Thursday, April 30, 2009

BTT: When a loved one betrays you...

Which is worse?
Finding a book you love and then hating everything else you try by that author, or reading a completely disappointing book by an author that you love?

Reading a book that sucks from an author you LOVE is the worst by far!! It takes me a long time to determine whether or not I truly love an author mostly because when I find a book that I like, I'm not one to go out searching for everything else that author has written, it takes time for me to decide to read more of their books. I definitely don't think that if one book is good, the rest of an author's books will be good as well. I mean, a good book could just be a fluke or a one-time-idea kind of thing right?

But, when I do find an author that I love and I have read a lot of stuff from (and enjoyed it all) then I wait impatiently for their next book to come out and then....It SUCKS! there's nothing more disappointing than that. My prime example: Stephenie Meyer. Okay I wouldn't say that she's a GOOD writer or that I really love her, but I really enjoyed the first three books of the Twilight series. But Breaking Dawn...UGH. Awful. Horrible. This can't possibly be the build-up-to-nothing final ending to this series can it?! Blech. I have The Host sitting on my nightstand, waiting to be read, so we'll see how adventures in Meyer-land go with something non-Twilight sometime soon.
PS I'm a bad blogger as of late and have two reviews that I need to write! Hopefully I'll be on it tomorrow...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Musing Monday: Non-fiction preferences

Musing Mondays is hosted by Rebecca.
Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about reading non-fiction…

Do you read non-fiction regularly? Do you read it in a different way or place than you read fiction? (question courtesy of Diane)
I would say that probably about 75% of all the books that I read are fiction. I'm not really a huge non-fiction reader. When I do read non-fiction, it's usually memoirs or the occasional book of science-related essays or studies which I find interesting enough or reads like fiction enough that I really don't change my reading habits too much. If anything, I probably just read in bed for a little less time than I might with a work of fiction that has me drawn in.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Review: The Road

The Road

by Cormac McCarthy

287 pages

This book was kind of creepy. Like the part in the beginning of 28 Days Later, before the infected people come out, where the guy is wandering around and there is NO ONE there and everything is deserted and just CREEPY. Yup, it's like that.

So a man and his son (young-ish...maybe 8 or 9? the age is never disclosed) are traveling through the now deserted and covered with ash remnants of America. There's little food, no government, very few people of which most are BAD, and you have no idea what happened. The whole story is just the man and his son trying to find food, shelter, and warmth while avoiding the bad people (who happen to be cannibals because ya know, cows are extinct).

I don't really have a ton to say about this book. I suppose that I kind of liked it. The writing was good (really good actually) and I felt for the man and his son because their situation was just so sad, but it was just so darn CREEPY! Maybe I feel this way because I don't think that it completely out of the realm of possibility that America may some day, with all its ego and pride, burn itself down to a bunch of empty abandoned houses and ash over everything? hmmm...maybe....either way, still just creeps me out! But, I'd probably recommend it to someone who didn't mind if a story had a very sad with a little teeny tiny glimmer of hope ending.

7 out of 10 stars. I wouldn't read it again necessarily, but it was worth the one read.

P.S. I heard that this is going to be made into a movie. BLECH. what a dumb idea! The movie would either have to make up things that weren't in the book to explain what happened to America (because in a book you can be all shrouded in mystery, but not so much in a movie) or it's just going to be a really boring, dark movie of a man and his son traveling down a road and seeing depressing, sad things.

P.P.S. Yes, I need a thesaurus to find a different word for CREEPY. ah well. That's just what it is!

BTT: Where's the symbolism?!

This week:
Question suggested by Barbara H:
My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn’t seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.
It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

Ugh, symbolism. I think that my senior year English Lit teacher, Ms. Rose (yes, Ms. not Miss, not Mrs., MS.!) totally ruined the idea of symbolism for me. She would make us over-analyze every book we read and "find the SYM-bolism!" and then if you were "wrong" should would let you know it with a loud, harsh "NO! That's not it AT ALL!" I think I still have nightmares...Usually I could luck out and go with the easy almost always right answer of light=knowledge, understanding and dark=the unknown, confusion.

