Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sorry to be a ghost...


Sorry I've been kind of a ghost lately.  I made it all the way through grad school without missing a regular posting date, and now a year and half later, I'm missing them on the regular.  I have a very good reason for this, which I will be able to share with you all in just about a month or so (I'm not really sure exactly when I can talk about it).  But I'll let you know, I promise.  

In the meantime, here's a really cute baby duck:



Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book Review: "Why Not Me?" by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me? is Mindy Kaling's follow up to her wildly successful memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and other concerns) - which I loved when I read it earlier this year, by the way.  This book looks more at her life after The Office, like creating and starring in her own show, other Hollywood stories, and a bit on her love life.  But actually not much on her love life, which I really respect.  There is a lovely essay in which she talks about her amazing relationship with B.J. Novak, and then other relationships of the more romantic variety.

I read this book on a recent beach vacation, and I'll admit to laughing out loud on multiple occasions, grinning all goofy-like for most of the book, and feeling compelled to read passages aloud to nearby family members.  I just couldn't help it!  Mindy is a great comedic writer who has a lot to share!  This was just so much fun to read.  I hope she keeps writing books... because I'll keep reading them!


By the way - this book will be published in paperback this September.

*****
Why Not Me?
by Mindy Kaling
Crown, 2015
228 pages
Source:  Library
*****


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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that have been on my shelf since before I started blogging

Well, this is certainly a humbling list to write.  This week's Top Ten Tuesday by The Broke and the Bookish prompt is to list the Top Ten Books STILL on your TBR shelf and have been since before you started blogging.  I'm not sure how to quantify "Top Ten" of these books, but I definitely have 10+ books that I have had on that shelf in all this time...  that is to say, for over 6 1/2 years.  So, in no particular order...  here they are:


1.  Wild Swans by Jung Chang
2.  Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
3.  Sea Glass by Anita Shreve
4.  The Color of Water by James McBride
5.  Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
6.  The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
7.  The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
8.  The Given Day by Dennis Lehane
9.  Palm Sunday by Kurt Vonnegut
10.  The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

At least I can see a couple things though, in creating this list:  I still have wide-ranging reading interests and YA doesn't last too long on my TBR shelf before being read.

Do you see any patterns in creating your list?
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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Review: "Another Brooklyn" by Jacqueline Woodson

August is back in Brooklyn following her father's death.  While riding the subway, she sees one of her best friends from her childhood.  She immediately gets off the train, and memories of her Brooklyn childhood come flooding back.  Starting with moving to Brooklyn when she was 12 (with flashbacks to younger years in Tennessee) until she was 16.  A lot happened in those years, all of which lead to where she is currently in life.  Another Brooklyn is a compelling, haunting, exquisitely written novel about growing up, friendship, loss, race, religion, and family.

This novel is honestly a very fast read.  So fast that I had to force myself to slow down and truly appreciate the magic of Woodson's writing.  Fast does not mean light, because there are some very deep themes going on here.  I think I'll read it again very soon (maybe even before this posts) because it is just that wonderful.

As August is growing up in Brooklyn, she sees and understands so much of what is going on.  She knows they are not poor - they have enough, most days - but they are right on the edge.  She finds friendship with three girls in the neighborhood, and the four of them are inseparable at 13.  But by 15 - they have all grown and seen so much in their own homes and streets, they have started making choices that affect the rest of their lives.  Because isn't that life?  This is the time where you start to discover yourself, your strengths & weaknesses, and begin to think about your place in the world and where/who you want to be.  I am not even expressing how well this is done in the book because it really blew me away.

I think that is what I really want you to take away from this:  This book absolutely blew me away.  And I think you should enjoy that same feeling.

Thank you to TLC Book tours for an advance copy of the book for review.


