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What I've Been Reading

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This post contains affiliate links.

Shortly after Christmas, a reader wrote to me about a shopaholic relative who decided to spend $1500 on one of her children right after Christmas. This relative lives on a fixed income and the reader knew that the relative was unable to afford the purchases (she was charging everything). She and I were discussing how to talk to her child about the relative, and I thought immediately of the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic. My whole family enjoyed the movie, and it has been a good point of discussion at our house about buying on credit (my husband and I have never been ones to use credit cards for shopping, and we often discuss saving up for things that we want).

As I looked up the movie on Amazon, I found a number of negative reviews about the movie. My husband, my eldest, and I were surprised; we thought the movie was great and that it had a great message about not overspending. 

The reviews mostly were negative because the movie was so different from the books that it was based on.

I looked up the author of the books, Sophie Kinsella, on my library's website. Since everyone was saying that the movie was so different, I thought I'd try reading some of her other novels, and there were quite a few in addition to her Shopaholic series.

Ivory Musketeer The Prudent Homemaker

It was Christmas break, so while the children were playing with their new Legos, playing board games and endless rounds of dress-up, I decided to read. I had already downloaded the free Overdrive app on my phone, so I decided it was time to start using e-books (I've had a cell phone for less than a year now). I checked out the first book at night, when the library would have been closed. I loved that I didn't have to drive to the library and that I could get something new to read immediately.

Octavius Pirate The Prudent Homemaker

I found the books to be funny (I was laughing out loud several times). so I read each of her books that my library had, downloading them to my phone. I read some while the children played, during our naptime/quiet time while I laid down with my toddler to get him to sleep, and at night after the children were in bed. We don't have cable, Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, so I don't watch a lot of tv, but I often work on the website or read other blogs during the evenings. Being Christmas break, most blogs were quiet, and it was nice to have some downtime and just read. 

It took me around 4-5 hours to finish a book. I stayed up late reading several nights, so I usually read 3 hours after the children went to bed and a couple of hours during the day (usually during naptime, while my youngest napped and the others played Legos, did genealogy, and sewed). 

When we started school again a few weeks later, I continued reading at night and during naptime. 

I decided to read the Shopaholic series last. The reviewers were right in that the movie was quite different than the books in several major aspects. At the end of the movie, you're left with the feeling that the main character has learned to control her spending. In the book series, however, she never does. It was very different reading about someone who lives such a different way of life, constantly charging very expensive purchases that she can't afford. 

I liked the main character's optimism about herself, her caring and concern for others, and the fact that despite her weaknesses, she had some great strengths. It was a good reminder that everyone has good qualities, even if they have large weaknesses.

A few things about the author's books that I didn't like: her use of swear words was something I'm not used to reading, and a few scenes were a bit risqué. I also noticed that most of her main characters were women working in entry-level jobs who ended up with multi-millionaires who were heads of companies. While that's a fun thing to imagine, it's definitely not how things work out for most people. 

Despite this, I did enjoy reading her books. I also loved the ease of downloading e-books from the library to read, saving me time and gas (I checked out most books at night after library hours, which was nice, too!)

The last New York Times best-selling author that I read was John Flanagan. My husband, my four eldest children and I have enjoyed all his novels immensely!

I'm thinking that I should check out the New York Times best-seller list to see what other authors' works I may enjoy reading. Reading library books as e-books has been simple, convenient and a great source of free entertainment. 

Have you read any great fiction recently that you can recommend?


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  • Patsy January 23, 2018

    you might enjoy Liane Moriarty's books. She's an Australian author, usually has an interesting perspective of life. And one of my favourite books this year was "The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah. It's about the women in the french resistance during the war. It offers lots of discussion points like "what would I have done in that situation"?

  • I read a number of WWII books last year that I purchased at garage sales for $0.25 to $0.50 each; they were all very good. I haven't heard of this one; thanks for sharing!

  • Susan January 23, 2018

    We second The Nightingale! After I finished it I convinced my husband to pick it up and he loved it, too.
    Happy Reading!

  • Amber January 23, 2018

    The Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah is also very good and thought provoking. It focuses on the Russian people's struggles during the War.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada January 23, 2018

    Thanks for this suggestion. I can hardly wait to read "The Nightingale". Although I have a library card, I have not tried its e-books yet but Brandy your comments are inspiring.

  • Wyoming Gal January 23, 2018

    I like J.A. Jance - especially the Joanna Brady series (sheriff in Arizona). She also has several other series but I like the Joanna Brady series best. I also like Alexander McCall-Smith - not only the No. 1 Ladies Detective series set in Botswana, but also the several series in Edinburgh (Isabel Dalhousie and 44 Scotland Street) and also the comic German academic novels - Portuguese Irregular Verbs, etc. Another fun author is M.C. Beaton - for the Hamish McBeth books (I don't like the Agatha Raisin books). I love all of Amy Tan's books. And we can't forget the best of all novelists - Jane Austen. I love the whole oeurvre and even a few of the knock off books are fun.

