Tuesday, December 18, 2012

So I would first like to apologize about not updating for over a month, but in my defense it's been quite a month. Thanksgiving + moving out + my birthday + being sick = not a single blog post in ages!

SO! Book updates! I have been listening to The Help by Kathryn Stockett on audiobook during my commute to work for the past few weeks and it is blowing my mind that A) I haven't read it yet and B) it's so incredible on audiobook! I am recommending the audiobook to everyone and ANYONE. It's amazing. 
Reasons why it is amazing:
1) The narrators are very good. The woman who does Minnie's part is the woman from the movie, Octavia Spencer. The others are very good too. 
2) I laugh out loud.
3) I talk out loud when I get angry at unfolding events.
4) The writing makes me truly care about the characters and what happens to them.
5) THIS IS KATHRYN STOCKETT'S FIRST NOVEL. Can we talk about how incredible that is? 

All in all, if you haven't read/listened to this book you need to immediately. It will make you laugh, cry, and feel sick with how racist people used to be. (I know people still are, too and that makes me even angrier, quite frankly). Get this book at your local library/bookstore STAT!

 I am also reading The Restaurant at the End of the Universe as my roommate has the whole series in his bedroom, so I snatched it up and have been devouring it. If you've read the first one, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you will not be disappointed with the next book whatsoever. It's snappy and funny and keeps me guessing because who knows what pleasures/craziness the universe will bring next? No one can tell - except Douglas Adams.

I haven't started The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle quite yet, but I am very excited to give it a go tonight. It's a thriller which is not normally my speed, but it is also a young adult dystopian tale, which always gets me going. The main (and Amish) character Katie is about to go on her Rumspringa, but the town discusses turmoil in the world outside their town. The outside world is a dystopian one and the adults in the town forbid everyone from leaving and coming in. It sounds spooky and wonderful and I will let you know how it goes.

In an unrelated note, the last thing I want to share with all of you is this. Mister Rogers has always been the voice of calm and reason in my childhood, but reading this from Mental Floss (my favorite website as I am a knowledge junkie) makes me feel wonderful. It rings with truth in light of recent and tragic events. 
All we can do is try to be better in life and look up to those who truly deserve it: your parents, your teachers, your friends, and your heroes in the stories you read.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

For the fans of A Song and Ice and Fire series...

So all of you fans of A Game of Thrones are probably sighing because you've finished the series and the HBO show doesn't come back on for several months at least for season three. I have the answer to get you through the winter months.
If you loved A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin I give you The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

Although there are two books, they are NOT a series. So if you feel like stopping after the first one you can. I don't know about you guys, but this really appeals to me as a reader. Especially lately when every single book you pick up is the beginning (or middle) of a series. 
In any case, Pillars of the Earth is a great read. If you like the medieval-esque setting, strong female lead characters, and very evil antagonists, you're going to love this one. 
You won't find any dragons or sorcery in these books, however. It's historical fiction versus fantasy. 
I will warn you, it's a tome - at around 1,000 pages it's very heavy, so get it on your e-reader. (Unless you want a good workout for your arms!)

And then of course, you can go ahead and read the sequel if you so choose. It has some of the same characters, but also some of the grandchildren of the characters from Pillars. I devoured these books my senior year of college, staying up extremely late (4 AM kind of late!) just to finish it after I'd done my homework. The characters from both of these books resonated with me and that was what really pulled me into these rich stories.

And if you find you really love these stories, they've even made a TV show out of Pillars. I watched it and I was happy with it and usually I'm such a purist when it comes to books to big screen conversions.

So I have a list about a mile long of books I want to read. Check it out and please let me know if you have read any of them - the list is never ending!

Two awesome things I have found this week: Secret bookshelf passageways and I LOVE these children's literature inspired bedrooms!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Passing out candy to the kiddos and squeezing in a blog post!

Handing out candy is surprisingly fun. I'm glad it ended up being on a Friday night so that I'm not working!
I've seen some Spidermen, one Spiderwoman, and several Dorothys. And there were also the usual blood-soaked zombies/draculas/grim reapers. I still think my sister had the most original costume when she was a table set with a plate, knife and fork with a side of cheese and grapes. It was pretty amazing.