*****
Another Brooklyn
by Jacqueline Woodson
Amistad, 2016
192 pages
Source:  TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
*****

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Book Review: "P.S. I Like You" by Kasie West

Lily Abbott is a member of a large, pretty chaotic family, has a pretty awesome best friend in Isabel, and dreams of being a songwriter.  She starts scribbling lyrics on the desk in her dreaded Chemistry class... and is surprised when someone writes back.  Someone who likes the same music she likes and has a decent sense of humor.  Desk scribblings turn into secret letters where they each bare more and more of themselves to each other - anonymously.  It gets to the point that Lily really starts to like this person, but doesn't know who he is.  There are a couple of suspects:  David, the boy Isabel has been trying to set Lily up with or Lucas, the boy Lily has had a major crush on for the past two years.  When the truth is revealed though... woah.  It isn't who Lily suspected at ALL.

Kasie West writes the most adorable light teen romance ever.  Her books are drop-everything-and-read-NOW books for me.  And this time I literally did drop everything and read it right away.

Lily is a pretty cool character.  She's quirky and creative, but loyal to her crazy family and best friend.  She may have a little confidence problem when it comes to her songs, but she is confident in who she is and embraces her life completely.  Her crush on Lucas is adorable; and she really tries to make an effort with David.  Well, sort of.  The other guy that figures into her life, and not in a positive way is Cade - Isabel's ex-boyfriend and creator of Lily's hated nickname at school.  Lily and Cade spar back and forth in such a funny way that I was kind of rooting for them both in their arguments which is kind of weird I guess.

This is a must read for fans of teen contemporary romance!

*****
P.S. I Like You
by Kasie West
Point, 2016
326 pages
Source:  Library
*****


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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books featuring Sports and/or Athletes

This week's Top Ten Tuesday by The Broke and the Bookish is kind of a "freebie" week.  Really, it is a "Rewind" Week where you can go back and redo any of the past topics.  I have no idea if my topic has ever been done before, so I'm rewinding to a Freebie Week.

In honor of the Olympics, I thought I'd like to highlight my favorite books that feature Sports and/or Athletes.  So, in no particular order:

1.  Breathe Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally:  In this book, the main character Annie is training to run a marathon to honor her boyfriend who had recently died tragically.  It really goes into the mental and physical trials of this kind of training... with a sweet romance as well.

2.  The Final Four by Paul Volponi:  This is a quickly paced look at college players competing in a high pressure Final Four game and is told from the viewpoint of four different players.  Parts of the book honestly feel like a play-by-play broadcast of the games.

3.  Winger by Andrew Smith:  I absolutely adore this book about Ryan Dean - a prodigy at a private boarding school who plays on the rugby team.

4.  Crossover by Kwame Alexander:  Another basketball book, but this one is written in verse.  The words have such a great rhythm that help convey the touching story.

5.  The Swap by Megan Shull:   This was a super cute story about a boy hockey player and a female soccer player who swap bodies in a "Freaky Friday" kind of story.

6.  Take Me On by Katie McGarry:  It's no secret that I love Katie McGarry's YA romance books, and this is no different.  In this book, kickboxing takes center stage as the female main character has given up the sport despite being a champion kickboxer and she ends up helping a boy train for his first big fight.

So I guess I don't have 10 books to list...  so do you have any suggestions for me?
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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Book Review: "Breaking the Rules" by Katie McGarry

Echo and Noah have just graduated high school, and are taking a major summer road trip before they start college.  Echo is trying to show & sell her art at different galleries across the country, and Noah is working here and there but basically just doing what he can to keep the girl he loves safe and happy.  As the trip comes to an end though, situations start coming up that threaten their future; Noah discovers that his mother's family has been trying to contact him, and he doesn't know how he feels about that and Echo has an opportunity to stay in Colorado studying under one of the best artists in the country.

I remembered being really disappointed that this book was only released as an ebook, so despite my love of all things Katie McGarry, I never read it.  But recently I've been firing up my e-reader in preparation for a big trip coming up, and I realized that I could borrow this from the library!

