Monday, December 9, 2013

The Dog Stars ~ Peter Heller

I'm pretty sure that I had heard of The Dog Stars before the Texas Book Festival, but I didn't have much of an opinion about it until I saw the author, Peter Heller, speak at a session about reading as a writer.  He didn't talk all that much about The Dog Stars but did talk about how he got his start in writing, a story that nearly made me cry (there was welling).  I'm pretty sure that the moderator did actually cry, as indicated by the sniffly, tissue-muffled moderating that followed.  I figured, if this guy can tell a story in a room free of ambience that moves everyone to tears in under five minutes, I should probably buy his book.  So I raced to the book tent after the session, bought The Dog Stars, and was fourth on the signing line, ready and waiting for him to arrive.  I told him flat out that I'd never read him before but since he made me cry, I was convinced.  He laughed and wrote "You will cry here!" on the cover page, which was kind of adorable.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!  I'm a few days late on this but I was obviously too busy cooking and gorging on Thursday to post then!  I had a nice, quiet day with my husband and our friend Sarah who flew out from New York for the weekend.  We spent the day playing games (Settlers of Catan, Monopoly, and poker), eating, watching Whip It while we digested, and then eating some more.  It was delightful.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Call of the Wild ~ Jack London

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in the Classics Spin #4, in which I made a list of 20 books from my Classics Club list and then was supposed to read whatever book had the number that the challenge facilitators chose.  I was hoping for #1, Persuasion, but They chose #10, which for me meant The Call of the Wild, also known as the shortest book on my whole list (except, MAYBE, for The Giver).  So I finished it in no time and then read Persuasion as well (review to come), giving my completion rate a nice boost.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian ~ Sherman Alexie

I have somehow gotten horribly behind on book reviews again.  As in eight books behind.  Oops.  But never fear, fair bloggers.  I took the whole week off from work for Thanksgiving (!!!!!) so I should have no problem accomplishing my various goals of sewing double-sided place mats (CHECK), sewing pillowcases, hand making all of my Christmas cards, cooking vast amounts of food, reading at least one more book, hanging out with a friend who's visiting for four days, and writing eight blog posts (soon to be seven!).  Right?  Right!  I'm obviously not over-stretching myself at all!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Allegiant ~ Veronica Roth

This post has spoilers for Allegiant, the third book in a trilogy.  If you don't want have most of the series spoiled, I suggest you read my posts about Divergent or Insurgent instead. 

I'm a little embarrassed to say how dorkily excited I got for Allegiant, the third book in the Divergent series.  But yeah - I had the release date on my iPhone reminders and while I managed to hold off on the day of the release date, I got it the weekend after, despite the fact that that was the weekend of the Texas Book Festival, where I had already bought a pile of books.  And then yes, I read Allegiant first even though it in no way promised to be the best of the lot.  What can I say?  I have a weakness for strong female leads...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Song of Achilles ~ Madeline Miller

The majority of my experience related to Greek myths is as follows: in 9th grade, I was supposed to read The Odyssey for my English class.  Evaluation included class discussions and an in-class essay.  In a mind-blowingly stupid move, I did not read the book or even go for the Spark Notes.  I repeat, I had to complete an IN-CLASS essay.  I have no idea what I was thinking.  So the day to write the essay came and I sat down and stared at the  essay prompts and wracked my brain for details from all those class discussions that I hadn't participated in. And nothing came.  Finally, after about 10 minutes of panic, I went to the front of the classroom, told the teacher I hadn't read the book, and asked if I could complete it that night for a two letter grade penalty.  She agreed and I spent that afternoon and evening in the company of an audiobook and a friend who had some knowledge of the epic poem.  I have no idea what that essay was about but I got the C and somehow did NOT learn my lesson (though I was at least better prepared for future in-class essays about books I hadn't read and never had to resort to those measures again).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Classics Spin #4

I haven't read anything from my Classics Club list in a while so when I saw that the moderators were hosting a spin, I figured that it was meant to be.  I'm taking the whole week of Thanksgiving off of work (!!!) so I will definitely have time to read a classic then.  The way that it works is I make a list of twenty books from my list that I haven't read yet and post it on my blog.  Then, next week, they will choose a random number and I'm supposed to read that book by January.  Not too bad right?  Conveniently, when I took my list and removed all of the titles that I've read as well as those that I don't actually own yet, I had exactly twenty left.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Financial Lives of the Poets ~ Jess Walter

The winner of the signed copy of Beautiful Ruins is ... (drumroll please) ... KAYLEIGH at Nylon Admiral!  Yay for her! Kayleigh, you can e-mail me at jlmarck AT gmail DOT com with your address and I will get it out to you.  I give you due warning: since you live on the other side of the world, I WILL be shipping it as cheaply as possible, so it might take a while to get there.