I started reading this book, This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz the other day. It's raw and real. I love books about relationships and this one draws you right in. The characters are real and well developed. I love it so far. 

I'm still slogging through Abarat: Absolute Midnight which I love but am reading slowly and I'm also slowly reading Breed. I just need a weekend to do nothing but read so I can get through everything!

In other news, this is in my life and I'm very happy about it as you know (or should know) I'm obsessed with LOTR and The Hobbit and anything at all that J.R.R Tolkien created.

What were you for Halloween? 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Handmaid's Tale: Great Until the End

Spoiler Alert will be on throughout this post, just so you know.  Although everyone has already read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood because it came out in 1998 so it hardly matters.

In any case, I was very excited when I read the description for THT. I thought, Great! More teen dystopian lit for 2012! Then I found out it was written in 1998. And then I realized that the story was great until the end which is a complete crap ending.

All in all, I thought it was much like 1984. Which is a book that I adore and respect, obviously as I love dystopian stories. However, this had the same plot as 1984. The initial setup to show how the world works nowadays, the dissenters dreaming of ways to rebel, and the ways that they do rebel. I'm sorry, but after the buildup of this book, after all the ways women are ignored, shunned, and forced into horrible actions, the ending was too abrupt.

It left the reader wondering if she was saved by an underground railroad-esque operation or if she was killed by the government. All in all, I was thoroughly unimpressed. I put in all that time reading up to the annoying, unresolved ending!

Thanks, Margaret Atwood. Thanks a lot.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, readers!

For the past few weeks, I've been reading a variety of things! In the spirit of Halloween, I'm actually reading a horror story. That's right - the girl who sleeps with a night light every night is reading a HORROR story. It's amazing, too. Cheesy, but amazing - and I'm loving it.
It's entitled Breed by Chase Novak.

I think I enjoy it so much because it's sci-fi horror, really. The basic plot is that Alex and Leslie want to get pregnant and cannot. They have no lack of money (since Alex is from the famous Twisden family) and try everything they can to no avail. Alex refuses to adopt and finally they decide to try one more fertility treatment from a Dr. Kis in Slovenia. Leslie immediately becomes pregnant (with twins no less) after their trip and although Dr. Kis is a weird dude, they go along with his treatments which include getting painful injections of a goby fish (SPOILER ALERT: The doctor fails to realize until it's too late that the goby fish eat their own young - yikes!) 
Fast forward ten years later and the twins are ten years old and are afraid of their parents who have very strange tendencies...
So all in all, I'm very enjoying this animalistic sci-fi. At least for now. 

My little sister (not very little, she's eighteen) is reading Cinder by Marissa Meyer, which I'm going to read next. It's about a cyborg, Cinder, who is eighteen and going to a ball. That's all she's told me thus far, but I'm excited to read it next since I'm all about the dystopian teen lit this year apparently. 

Now for a bit of personal stuff - I was able to dress up and be two different characters because I just adore Halloween so much. Last Friday night I was Elle Driver from Kill Bill and Saturday night I was Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones! Note my awesome tattoo that says "Fire and Blood" drawn by my lovely boyfriend (who was Walter White from Breaking Bad!) Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of me being Elle Driver AKA California Mountain Snake because all the pictures that I had were taken AFTER my eye patch broke. Boo. (At least it was only 99 cents at iParty!)

Hope you all have an amazing Halloween! 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A few quick things...

So, this is hardly a book review entry but I'm writing it anyways because I feel so dang guilty for not writing in simply ages.
That being said, October is a hell of a busy month. I mean, really, it's like every friend's birthday, Halloween, AND Pumpkin Fest (if you're not from NH, then disregard this bit or just google it if you want to have some fun). It's just a lot of things in 4 weeks. I've been getting loads more hours at the library and started babysitting some real cool kiddos, so I've been preoccupied!

In book news, however, I'm still reading The Handmaid's Tale which = dystopian lit-extremist-feminist-awesomeness that I'm nearly finished with. Also I'm still reading Abarat: Absolute Midnight which is taking ages because it's so dark and as I said before insane busy schedule etc.

Now in other news, this is my new favorite blog because, well, I love Natalie Dee. If you don't know who Natalie Dee is, you should probably just get real comfy at your computer with some snacks because you'll be reading her comics (and probably her husband's too) for hours. End of story.

