Monthly Archives: December 2015

Most Liked/Least Liked of 2015

Standard

I know in the past I’ve done this so I thought I’d do it again. It’s the books I liked and didn’t like of the year. It’s a good way to reflect and it should be easy-ish since I read 50 books this year. I will do the top five (in no order) of each.

LIKED.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer. It was the first book that took place in Hungary after I came back from Hungary. I love it. Even if I hadn’t gone to Hungary I would have loved this book. It made me feel. Or if I were to talk like a teenage girl, it made me feel the feels.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling and I love Beauty and the Beast. This is my first Maas book and it was really good.

The Order of the Sanguines first 2 books of the trilogy because I haven’t read the last book yet by James Rollins. I just love James Rollins. I didn’t like the second book as much but they’re both excellent books.

Spelled by Betsy Schow. Another retelling. If you remember the review on this you know that there was a little annoyance of the humor but it’s still really funny and I do appreciate the humor.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I liked what it was about. I didn’t necessarily love all the characters. But that’s what happens in books.

DISLIKED

Love You More by Lisa Gardner I just didn’t like how it was handled and I consistently had to remind myself that the narrator wasn’t male because of her name.

Someone to Watch Over Me by Judith McNaught. Cheesy title, stereotypical plot, felt like there was some details missing at points with too many at others. Just couldn’t win with this book.

The Bachelor Club by a bunch of different authors. It’s 4 novellas in 1 book and each author took a book and it was typical Christian romances super condensed. This was the first book that I read after a major separation from a friend and maybe that contributed to my not liking it but it was overly simple. I’m getting rid of some books that I won’t be reading again or ever and this is one of them.

A Simple Plan by Scott Smith. UGH! How is this book actually sold? Well I can’t really talk because I got this at a library book sale. It sounds interesting. On the other hand, the book sucks. I faced palmed a lot during this book. The characters are so condescending/stupid/every bad thing under the sun.

Full of Grace by Dorthea Benton Frank. I just wanted it to be better. I felt like I wanted more after this book. Like I was missing something. It wasn’t bad but still disappointing.

Now that it’s New Years Eve and I don’t work until tomorrow, what are my plans? I’m going to go grocery shop and then go home and maybe clean a little and then watch movies and drink a little wine. Just like I did last year. Happy New Years.

The Poisonwood Bible Review

Standard

So the book club that I went to in Hungary read The Poisonwood Bible in December. I know I’m a little behind because they discussed in early December. But I’m trying to keep up with them and I don’t need to keep up with them. I looked at it and debated if I really wanted to read that or the one actual Christmas book I have because it was like 2 days before Christmas. It was a western and I was like meh. So I did read this book. I was hesitant because I haven’t dealt with more adult books great lately. But I’m glad I read it. If you don’t know about this book, it’s about a missionary family that goes to Africa in the late 1950’s. Okay, if you didn’t know, I worked with a Christian non-profit and taught English to teenagers in Budapest. So basically, at the core, a missionary. At the beginning of the book it says (from the mother’s point of view), ‘as if we were both party to relations with a failed outcome. Or say I was afflicted with Africa like a bout of a rare disease, from which I have not managed a full recovery.’ (page 9) Do I ever relate to that. I feel like I failed in Hungary. There was a failed outcome, on different levels. Not just my failure but others as well. I also think that I will never recover from Hungary because of my love of the country and its people. I even crave Hungarian wine during the holidays. True story.

I liked how the kids talked like kids in the late 1950’s. But with that said, I still think that they were a little idealized. They annoyed each other and each girl had a personality thing, yes but it seemed clear cut at the beginning. And how old are they? For the first section of the book, I was like oh, they’re little girls like under 10 and then in the second section one of the girls says they’re 15. What? I was reading this book all wrong before then. But I got it under control.