In addition to Beautiful Ruins, I picked up (and got signed) a copy of The Financial Lives of the Poets at the Texas Book Festival.  Ever since I read Beautiful Ruins, I've been meaning to read more by Jess Walter, so this was the perfect excuse to finally make that happen.  And it did not disappoint.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Texas Book Festival + GIVEAWAY

I'm a week late on this but what else is new??  I'm just glad I'm posting at al.  October 26-27, the Texas Book Festival was held in downtown Austin and it was fantastic!  I put my life on hold for the weekend and attended two days of talks, readings, and literary silliness, and it was great.  Oh, and I bought like a thousand books over the two days.  AND the Penguin Book Truck was there, which I was pretty excited about, as well as lots of vendors and authors and all sorts of fun stuff, like book club t-shirts and crazy Republicans picketing outside the Capitol (where a lot of the sessions were held).  I also had ice cream for lunch, because why not. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Ending of Allegiant

Okay, so it is probably ridiculous to write about the ending of a book before I write about the book itself, especially when I have other posts that I intended to write this week and just haven't happened, but oh well.  I just finished Allegiant and I have all the thoughts (as do all the t/weens apparently - just Google "Veronica Roth" for a spoiler-risking hint).  I feel like this probably shouldn't need saying but as this post is about the ENDING of the book, it will contain spoilers.  SPOILERS.  Like, super-spoilers.  So I'm going to follow the author's example, as set in her own post on the ending, by putting a spoiler break in case you're reading this on something that doesn't include the cut.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Texas Book Festival

YOU GUYS.  I have been the worst book blogger since getting my new job.  I clearly need to work on my confidence in blogging at work, both to keep up with your blogs and my own (that's how other people do it, right??).  But I'm still reading!  Albeit slowly, though I think that that's more because Cat's Eye is kind of slow than because of me necessarily.  I'm racing through my re-listen of The Likeness, so that's something.  BUT.  The Texas Book Festival is taking place in Austin next weekend and I.  Cannot.  Wait.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Snow Child ~ Eowyn Ivey

Do you ever read a book with one of those literary claims to fame, a big award or a finalist for a big award, and think, oh this must have something and then you read it and you're all wtf, why do they lie so hard?  Because it's happened to me.  Not to name names or anything.  Cough.  I'm happy to say that The Snow Child, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, was not that kind of experience for me.

You guys.  THIS BOOK.  I bought it pretty spontaneously - I had a vague interest in it but only decided to actually buy it because I was trying to stretch a gift card and the book I really wanted cost more.  But in retrospect, that is just fine.  It is the book for me.  How often can you say that?  I read books that I like, love even, but rarely have the urge to say "this is the book for me."  I could ramble on all day.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Villette ~ Charlotte Bronte

According to my Goodreads account, I finished Villette on July 7.... aaand I never reviewed it until now.  Can you say oops?  Suffice it to say that this review won't be terribly detailed but at least I'm not rambling on like I sometimes do.  Which is fine, because I was kind of meh about it.  But it does mark the tenth book I've finished for my Classics Club list, so that's pretty awesome!

Monday, September 16, 2013

This is Paradise ~ Kristiana Kahakauwila

I'm never really sure how to go about reviewing short story collections.  Do I just talk about the collection in general or do I talk about each individual story?  Do I just mention the ones I really liked and how much detail do I give?  It's so hard!  I'd love some insight into how other people deal with this.

