Friday, January 31, 2014

Blogger Hop: Book Orders

Hosted by: Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer

When you receive new books in the mail, do the older ones get moved to the bottom of your list or do go strictly "by the book" and keep your list with older books first and then the new ones? 

Oh man, I have no rational explanation for my book order, it just depends.  Often times, the new book wins in what I read next, but only if it arrives AFTER I JUST finished a book.  If I still have a ways to go in the new book, the choice of the next book can range from what someone recommended to me, what is the oldest, or what I feel like reading at that time.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer: 4 Stars

Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

What a fun read! As you can tell, I am a huge fan of John Grisham.  So I thought reading his kid series would be fun.

Theordore Boone's parents are both attorneys and very open with Theodore about the law.  Because of this, Theodore is rather educated for a 13-year-old.  Theodore helps his friends out with free legal advice. He spends most of his time in the courthouse, trying to find ways to skip schll to watch trials.

Theodore's small town has a scandal on their hands.  A rich woman is murdered and her husband is on trial.  But there is no physical evidence.  Theo suspects that he'll be found innocent due to the lack of evidence.  But then Theo meets a kid at his school with a big secret that could change the outcome of the trial for good.

This is a cute story that does a great job of describing the legal process on a simple level.  The story isn;'t over the top outrageous and it's actually quite believable. It would be a fun read for a young kid and kind of educational to boot.

Theo reminds me of an old childhood favorite, Encyclopedia Brown.  :)




Rating: PG

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Pulitzer Prize Winners Challenge: To Begin

Before I begin my journey of reading all of the Pulitzer Prize winners for Fiction, I thought I'd summarize my opinion on the ones I have already read. There happen to be only two, and they could not have been more different experiences for me.

1. To Kill A Mockingbird

 


To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. I read this book as a freshman in high school...and have read it about seven times since.  I loved the book.  I immediately felt a connection with Scout, who is a know-it-all, stubborn little tom-boy. I also adored Atticus Finch.  Seriously, I think he is an amazing man of great integrity.  He was a wonderful example for his two little children.  Then of course they throw in the addition of the mysterious neighbor that everyone talks about but no one sees. This book had me hooked from beginning to end. In fact, it always has me hooked every time I read it. I LOVED this book!


2. The Old Man and The Sea


The Old Man and the Sea was a different story.  I read this one as a sophomore in high school. I struggled to get through this one. I remember sitting down and focusing on reading the book, and then the next thing I know I am waking up.  The book LITERALLY put me to sleep EVERY time I tried to read it.  Ugh!  It was so boring!  And then I hit the end.  Oh man.  You know that scene in Silver Linings Playbook (the movie) where Bradley Cooper is reading Hemingway and he get to the end?  Yep...that was exactly how I felt!




Monday, January 27, 2014

Top Ten Characters I'd NEVER Want To Trade Places With

It's time again for The Broke and The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday!

This week's theme: Top Ten Characters I'd NEVER Want To Trade Places With

1. Kathy in Never Let Me Go: Considering Kathy grows up knowing she'll never get to live her own life and that she will die at a very young age, yeah....no thanks!


2. Mo in Inkheart: Mo loves books but has the unfortunate ability to read people and creatures in and out of books.  As cool as that sounds, it brings nothing but trouble.


3. Hazel in The Fault of Our Stars: Cancer.  'Nuff said!


4. Zelda Fitzgerald in Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald:  This is a historically accurate fiction book.  And frankly, I feel bad for her.  Her husband in an alcoholic in a time when this is not recognized as a problem and she is schizophrenic during a time when this is "cured" with electroshock therapy.  Zelda met the love of her life, but both were just too troubled to make it work.  So sad!



5. Yossiarian in Catch 22: Yossiarian wants out.  But in order to get out of the war, he needs to fly a certain number of missions.  The problem is that number keeps going up every time he get close.  He is stuck.


6. Alice's parents in The Lovely Bones: Their daughter is murdered and they know their neighbor did it but can't prove it.  How awful is that?



7. Mina Harker in Dracula: Mina is slowly being turned into a vampire and doesn't know it.  She's strong and brave, but she doesn't even know what's going on.  Poor Mina.