I appreciate the way they came into the Congo. They talked about the smells and what they were seeing. I appreciate that. Granted I went to Hungary in 2014 and not to the Congo in 1959, so there is difference. Then there was like an impromptu service and they stressed some words which made it easier to hear them talking and hear the stereotypical service. I like that they put cultural differences in there and they talk about how they deal with the locals. That’s a major part of going over to a foreign country and it isn’t easy.

I did wonder why they didn’t do this with the father’s point of view. It would have been interesting. I feel like he was the radical version of missionaries. But I think that’s a different book completely. I did appreciate every person’s point of view. Especially the mother’s. I don’t know why. I think it was because she seemed not the missionary’s wife. She seemed so against being there. I liked that the girls had such different personalities. It gave the book dimension about the different attitudes about mission families. I could talk a lot about the different dimensions and attitudes in missions.

Poisonwood came in very early in the book and was a common theme in the book. But I shouldn’t be surprised by that. I felt it was a little convenient that they had been in the Bethlehem area. It just seemed like that’s where they should have been from. Politics were a major thing in this book. But you can’t be a missionary or move into a different country and not pick up politics. It’s utterly impossible. I still have major opinions about Hungarian politics. It’s not surprising that these girls would be involved in politics or live internationally as adults.

Quotes I appreciated/liked. “Silences has many advantages.” Page 34. “He just grants us a long enough life to punish ourselves.” Page 327. “Africa has a thousand ways to get under your skin.” Page 456. These aren’t all of them that I liked. Just some of them.

This book was wonderful. Written pretty well. Though I wondered how much the author spent in the mind of missionary kids at some points. Sometimes the kids were too eloquent.

Hypothetically, the next book I’m going to read is The Brief Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. It’s the book club’s January read. We’ll see how it goes.

Throne of Glass Review.

Standard

So I changed the book that I was reading. I was having a hard time getting into Atonement. It’s not because it’s a bad book. I just have a hard time concentrating. Especially with books that take a certain brain level. I have theories for this. 1. I hung out with teenagers a lot in the past year or so. They tend to read young adult novels and I got into them. 2. There’s a lot going on in life and I can’t shut off my mind like I used to. My mind is a very interesting place the past year and a half or so. Let’s leave it at that. 3. And I work in a nursing home and it doesn’t happen every day, but I do have people that die. And like in number 2, lot going on in life. I’m emotionally drained a lot. So those are my theories. So I switched from Atonement to Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses. And it was one of the 7 books I got when I went book shopping. I had $30 in gift certificates but still paid like $90. It’s part of my Christmas present to me. That and fabric because I’m going to teach myself how to hand quilt. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

I didn’t enjoy the cover and chapter pages as much as I did with A Court of Thorns and Roses. It does make sense for the book though. I hated that there were miniature book covers of the rest of the book series on the back cover. Put it on the inside flap or somewhere discrete. I get it’s a publicity thing. I just hate it. I also don’t know if it’s because the quality or what but the covers seem to be a lot more bendy. They seemed to curl pretty easy when I laid the book down open faced to save my spot. It’s a little thing to notice but it legitimately bugged me at times. I hate curled covers. There’s a little minor things that bother me like that.

The word ‘whoremonger’ was used. That made me inexplicably happy. It’s something I haven’t really heard or seen since college. It was nice. Pianoforte was also used and that also made me happy. She also said ‘I am not afraid’. I’m sure that’s what she needs to tell herself as an assassin. But it shows she has fear and I get fear. I got a wall hanging for Christmas that says ‘Hope is Stronger than Fear’. It’s been a comfort. And what’s with her being a jewel thief? Is that really going to stand up against the other guys in that competition? I don’t think so. They needed to figure out their backstory better. But obviously it was believable because it worked due to the fact that most of the champions didn’t figure it out. That or they are really dumb.

