Reading What I Have Challenge – July 2016

{ Digital Decluttering Progress and Book Reviews }

Aaack! “Decluttering” and “books” in the same sentence?! Say it isn’t so! But, yes, there are times when a person just has Too Many Books. “Impossible,” some of you will say. I understand! Unfortunately, I’m not the type of person who can just have a library of unread books and not have it bother me, whether they are on a shelf or a digital device. I feel the pressure to read those books, and I feel the guilt when it doesn’t happen in a timely manner.


Reading What I Have Challenge - July 2016 | The challenge continues: Read my July 2016 book reviews, plus updates on the reading challenge and digital decluttering progress. |

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A few months ago I began a challenge to read the books I already have. I realized that I could read for years from the books that are already on my shelf or saved on my Kindle app. My digital library contains literally HUNDREDS of books — mostly fiction, with a few self-help types. (Ever hear the term digital clutter? I’ve got it for sure!) With all of those titles at my fingertips, and inspired by Heather at Simply Save, I made a goal to read or delete what I already have before spending money on new reading material.

Some months I read a LOT of books, other months I’m so busy reading other things online that I barely get into a real book. My usual goal is at least one book per week, and my original July goal was 6 books. I ended up reading 7 books! 

The 'Reading What I Have Challenge' continues - July reviews of 7 books #reading #books #fiction Click To Tweet


Here are the books I read during July and my thoughts:



Whistlin’ Dixie In A Nor’Easter – Lisa Patton

Amazon Description:

Leelee Satterfield seemed to have it all: a gorgeous husband, two adorable daughters, and roots in the sunny city of Memphis, Tennessee. So when her husband gets the idea to uproot the family to run a quaint Vermont inn, Leelee is devastated…and her three best friends are outraged. But she’s loved Baker Satterfield since the tenth grade, how can she not indulge his dream? Plus, the glossy photos of bright autumn trees and smiling children in ski suits push her over the edge…after all, how much trouble can it really be?

But Leelee discovers pretty fast that there’s a truckload of things nobody tells you about Vermont until you live there: such as mud season, vampire flies, and the danger of ice sheets careening off roofs. Not to mention when her beloved Yorkie decides to pick New Year’s Eve to go to doggie heaven-she encounters one more New England oddity: frozen ground means you can’t bury your dead in the winter. And that Yankee idiosyncrasy just won’t do.

The inn they’ve bought also has its host of problems: an odor that no amount of potpourri can erase, tacky décor, and a staff of peculiar Vermonters whose personalities are as unique as the hippopotamus collection gracing the fireplace mantle. The whole operation is managed by Helga, a stern German woman who takes special delight in bullying Leelee for her southern gentility. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for Leelee to start wondering when to drag out the moving boxes again.

But when an unexpected hardship takes Leelee by surprise, she finds herself left alone with an inn to run, a mortgage to pay, and two daughters to raise. But this Southern belle won’t be run out of town so easily. Drawing on the Southern grit and inner strength she didn’t know she had, Leelee decides to turn around the Inn, her attitude and her life. In doing so, she makes friends with her neighbors, finds a little romance, and realizes there’s a lot more in common with Vermont than she first thought.

In this moving and comedic debut, Lisa Patton paints a hilarious portrait of life in Vermont as seen through the eyes of a southern belle readers won’t soon forget. A charming fish-out-of-water tale of one woman who learns to stand up for herself-in sandals and snow boots-against the odds.


My Thoughts:

– I liked it, but didn’t love it. Leelee and her friends were funny. (Do southern women really drink that much regular Coke?) I liked the uniqueness of the characters. And the description of life in the north is pretty darn accurate. Watching Leelee grow up and learn to stand up for herself was worth reading the book.



The Very Picture of You – Isabel Wolff


Amazon Description:

At thirty-five, Gabriella “Ella” Graham is a successful portrait artist in London. She captures the essential truth in each of her subjects’ faces—a tilt of the chin, a glint in the eye—and immortalizes it on canvas. But closer to home, Ella finds the truth more elusive. Her father abandoned the family when she was five, and her mother has remained silent on the subject ever since. Ella’s sister, Chloe, is engaged to Nate, an American working in London, but Ella suspects that he may not be so committed. Then, at Chloe’s behest, Ella agrees to paint Nate’s portrait.