 
8. Julián Carax in The Shadow of the Wind: Read the book and then you'll understand just how sad his life is comparatively.


9. Edmond Dontes in The Count of Monte Cristo: Getting ready to marry the love of his life and now the captain of his own ship, when he's arrested for a crime he doesn't fully understand. He's locked away and forgotten.  Its a rough life.


10. Billy in Where the Red Fern Grows: His dogs die.  I hate that! 



Making Up For Monday: Movie Cast

It's Time for Making Up For Monday!

Question: Good news!  Your favorite book is going to be turned into a movie and you get to chose the cast!  Who do you choose?

I decided to go with Calico Joe by John Grisham, because I loved it so much and I love baseball.

As Calico Joe Castle, the all-American, super star, humble and sweet, rookie baseball player, I chose:  Chris Hemsworth.  He's incredibly attractive, has a sports build, and he can play the sweet, humble character well.
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As for the narrator, Paul Tracey, we would need both a kid and an adult. For the adult, I chose Neil Patrick Harris.  I love to see him out of the Barney Stinson character (although I like Barney).  He pulls off the sweet guy who wants to do the right thing.
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As for the child version, I chose Max Page.

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You may know him better as mini Darth Vader.  :)




For Paul's father, Warren Tracey, I chose Ashton Kutcher. He can pull off the douche character pretty well. 

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They would have to use make up to age both Hemsworth and Kutcher, but I think that's better than finding older actors to play them and trying to find the best look alikes. 

So, what would you do with your favorite book?



Check out more from Making Up For Monday!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

GUEST POST: The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: 4 Stars

 This is a book review by my older sister Danylle.  Enjoy! 

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival by Louise Murphy

I happen to be a fan of historical fiction books set in Europe during WWII. I find that time period to be sadly haunting and the types of stories told are very interesting to me. I also happen to like reworked versions of fairy tales, so this one was really up my alley. 

"Hansel" and "Gretel" are two Jewish children on the run in Poland with their father and step-mother.  They have Nazis hot on their tail, so to give the children a chance, the father and step-mother drop them off in the woods, give them new, non-Jewish names (Hansel and Gretel) and tell them to run.  Walking through the woods, Hansel drop bread crumbs because his step-mother has a nose for any food, even crumbs, and he hopes she will be able to follow the trail.  Walking through the forest, they come upon the cottage of "the witch" Magda, who is of gypsy descent.  The children form a bond with Magda as she takes it upon herself to keep the children safe.

The story follows the children with Magda and her family as they try to survive the Nazi occupation of Poland.  All of the elements found in the traditional story of Hansel and Gretel are woven through this story in unique ways.  Like many books set in WWII Europe, this is a story of horrible tragedy, but also of hope and rising above tough circumstances.

There are so many characters I loved in this story, Magda, her niece Nelka, the woodsman Telek.  There were also some I hated, while others surprised me by showing their redeeming qualities.  There were many heroic acts by several characters, most giving the ultimate sacrifice.  I thought Louise Murphy did a fantastic job of making the characters seem real.  

My disclaimer for the "R" rating.  There is some hard language and some sexual situations in this book that might make some people uncomfortable.  It was also a very "dark" book as you can imagine with some graphic imagery.

All in all I found it very interesting, compelling, and a great story. 
Rating: R

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dragon Rider: 3 Stars

Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

I decided to listen to this book because Brendan Fraser was the reader.  Have I mentioned my ridiculous crush on him? Well, let me tell you, I have a big ol' crush on that man.  He's just so adorable!  

As a reader, he is pretty entertaining. He makes sound effects and has a wide range of voices.  I can just imagine him reading to young kids. I bet they would be enthralled! 

Anyhow, in Dragon Rider, there are dragons (duh!) who hide in a certain part of the world, terrified of humans. But the humans keep getting closer. An older dragon recalls a wondrous place where the dragons could roam free called the Rim of Heaven. The problem is he doesn't actually know where it is.  Firedrake, a young dragon, and a Brownie named Sorrel volunteer to go find this magical place and save the dragons. 