Calaena is a diverse character. She’s an orphan, assassin, likes clothes I guess, is a reader, musician. She’s got a lot going on. I wondered how she got her education in some of the things. She explains her assassin training but not how she learned how to play the piano. At one point she put together that whatever was killing the Champions and what she found out in her dream were connected and I was like, ‘well it’s about time’. I think if it were resented differently or I was in a different mood, I wouldn’t find how it went down so obvious. I did wonder if she was going to get with the prince or the chief of the guard guy. They both have their good points. The prince was obviously more of a physical thing because all she wanted to do was kiss him. And think about this, it’s a Cinderella retelling, of course she’s going to pick the prince. But there’s more than just this book in the series so it could change. And since I brought it up, I like that Maas does retellings without it being overly blatant. There are books that are very obvious that they’re retellings and that’s okay. I just like the subtlety.

There was something about these characters that I couldn’t put my finger on. I didn’t hate any of them really. There were times I did but it was all kind of fleeting. I’m not sure if I really liked them though. I’m more indifferent than anything. At times it seemed like the characters were way too aware. I’m not sure if I can accurately describe that comment. Like sometimes it was a reaction thing where they were all too aware or it was in some kind of knowledge. And it wasn’t always in benefit to the story. Like it was just a thing that they knew or did.

This book kept my interest and I could read longer than I usually have usually. So that’s been good. I’m not sold on reading the rest of the series yet. Time will tell with that. But it would be interesting to see how the series goes from here.

Merry Christmas.

 

My Life in Books Tag.

Standard

Because I’m watching 7 Brides for 7 Brothers and I have nothing else to do, I’m going to do the My life in Books tag.

Find a book for each of your initials.

M= Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

J=Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

M= Maggie by Charles Martin

Count your age along your bookshelf – which book is it?

Okay 27, The Blood Gospel by James Rollins.

Pick a book set in your city/state/country.

Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman. Set in North Dakota and I really liked it.

 

Pick a book that represents a destination you would like to travel to.

Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally. I almost went to Poland like 3 times when I was overseas and never got there. Ugh. Should have.

Pick a book that’s your favorite color.

 Image result for the Great Gatsby

mainly the blue.

Which book do you have the fondest memories of?

The China Garden By Liz Berry and Catrin in Wales by Mabel Esther Allen. Both were books that I read over and over during summers in my parents’ basement when I was younger.

Which book did you have the most difficult time reading?

Wicked by Gregory Maguire. People love this book and I struggled. I didn’t like it.

Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest sense of accomplishment when you finish it?

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. It’s a massive book. I will get through it. I will, I will, I will.

This is getting posted now because I will be busy the next week or so. But I kind of liked this one.

Reading Update

Standard

Yesterday we had the immediate family Christmas since my sister and her family were home due to her job. I’ve been kind of dreading Christmas because Thanksgiving wasn’t so much fun emotionally. But among other things, I got 2 Barnes and Noble gift cards. I already know how they’re going to be spent. I’ve been trying to keep up with the book club I was in when I was in Budapest, and I didn’t get December’s book and they just announced January-March’s books so I have 4 books to buy. They include: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling. So it’s a lot of books and I’m sure I’ll find more. I always do. I’ll always buy a James Rollins book. So that’s part of my tomorrow. Book shopping and coffee and fabric shopping and elementary Christmas program because I can’t say no to my niece and nephew. The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz The Nightigale by Kristin HannahThe Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz The Nightigale by Kristin Hannah

So since my last post, I have read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and have started reading Atonement by Ian McEwan. I’m having a hard time having interest in anything right now so reading has been slower and not as concentrated. My main thought with Tolkien is that I want to be a wizard. Even more than with Harry Potter. Because if you’ve read both books, you know that the wizards are different in the two books. With the book I’m reading now….it’s okay. I’m about 180 pages into it and I’m not completely sold yet and I have not seen the movie. So whatever I think of the book will be unblemished by the movie.

I really didn’t have much for this post. This was mainly a book update.

Shirley Review

Standard

I finally finished Shirley. It’s not because I didn’t like it, it’s because of circumstance. Because of the holidays and several personal….crap episodes, for lack of any better phrase, my anxiety that I’ve been struggling with for the past 18 months or so was a lot higher. And if you’ve ever had anxiety to the point of attacks (or just below it, mine aren’t really attacks but they feel like it), then you know it’s not easy to concentrate on books. But this is no longer a personal blog really, it’s a book blog.

