Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My 2014 TBR List


Happy New Year!

I'm a little disappointed in myself.  I had set a goal of reading 60 new-to-me books.  At the beginning of the year, I set a goal of sixty books for the Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge.  I only hit 33 books.  In addition, I probably reread about fifteen to twenty other books. Definitely a respectable amount of books but I am not happy with myself for not making reading a priority this year.  In comparison, I set a goal of fifty books in 2012 and read 58 new-to-me books.

For 2014, I am going to stick with a more modest goal.  I think fifty books is doable.  I am also considering rereading all the books I was assigned in high school English class.  So I will probably be reading about one and a half books a week.  I really hope I can do this.

I have a lot of books that I really wanted to read this last year.  A lot.  I'm going to attempt to read all these and then some.  Here's a peek at my list in no particular order.

 The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

Even though just about everyone was raving about these books, I really didn't want to read them until I saw the movie preview for Divergent.  Now I need to read all three before the movie comes out in March.

Murder Most Austen by Tracy Kiely

I love me a good Jane Austen fanfic.  Hopefully this one doesn't fall flat.

Life Drawing for Beginners by Roisin Meaney

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

I didn't realize that Louise Brooks was a real person when I first heard of this book. I love books that speculate on real lives.

How Wide the Divide?: A Mormon & an Evangelical in Conversation by Stephen E. Robinson and
     Craig L . Blomberg

As a Mormon, I find Evangelicalism a bit fascinating.  I'm very interested to see what these two authors have to say about the similarities and differences.

Consider the Fork: How Technology Transforms the Way We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson

I love to eat.  I love food.  I find the history of mundane objects interesting.

I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

I picked this up at last summer's used book sale at a local public library.  I've picked it up once and read the first few pages but misplaced it and didn't read any more of it.  Now that it's found again, I need to put this back on my to-do list.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

I have a silly reason for wanting to read this. It all has to do with the Audrey Hepburn movie, Funny Face.  She plays a frumpy bookstore worker who is picked as the new fresh face of modeling and is whisked off to Paris where she does loads of photo shoots.  One of them is inspired by the Anna Karenina scene at a train station.  I have no idea what the book or even that scene is about.  But hey, it's a classic and I need to read a few more of those.

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

I read Sittenfeld's Prep ages ago and really enjoyed it.  Being from a politically divided marriage, I am really curious as to how this novel handles a wife who holds her own private views while putting on the image of a good Republican wife.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

I have a weird confession.  I am fascinated by death.  My favorite field trip in school was to the cadaver lab at the University of Wisconsin.  After hearing about Roach's Gulp on NPR, I knew I had to read it.  When I heard she wrote a book about dead bodies, I was chomping at the bit to read it.

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I bought this book about ten years ago because of the cover.  I have picked it up a few times over the years and gotten about a quarter to halfway through it before neglecting to finish.  This will be the year to finish it.  Plus, it really appeals to the part of me that has the sense of humor of a twelve year old boy.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Yet another book where I am late to the ball.  It's Tina Fey.  I don't think I need to say more.

Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Let's face it.  Sometimes I'd like to disappear too.

Parasite by Mira Grant

Sometimes I wish I had a tapeworm just to make me skinny.  The idea of having one that would rebel is kind of scary.  I really look forward to reading this.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Terminal cancer and romance.  Sounds like a movie to me.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I love me a book set in Nazi Germany.

The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane by Kelly Harms

Two women with the same name are told they win a dream home in Maine.  This is another book that I heard about on NPR and the author interview really made me want to read this.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer

I had to stop going to my library's book club because of my work schedule.  This was the last book that I remember them picking to read.  They always have good taste.

Fangirl, Attachments, and Landlines by Rainbow Rowell

After reading Eleanor & Park, I have found myself wanting to binge read everything Rainbow Rowell has written.  Landlines is expected to come out in July.

The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family
     by Josh Hanagarne

A memoir about a weight-lifting, Mormon librarian with Tourette's Syndrome.