Also, let's talk Halloween excitement. One of my FAVORITE children's books is Coraline by Neil Gaiman and here is a link to not only Neil Gaiman reading Coraline, but also Lemony Snicket does a chapter and there are more to come, too. Sweet, right?

In other news, I'm obsessed with pumpkins. Bookish pumpkins, mainly. Pumpkins that have characters from all our fave books. Look at them, they are actually incredible.

The best news of this month however is that I'm going to be Daenerys from Game of Thrones for Halloween. So that will be AWESOME. (To tell the truth it was a bit up in the air for a while when I wanted to be Elle from Kill Bill since I finally just saw those movies and am desperately in love now. Obviously).

Sorry again for the laziness, but I feel the links have really made up for it. Disagree? Leave a comment and complain, then.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


October is such a busy month that I've really been slow with reading and also with updating about books I've read! Since I've calmed down from A Dance with Dragons I am finally able to read the third book of Abarat: Absolute Midnight by Clive Barker.

I first read the book Abarat (2002) when I was thirteen and quickly devoured the second book Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War (2004). These books are set in a fantasy world in which every hour of the day has its own island creating the archipelago called Abarat. Enter Candy Quackenbush from the middle of nowhere, America. She is thrown into the world of the Abarat without knowing why or even how. The stories reveal why she is tied to the Abarat ... in time. There are gorgeous illustrations throughout the book to paint a better picture of some of the more colorful characters for the reader.

So you can imagine my extreme delight when Abarat: Absolute Midnight came out ... SEVEN YEARS LATER in 2011. Of course I'm only getting around to reading it now, but I'm completely engrossed in it already. The third book is gripping and filled with even more beautiful artwork. I love the cover and I love the darkness that this book brings to the story. Evil is afoot in the Abarat.

So I'm already giving it five stars, because halfway through, I'm in love. Try the first one and let me know what you think.

Friday, October 5, 2012

An Entry In Which I Finally Review A Dance With Dragons

I've finished A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. And now I don't know what to do with my life! The sixth book won't come out until WHO KNOWS WHEN!?!?! SPOILER ALERT below the cover picture.

I just have a few things to say about A Dance With Dragons. Obviously, go Varys for defending the kingdom per usual. Go Daenerys I'm THRILLED that you can fly. Ramsay Bolton and Euron should just marry each other as they are both so evil. And go Jon Snow!!! Storm Winterfell! 
I cannot wait until the next one comes out. That's how I feel about this book: I want the next one. 
Plus, the ending image of Daenerys naked, dirty and covered in blood standing next to her dragon in front of an entire khalasar really doesn't leave you in a good place. Thanks for the cliffhanger, Martin. 


Moving on from one of my most favorite series of all time, we have a very different book, which I just finished yesterday. This follows the story of Silver, ex-rocker ten years divorced, fat, lazy, and single. His eighteen-year-old daughter comes back into his life asking for help and changes the way he sees everything - and so does the fact that he finds out his aorta is torn. 
I loved the way that Jonathan Tropper wrote this - I'll definitely be reading more of his work ASAP. I love his descriptions, his grittiness, and his unwillingness to hold back on the craziness that ensues. 
This is a five-star book. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

My Favorite Childhood (and Young Adult-y) Book

This is my favorite book. I've read it at least twenty times. It has to have its own blog post because it's THAT good. It's my favorite because it has my favorite themes in it which include:

1) A strong and intelligent female protagonist
2) Difficult obstacles to overcome
3) Fairies, trolls, giants and centaurs (and other cool fantastical beings)
4) A groovy prince who has a good head on his shoulders

So put that stupid Anne Hathaway movie (if you want to call it that) out of your mind. It has nothing to do (AT ALL) with the themes outlined above. Especially the strong and intelligent female protagonist. Thanks a lot Disney for crushing my dreams in 2004. Anne Hathaway, I'm still angry with you and refuse to watch your other movies because of this. Just saying.

And it is my dream, nay, my ultimate life goal to be a producer/director just to make this one book into the beauty that it is. Thank you, Gail Carson Levine - you made my young adulthood so much better with this fabulous book.

So obviously, I highly recommend it, especially if you're looking for a read that will leave you utterly satisfied.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I AM A FEMINIST! (Read the book, you'll understand)

Okay, this is my new favorite book. And I'm only 135 pages in.