As the journey sets out, Firedrake and Sorrel gain two companions: Ben, a human boy, and Twigleg, a homunculus. But Twigleg has a big secret. He is spying on them for Nettlebrand, a flightless, gold-covered, dragon-like creature who wants to kill all dragons. 

But the secrets only begin here.

This was another cute story from Funke. She has a creative mind and the ability to create wondrous imaginative worlds combined with our reality. Her characters are unique and relate-able. I can see why kids love this story. 

I had the same complaint for this book as I did for Inkheart and Inkspell: it was unnecessarily long. Funke focuses on a lot of details to create her world, but the attention to detail bores me. I could have done with less descriptions and more focuses on the plot.

Rating: PG

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Last Juror: 5 Stars


The Last Juror by John Grisham

The Last Juror takes place in the same fictional town as A Time To Kill and includes several of the same characters. It takes place before Jake Brigance's heroic rise to stardom. 

Willie Traynor, a 23-year-old college drop out, bought a bankrupt newspaper in the small town of Clanton, Mississippi. Not long after he purchased the paper, a horrific crime was committed.  A woman was raped and murdered and her two young children were witnesses.  The suspect is Danny Padgitt.

The Padgitt family is a powerful one in Clanton.  They are rich, but not because of anything legal.  They are violent and feared. Trying to find a jury that won't be bought or threatened takes careful and calculated efforts. Taynor is surprised when a friend of his, an elderly black woman, is called to the jury.

With bated breath, the town waited for the final decision. When Padgitt was pronounced guilty, he erupted and threatened to kill each member of the jury.  The town was on edge, but with a life sentence, most thought they were safe.  But, sadly, that "life sentence" ended eight years later, and members of that jury began to die. 

Unlike most of Grisham's fast paced legal thrillers, this book is a much slower pace, taking place over nine years, and is from the perspective of a journalist. The journalist deals with a number of different situations during the book, most of them helping him find out who he is as a person. He makes a few friends and a few enemies along the way. 

Like most of Grisham's novels, the character development was exceptional. You feel compassion for characters you like, annoyance with those you don't and even fear the ones who demand fear.  He does such a great job. I will always look forward to his novels. 

Rating: PG-13

Monday, January 20, 2014

Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist

This week's theme:  Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist (if you could make authors write about these things you would. Could be a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a time period, a certain plot, etc.)

1. The Autobiography of Ryan Ferguson:  Who is Ryan Ferguson you ask? Ryan Ferguson is a guy about my age who got a fake ID and went to a bar in high school on Halloween with his best friend. Sadly, a journalist was murdered next door and the murder was unsolved for years.  After two years, his best friend went to the police saying he dreamt about the murder.  After guiding him through the murder (and correcting every detail he got wrong), the police had convinced him that he and his friend Ryan had committed the murder.  With no physical evidence AT ALL and only the testimony of a clearly delusional young man, Ryan was convicted of the murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison.  After nine long years, he was finally released this last November.  I would LOVE to hear how he dealt with prison and being wrongfully accused by his former best friend.  I realize he probably wants to be left alone to adjust to life in the world, but I would still be interested.



2. Anything John Grisham: I am a HUGE fan of John Grisham.  I love his ability to create such in depth characters. His stories keep me reading even late into the night.  I always look forward to his next book.



3. Characters with mental disorders portrayed in a positive light: There have been a few of these that I have read over the last little while (It's Kind of a Funny Story and Silver Lining's Playbook) but its one I would love to see more on.


4. Characters with strong relationships with their dogs:Its no secret I love my dog.  She's my constant companion during the day and follows me around like...well like a puppy dog. I LOVE when characters have strong relationships with dogs.  I immediately have a strong connection with them.


5. Characters that DON'T cheat: Ugh, I hate it when characters cheat on their significant others!  Its annoying and just gross.


6. Sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird: Ok, so I don't think I would actually want this, but we are talking "In a perfect world" where the sequel would be as wonderful as the original. Since To Kill A Mockingbird is my all time favorite book, I often wonder what happened to Scout when she grew up.  Did she stay good friends with Dill? Did she ever see Boo Radley again?