Yes, please.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Sometimes I choose to read things just because they've received a lot of buzz.  I don't think Lean In will be like my experience with the Twilight series.

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem and Other Things
     That Happened by Allie Brosh

I don't know if I can express how much I love Allie Brosh.  I found her website by way of her posts on depression.  They expressed so much how I was feeling that I bawled while reading them.
She's also just downright funny.  I still don't start to clean at home without raising my broom and yelling "CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!"

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I've been hearing good things.  Like that this is one of the novels from 2013.  Can't pass that up.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

The main character is born, dies, and is reborn as another person, over and over.  I'm really curious to find out the character's purpose in the world.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I have only heard of orphan trains in passing but want to learn more.  Not that I read a novel to educate me.

The House Girl by Tara Conklin

You know what?  I've been writing little commentaries about why I want to read every book on this list.  I'm tired of typing out in 50 different ways "I just want to read this."  No more commentary unless I find it worthwhile.

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker

My Story by Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth seems so poised and grateful for life in the interviews she has given lately.  Her book is a must read.

The Astronaut's Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel

Another NPR find.

A Red Herring without Mustard, I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, Speaking from Among the Bones, and
     The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley

These are books number 3 through 6  from the Flavia de Luce series.  I fell in love with the chemistry loving, nerdy little heroine and can't wait to read these.  Book #6 comes out in January.

I know this is an incredibly long list and I've probably bitten off more than I can chew.  I am perfectly willing to admit that I probably won't be able to read all of these, just because I will probably reread some books (especially the Hunger Games Series right before Mockingjay comes out) and I will find other books that just need to be read.

What's on your TBR list for 2014?

(photo source for all book jackets)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Eleanor & Park

Title:  Eleanor & Park
Author:  Rainbow Rowell
Published:  February 26, 2013; Listening Library (audio), St. Martin's Press (print)
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Source: Overdrive audiobook through my library system
From Goodreads:
 Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

     I admit that I only picked up this listened to this book because I had read so many positive rave reviews of this book.  The cover also appealed to me.  I love a graphically simple cover.  It makes me think that whatever is inside has got to be good to make up for the lack of busyness.  My library only had the audiobook option available for digital checkout which worked out well for me.  I had a three week deadline to crochet a baby blanket and I listened while I made that. 

     By the way, if you have an Kindle, tablet, smartphone, etc., you should really check out  Overdrive.*  Working with your library network, you have access to a ton of e-books and audiobooks.   I like that I can check out books without changing out of my pajamas or leaving my bed.  The only bummer is that, like your local library, you will probably have to put a hold on the newer, more popular titles. 

     I loved this book so much.  So much that I can't wait to read Fangirl  and Landlines when it comes out.  I believe that Rainbow Rowell is my second favorite author discovery this year.  (First would be Neil Gaiman and sadly I am very late to discover his awesomeness.)  Finding a new-to-me author makes me want to binge read everything they have ever written.  Like the fact that I've worked through five seasons of The Office on Netflix in two weeks.  I need to get out more.

    Being a teenager sucks, especially if you are not part of the popular crowd.   Park has been part of his little part of Omaha since childhood but sits on the fringes of everyone's clique because, I assume, he's part Korean.  He's part of a seemingly normal, happy family even though his father is unnecessarily hard on him because he's not the manly son his dad wants.  Eleanor is new to Park's school, and has a few strikes against her.  She's overweight and obviously poor, based on the way she dresses.  She has an abusive stepfather who once kicked her out of her house.  This makes her a target for the bullying of the more popular girls.

When Park and Eleanor first meet on the school bus, Park found her presence annoying.  Over some time, they developed a friendship thanks to comic books and a shared Walkman.  Eventually, they fall in love and stumble over the milestones of a first teenage relationship.  