I do think that most literature tends to be over-analyzed in hopes of finding all the symbolism. I guess that since now I solely read for pleasure (and of course I gain knowledge through it...but that's not my reasoning behind reading something), I don't even think about finding the symbolism in a book. I'm sure that there's lots there (some that the author put in intentionally, and probably some that the lit crits just SAY is there...) but I just don't need to find it to enjoy the story. I do get some "wow, author, I see what you did there!" moments when I'm reading, but I just don't really go into deep thought about it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Musing Mondays: Third of the Way Favorites

Hosted by Rebecca. This week's question is:

Coming towards the end of April, we’re a third of the way through the year. What’s the favourite book you’ve read so far in 2009? What about your least favourite? (question courtesy of MizB)

Good question! I just finished my 25th book of the year last night, so I have quite a few to choose from (and I may have to up my 50 books in '09 challenge to 75 at this rate!). My least favorite book so far this year is easier to decide on than most favorite. My least favorite book that I read so far this year is definitely The Shack by P. William Young. I know this book has been at the top of the NYT bestseller list forEVER, but that does not a good book make. The writing was sub-par and at times came across as preachy or cheesy, and while it COULD have been good and there could be a good message in it, I just didn't really enjoy it.

The best book I've read so far...well I can't really narrow it down to one. They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky was the one that I most recently finished and I thought that it was FAN-tastic. I loved it. I'm giving it to my mom this weekend for her to read. Another favorite book of this year is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It had action, adventure, romance...just a little bit of everything, and kept me wanting more the entire way. I'll be starting the third book in this series next and I can hardly wait! (Oh, and I gave Outlander to my mom too and she loves it as well. She's the person that I trade books with the most.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Book Review: They Poured Fire...

They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan
by Benson Deng, Alephonsion Deng, and Benjamin Ajak
311 pages

You!!! Yes, You! Go read this now. It's amazing and moving and oh-so-profound. and I loved every minute of it.

Benson, Alepho, and Benjamin are three boys (Benson and Alepho are brothers, Benjamin is their cousin) that were born in Sudan. In 1987, when they were very young, ages 5 to 7, the Civil War arising in Sudan reached their village and they were forced apart from their parents, other family, and each other. They were forced to cross deserts with only the rags on their backs, no shoes, and no food or water for months. Most of the time, they were starving or injured or sick with no food or medical treatment. They lost friends and family members along their journey but never gave up hope of being reunited with their family.

Each chapter is written by one of the boys, who are all in their mid twenties at the time the book was published. The chapters go in roughly chronological order from their times in the village before war struck their lives, up until they landed in America in 2001. That's fourteen years of traveling thousands of miles on foot, of having little to no food, and living in refugee camps. The writing is simple yet eloquent and the stories really make you realize how much you had growing up, and now. I have a feeling that I'm going to be recommending this one to a lot of people. It's just a very touching story and would be SUCH a great upper high school or college classroom discussion book, so teachers definitely check this one out!!! If you want more info on this book and the authors check out

10 out of 10 stars. Just loved it. Oh, and there's some Michigan State University love on the website since it was last year's One Book, One Community book!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

BTT: extra moolah.

This week's question:

Yesterday, April 15th, was Tax Day here in the U.S., which means lots of lucky people will get refunds of over-paid taxes.

Whether you’re one of them or not, what would you spend an unexpected windfall on? Say … $50? How about $500?

An extra $50? oh I'd definitely go out and get a couple books with that...make them paperbacks and I'd probably run into DSW and get a new pair of shoes from the clearance racks too.

An extra $500? Well, I'd get hubs more for his birthday...and I'd probably buy some new summer clothes...but I don't think that I would make any particularly huge purchase with it. Now if it was $500 for me AND my husband it would probably go towards something really boring like grass seed (our lawn is awful) and getting some old bushes taken out from the front garden beds. Ah, the joys of home ownership!!!

What would YOU do with a little extra moolah in your pocket???

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Teaser Tuesday 4/14/09

  • Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

"Three hundred teachers had to help twenty thousand boys. The women and children from Panyid, combined with the Itang and Dima refugee camps, meant our group numbered more than sixty thousand. The front of the walking line could be two days ahead of the last exhausted people who lagged behind with hunger, disease, and wounds."

p. 141 from They Poured Fire on Us From The Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan.

