Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sharing the Love of Books

I know, I know...the first question I need to answer is where have I been. The answer is simple. I have been right here. My summer took some unexpected turns and I wasn't getting in much reading. On top of that, the reading I was doing was mostly re-reading old favorites. However, summer is over. Routine has returned and with it my obsessive reading. So I am back and I will be updating you more regularly on what I have been reading and on all things book related. 

On that note, it's time for another readathon!!! Woohoo!!! Readathons have become one of my very favorite events during the year. I have been looking forward to this one so much and I am so pleased that I get to participate again. My stack of books is ready to go (more on that in another post) and I am committing the next few days to getting everything done that I possibly can to allow my weekend to be free of distractions.

I am doing something a little different this year that I wanted to share with you. This is the tenth anniversary of Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon and it is my fifth time participating. In honor of that I wanted to do something to share my love of reading in a more tangible way. I have decided to use this opportunity to raise money to purchase books to donate to Toys for Tots this Christmas season. I personally am pledging 10 cents per page that I read. I would like to invite you to join me in this opportunity to bless kids with the gift of books. You can pledge per page I read or book I finish. You can encourage your kids to read and donate based on how much they (or you) read. Or you can avoid all confusion and math and just donate! It is completely up to you! I am working with Usborne Books & More to purchase these books and they will generously match donations at %50. That means that your donation of $10 becomes $15, $50 becomes $75, $100 becomes $150. My goal is to raise $800 in donations which will become $1200 in books! How exciting will it be to pour that amount of literature back into the local community?!?!?!

Here is the link if you would like to donate: 
https://www.youcaring.com/toysfortots-983431

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any questions at all just let me know. I will be back soon with more bookish goodness!


Friday, May 26, 2017

Opps...It's Definitely Time for a Wrap-Up...

I know it's been a couple of weeks since I have updated you on what I've been reading. The truth is I haven't been reading as much as I would like to and therefore, I feel like I haven't had much to say. But I finally have a few ideas floating around in my brain that I want to share with you. So without further ado, here is what I've been reading the last couple weeks.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

I thought this book was absolutely charming. It follows Clay Jannon, who gets a job as a clerk in a 24 bookstore. He soon discovers that the bookstore contains all manner of puzzles and mysteries and begins a journey that will lead him into the midst of a secret society and to the beginnings of a 500 year old mystery. This book is whimsical and sweet and just a light and fun read. 






Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder


The third in the Little House series, this book focuses on the childhood of Laura Ingalls eventual husband, Almanzo Wilder. I love the contrast between their two childhoods, while Laura's family had very little, the Wilders had an abundance but were still taught to work hard and be diligent and disciplined. Plus all the descriptions of the food they ate made my mouth water!


 Maud by Melanie J. Fishbane

This brand new release is a fictionalized account of the teenage years of Lucy Laud Montgomery. It is geared toward younger readers and honestly, I think I would have absolutely loved this book as a teenager. As an adult, I still enjoyed it but it was not what I was hoping it would be. Montgomery is known for her descriptive writing and that was what I was hoping for when I picked up this book but overall it fell just a little flat for me. There is too much telling instead of showing. Also, the focus is too much on her romances and flirtations as a teen. Again, it's not a bad book, it's just not what I was hoping for. What it has done is inspire me to read Montgomery's journals for myself.


The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature by Elizabeth Kantor

Non-fiction discussing the lack of classical education when it comes to literature and how our current educational focus is about interpreting literature in light of current events and hot button issues instead of studying great literature and striving to understand the genius of the writer. A reminder that poetry is meant to be memorized, plays are meant to be seen, and great literature is meant to be discussed and gossiped about. Though I didn't agree with the author entirely (do we ever agree with authors entirely?), I very much appreciate her perspective and her desire that great literature be studied simply because it is great.



That is all for today but just know that I am excited about the books I am currently reading so I will be back soon! What will you be reading this weekend???

Monday, May 8, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 5/8/17

Here are the three books I read this week:

                                      
A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

This middle grade novel is set in a slightly magical world where everyone has a talent - it may be cake baking or it may be spitting. A sweet story about a girl finding a home with all kinds of twists and turns and puzzles along the way. Bonus: The book is also filled with cake recipes that I am hoping to try! All in all, a fun frivolous read!









The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers

This books was...weird...I don't really know how else to describe it. So I'm going to just give you a brief synopsis copied from goodreads:

     "Optimus Yarnspinner, finds himself marooned in the subterranean world of Bookholm, the City of Dreaming Books, where reading can be dangerous, where ruthless Bookhunters fight to the death."










