Monday, September 12, 2011

monthly catch up, as always

Listening -- Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer 6 hours
Artemis Fowl" The Arctic Incident by Eoin Colfer 6 hours
Reading for book group -- A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute 1080 "pages" on my iphone in Ibooks -- or 279 pages in a print edition.

Monday, August 08, 2011

reading in fits and starts

Ditched - galley on nook

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner 569 pages
How Green was my valley by Richard Llewllen 497 pages
Best Staged Plans by Claire Book - 7 hours
Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich - 6.5 hours
First 6 hours of More Information Than You Require by John Hodgeman, lost interest in the mole men junk. Who does that appeal to?

Skimming various books on decluttering and organization.

Monday, June 27, 2011

june reading

Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler - 355 pages
This Girl is Different by J J Johnson - read a galley on the nook, 316 pages
Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter - 6.5 hours

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

may reading

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson 231 pages
Bellwether by Connie Willis 6.5 hours
Plugged by Eoin Colfer 277 pages

maybe some other stuff. but maybe not.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Birthday round up

I am assuming I won't magically get to read much more before Thursday... best to do the math while I can... In the past year, (that I managed to keep track of) I read 6618 pages and listened to 60 hours of audiobooks. Grand book total was 29 books. I notice that magazines and also online news articles are getting more attention these days, both for their convenience, short attention span, and availabilty on my phone. I'm hoping to get netgalley set up on my iphone to access more content. I tried a nook but every time I have had a chance to pick it up, it has needed recharging. Here's hoping that I find some more fictional escapes in the coming year! Happy 33rd birthday to me :)

Catching up those i missed

I recently read Walden by Henry David Thoreau, which was first published in 1854. My first reaction was that it was all well and good for this Harvard educated single man to go live in a cabin by a lake for two years, but how could what he learned in the 1850's be relevant to my life in 21st century modern family suburbia? And, as you might have guessed, Walden is still being read and reread over 150 years after it was published because it remains wonderfully and shockingly relevant in modern times. This is not to say that Thoreau isn’t a bit controversial in his thinking. Here are some memorable quotes from Walden: Anti knick-knacks and collectibles "I had three pieces of limestone on my desk, but I was terrified to find that they required to be dusted daily, when the furniture of my mind was all undusted still, and threw them out the window in disgust." Anti comforts of society "I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion." Anti accumulation of stuff "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone." Anti pointless yet impressive buildings “Nations are possessed with an insane ambition to perpetuate the memory of themselves by the amount of hammered stone they leave ... One piece of good sense is more memorable than a monument as high as the moon.” Advocate of living deliberately “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. “ Advocate of simplifying life “In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.” As if to prove Walden’s relevance today, I then spotted an article called “But Will It Make You Happy?” in this week’s New York Times. While no one in the New York Times article mentions moving to a cabin of solitude in the woods or even mentions Walden directly, one couple gets rid of most of their possessions and moves to a studio apartment, and a filmmaker moves to a trailer park near the beach. Almost everyone in the article has found greater happiness by simplifying their life, shopping and buying less, and focusing on natural experiences instead of possessions. Numerous research studies and psychologists are quoted with similar advice on simplifying and focusing on experiences, all ideas that Thoreau expounded on in Walden all those years ago. Check out Walden by Henry David Thoreau—still relevant after all these years! And for another modern look at Walden, a friend has recommended At least in the city someone would hear me scream: misadventures in search of the simple life by Wade Rouse, who is compared favorably to comedic essayist David Sedaris as he documents his move to with his partner to a rustic part of Michigan. Have you read Walden? Do you think it is still relevant today?Why do you agree or disagree with Thoreau's ideas 303 pages I am so disorganized that I am scanning the list of books I paid late fees on to see what else I read and might have missed. Wow. Runaway by Meg Cabot, last October, 7 hours Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips 387 pages, in March 2011 And a note: kids books I have read over and over this past year: Harry the Dirty Dog The Easter Egg Artists Officer Buckle and Gloria Good night, Gorilla 10 Minutes til Bedtime In the Snow