This Is Paradise (which I keep calling This Side of Paradise, and I didn't even realize my mistake until I did a Google image search for the cover of the book) is the first print book (as opposed to audiobook) that I've finished since I started my new job so woot for that!  It only took me... five weeks?  Eek!  I would never have heard of this book if it wasn't for Emily's enthusiastic review a couple of months back, but when I got a Barnes and Noble gift card for my birthday last week, I knew I had to snatch it up!  And I'm so glad I did.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Life Update

To preface this post, I'd like to point out that I started writing it on on August 16.  That was nearly a month ago and therefore excellent evidence of how terrible a blogger (and reader) I have become.  I hope you will forgive me, dear readers, for I have an excellent excuse.
JUST LIKE THE POSTCARD.  Except bigger.  And darker.
If you read my blog regularly, you probably know that in May I finished grad school and moved from New Jersey to Austin, Texas.  I haven't said much else about what's going on in my life, partially because for a while there wasn't much to say and partially because the blog actually represented my days pretty well.  I was spending several hours a day reading and thinking about writing (though actually writing very little), and at least a couple more hours a day browsing through, LinkedIn, and writing more cover letters than I care to remember.  It was boring, depressing, and non-blog-worthy.  But things have changed!  I have a job!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Daughter of Smoke and Bone ~ Laini Taylor

I've been hearing about Daughter of Smoke and Bone for a while now, mentions which are usually accompanied by glowing reviews.  Whenever this happened, I would go read a summary and wonder what the heck the reviewer was talking about because it sounded pretty terrible.  Finally, after the billionth time this happened, I gave in.  I was closing my Audible accounts and had some credits to use up, so why not, right?  And you know what?  Turns out all those crazy reviewers were on to something.

So now that I've declared that all the summaries I've read of this book are wanting, I get the dreaded task of attempting to summarize it for you.  Eek.  Here goes: Karou is a snarky, blue-haired teenager living in Prague.  She studies art by day, collects teeth by night, and carries a sketchbook wherever she goes.  In its pages are images of the strange and the fantastic, creatures who are a blend of human and animal, and the strange lives they live.  However, these oddities are not creatures of Karou's imagination, but the people of her other life.  They are not her family by blood - she does not know who or where she came from - but they are her family by love.  In their strangeness, she sees beauty and belonging, not the monsters that an angel by the name of Akiva claims them to be.  Karou and Akiva meet in a violent turmoil, but come to find more in one another than an enemy.  In Akiva, Karou finds answers to the past that has been lost to her.

How was that?  Somewhat interesting, I hope?  It's certainly better than the tripe on Goodreads, which pretty much just shouts "it's weird and cool, guys!" in the general direction of teenagers.  Which is part of what's great about this book - while it is YA fiction, it does not in any way talk down to its reader.  Details are not over explained, the author is not afraid to use big words, and girls are unapologetically feisty and manage to have romantic and sexual relationships without being dominated by them.  Plus, they have sex and it's neither perfection nor something to avoid at all costs because duh, mistakes nor something they don't understand.  Sex can be nice and it can be bad and it can mess with your emotions.  It's not simple, and this is shown not told.  Kudos to Laini Taylor on treating teenagers like people and not just feeding them bullshit.

What grabbed me from the beginning of the book was Karou's observation that, despite her strange life, she never has to conceal it - with a wry smile, she can tell the truth and never be believed, which saves her the trouble of keeping track of lies.  This is so clever and pretty insightful and I was like whoa.  In addition to that detail, I just wanted to be friends with her and Zusana because they're witty and snarky and basically my people.

This story has depth.  There are layers to people and to events and situations.  The other-world war that Karous learns about is an incredibly complex thing, with fault on both sides, that rises above your typical good/bad dichotomy.  And it's tie-in to Christianity - with mentions of angels and devils, and humanity's tendency to get glimpses of the truth and fill in the rest - furthers that complication (that and the sex talk has probably gotten this book banned in places but whatever).

My only complaint is that towards the end of the book, the book loses its balance.  Karou's past is finally revealed to her, and suddenly there are giant chunks of flashback that are not only excessively long, but lose the momentum of the main story.  It's a little far along for that much backstory and it's delivered a little heavy-handedly.  At the same time, the twists that are revealed are both unexpected and totally believable.  Taylor does a great job of setting up the story so that these surprises make sense but aren't obvious or tiresome, which is an absolute relief after the last book I read.