Let’s talk about some criticism. There are people that will say that this book is slow and all of Charlotte Bronte’s genius went into Jane Eyre and Shirley lacks everything. They’re words not mine. I totally understand that. It’s not the same pacing, mind set or anything as Jane. I mean, it is a different book. To me the thing that bothered me was all the French. I get the historical relevance of it. It was the lingua franca at a time. I also understand why it’s not translated in the book. It’s just tedious for those, like me, who don’t speak French to keep flipping back to the end notes and look up the translation. I also understand the argument that it is a slow book. There moments I did skim and I feel sad with saying that because I did love this book. It also bothered me that Shirley didn’t show up until page like 150 or so. She’s who the book is named after. And I think that it would be more aptly named Caroline or Shirley and Caroline. Louis isn’t even mentioned until 337. I would bring in people earlier, especially if they’re mentioned on the back flap. Maybe I’m just a little overly critical.

I do like how Bronte uses language. I do have full, long paragraphs underlined. The way that chapter 24 started was like one of my favorite things. She tells you from the get go that this isn’t a love story. She’s not lying to you. She really didn’t make this out to be a love story. There is love in it but it’s only one factor in it. It is about other things. Like the evil of machines and how they took people’s livelihoods. It’s who these woman really are. Even the chapter titles are amazing. Just go read the chapter titles because they’re entertaining.

I do think that there are some very modern ideas in this. Mr. Helstone’s opinion is one of them. He said that marriage isn’t necessary. He is very against marriage. I’m kind of with him at this point of life. Why marry? But I’m pretty sure my reasons are different. Caroline was totally not with that. I also liked the way the girls treated marriage. Caroline knew who she wanted to marry from the get go. She held on to the very end of book, even when Robert was anti-marriage. Shirley fought for loving who she married instead of marrying for convenience.

I also thought that Caroline and the whole mother thing was nice. It made me smile. Caroline seemed like more of a child than Shirley did to me. But both girls had an identity and developed an identity. Especially for the time, the girls were forward. Especially Shirley, or at least that’s what I think. They challenge what society says they should be. That’s okay. There’s thinks that need to be challenged. But all the relationships made me happy, friendship or love or familial.

Let’s talk about the social part of the book. There’s the revolt that the girls witness. I don’t blame them for sneaking out. I would have been scared especially with what happened before. I think that it was a good thing to have in there due to the social relevance. People were angry about their jobs. I don’t blame them. It still goes on today. Fighting over jobs will be something always been fought for. At first I had to figure out what wars they were talking about. I had to look it up and then I was like oh yeah. Those wars. It’s one of those moments my history minor doesn’t kick in. But in my defense my background is American not British history. It’s definitely an interesting time period. I like that Bronte brought all this political and social aspects into the book.

I loved this book. Not as much as Jane but I do love it. There’s underlining and notes and markings all over this book. I would totally read this again.

An Apology

Standard

I have to apologize for my last post. It’s been brought to my attention that I came off as not acknowledging that I can be insensitive. In my head when I was writing it, I thought I was in a way saying that I was and am a failure in a lots of things. I thought that an acknowledgment of failure in all counts of my life before going into something that was pissing me off in people, myself being unsaid but included, was the preface to the rest of the post. I’m sorry for those who took offense. But please know that the situation I was regarding is not a simple situation. There has been good reasons why I haven’t shared much about my personal life in the past few months. And I will never go into detail about what’s been going on. It’s not fair to anyone involved. There’s also reasons why I haven’t named any names in the last post or any posts lately. With the last post, I thought of not posting it for a spit second. But in the heat of the moment, I decided to post it. Was it a mistake? I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore. All that to say, please take this as I intend it: a genuine apology.

For those of you who didn’t see anything wrong with it or did, don’t like this post. I am not trying to be a martyr by doing this. I am not trying to justify my actions. I just want to apologize for angering or upsetting anyone.