Monday, April 28, 2014

Top Ten Books If You Like My So-Called Life

Its time again for Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and The Bookish!

This week's theme is: Top Ten Books If You Like X TV show/movie/comic/play etc. (basically any sort of other entertainment)

I decided to do My So-Called Life. My So-Called Life was a short lived show that lived in cult classic infamy. I remember watching it as a kid when it first aired, but I was  10, so a lot of it was over my head. I watched it again as an adult and realized that Angela represented me in high school like none other. I had my own Jordan Catalano that idealized in my mind. I had my own Brian Krakow that was sweet and kind and I paid no attention. I also had my own desire to break out of who I was before and try something different, never fully feeling like I fit in. This show epitomized high school.

Anyhow, here is my list: 

1. Never Let Me Go: This book is all about a young girl and her relationship with her two best friends, who date in high school, despite the fact that she loves him. There is, however, a significant twist on the whole high school experience.

2. Perks of Being a Wallflower: Want to read a book about the difficulty of high school? This is a great one. Charlie's best friends, Sam and Patrick, are also EXTREMELY similar to Angela's best friends, Rayanne and Rickie.

3. Outsiders: Ponyboy is stuck in a life he's not thrilled with. At age 15, he wants a change. His experience is more like the opposite of Angela's (in that he is a bad boy who wants a normal life).

4. It's Kind of a Funny Story: Craig is struggling through high school. He feels like he is supposed to be one way but doesn't feel like he is good enough to meet expectations. His parents are loving and supportive, but he doesn't feel like they understand him. In many ways, he is similar to Angela.

5. Thirteen Reasons Why: Hannah has a bad high school experience, one she felt she couldn't cope with anymore. After killing herself, she sent tapes around to those she felt contributed to her decision. Her experiences, like Angela's, were definitely from the perspective of a teenage girl who idealizes how high school should be.

6. Paper Towns: Q has always been in love with the girl next door, but she has never really paid attention to him post-puberty. Then one night, she crawls through his window and everything changes. Q's high school experience of being the good boy matches Angela's, in that they both start lying to their parents, sneaking out, and "misbehaving" suddenly.

7. Sorta Like a Rock Star: Amber and Angela both enter a depressive state while in high school (although Amber's is a little more understandable). High school is a rough time for most.

8. Boy21: Finley has always tried to fit in a high school where he stands out. He works hard to be on the basketball team, despite lacking the natural talent. His basketball dreams end up dying, when a new boy with more natural talent shows up. But that's not the end of it.  Like Angela, Finely's high school role changes dramatically.

9. The Fault in Our Stars: Hazel Grace definitely has a more challenging school experience (cancer and all), but like Angela, she always tried to hide in the background.

10. Eleanor and Park: Park and Angela are a lot alike in that they don't really fit in in high school and don't feel like they are understood by their parents, despite their parents trying.

Making Up For Monday: Series or Not

It's time for Making Up For Monday!

This week's question: Are you a big series reader? If so, what's your favorite?

I am not a huge fan of reading series.  I like to jump around too much in what I read and have a lot of variety.  Plus, I often like one book and then am disappointed with many of the others, which kind of ruins the concept for me.  But, I have read quite a few series.  I find them hard to avoid when you read a lot because they are everywhere.

My favorite series so far has been The Cemetery of Forgotten book trilogy by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

The first book was AMAZING!  I wasn't thrilled with the second, but miraculously, the third book made the second book better.  How does that even happen?  Brilliance, that's how!

Check out more from Making Up For Monday!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who Moved My Cheese: 3 Stars

Who Moved My Cheese? By Dr. Spencer Johnson

When I was in college, by professor had an obsessive with Kenneth Blanchard (The One Minute Manager). I have seen this book all over and finally decided to read it.

Who Moved My Cheese? is a book for anyone on the work field (or really anyone at all) and deals with how you cope with change. Using the analogy of mice in a maze, Johnson shows different reactions to cheese that has moved from it's usual spot. The basic concept is "Don't whine about it, change your attitude."

This is a fairly common principle and therefore was not really thought provoking or thought changing. My dad always said when we were kids "Does whining about it change it?  No. So stop whining and do something about it."  I have a feeling my dad wasn't the only one who said this to his kids, so I don't think I am the only one who was not changed by the book.  What I do like is the ease with which the concept is relayed and the motivation it employs.  We have all worked those jobs that go through big changes and everyone gets worried/angry/frustrated/bitchy. I feel like this book would be a good reminder of the "whining gets you nowhere" concept for those hard times.

Rating: G

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Farewell, My Subaru: 2 Stars

Farewell, My Subaru by Doug Fine 

I saw this book at the library and couldn't resist. The book is about a man who trades in his Subaru and way of life for a more self sufficient lifestyle and a truck that runs of grease. I, myself, own and love my Subaru and have passing interest in becoming more self sufficient (like riding my bike more, raising chickens, and growing fresh fruits and veggies).

