06 December 2016

Make it Work Or How I somehow almost caught up to my reading goal

I'm still not quite sure how it happened, but I'm only six books away from my challenge goal. I've been spending a lot of my time knitting and TV watching (Gilmore Girls, Gilmore Girls Revival, The Crown, Parks & Rec). It was wonderful and lovely, but that number of books I still had to read wasn't getting any smaller. Suddenly, my knitting projects were ... done? And I had some time on my hands. I guess I could clean? Bah. Hahaha. Of course not. 

And somehow I made it work. I'll tell you again, like I do every few months, that I'm super done with series. Really, I am. But I mean, I still have one more book from A Song of Ice & Fire, so I might as well finish. I hate that they take me 6 weeks to finish! I love the story and I'm curious to see what he does with his characters next, but man. Six weeks is such a long time. 

Catch up time. I read two graphic novels; Lumberjanes and Adulthood is a Myth. I wasn't thrilled with the new Lumberjanes, but admittedly, I am well beyond the age demographic. Adulthood is a Myth was hilarious...and I finished it in about 10 minutes. It was good, but not laugh out loud good. Also, there is a good chance I've seen 70% of the comics on the internet already. 

A work friend recommended The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend and I was ready to fall in love with it; alas, it wasn't meant to be. It was a real struggle to get into. The premise was darling and caught my attention, but too many characters introduced in too many general ways caused massive confusion on my part. By the end, it finally got good. But by then, it was fairly predictable and honestly, I couldn't tell if I genuinely liked it or was just glad that it was over. 

I listened to How the Marquis got his coat back, a short story by Neil Gaiman that follows up on the Marquis de Carabas from Neverwhere. I listened to the dramatization on BBC Radio 4, so I'm not sure it counts as the whole story, but I'm counting it anyway. 

And that brings November Reads to a close. 
Though we are only 5 days into December, I somehow managed to read four books already. It must be some of that Waverly Magic. In fact, I know it is. I realized I hadn't read the newest Wavery Sister's book by Sarah Addison Allen and it had been quite a few years since I got lost in the world. I read both Garden Spells and First Frost in about a day. She hasn't lost her touch, and I don't think I'm romanticizing the memory of a wonderful read. She weaves such magic into the every day that by the end you want to live in Bascom just so you can maybe run into Sydney (for that hair cut that gives you a perfect day) or attend a catered event by Claire (for a meal that reminds you of only the happiest memories). 

My favorite find over the last few weeks, though, was The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg. Yes, that Fannie Flagg of Fried Green Tomatoes fame. She tells a beautiful story with incredible women. Actually, the more I think about it, stories that involve women primarily. I can count 3-7 men in the entire story, verses the 13+ women that the story is about. I love that. Anyway, the chapters sometimes ended on cliffhangers that kept me from getting any sleep and almost made me late for work because I needed to finish those last few pages!  I'm adding Fried Green Tomatoes to the list (for next year, of course) because I can't imagine it being anything less than glorious. 

I'll end it here. I hope to have another book/TV review for you soon. After that, I'm in the final crunch to maybe try to meet my goal this year. Did you have any last minute book surprises? You know I'm always looking for new recommendations!  With just about three weeks left to the year (!), are you close to meeting your goal? Let me know!

01 November 2016

October: In which I'm struggling to meet my goals

Ya'll, I have been trying hard to meet my reading goals for the year. I promise! I accidentally started knitting earlier than usual this year, so that took away some of my prime summer reading time. I also tried a few audiobooks which were really unexpectedly wonderful, but took twice as long as actually reading, so I think that's the other reason I'm so behind. I looked at the stats and think it might be entirely possible that I won't reach my goal this year, and I'm kinda okay with it. Don't get me wrong, I love reading and I love reading more every year. I love having a goal to work toward and love that Goodreads sets up the challenge in the first place. But I end up putting so much pressure on myself to read MORE, and I noticed that this year it's less about good books and just about more books.