Pioneer Women and more

For book group, of course. (because when else do i prioritize reading?) Pioneer women by Joanna Stratton. Lovely lovely book. Made me miss by pandora's rag folks, simply because the feminist history of Kansas inspired me. Grateful for all of the hard work that early Kansas feminist put into this state, even if it doesn't feel so progressive right now. Highly recommend this readable collective biography written from 800 original remembrances from Kansas pioneers.267 pages. Oops - and last month for book group -- Hard TImes by Charles Dickens, which I reviewed on the library's site but forgot to post here: Charles Dickens published Hard Times in 1854 by serializing it in his magazine Household Words from April to August of that year. He doubled the circulation to his magazine, but the novel is sometimes criticized for the choppy chapters that resulted from writing it in installments. The novel is also only about half the length of Dickens’ other novels, a benefit that some readers find more manageable. The story concerns Mr. Gradgrind, who is the founder of the fact-based educational system in Coketown. His two children have been raised only on facts, never indulging imagination or emotion. His business associate Mr. Bounderby owns a mill and a bank and employs many of the working class characters in the novel. As Mr. Gradgrind’s children become adults, their education proves a disadvantage in dealing with the challenges of the real world. Dickens found great acclaim during his lifetime as a historian of the middle class and was praised for his descriptions and characterizations. In Hard Times, Dickens uses his story to advance his social criticism of utilitarianism. Dickens satirizes the educational system that concentrates only on facts to the exclusion of sentiment, as well as exaggerates the character of the successful self-made man. As we would expect in any Dickens novel, he portray evils against the working classes and dark depictions of those living in poverty. But there are likeable characters as well, people who give hope, who we can cheer when things go well and mourn when things go poorly. If you have never read Charles Dickens before, this would be a good book to start with simply because it is shorter than most. His dark satire may make you chuckle in parts, especially in the exaggerated chapters about the fact-based schooling at the beginning. Whenever possible, I also highly recommend reading an authoritative or annotated text, which provides a few explanatory footnotes and sometimes an excellent introductory essay. This book was the March 2011 selection of the library’s popular Literature with Lunch book discussion group. Check the library’s calendar for upcoming programs and book selections. Literature with Lunch meets on the 2nd Monday of each month from 1-2:30 pm. 299 pages

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


After buying the book and the ebook, I listened to the audiobook Blackout by Connie Willis 19 hours (and then bought the mp3 audiobook). Most money I've ever invested in book format redundancy. And then I listened to All Clear - 24 hours.

Save as Draft

Save As Draft by Cavanaugh Lee
Girl meets boy online. Girl makes out with best guy friend. Girl has amazing first date with boy. Girl must choose. Girl doesn’t want to choose. Girl emails her friends for advice.
A love triangle evolving over e-mails, text, and Facebook messages that makes you wonder if the things we leave unsaid- or rather unsent- could change the story of our lives.
We don’t see every single email between every person in the book, the author chooses to reveal just enough to move the story along. And when people actually meet in person or talk on the phone, we only hear about it later if they happen to mention it in their email. The story is a bit asynchronous – the closest we get to a real time conversation is when characters text back and forth. The title of the novel indicates the very best part—the reader is privy to the emails that characters write to each other but do NOT send – the Save as Draft option in email that lets people vent their frustrations or blurt out their true feelings but then file it away without letting the other person read it. Of course, the things they almost say to each other as the relationships and the love triangle progresses are more revealing than the things they end up actually sending once their emotions are under control.
I’ve always been a fan of the quirky epistolary novel (From Pamela by Samuel Richardson to Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn) and I am drawn to this non-traditional way of story telling using the communication of modern times and modern romances. I would recommended Save as Draft to anyone who thinks the premise sounds interesting.
I read the ARC, 324 pages

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Maternity Leave and Overdue Books

I paid a lot of late fees this maternity leave. In fact, I've been back at work a month, and I've paid more late fees since then. And yet, for all of those $5 maximum late fees, I got very little reading actually done. I was willing to pay just to have the books nearby, even if I didn't actually get a chance to pick them up. I *didn't* read the new Gordon Korman (Pop), the new David Levithan/Rachel Cohn, or the new Connie Willis (yet!). I finally read:

Heist Society by Ally Carter 287 pages and loved it, although I thought it was going to be about a boarding school because for the longest time I had only read the first chapter, and it turned out to be about a family of theives. Very Oceans 11, in the way that I adore.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
187 pages
For book group -- no really likeable characters, and I had to hold book group twice because we got 10 inches of snow on the first scheduled date, but I didn't end up minding the chance to discuss the book or research the author multiple times. I wouldn't have pegged it for a book that left me thinking deeply about human relationships and how they related to facism and the Holocaust...but that's literature for you.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
343 pages
Sort of a bizarre story, but delightful. Not the happy ending I would have wished for. The movie follows the book very closely.

The Reivers by William Faulkner 376 pages - a lovely adventurous romp through Yoknapatawpha county and a coming of age story as well.

The Big Read -- why I thought it was a good idea to read THREE books instead of one for book group the month after I had a turned out to be wonderful to have something (like noir mysteries) to divert my attention from those overwhelming first weeks of new baby nursing.
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett 217 pages
Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky 244 pages
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler 139 pages

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

only the good spy young

cranford by elizabeth gaskell -- the running joke at book group (which julie led - thank you!) was that I only read chapter one, but I read it so many times that I was a freaking expert at it!

Only the good spy young by ally carter - audiobook, fourth in the Gallagher Girl series - which just keeps getting more in depth and more exciting as the characters and the series develop!
I listened to 6.5 hours!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