I really, really liked the concept for this book and think the journey this guy went through was incredible.  Sadly, I thought he was a pretentious, judgmental jerk. He drove me crazy with his harsh judgements of those around him (including very nice people who do nothing but help him). I also roll my eyes at the idea that he just wanted to reduce his carbon footprint when the book starts out with "after my girlfriend dumped me".  Yep, that's what I thought. You were dumped. What is it with people getting dumped and then deciding society isn't worthy of them anymore and that they, in their infinite wisdom, will show the world how it is done?  I am all for reducing carbon footprints, being self sufficeint, and preserving the enviroment, but please get off your high horse.

Rant over.

Rating: PG

Monday, April 21, 2014

Top Ten Characters Who I'd Never Trade Places With

It's time for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and The Bookish! 

This week's theme is: Top Ten Characters Who X (you fill in the blank -- examples: piss me off, are the popular kids, are bookish, would be my bff, that stole my heart, etc. etc.)

I decided to go with characters I would NEVER want to trade places.  Here we go!

1. Nick Dunne in Gone Girl: Everyone thinks you killed your wife. You don't exactly look innocent. What could have happened to make everything turn out so messed up?

2. Jasper Dent in I Hunt Killers: Talk about childhood issue, try being raised by a serial killer.

 3. Alan Christophersen in The Walk: He loses everything in a matter of weeks.  Everything.

4. Amber Appleton in Sorta Like A Rock Star: As if being homeless isn't enough, Amber's life take a turn for the worst.

5. Clay Jensen in Thirteen Reasons Why: After the girl he has always had a crush on commits suicide, a box of tapes arrives on his home with her voice, telling him and others the 13 reasons why she killed herself.  He goes on an emotionally killer tour of the town he is raised in to find out his role in the death.  I think it was undeserving on his part and think it was mean and selfish for her to have done that to him.

6. Yossarian in Catch 22: All he wants is to go home, but there's a catch.

7. Mary Crane in Psycho: All Mary wanted to do was marry her boyfriend. But with the debt he inherited from his father, that doesn't look like a possibility anytime soon. So she does the unthinkable and robs her boss.  Fleeing, she ends up lost and stays the night in the worst possible place.

8. Oliver Twist in Oliver Twist: Trying to survive on the streets of London, alone and young.

9. Mark Sway in The Client: Trying to save a life, Mark learns the location of a body that the mob is trying to hide.  With the FBI wanting to know the location, and the mob threatening to kill him, Mark is an 111-year-old boy with a very big problem.

10. Hazel Lancaster in The Fault in Our Stars: As if having cancer isn't bad enough, how about a boyfriend who also has cancer?


Making Up For Monday: Decisions, Decisions

It's time for Making Up For Monday!

This week's question: How do you decide what to read next?

This is an interesting decision. First, I try to read books that people personally recommended to me first, ESPECIALLY if they lend me a copy.  After that, I try to read books that have been sent to me by publisher's agents, and authors. Then I, of course, try to read the book for my book club. My next source is my two reading lists: Classics Club and Pulitzer Prize Winners. Next, I try to read something that relates to the teenage girls I work with at my church (this is usually the Percy Jackson series). And then finally, I read something that sounds good to me (this is a fun read and usually something a little lighter). 

Now that I write it all out, no wonder it takes me FOREVER to read a book on my TBR list!  My goodness, this list is getting extensive!

What about you?  What consumes your lists?

Check out more from Making Up For Monday!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Good Luck of Right Now

The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

Sigh....I wanted to like this book far more than I did. I LOVED Silver Linings Playbook and ever since have soaked up Matthew Quick's books. However, none have come close to being as good as the first  ever read.  Don't get me wrong, The Good Luck of Right Now is not a bad book by any means. It's just not up to par with my high expectations.

Bartholomew Neil clearly suffers from some sort of mental disability and has lived at home with his mother his entire life. Towards the end of her life, as brain cancer started to take over, she would ask him to pretend to be Richard Gere, her favorite actor, and often referred to him as Richard. By the time she past away, the only person that Bartholomew felt connected to anymore was Richard Gere. So he did the only thing he could think of; he wrote to Richard Gere.

Through his letters to Richard Gere, we go on a journey of self discovery with Bartholomew.  He finds friends, leaves the city he's spend his whole life in, and finally meets his father. The process is a lot for Bartholomew, but he always has his good friend Richard Gere to fall back on (even though Richard Gere never writes back).

The story and characters are engaging and sweet.  I found the plot line far too predictable. Because of that, I got bored about halfway through.  But I powered through and did enjoy the ending.

Rating: R

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Killing Floor: 3 Stars

The Killing Floor by Lee Child

This is the first in the Jack Reacher series. I must admit, my first introduction to Jack Reacher was Tom Cruise and well...that killed any interest I had in the books.  But my dad swore up and down the books were better so I read one. I was pleasantly surprised at how Jack Reacher was NOTHING like Tom Cruises' portrayal (thank goodness) and thought I'd try the first book.

Jack Reacher steps off a bus in a small town and is immediately arrested for murder, even though he had never been to this town before.  It doesn't take him long to realize that something much bigger is going on here and he's the one man who has the skill and ability to figure it out.

This was a fun read. It's a little cookie-cutter for me and I am guessing all the Jack Reacher novels fit into some kind of mold.  However, it was an enjoyable read that keeps you guessing until the end.