I will definitely be reading this next book in this series once I get my hands on it.  The ending of Daughter of Smoke and Bone doesn't give me that cliffhanger push to find the next book immediately, so it may be a while, but I'll get there.  Maybe if I ever revive my Audible account.  Speaking of which, the audiobook was really good.  I often find that the audio version of books written by woman, particularly ones targeted at teenage girls, are narrated by women using the cute, squeaky, totally obnoxious voices who can't do men's voices to save their lives.  Not so with Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  The narrator, Khristine Hvam, has a rich storytelling voice, perfect intonation (particularly for a teenager's cadence), and does accents (of which there are many in the book) perfectly.  It was a pleasure to listen to, in addition to a good story.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Classics Club ~ 1 Year Update

Though it doesn't seem possible, it has already been a whole year since I signed up for The Classics Club, a whopping five year reading commitment.  I went for the base goal of 50 classics (a term I chose to use rather loosely in 5 years).  One year later, my progress is (drumroll please) right on target!  I've read 10 of the books on my list, which means that as long as I keep up the pace, I will finish the list by August 24, 2017.  Hoorah!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pure ~ Julianna Baggott

I think it's pretty safe to say that dystopia has gotten awfully popular lately, which a younger version of me would have loved.  Years ago, once I'd read The Handmaid's Tale, 1984, A Brave New World, and Anthem, I used to desperately search for other dystopias.  I was satisfied with The Road, though that's really post-apocolyptic (but still has the remnants of a world gone wrong) and was happy to get Oryx and Crake.  Then, all of a sudden, dystopia exploded - not only was everyone reading it, but everyone was writing it too.  As tends to be the case with such things, the overall quality inevitably went down, though there are still some gems, like The Hunger Games and, I thought or at least hoped, Pure.  I was excited to read it.  Really, really excited.  Not only is it both dystopia, but it's also post-apocolyptic AND I'd heard great things about it.  Unfortunately for me, it fell flat on its face.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Woman in White ~ Wilkie Collins

When I was 11, I wrote my first novel.  It was about a boarding school for orphaned girls who were all named after my friends, with the first and last names mixed up to protect their privacy.  It included a Ouija board, which nightly predicted the disappearances of one orphan after another.  It ended with the satifyingly creepy conclusion that one of the school's guards had somehow been locked in a mental ward while her crazed and identical sister had taken her place and started taking the girls.  I don't remember what she did with them but I do know that they all lived.  My English teacher read it and now, 15 years later and having read The Woman in White, I am drawn to the inevitable conclusion that she must have thought me to be an extraordinarily well-read sixth grader.  That, or a totally unoriginal one*.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fun Home ~ Alison Bechdel

Lately, I've been wanting to start reading graphic novels/memoirs again, but haven't been sure where to start.  Most of what I've read in the past has been assigned by professors, and I find it hard to sort out for myself the stuff I like from all the superhero/manga stuff out there (not that I have a problem with those genres, I'm just not interested).  I've been hearing about Alison Bechdel's new graphic memoir, Are You My Mother? for a while now, but was hesitant to buy another book by her since I didn't particularly like Fun Home.  So I decided to save my money and give Fun Home another try - it's been over six years (over six years?!?!?!) since my graphic novel class, so surely my perspective will have changed and I will now understand why people think this book is the cat's meow, yes?  FALSE.  I think I actually liked it less this time around.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Half of a Yellow Sun ~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When I was in middle school, my best friend was a girl named Vanessa, whose parents were from Nigeria.  All I know about their decision to emigrate was that one day they'd woken up to hear on the radio that they had a new president (SCARY) and decided to get out of there.  One summer, Vanessa went to Nigeria for a few weeks.  I was pretty impressed and her mom told me that one day they'd take me to Nigeria too.  Unfortunately, in high school Vanessa and I made new friends and that never happened, but a vague interest in Nigeria has continued in me.  Therefore, when I recently heard of Chimamanda Adichie and her general awesomeness, I was more than a little intrigued and eager to get my hands on her work.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage ~ Alice Munro

I first picked up Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage in 2010, shortly after reading The Beggar Maid, a collection of interconnected stories about a daughter and her stepmother by Munro, which I really loved.  I read about half of this collection and then just...stopped.  I have another collection by Munro, but I figured I should finish this one before moving on to another, and decided to star over at the beginning, because I remembered almost nothing of what I'd already read.  And it was good, but to be honest, I understand why I stopped reading it last time.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Patron Saint of Liars ~ Ann Patchett

