2016 Reading Challenge: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Oh boy.

I’ve had my eye on this book ever since I launched my reading challenge late last year. I knew this would be the book I reread after not enjoying it the first time around.

I mention this book so much on the blog and off of it that I’m used to jaws dropping to the ground when I tell people what I think of it. It’s the best.

But YOU don’t know if the second time around changed my opinion! And I’m not going to tell you. Either watch or don’t Blah.

Fun fact: This was the first book I ever reread that wasn’t written by me.

2016 Reading Challenge Book #5: Night by Elie Wiesel

Immediately after quitting my job at Half Price Books I got to reading. I finished this book over a month ago, but I’ve been too busy to make a video.

Night is the autobiographical account of Elie Wiesel’s experience during the Holocaust. The book is just over 100 pages long, but not a single page is wasted. There’s no fluff or filler. There’s no dramatization. It’s simply the retelling of what happened to him.

He takes the reader on a journey no man or woman should have ever taken. He describes a feeling of hopelessness that most simply can’t comprehend. He describes losing his faith. Most importantly, he holds nothing back. The events described are brutal, terrifying, and beyond humanity. No detail is spared because to do so (in my opinion) would be to take away from those who didn’t make it out of the camps. The story of the Holocaust must continue to be told in this manner. We can’t afford to lighten up on the details. Every person who experienced the Holocaust deserves better.

My takeaway from the book is rather simple. Anne Frank’s diary has given millions of people a look at what it was like to be persecuted and in hiding during this dreadful period. Night has given millions of people a look into the lives of those forced from their homes into camps like Auschwitz.

Both stories need to be told. Both books should be required reading for every high school student in the world. Why? Because the Holocaust is an important world event, but there’s more to it than that. These students are going to be politicians, world leaders, military personnel, and voting citizens. It’s important they understand the evil humans are capable of so that when the time comes to act against a group or regime or leader, there’s no hesitation.

I surely hope you’ve read Night by now, but if you haven’t I believe it’s a book more than worthy of your time.

The book satisfied the requirement on my reading challenge to read a book by an author I hadn’t read before. 

2016 Reading Challenge Book #4: Friday Night Lights

I know we’re in August now and I’m only four books into my 2016 reading challenge, BUT I’ve actually read two more I haven’t talked about just yet. Hehe. I’ll finish. Because it’s so easy.

Anyway, the requirement I fulfilled by reading Friday Night Lights was a book I’d already seen the movie for. Which you definitely should have seen the movie by now since it was released in 2004. I can’t tell you how great this book really is. This might sound stupid to you, but I believe it should be assigned reading in any sports-related class in Texas high schools and universities. Because if you’re studying to go into the Texas sports market you should understand how important sports can be. This book gives the reader incredible insight into the world of Texas high school football, but more importantly it gives the reader incredible insight into small-town Texas life. It is simply a remarkable work.

Now take just a few minutes for my complete thoughts!

What’s the best sports book you’ve read? The best one for me (just narrowly) is still Moneyball, but boy this book couldn’t be any closer.

2016 Reading Challenge Book #3: Paper Towns

I know I’m not exactly leading the pack when it comes to my 2016 Reading Challenge, BUT at least I am reading something, right? Right.

This time around I decided to read John Green’s Paper Towns to mark off the young adult book from my challenge. In the video I didn’t get into the plot too much because I know people don’t like spoilers, but after editing and watching it back again I’ve decided that I’m going to be more in-depth in future videos because it just comes across as awkward when I’m referencing parts of the story but haven’t really spoken about them. So that’s just for future reference.

Also, I know yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday but I released a really important video. I laid out what my future plans are for my Johnny Reads YouTube channel. It’s two minutes in length, so I’ll leave it here for you just in case you didn’t catch it.

And here’s my video on Paper Towns. Now watch and tell me if you’ve read it and what you thought of it!

PS: I haven’t seen the movie just yet.