Horton Halfpott; or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset by Tom Angleberger

Another middle grade book. This one was cute as well, full of ridiculous characters and bizarre plot twists (just in case you couldn't figure that out from the title). A lovely way to spend a couple hours. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

It's a Wrap! Readathon April 2017

I have successfully survived another readathon. I slept a little more than I intended to this time around. I came off of two days of babysitting and two nights of abnormal sleep patterns so I was already tired when I started. I still managed to read 1381 pages which included 5 complete books and parts of three others. I was also able to finish up those three books Sunday afternoon when I went back to babysitting and the kids were napping so I will be covering all eight books today. 

We'll be covering the books from bottom to top because that is the order in which I read them.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
I started my morning with this and read it straight through. This book has been quite popular since it came out last year and normally I avoid new books. I like books that have proved themselves over time and are not just the flavor of the month. However, coming in at under 200 pages this seemed like a great choice for readathon. The plot of this one immediately grabbed me: teens who have been taken to another world as children (think Alice in Wonderland) and how they cope with life upon their return to the real world. Unfortunately, though the plot had so much potential, the story fell very flat for me. I think the author spent too much time fleshing out things that were irrelevant to the story and left the main plot lines fairly shallow and uninspired. 

Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise
A middle grade novel about a grumpy old writer, a little boy, and a ghost. Although creative in the way it told the story it was not a particularly intriguing tale. 

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
A very charming novella about what happens when the Queen of England discovers a mobile library parked outside the palace and how the more books she reads the more her life and her perspective changes. 

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan 
Fun anecdotes about working in a library. Odd questions asked, rude patrons, and the wonderful moments that make it all worthwhile. A quick, fun read. 

The Farthest-Away Mountain by Lynne Reid Banks 
A middle grade fantasy/adventure story. It was entertaining but there was nothing that made it especially memorable.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
This may be my favorite book I read during readathon this time around. The true story of a man who stole tens of thousands dollars worth of rare books just because he wanted to have them. Very enjoyable.

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
A reread. I had fun with this one. I read part of it and listened to part of it on audio. It was a great way to break up the day.

Akin to Anne by L.M. Montgomery
A book of short stories. Reading Montgomery is always refreshing and relaxing. My one thought on this is that these stories were all originally published separately and when they were collected into books they were grouped by theme and so many of the stories in this book have identical plots so maybe spread these out over a week or two and not read them all in one weekend.


What's coming up this week?
My goal this week is to read the rest of my readathon tbr stack plus finish the three books (pictured on the right) that I had started before readathon.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Readathon Prep - April 2017

IT'S READATHON TIME AGAIN!!!

Seriously, it's ridiculous how much I love participating in Deweys. I stumbled across the event two years ago and was unable to participate but I immediately starting counting down the days until the October 2015 readathon. It was love at first page. This will be my fourth Deweys and each time I have changed and refined how I approach it and I am looking forward to the best one yet! 

Today we're going to cover all the important readathon prep topics beginning with, of course, 

Books:

This is my stack of twenty potential reads. I like to have options but not be overwhelmed by too many. I'm just going to give you titles and authors and the reason why they are on my stack. If you want a synopsis you can look it up yourself (or wait until after I read it and it ends up in a wrap up post).
From top to bottom:

Akin to Anne by L.M. Montgomery
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Bellwether by Connie Willis
     These three are rereads. I like to have a few rereads on hand for the later hours when I'm a little sleepy and my mind tends to wander a bit more.

The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carman
Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise
Horton Halfpott by Tom Angleberger
The Farthest-Away Mountain by Lynne Reid Banks
     These are all middle grade books. Middle grade works great for readathons because they are pretty quick to get through and the plots are easy to follow. And who doesn't love a good kids book?!

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan
     Anecdotes (most less than a page) from librarians. This is going to be the book I leave in the bathroom to read a page or two when I'm in there. Side note: I highly recommend the book Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg for this same purpose.

Mandy by Julie (Andrews) Edwards
     More middle grade.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
     This may be the book I start with at 5am on Saturday.

The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker
     More middle grade.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
     I read a book by this author a few weeks ago and immediately thought that her books would be perfect for a readathon and I had this one already on my shelves.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
     I've had this on every readathon TBR and I still haven't read it...maybe this year...

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
     This is the other book I am considering starting with.

A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff
     Even more middle grade.

Peter Pan by J.M Barrie
     Because I need to read more classics!

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
     It has 24 hour bookstore in the title! How could I not?

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
     I have this one in both hard copy and audio book. I often listen to an audio book for an hour while I do something else but it always ends up being some random book that I don't finish because I don't listen to audio books generally. I thought this way I could switch back and forth between the two mediums. 

The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde
     Another reread, also the only book on the stack over 300 pages. For when I need something that makes me feel all cozy and happy. 

The People in the Castle by Joan Aiken
     Short stories. I am not usually a fan of short stories but I always try and have a few on hand during a readathon to keep things fresh. 

Obviously I will not get through all 20 of these books but I have high hopes that I will make a significant dent in the pile. 