tweet heart

Welcome to Twitter! Let the boy-stalking (ahem, following!) begin."
So begins this novel told entirely in e-mails, blogs and tweets between four high school friends at a prep school in the Carolinas as they navigate through spring semester of their junior year.
Claire (ClaireRBear) has been crushing on her school's most popular jock JD forever, although he doesn't know she exists. When JD(TopofGame17) starts following Claire on Twitter, she's really happy, but also confused, since in person he acts totally different.
Claire's best friend Lottie likes…well…everyone. Her username isn't "Lots0love" for nothing. Claire's guy friends, Bennett and Will, are both the geeky science fiction movie buff and video game type, although Bennett (KingofSlack) is several factors more annoying about it than quiet and sensitive Will (WiseOneWP).
When Claire starts to get suspicious about the difference between JD's entertaining and flirtatious tweets and his boring conversations in real life, something that started out innocent is suddenly looking like a matchmaking disaster…
At first, reading a bunch of tweeted conversations between characters was confusing to me, but as I got to know the characters and their intertwining stories, the format didn't matter as much anymore. The author included a few formatting features that make the conversations easier to follow, including having the characters' profile icons appear next to each tweet, setting private conversations apart in a blue outline, reprinting the date/time information and telling the story in chronological order, and making sure to include blog and email headers to give everything extra context. That said, this novelty format was still harder to just relax and read than a regular novel.
For a very modern take on high school relationships, check out Tweet Heart (a novel in e-mails, blogs and tweets) by Elizabeth Rudnick!
264 pages

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

serious, 16 of these?

I read sizzling sixteen by Janet Evanovich
I'm not proud. I don't have anything else to say about it.
307 pages.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

main street

I read Main Street by Sinclair Lewis for book group in July. I was surprisingly irritated by the main character, a librarian who marries a doctor and moves to a small town and can't figure out how to fit in, but many people in the group defended her. I mostly liked this quote from the end about her baby daughter:
"Her baby, born in August, was a girl. Carol could not decide whether she was to become a feminist leader or marry a scientist or both, but did settle on Vassar and a tricolette suit with a small black hat for her Freshman year. "

And this whole passage about her young son:

Hugh was loquacious at breakfast. He desired to give his impressions of owls and F Street.
"Don't make so much noise. You talk too much," growled Kennicott.
Carol flared. "Don't speak to him that way! Why don't you listen to him? He has some very interesting things to tell."
"What's the idea? Mean to say you expect me to spend all my time listening to his chatter?"
"Why not?"
"For one thing, he's got to learn a little discipline. Time for him to start getting educated."
"I've learned much more discipline, I've had much more education, from him than he has from me."
"What's this? Some new-fangled idea of raising kids you got in Washington?"
"Perhaps. Did you ever realize that children are people?"
"That's all right. I'm not going to have him monopolizing the conversation."
"No, of course. We have our rights, too. But I'm going to bring him up as a human being. He has just as many thoughts as we have, and I want him to develop them, not take Gopher Prairie's version of them. That's my biggest work now -- keeping myself, keeping you, from `educating' him."

And this was the line that made me cry (because pretty much everything these days involving kiddos makes me cry a bit!):

Don't you ever get tired of fretting and stewing and experimenting?"
"I haven't even started. Look!" She led him to the nursery door, pointed at the fuzzy brown head of her daughter. "Do you see that object on the pillow? Do you know what it is? It's a bomb to blow up smugness. If you Tories were wise, you wouldn't arrest anarchists; you'd arrest all these children while they're asleep in their cribs. Think what that baby will see and meddle with before she dies in the year 2000! She may see an industrial union of the whole world, she may see aeroplanes going to Mars."
"Yump, probably be changes all right," yawned Kennicott.

I read 486 pages.

Fly on the wall

I listened to "Fly on the Wall" by e. lockhart read by Caitlin Greer while doing busywork at my desk the last two weeks at work.

First part sets up the story – Gretchen loves spiderman, doesn’t fit in at her art school in NYC, her parents just announced they are getting a divorce, her only friend Katya is busy al the time now, she is reading the Metamorphesis in literature class, she really likes Titus, a dark, scrawny, quiet a guy in her class, and really hates Shane, the new guy in school who dated her in the fall when he first arrived and then without warning dropped her for a sexier more popular girlfriend

When her parents go out of town for a week, she wakes up as a fly in the boys locker room of her school, where she is trapped.
At first she is just freaked out, and then she’s mad at how much better the boys locker room is than the girls. When boys start coming in to change for gym class, and then shower afterwards, she can’t help herself She watches. She rates them. She lusts and objectifies. But she also learns a lot about the guys in her school from watching them when they are together and alone in the locker room.

“And the moral is: you never know what’s going on underneath someone’s pants until you see it for yourself.”

Since Gretchen doesn’t know why she turned into a fly, she doesn’t know if or when she will change back “Nothing like this ever happens in Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.” Complaining about her situation (turned into a fly) and trying to understand who or what might have caused her to turn into a fly and why…

I listened to it: 4 hours

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The God of the Hive: the new Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes story