7. A Raymond Reddington-type character: Has anyone seen The Blacklist? I LOVE that show! Its so good!  And I love Reddington's character.  Is he evil or good? Does he care or are you an ends to a means?  Is he greedy or is there something else driving him to a life of crime? His character is such a mystery, yet I like him. Its brilliant.



8. A new book boyfriend: Who doesn't love a good book boyfriend?  I need a new one.  It's been awhile.


9. A new favorite: I love running across a new book that I can't stop talking about or thinking about. 


10. A book that changes how I view the world: These books are few and far between, but every one in awhile I come across a book that affects me to my core. 

Making Up For Monday: Character Fun

Its time for Making Up For Monday!

Question: If you could be any character in any book, who would be and what would you do as them in their book?

I chose a childhood favorite.  I would be Charlie Buckets! Seriously, who doesn't want a chocolate factory? What would I do as Charlie?  Play in the chocolate factory of course! Willy Wonka's chocolate factory sounds like it would be fun to discover for YEARS. Charlie Buckets is one lucky kid.




Check out more from Making Up For Monday!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Their Eyes Were Watching God: 4 Stars

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

I work with a few teenagers in my community. One of them is in an advanced English class in high school.  One of her assignments was to pick a classic book from a list and chose an adult to read it with, and then email back and forth with about the book.  She asked me to help her with the assignment and chose Their Eyes Were Watching God, which I had never read before. 

Here is a lot of what we discussed, so there are a lot of SPOILERS!!!!!

The story is about an African American woman named Janie living in Florida not long after the slaves were freed in America. Janie was raised by her grandmother, who was a slave, but Janie never was. She married one man per her mother's suggestion, but never loved him and eventually ran off with another. That man treated her poorly and she eventually ended up with another man. 

It took me three tries to get started.  The dialect the language is written in is hard to understand until you get used to it.  Even then, you may need to reread certain parts a few times to grasp it. I think the author wanted to give a more accurate representation of the time and atmosphere of the community Janie lived in. Janie was married to a "safe and secure" man who would keep her in a home and fed.  But Janie never loved him, and even more, he never loved or respected Janie. I think the reason her grandmother wanted her to marry the man so much has to do with how her grandmother was raised. She was a slave.  She was in someone else's control and was considered inferior (by others as well as herself). She lived in fear (I am assuming this since she ran for her life after having her master's child). Safety and security were so elusive in her life, that she wants that more than anything for her granddaughter. But Janie grew up very differently.

Janie grew up free. She didn't even realize that she was a different color until she was a bit older. While blacks were still not accepted, they were no longer slaves.  They were free and Janie never knew the slave life. On top of that, Janie was a very light-skinned black person. While whites didn't accepted her, she was considered to be a superior black (both in and out of black communities) because of this. Because of the difference in how they were raised, I think Janie had a very different priority when it came to her life. Safety and security, while important, were not the most important. I think that's why she ran away with Jody (by the way, Janie and Jody are so similar it would occasionally confuse me in the book). Janie saw happiness and love with Jody.  But she was wrong. Jody didn't love her the way she wanted to be loved either. I kind of think he loved her because she was whiter than others. And back than, that was power. And power was what Jody really loved. 

Teacake (yep, definitely an odd name) on the other hand likes Janie for who she is as a person.  He loves just talking to Janie. To others, Teacake is a poor man who is a few social classes below Janie who must be after her money. But Janie knows that isn't true. Teacake just loves her and wants to be with her all the time. And she loves him too.  She loves him so much, she would rather be out working beside him, then home alone. Money, status, and power don't seem to matter as much in their relationship. Janie changed with Teacake. I think she let herself be free.  She learns things she is interested in and speaks her mind, without fear. I think they have a pretty incredible relationship.

I also think Janie has learned to stop being so concerned with what others think. She has let it influence so many of her decisions.  She let it keep her silent when she was married to Jody even. She wasn't happy when she was doing what she thought she was supposed to do in the eyes of everyone else. And now, with Teacake, everyone does not agree with her but she's actually happy. It reminds me of a bit of Janie when she was a child. Her grandmother talks about how Janie ran around, free with the kids she was raised with who were white.  She didn't have this image of who she was supposed to be, she was just herself.  Then she saw that picture of her and realized she was black.  Soon, she was prey to all the social expectations of that. She started living the life she thought she was supposed to live based on the social structure around her.  I think it took Teacake to take her back to that kid who just wanted to be herself. 