I know I can't really officially review it since I'm not finished, but I just have to say that I'm in love with it.
And with Caitlin Moran, too. (Just in case you EVER read this, I think you're a fantastic writer, woman, and feminist!)

On the cover of the book it says, "Caitlin Moran is a feminist heroine for our times" - Zoe Heller. And A to the MEN, Zoe. And truly, she's revolutionary.

The points that Moran makes in her book really resonate with me. Her humor weaves into her arguments, leaving me laughing as I wholeheartedly agree.

I feel that this book is going to be an all-time favorite of mine ... I think it already is.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Post-Apocalyptic Reads!

Right now, post-apocalyptic books and TV series are super popular. Who doesn't like a good survive-off-the-land TV show or book? I LOVE The Walking Dead.  I cannot wait for Season three in October! Anyways... here are two of my favorite post-apocalyptic books:

If you haven't read The Road you really should - and immediately.  It's raw and emotional and will leave you wanting to read it again. The story follows a man and his son as they travel amidst the burnt landscape, trying to remain unseen. It's not a very long book, so you should read it twice. 

On a lighter note, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is another post-apocalyptic (post-Earth, actually) book. This book is full of humor, wit, and aliens of all sorts. Arthur Dent wakes up one morning to find that his house is about to be knocked down so the city can build a new bypass. As he's protesting, his friend Ford Prefect drags him away to the pub and then proceeds to tell him that he is leaving Earth because it's about to be destroyed to make way for an interstellar highway. 
And that's just the first few pages. If you're looking for a humorous read that's full of weirdness and surprises, this one's for you. There are several books that follow, too, so if you like it, you can read the series! 
The movie is also great, with Zooey Deschanel, Martin Freeman and Mos Def!

In my reading news, I'm STILL reading A Song of Fire and Ice, A Dance With Dragons.  I'm taking it slow since I know that it's the last one there will be for a while. It's so insanely wonderful, though. Things are getting crazy in Westeros and in Meereen, I'll just say that.

The other day I read this book, Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould. It was interesting, but all in all, a very light read. Once every few books, I let myself have a guilty-pleasure book. This month, this was it. A young adult novel about a young woman, Laura, who is ordered by her father to marry a man, so the family can be wealthy again. With the death of her dear sister looming over her, Laura's distraught - so when she is contacted by a secret society of Venetian ladies, how can she resist joining for the price of one secret?

A fascinating (yet fluffy) read. I'd call it a beach read if summer wasn't practically over.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Throwbacks from Childhood

I just want to quote Maurice Sendak here: "I don't write for children. I write and somebody says, that's for children."

Children's books are so not just for children. They are real books with real messages. And, yes, a lot of the time there are pictures to go with them.

These are some my favorite picture books. And not just because I enjoyed them as a child. Mostly because when I'm digging through the stacks at work looking for books, I take the time to open these ones and read them for the 239480th time.

I enjoy this book SO much. Chrysanthemum loves her name, but when she goes to school for the first time, her classmates make fun of her. In the end, her teacher (named Delphinium) shows Chrysanthemum, and the class, that it's all right to be different.  

This is one of my favorite stories ever. Cinderella is great and all, but who cares if you're married to a prince if he's vain and boring? Cinder Edna knows what's up. 

This is a story about being just who you are, which is why I love it. Also because it's about a bull named Ferdinand who only wants to sit and smell the roses - he doesn't want to be in the center of a ring at a bullfight. 

I love this book because it's so damn whimsical. Grumpy grandma + spunky kid = giant grandma. Read it for yourself, I can't say any more without discussing it at length.

Miss Rumphius is who I want to be. I want to make the world a more beautiful place. I think this is a very important book for children. Children should of course, think about what their place in the world is and what they would like to do, but they should also consider their surroundings.  It's important to be aware of the mark you leave in this world, even as a young child. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Delightfully Quirky Reads

Although this past weekend was busy for me, I somehow found a way to read not one, but two books! I basically accomplished this by 1) Reading until late into the night. (aka 2AM ... ish) and 2) Reading children's books. 

Okay, so they aren't 500 page tomes, but they are really enjoyable for what they are.