I finished a (one. single.) book this week and I thought I'd share. It's a cute little thing called "love in lowercase" and I think I fell in love with the title before I even had a chance to read the blurb on the back. However, upon further examination (and actually finishing the book) I think I fell out of love pretty quickly. It was a translation, so I was completely ready to give it all kinds of slack. I've had a mixed history with translations and now I try to approach them carefully, fully realizing that the translation could be the thing that sucks, rather than the story itself. Like most films of non-American origin, this book left me feeling empty and a little sad. But as Sally Sparrow says, sad is good because it's like happy for deep people. Love in Lowercase made me think about the little things that we do in life, the interactions we have with the people around us. Sometimes, we only hold the door or say hello to our fellow travelers. To the person receiving the gesture, though, it could have been the most human interaction they had in the day, therefore making it very meaningful. And sometimes people we meet by chance have more of an impact on us than the scores of family members and well wishing friends we have in our life daily.

A few years ago, I read  Game of Thrones. I liked the first book a lot, but when I tried to get into the second, I didn't do so well. And then I let my friend borrow it and well...It dropped off my radar. This summer, I needed something to listen to on a long drive. It could be music or...well, maybe I could try that audio book thing. I grabbed Game of Thrones again. I knew it would be long enough and I liked it the first time. Well, I ended up LOVING it. The audio book was done so well that when I finished book 1, I knew I needed to get my hands on book 2. And I was not disappointed. The only drawback is that, while great for vacations, my daily commute is thirty minutes MAX round trip. It took me ages. That, coupled with the fact that the CD player in my car started to get tired, is why when I finished book 2, I reached for a physical brick sized book. On a good day, I could manage about 100 pages. It is still a huge commitment.
And every day I wake up and look at the book on my bedside table I think, "And this is why you swore off (most) series long ago, man." Sigh. I'm fairly committed to finishing now, though. I'm almost 400 pages into book 4 and then I only have one more to get through. I can do that, right?


I have two other books waiting for me (if I ever finish). I finally got my hands on a copy of Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson. I'm maybe 10 pages in and I'm in love. The other is a recommendation from a friend, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. Fingers crossed I get to at least one of them before the new year.

Tomorrow starts the final two months of the Goodreads challenge. Are you finishing strong? Or did you get stuck like me, not getting a count but determined to finish SOMETHING just the same?
You can do it! (And I mean, remember: there's always next year!)

01 September 2016

Here's a book (or two) to skip...

Ever find yourself reading something and you can't quite put your finger on it, but before too long you notice that you don't actually care about the characters? I like to think that I am very careful with the books I read, that I can sense terrible books before I even accidentally pick them up. 

Well. I used to think that. 

I kinda messed up and found myself 133 pages into The Decent Proposal by Kemper Donovan. It wasn't until one morning in late July as I was drinking my coffee that I realized I didn't really care about the story. It was an easy read, as far as I was concerned. But it was the content that didn't really make sense to me. If I can say this without being mobbed, the secondary characters (Mike's dad and Orpheus) felt more well rounded and richer than our two main characters, who felt rather like cardboard cut outs of stereotypical Hollywood producer and lawyer. 

I was tempted to turn to the end just to see what happens. I mean, I can tell you that Richard and Elizabeth probably fall in love after having a gigantic fight (probably about Richard's best female friend OR over a book/movie they disagree about) and everything just "clicks." 
If I cared about this book any more, I would probably go on a rant here about how Elizabeth's colleagues call her "La Máquina" because she is 1) a Latina so her nickname obviously has to reflect that and 2) she logs the most hours of billable time at the law firm. If she was a man, people would congratulate and generally be jealous, but still be cordial. In this novel, she doesn't seem to have any friends and the fact that she excels at her job is a teaseable offense at the office. But I'm not really going to talk about that.
I was very excited to read this book, I promise. But I just can't and won't waste reading time on a book that hasn't captured my interest and feels like a cliche at every turn.  