Moving on to the second favorite readathon topic:

Food:

I've done something a little different each time around. The first readathon I did quite a bit of research on foods that keep you awake and foods that make you sleepy and planned accordingly. Honestly, I didn't feel like it made much of a difference for me so since then I have just done whatever I feel like. I always have plenty of fruit on hand and cheese and crackers. Of course some dark chocolate. This year I think I'll just pick up a pizza on Friday evening so I have some leftovers of that as well. As for drinks, I'm not a coffee drinker, in fact I avoid caffeine in general but for readathon I treat myself to Snapple Peach Tea because it's yummy and I need a little caffeine. 

Other Prep: 

The week leading up to readathon I try and get little tasks out of the way so I don't get distracted by a pile of papers on my desk or dust on the shelves or an overflowing laundry basket. I want a clean organized environment so I can fully relax on the day of. This time around I am going to be gone Thursday and Friday so I am taking today to get those things done. Friday evening I'll pick up whatever groceries I need on the way home and maybe run the vacuum over the carpet but I'm trying to get everything else done in advance so I can have a relaxing successful readathon. 

There is one other topic to touch on and that is sleep. I've tried to stay awake for the full 24 hours and it just doesn't work for me. I am on the west coast so I have a 5am start time (which I love! seriously, I do!). But by the time midnight rolls around I'm losing any semblance of sanity. I've found what works for me is to sleep for about three hours, usually about 10pm - 1am. This allows me to still participate all the way through the 24 hours and not just disappear at hour 19 or 20. Figure out what works for you! 

Whether this is your first or your fiftieth readathon I hope you have a wonderful time! If you have never participated before ir's not too late to sign up. There are no requirements. You do not have to read for the full 24 hours or even 2 hours. It's just a coming together of book lovers around the world. 

Also: shout out to my parents for babysitting my nieces and nephews on Saturday which is what I am supposed to be doing. But it would break my pathetic little heart to not get to participate in Deweys. Seriously though, Mom and Dad, I know you read this blog and you guys are awesome. I am so grateful for you.






Monday, April 17, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 4/17/17

I know, I know, I know...I didn't blog last week. But I'm back this week with an interesting stack of books that I read in the past two weeks.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
This is a middle grade novel that has become fairly well known since it was published in 2012. The story centers around August Pullman, a 10 year old with severe facial deformities. In this book he attends school for the first time after having been home schooled. A sweet story about friendship and doing the right thing no matter what anyone thinks.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Another book accomplished with the help of my reading buddy. This classic detective novel tells of the disappearance of the Moonstone, a legendary diamond. We are told the story through multiple perspectives and even though I enjoyed the book, many times it just felt like information overload.

Anthem by Ayn Rand
Though Rand is more well known for Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, this is the novel of hers that came most highly recommended to me. This dystopian story takes place in a society where individuality has been eradicated. The word "I" no longer exists. Until one man flees the society and discovers something beyond the collective "we".

The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
Another middle grade novel (I love my kids books!). Follow the journey of William, a mixed race monk with the gift of extraordinary strength, Jacob, a Jew with the gift of healing, Jeanne, a peasant girl who can see the future, and Gwenforte her dog who also happens to be a saint.

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

This was a reread for me. It is a somewhat allegorical story about a mans journey to hell and heaven, and the conversations and realizations he has while he is there.Though this is at least the third time I have read this book I think this is the first time I have really understood the point of it. Of all the books on my list this week, this is the only one that I would highly recommend!

That's all I have for you this today! There is a readathon coming up in less than two weeks so I have started preparations for that which I guarantee I will be tell you more about so stay tuned...

(Also, it's not too late to sign up here )

Monday, April 3, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 4/3/17

Today I'm just going to touch briefly on three books.

Merlin's Keep by Madeleine Brent
Brent published several gothic romance novels in the 70s. These are clean romances with exotic settings. The story lines are all similar but they always make for enjoyable reading. However, this was, by far, my least favorite of her books that I have read. Centering around a half-caste Tibetan princess this book delves too much into eastern mysticism with healthy doses of occultism, hypnotism, and mind control. It was just a little too dark for me. 

Lost in a Good Book by Jasper Fforde
This was a reread for me and the perfect palate cleanser after Merlin's Keep. Fforde books are always full of bizarre humor, unexpected twists, and dozens of literary references, If you haven't attempted this series yet I highly recommend it. (Or if you have read it it's probably time for a reread.)

To Be or Not To Be by Ryan North
Hamlet in choose your own adventure form. Seriously. You start by choosing which character you want to follow: Hamlet, Ophelia, or the Ghost of Hamlet's Father. You can stick pretty closely to Shakespeare's original story line or choose a completely different plot. It's a lot of fun and great to pick up when you have just a few minutes and don't want to get invested in something longer. I am looking forward to checking out his interpretation of Romeo and Juliet as well.

I'm sorry for the short and rather lackluster post. I was planning to take more time but I'm off to babysit my nieces. So until next time, thanks for reading and have a lovely week!

