to use a coupon I had, but it was worth it.
  • Finish watching Sherlock. Oops again. I didn’t have the emotional energy to deal with this. Maybe December will be the month?
  • Study for an upcoming Praxis exam. Yes!

Phew, glad those are over with! Now for some December goals:

  • See the Christmas lights at a nearby historical house. They always have a lot of Christmas trees decorated by local schools, too, and it’s a fun (and free) way to get into the holiday spirit.
  • Finish learning music for my church’s Christmas program. It’s only a few weeks away–yikes!
  • Reevaluate work, volunteering, and other activities for the coming year. This is a big project and might involve some big changes, but I’m ready for it! The end of the year always feels like a good time for evaluation and reflection.

What I’m Into

Books I’m looking forward to reading: I just got my hands on the latest two books in the Thursday Next series! Can’t wait to finally read them.

TV shows I’ve watched: My husband and I sped through the latest Great British Bake Off season that was just posted on Netflix. It was lovely to have that show to take my mind off more stressful things.

Instagram account I’m loving: Josie Lewis posts lots of watercolor art as well as resin and collage.

My favorite Instagram:

It’s Christmas in SWFL!

Happy holidays from Fort Myers… #floridaproblems #fmbsand #itsonlyeightydegrees

A post shared by Monica Fastenau (@monica.fastenau) on

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram (I post lots of book pictures and the occasional selfie), you can do so here.

If you want to see more of what I’m into every month, along with sneak peeks and my favorite posts from the blog, sign up for my email newsletter! It’ll show up in your inbox about once a month and bring you the latest blog news and the things I’m loving.

What are you all up to this month? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Books on My Winter 2017 TBR List

These are the ten books on my TBR list that I really want to read this winter! | NewberyandBeyond.com
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This post is part of the Top Ten Tuesday meme by The Broke and the Bookish.

Although it never really gets cold here in southwest Florida, I still find my reading habits changing as the holidays approach. I don’t want heavy novels or important nonfiction; give me dystopias and lighthearted mysteries! Here are ten of the books on my TBR list this winter.

  • On the Edge of Gone. A dystopian novel starring an autistic character? Yes please!
  • The rest of the Aunty Lee series. I really enjoyed the first book in this mystery series set in Singapore, and I’m excited to read the next books.
  • The rest of the Junior Bender series. There’s even a Christmas-themed book, so this read is right on time!
  • Death by Darjeeling. Why not spend the winter months getting into a new mystery series?
  • Shadows on the Moon. This is one of the books that has been on my TBR list for so long that I can barely remember why I put it on there in the first place. I need to read this soon.
  • Howl’s Moving Castle. I have still never read a Diana Wynne Jones book (I know, I know!), and this one seems like a good one to start with.
  • Attachments. Because Rainbow Rowell never seems to disappoint.
  • A Tale Dark and Grimm. What fits these short winter days better than some dark fairy tales?
  • Neverwhere. I don’t always enjoy Neil Gaiman’s work, but his creepy, surreal worlds also seem fitting for winter.
  • The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries. This anthology of Christmas mysteries kept me happily occupied during Christmas break last year, and I think this anthology might do the trick this time.

What books are on your winter TBR list? Leave your links in the comments!

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