From session to session, Ella begins to see Nate in a different light, which gives rise to conflicted feelings. In fact, through the various people she paints—including an elderly client reflecting on her life and a woman dreading the prospect of turning forty—Ella realizes that there is so much more to a person’s life than what is seen on the surface. And as her portraits of Nate and the others progress, they begin to reveal less about their subjects than about the artist herself.

My Thoughts:

I was surprised by how much I liked this. I was completely drawn into the story, and I loved how the author described everything that goes along with the process of portrait painting. Even though the storyline was a little predictable, the characters were interesting and I was pretty much rooting for all of their stories to end well. Details were given at just the right times to keep the novel compelling.



The Life List – Lori Nelson Spielman


Amazon Description:

In this utterly charming debut—perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern’s P.S., I Love You and Allison Winn Scotch’s Time of My Life—one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects.

1. Go to Paris
2. Have a baby, maybe two
3. Fall in love

Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a spacious loft, an irresistibly handsome boyfriend. All in all, a charmed life. That is, until her beloved mother passes away, leaving behind a will with one big stipulation: In order to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the life list of goals she’d written when she was a naïve girl of fourteen. Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision—her childhood dreams don’t resemble her ambitions at age thirty-four in the slightest. Some seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other goals (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. As Brett reluctantly embarks on a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams, one thing becomes clear. Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.


My Thoughts:

– This book was heartwarming even though it was a little cliche. I think what actually makes me give it a thumbs-up is the fact that even a few weeks after reading it, I smile when I think about some of the scenes. I had to roll my eyes at some of the letters from Brett’s mother, but Brett’s own actions were relatable and often funny. Overall a good story.

By the way, when I was looking up “The Life List” on Amazon (that’s where I get all of my descriptions), I noticed it’s available as a FREE selection when you sign up for a free trial of Audible. I know many people LOVE audiobooks, so that might be an option for those who want to “read” the book and don’t already have an Audible subscription. Here is the link: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks



The Racketeer – John Grisham


Amazon Description:

In the history of the United States, only four active federal judges have been murdered. Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five. His body is found in his remote lakeside cabin. There is no sign of forced entry or struggle. Just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

One man, a former attorney, knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and why. But that man, Malcolm Bannister, is currently residing in the Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland. Though serving time, Malcolm has an ace up his sleeve. He has information the FBI would love to know. Malcolm would love to tell them. But everything has a price—and the man known as the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday.


My Thoughts:

– I loved this book! I honestly had no idea what was coming when I got to the final plot twist. Some parts were completely unrealistic, but that’s the fun of fiction. And the way Grisham weaves everything together in the end is masterful. This was a great, quick read – perfect for a relaxing weekend.



Related Posts:
Reading What I Have Challenge – May 2016
Reading What I Have Challenge–June 2016



The Sugar Queen – Sarah Addison Allen


Amazon Description:

In this irresistible follow-up to her New York Times bestselling debut, Garden Spells, author Sarah Addison Allen tells the tale of a young woman whose family secrets—and secret passions—are about to change her life forever.

Twenty-seven-year-old Josey Cirrini is sure of three things: winter in her North Carolina hometown is her favorite season, she’s a sorry excuse for a Southern belle, and sweets are best eaten in the privacy of her hidden closet. For while Josey has settled into an uneventful life in her mother’s house, her one consolation is the stockpile of sugary treats and paperback romances she escapes to each night…. Until she finds it harboring none other than local waitress Della Lee Baker, a tough-talking, tenderhearted woman who is one part nemesis—and two parts fairy godmother…

Fleeing a life of bad luck and big mistakes, Della Lee has decided Josey’s clandestine closet is the safest place to crash. In return she’s going to change Josey’s life—because, clearly, it is not the closet of a happy woman. With Della Lee’s tough love, Josey is soon forgoing pecan rolls and caramels, tapping into her startlingly keen feminine instincts, and finding her narrow existence quickly expanding.