The other disappointment this summer was Welcome to Night Vale. I am a HUGE fan of this podcast. Seriously, ya'll. If you aren't listening to it, go find it and start. I was in love part way through the very first episode.  I love listening to the dulcet tones of Cecil, Night Vale Radio host, talking about the dog park (which is decidedly not for dogs), the many press conferences of Mayor Pamela Winchell, and the agricultural news from John Peters, you know, the farmer. 
I was thrilled that they were making a physical thing that could be read (since I love to read) but honestly, I was disappointed. Much of the charm of the podcast lies in Cecil Baldwin's exquisite comedic and dramatic timing, painting you pictures that look a certain way (but probably not the way you JUST imagined) and fit in this glorious desert town. I'm strangely proud and excited for the creative team behind this podcast and book. It takes a lot of work to 1) create and 2) create a new thing out of a pre-exisiting thing. I just wished I loved the book as much as the podcast. 

I might have skipped other books this summer. In fact, I'm sure I have. These were the ones I tried the hardest on, though. And honestly, ever since, I've had a hard time finding good books to read. 
Help a girl out?
What are some of your favorite go-to authors? Summer reads? Any time reads? 

(And as a note, we've got 4 more months left in the year! How's your reading challenge coming?)  

09 June 2016

From Book to Screen

As much as I loved doing a quarterly update for you guys last month, I don't know if I can wait until next quarter to do another update! I've been blazing through books and I'm afraid I'll forget everything until I hit the next mark. So let's do this, shall we?

First of all, I want to share a quick story that has nothing to do with anything but absolutely everything to do with books. Toward the end of this last semester, one of my Occupational Therapy students asked me for a book recommendation. Now, I know our OT program is tough. It hardly allows for any non-OT classes outside of GenEds (and even then, they are looked at as a hindrance to getting all their classes in.) and you can just forget about study abroad. I did the whole, "Promise me you won't read instead of studying for finals" thing and then we got down to business. I gave her "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" because Neil Gaiman, and also, because it was short. I figured if she liked it, she could finish it quickly and if she didn't, well, it wasn't too long.

Anyway, she loved it. I knew she would. Neil Gaiman is always a winner. Thankful (as it usually is) the Gaiman was a gateway drug. Last week, we spent probably 20 minutes going through the books I've read and she took home a stack of at least 15 books on my recommendations. She is tearing through the stack and comes to the counter to give me her review. It is the best part of my summer.

Anyway, on to the show.

As promised, I've been reading the Miss Fisher's Murder Mystery books to see if they are anything like the show. How do I saw this? They are and they aren't; both have merits. Okay I like that the books are no more than 160-200 pages a pop. That doesn't seem like much at all, but compared to the TOMES I've been reading, it is rather refreshing. (Also, it isn't so heavy on my shoulder for transporting it between home and work.) 

Book Phryne is just about as glamorous and Show Phryne. Of course, in the show, we get to see all the fabulous outfits she wears instead of just reading about them. I give that point to the show. I do like watching Book Phryne's thought process, especially about her many lovers. She speaks about each with such poetry that you can almost forget there is a new one in each book. (Don't take that as a judgement. I appreciate her openness and her ability to know what she wants and what she doesn't want AND that she doesn't hide it from anyone. Ahem. Okay. Moving on.) I've read the first four books in the series and while I enjoy them, might hold off on the others. There are twenty odd books in the series and, well, I don't need to remind you all about how I feel about series. 

I read most of Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death on a flight home from California. That's neither here nor there, but it did make excellent plane reading. This is another one that reeled me in with the TV show before realizing it was based on a book. The book was well written, each chapter was a single story that showed you the troubles of the town of Grantchester and the trials of one, Cannon Sidney Chambers. There are a lot of differences between the show and the book, but I enjoyed both. I started the second book this week. It could be me or it could be the fact that I'm only reading a little in the morning or evening and not in one six hour stretch, but I'm not thrilled with it. The stories have been used in the second season of Grantchester so I'm familiar with the characters, but the stories in the book--well, something is missing. In the first book, each chapter was an entire story arc. Sidney helps local police detective inspector Geordie Keating solve crimes. In the second, Sidney did most of the crime solving all on his own. The story lines didn't seem as clear; this could have been done intentionally, to mirror Sidney's struggle with his chosen profession and solving crime. 