I think the way Teacake died showed how far Janie had come in finding herself. In the beginning, she married the man her grandmother wanted. Then she ran away with Jody and was silent and kept her hair up.  But with Teacake she grew.  She stopped caring about what everyone else thought and decided to make herself happy.  So in the end, rather than sacrificing her life for Teacake, she saved herself and killed the love of her life (who was going to die anyway). She finally knew who she was and valued herself and her life.

My book had a message at the beginning about the book and the author. Her book was not well known at all. When it was written, she received a lot of criticism for the was she represented the Civil Rights movement. Like many great writers, her work was relatively unknown until after her death. But I think the reason that her work was "looked down on" was that she viewed the Civil Rights movement as a chance for African-Americans to be able to focus on finding themselves and true happiness, rather than changing the world.  She saw it as a chance to live a fuller life, just for themselves. Janie's story didn't talk about her standing up to whites and changing they way they saw and treated her.  In fact, there were very few whites in the story.  Janie's journey was all about changing the way she saw herself.

I went back and reread the first chapter after I was done with the book (because I didn't understand it the first time).  The very first line talks about ships out on the horizon. The end of the book, it talks about Janie pulling in her own horizon.  I thought it was interesting that the book started talking about external objects in the distance (the ships) and in the end, Janie pulls in her own horizon.  She stopped worrying about the world around her because she was happy with herself.

I noticed that the title of the book was quote during the most chaotic point of the book during the hurricane.  It was almost like they realized that the couldn't control the chaos of the world and that their would always be something. But that doesn't mean you.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Feature and Follow

I'm always looking for new blogs to follow and new followers (who isn't) so I am participating in Feature and Follow!

Feature and Follow is a blog hop hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The purpose is to meet new people and gain more followers in the book blogging community. 
The general rules are: 
- Follow the Feature and Follow Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read)
- Follow the Featured Bloggers
- Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts. 
-Grab the button up there and place it in a post. This post is for people to say hi and that they are now following you in your comments. 
-Follow, Follow, Follow as many as you can. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Don't just follow, comment and say hi in the post! Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say 'hi'
-If someone comments and says they are following you, please follow back! 
This weeks question:

Who is your blogger BFF? If you have one, tell us a little about him or her. 

People have blogger BFFs?!  I am still pretty new at this, so I guess I don't have any.  I really like following certain blogs.  My favorite lately is Words for Worms. She's super funny and I really like her style.   

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Packing for Mars: 4 Stars

   
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

I have a fondness for Mary Roach after meeting her at a book signing. My friend read and loved Stiff, a book about cadavers. She heard she was coming to town and I joined her for the reading. This was for Bonk, a book on the science of sex. I have since read and loved both books and found them not only interesting, but funny when people find them on my bookshelf. 

Packing For Mars was equally interesting and educational about the science of space. She does bring up both cadavers and sex in this book, clearly still interested in her past topics. This book showed so much more than I ever thought of when it comes to space. From body odor, weightlessness effects, to psychological responses, NASA must think of everything before sending people into space. This book, like her others, was very educational and again, Roach added her touch of humor. However, I will warn that Roach does not dance around the gross or "unmentionable". She is blunt and descriptive. But then again, that's why I love her! 

Rating: PG-13

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Games

Usually on Tuesday's I participate in The Broke and The Bookish's Top Ten Tuesday, but this week's theme is Top Ten 2014 Debuts I'm Excited For.  I have nothing. Most people look forward to 2014 books because they are part of a series they are reading and I am not much into series. So I decided to try something else.

The Classics Club: 


First, The Classics Club posted a January meme question.  It is: Which character from classic literature is most important or influential to you and why? Or which character do you most despise and why?

This is an easy one for me. I have one particular character I have always admired and respected.  Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird.  Seriously, that was a no-brainer for me.



Atticus is an upstanding lawyer is a small town in the south during the Great Depression.  He's a single father of two young children. He has a lot of social pressure on him because his family has an upstanding reputation in the community.  But Atticus has something stronger than that: integrity.