When the latest book in a beloved series is released, I rush to read it, to find out the latest news and adventures from familiar characters.
I reviewed The Language of Bees last year, in which Sherlock Holmes is approached by his estranged son for help in locating the son's missing wife and young daughter. When the wife turns up dead, Sherlock's son is the prime suspect and they must elude Scotland Yard while working to clear the son's name. At the climax of the story, a faceoff with a religious madman, when a suspense novel would traditionally tie up the loose ends, this one ended "To be continued" instead!
In the continuation, The God of the Hive, Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell are separated during their attempts to protect Sherlock's son and granddaughter. Perilous travels by airplane and boat through remote parts of Scotland endanger various lives, and although both Sherlock and Mary are trying to make it safely back to London, neither is sure whether London will be safe for them at all. When Sherlock's brother Mycroft Holmes, a secretive leader of government intelligence operations, is reported to have been questioned by Scotland Yard and then gone missing, the group realizes that something much bigger and much more dangerous than just a religious madman is at work in the country. With each member of the team working in isolation for their own safety, when the obituary of a key character appears in The Times, the remaining members panic, mourn, and craft a plan to draw out the invisible adversary.
Author Laurie R. King is a natural storyteller. This book is every bit as adventurous, suspenseful, well narrated, and masterfully constructed as the previous novels in this series. With new characters introduced, richer and more complex backgrounds for familiar characters, and a fast moving story, this latest installment in the Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes series will not disappoint!
Read my original review of the first book in this series The Beekeeper's Apprentice or check out any of the books in this series from the library.
Bonus for listeners: All of the books in this series have been recorded as audiobooks by the excellent and talented narrator Jenny Sterlin.

354 pages.

Monday, June 21, 2010


A classic you may have missed: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller - I re-read for book group this month. 436 pages

"The only freedom we really have is the freedom to say no."—Joseph Heller
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, first published in 1961
I've never read it. What am I missing?
The novel is one of the great literary works of the 20th century. The main character, Yossarian, is a counter-culture Everyman for the late 20th century. And by that, I mean he is totally hilarious, supposedly insane, and probably the only intelligent, moral, rational person in the entire novel and possibly the entire war.
For me, the most amusing and realistic scenes are the ones showing the hopelessly convoluted bureaucracy within the military. Individuals are marginalized and absurdity is rampant (yet fully justified and explained, by invoking Catch-22 of course.) Fair warning: Don't read this book when you are looking for inspiration or a morale boost—I have been feeling a bit subversive and paranoid since I've been reading Catch-22!
What does the title Catch-22 mean?
"1: a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule" from
"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to, he was sane and had to." from Chapter 5, Catch-22
Is this a historical war novel? Or a black comedy?
The novel is set in World War II, but written after Korea, and published during Vietnam. Heller doesn't just parody the military—he also skewers business, medicine, religion, government, and politics with his ironic humor. You don't have to know anything about war or military settings to fidn something to laugh about in this book. Critic Philip Toynbee said the humor in the novel resembles a Marx brothers film as Kafka might have conceived it.
This is a classic anti-war novel. Did Joseph Heller have any war experience?
Yes, although he was not a career military man, since after the war he went to university to be a writer, taught at the college level and worked in magazine advertising as well as writing short stories and novels. "In 1942 Heller joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and from May 1944 to mid 1945 was stationed on Corsica with the 488th squadron of the 340th Bombardment Group. He flew about sixty combat missions as a bombardier, earning the Air Medal and rising to the rank of lieutenant." -from Literature Resource Center
Can't I just watch the movie version instead?
Check out Catch-22 (1970 film) from the library! Bringing an anti-war satire to the big screen was a daunting task. While the movie was a commercial failure, the sarcastic humor of the book is brought to life by notable actors including cast included Alan Arkin, Art Garfunkel, Charles Grodin, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins, Martin Sheen, Jon Voight and Orson Welles. Many characters and story arcs from the book are changed, and the film is told mainly in flashbacks and dream sequences

Friday, June 11, 2010

Secrets of my suburban Life

Secrets of my suburban Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted 225 pages
Ren lived her whole life in New York City with her two famous author parents, until her mom is killed by a giant stack of books and her dad relocates them to the suburbs of Connecticut. At her new school, Ren is basically an outcast, although when she accidentally discovers that the most popular girl in school is chatting online with an older man whom she plans to meet, Ren has to act.
Ren schemes up a plan to stop the online pervert from getting his hands on the popular girl…but when she finds out who he is, the whole situation gets a lot more personal for Ren!
I had read some of this author's chick lit, including Thin Pink Line a few years ago, so I recognized the name and was drawn to try this book. I think that Lauren's writing style and characters are more suited to a teen novel, as her slightly-immature characters are much more believable at 16 than they were as twenty-somethings. This book was funny, well-paced, and had great supporting characters, particularly the three quirky taxi drivers in small town Connecticut that Ren relies on to get her around town!

I also read and LOVED the first 40 pages of You are Not a Gadget, until it was hideously overdue from the library. I am just going to buy it. If I would buy the books up front instead of paying late fees on them first, that would probably be....smarter. and cheaper.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Geek reading

Geek High and the sequel Geek Abroad (243 pages) by Piper Banks
Totally cute teen romances, should be read in order for max effect!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

not much reading lately

Death comes for the archbishop by Willa Cather 345 pages (although I read a Barnes and Noble ebook version on my phone).

Geek High by Piper Banks "You say nerd like it's a bad thing." 235 pages

Monday, April 19, 2010

unwritten rule

The unwritten rule by Elizabeth Scott

of course, if you don't just read a paperback teen romance, something everything that happens in the book isn't happy, but i took the risk on this one and it was worth it.