Rating: PG-13

Monday, April 14, 2014

Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books) That I'd Like To Own

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

This week's question: Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books) That I'd Like To Own (new bookshelves, bookends, cool bookmark, a bookish shirt, etc. You can add things you DO own if you want).

1. I want the beast's library from Beauty and the Beast.  Seriously.
2. I want my attic to have this triangle bookshelf.  It's just so cool looking.  First, I need an attic I guess.  Ha ha ha!
3.I would love a gigantic cozy chair/loveseat like this in a reading room.  It makes reading see so wonderful.
4. I want a moving ladder on my bookshelves so bad!
5. Someday I will do this on the stairs in my know...when I have a basement.

6. Yep...I want to own my own bookstore.  That would be so AWESOME!

7. A book....light.  How cool is that?

8.I want really cool bookends, not necessarily these ones.  I just want really cool bookends.

9. I would like to lend my books out like an actual library.

10. My sister got this for Christmas and I am super jealous. 


Making Up For Monday: Too Many Books

It's time for Making Up For Monday!

Today's question is: How many books do you read at a time?

This is one of my biggest problems. I always want to be reading to one book and listening to another book, meaning at most I am working on two books at a time.  Sadly, I get caught up in new releases and find myself reading three, four, or sometimes five books at a time. Then I get confused with some books and sometimes I have to start books over again because they fell to the bottom of my "currently reading" pile for too long.  There are even a few, sadly, that get half-read and never touched again.  I pick the book up years later thinking "How did this one end?" and then I see my bookmark....still marking the last page I read, halfway through the book.  Whoops!

Check out more from Making Up For Monday!     

PS: Sorry this is late today...I had some issues with the link-up tool and it took me WAY too long to figure it out. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Visit From the Goon Squad: 4 Stars

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Have you ever seen the movie Love Actually or He's Just Not That Into You?  You know how there isn't really a full fledged main character but actually a bunch of different plot lines with loosely connected characters?  That's kind of how A Visit From The Goon Squad is organized. While Bennie could be considered the main character, the story actually is about several different people connected to Bennie and what happens to this lot over time.

Each of these characters at one point in their lives is living happy, reckless lives, but the past always catches up with you. The story is told with paths criss-crossing and time bouncing back and forth.

Initially I wasn't really interested in the book, but heard there was a chapter in PowerPoint. Seriously, how can you not be curious how a book has a chapter in PowerPoint format?  (It was actually done very well).

I liked this book far more than I expected to like it. While it definitely glamorized the rich and famous world of record producers and puck rock stars, the story didn't hide the downfall that often comes with it. Beautifully written and very well executed.

Rating: R

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Double Dexter (Dexter #6): 4 Stars

Double Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Dexter Morgan has found himself a pedophile clown to kill.  He takes him to an abandoned house and begins his process when the unspeakable happens.  Dexter is seen by someone. But who?  And can they possible know who he is?  Could they really tell what he was doing?  The answer to all of this is yes. But the person who saw him doesn't plan to go the police.  No, this person want to start killing as well, and wants one of his victims to be Dexter.

Dexter leads an interesting life filled with lots of distractions.  He is married and has a young daughter.  He has two step-kids who wants to become serial killers too (even though their mother knows none of this). The tongue-less, foot-less Doakes knows Dexter isn't normal and is always trying to discover his secret.  His adoptive sister is a cop who also knows his secret.  His blood brother is also a serial killer but without the ethical code that Dexter has.  It makes for an interesting tale.

This is definitely one of the better ones in the series. It is also read by the author who does a MUCH better job then the previous reader.  I really enjoyed this one and found myself once again cheering for the serial killer Dexter Morgan. 

Rating: R

Monday, April 7, 2014

Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read

It's time again for Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's theme: Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read (maybe the MC was really different, maybe it was the way it was written, a very unique spin on a genre or topic, etc.)

So, here we go:

1. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien:  This book is well known and often mimicked and imitated through other writers.  BUT, I don't think most of them come close to creating a whole new world quite like Tolkien.  This isn't just a book he wrote; this is a world he created.

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: This book is so unique in it's approach at a ethically challenged world and the lives of those who never had a chance at normalcy.

3.  Animal Farm by George Orwell: Orwell never hid the fact that he was against totalitarianism.  What he did do was sugar coat it with farm animals.  It's like a kids book for adults.  I love it!

4. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller: I think if anyone has read this book, they will likely have it on their list.  The book jumps around through time and narrator. It involves a large amount of sarcasm and humor. It's just so...weird!

5. Its Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini: I have never read any other book that takes place in the psych ward of a hospital, especially with such a relatable main character.

6. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: The narrator through most of this novel is a tape-recording.  Its very unique and interesting.

7. Bonk by Mary Roach: A non-fiction book about the science of unique!

8. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: This book jumps around in time and jumps from character to character.  Also, there is a chapter written in PowerPoint.  If that's not unique, then I don't know what is unique.

9. Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett: This is a book based on a side character in a classic.  That's pretty dang unique!

10.  Z: A novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler: This is a novel based on letters and other facts about a real person. It's very entertaining and interesting.