Monday, January 30, 2012

Maybe not...

Ok. January's category didn't work out quite the way I had planned. I started reading Alison Wonderland as I had planned, but I just couldn't get into it. I decided to hold of on reading in for now and dive into something else. And what would that be?

The Uninvited: The True Story of the Union Screaming House
by Steven LaChance

This is an apparently true story of Steven LaChance's experiences in a house in Union, Missouri. This fit the bill for the already chosen category of the month since I spent at least 4 summers working at a Camp MO-Val in Union. In all that time, I never actually heard of this house, which according to the book is no surprise since "it just isn't talked about". It was an interesting story and not as scary/creepy as I thought it would be, though I was a little disappointed that it didn't go into more detail. Here are some pictures from the house.


For February, I've decided to read a biography. Well. I guess technically it's an autobiography, but the author even states that even for him it was almost more of a biography, as it was written about the person he "used to be". Works for me. So for February I'm reading Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. This is something I've wanted to read for a long time, and I'm finally getting to it!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A new approach in 2012...

Ok, so I'll admit it. While I do consider myself a "reader", 50 books in a year was pushing it a bit for me. I made 55, in fact, but sometimes it got to a point where I just wasn't enjoying it. A point that felt like I was forcing myself to read (like in school, blech!). If it wasn't for Aaron and his bribes I'm not sure I would have finished :) Also, one of the reasons I threw the challenge down for myself is that I wanted to clear up my bookshelves a bit. I kind of failed at this. I wasn't far into the 50 challenge when I realized if I stuck to the books on my shelf, I would never make it. I am happy to report however that I did succeed in the other major part of my challenge. I didn't buy books this year. I did get a few at the YMCA book fair (spent less than $10), but I kinda made a deal with myself that if my challenge was going well I could go to the book fair. A successful year for me and books, overall :)

Even with the mixed success, I've decided to go a different route this year. I'm not setting a hard and fast goal of how many books I'm going to read this year. I've thought about it a lot, done some research and have chosen 12 "categories" of ways to choose books this year. Right now I'm figuring on reading at least two books a month, one chosen based on the list of categories and one from my book shelf. This way I can cover all my bases...I can branch out and read new things, get through some of the old stuff on my book shelf and also allow myself some free time to just read whatever I want. Or not read at all. We'll see how it goes.

The 12 (in no particular order):

- Something recommended by my boyfriend, Aaron

- Banned book

- Biography

- Borrowed from and recommended by my sister, Stacie

- By an author with the same initials as me, JD

- Award winner

- A book that was turned into a movie

- Something recommended by an online "what should I read next" type of generator

- Set in a city or town where I have lived

- With a publication date of the year I was born, 1978

- Chosen solely by the appeal of the cover

- A random recommendation

For January I'm going to knock out the "book set in a city or town where I have lived" category. I'm going to read "Alison Wonderland" by Helen Smith. It takes place in London. I only lived there for a few months, but it still counts!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Yes,'s me again...finally...

Okay. So clearly I'm not cut out for blogging :) I'm afraid this isn't going to be the beginning of any manic blogging trend, I really just want to get some things straight for myself and figured this would be the best venue. A little while ago I read Stephanie's blog post over at The Conscientious Reader and realized that I haven't been keeping up with the reading challenges I picked up on the side at all. Back in February I decided that I was going to try to participate in an Ireland Reading Challenge and a British Books Challenge. I've been so focused on trying to reach my main goal of 50 for the year that I've kind of let these go by the way-side. Or have I?

Here's what it looks like I've got so far:

Ireland Reading Challenge:

Shadowfever - Karen Marie Moning (set in Dublin, Ireland)
The Brightest Star in the Sky - Marian Keyes (set in Ireland, Irish author)
Irish Girls About Town: An Anthology of Short Stories - a compilation of short stories by female Irish authors, all taking place in Ireland
Now and Then - Jacqueline Sheehan (mainly takes place in Ireland in 1844)

This puts me solidly in one level of the challenge - the Luck O' the Irish. I'm satisfied with this. I definitely have more books on my shelf that would qualify for this challenge, but at this point I just want to make sure I hit my 50.

British Book Challenge:

Alice I Have Been - Melanie Benjamin (set in Oxford, England)
The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise - Julia Stuart (set in London, England, British author)
The Crimson Petal and the White - Michel Faber (set in London, England)
Gone With the Windsors - Laurie Graham (mostly set in London, British author)
Little Bee - Chris Cleave (set mostly in London, England, British author)

This particular challenge only has two challenge levels, and I originally planned on aiming for the lower one, called "Winston Churchill". To achieve this level, I need to read 6 books that pertain. Looks like I've made it to five without even trying, so I should be good making it the 6.

Phew!! Now to just finish my 50 and then think about what to do next year....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Book #16: The Brightest Star In the Sky

Book #16 is by Marian Keyes and is called The Brightest Star In the Sky. I'm not sure that I have a lot to say about this book. I honestly didn't really enjoy much about it. It's told from the point of view of an "angel" that is looking for a new soul to dwell in, but the reader isn't really let in on this until the very end of the book. The problem for me is that it follows multiple people and because it's unclear who is telling the story, it's hard to understand why it's necessary to follow all of these people. And they aren't all really that interesting. The only thing keeping me reading (besides the rule I set for myself that I have to finish all books that I start) was the storyline about the couple Matt and Maeve. They lend a bit of mystery to the whole thing. I won't say what the resolution is, on the very slight off chance that someone actually reads this and then wants to read the story. I think that perhaps the convolutedness of this blog entry is decent evidence of the convolutedness of the book. It's rather disappointing...I've read some of Keyes other books and really enjoyed them, but the last couple have just really been blah. I even returned one to the bookstore after the first couple of chapters because I could tell that I just wasn't going to get into it. I've never done that before. Sad.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book #14: Three Willows and Book #15: The Host