210 pages

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley

1 volume unpaged (probably about 100 pages)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Birthday roundup

It's that time again (hence the many fill-in posts today trying to get caught up) when I celebrate another year of reading (measured from the first birthday when I started this blog.)

In skimming through my past year of entries, I notice that I am more likely to abandon a book, especially an audiobook, if it isn't absolutely captivating me. Also, our library introduced late fees for the first time last October, which has been motivating to either finish or return unfinished my library books by the due date.

Many of the things I made time to read this year were favorite authors or quicky teen romances. I didn't branch out or do much risktaking with new authors or genres. I also watched almost no television this year, and I have to admit that I haven't missed that at all, although the craft/photo editing time that comes along with tv/movie watching is missed. Audiobooks while cleaning the kitchen are a safer bet for getting things done.

Earlier this week I realized that I am needing a reading technology that isn't quite integrated yet -- a perfectly/magically synced device that would let me read a paperback book and also a digital version on my backlit phone for night time and also an audiobook version for driving and chores time. I'm much too tired to handle three stories at once, but it is pretty much impossible and expensive to coordinate the same book in three formats like that (at least at this time).

So -- the totals for my 31st year as I turn 32 tomorrow...

Best I can tell from my apparently sketchy record keeping this past year,

69 books read/listened to
110.5 hours listened for audiobooks
16625 pages read

stupid marketing departments

The new Jennifer Crusie Bob Mayer book WILD RIDE -- I was so looking forward to it -- they have written two action adventure romances together and I enjoyed both of them a lot. Books often give away too much on the inside cover description, so without reading about the story, I got the book from the library's 14 day shelf, saw a roller coaster on the front (I love amusement parks as a fictional setting!) and dived right in.

The characters -- Mab, who is painting and restoring an old amusement park, and Ethan, who is a returning veteran with a bullet next to his heart and all of his military skills at the ready -- grabbed me right away and I was starting to really get into the amusement park setting

until page 21

when FREAKIN' DEMONS started talking to minor characters.

Here's the deal. If you are going to genre-hop, that is just fine and perfectly within your rights as a creative author of imaginative fiction. But don't pretend you are writing the same old stuff and trick your adventure-romance fans into buying your new demon filled crap-- just SAY SO ON THE FRONT OF THE DAMN BOOK.

The back cover copy is all quotes about cutesy action adventure witty dialogue romance attributed to the past two books these authors wrote together.
The front cover, there is a small black bird sitting on the roller coaster, otherwise has NO indication that this is a paranormal book. If I liked paranormal books (which, it might now be apparent that I do not, especially without fair warning) this book wouldn't appeal to me because the cover art doesn't look anything like all of the other paranormal books that are marketed to me these days.
I didn't read to page 22.
And I spent several days ranting to other librarians, my family, and pretty much everyone else, along with the innocent Jiffy Lube guy who was present when I got to the infamous page 21, about the horrors of tricky marketing cover art and the ill will that this bad choice of cover art is going to create for a lot of readers who are either upset they wasted money on a book they wouldn't have chosen otherwise, or will never know about this new paranormal book from hot popular authors.
Geez people.

I read only 21 pages

Food Rules

Another older one I forgot to post here.

As a child of the suburbs in the 1980's, I was raised on canned soup and canned vegetables, boxes of au gratin potatoes to be reconstituted in the oven, colorful cereals, bright orange macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, frozen dinners, soda and chips and almost anything that could be "cooked" in the microwave. And it was all delicious.
As a adult, I've accumulated over 30 years of information from food industry advertising, but very little food common sense. The news media seems to constantly be announcing some new miracle food or diet that can solve all the worlds health problems, and the health claims made on food packaging, coupons, commercials and advertised by the food industry's marketing departments are overwhelming but not very helpful.
Sometimes, what I really need to hear is a message more like this one:
"Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself."
"Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does."
"Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry."
Last year I read (and recommended here) Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto in which he recommended that we "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." His new book, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, is like a more useful and more memorable version of the scribbled notes I took while reading the last book. With 64 memorable food rules and a brief explanation of each, this small paperback book is a quick read with an important message.
The fresh broccoli, beets or bananas in the produce section may not flaunt their nutritional value with charts and shiny packaging, but as Michael Pollan would say (and he does in Rule #25) "Eat your colors" and those bright green, red and yellow fruits and vegetables suddenly look a lot more appealing!
112 pages

Food Rules

Another older one I forgot to post here.