Before long, Josey bonds with Chloe Finley, a young woman who makes the best sandwiches in town, is hounded by books that inexplicably appear whenever she needs them, and—most amazing of all—has a close connection to Josey’s longtime crush.

As little by little Josey dares to step outside herself, she discovers a world where the color red has astonishing power, passion can make eggs fry in their cartons, and romance can blossom at any time—even for her. It seems that Della Lee’s work is done, and it’s time for her to move on. But the truth about where she’s going, why she showed up in the first place—and what Chloe has to do with it all—is about to add one more unexpected chapter to Josey’ s fast-changing life.

Brimming with warmth, wit, and a sprinkling of magic, here is a spellbinding tale of friendship, love—and the enchanting possibilities of every new day.


My Thoughts:

– This book was not quite what I expected when I read the dust jacket description (same as above). It was all just sort of weird yet predictable. I should have walked away from the book, but at least it was a quick read.

I realized when I was looking up this title on Amazon that I’ve also read The Peach Keeper and Lost Lake, both by the same author and written after this book. I liked those books better.



Footsteps in Time – Sarah Woodbury

(After Cilmeri Series Book 1)


Amazon Description:

In December of 1282, English soldiers ambushed and murdered Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales. His death marked the end of Wales as an independent nation and the beginning of over seven hundred years under the English boot.

Footsteps in Time is the story of what might have happened had Llywelyn lived.

And what happens to the two teenagers who save him.


My Thoughts:

– I didn’t like it quite as much as the prequel Daughter of Time – Probably because obviously history was changed at the beginning of this Book 1 as a setting for the series, so now it sort of feels like I have no guide to look at to see what’s coming next even though the book is set in historical times. (I’m one of those people who needs to either have a mental or physical timeline for historical events.) But I suppose that helps to keep me reading, because now I’m REALLY wondering what comes next. 😉

Still liking the series, and it was worth the special Kindle price for the boxed set (After Cilmeri Boxed Set: Daughter of Time/Footsteps in Time/Winds of Time/Prince of Time) that was available last month.



Winds of Time – Sarah Woodbury

(After Cilmeri Series Novella)


Amazon Description:

Meg had thought that taking a commuter flight from Pasco, Washington to Boise, Idaho would be a simple matter. But nothing is simple for Meg when it comes to travel, and especially not when she finds herself in the Middle Ages again instead of in a plane crash on a mountain side in Oregon.

And when the pilot takes off without her in a quest to return to the twenty-first century, Meg will need every last bit of maturity and knowledge she gained in the sixteen years she spent in the modern world–to survive even a day in this one.

A note from the author: This story was started many years ago, as part of Footsteps in Time. When it came down to it, however, the story didn’t fit with what was happening with David and Anna, and had to be put aside. Happily, I am now able to share the story of Meg’s return to the Middle Ages. Thus, Winds of Time takes place between Part 1 and Part 2 of Footsteps in Time, Book One in the After Cilmeri Series. I think you will enjoy Winds of Time more if you read Footsteps in Time first. Diolch yn fawr (thank you)! -Sarah


My Thoughts:

Since this was a novella, it was obviously a very short book. It overlapped Footsteps in Time, telling the tale of how Meg made it from Hadrian’s Wall to Wales in the 13th century. (I did Google some pretty detailed maps to help me feel like I “knew where I was” in the story.) Short, interesting, good filler material to help understand more of the story and what was coming in the next book.




Reading Challenge Progress

This challenge began with a goal to read OR DELETE the books on my shelf and in my digital library. Honestly, when it began, I couldn’t bring myself to hit the delete button on any books. But as the months are going by, I’m finding it easier.

Of course, I would dearly love to read All The Books, but that’s just not possible.

Deleting digital titles takes away some of the pressure of feeling like I will never get through everything. In May I deleted 15 titles, and in June I was able to drop another 60 titles.