  • Anne January 23, 2018

    I adore the Jane Austen "fan fiction." Every time I find a new one I purchase it.

    Lately I have been read the eight book series set in the middle ages by Dorothy Dunnett, far and away the best historical novel writer I have come across.

  • marymk January 23, 2018

    I am not sure if you have this option with your library...but in MS we have a state wide library system where we "borrow" and check out books from other libraries and they are sent to our local branch we also have ebooks. Anyway the reason I am rambling is because I recently found out that with my library card I can access Hulu for free through the library system. So free movies and it is great when we want to have movie night with the kids and home. I also told my frugal friend and at her daughters Harry Potter bday party the girls spent the night and they had a HP movie marathon watching all the movies and they had all read the books and talked about the differences between the movies and books. You may want to check with your library and see if they offer this service in your area.

  • Thanks for sharing what your library offers. I love hearing the amazing things that readers' libraries offer across the country, including free museum tickets and garden seeds!

  • Heidi Liscomb January 28, 2018

    We have that library service here in NY as well and my children use the Overdrive app to download both audio and print books that we use for leisure and schooling. (For how long can I call my big kids children? I mean, one is almost 21...lol!) They have so many resources it's mindboggling. I use it for magazines, books, films, etc. and put them on my Kindle for reading or watching. I still love a bound book the best but having the convenience of this service is fantastic. We don't have cable either and I've just dropped Prime and was considering dropping Netflix but we're on the $7.99/month plan from forever ago and I DO love The Crown! (In spite of the Princess Margaret episodes of this last season - yikes!!) So, Netflix stays for now. :)

  • Kathy L January 23, 2018

    Yes, I can recommend books I think you would enjoy. I have recently reread, via Overdrive, some of the Little House on the Prairie series. I did not know until this recent go round, that the series can definitely be read on a different, adult level. Ingall’s strong political views are clear; she was a Libertarian and believed strongly in self-dependence. Anyway, the books I reread were: The Long Winter (1940) Little Town on the Prairie (1935) and These Happy Golden Years (1943.) I also checked out her unfinished manuscript The First Four Years but it read very rough - it obviously was a draft. There is also a recent book on the physical environments where the series took place, “The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes that Inspired the Little House Books.” I’m going to the library today to pick it up!

  • Kathy, I have owned the Little House series since I was a child. A few years ago, I reread them outloud to the whole family. I found that the one I enjoyed the most as an adult was the one I enjoyed the least as a child: Farmer Boy. I love how self-sufficent they were as family.

  • Heidi Louise January 23, 2018

    Wendy McClure wrote "The Wilder Life" to describe how, as an adult who loved the books, she visited all the locations the Ingalls family. One of her observations is that the family was quite often broke and hungry. She proposes that Laura wrote "Farmer Boy" about her husband's family as she did because to Laura, it was a sort of wonderland of stability and always having enough.

  • Lynn January 23, 2018

    I too read Little House series out loud to my family. I loved Farmer Boy also. The food they described made my mouth water. I also liked The Long Winter. If there was ever a book about preparing for the future and having food storage. It was a poignant reminder what happens when the food supply is cut off.

  • Laurie January 28, 2018

    The Long Winter is hands down my favorite. I reread it every year starting in the late Fall. I think it helps me prepare for the long grey months ahead.

  • Lesliehas6kids January 25, 2018

    So funny that you say that, because the same thing happened to me! As an adult, it's now my favorite!

  • Heidi Liscomb January 28, 2018

    I completely agree with this Brandy! I love [i]Farmer Boy[i] the most now too, and I could barely get through it as a young girl. We've read them aloud to all of the kids and I still quote from them or remind them of how Ma and Pa and the girls did things. We especially talked about them when we drove west across the prairies a few years ago. We also talked a great deal about the Mormon settlement of Utah and the fortitude that it took. We were all so shocked by that landscape the first time we saw it that we just couldn't imagine what it was like for those folks. We northern forest people are not used to so much ROCK!! And endless vistas!! Gorgeous country out there. :)

  • Sarah January 23, 2018

    Kathy- if you're interested in the facts behind the original manuscripts Pioneer Girl is fascinating!

  • Ava January 23, 2018

    Isn't it? My sister-in-law, knowing I loved the Little House books, gave me Pioneer Girl for my birthday, and I'm so grateful to her.

  • Becky January 23, 2018

    I recently finished that new one on the plants that were in the Little House series that you mentioned. I enjoyed it very much. It had many little tidbits about the Little House stories, along with what they grew, and what grew in the areas they were in. I love plants, and I love Little House, so it was win-win for me.

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