Atticus stands up for people he feels need it, but without making a show of it.  Not only does he defend Tom Robinson, an African-American man accused of raping a white girl (even though everyone knows it's not true, but...she's white and he's black). He also defends people like Boo Radley.  Boo Radley clearly has psychological problems and Atticus knows he's just a guy struggling with what normal people don't even think about. He doesn't make a show of it, he just protects him.

He does all of this while raising two kids almost on his own (he has the help of his made Calpernia who he knows he needs). He's a pretty amazing guy.  There's a line in the book that really gets me every time: "Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing." It just encompasses how I feel about him.  You stand up when he passes. You recognize that he's a man of unwavering integrity.

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros:   

I also thought I'd try participating in "First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros" hosted by Bibliophile By the Sea. Basically, you post the first paragraph of the first chapter of a book you are reading or want to read.



I chose The Princess Bride, which is currently sitting on my nightstand (under two other books I am currently reading). Here's the first paragraph:

"This is my favorite book in the world, though I have never read it."

Isn't that hilarious?  It's almost true for me!  I have seen the movie 100 times and love it.  But I have never read the book.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Making Up For Monday: Memories





Time for Making Up For Monday!

Question: What was the first book you remember reading or being read to you?

For me, this is definitely Spooky Old Tree.  My Dad used to read it to me when I was a kid, as well as the rest of siblings.  In fact, my siblings and I can recite it word for word.  We get this book for nearly everyone we know who is having a baby.  It's a fantastic book.



As far as reading a book on my own, I remember the Goosebump series more than any other books. The book that stick out in my mind is The Night of the Living Dummy.  Man, I loved these books.



Check out more from Making Up For Monday!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Never Let Me Go: 5 Stars


Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

You know at the beginning that there is something unusual with Kathy and the donors she cares for. It doesn't take long for you to realize that their entire purpose is to donate organs to others.  They are copies, clones. Raised as children in different schools, life was almost normal for them, minus the fact that they would never grow old. 

Ishiguro explores a world with a character who lives a life she knows will end shortly. Kathy and her best friend, Ruth, grow up in the typical way.  They gossip and tease boys and even start dating. But all of this is done with an air of unimportance. What do you do when you know you can never grow up to become anything? What if you fall in love?  Does it matter?

I am not a fan of the dystopian type books that seem to be all the craze. They are all so sad and depressing. But I found this book very interesting. The author focused more on the emotions of the characters and how they dealt with their lives.  He started out with them as children, and then moved into them as teenagers, and finally ended with them as adults.

You know it can never end happy. But its how the author conveyed their acceptance of this that made this book a must read for me.

Rating: PG-13

Saturday, January 11, 2014

True Grit: 4 Stars

 
True Grit by Charles Portis

I really enjoyed this book about a cocky, stubborn girl who's father was killed by a drunk and rather stupid criminal. As the eldest daughter, she takes it upon herself to track down the criminal herself with the aid of a marshal with "true grit", Rooster Cogburn, and reluctantly, a Walker Texas Ranger. She tries to hold her own in her own stubborn way in a world and environment she does not belong, never once letting that get in her way. The book is funny and a great read. 

I do have a complaint. I listened to it on CD and HATED the woman reading. She's was so noisy that it was distraction. I nearly shut it off several times as I felt her noises were too much to handle. I recommend reading this one and not listening to it.

Rating: PG 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's Kind of a Funny Story: 4 Stars

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

I first became interested in this book when my husband and I saw the movie not long after it came out. We have a terrible time agreeing on movies to see in the theater but this one had Zach Galifianakis, who he loves, so we decided to see it.

I loved it!  I knew immediately I wanted to read the book so I added it to my to-read list, but of course that's where it sat for years. But then my Secret Santa sent it to me the first week of December, and I decided I was going to read it in January. Unfortunately, the author, Ned Vizzini committed suicide just before Christmas. I was really saddened by his death and knew there was no more procrastinating, I needed to read it. So...I did.