As a child of the suburbs in the 1980's, I was raised on canned soup and canned vegetables, boxes of au gratin potatoes to be reconstituted in the oven, colorful cereals, bright orange macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, frozen dinners, soda and chips and almost anything that could be "cooked" in the microwave. And it was all delicious.
As a adult, I've accumulated over 30 years of information from food industry advertising, but very little food common sense. The news media seems to constantly be announcing some new miracle food or diet that can solve all the worlds health problems, and the health claims made on food packaging, coupons, commercials and advertised by the food industry's marketing departments are overwhelming but not very helpful.
Sometimes, what I really need to hear is a message more like this one:
"Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself."
"Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does."
"Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry."
Last year I read (and recommended here) Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto in which he recommended that we "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." His new book, Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, is like a more useful and more memorable version of the scribbled notes I took while reading the last book. With 64 memorable food rules and a brief explanation of each, this small paperback book is a quick read with an important message.
The fresh broccoli, beets or bananas in the produce section may not flaunt their nutritional value with charts and shiny packaging, but as Michael Pollan would say (and he does in Rule #25) "Eat your colors" and those bright green, red and yellow fruits and vegetables suddenly look a lot more appealing!
112 pages

Being Nikki

I listened to the audiobook - maybe I was too embarrassed that I am starting to enjoy this series to actually post about it. I didn't review it for the library either. But I would totally read the third book when it comes out. Is that wrong?
Being Nikki by Meg Cabot - sequel to Airhead. About a brain transplant by an evil megacorp....
8 hours.

Life's a Beach

Found another one I missed -- not sure I have the energy to actually compare my library reviews to my personal site but it is becoming clear to me that I have taken the library reviews a bit more seriously of late... oops.

I've been enjoying a summer beach read all week as our (hopefully LAST) winter snow melts and imagining warmer locales.
Claire Cook, author of the popular Must Love Dogs, is back to doing what she does best -- writing about 40-something women's lives, romances, friendships and families.
In Life's a Beach,Ginger Walsh is 41 years old and she still hasn't figured out what to do with her life. She lives above her parent's garage, although her mother is pressuring her father to sell the house and move to a retirement village instead. She makes sea glass jewelry, although she suspects that her cat has a better artistic eye that she does. She drives around and babysits her older sister's kids, although she has a standard daily rate since this is an important source of income for her. She has a boyfriend, a cute glassblowing artist, although their relationship is so casual it might as well be nonexistant.
When a shark is spotted off the coast of their New England town, a horror movie come to film beach scenes and Ginger's nephew is cast in the film as a shark attackvictim. Since her older sister is busy having a midlife crisis about turning 50 and is caught up in her addiction to working from her Blackberry, Ginger is suddenly spending every day on a movie set as her nephew's guardian.
In this funny and all-too-human story, Claire Cook captures the two sisters perfectly as they each struggle to find themselves and both wonder if they have wasted too much time already. My favorite character is Ginger's father though, especially his antics visiting the town dump and bringing home "treasures" when he is supposed to be clearing out the house for his wife! This is a delightful read, and the audiobook narration by Kymberly Dakin is enjoyable and appropriately light. 7 hours listening.

shades of grey

I read this in February but just realized I never posted about it here. -- This is my review from the library's website. 390 pages.

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
The problem I have with trying to tell someone about an awesome fantasy novel is that a large part of the charm and appeal of the book lies in the amazingly complex world which the author has created. It can be very tricky to describe that new world without giving away too much detail or citing a dozen examples. So, for simplicity’s sake, I will defer to an excerpt from the publishers blurb:
It’s our world, but not as we know it. Entire cities lie buried beneath overgrown fields and forests. Technology from other time peppers the landscape, and there is evidence of great upheaval.
As long as anyone can remember, society has been ruled by a Colortocracy. From the underground feedpipes that keep the municipal park green to the healing hues viewed to cure illness to a social hierarchy based upon one’s limited color perception, society is dominated by color. In this world, you are what you can see.
Eddie Russett is on the verge of adulthood. His upcoming color perception test that will determine his place in society, his value on the marriage market and his career prospects. Eddie is ready to unquestioningly take this place in society as a Red, but unfortunately, first he is sent to conduct a chair census as punishment for a prank.
When he travels with his father to a town on the Outer Fringes, where the Rules of society are less strictly enforced, Eddie begins to realize that all of the black and white truths of his world are actually a palate of shades of grey. With help from an aggressive and intimidating girl named Jane, with whom he immediately falls in love, Eddie learns that while curiosity and questions can be dangerous, the answers may be the most frightening thing of all.
Interesting side note: The library’s subject headings for this novel are Color blindness-Fiction, Dystopias, Fantasy fiction, and Love stories. Not a combination of subjects I would anticipate seeing in too many more novels. Ever. Jasper Fforde is a strong satirist and delightfully witty, especially as the readers recognize some of the historical references from the Previous times.
I’m really glad I don’t live in Jasper Fforde’s new fantasy world. But I thoroughly enjoyed visiting and I look forward to his next novel, which I hope will continue Eddie’s story.