I finished The Patron Saint of Liars nearly two months ago, so this review will be rather short and less in-depth than usual.  I read this book because it's Ann's Patchett's first novel and I loved Bel Canto so much that I decided that I wanted to read her entire backlist and should start at the beginning.  While Patron Saint does not quite have the lyrical magnificence of Bel Canto, it's a lovely novel and hints at just how wonderful Patchett's writing will become.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Something Rotten ~ Jasper Fforde

My reviews of the first three books in the Thursday Next series:
The Eyre Affair
Lost in a Good Book
The Well of Lost Plots

I love reading literature, a term that is difficult to define, but which I am using here to mean serious fiction - fiction that is heavy and makes you think and isn't easy.  Happiness is elusive or complicated, endings uncomfortably resemble reality, and it can be a bit depressing.  Yes, I love this, because it makes me feel real, complex emotions and often to think about life in a new way.  But every so often I need a break.  Enter Thursday Next, Jasper Fforde's literary heroine (literally).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Remains of the Day ~ Kazuo Ishiguro

I was super-excited to read Remains of the Day because Never Let Me Go was so subtle and amazing and heart-wrenching.  And Remains of the Day is similar in some ways - the story kind of sneaks up on you despite the apparently pointless ramblings and reminiscences of the narrator and in the end, you are surprised by its depth and power.  I didn't love this one as much and I loved Never Let Me Go, but in the end, I am just as astonished.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


So apparently there's this book:

Let's Pretend This Never Happened ~ Jenny Lawson

I got Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson AKA the Bloggess's memoir when it first came out in 2012 - my husband had preordered it for me the previous Christmas so it was delivered upon release and I was SO EXCITED for it because, in case you don't know, the Bloggess is hilarious.    And - I was disappointed.  I only got a little ways in, but there was just too much "haha look how hilarious I am" going on for my taste.  People pointing out their own hilarity (as opposed, say, to the hilarity of a situation) is not my thing.  So I stopped reading it and shelved it and that was that.  Until two weeks ago, when I RSVPed for a book club Meetup here in Austin and that was the chosen book. I figured that since I already had it and I still like the Bloggess and really want to meet some people down here, I should give it another shot.  And I have to admit, I'm glad I did.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Visit from the Goon Squad ~ Jennifer Egan

I'm going to preface this review by saying that I never had much interest in this book.  The summary on the back of the book, with claims of "music pulsing on every page," just had me kind of meh about it.  That might have been cool when I was in high school, but it's no longer a draw for me.  However, SO MANY people recommended this book, from fellow bloggers to my friend's dad to the Pulitzer Prize committee that it was definitely on my radar.  I found a copy super-cheap at a library book sale, so I gave it a shot.  And after all that ruckus I have to say, I am still very meh about this book.  At least I'm true to myself?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Silver Linings Playbook ~ Matthew Quick

I saw The Silver Linings Playbook in theaters without any idea that it was based on a book.  It seemed fun and quirky and starred Jennifer Lawrence, which is always a plus.  Alas, I was disappointed.  The first half was promising but the second half just fell flat.  It seemed to have forgotten what the first half was about and the ending was totally unbelievable.  The turning point was the fight at the football game - from then on, the movie was just a mess and I still don't understand how it won all of those awards.  Needless to say, when I found out that the movie was based on a book, I was a bit wary.  Sure, film adaptations are notoriously underwhelming, but usually I go book to movie, not the reverse.  At best, I feared the book would be tainted by the movie; at worst, I feared that the movie was accurate.  Happily, I was wrong on both counts.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Dance with Dragons ~ George R.R. Martin

For my other reviews of the books in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, see the following links:
Game of Thrones
I'm not sure how it happened but over the last few months, my husband and I have become the biggest Game of Thrones nerds.  I started reading the series about a year ago, by which point he'd already read through the whole thing, but something about seeing the new episodes as they aired this year and my having to wait to read the last two books due to grad school and just the general Game of Thrones mania that surrounds us at every turn sparked a huge, dorky obsession in both of us.  If you're not sure what this means, we are currently making plans to frame and hang some of the maps from the collection that GRRM released.  Yeah.  It's that bad awesome.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Intimidating Books

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
It's been a while since I've participated in Top Ten Tuesday, partially because I can't come up with lists for the topics and partially because I forget about it.  Usually it's the latter.  But today I remembered AND I have a list for this week's topic: books that I find the most intimidating.  Because let's be honest - some books are crazy intimidating and, as a result, we never actually read them.  Or maybe that's just me.  Although, a lot of the books that I find intimidating are on my Classics Challenge list, so hopefully I'll change that eventually.  Without further ado, my list!