This book is SO good and SO sad! I'm enjoying reading it because I hadn't known much (if anything) about the wars in Sudan before picking this up. Also it's going to be my first In Real Life Book Club book!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by John Boyne
216 pages

This book wasn't really what I anticipated. Okay, I'm kind of speechless about this right now so I suppose I'll start with the overview.

Bruno is a nine year old boy whose father is a Nazi officer. He is forced to move with his family from Berlin to Poland, next to a concentration camp. Bruno doesn't understand why the fence is there, who is behind it, or why. He does notice that everyone he can see beyond the fence is male and wearing the same striped pajamas. One day, Bruno goes exploring near the fence and meets another nine year old boy named Schmuel. They become friends and begin meeting every day at the fence to talk to one another. Bruno can never quite understand why his new friend has to be separated from him by a fence, why he's so thin and pale, and why they can't play together.

This book was just sad and oh-so-frustrating. How did Bruno not understand what was going on?? How could he not know that these people were behind the fence because they were Jewish? I mean, you would think that he would have been explained these things by his father, since his father was a Nazi officer. Although, there's argument to be made that Bruno and his sister weren't allowed to hear about it because of their mother since neither one of them were part of the Hitler Youth... AND THE ENDING! Oh my GAWD! I never ever saw it coming. I was horrified and appalled and somewhere I think that I was sort of happy thinking that it could have really happened so maybe some Nazi officer out there was able to realize what he was doing to those people and children....

I think that one of the most frustrating parts of this book is that it's not a children's book...and it's not an adult book....but it's a little too simplistic language-wise for it to be Young Adult it really just doesn't fit anywhere neatly. Which I suppose is true because the Holocaust wasn't a "neat and tidy" event, but I do think that this story could have benefited from some more mature language and style. I suppose that John Boyne was trying to write it with the innocent view of a nine year boy to make the point that not everyone, even those with parents in the thick of it, knew what was happening or why.

Overall, I liked it. It was a very moving story and I think that it could be easily added to the standard Holocaust/WWII curriculum of The Diary of Anne Frank. Although, I wouldn't be surprised one bit if this book ends up on the Frequently Banned/Challenged Book List next year. I think I may have to rent the movie...

8.5 out of 10. Quick enough of a read with a good story line (and ending!) that there's no excuse not to read it. Definitely should be shared with older children interested in Holocaust history, but be around to discuss it with them. (there were even discussion questions in the back of my copy of this book)

BTT: Numbers Game

This week's question:

Some people read one book at a time. Some people have a number of them on the go at any given time, perhaps a reading in bed book, a breakfast table book, a bathroom book, and so on, which leads me to…

  1. Are you currently reading more than one book?
  2. If so, how many books are you currently reading?
  3. Is this normal for you?
  4. Where do you keep your current reads?

I read only one book at a time 99.9% of the time. I just cannot seem to keep track of different story lines when reading more than one at a time, and if I start two around the same time, I always end up liking one more and just focusing on that one. So having only one book going is definitely normal for me. My mom is the kind of person who always has two going. A "home book" and a "car book." I just can't do that though!

My current read goes EVERYWHERE with me! It's on my nightstand at night/in the morning when I read, it's in the living room in the evening, in the morning it goes in my purse (yes, I always carry a big purse) and I take it to work, lunch, wherever. You never know when you'll have a spare second to read! It's always a bad day when I forget my book.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

book reviews: a Two-fer

I'm being a big blog slacker as of late, so I have a couple of quick reviews today!

Definitely Dead
by Charlaine Harris
#6 in Sookie Stackhouse series
324 pages

Well, I took a nice long break from Sookie (almost 3 months) and I was a little disappointed that I waited so long to read this one. First, I had forgotten some of the things that had occurred at the end of the 5th book which were big parts of this book, so I was a little confused at some points. And second, I really liked this one! It was probably one of my favorites.

Sookie and Bill aren't together any longer and something really awful is revealed about his true reason for meeting her. Having Bill out of the picture opens the book up for new characters to be included. Quinn is a were-tiger that we met briefly in the 5th book and he gets a more starring role in Definitely Dead (as evident by the cover). I really like Quinn so I'm a little anxious to read the next book and see what happens between Sookie and Quinn after all the usual "Sookie almost gets killed a few times" drama that occurs in this book (and every other Sookie book, really.)