This book, while seeming like a easy-peasy first love novel, does cover some serious topics like bullying, body image,  emerging sexuality and abuse.  Rowell brushes along these topics without mucking the story down.  I am surprised that she shied away from how racism would affect the characters.  After all, the hero is half Asian and the heroine's two friends are black.  They live in the Midwest.  I have a hard time believing that in 1986 Omaha, all these high school students are completely color blind.  I'm thinking maybe Rowell didn't want to write about a topic that she is wholly uncomfortable with.

I would definitely recommended this book to teenage girls.  In fact, I may just buy a copy of this for my seventeen year old niece.  Any adult women who enjoys romance would like this because it is a honest depiction of the feelings that first love brings around.  

Buy it:  Amazon  Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Being Attractive

I once asked Ken why he found me attractive.

He said it was because I'm so smart.

I replied that it was because I read all the time.

Today I came across this video that made me think of that conversation.

 Never underestimate how attractive reading makes you.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Movies and Christmas and Cats, Oh My!

I had intended to write on here regularly but life has gotten in my way.  I know I promised a review of Plain Truth by Jodi Piccoult but I finished that so long ago that I no longer remember any of the things I wanted to say about it. 

This is what I have been up to.

I reread Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (for the sixth or seventh time)  after seeing the film with my friend Abby.  We had such a good time and will be each other's dates for the next two movies.  The movie was brilliantly made.  Even though I knew what was going to happen, I was on the edge of my seat during the tense moments.  I admit that I had tears come to my eyes when Katniss gave her speech in District 11.  It was much better than the first movie.   I cannot wait to see what they do with Mockingjay especially since it deals with the dark underside of war.

As an aside, I love Effie Trinket.  Her character just makes me smile.  I loved the butterfly costume she wore in this movie.  I couldn't find a picture that made it look as spectacular as it looked on film.

We have decorated our house for Christmas.  We usually get our tree on the first Saturday of December but this year we got it a week earlier.  I am so glad we did because it was windy and in the single digits this last weekend.  I found more penguin ornaments and we finally got rid of the string of old fashioned large bulbs.  My penguins are up around the house.  I decorate with penguins because I absolutely love them and out of sheer laziness.  If I don't feel like taking down my Christmas decorations until February, it doesn't look so bad.  Penguins are more wintery than Christmasy. 

If you look closely at the right side of the Christmas tree picture, you'll notice something new.  We added to our family!  That's right.  We got two kittens.  I only intended to get one but I was having such a hard time choosing between the feisty one or the calm one.  Ken decided we should get both of them since they would be happier together.  He now claims that it was because I "would still be standing there trying to pick one."  They have been a great addition and have brought a lively element to our house.  Not to mention that kittens are absolutely adorable and clumsy and hilarious.

 We named them Ferris Mewler and Cameron Frye.  I had the name Ferris picked out (thanks Bloggess for such an awesome cat name) and Cameron just seemed right for his shy, timid brother. 

They are little hellions.  So much for having a quiet one.  Ferris has bonded with Ken and Cameron has decided to be mine.  So yeah, we now have five cats.  I'm still not changing the blog name.  Maybe a subtitle would be fitting.  I still maintain that I'm not a crazy cat lady because one cat lays under our bed and snores all the time and my husband decided to keep two of the four cats.  So technically, I only have two cats; my husband has two and his son has the sleepy old one.

I tried to take a cute picture of them in Ken's hunting boots but cats are not very cooperative.  I also apparently really need a pedicure.  I still may crop this picture and use it on the Christmas card.

As for reading, I haven't had a lot of time.  I know.  I have to make time.  Finding time to read is difficult when you work from ten in the morning to ten at night and still need to spend time with your family and friends.  Not to mention that cleaning is necessary so my house doesn't look like an episode of Extreme Hoarders.  I also crocheted a baby blanket for my little sister's baby that should arrive next month.

My schedule has settled down and I have picked up a book again.  I'm reading a little bit every day.  I had no idea how much I need to read until I didn't have time.  I could actually feel my brain cells shriveling up and dying. 

Oh, and I seem to be coming out of my depressive episode.  I can't describe how that feels.  I almost feel like I'm physically lighter.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.