I'm sure you're starting to see my patterns when I'm reading fluff books. Bliss is super cutesy and quirky.  The Bliss family are bakers - magical bakers. The three herb-named children are left in charge of the bakery when their parents must go away for a week. Their one task: not to let anyone know about the magic cookery book. 
As soon as their car has left the driveway, the mysterious, marvelous, and incredibly gorgeous "Aunt Lily" drops in and insists that they allow her to stay as she is family. The children can't resist her and her cooking and soon are under her charms. 
The only thing I disliked about this book is that it's the beginning of a series. This is how I feel about series: THERE ARE TOO MANY. It's like no one can actually write ONE GOOD BOOK on its own. It has to be a SAGA or a trilogy or a flipping never-ending SERIES. You can hardly pick up a YA novel that looks good without it being number #7 in the whatever chronicles. It drives me absolutely mad. And speaking of series, this book I read was ALSO number one. 
But you can read it without having to read the next one, which is why I'm even writing about it. 

Stuart Horten is a very short ten-year-old boy who has just moved to Beeton with his eccentric parents (his mother is a doctor and his father creates crossword puzzles and is therefore obsessed with words). Stuart becomes entangled in a mysterious exploration of the town when he finds out his great-uncle was a magician/illusionist in the 1940s in Beeton and his magical workshop has never been found. Setting off to find it, Stuart encounters the power hunger mayoress, a elderly woman who has a feisty seeing-eye dog, and a set of identical girl triplets.
Although this book is the first in a series, it can be read on its own without leaving you with a cliffhanger. The character reminds me a bit of Hugo Cabret, especially with all the mechanisms throughout the book. I liked the adventure, even if it was a bit far-fetched for a ten-year-old protagonist.

In other news, I'm still pushing through A Dance With Dragons. I'm going slow because who knows when book number six will come out...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life... Not an Ordinary Read.

This book is incredible. Just because you live an ordinary life does not mean you don't have a story to tell. This is the foreward to the book:


I was not abused, abandoned or locked up as a child. My parents were not alcoholics, nor were they ever divorced or dead. We did not live in poverty, or in misery, or in an exotic country. I am not a misunderstood genius, a former child celebrity, or the child of a celebrity. I am not a drug addict, sex addict, food addict, or recovered anything. If I indeed had a past life, I have no recollection of who I was.

I have not survived against all odds.
I have not lived to tell.
I have not witnessed the extraordinary.

This is my story. 

                                                                  - Amy Krouse Rosenthal, age 39

After the foreward, she starts writing the book in an encyclopedia-esque way, which is intriguing. It also makes for a very quick read. I've concluded from this book that even if you don't have a particularly crazy/frightening/exotic story to tell, you still have a story (or many) to tell.
Because she so blatantly states that she is an ordinary human being pulls in the reader. She can relate to the common man/woman.
Plus, it's pretty damn creative.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Short List of Excellent Books

Chuck Klosterman is highly underrated. I mean, yes, everyone loves Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs because it is wonderful, of course. But his novel Downtown Owl was fascinating. Better than Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs in my opinion. It has several different points of view, which I always like in a book.  The first character you're introduced to is a young teacher who has just moved to Owl, North Dakota. There is also the point of view of a teenage boy on the high school football team and an old man who has lived in Owl for many, many years. Their stories entwine. 

The best part about this book is that Chuck Klosterman begins with the end, which is THE BEST WAY to start any book. I give this one five stars. 

Of course this book is overshadowed by the overwhelming amount of people who saw the movie starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams, but the book is just better. I suppose by the same logic the blog must be better than the book, but I have never read her blog. 

The movie also didn't show how much Julie swore, drank and fought with her husband. I think all those things were very important to the story because the whole story is about her journey through the year with food. Stories about a journey generally should have a lot of obstacles. The book did, the movie just glamorized one fight. 

Read the book - it's worth it.

If you're not in the mood for a novel, try Kurt Vonnegut's Welcome to the Monkey House. Since it's a compilation of his short stories, it's easier to digest than a full novel. That won't mean you won't read it in one sitting, though. His short stories are incredible. Every time I finished one, I couldn't help but move right on to the next one. This is one I'm going to read again. And soon!

When In Doubt, Pick up this Book. Or maybe don't....