Anyways, 8.5 out of 10. One of the best Sookies, in my opinion.

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
by David Sedaris
257 pages
This was my first journey into the world of David Sedaris. I really didn't know what to expect because the back cover gives you nothing, but I'm glad I gave it a shot! This book is full of stories from David's childhood to adulthood. His family sounds like something out of a cheesy comedic movie and had me going, "really? this can NOT be real!" but it's all too humorous/dumb/sad to not be true. This book was all that I needed it to be. Light, fun, witty, and at some points it was laugh-out-loud funny. My favorite story is probably the one where he talks about how he asks people in places he has never been before about their gun laws (who knew it was legal in Michigan to hunt if you are blind without the aide of a seeing companion??) and the story of St. Nicholas in Denmark (which is SO much better than American Santa!)
Fun and enjoyable. I'd pick up another of his books for sure. another 8.5 out of 10 stars.
PS I read Sedaris for the SpringBookChallenge, LBGT author or character category.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Musing Monday: Keeping track

Musing Mondays is hosted by Rebecca.

As a follow up to last week's question, Joseph asked how you keep track of your tbr list. Do you have a paper list or on your computer? Do you take it with you when you go shopping? How do you decide what gets added to it?

I don't have a formal TBR list. I have a big wish list on PaperBackSwap (which gets added to when I find blog entries for books I feel like I HAVE to read) and occasionally, I add to a large post-it note list that I keep at my desk and take with me to the monthly library book sale. Other than that, I just try to remember covers and authors when I'm browsing at the bookstore. Most of the time, when I go to the bookstore, I'm going to make a specific purchase so I really don't need a list.

Overall, I just don't like making a formal TBR list because while I am an avid list-maker, I like to be able to check things off of the list which would make me feel the need to attack a TBR list in the order in which I write them down and books would probably get added to it faster than I read them. That would just take all the fun out of deciding what to read next!

On a non-MM note, the Michigan State Spartans are playing for the men's basketball championship tonight and I will be there (in Detroit) cheering them on!!!! The game on Saturday was SOOOO much fun so I can only imagine how awesome it will be tonight! Hopefully we come away with the W, but even if we don't, what a great season!!!! Oh, and I'm really glad that every fan that came to Detroit from North Carolina gets to experience the awesome Michigan weather! Saturday it was 60 and sunny (I got sunburned a little while tailgating!!!) and today there's 4 inches of snow. Yup. Gotta love it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

BTT: Library Usage

Suggested by Barbara:
I saw that National Library week is coming up in April, and that led to some questions. How often do you use your public library and how do you use it? Has the coffeehouse/bookstore replaced the library? Did you go to the library as a child? Do you have any particular memories of the library? Do you like sleek, modern, active libraries or the older, darker, quiet, cozy libraries?

I use my public library a couple times a month right now. I've accumulated a lot of books of my own lately, so I've been trying to read those before heading to the library for more. Also, my library doesn't have the largest selection (I'd be surprised if my whole library was any more than 1200 square feet) so there's a lot of stuff that I want to read that I can't get there anyways. The bookstore has replaced the library only a little bit lately just because of the limited selection that my library has.
I went to the library all the time as a kid! My hometown library was at least twice the size of my current library and I thought that it was so cool that I got to go downstairs all by myself (to the children's/YA section) while my parents stayed upstairs.
Now-a-days, I like the sleeker, more modern designed libraries. They tend to have more spacious and convenient shelving layouts. I don't usually go to the library to actually read since I would rather do that at home or at a coffee shop. I like to be able to speak with others about books, find new releases (or old ones I didn't know about), and have a few people around that also enjoy books.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Spring Book Challenge List

Here it is...THE LIST. The list of categories that will mold my reading list for the next three months. The spring list feels a little more daunting than the winter list...There aren't as many vague topics where I could perhaps fit a book that I'm really wanting to read so I may stray from this challenge more than I did in the Winter challenge. We'll see though! My ideas for what to read for some categories are written under the category. I will bold the titles as I finish them.