Book #14 is Three Willows: The Sisterhood Grows by Ann Brashares. This story is remotely connected to Brashares' Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series. I loved those books, so it was a no-brainer when I saw this at the library. It's a similar storyline - the Pants series is about 4 high school aged best friends that share a pair of "magical" pants. This book is about 3 girls that were best friends most of their lives but had drifted apart. They are in their last summer before they start high school. The story follows each girl on her journey, which ultimately leads them back to each other. Polly goes to a modelling day camp, even though she doesn't really have what it takes to be a model and ends up being hurt by the process. Jo spends the summer at her family's beach house, working at a restaurant and acting older to fit in, also getting hurt in the process. Ama is probably my favorite character. She reminds me a bit of my friend Stephanie. Very bookish, very smart, not what anyone would think of as "outdoorsy" and yet she ends up being sent on a wilderness trip instead of the academic camp she had thought she was going starts off a disaster, but she loves it by the end. I liked this book a lot. It's a bit simple, but it's young adult, so I didn't really expect anything earth shattering. I'm wondering if this is going to be another series, a la the Travelling Pants...

Book #15 is The Host by Stephenie Meyer. Yes, THE Stephanie Meyer of Twilight fame. I resisted this book for a long time. Most everyone I talked to about it hadn't read it because they had not heard great things about it and every time I picked it up and looked at the back of it I was reminded that it's about aliens. I'm not really into the whole alien thing. Never have been, so I kept giving it a pass. Even after Aaron recommended it to me, telling me that it is one of his favorite books, I resisted. Then I came across it in my perusals at the library. I figured, what the heck. Well. I'm glad that I did. I really enjoyed this book. Yeah, at it's base it's about aliens, but it's really about humanity and about how the unfeeling alien found her humanity. Now, it did start off a bit slow, but once I got through about 50 pages I was hooked, so if you've ever considered reading it, even a little, give it a chance!! If you liked the Twilight saga, you'll probably like this story.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book #12-Water for Elephants and Book #13-Blood Sins

Erm. Ok. So honestly I think I got a bit out of order in my numbering system. I was following the order in which they were listed on Goodreads, not realizing that they were sorted by date added, not date completed. I've now solved that problem. No one cares though, right? At least I'm trying to catch up...?

So, book #12 is Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. As soon as I realized the movie was coming out, I decided I'd better get my act together and read it. I borrowed a copy from my sister Stacie and took it with me to day 3 of Jury Duty. I finished it that day, no problem...5 solid hours of reading did it for me. I liked it, but didn't love it. The issue is that with the exception of the main character, Jacob Jankowski, I just didn't really like any of the characters. And reading about some of the realities of how the animals in the circus were treated was simply heartbreaking. I honestly didn't really care much for the movie either. I had hoped that they would downplay the scenes of animal abuse, and I guess they did, but not nearly as much as I'd like. All in all I'm still glad that I read the book, and that I did it before I saw the movie. At least I was prepared.

Book #13 is called Blood Sins by Kay Hooper. Hooper's novels are always entertaining. All of them (at least most of them?) have a basis in the paranormal, mainly about a fictional branch of the FBI called the "Special Crimes Unit". Each member of the unit has some sort of "extra" sense or paranormal power. Empaths, psychics, mind name it. The main character in this book, Tessa Gray, is (among other things) clairvoyant and can "sense" other psychic abilities while shielding her own. This was another quick read but one that I enjoyed quite a bit more than Water for Elephants. One of the things that I really like about Hooper's style is that she does a really good job of distracting the reader from realizing who the real villain is. Her endings are usually worth getting to, and this novel didn't disappoint, which is something that I always appreciate.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book #11 - The Crimson Petal and the White

Continuing with the catching up...

Book #11 was The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber. Two things led me to this 900 page book. That's right. 900 PAGES. The first was a recommendation from a friend of Aaron's. The recommendation wasn't, "Hey, this book is awesome, you should read it." It was more like, "Hey, this book is ginormous and if you're looking for a challenge, you'll find it here." Well. Clearly I enjoy a good challenge, so I put it on my radar. Then a group I belong to on Goodreads (aptly called Reading the Chunksters) put it up for consideration. These two things combined seemed reason enough for

All I can say is thank goodness for Jury Duty. It would have taken me FOREVER to get through those 900 pages if I hadn't been granted almost two full days of nearly uninterrupted reading time. To be honest, I'm not sure it was really worth it. I thought after the hype (the rec's and then the reviews I read on Goodreads) that it would be a super intense and interesting book. It wasn't really. I don't really even remember THAT much about it. It started of super slow, pretty difficult to get into. When the story starts, it's not even following the book's main character. You have to get there, be introduced to each character. "Julie, this is Caroline. Caroline enjoys long walks through the gritty streets of London, searching for "johns"." Blech. The path to the main character (the heroine, I guess she could be called) is so rambling that when he finally gets there, it takes a while to be convinced that she's the one. Sugar is her name, prostituting and social climbing is her game. Honestly, she isn't a very likable heroine. She's rather whiny and really kind of ends up losing herself instead of finding herself. The most annoying thing about the book? It doesn't end. I mean, the book ends, but the story doesn't really end. Faber actually has the nerve to taunt the reader about it. "Hey, I know the story didn't really end, but too bad, that's how life is sometimes." Really? Even with that though, by that point I was just so glad to be finished, I barely cared.

And I'm realizing that my review is becoming nearly as long and tedious (yet somewhat lacking in real information) as the book, so I'm going to just quit while I'm ahead...