When In Doubt, Add Butter by Beth Harbison is what I would call a fluffy novel. I periodically indulge in these, thoroughly enjoy them, and then ignore all fluff novels until I've read 10 other, less fluffy, books. That being said, this is a nice, quick beach read.

There were parts about this book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The writing was pretty funny at some parts and I think Beth Harbison harbors a secret love for alliteration.  But then again, who doesn't?
My favorite line from this book is, "I don't trust people who don't like garlic" (pg. 102). Amen to that, sister.
It's a food-oriented novel centered around the main character, Gemma Craig, who is a private chef at the age of 37, and is alone in her life. She likes things just so and is never the one to do anything radical. (You can see where this is going already, can't you?)

My problem with this read was that it was just so ridiculously predictable. That drives me nuts in a novel. I don't want to spoil the novel for you, but her life takes such expected turns that the story gets a little boring.
But if you're looking for a one-day beach read, pick it up - it's not that bad.

And once in a while, you need something fluffy to lighten up your days of endless wars, dragons, drunkenness and pillaging. I mean if you're me and you happen to be halfway through A Dance With Dragons.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fannie Flagg: Funny Name, Killer Books

Fannie Flagg is definitely one of my top five favorite authors. She's written eight books, plus a southern cooking cookbook! She started writing plays and acting when she was very young and has been pretty much been fantastic all of her life. I've read all of her books and they are all incredible. Fannie Flagg just UNDERSTANDS how characters should be and exactly how they can overcome issues. That's what I love about her.  My very favorite book of hers is:

Dena Nordstrom is a big city girl with a big city job and all the stress that goes with it.  Her ties to her Southern roots are tenuous at best. When she finally visits her family, whom she hardly remembers, she is desperate to leave the Southern town as fast as she can to get back to the big city.  All that big city stress gets her down as soon as she returns to the city and she has to figure out what she really wants in life. 

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man is a wonderful story of a down to earth young girl who deals with her problems as they come: which is seemingly all the time. I loved this story and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a good laugh as well as a little heartbreak.

Of course this is how most people know Fannie Flagg: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. The movie is great, the book is better (obviously) and yet this is how most people form their opinion about Fannie Flagg. I say, stop that this instant because she's written books better than this one.  Don't get me wrong, I love Fried Green Tomatoes, I really, really do. But it's no Welcome to the World, Baby Girl or I Still Dream about You, which is her latest book. 

This is Fannie Flagg's most recent novel and I am in love. Ever since I read it two years ago on Cape Cod on our family summer vacation, I cannot say enough good things about it. This is the plot: Maggie Fortenberry is a lovely, polite, very mild-mannered and sweet sixtyish year old. She's decided her life is basically over (although she has a job and some excellent friends) and the time has come to kill herself. Maggie plans this out meticulously through the book by closing bank accounts, giving away clothing, and determining how exactly she will carry out the suicide. This book was wonderfully dark, yet exceptionally comedic. 

I also love A Redbird Christmas because it's about a crotchety old man named Oswald who, after visiting the doctor, discovers he is very close to death. Cold Chicago isn't doing him any good, so he decides to relocate to the little old town of Lost River in the deep South. What he finds there are some great neighbors, crazily hot weather, and a deep relaxation that can only come with a town that time has forgotten. 

Give these a try and let me know how you like them!

Paris Wives

A few months ago I read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and absolutely loved it! It follows the story of Hadley Richardson and Ernest Hemingway. Richardson was Hemingway's first wife.  The book tells the ascent and descent of their relationship, mostly taking place in Paris. Although it is fictionalized somewhat, the author did her best to garner information from letters between the two and other materials she studied.

After I read this book, I was inspired to read more of Hemingway's work. I've read a good amount being an English major and all, but this book pushed it further. 

I also just noticed that there is another book with the same premise (which I'm now going to read as soon as I can get my hands on it) and it's called Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway's First Wife by Gioia Diliberto. 

If you've read this one, please let me know because I'm fascinated to know how they differ and why. Apparently, Vogue likes Paris Without End, if that means anything to you. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Off the Subject of Books for Just a Second...

Had the weirdest dream last night where I was talking with Queen Cersei (from Game of Thrones for those of you less nerdy folk). I think reading A Dance With Dragons before bed is messing with my head. Next time I'll be having tea with Lady Melisandre.