I loved being able to see what happened next with Echo and Noah, the couple that got me hooked on McGarry's stories in the first place.  I also loved that Beth and Isiah make a big appearance as well, which I loved (but had to keep reminding myself of the timeline - this takes place before either of their books).  So Echo and Noah are very in love with each other, but doubt about their future threatens to undermine them both.  They both have major issues surrounding their families and fears of abandonment, but they have trouble talking about it with each other.  This book is about their learning to let go of the past (or find peace in it) and accepting their feelings about what they have each gone through.  It isn't my favorite McGarry story in this series - Echo annoyed me more than I expected she would or could - but I'm still glad I read it.  I also is a step more in the New Adult realm and not YA which was fun and necessary to tell this part of their story.

*****
Breaking the Rules
by Katie McGarry
Harlequin Teen, 2014
304 pages (ebook)
Series:  Pushing the Limits #1.5
Source:  Library
*****

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Buy Right Now With a Gift Card

I love checking in with The Broke and the Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday meme from time to time.  I think this week's prompt is a lot of fun, so I thought I'd give it a go.

What are the Top Ten Books I'd buy if I had a fully loaded gift card?

Truthfully, I don't show too much restraint when it comes to buying books.  This is a problem, and why I have been trying to keep a little focus on the #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge this year.  I mean, I have over 200 books on my TBR bookcase right now.  Actually, they no longer all fit on the bookcase, and I also have two piles on the floor too.  But if I really could just go nuts in a bookstore - I think this is what I'd come home with:

1.  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling:  I am actually trying really really hard to not run out and buy this right now.  I neeeeed this.  At least I know I am not alone in feeling this way.

2.  The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson:  Actually, any compendium of the greatest comic strip ever would be sufficient.  I miss Calvin and Hobbes.

3.  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:  The gorgeous Penguin Classics Hardcover edition though.  I've started collecting this beauties, and I think if I had free bookstore money, I'd be okay buying the books I've already read instead of new to me books.  So I guess in this train of thought, I'd also purchase the Penguin Hardcovers of
4. Actually, I'd probably just go for the Jane Austen Boxed Set from Penguin Classics Hardcovers
5.  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 
6.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
7.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Now that I'm thinking in Boxed Sets, 8. The Puffin Hardcover Classics Set looks pretty cool too.

9 and 10 would probably be a hiking / camping / rail trail guide to New England that would be good for kids.  I don't know which ones, but they get pricey.

But I have to stop there.  I could go on and on, and really a lot of those Penguin books could be interchanged for any of the ones I don't have yet (which is easy because I only have a few).  I also think it would be easier if I were actually in a physical store...  I am very much an impulse buyer in a bookstore!

Thanks for going on this virtual shopping spree with me!  What does your shopping cart look like?
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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Review: "The Flood Girls" by Richard Fifield

Quinn, Montana is a tiny little town.  Nine years ago, Rachel Flood couldn't leave fast enough - and nobody was sad to see her go (not even her own mother).  But Rachel is back now, and sober, ready to make amends.  She befriends Jake, the style conscious and fabulous twelve year old boy who lives in the trailer next door, and she is forced to work for her mother again.  Her mother runs The Dirty Shame, the bar in town.  Her mother also coaches the women's softball team, and Rachel ends up playing right field even though she is in no way athletic.  It is an interesting way to get back into good graces... but is it enough?

The promise of small town charm made this book appealing to me.  That and the absurd and funny blurb on the jacket... and this book is absurd and funny with plenty of charm.  I just kind of went with it, not realizing just how enamored I was becoming with the characters - Jake especially.  He's just trying to make it in this small town until he can really be himself in the city.  The only thing is that his stepfather has fallen under the spell of the new cultish church in town and cannot deal with Jake's fashion or hobbies that don't fit his idea of what a boy should do and like.  It is heartbreaking how Bert controls Jake's mother and is just plain awful to Jake.  But Jake has plenty of allies in town as well, and I loved that.  In fact, there is a full cast of unique characters here that are all pretty awesome in their own way.

The book almost lost me in the middle.  I just couldn't see where it was going, and while it was certainly enjoyable enough along the way... something needed to happen.  And wow, even though I thought I was prepared, I just wasn't.  I am really glad I stayed with it until the end...  because the ending was perfect.

*****
The Flood Girls
by Richard Fifield
Gallery Books, 2016
336 pages
Source:  Library
*****

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