2016 Reading Challenge Book #2: The Thomas Berryman Number

The second book I crossed off my 2016 Reading Challenge was a book written by James Patterson. And I chose a book I hadn’t read before and one that isn’t a part of any of his many series. I also chose it because it was written all the way back in 1976 and won the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the best first novel by an American writer. This is an award that some literary giants have won in the past, and Patterson is forever among them.

I think that’s all I have for you before the video. I do think you’ll want to watch the whole thing because it almost morphs into a rant. And who doesn’t like rants, right? You also find out which book I’m reading next for my challenge. Now watch!

PS: I finished my edits on the video a couple of hours before this post went up, but I’m not sure exactly how long they’ll take to complete. So don’t yell at me if they aren’t finished when you watch.

Deciding on a Staff Pick

Throughout the year those of us at Half Price Books review any book, movie, or CD we want to.

And this month I volunteered. But then I realized I needed something to review. At first I wanted to read something and then review it, but then I started thinking of books I’ve read recently. Then I thought of one book in particular. Lone Survivor. I’ve said on here that it’s easily the best book I’ve read and one of two books I’d recommend to anyone asking. So what better book to review for the company?

Sure it may not be a new release, but it’s one of those rare stories you read and simply don’t forget.

If you could review and recommend just one book like I have to, what would it be? I know I’ve asked about the best books you’ve read and about favorites, but this would be for people who enjoy reading. It wouldn’t be geared toward any other specific group. So, what would you review?

Why I Don’t Write Book Reviews


Photo Credit: Sharon Lee Hughson

The most common type of post you’ll find from so called book bloggers is book reviews. You’ll also notice that I never write such posts. There’s a reason for this, several actually. Let’s begin.

The easiest of my reasons for not writing book reviews on this blog is that, quite frankly, they’re boring to read. I mean, the only book reviews I’ll ever even consider reading on other blogs are of books I’ve actually read. I don’t care about this book tour or that obscure title you think should be more popular than it is or any book I’m not interested in. The only reviews I can recall reading on here were for The Fault in Our Stars, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and any of the books starring Katniss. That’s all. And I get really annoyed when I follow a blog that proceeds to post book review after book review after book review. I just unfollow and get on my merry way.

The second reason besides them being boring to read is that they’re boring to write. I’ve admitted to writing a couple of my blog posts in a rush, but writing book reviews is about as interesting as nothing. I mean, here you are spending way too much time writing a detailed and informative book review that very few people will read. Why? Because I think many people are like myself and would rather read reviews on Amazon or Goodreads or not at all.

My last reason will be obvious to those of you who frequent my little piece of the Internet. To review books, to me, is to either recommend them or to dissuade my reader from taking a chance on the book. Because if I give a book a rating of four or five stars then that is no different from my saying “I think this is a good book that you would enjoy reading.” If I give it a rating of one or two stars then that’s the same as my saying it was awful. And you guys should know by now that I don’t recommend books. Ever.

Bonus reason, I hate to have to talk about the book’s story. If you’ve read any of my posts about the books on the Amazon list, then you’ll know that I very, very briefly hit on the high points of the story before I get into my thoughts. And by no means do I consider those book reviews. Mostly just rambling.

BUT against my better judgment I’ll ask you why you do or don’t post book reviews on your blog. And if yours is one of those blogs that strictly posts reviews, well I’m not asking you. This is for bloggers like myself who post about writing and reading and publishing and literally anything there is to post about books.

Eight is Great

I’m actually writing this post before I finish the eighth chapter. I know exactly where it’s going and I’m always eager to fill you guys in, so we get an early post this time around.

In this chapter Andrew makes his travel plans and once again turns to Detective Nathan. For those of you unaware, this particular detective played a major role in solving Andrew’s first ever case that takes place about five months before the current one. This homicide detective is pretty much his go-to guy when he handles serious cases. Andrew generally wants someone in the loop who can move the case forward should something happen to him. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet, he’s just looking to bounce some ideas off of him at this point. That’s all for now!

Also, I have another review from my blog tour to share with you guys! It’s from the blog Readers’ Muse and if I had to put a label on it I’d call it fair. Check it out!