In other news, this song is wonderful and I simply adore Lily Allen. I can accept however that this song is a little weird, but Elton John is in it, so it's pretty fabulous.

Also, Fifty Shades of Grey is crazily popular in Great Britain says Flavorwire. I haven't read it and I don't plan on reading it, either. I understand that people want to read what they want to read. I fully support that. If you need a trashy beach read, go for it. However, I will not be succumbing to the trash novels. I have too little time on this Earth and not enough time to read the GOOD stuff let alone the trashy, fluff books.
How do you feel about the Fifty Shades of Grey madness?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

They Tried to Make me Go to Rehab - AND YOU SHOULD HAVE GONE AND JUST STAYED, AMY!

So I've just finished Amy, My Daughter by Mitch Winehouse today. If you want to break your heart, go ahead and pick up this gem of a book.
Amy Winehouse's father wrote this book after her death. He was one of those fathers who was very close with his daughter and he isn't afraid to tell the world the truth about everything that happened. Amy was, of course, addicted to heroin for a long time and after that it was alcohol, but she was an incredible, giving, generous and exceptionally talented person.
The book is wonderful, but it is definitely hard to read. When she said that she was done with drugs the first time, you get excited, but the 400th time, it's not so easy to forgive her. And her father was fed up, too, naturally.

I also finished Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin and I'm onto A Dance With Dragons. Both are incredible. Of course I love Daenaerys, so A Dance With Dragons is so much more wonderful because she's actually in it opposed to Feast for Crows. The two books were supposed to be one and Martin decided to split it, which was great because he could fully tell all the stories from everyone's point of view and it wouldn't be 2,000 pages. They are just two separate books, 1,000 pages each. No problem.

On a different note, Flavorwire put together a list of how to eat like your favorite authors! Love it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Recently, there has been an influx in comediennes writing about their lives, advice, etc. They're fascinating and are also really inspiring. (Also, I'm writing this post because Rachel Dratch was in my dream last night and we were buddies).
The three that I have read are:

Now, I like all three of these books and for very different reasons.  Bossypants is hilarious and of course, I adore Tina Fey and her stories are really good.  And I love the life lessons that she gives. Also the prayer at the end for her daughter = priceless.

My favorite one is Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. Ms. Kaling is sensitive and hilarious and she tells wonderful stories about her childhood. I also love how incredibly down to earth she is and what good advice she gives. Ms. Kaling is intelligent and she loves cupcakes (well, not any more, but just read it and you'll find out why). 

Rachel Dratch's book is fascinating, too, but for other reasons. I love her story about the love of her life and her "midlife miracle". She's hilarious and isn't afraid to admit how she is constantly asked to do roles that involve being a lesbian or an old woman or a fat woman. She takes it all in stride.

Nice work, ladies - you've written some incredible stuff!!

The Perks of Being a Voracious Reader

"It's strange because sometimes, I read a book, and I think I am the people in the book." - Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

If you haven't read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you must. And immediately. Especially if you're one of those people who likes to read the book before the movie comes out (and who isn't) because the movie is coming out this year! (Movie trailer is here! Also, it manages to use a lot of the most famous quotes from the book in just 2 1/2 minutes).

This is a book you can read over and over again. It's accessible, it's poignant, it's engaging and it is beautifully written. I like books that make be feel alive when I'm finished reading them. I like having that feeling that lasts with you when you finish a book almost as if you lived it yourself. This is one of those books.
A+ to you, Stephen Chbosky. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nicole Krauss and Jonathan Safran Foer = Power Couple

The History of Love came across the desk at the library while I was working today and I had to share how much I love it - and her husband's book, too!

Nicole Krauss, wrote The History of Love, an intricate story filled with different perspectives, connections, and heartbreak.

Her husband, Jonathan Safran Foer, is the author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, an exquisite  book that has recently been adapted for the big screen. 

Both of these books feature characters that eventually cross paths, which is something I really enjoy in a book. I enjoy books that are mysterious, but I don't like mysteries. However, both of these books are fascinating and beautifully written. I also enjoy how Safran Foer uses design, text, and type. Give it a try - this story will suck you in, break your heart, and leave you wanting.