The story revolves around 15-year-old Craig who lives in New York City and is very very depressed.  One day he decides to kill himself but decides to call the Suicide Hotline beforehand.  They direct him to the Emergency Room at the nearest hospital, which is just a couple blocks, and there he goes. Craig expects to talk to someone, get some pills and be on his way.  But when you tell a hospital you have a plan to kill yourself, you get admitted to the Psych Ward.  And Craig was stuck there for at least five days. This is the story of those five days.

I was drawn to this book for the same reason I was drawn to Silver Linings Playbook: mental disorders are a big part of my life. While my experience is not nearly as extreme as either book, these authors both hit the nail on the head in describing what it's like. Vizzini based this book almost entirely on his personal experience battling depression (a battle he sadly has lost) and his time in a mental ward.

I have battled depression most of my life. I have never been as extreme as Vizzini in that I never wanted to kill myself. But he is so accurate in things that I felt that this story just hit home.

While my depression started in the 4th grade, it didn't get bad until high school. Just like Craig, I struggled with high school in every way.  I struggled with classes, beating myself up if I didn't get perfect grades. I struggled socially, always feeling like an outcast who was faking her way through. I felt like a failure in life. Each day I struggled to wake up and the worse the day was, the less I ate. The worse I felt, the worse I acted and the more embarrassed I became about being a "freak".

Most people experience depression at some point in their lives. Whether it's clinical or situational, I think everyone can relate to the feeling. I also think that every kid struggles in high school. Its a hard time in most people's lives. This story helps people understand that it's ok to feel these things and it does not make you a "freak".

Societies view of mental disorders is coming a long way. While often times this is still how it is viewed:

 If Physical Diseases Were Perceived like Mental Ones:
If physical diseases were perceived like mental illness - See more at: http://justdwl.net/if-physical-diseases-were-perceived-like-mental-illness.html#sthash.HSSsX55r.dpuf
If physical diseases were perceived like mental illness - See more at: http://justdwl.net/if-physical-diseases-were-perceived-like-mental-illness.html#sthash.HSSsX55r.dpuf
Source

At least now we have more and more books and movies coming out that show it's not uncommon, it is real, and there is something you can do about it.

There is help out there.  There are people who understand.  You are not a freak.  You are not alone. 

Rating: PG:13


Monday, January 6, 2014

Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2014

Alright, time for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

This week's theme:  Top Ten Goals/Resolutions For 2014 (bookish, not bookish or a blend)

Since I wrote about my bookish goals in my last post, this one will be non-bookish. 

Here we go:

1. Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water a day: I know, I know!  I should have already been doing this!  But I really don't like water. Like, seriously, I don't like it! Plus, whenever I tried this before, I spent a ridiculous amount of time needing to pee! This is really embarrassing when you are at work and you have to get up every hour to run to the bathroom, or you spend half a bus ride squirming in your chair. But now I work at home, so no one notices how much I use the bathroom and eventually I will get used to it and be able to go less often (sorry...that was definitely TMI!)  AND I started adding 1/4 of a lemon to each 16 oz bottle and I actually really like the lemon water.

2. Exercise 30-60 minutes, 6 times a week: I work from home, I get an hour lunch break, I have a Wii exercise program, free weights, and an elliptical.  I have no excuse not to be doing this.  I have been doing this since the day after Christmas and I feel great! I gotta keep it up!

3. Finish my book:  My goodness!  I want to be a writer.  How can I be a writer if I am not WRITING?  Time to suck it up and finish it.

4. Eat some fruits and veggies every day: Ok, I do eat lots of fruit and veggies, but not some of each every single day. Time to buckle down and make sure I do it!

This is definitely NOT fruits and veggies!

5. No new debt: I have been trying to pay my debt off for years, but life happens.  The most recent thing is that my car was stolen last year. Since it was a really old, crap car, insurance didn't cover a new car.  So I had to get a car loan if I wanted a new car (which I put off for five whole months because I really didn't want to).  But alas, I have a car loan now.  Paying that off by the end of this year would be really ambitious and I really don't think I can do it. So, my goal is just no new debt.  No using a credit card.  No new loans. No new debt!  I am starting off struggling this one because I had to get brand new tires on Friday, but I will do it!