I made even more digital minimalizing progress during July, deleting another 85 unread titles from my Kindle library. As usual, I realized that some of those books had been sitting there for almost 4 years. You know, it’s tough to hit “delete” when Kindle asks if you really want to permanently delete a title. Yikes! But yes!

{Slightly off-topic almost-rant after slogging through hundreds of Kindle titles with no real way to organize them other than alphabetically.} Dear Amazon: Please add the capability in Kindle to tag and sort books. Managing my online library would be so much easier if I could tag and sort my books by categories (that I create) and whether or not I have read them. Thank you for understanding the problems of a digital clutter book collector.

I also remained unsubscribed from BookBub emails. It’s easy enough to subscribe again at some future point.

Here we are in August already! School will be starting all too soon and I will be back to my part-time job. I’m setting a minimum goal of 5 books.

Reading What I Have Challenge - July 2016 | The challenge continues: Read my July 2016 book reviews, plus updates on the reading challenge and digital decluttering progress. |

What have you been reading lately? Comment with a link to your post if you’ve written about it!

10 thoughts on “Reading What I Have Challenge – July 2016”

  1. This is a great idea! It really is! I probably have more “paper” books than I do digital books. This would be a great challenge, to read and then pass on or just get rid of some of the books.

    I have enjoyed every John Grisham book that I have read! I have not heard of this book though and would like to read it. I don’t get a chance to read for pleasure very often but when I do, I love a book like John Grisham’s books.

    1. Hi Amanda! It was my shelf of over 100 unread books that got me started on this. Most of them are passed along to me by my parents (we have similar reading tastes) and it feels good to pass them back when I am finished. I loved that this Grisham book kept me guessing — hopefully you get a chance to read it!

  2. Thanks for these suggestions! I have a bunch of books that I haven’t read on my Kindle too, but now I think I’ll be adding a few. LOL Thanks for sharing at #HomeMattersParty!

    1. Hi Pam! No judgement from me for adding more. 😉 But it doesn’t hurt to go through and weed out a few of the titles that have been there forever. Just sayin’. 😉

  3. I love to read and have tons of books. I do read them all and every time I go to a garage sale or flea market, I pick up all that I can. Once I have read them, I either put them in my garage sale or donate them to the library. I have read many of the ones you did and will keep the others in mind.
    Thanks for sharing at Over The Moon Party,

    1. Hi Bev! Good for you for reading all of the books you obtain! This summer my husband wanted to take me to a used book store — he thought I would enjoy getting some new-to-me books. I was sooooo tempted, but decided to tell him we would have to do it next year after I have read my way through what I already have. I wish I could read faster… a book per day would be about perfect. 😉

      Thanks for visiting!

  4. Oh my goodness, I need to join you in this challenge! I made the mistake of subscribing to the free ebook emails when I first got my Kindle — emails of free books everyday means 100s of of books in my digital library! I don’t even know where to start! I used to be an avid reader but lately I do more audiobooks because of time. This summer I’ve read/listened to several; I think my favorite so far has been “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.” Currently I am reading “The Girl On The Train,” but despite all the hype, I am honestly not enjoying it. I am so ready for it to be d.o.n.e.!! 🙂

    1. Hi Wendy! Your collection sounds just like mine! If you’re open to eliminating some unread titles, take some time to go into your digital collection on the computer and start getting rid of the oldest ones. It’s so very hard at first, but it gets easier.

      With books you’re not enjoying, sometimes you just have to move on. Nobody is forcing you to finish it. (I know, I know, if only we could get past the pressure of feeling like we have to finish the books we start. I’m guilty also!)

  5. momssmallvictories

    Decluttering your kindle, heavens no?!? I’m just kidding, I need to do that too, at least archive the ones I’ve read. And I agree they should have a way to categorize books. I have not read any of the books you did, but I did read First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen and Grisham used to be one of my favorite authors a long time ago, maybe it’s time to revisit!

    Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday Linkup last week. Pinning to our linkup board and hope you join us again this weekend.

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