I suppose I find it very interesting that their writing styles are so similar... I don't know much about the couple, but while I was reading The History of Love I imagined the two of them editing each other's manuscripts in their Park Slope apartment, all lofty and New Yorky and all.
There is a lot of criticism out on the interwebs about both of their works, however. Maybe I'm not as literary as I should be, having been an English major, but people just need to read what they want. All that matters is that you enjoy it.
And to all those people who deeply criticize Jonathan Safran Foer's work  - why don't you write your own book that's better instead of taking all that time disparaging someone else's work?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bringing Up Bébé, aka Learn From the French

I am certainly not having kids anytime soon, but I still enjoyed this book. An American woman who lives in Paris with her husband becomes pregnant and takes the reader step-by-step through being pregnant in France, daycare, how to make friends with your child's friend's parents, and everything in between. The French way of raising children is thoroughly explained and quite frankly I'm siding with the Europeans on this one. 

Maybe I'm biased because I adore France already (since I was a French major in college and studied abroad in Rennes for a semester).  Honestly, the ideas that the French have towards children are really so much simpler than the American way. 
For instance, Pamela Druckerman discusses how French babies will sleep through the night at three months! How can that possibly be? The French parents simply don't get up every single time the baby cries. During the first few months, yes, but after two and a half months or so, they let their baby cry for five to ten minutes before picking him/her up. It's the same during the day - give them a few minutes so they can learn to self-soothe. 

Give this one a try - it's fascinating. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chuck Palahniuk = AMAZING

Chuck Palahniuk is one of my very favorite writers and it's because he isn't afraid to get very gritty and graphic in hilarious (and sometimes just plain brutal) ways.  I'm working my way through his books slowly, but every one I read is fascinating and very difficult to put down. 

His most recent one is Damned.  It's the story of a thirteen-year old girl who finds herself in Hell, thinking that she's died from a marijuana overdose. My favorite review quoting Mr. Palahniuk on his own work that I read on Goodreads (you can find it here!) says this: 

The author described the novel as "if The Shawshank Redemption had a baby by The Lovely Bones and it was raised by Judy Blume." And "it's kind of like The Breakfast Club set in Hell."

And that is exactly what it is. My other faves of Chuck's works include Choke and Fight Club. I also liked his book, Snuff, but not as much. Choke and Damned are my favorites.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Excellent YA books

If you're looking for a good, quick beach read, allow me to introduce you to the world of young adult novels.
Some are insanely bad. They are either badly written, have bad plot development, or the main characters you just don't respect or like. But there are so many really good ones. Here are my top ones that I've enjoyed...

Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison - There are 10 books in this series and they are AMAZING. It's the diary of a teenage girl in the throes of, well, teenagerdom. Georgia Nicholson is a self-absorbed, marvy British girl who discusses, among many things, the state of her humongous nose, the Sex God, her hilarious 3-year-old sister Libby, and her "insane" parents. Georgia's side-splitting trials and tribulations are not to be missed. It's a light, quick read and I'm sure you will want to read the next ones after you've read the first. These books are perfect for an afternoon at the beach. (The next books include: On the Bright Side, I'm now the Girlfriend of a Sex God, Knocked out by my Nunga Nungas, Dancing in my Nuddy Pants and many more).

Vegan, Virgin, Valentine by Carolyn Mackler - I read this book when I was in high school, but it still ranks high on my list even though it's been a while. High-schooler Mara Valentine has everything in her life under control: good grades, vegan lifestyle, and excellent rapport with her parents. That is, until her cousin comes to visit who is everything that Mara is not. Life for Mara spins out of control - until she realizes that maybe that's exactly what she needed. It's a great read and also quick - another good beach read!

Danny, Champion of the World - Okay, so this isn't a young adult novel, but it's still INCREDIBLE. It's for a little younger audience, but adults will enjoy it, too. It follows the story of Danny, who lives with his father, who is a mechanic, but secretly enjoys poaching in nearby woods. I can't give any more away as it's a beauty to be uncovered all on one's own.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - So this one obviously is great - and everyone has their own opinions about it. I think the first one is better than the next two and if you haven't read it, give it a try. It's a difficult premise to face, but dystopian lit for young adults is just out of control right now and this is one that stands out among the others I've tried to read. See if you like it and let me know your thoughts.

These are just a few to get you started - let me know how you feel about them!