Wedding season

Wedding Season by Katie Fforde

For a wedding planner, Sarah is awfully cynical. In fact, she doesn't even really believe in love and marriage -- but don't tell her clients that! After having her heart soundly broken, she has thrown herself into her business and all of her hard work is paying off. Weddings are complicated and Sarah works closely with her suppliers, her caterers, her florists, her dressmakers, her vicars at local churches, her photographers, her reception hall managers. With two years of planning and effort, Sarah organizes a huge society wedding for a very picky bride. An American actress decides she wants a similar wedding, with all the same features but in only two months!
Sarah quickly reassembles her successful team of Elsa and Bron, women who have become her friends and confidantes as well as her coworkers.
Elsa, the dressmaker, dresses in black to remain unnoticed, but after being pulled in as emergency maid of honor at the society wedding, she is beginning to come out of her shell a bit. The best man from the society wedding even asked for her phone number, although she doubts he will call.
Bron, the hairdresser, is a woman of many talents, although unfortunately none of them include sticking up for herself to her bossy and unsupportive boyfriend. Bron can do hair and makeup and even makes wedding cakes for friends, but will she have the gumption to live on her own for the first time?
Sarah couldn't be more stressed, especially when her pregnant younger sister schedules her own wedding on the same day as Sarah's first celebrity client. With so many details to keep track of, Sarah tries to keep her distance from Hugo, the handsome and charming photographer. They kissed at the last wedding they worked on together and the last thing she needs right now is a man to distract her.
It's the Wedding Season -- equal parts romantic, funny, poignant and appealing. Enjoy!
424 pages

Plus I read Taming of the Shrew for book group, a side by side edition and on the computer. I would put it at about 75 pages.


The new Connie Willis novel finally arrived. After I paid full price plus shipping for the hardcover, I quickly realized I was never going to have time to read an actual book, so I paid another $9.99 for the Amazon Kindle edition on my iPhone, which I read in about a week mostly in late-night baby holding sessions of furtive reading in the dark over her head....

So, the book. Is lovely. I missed the world of Oxford's time traveling historians. And this book had just enough early mentions of Mr. Dunworthy, Colin (who is all grown up at 16 now) and their adventures in the middle ages with Kivrin that everything quickly felt familiar. And then the new characters, as they went their separate ways into the past and then gradually their stories intersect within the London Blitz....
The plot devices of Connie Willis -- people remembering wrong information, worrying about things, near misses, coincidences, and time travel malfunctions -- are all tied together by her constant refrains -- in this book, it's everyday heros and every citizen being part of the war effort.
Everything was going along dramatically until the "to be continued" hit me out of nowhere.
Now I'm not-so-patiently waiting for the second part to be published in October...
491 pages

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Scarlett Fever

She lives in a small, unsuccessful and run-down hotel in New York City with her family. At fifteen, she lives in the shadow of all three of her siblings -- nineteen year old Spencer is an aspiring actor, seventeen year old Lola is beautiful and responsible, and her younger sister Marlene is hopelessly spoiled ever since her leukemia went into remission.

Maureen Johnson has created an enjoyable and memorable character in Scarlett Martin.
Continuing the adventures that began in Suite Scarlett, this novel follows Scarlett's relationship with Eric, her sort of ex-boyfriend, and her job as the assistant to Mrs. Amy Amberson, an eccentric theatre type. As school starts up again, Scarlett is given an assignment to spy on the angry yet attractive guy who is her new biology lab partner. And her brother lands a huge part in a television show that overnight makes him the most hated person in New York. Everyone in Scarlett's family is acting oddly lately Can Scarlett weather the change?

LOVED THIS BOOK. Have no patience waiting for next book that continues the story. this is why i only watch TV on DVD now. geez.
332 pages.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Travels with Charley

I read Steinbeck's Travels with Charley for book group today and I REALLY enjoyed it. I think this is one that I would like to reread again sometime in the future. Even though it is already 50 years old, it is a real thinker about Americans and people and also what the observer brings to the observations...
246 pages.

Also, last month I read Barack Obama's Dreams from my Father for book group and it was also quite good. 442 pages.

Possibly I read some things in between, but it has been a really busy month and nothing is coming to mind right now :)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Prom Crashers

I recently finished Prom Crashers(233 pages) and Drive Me Crazy(210 pages) both by Erin Downing
She is one of the better writers for the Simon Pulse teen romance line.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Generation A

This novel is set in a near future world much like our own, where bees have suddenly abandoned their hives and gone extinct and many plants must be hand pollinated to produce fruits and seeds. An apple is a luxury.
Without warning, five unconnected young people are each stung by a bee. What was each doing to attract such a miraculous occurence?
In the United States, Zack was creating perverse crop art in an combine in an Iowa cornfield.
In Canada, Diana, a dental hygienist with Tourette's, was being excommunicated from her conservative church.
In France, Julien was skipping school at the Sorbonne to play World of Warcraft continuously.
In New Zealand, Samantha was thinking about her parents and taking a photo of sandwich bread.
In Sri Lanka, Harj, a tsunami orphan, was talking to a reporter while working at an Abercrombie and Fitch call center.
In this age of cell phone photos and instant communication, the governments, military and scientist react quickly, isolating each of the five to study them, and then bringing them together to find commonalities. These five people are instant celebrities; the hope of the world is pinned on their ability to be stung by an insect believed to be extinct. Can they bring back the bees? Or does the French scientist have another agenda altogether?
Douglas Coupland's 1991 novel Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture helped popularize the term Generation X for the group of people born after the baby boom, who were young adults in the 1980s.
His new novel, Generation A, takes its title from a 1994 Kurt Vonnegut commencement speech, which is used as an epigraph before the story begins. This being Douglas Coupland, what starts as an intriguing concept gets even weirder when the five people are brought together, yet the social commentary and excellent, innovative writing style will keep you turning the pages even when you begin to doubt where the story is headed.
If you like reading and storytelling and computer technology and sexuality and pop culture, or you have ever read and enjoyed Douglas Coupland before, this book could be a good match for you.
I had to renew it twice but I read all 297 pages