I have the third Sidney Chamber's book on order from the library, just to see if things get better. I've already given myself permission not to finish it if things don't improve. I am putting a hold on the Phryne Fisher books at the moment. They aren't bad, but you all know my aversion to series so that one should speak for itself. 

What has your experiences been with TV shows based on books? Do you usually prefer one over the other? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! 

22 April 2016

First Quarter Check In!

I got this email today and realized that it has been a little while since Ive updated the blog:

Wow! Such a nice surprise, especially since the last time I checked I was too busy singing In the Heights music to get any real reading done!

I got three more Ken Bruen books read. I usually hate series (as we all know) but there is something about the Jack Taylor novels that I can't quite put down. I think some of it might be to see just how much crap Jack can go through and still come out on the other side. He keeps winning, even at great personal cost. I love that he doesn't give up completely, even though he stumbles and loses his way. They keep getting darker, though, and I'm reaching a limit to my threshold for darkness. 

The Nightingale has been on my list for awhile and I finally got my hands on a copy. It was wonderfully written and deeply engrossing. I found myself gross sobbing at the end of it though and have since decided that World War II fiction is not something I can read any more. (Though it did talk about the Vel' d'Hiv round up, which is what Sara's Key was all about, and that small knowledge helped with my understanding of a part of the novel.) I still recommend this book with a whole heart, but I wanted to give you fair warning that you might need a box of tissues. 

I have gotten into some comic books this year, prompted mostly by Nimona. A fabulous tale written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson, it tells the story of Nimona, a shape shifting wanna-be-side-kick to the villain Lord Ballister Blackheart. Yes I read it in about one evening, but I totally fell in love with the characters and the story. I hope to see more from her! She (with some other lovely people) also wrote Lumberjanes, about an all girl summer camp. I honestly enjoyed Nimona much more, but there are some pretty fabulous characters in Lumberjanes, too. 

I went from light and hilarious to dark and twisty on the comic front. I finally picked up Sandman. Wow. Oh wow. I love it and am terrified of it all at the same time. It isn't so frightening that I can't read it before bed, but all the same I take it in small doses. I've picked up the Absolute edition so it is a giant hulking volume, but then I have about 20 issues on hand so I don't have to constantly be ordering the next issue and numbering and all that. It does however weigh a  solid 6 pounds so it isn't exactly a purse book. That would be the only downfall of the volume. Otherwise, A+ would recommend. Especially if you like being scared out of your mind into the possibility of never being able to sleep again. Good times. 

I've been letting myself watch some TV, even in all of this reading, and have found two shows that I absolutely love. I happened on the ITV Marple and instantly fell in love. It was a show that was both entertaining and engrossing and allowed me to knit if I wanted to. Ideal, I tell you. Of course after watching 3 seasons worth of it, I was itching for the real thing. Luckily, I have a few "collected works" volumes and started with Body in the Library. Agatha Christie was clearly a writer of her time and is evidenced by the phrases and mindsets of her characters. Though maybe not politically correct, her characters are colorful and don't seem to take the fact that they are embroiled in a murder investigation too seriously. And that, I believe, is the golden thread that holds every Agatha Christie murder together. 

And while I'm on TV, guys. GUYS. Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. GO WATCH IT.
This delightful series is about Miss Phryne Fisher, lady detective, who solves crime in 1920s Austrailia. She keeps a mother of pearl lock pick in her garter (or tucked in her bra) and a small gold revolver in her handbag. I'm not sure I can convey to you just how much I love this show, but I really do. It was an excellent way to spend part of my birthday week and I highly recommend it. (As a side note, I'm reading the books that the TV show is based on. So far so good. I'll keep you posted.) 

Whew. I'm making a lot of progress on some of my personal reading goals, but I still seem to have so many at home that I don't have time to get to! And, of course, the more I try to read the ones I already have, the more books I see at the library and NEED to check out. The never ending cycle continues. 

How goes your year? Reading, watching, or listening to anything awesome? Let me know!