Friday, March 31, 2017

2017 Quarterly Goal Check-In

Way back at the end of last year I made some reading goals. What would generally happen is that I would wait until December and then frantically try to complete them. This year I thought I would write an update every three months just so I can measure my progress. The overall goal of setting goals is to make significant progress, even if I don't actually complete my original goals. At this point my goals are not changing, i just want to have an idea of how I am doing and if there are certain ones that are being ignored so I can do better at working on all of them for the next three months. There are two posts that I am going to be referencing. If you missed them you can find them here and here

I had four main goals and a list of 5 books I would finally read in 2017.

Goal #1 Read a minimum of 120 books
This averages out to 10 books a month which is completely doable for me. As of today I have read 38 books so I am well ahead of schedule. 

Goal #2 Read the books I own
Of those 38 books, 17 of them have been books off of my own shelves that I have read for the first time. 6 more of them were rereads pulled from my own shelves. That leaves 15 that were borrowed from the library or from friends. I think that is a pretty good percentage!

Goal #3 Have less than 100 books on my Goodreads TBR
At the beginning of the year I had 436 books on my tbr. As of right now I have 304. (I think I had less than 300 at one point but then I added some new ones.) Again, I think that's pretty good progress. In the month of March I banned myself from going to the library in an effort to focus on my own books so I'm hoping to see this figure come down significantly in the next couple months...there is a readathon coming up after all...

Goal #4 Read at least 20 books toward my classics club goal
This is a list of 50 classics that I want to get to in the next five years and at the beginning of the year a had read only one of the list. As of right now, I have read 2 off of the list. I read Oliver Twist earlier this year which was an exciting accomplishment for me. I am also in the process of reading The Moonstone which is also on the list so I will soon be up to 3. However, I am going to have to buckle down a little more on this goal if I want to accomplish it.

I also made a list of 5 books that I will finally read in 2017:
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Brave New World
The Pillars of the Earth
I Will Bear Witness
   and
The Silmarillion 

As of right now I have read exactly none of these books...I haven't even started any of them. Brave New World is one I am hoping to get too soon (also a bonus because it's on my classics list!) and I have tentative plans to read The Silmarillion with my reading buddy once we finish The Moonstone. So at least there is progress on the horizon!

Overall, I think I am doing well with my goals. I just want to stay on task throughout the year and not fizzle out. How are your reading goals for 2017 going? 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 3/20/17

I finished up two books this week, one of which I had been working on for a long time. So even though it's only two, I still feel accomplished!

                                  
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
True confessions: It took me four months to read this book. I have been plugging away at it for what seems like forever. In other words, this book moves very slowly, especially in the beginning. This novel tells the tale of two rival magicians in early nineteenth century England. It reads almost like a Dickens novel with many over the top characters to keep track of. In the end, I did end up really enjoying the novel. It picks up speed the further into it you get but still be prepared for a fairly long commitment. If you can stick with it long enough the pay off is definitely worth it. 

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
True confessions: I read this book in two days. (It would have been one but I started it in the evening.) I really really loved this book. It's not great literature. There is nothing profound about it. The story line is fairly predictable. But there was something in the story that I just connected with. Claire and Sydney are sisters. Claire has always been the dutiful steady daughter and Sydney is the wild one who ran away and is now returning home with her young daughter in tow. Two sisters learning to trust each other, to embrace their family legacy, and to find out who they really are. A sweet and simple story that just made me happy. I need to read more books that just make me happy. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 3/13/17

It's time again for a wrap up of what I read this week. But wait, it's not Friday! You're right, it's not Friday (unfortunately). I'm going to try switching to Mondays for a few weeks and see if it works better for me. It seems more logical since the weekend is when I tend to finish a lot of books. Anyway, the books I read in the last week (or 10 days):

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James 
This is a ghost story set in England in the early 1920s. Sarah Piper is hired as an assistant to a paranormal investigator and they are soon entangled in a mystery surrounding the suicide of Maddy Clare, a 19 year old maid. I really liked the story. It's quite dark and creepy so if that is not something you enjoy then this book may not be for you. I did have one or two big issues with this book and that is keeping me from singing it's praises unreservedly. There are two sexual encounters in this book. Now, I am not a complete prude. Sex in a book will not automatically discredit the book for me. However, in this particular case, the are completely irrelevant to the story. Seriously, there is no need for them to be there. They are only there for the sake of having sex in the book and that is something that bothers me. So take that as you will. Maybe that doesn't bother you. Then by all means, read the book. But for me, even though I enjoyed the story, this is not a book I would recommend to someone else. 