This is my rent money...covered in flour.  I like to try and make my rent look like drug money because it's funny.


6. No dirty dishes when I go to bed: Since I have no dishwasher, either my husband or I have to do them by hand. Typically we do them every few days.  And then its a daunting task.  Its amazing home many dishes you use when you cook!  Rather then dread the growing heap of dishes, I want them done every day before bed.  This way there are only a few and it takes less time. This will also encourage me to do them while I am cooking.

7. Bathe my dog more often: I love my dog but she is terrified of water and baths.  This makes bathing her quite the task.  But she needs it.  So...alas...I must do it more often.

Not a happy little elf...ha ha ha ha
 8. Blog more often:  I actually want to start having a few of my sister's help me add more diversity to my blog so I want to add some of their reviews for books they read.  I have very strange taste in books, so adding in their reviews might make my blog more relate-able.

9. More dates with the hubby:  Life gets busy. Both my husband and I get very busy and are often not home the same nights. I also get so focused on saving money, that I think more about the negative financial aspects of a date, then the positive emotional aspects. No more!  We can either find cheap/free date ideas OR I can ignore my instincts and enjoy time with my adorable husband.

One of my favorite photos from our reception
 10. Save for a vacation: My husband and I have NEVER been on a vacation together.  We have been together for 5 years (dating plus marriage) and have never been on vacation together. This mostly has to do with the fact that right after we starting dating he was laid off and the right after we got married he was laid off again and then our car broke down and after $5000 of repairs, still never worked, so we got a new car, which was stolen and so we had to get another, plus we moved...blah blah blah. Needless to say, life happened and the idea of spending money on a vacation just was too much for me.  But this year I want to do something, even if it's just driving to Seattle (4 hours away) and spending the weekend. Maybe we can go see the Braves play the Mariners.  :)

My sisters and I for the last Seattle/Braves games...guess who we cheered for?

Making Up For Monday: Reading Goals

It's time for Making Up For Monday!

Question: What are your reading goals for the year?

My reading goals for the year are going to be fun.  In the next five years I need to read 50 classics, so i need to read at least ten of them this year. Here is the list

I am also working on the Pulitzer Prize Winners in the next two years.  That means at least 31 of them this year.  Who hoo! Here's that list.

On top of those challenges....I want to read 125 books!  Considering I read 112 last year, I will need to pick up a little speed this year. Here we go!



Check out more from Making Up For Monday!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

In Cold Blood: 3 Stars

 
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

I never had much interest in Truman Capote’s book, mostly because I never knew anything about it. After reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (for the sixth time), I did some reading on the book. It turns out that Lee and Capote were very good friends growing up. In fact, Dill is based entirely on Capote. It is for this reason that I decided to read In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood is a true crime novel about the murder of a small town family, the Clutters, in 1959. My first question was why this was considered a classic. This book is a classic because it was the first real true crime novel. Capote invented a brand new genre with this novel. For that reason alone, I agree it’s a classic. I love true crime novels.

This book starts out by telling you what happened, who did it, why they did it, and the end result. Because of this, there was no mystery to the story. Instead, the story was more about the stories around the murders; the town’s reactions, the murders' perspectives, the trial, and the KBI agent out to find the truth.

I did enjoy the book and the way the story was told, but I feel like Capote was long winded at times and often went off on tangents that had little to do with the case and bored me. But I would recommend this book.

There is some recent controversy in the case. Capote always said that his book was entirely factual. Recent documents reveal that that might not be entirely true. The two biggest issues come with the KBI’s date of arrival at the crime scene and the KBI’s time of actions after finding out who the real killers were. While some contend that Capote flat out lied, the two men who supplied the information to Capote swore what Capote wrote was the truth, even on their death beds. If they are not true, I do not believe the fault is with Capote. The other controversy is much of the conversations. Capote wrote as if there, but clearly he recreated them based on interviews with various people. Capote can only write as well as people remember. As far as him exaggerating some details, this was common practice for newspaper reporters for the time. They did not have the fact checkers and risk of being sued we do now. For this as well, I do not fault Capote.


So I say, give it a go! Try In Cold Blood for yourself.  

Rating: PG-13