Also recently read Love on Cue by Catherine Hapka - one of the better teen romances of late -- 274 pages.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Handmaid's Tale

I read The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood for book group this week. Notoriously, this is the book I read at about 14, and this is where I learned about sex -- from a speculative fiction dystopia about subjugation of women and government control of reproduction and sexual acts for an entire society. It was excellent as a reread, although my life is certainly different now, and I am uncomfortably similar to the narrator as well -- in height, in age, in proven fertility. My heart broke repeatedly while I read about her separation from her child. Interestingly, the book is being referenced in modern news stories this month -- from institutionalized child care in Canada to the current health care reform's handling of abortion rights. I figure so many people turned out for book group today because after reading this book you either need a discussion group or therapy to deal with the fears and emotions it raises.
311 pages.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

getting lucky

Getting Lucky (in cards, in life, and in love) by Micol Ostow 240 pages
Something Borrowed (like your best friends boyfriend as a wedding date) by Catherine Hapka 252 pages

Sunday, December 27, 2009

twenty boy summer

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

I thought this would be a cute romance novel and instead it was about a girl who gets her heart broken by her first secret boyfriend and boy next door who dies. Still good but A LOT more serious than I had been counting on. 290 pages.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

escape into fiction

A few audiobooks got me through my holiday baking extravaganza.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiel Hammett
from my facebook: "Noir is not my thing. I knew this.Listening to Maltese Falcon while baking Christmas cookies kind of balanced out in a surreal way. Cookies didn't make me sentimental and homesick; Sam spade et al didn't make me lose all faith in humanity. Now to read a romance novel before bed..." December 13 at 12:44am via Facebook for iPhone · I listened to it, 7 hours.

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
companion to Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, which I liked. 9.5 hours on audiobook by Kate Reading, who is always a delight!

from my facebook: "Read a book from start to finish under the covers and with my trusty booklight. Fabulous way to spend an evening quasi-alone! (kivrin is snuggled next to me) the book was "Busy Woman Seeks Wife" by annie sanders-- smart fun chick lit career girl romance, and British" Sat at 1:27am via Facebook for iPhone Only Friends
I also really liked this writing duo's first book Goodbye, Jimmy Choo from 2006, which I reviewed here
303 pages.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

teen romance fest

Party Games by Whitney Lyles 284 pages
South Beach Sizzle by Weyn and Gonzalez 250 pages
Dancing Queen by Erin Downing 245 pages

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

teen love

The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols 302 pages
In the Stars by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon 288 pages

Post nanowrimo I'm feeding my YA paperback romance addiction. But I have the new Jasper Fforde and the new Douglas Coupland, so I will be moving back to quirky grown up fiction soon!

Monday, November 30, 2009

nanowrimo stole my reading time!

As I have for the past 6 years, I wrote my 7th National Novel Writing Month book this November. The 6 week gap in updates is because working full time, raising a toddler who is a bad sleeper and trying to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days can zap even a dedicated reader's book time.

I did read Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man for book group mid-November, which was no small feat, both because it is a long novel, full of many diverse scenes and characters and because Ellison is a freakin' amazing writer and he had me feeling completely inadequate as I was trying to craft my own story. I took solace in the fact that he wrote his novel in 7 years and when I was reading it I was about 7 days into my own novel. If you don't have time to read this book, find a copy that includes his introduction, it is an AWESOME few pages about writing.
572 pages.

I also read/listened to the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book, which I bought as a self-contained app for the iPhone. It was a great recording by Simon Jones and also provided the text of the story as well.
And Another Thing by Eoin Colfer
275 pages

And in the 24 hours since I finished my Nanowrimo novel, I read 2 quickie teen romantic comedies in the car ride home from St. Louis. (Thank you spouse for driving and baby for sleeping!)

Major Crush by Jennifer Echols 287 pages
The first female drum major in the high school marching band has to share the job with a stuck-up guy she just happens to have a crush on. Either this book has some of the snappiest dialogue I have read in a while, or...I haven't read much in a while. But I really enjoyed the way the characters were portrayed using mainly their actions and dialogue and almost no background explanations or interior thinking.

Love, Hollywood Style by P.J. Ruditis 246 pages
A girl working as a page on the set of a Hollywood movie studio decides to try to all in love and have a perfect romance by making her life follow the formulaic plots of her favorite romantic comedy films. Nice movie references, but the writing couldn't compare to the book I had just put down.

And the main thing that I "read" all month was my Nanowrimo novel, which ended up as 108 pages (61615 words!!) with the standard formatting defaults in Microsoft Word.
Seeing Red by Lissa Staley :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Juliet, Naked

I read Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornvy when I should have been reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. It was quite the reading weekend (over a week ago now) and I am still trying to play catch up after all of that novel excitement!

Juliet, Naked was another great story from Hornby. Even though his books are about modern relationships and quirky characters and obessions, usually with music.

Juliet, Naked 406 pages
Wuthering Heights 357 pages