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
This is a middle grade fantasy. Kendra and Seth are sent to live with their grandparents for a few weeks while their parents are on vacation. They discover that grandpa and grandma are the keepers of a magical preserve where fairies run rampant and dangerous things live in the woods (which they are forbidden to enter...which, of course, doesn't stop them...). I did get slightly annoyed with the kids constantly breaking the rules. Seriously, every single bad thing that happens in the books is because the kids didn't obey their grandparents. I guess it would have been a pretty short book without all of that though. I liked this book. I thought it was cute and it read quickly. I'll definitely check out the next book in the series at some point. 

Skating Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
This is the book referenced by Meg Ryan's character in the movie You've Got Mail. She refers to it as her favorite of the shoe books but then comments that it is out of print. Good news guys, It's no longer out of print! Harriet and Lalla are young girls who meet on the skating rink and become fast friends. They come from different backgrounds and each has something to teach the other. A very sweet story.

I also finished up two of the non fiction books I had been reading.
Habits of Grace by David Mathis
This is a book on spiritual disciplines. I thought it was good, theologically sound reading. For me, it did not go quite as deep as I was hoping for but if you are new to the concept of the disciplines then this is a great read!

The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer
This was a reread for me. If you haven't read any books by Tozer than this is a great place to start. If you have read other books by him, but not this one, you should definitely pick it up. If you have already read this book, read it again.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 3/3/17


Here's what I read this week:

The Faraway Tree Stories by Enid Blyton
This is a collection of three books: The Enchanted Wood, The Magic Faraway Tree, and The Folk of the Faraway Tree. I remember my first and second grade teacher reading these books to us and I have loved them ever since. They follow a group of children who discover a magical tree filled with magical creatures. At the top of the tree is there are a variety of magical lands and the children have many adventures. These are whimisical and creative and wonderful for reading aloud. A word of warning though: DO NOT buy new editions of these books. They have been edited. Track down an older copy. My edition is from the mid 90s and is the original text. Let's face it, Dame Slap doesn't make any sense at all if she doesn't do any slapping...

Trapped in Hitler's Hell by Anita Dittman
An autobiography which tells the story of a Jewish Christian during the holocaust. I thought this was a pretty interesting perspective on the atrocities that happened during that time. Ms. Dittman had an Aryan father and because of that was treated better than many Jews (though she was still treated poorly). I ove reading about World War II and the holocaust so this was right up my alley. 

Shakespeare's Secret by Elise Broach
This was a quick middle grade read. When Hero and her family move into the new house will they discover the missing diamond and uncover the true identity of Shakespeare? This was a cute, fun read although the ending was a little abrupt and unbelievable. 


I have set a goal of reading 31 books this month, as well as a couple other "31" goals. (In case you don't know or haven't figured it out yet, I'm really good at setting unrealistic goals and then failing.) But it is day 3 and I have read three books and am well into several others so I think I'm off to a pretty good start.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 2/24/17

I had to include this picture
 because Wishbone was my first
 introduction to the story of
Oliver Twist.
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
It has been years since I have read a Dickens novel. Years in this case is at least 15, very possibly 20. For almost as many years I have had intentions of reading more Dickens novels. This year might have been another of those years of intending to, but never actually reading one, until the advent of the reading buddy. I have several book friends but now, one of my book friends has officially become my reading buddy, meaning we are attempting to conquer some of those books that we intend to read but have a tough time actually getting around to. We don't actually read the book together but we stay on a set schedule, agreeing how many chapters we will read in a week. This was the first book we have tried and it was a great success. We read 100 pages per week so it didn't really interfere with our other reading and we were able to finish Oliver Twist in four weeks. Go us!!! I highly recommend this system, accountability is a great thing.

It was very interesting to read this book after having recently reread Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I have decided that Charles Dickens was the Lemony Snicket of his time. There is so much sarcasm and dark humor in this book and so many jokes that I think many people would totally miss. There are colorful, unique, and often unbelievable characters (also similar to Snicket). I (unsurprisingly) loved this book. Everyone (myself included) should read more Dickens!

The Giraffe and the Pelly and Me by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors as a kid. (Yes, I have a love of dark children's books.) The last few months I have been trying to track down a copy of this book. I remembered nothing about it other than it had a giraffe (obviously). I was finally successful in obtaining a copy and I read it in about 30 minutes. It's only about 70 pages and most of those pages have pictures. It is a very sweet and whimsical story about a giraffe, a pelican, a monkey who open a window washing business, befriend a boy named Billy, and, of course, save the day in the end. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 2/17/17

Some Writer! The Story of E.B.White by Melissa Sweet
This biography was published just last year and is geared towards young readers. I knew next to nothing about White. In fact, until this past year I had never even read Charlotte's Web. I really enjoyed learning more about this author without having to commit to a big wordy biography. This book is very visually engaging. It resembles a scrapbook with lots of pictures, snippets of other writing he had published over the years, letters, and lots of random ephemera. Definitely worth perusing!





Scythe by Neal Shusterman
I've mentioned before my love of dystopian novels. I appreciate how they create questions that I have never contemplated. Scythe did not disappoint. This novel is set in a future where we have conquered death. No one dies of old age or disease or accident. The body can quickly heal itself from any affliction (even throwing yourself out of a tall building and "splatting"). Because of this, overpopulation has become a massive problem. Scythes are  those tasked with killing people and keeping the population under control. This book follows Citra and Rowan, two teenagers who have been apprenticed to a Scythe. This is a young adult novel (which I am not a fan of) so there is a little bit of romance and teen angst but it doesn't get in the way of the story. All in all a very entertaining read. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

BBC Book List

I thought I would do something a little different and fun today:

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here.

Put an x by the ones you've read and tally them up.

X 1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
X 2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
X 3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
X 4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
X 5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
X 6 The Bible -
X 7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
X 8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
X 9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
X 10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
X 11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
    12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
    13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
    14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
X 15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
X 16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
    17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
    18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
X 19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
    20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
    21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
X 22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
    23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
    24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
X 25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
    26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
    27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
X 28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
X 29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
X 30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
    31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
X 32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
X 33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
X 34 Emma - Jane Austen
    35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
X 36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
    37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
    38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
    39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
X 40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
X 41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
    42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
    43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
X 45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
X 46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
    47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
X 48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
    49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
    50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
    51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
    52 Dune - Frank Herbert
    53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
X 54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
    55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
X 56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
X 57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
    58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
X 59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
    60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
X 62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
    63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
    64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
X 65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
    66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
    67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
    68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
    69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
    70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
X 71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
    72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
X 73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
    74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
    75 Ulysses - James Joyce
    76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
X 77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
    78 Germinal - Emile Zola
    79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
    80 Possession - AS Byatt
X 81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
    82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
    83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
    84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
    85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
    86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
X 87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
    88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Alborn
    89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
X 90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
    91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
X 92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
    93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
X 94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
X 95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
    96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
    97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
    98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
X 99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
    100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo


In case you are wondering, that is a total of 44 books on the list that I have read. (Side note: I am counting Oliver Twist even though I still have 100 pages to go. I'll finish it this week so it counts!) There are also at least two books on the list that I started and didn't finish and there are some that I have no intention of ever reading. There are some that I didn't like but powered through anyway. There are several that I plan to read and reread soon. How many have you read? Which of the books I have not read would you recommend? 

(Disclaimer: This is not a list of my making. I am not promoting these 100 books above all others. In fact, some of them I would not recommend at all.)

Friday, February 10, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 2/10/17

I can't believe it is Friday already! Where has the week gone???

Today I am only going to talk about two books. Truthfully, I read about 10 more but they were all picture books that I read with my nieces and none of them were really worth talking about so I'm just going to skip over that, with one exception:

The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem
This book contains four short stories all about the colony of mice that live in Brambly Hedge. This book was ridiculously adorable. Think Beatrix Potter but with the addition of illustrations of the insides of the trees where the mice live, like dollhouses in trees, complete with circular staircases and well stocked pantries. The girls begged for more stories when we finished. I believe there is an even bigger collection of stories that I will have to hunt down. 




The only book I finished on my own this week was Age of Myth by Michael J. Sullivan. This was the gift I received from the Christmas book exchange my book club did. I had said that I was looking for some new fantasy to delve into and my santa (who also happens to be one of my best friends) delivered! I had a bit of a funny experience with this book. I sat down last Sunday afternoon to read (I was about 150 pages in) and as I read, it dawned on me that I had no idea what was happening or who half of the characters were. As I thought through the previous week I realized that this was the book I had been picking up when I was distracted or not fully engaged in reading or when I only had a few minutes. I had read 150 pages without really taking in any of the story. I had a choice. I could persevere and hope I figured it out or I could go back and slow down and truly absorb the story. That's what I chose to do. I started rereading, I looked up the words I didn't know (thanks to the handy glossary in the back), I made sure I understood the world, the clans, and the different races. It was a much slower process the second time. But it was so worth it! This is the beginning of a six book series and Sullivan did a great job establishing the world and the relationship between the different people and people groups. (Also, shout out to Michael Sullivan who wrote all six books before he published the first one, take note Patrick Rothfuss!) I'm not going to give you a synopsis but if you like epic fantasy definitely give this one a read. It is worth your time (even if you have to read it twice) and I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

I have declared this weekend (Friday-Monday) a "Catch-Up Readathon" because my library book stack is getting out of hand and I went to the used bookstore on Tuesday to buy a birthday gift for one of my nieces. I didn't buy a birthday gift but I did walk out with a stack of books for me. So...that happened...anyway, point being, I have a lot of reading to do. So here is my plan for the long weekend: 

I have very possibly overestimated my abilities but I am going to give it my best shot! 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 2/3/17

I finished two books this week, yay! (Hey, at least it's an improvement from the last two weeks...)


 The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma

This is a memoir telling the story of Alice and her librarian father who decide to challenge themselves to read aloud together every night for one hundred nights. "The Streak", as it later comes to be called, continues for over 3000 nights, until the day Alice leaves for college. When I picked up this book I was expecting stories of special moments shared over the reading of books, what I got was the story of a girl growing up with a single father. The nighttime reading becomes only the setting for the story of a relationship between two people. This book was a very quick and sweet read but there was nothing in it that stood out and made it memorable. Enjoyable, but not something I would pick up again.


Once On a Time by A.A. Milne

(Yes, this is the A.A. Milne of Winnie the Pooh fame. Turns out he wrote other books as well.)

This is a satire of a traditional classic fairy tale. It features a ridiculous king, a silly princess, an evil countess, and a rather cocky prince who all find themselves at war with the neighboring kingdom for really no reason at all. This whimsical tale is full of humor and will leave you feeling happy and content. 






Currently Reading:
Though I only completed two books this week I made significant progress on three others: Age of Myth by Michael Sullivan, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. All three of these are pretty hefty books so overall I am very pleased with the amount I accomplished this week.

What is on your currently reading stack?





Friday, January 27, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 1/27/17

Once again, I managed to complete only one book this week. I think I am currently in the midst of 9 others so next week I plan to have finished at least 4. 


The book I read this week was The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier. I loved her first novel, Juliet, and was very excited to finally pick this one up. The Lost Sisterhood follows the story of Diana Morgan, a lecturer at Oxford and an expert in Greek mythology. She also has a more secret passion for the legend of the Amazons. Diana is given an opportunity to study a newly discovered inscription on a temple in northern Africa which seems to relate the history of the first Amazon queen. The story is told in a dual timeline, alternating chapters telling the story of Diana and the story of Myrina, the Amazon. 

As historical fiction, this book did not work for me. Fortier tries to combine the legend of the Amazons with the history of Troy and the Trojan War and throws in a little Greek mythology for good measure. It all just ends up being a bit ridiculous to my mind. The Amazons fought alongside Paris and Agamemnon...really? And Hercules showed up? Fascinating...  It's almost like hearing a little kid tell you a convoluted story that's made up of the last dozen books you read to them. (The good news is that the Amazons still roam the earth as vigilantes, taking out rapists and other men who deserve it. Oh! And they are often disguised as circus performs.) 

This book isn't quite as bad as I am making it sound. It just isn't great. I wouldn't read it again or recommend it but it was still an entertaining read. I think the author maybe should have approached it as fantasy. That could have had potential. 

What book have you been excited to read that just didn't end up working for you?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 1/20/17

Okay all my wonderful readers, I am ashamed to admit it but I only completed one book this week. I know, it's completely pathetic. I'm sorry, I'll do better next week...

The book I finished this week was Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers. I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book. I am well aware of the history of the Disney film and Travers dislike for it. Whatever it was I was expecting, this book was not it. It's just odd. Mary Poppins is a rather vain character and there is no plot, just little anecdotes and fanciful stories. (Also, did you know that Jane and Michael had younger twin siblings??? Who knew!?!?!) I enjoyed reading this book, I thought it was cute and I am always excited to read more of the children's classics that I somehow missed out on as a child. My advice? Don't go into this book expecting Disney and you'll probably like it just fine, otherwise you might be disappointed. 

Again, sorry for the brevity of today's post. I'm going to go read now in the hopes of redeeming myself next week...

Friday, January 13, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 1/13/17

It is Friday and I only managed to read two books this week. (I seriously should have read more considering I got snowed in. I blame Netflix.) In my defense, I am in the middle of two pretty chunky books so I definitely made progress on those two as well. I guess I should say I only completed two books this week. 


Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This is a science fiction novel following the story of Jason Dessen, a promising young scientist. When his girlfriend announces that she is pregnant, Jason must decide whether to marry her and raise the child, knowing that it will put a hold on and most likely an end to, a brilliant career. The book approaches the question of what if I had made the other choice? It deals with the concept of the multiverse (infinite parallel universes...universes? universi?...).

I loved this book! First of all, I thought the scientific, technical parts of it were extremely accessible for us non-technical people. I never felt lost or like I didn't understand what was going on. It was gripping, it drew me in from the very beginning. I read it in a day. The twist at the end was...intense... For my more sensitive readers: There is some language and two or three very short, non-explicit sex scenes.





A Woman's Guide to Fasting by Lisa E. Nelson
This non-fiction book is exactly what the title implies, an introduction to fasting specifically for women. (Side note: I don't think there is any reason this book couldn't be for men as well. There are only a couple brief references to women and their hormonal cycles.) I think this book is a great resource for those who are new to the discipline of fasting or who are looking to include it in their life on a more regular basis. I have read quite a bit on fasting over the years and for me, this book didn't bring anything new to the table. There were also a couple instances when I strongly disagreed with the author. But overall I think this is a solid introduction book if you are looking to delve into this topic. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Looking Forward...