5 Point Tasks:
1. In Honor of Mother’s Day read a book about motherhood (fiction or non-fiction) or with the word mother in the title.
· Jewel by Bret Lott
2. Read a book that is released in April, May, or June of 2009.
· Dead and Gone by Charlaine Harris
3. Read 2 of your favorite childhood chapter books.
· The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis and Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
4. Read a book with a one-word title.
· Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
5. Read a book with a flower or plant in the title.
· The Winter Rose
· The Mask of the Black Tulip
6. Read a book with a Spring word in the title (Ex: rain, sun, showers, Easter, Grass, Egg)
· The Art of Racing in the Rain
7. Read a book with one of these words in the title: Old, New, Borrowed, Blue, or wedding (As June is the big wedding month)
8. Close your eyes and point to a book on your bookshelf/tbr pile and read that book.
9. Read a book about Baseball.
· The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger
10. Read a book with the name of a character or person in the title.
· Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

10 Point Tasks:
1. Listen to an audio book.
· Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
2. Read a collection of short stories/ poetry.
3. Read a book that takes place in your city/state.
· A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton
4. Read a book written by a Hispanic author.
· Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
5. Read a book by a Gay, Lesbian or Transgender author or with a GLT character.
· Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
6. Read a Classic.
· Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
7. Read a book where the main character is a child.
· The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
8. Read a book your Husband/Significant other picked for you.
9. Read a True Crime Book.
10. Read a book about a war/soldier
· They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky

15 Point Tasks:
1. Read one of the NBC books (April, May, or June) and participate in the discussion.
· A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle (April book)
2. Read a book that was required of you to read in High School that you didn’t finish or appreciate.
· The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. Read a book from the 1001 books you should read before you die.
· Choke by Chuck Palahniuk
4. Finish a book you started and never finished (You can’t be more than half way through).
· Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
5. Read the book that has had a movie counterpart released in 2009.
· Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
6. Read a book with the title format "The _____'s ______." (like The Pilot's Wife, The Time-Traveler's Wife, The Memory Keeper's Daughter, etc)
7. Read a Pulitzer Prize winner.
· The Road by Cormac McCarthy
8. Read a book where the character/or author has the same first name as you or your husband/significant other.
9. Read a book that was released the year you were born.
· The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
10. Hook up with a nestie and read the book they tell you to.

25 Point Tasks:
  1. Stephen King/Richard Bachman novel
    · The Mist by Stephen King
  2. Historical fiction AND a nonfiction on the same subject
  3. Read a book from genre you do not normally
    · Enduring Justice by Amy Wallace
  4. Read a book and cook a meal inspired by it
  5. Book inspired by a song you like. Write song verse/haiku and share on NBC · The Host by Stephanie Meyer

If you have any ideas for the categories that are blank, feel free to leave a comment with a suggestion! Some of the ones (like "read a book with a one word title") have so many options that I didn't want to commit to one in writing so I can just read whatever I feel like. But others I just don't have any ideas for yet!

Winter Book Challenge Wrap Up

So the Nest Book Club Winter Book Challenge has come to an end as of last night!! I'm really glad that I participated in this because it was fun to pick out books that fit each topic and find ways to fit books that I wanted to read next into a topic so I could get points for it! Out of the possible 375 points, I earned 265 and read 20 books. Here's the break down:

5 point books:

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos (the word "love" in the title)

The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (animal in the title)

Dragonfly In Amber by Diana Gabaldon (color in the title)

10 point books:

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (body part in title)

The Chicago Way by Michael Harvey (city, country, or continent in title)

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (book by author I hadn't read before)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (YA book)

15 point books:

Bleachers by John Grisham (book about football, hockey, or basketball)

Dead to the World and Dead as a Doornail of Sookie Stackhouse Series by Charlaine Harris (read a book in a series and the one after it)

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (book you read in High School)

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (book by African American author)

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (book on 1001 books to read before you die list)

The Chocolate War by Robert Comier (banned book)

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (already saw the movie for)

The Shack by William P. Young (on bestseller list)

The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich (occupation in the title)

25 point books:

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman and movie (read book then watch movie)

2666 by Roberto BolaƱo (700+ page book)

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and made Scottish Eggs (read book and cook meal inspired by it)

The books that really stick out in my mind as being GREAT! are definitely Outlander, 2666, and The Chocolate War. Probably the worst book of the bunch was The Shack. I was completely unimpressed and PBS'd that book right away. Now I'm looking forward to the Spring Book Challenge! I'll have my list of topics and options up later today hopefully.