Friday, June 28, 2013

You have to admit, that is pretty cool.

Since I finished graduate school last month and am currently unemployed (anyone want to hire a licensed social worker in the Austin area?), I have been reading quite a bit more than usual, which means a lot more time on Goodreads (friend me!) obsessively categorizing my books.  After finishing A Visit From the Goon Squad this morning (meh - review to come), I decided that I should read something from my Classics Club and summer reading lists next, so I settled on Vilette by Charlotte Bronte.  So I went into Goodreads on my iPod Touch to let the world know and that's when I saw it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cloud Atlas ~ David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas was one of those books that I felt like I was supposed to read.  I don't really remember why.  The hype?  The movie?  The experimental form?  The claim of "modern classic" on the front cover?  Probably all of the above.  And it was good, definitely worth the read, though it didn't blow me away.  But it was fun in an "I see what you did there" kind of way.  Which, come to think of it, may be the identifying feature of post-modernism.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Book List

So I have an increasing number of complete books to review for the blog...meh.  Thanks to Kayleigh at Nylon Admiral's winter reading post, I have yet another excuse to not write actual reviews - seasonal book lists!  Because we all know how well those work out for me.  Oh, we don't?  Well, last fall I read a total of half of one of the eight books on my list (or two, depending on how you count the Lord of the Rings series, which I counted as one).  This spring, I didn't even bother with a list.  BUT, I just graduated AND am currently unemployed (though hopefully not for long) so no more excuses, right?  Without further ado, my summer reading list:

Friday, June 21, 2013

HP Readalong ~ Wrap-up

Main Post
GUYS (ladies, really).  The Harry Potter Readalong is officially over and that is a sad thing.  Has it really been six months?  Holy poopers!  So yeah, I'm actually NOT going to ramble on today, even though I mentally filed away (and promptly forgot) all sorts of things I wanted to say today.  What I DO want to say is that I don't actually hate Harry like you all probably think.  One does not reread this series as much as I have if one hates Harry.  I just have this weird thing where I think that the series is terribly flawed but I LOVE IT ANYWAY.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kindred ~ Octavia Butler

I finished Kindred a few weeks ago, so this post is a little late; forgive me if it's a rambling and a little disjointed.  I was really excited to read Kindred, because Octavia Butler is one of the best-known black female sci-fi writers and that is pretty awesome (of her, not of a genre that is so overwhelmingly white and male).  The premise is equally awesome (in a disturbing kind of way): a black woman living in 1970's California is suddenly and repeatedly transported across space and time to the Antebellum South.  I mean, how messed up and full of potential is that?!  I feel like this lead-up suggests that I'm about to say that I was disappointed, but that is so not the case.  Kindred was immensely satisfying and did not in any way disappoint.

Friday, June 14, 2013

HP Readalong ~ Deathly Hallows 29- END (eek!)

Ladies (and any gents that may be reading)!  It is upon us: the end of this ridiculously long and awesome Harry Potter readalong!  It is sad and a little exciting, if only because I actually managed to stick to it for this long.  BUT I will save my commentary for the wrap-up next week, because today is the day for indulging all of my conflicting thoughts about the end of this series.  Because YAY, Voldemort’s dead but it was a little lame, amirite?  We’ll discuss.  Happy Harry Potter Day!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cutting for Stone ~ Abraham Verghese

"Tell us, please, what treatment in an emergency is administered by ear?" ... "Words of comfort." (520-521)

Cutting for Stone is one of those books that I've been meaning to read for a long time, years maybe.  I first heard of it on a non-book blog and picked up a copy at a library book sale soon after.  It's been sitting on my shelf ever since.  Perhaps this latent anticipation raised it up in my expectations, for I certainly heard no hype about it, but it fell short of my expectations.  I liked it, but I did not love it, and found more problems in it than I found answers.

