by Joanne Harris

from the back cover
When beautiful, unmarried Vianne Rocher sweeps into the pinched little French town of Lansquenet on the heels of the carnival and opens a gem of a chocolate shop across the square from the church, she begins to wreak havoc with the town's Lenten vows. Her uncanny ability to perceive her customers' private discontents and alleviate them with just the right confection coaxes the villagers to abandon themselves to temptation and hapiness, but enrages Pere Reynaud, the local priest. Certain only a witch could stir such sinful indulgence and devise such clever cures, Reynaud pits himself against Vianne and vows to block the chocolate festival she plans for Easter Sunday, and to run her out of town forever.

my rating

my review
Ever since watching the movie several years ago, I have been itching to read this book. It presents unique yet ordinary characters centered around detailed descriptions of mouth-watering chocolate (don't read this hungry) against the backdrop of a small French town -- modern with a touch of nostalgia. Besides the chocolate, I really appreciated the relationships in Chocolat. Joanne Harris paints a rich picture of how individuals affect one another and, in turn, an entire town.

The perspective alternates between Vianne and Pere Reynaud, which is fascinating yet frustrating as the priest takes the role of the villain. Granted, Reynaud is a stiff, old-fashioned man with an odd sense of right and wrong whom one can't help but dislike from the first. And while Joanne Harris does not glorify witchcraft in this book, the protagonist does use it on occasion, however reluctantly.

I suppose this is more of a slice-of-life type story where, as in real life, perfection does not exist. It is a story of people journeying through life together, discovering what it means to be human.

Opinions! Give me your opinions!

How can I improve my book review posts (or any posts, for that matter)? Should the cover or headings be bigger? Are all of the components in the right order? Should the review itself be in a different format, have different information? Tell me what you think!


birthday book haul!

I was equally excited to receive each of these books last week, though I only carried one of them around like Gollum with the One Ring... (it happened to be the first one I unwrapped, and it's enormous and smells wonderful).

The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
I haven't borrowed this sequel from the library yet because I was stubbornly waiting to have my own copy. The first book was that good. And while The Name of the Wind is over 700 pages long, this one tops 1,000. It's a little daunting, but I'm very excited to read it.

Two Renegade Realms by Donita K. Paul
Another sequel! With dragons. I like dragons. I always enjoy Donita K. Paul's colorful characters, and I can't wait to read more about Bixby!

The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris
I've actually read this one before, and I'm so excited to finally have a copy of my own! In fact, it's one of my absolute favorite books, which is quite unusual for a work of non-fiction. I'm thinking about re-reading it this summer, outside on Sunday afternoons (my favorite way to read non-fiction).

Have you picked up any great books lately? Any sequels you're excited about, or perhaps a new favorite you've been waiting to get your hands on?


Allegiant (Divergent #3)

by Veronica Roth

I just realized that I never actually posted this review that I wrote weeks ago, probably because it is sadly lacking in content. Nevertheless, I feel you must know how much I absolutely adore Veronica Roth in all her brilliance. Even though she made me cry.

from the back cover
The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered--fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she's known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris's new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature--and of herself--while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

my rating

my review
This is by far the best conclusion to a book series that I have ever read--and I do not say that lightly. If you haven't already, go read Divergent and Insurgent so that you can read this masterpiece (and because they're just good books).

Honestly, I've just written and deleted three or four different sentences consecutively, so I'm going to give up on reviewing this book now (the best parts are the surprises, and I really don't want to spoil those for you). Which I hate to do, because I always ignore book reviews that don't give me a reason why the person liked the book so much. In light of this dilemma, if you are interested in more reasons to read this series than just my flailing recommendation, please take a look at my reviews for Divergent and Insurgent.

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)


more than just a number: reading goals update

Exactly six months ago, I posted a few reading goals on here. So how am I doing?

*Due to some disagreements between myself and Blogger, the images are not linked to my reviews. If you want to know more about any of these books, visit my reading challenge page.

1. 7 nonfiction
Although I was really hoping to read one per month (obviously my actual goal was more realistic), I'm slightly ahead of schedule on this one.

2. 3 classics
I'm still hoping to muster up enough courage to read Les Miserables sometime in the next six months...

3. 1 book of poetry
I haven't gotten around to this one yet, but there's still about half a year left, right?

4. 1 audiobook
I tried, and I kept falling asleep. Apparently I'm not an audiobook person.

5. The One Year Bible
I missed a few days, and, well, I'm still somewhere in the middle of March.

6. Miscellaneous fiction to add up to 35 books
As you can see in the sidebar, I have read 22 books so far this year, which puts me at 62% of my goal (despite the lack of poetry and audiobooks...). Considering that I read 30 books in 2013 and 34 in 2014, this is pretty exciting! I'm secretly hoping to finish 40 by the end of 2015.

Did you set reading goals for 2015? How are you doing so far?


{untitled poem}

why do I write?
because when confronted with a question
in a crowd (or small group--it's all the same to me)
I hesitate
as my mental self freezes
in front of the vast array of file cabinets
within my mind as if momentarily forgetting
where a certain letter belongs in the alphabet
(and, of course, it is nearly impossible to find
anything in a mass of file cabinets without
knowing the alphabet)
and so begins rehearsing the letters
but panics when I look out
at the expectant faces
and instead frantically rifles through
the nearest drawer,
realizing only after I mutely shake my head
at the faces
that K is not a neighbor to F,
and it happily approaches the correct drawer,
retrieves the necessary file,
and forms the perfect, most insightful response
lightly upon my tongue
but the conversation has forgotten me and
now buzzes around a new topic quickly growing stale]


Introverts in the Church

by Adam S. McHugh

from the back cover
Introverts are called and gifted by God. But many churches tend to be extroverted places where introverts are marginalized. Some Christians end up feeling like it's not as faithful to be an introvert.

Adam McHugh shows how introverts can live and minister in ways consistent with their personalities. He explains how introverts and extroverts process information and approach relationships differently and how introverts can practice Christian spirituality in ways that fit who they are. With practical illustrations from church and parachurch contexts, McHugh offers ways for introverts to serve, lead, worship and even evangelize effectively.

Introverts in the Church is essential reading for any introvert who has ever felt out of place, as well as for church leaders who want to make their churches more welcoming to introverts. Discover God's call and empowering to thrive as an introvert, for the sake of the church and kingdom.

my rating

my review
If you are a church leader, whether introverted or extroverted, please please please read this book.

(If you are not a church leader, I still encourage you to at least look over the first few chapters.) As an introvert, I found Introverts in the Church refreshingly relatable, and I wish all church leaders would read this book and understand how difficult it is for many of us to feel comfortable in church, whether we've been attending for weeks or years. Adam S. McHugh does not ask that churches cater to introverts, but rather that they recognize that we all worship and relate to others in different ways. We do not want special treatment; we just want to belong.

McHugh begins by explaining how churches tend towards extroversion, then explains what it means to be an introvert. The majority of the book is written for introverts (by an introvert), helping us to find healing through spirituality, relationships, community, and even leadership roles. The final chapter returns to how churches can welcome and include introverts.

This book is well-written, and though conversational in tone, it does not take on the fake feel of many Christian non-fiction books in which the author pretends to be your best friend, nor does it feel preachy. McHugh writes from the heart, laying out the facts amidst stories and quotes that flow together seamlessly. I cannot recommend this book enough!

Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture