Tag Archives: books

March, April, May, June…

24 Jun

… are all the months I haven’t written about books! How dreadful. I apologize for my disappearance. Life got in the way of things, as it does. So, here’s a catch up post on what I’ve been reading:

 

Rebecca Skloot – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Goodreads stars: five
I don’t typically read a lot of nonfiction, but this was a wonderful book. Skloot managed to worm her way into the lives of Henrietta Lacks’ family members and she became good friends with her daughter, all for the pursuit of information for this book. I thought the story was compelling and Skloot did a wonderful job of presenting scientific information in a way that anyone can understand and enjoy.

William Landay – Defending Jacob
Goodreads stars: four
Mystery and detective novels are other genres I also don’t delve into much, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. The ending was a little drastic but I think it fit well enough. The juxtaposition of narrative with court records worked very well.

Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl
Goodreads stars: five
I liked the other mystery novel so well that I read another one! This book was intriguing. I liked that it used more than one point of view. At the end of every chapter I just wanted to keep going.

Pittacus Lore – The Rise of Nine (Lorien Legacies, #3)
Goodreads stars: three
I think three stars is generous on this one. Here’s my review from Goodreads: “I’m not sure why I thought this series was a trilogy but it definitely impacted how I read it. It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either. Keeping up with whose POV it is gets rather tiring and I hope they don’t do that in the next (and hopefully last) book.”

Rick Riordan – The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5)
Goodreads stars: four
This wasn’t my favorite book in the series but it was a really great conclusion. On Goodreads I stated that I wished I could have given it a 4.5 but now I can’t recall why. This is what happens when I wait this long to do book reviews!

A. C. Gaughen – Scarlet
Goodreads stars: four
The premise of this book is about a girl and her merry band of thieves; it’s the story of Robin Hood told from a female’s perspective. It was a fun, YA adventure book and it was really interesting to read it from another POV. I’m on a fairy tale retelling kick right now and this was a great way to start it. It’s a bit gruesome though, which I enjoyed, but it might be too graphic for younger readers.

Suzanne Collins – Gregor the Overlander
Goodreads stars: five
This is Collins first novel, before she wrote The Hunger Games, which I absolutely love. And here’s my Goodreads review, “what a wonderful book! it reminded me a lot of the Percy Jackson books. it’s a great adventure and the characters are so likable, especially adorable Boots. I would recommend this to anyone of any age.”

David Benioff – City of Thieves
Goodreads stars: five
I had little interest in reading this book at first, as it was chosen for my book club, but two chapters in and I was hooked. The story is about a young Jewish man (Lev) in Leningrad who becomes unlikely friends with an aspiring writer (Kolya) while they go on a journey to find eggs for a high-ranking officer’s daughter’s wedding cake. I found myself picturing Benedict Cumberbatch as Kolya and I believe it’s because of his snark, wit and humor. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because it was amusing, graphic and sad all at the same time.

Rick Riordan – The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus, #1)
Goodreads stars: three
I had high hopes for this book. It’s the continuation of Percy Jackson but the main characters are new campers. The multiple POVs were interesting but it made the story far longer than it had to be. I felt like 100 pages could have been cut and it would have been miles better. Sometimes it felt like a wild goose chase and some of the dialogue felt forced. I’d like to see how the story turns out but I won’t be buying this series like I did the last. Unfortunate.

And currently, I’m reading Beastly by Alex Flinn. This is another retelling of a classic fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast to be specific. It’s from the POV of Beast, specifically. I’m eight chapters in and so far it’s a quick read. It’s mildly enjoyable but I don’t have high hopes. I’m not in love with the writing style, to start with, so we’ll see how it goes.

 

What are you reading lately? Any great, quick summer reads that you’ve enjoyed?

February and March Book Reviews

3 Apr

Happy Wednesday everyone. The week is almost halfway over. Huzzah! And for that, I’m giving you the gift of book reviews. I haven’t posted any since January, so I’ve got a good chunk of literature to talk about.

I am Number Four (Lorien Legacies #1), Pittacus Lore
Goodreads stars: four

This was a super fun read. I had some issues with it though: first, it was written by a collaboration that includes James Frey. I hate James Frey (in a literary capacity, of course). Secondly, there were quite a few noticeable inconsistencies that makes me wonder how well it was proofread. But, this book was exciting. It’s a great teen adventure read and I think it was adapted into a movie, which I haven’t seen. One of the major pieces of this book is a romance between the main character, John (or Number Four), and a girl he meets at school, Sarah Hart. The language and interactions between them are too contrived. Having already read the second book, I can see how Sarah is an integral part of the story, but I think it could have been written better. Having said all this, if you go into this knowing it’s just going to be a fun read, you’ll be fine. I wouldn’t use it to write your grad thesis or anything (unless you were writing your thesis on authors that like to sell “memoirs” that are 95% untrue and are really not that great at writing).

The Titan’s Curse and The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #3 and #4), Rick Riordan
Goodreads stars: five and four, respectively

I’ve posted about these books here before. I love them. They are part of one of the most fun adventure series I’ve ever come across. Riordan’s humor is what really makes it, because there are multitudes of teen adventure books out there, but his wit really sets him apart. I think these books are great for any age. The Titan’s Curse is probably my favorite out of the first four, but they are all super exciting and hilarious and I can’t wait to finish the series!

The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy #2), Margaret Atwood
Goodreads stars: four

This is the second in a trilogy by Atwood, that began with Oryx and Crake, one of my all-time favorite dystopian novels. I discovered Atwood in undergrad and have mostly been a fan. The Handmaid’s Tale is a classic but The Tent left me wondering what the hell I just read. The Year of the Flood was a great sequel and I enjoyed learning about the parallel stories that match up with the plot lines in its predecessor. What I love most about Atwood is that she takes problems that we have today, say, medical corporations exploiting the sick, and she exacerbates the issues that they create, and bases a dystopian afterworld on it. She is very creative, and I’m already itching to read the third, even though it has yet to be written.

This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz
Goodreads stars: four

This book was chosen for the book club that I’m apart of, The Reading Rainbow Society (I know, we’re super cool, right?). The lot of us had some trouble reconciling who was who and who was telling what story and when, but for the most part we were able to come to a concession on what was going on. Diaz sets up this novel as a set of stories about immigrants, mostly based around love and relationships, between lovers, friends and family. There’s a good amount of Spanish slang in it, so if you don’t understand Spanish, you might miss some of the biting cuts, but you will still understand the book overall. Some parts are rather graphic but it was a great read. I would definitely read another book by Diaz.

Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
Goodreads stars: five

I’m going to go ahead and say it… this is my favorite book so far this year. The Goodreads summary starts as such: “Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.” Sounds super cool, right? It’s like the SIMS but there are entire universes you can explore. But when the creator of OASIS dies, he leaves Easter Eggs behind in the simulation for one lucky boy or girl to win his entire legacy. Wade is the one that plans to win it. Throughout the novel, Wade has to find ways to discover these eggs. The creator was an avid fan of the 1980s and Wade must wade (pun definitely intended) through hours upon hours of movies, music videos and other research from the 80s to get leverage against other players. I had so much fun reading this book, even though I’m not a big video game player. I highly recommend it!

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2), Deborah Harkness
Goodreads stars: three

Only three? Yeah, only three. I love Harkness’ writing style. She knows how to bring history to life. But this novel was just so long-winded. It took me awhile to get through it because I found myself not caring whether or not I picked it back up. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the story, because I did. It just felt like there were a lot of unnecessary detours. I still plan to read the third, whenever she writes it.

A Game of Thrones (Song of Fire and Ice #1), George R. R. Martin
Goodreads stars: five

I’ve heard all the hype. I’ve heard this series is amazing. And it is. It absolutely is. It starts out a little confusing, considering how many characters there are, and how many POVs Martin uses to tell the story. I printed out a character map that I actually kept notes on. But it is such a great story. Martin gets your hopes up, dashes them, and then breaks your heart; he stomps on your heart until you don’t think you can go on… and then you do, because you need to know how it continues. I can’t wait to continue reading the series, even though I know I’m going to keep getting my heart broken.

The Power of Six (Lorien Legacies #2), Pittacus Lore
Goodreads stars: four

Basically everything I said about the first book. This one was a little more action-packed though, and had less inconsistencies. I’m glad that there was less interaction with Sarah, but John’s sometimes near-constant droning on about her gets annoying. Learning more about the other Garde was interesting though. I’ve requested the third book in the trilogy from the library, and I expect that once I get it, I’ll finish it in a couple days like I did with the others, and then move on with my life, never looking back.

A Fixed Neklace

2 Apr

Hello, friends! Good news… the DIY fairy sent me all kinds of motivation this weekend. I not only did both of the projects I told you about, but a third one, too! Unfortunately, the spool is not quite finished yet, and the photo transfers that I did on the wood blocks are not hung.

But I know you all were waiting with bated breath for a post all about my weekend DIY adventures, so I’m going to share my other DIY ish with you! It’s a small one, but it still makes me happy.

There are three things you should know about me: 1. I like necklaces. I might not wear them very often, but I have a lot. 2. Edgar Allan Poe is my favorite poet. And 3. I like things in multiples of three. So now you know I’m weird.

But back to the necklaces. For my most recent birthday (yes, 7 months ago), a friend of mine, Kat, was super stealthy and deduced what my favorite Poe-m (ha, get it?) is. She then had a friend of hers make me a necklace of a miniature book with “The Raven” inscribed on the inside. The pendant, of sorts, also had a little tiny black bird dangling from beneath.

When she gave it to me she apologized and said she thought the chain was going to be longer, and for some reason, I waited until more than 6 months later to do something about it.

So, here’s what I started with:

the "ingredients"

the “ingredients”

– the original necklace
– a longer chain
– some pliers (not pictured)
– super glue (also not pictured, because I’m on top of things)

And here’s what I did:

 

handy dandy pliers

handy dandy pliers

 

It was a pretty simple process. I took the new chain and put it around my neck to figure out how long I wanted it to be. Then, I used the pliers to remove the book from the old chain, as well as the clasp. And then I put it all back together on the new chain! Also, not pictured, I had to glue the pages back into the book. They had somehow come unstuck so I … restuck them together, if you will.

And, voila! The finished (fixed) product:

a fixed necklace

a fixed necklace

Isn’t it pretty? I’m wearing it today with an adorable sleeveless shirt with lacy collars.

Sometime in the coming days, I’m going to hang up my new picture blocks, and Todd is going to add casters to my spool, and I’m going to bring it inside and add some books and funky knick-knacks to it. I can’t wait to show you all!

A goal without a plan is just a wish

29 Mar

Maybe that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry quote will give me the kick in the butt that I need this weekend to get some crafting done!

Because I have some big plans for this weekend. That spool that I posted about? I’m finally going to paint it. Todd is going to craft a middle shelf and add some dowels to make separate areas so it looks more like a bookshelf. I decided to just paint it black and add tons of colorful accessories, like a round cushion and colorful books. I’ve already started compiling some books that I plan to stash there, like the super cool, really old Nancy Drew books with the yellow spine. I found those beauties at a used book store for $0.50 a pop! Steal!

I also plan to try to do some picture transfers onto wood! I found a tutorial that looks pretty easy to follow (not to mention how snarky it is and I love snark) and I’m going to hunt down some pictures tonight. I found these really cool platters that had weirdo Victorian pictures on them of animals dressed in formal attire and I love them with my entire being. If anyone knows where I can find pictures like that to print, LET ME KNOW, because I want that in my house. Forever.

I’m hoping to at least get these two projects done, since we have Monday off from work.

What are you doing this weekend? Any big projects, or Easter plans? I can’t wait to get my craft on!

Give me a hand

25 Mar

Hi all. Sorry again for the lack of posts lately. I have a legitimate excuse: I had surgery on my hand about 9 days ago. I was drugged up for a solid week thanks to some fantastic painkillers, but I rarely got near a computer. I spent a solid amount of time either asleep or reading.

As for what I’ve been reading lately, I’ve slowed down quite a bit. I think I’ve only read about 3 books since the beginning of February. They’re long books though, including Shadow of Night, the sequel to Discovery of Witches, and the first Game of Thrones. I just received (no joke) 5 ebooks from the library though so I’ll be getting my reading on and get back to you with some reviews!

This Post is Boring

7 Feb

I feel like I had a good run over the last couple weeks. I posted quite a few times and felt so inspired! And now … not so much. I feel uninspired at work, on my blog… just uninspired.

I’m also feeling uninspired with books. I lost my great-book streak when I started A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. First, I read the whole Smoking Gun article (found here). I still tried to go into the book with an open mind, just reading it as fiction, of course. But this book was just vitriolic spew (pun definitely intended) that I could not get through. I managed to read eight chapters before calling it quits. It was disgusting and not very well written. Repetition is fine, but repetition of vomiting and the same curses… is not my thing. I have no problem reading about that kind of stuff, but it just kept happening over and over and OVER. And after starting it, it really bothered me that he told everyone it was all truth, when in fact, most of it was not. That is not a memoir. After I quit that book, I started Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. I really enjoyed Oryx and Crake so I’m looking forward to this one. And I received book #2 in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate Series. And! I’m meeting her at a book signing in a couple weeks. Yay, books! What books are you reading these days?

In other news, it’s a gray day outside. I was looking forward to running around the Capitol tonight. I only live about 2 miles from it and I believe it’s 2 miles around. The great part is that it’s one giant park so you don’t have to worry about crossing streets or cars. You know, unless some car decides it wants to drive on the sidewalk. In which case, shout: “Go home car! You’re drunk!” But. It is a gray day, so if it rains, running will commence on a treadmill at the gym. Bonus part about that: hot tub. There’s no hot tub at the Capitol. Someone should get on that…

Also, I am questioning my sanity lately. I’m a little weird, and most people know it. Last night Todd had a lonely sock, so of course I put it on my hand and grumbled, “put your foot in me!” And then I couldn’t stop laughing for a solid half an hour. Even laughed about it in the shower this morning. Todd’s response was, “you’re weird.” Yes, and thank you for noticing.

Well, this has been a general update. If you’re in New Englad, please keep safe in the blizzard! If you’re anywhere else… I hope your Friday and weekend are great and snow free 🙂

January Book Reviews

28 Jan

Hello, fellow literature lovers! I’m back with some book reviews, and I’ve been reading a lot. The grand total for the month of January will be 7 books, if I finish the book I’m reading now before Thursday (which I definitely will, do you even know me? :)). So here are reviews on the past five books that I’ve read.

 

Deborah Harkness – A Discovery of Witches
Goodreads stars: four

I can’t give half stars on Goodreads, so I’m going to do that here. I give his book 4.5 stars! I loved this book. It is wonderfully written, but the first half is a little long-winded. It took awhile to get into the good stuff. I also think the first half is geared towards a certain crowd (people like me that enjoy literature about literature). The protagonist, Diana, is a witch. But she tries to suppress her witchiness by becoming a scholar. But she realizes, after meeting a stunningly handsome vampire, that she’s been practicing magic all along.

This novel reminded me a little of Twilight (yes, I’ve read Twilight. I was curious; we’ll call it scholarly interest. And yes, I hated it), because of the mingling between different creatures in the supernatural world. Of course it is a hundred thousand times better and Harkness writes very well. She tells a better story, too (I mean, that’s not hard to do; Stephenie Meyer writes like a high schooler in a mandatory creative writing course).

When I finished this book, I wanted to immediately read the next one. But I was warned that the third one isn’t out yet. I looked at Harkness’ website and she said it’s not even finished! Oh my. So, I decided against immediately devouring book #2. I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series, though.

 

Rick Riordan – The Sea of Monsters
Goodreads stars: four

This is the second novel in the Percy Jackson series. It was another really fun read. I’m drawing a blank on anything more analytical than this. It’s just a great series and I already have book #3 lined up in my queue. One great thing about these books, they’re really cheap ebooks. They’re all between $4 and $6 (roughly).

 

Paula McLain – The Paris Wife
Goodreads stars: five

This has probably been my favorite book this month. I had no idea what it was about, but I knew it had great reviews. To my most certain pleasure, it’s a fiction piece (based very closely on real-life events) about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley, told from her point of view. I’m a big fan of early 20th century American novelists, so this was a great read. Hadley meets and becomes friends with a few major literary stars of this time period, like Gertrude Stein and her partner, Alice B. Toklas. They travel all over Europe, sometimes on a whim, and Hadley goes through the pain and torment of loving an artistic soul. The way that McLain describes their love is beautiful and heart wrenching. This was one of the few novels ever that has made me cry.

 

Ally Condie – Crossed
Goodreads stars: three

This is the second book in the Matched series. I wasn’t as impressed with this book as I was with the first one. The first half of the book felt like a lot of wasting time, not much happening, just running through deserts and canyons. And I’m not impressed with Condie’s prose. It seems like she’s trying too hard to be poetic. I’ll still read the third one though, to find out how it culminates.

 

Gail Carriger – Soulless
Goodreads stars: four

I just finished this one yesterday and I’m torn. Carriger has a way with words, that is certain, but sometimes her prose is cloying. When I first picked up the book (figuratively – I have a Nook), I had trouble getting into it. It felt like her words just didn’t flow, especially considering some of the character’s names, like Lord Akeldama or Miss Ivy Hisslepenny. If a character has a strange name that I have trouble saying, then I tend to just glaze over it and have a difficult time keeping track of that person.

Overall though, the story was great. It was a really fun read once I was able to pick up on her style. I like that she involved a person without a soul, with a man that’s a werewolf. It was great that by the end of it, one knows that being soulless doesn’t necessary mean one is without soul. The main character, Alexia Tarabotti, is a firecracker who speaks her mind, which I love. I definitely plan to read further into the series, but this book definitely took some time to become invested in.

 

I am also currently reading the first installment of the Lorien Legacies series by Pittacus Lore (or, James Frey and Jobie Hughes), I am Number Four. So far, I like it, but there are a lot of little contradictions in the story that I’m having trouble getting past. That’s all I’ll say on that one for now 🙂

Tell me: what are you reading?