Friday, June 7, 2013

HP Readalong ~ Deathly Hallows 20-28

Hi everyone!  Long time no see!  Since we last met, I have moved 1700 miles away, missed BEA, and barely managed to finish this week’s reading.  Oh, I also wrote my entire post for this week and then Blogger lost the entire thing except for one gif.  Thanks, Blogger.  I’m going to try to piece it back together (in WORD this time, and then cut and paste), but I’m rushing now because I’m expecting my movers to show up soon, so this will probably not be my best post ever.  Oh well.  Happy Harry Potter Day!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Legion ~ Brandon Sanderson

Legion is a novella that I downloaded from Audible because it was free!  (It's not anymore though, sorry.)  Coming in at only 2 hours and 48 minutes, it was a fun quick read and the first time I've read anything by Sanderson.  It's a quick book so, fittingly, this will be a quick post.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Lord of the Rings ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

I am rather behind on posting book reviews (I finished reading this back in April, if that's any indication), so I'm playing catch-up this week.  I committed myself to reading the entirety of  The Lord of the Rings for the Classics Challenge (counted as only ONE book, not three), as well as The Hobbit.  I actually read The Fellowship of the Ring back in high school and liked it, but got caught up by the Ents in The Two Towers and never finished the series.  It's one of those series I felt like I should read though, as a serious reader who occasionally delves into fantasy.  It's a classic of the genre, yes?  This time around, I decided to listen to the whole series on audiobook because a) I had a long commute and b) my brother gave me all of the audiobooks.  I listened to it over the course of the school year, because I couldn't bring myself to start each book immediately after the previous one and I have to say, this was one of the least successful audiobooks at keeping me conscious while driving that I have ever read.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Judging "Inappropriate Content"

This morning I was at a Barnes and Noble here in Houston, where I'm staying while I wait for the increasingly late moving truck to arrive at my new apartment in Austin.  I was looking at a display table in the YA section, when I overheard a young girl, who was around thirteen years old, talking with her mother.  They were at the next table, discussing a book the girl wanted.  It was a hardcover book and the mother flat out told her daughter that she wouldn't buy her a book that she would only read once in hardcover, which I totally understand.  My mom had the same rule when I was growing up and now I pretty much have the same rule for myself.  Foreseeing the girl's disappointment in not getting a book she wanted, a feeling I myself know well, (and unable to miss the chance to talk books) I decided to suggest a book that I really like and that I had noticed was sitting next to the book the girl wanted.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Armchair BEA ~ Children's and YA Lit

Design credit:Sarah of Puss Reboots
Today's topic over at Armchair BEA is Children's and Young Adult literatures!  I don't have any kids of my own, but I was a book-loving child once and I have four nieces and a nephew, so I see all sorts of adorable children's literature.  I also occasionally read and review some YA lit on the blog, so I'm no stranger to these genres.  Here are some of my favorites!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA ~ Nonfiction

Design credit: Nina of Nina Reads.
Today's topic for Armchair BEA is nonfiction, which means that this is going to be a VERY short post.  There was a time when I really liked to read memoirs but nowadays, nonfiction is pretty much nonexistent for me, unless you count textbooks and case studies, which I do not.  Why is that?  I have no idea, but it's probably linked to my general avoidance of current events (except Amanda Knox, I will read any Knox-related news story).  I don't mind horrible, terrible, disturbing, heartbreaking things happening to fictional characters but to real people?  I guess it's just too much, especially if I'm not in a position to help them.  So for the most part, I stick to fiction.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Armchair BEA ~ Literary Fiction

Design credit:
Sarah of Puss Reboots
Hello, my fellow armchair folk.  Today's topic for Armchair BEA is Literary Fiction, which I may have accidentally covered yesterday.  Oops!  Oh well, that's okay, seeing as how literary fiction is my true love.  Yes, I read and enjoy genre fiction, but literary fiction is what I am drawn to and probably what I read the most of unless, maybe, you count the books in a series individually, which I don't because doing so would skew things.  So yes, today I will keep my discussion short, since I went over this all yesterday, and then jump into some recommendations.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA: Genre Fiction

Design credit:
Emily of Emily's Reading Room
Today's topic for Armchair BEA is Genre Fiction.  From the main post: If you’re a reader of genre fiction do you have a favourite author or series? And what keeps bringing you back for more fantasy/sci fi/horror etc? And if you don’t read one (or more) of these genres what is it that deters you from those sections of the bookstore? I’m also curious to hear why you think these genres often don’t get the recognition they deserve.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Armchair BEA - Introductions

Design Credit: Nina of Nina Reads
As ever, I am three steps behind the rest of the book blogging world.  I've missed the start of Armchair BEA every year since I've started blogging and, even crazier, have missed BEA itself every year too, even though I've lived in New Jersey my entire life, just a train ride away.  This year, I really wanted to get myself there...but then I moved out of the area LAST WEEK.  What timing, eh?  But I found out just in time and joined up so (drumroll please) here is my introduction!

Friday, May 24, 2013

HP Readalong ~ Deathly Hallows 11-19

We creep ever closer to the end of this readalong and it is a sad, sad thing.  I'm not sure how I'm going to avoid doing whatever I'm supposed to do on Fridays and Saturdays without it.  I suppose I'll think of something (I see more readalongs in my future).  As for this week, my post is relatively short and uninvolved because I listened to the whole section on audiobook and the actual book is currently on the back of a truck somewhere, as I am mid-move and writing this post seems like the first chance I've had to sit down in days.  I'm also scheduling this post because I have a 7:10 a.m. flight on Friday (eek!) and I assure you, I will not be waking up even earlier to post about Harry Potter.  Sorry, guys.  Happy Harry Potter Day!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Giveaway Winners

Thanks to a random number generator, I've chosen the winners for my blogiversary giveaway!

Angela won Interpreter of Maladies and Allie from What Red Read won The Namesake!  That officially makes Allie the winner of 2 out of the 3 books I've ever given away on this blog.  Those are some good odds.  Congratulations, ladies!  I'll be e-mailing you both for your mailing addresses.

Friday, May 17, 2013

HP Readalong ~ Deathly Hallows 1-10

So I've spent most of the day thus far listening to Deathly Hallows on audiobook to catch up because I was so distracted by the wonder of being DONE with graduate school and being able to read whatever I wanted whenever I wanted that I got totally distracted by Kindred and completely forgot about Harry Potter until yesterday.  And then I got distracted again and listened straight through Chapter 11.  Oops.  Anyway, we're up to the seventh book, which means that we're almost done and that is sad.  Though I'm not going to lie, I'm a little excited to not have my blog totally dominated by Harry Potter for much longer because I do read other stuff, like books by Juhmpa Lahiri that I just so happen to be giving away AND I've extended the giveaway to tomorrow because, well, I just didn't get around to it today (how'd you like that transition?).  So go enter!  Happy Harry Potter Day!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Three Year Wrap-Up

Obligatory reminder for you to enter my giveaway - I'm picking the winner tomorrow!

Whenever people put up their monthly reading stats, I'm always so impressed that they actually remember to do that every month and I always tell myself to start and then never do.  Until last year, for my two year blogiversary, when I decided to calculate my reading stats for the previous two years (based on what I actually blogged about, at least).  Now that it's been three years, I think it's time for an update, don't you?  That's what I thought.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Thirteenth Tale ~ Diane Setterfield

Don't forget to enter my giveaway!  I'll be announcing the winner on Friday!

Operation: catch up on blog posts commences.  The Thirteenth Tale is one of those books that I vaguely intended to read for years, mostly because I see it all the time in bookstores and, well, exposure advertising - it's effective.  I finally got around to it this semester when I was desperate for audiobooks to keep me conscious on the drive to my internship three times per week.  It did the job - I didn't fall asleep at the wheel once - and I enjoyed most of it.  In the end, though, I didn't love it nearly as much as my constant exposure to it suggested that I should.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Blogiversary and GIVEAWAY

Hey there!  It's been a long time.  Okay, well technically not, but all I've written in weeks has been Harry Potter posts, and while that's all well and good, this is not actually meant to be a Harry Potter blog.  I've been craaazy busy with finishing up grad school, preparing to move 1700 miles away, and life in general.  But I submitted my last paper on Sunday and actually began reading a book that isn't Harry Potter, school-related, or in audio form, so things are looking up!  I'm reading Kindred by Octavia Butler, which is kind of awesome and also on my Classics Club list, so double awesome.  At some point, I might even manage to get up reviews of the audiobooks I've finished recently.  Maybe.

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I am apparently now incapable of keeping HP out of my posts.