Today I thought I would talk about books, authors, and genres that I am really excited to read in this coming year. Not the books that I feel I need to get to or the ones that I stare guiltily at on the shelves. These are the books I really get excited about the thought of reading soon.  


The Brontes
I love a good gothic novel. I love the tragedy. It seems so much more realistic to me than, for example, a Jane Austen novel. I love that characters have to make hard choices and sometimes they make the right ones and sometimes they don't. I recently reread Jane Eyre and am planning to reread Wuthering Heights in the near future. But I am really looking forward to delving into the Brontes lesser known works. I've heard nothing but good and I am hoping to make it through the entire Bronte canon this year. 






The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier
I can't believe I have not read this book yet. I love her first novel Juliet and I was so excited when this one came out but for some reason, I didn't get around to reading it and then I kind of forgot about it. The good news is, I have it now, in my possession (thank you library!) and I am going to read it within the next week or two. 





Fantasy
I have not read a lot of fantasy in my adult life even though I would consider it one of favorite genres. I grew up with Tolkien and C.S. Lewis and my few ventures into other fantasy authors did not pan out well. Luckily, fantasy seems to have made a resurgence in the past few years. This, unfortunately, means that there is even more terrible fantasy out there but I have also heard many favorable reviews of specific authors. So I am looking forward to trying out some Brandon Sanderson, Michael J. Sullivan, and Guy Gavriel Kay. (Confession: Guy Gavriel Kay was recommended to me years ago and I have yet to read him...sorry Becky...) 





Dystopian
I find it really difficult to discover good dystopian books, but when I find them I love them! I've heard good things about both the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown and Scythe by Neal Schusterman so I plan on checking out both of those this year and hopefully discovering some new favorites.




Also, there is rumor of a new Jasper Fforde book this year which will, of course, shoot directly to the top of the currently reading pile when it comes out...no official release date yet...I will wait semi-patiently...

That's it for today, happy reading!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Weekly Wrap Up 1/6/17

I read 5 books this week, 3 of them were rereads.

I finished up my reread of the Emily trilogy by L.M. Montgomery with both Emily Climbs and Emily's Quest. Good news: I still love these books. I did find myself getting more emotional than I remember ever being before. The last book especially had more of a bittersweet flavor to it. As I get older I find myself relating more and more to some of the side characters who don't get their happy ending. 

I also read The Miserable Mill, finishing my reread of the first four Lemony Snicket books. (Only one week until the show is released!!!) This is not one my favorite books in the series, I don't find the setting as interesting or the characters as memorable as many of the other books. That being said, it is still full of Snicket's signature humor and wit and is a very quick, enjoyable read. 

I went on to read Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. I love a good dystopian book and this series was quite popular a few years back. I like the premise: a society where you are an ugly until you turn 16 when you are allowed to undergo surgery and become a "pretty". The idea being equality for everyone, everyone is pretty and everyone is popular and has fun. But, as always, there is a catch. What is really behind the surgery? Are they changing your brain as well to make you more compliant? I love looking at our world through a different lens, our world as it could be, so I loved that aspect of the book. But the characters didn't hold up. They were annoying and in some cases downright stupid. I didn't like where the story ended up going and I didn't like the ending. It was a fine read but I will not be continuing on with the series. 

(There are spoilers in this last review so be forewarned)
My last book of the week was Return to Augie Hobble by Lane Smith. This is the story of young Augie Hobble, a fairly stereotypical pre-adolescent boy who is awkward, unpopular, and gets bullied constantly. He spends his summer working for his dad who manages a very run down fairy tale amusement park: "We're no longer what you call a destination spot, but we still get some locals, grown-ups who were tortured here as kids and now have kids of their own to torture." (At this point I had to stop and check to see if the author was from near where I live...) The first hundred pages of the book were great. I was sucked in by the familiarity of the setting. Then it got weird. There were werewolves. Like a real werewolf who is his/her human form is the son of the fortune teller, but he is disguised as a girl because some government agency is after him. Then Augie's best friend dies as the result of a peanut allergy and Augie thinks it is his fault so he wants to become a werewolf to somehow pay for his crime. And then best friend comes back and starts communicating with Augie from beyond the grave. And all of those are just the highlights. There is so much weirdness in this book (and don't get me wrong, I LIKE weirdness when it is done well) that it goes very quickly downhill once you reach the midway point. The author just tries to put to many different ideas into the story and some of the topics are extremely heavy for a children's book and they are not fleshed out well at all. I would never give this book to a child. 

That's it for my reading this week. I think I need to take a break from youth and young adult books for a week or two. There has been a little too much weirdness in the books I've been reading. Maybe it's time for some nice historical fiction. 

What was your favorite or least favorite book you read this week?