Monday, June 30, 2014

Top Ten Favorite Classic Books

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

This week's theme is:  Top Ten Favorite Classic Books 

This year I joined The Classics Club and have agreed to read 50 classics in the next five years. This means I have read quite a few of these this year alone!  Here's my favorites so far: 

1. To Kill A Mockingbird: This is my favorite book period.  Its just amazing.


2. Great Expectations: I recently read this and was quite impressed.  I really liked how the main character really wasn't the best person at all times. He needed to be corrected several times.

3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:  I love this book, although it's been over ten years since I read it.  I think a reread is in order.

4. Slaughterhouse Five:  This book is unique and hilarious.

5. A Christmas Carol: Such a fun book for a holiday season!

6. The Hobbit: This is my favorite fantasy book.

7. The Count of Monte Cristo: I would love to reread this someday but it's a huge undertaking.

8. Anne of Green Gables: This is a cute fun tale I can't wait to read to my daughters (when I have daughters).

9. Catch 22: This is another unique and hilarious book.

10. Something Wicked This Way Comes: This is a fun a eery tale.

Making Up For Monday: Can't Wait for the Ending

It's time for Making Up For Monday!

This week's question: Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I was talking to my sister one day about a book.  I asked if she was surprised by the ending and she said "Not really; I read the last page."  Apparently this is something she does with every book.  She reads the last page so she knows where the book is going. I thought it was absurd, but when I mentioned it to my book club, I discovered she was not alone.  Many people read ahead.  

I am not one of those people.  I don't want to know where the book is going.  I want to take the journey the author intended for me to take, in the correct order. 

What about you?  Do you read ahead?  If so, why? 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Rabbit at Rest: 1 Star

Rabbit at Rest by John Updike

Seeing as I hated Rabbit is Rich, many may wonder why I even bothered with Rabbit at Rest.  The answer is simple: it also won a Pulitzer Prize.  Why?  I have no idea. Just as I expected, I also hated this book.

Once again we join Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom in his life, this time as a man attempting to retire after a heart attack. His wife is unhappy and wants to work.  His son is married and now has two children (one he is fond of, the other he is not). But he and his wife are not exactly making Rabbit's life easy. Rabbit's life is coming to a close and he can't seem to find happiness. 

I wonder why Rabbit can't find happiness.  Oh wait, it might be because he's is a terrible human being. He's crass and disgusting.  He cheats on his wife multiple times (without any remorse) and only thinks about women in the sexual sense.  If they can't or won't pleasure him sexually, he has no use for them. He's greedy, uncaring, and disgusting.  I couldn't stand him in the slightest and was happy to know that this was the last book he would ever be in. He does things that are so disturbing, I can't even stand to repeat them.

I walk away form the is series and hope to never think about Rabbit again. 

Rating: R (or possibly X)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ten Book Cover Trends I Like/Dislike

It's time for Top Ten Tueday hoisted by The Broke and The Bookish!

This week's theme: Ten Book Cover Trends I Like/Dislike

I chose 5 I dislike and 5 I like.  Here we go:


1. Photos of real people:  I know this is a very popular thing with books, but I don't like it because I can no longer allow my imagination to create this person. I see the person before I have a chance to even crack open the book, and that person is all I will see. 

2. Almost kissing: It's really overdone.  I am just not a fan.

3. Eyes:  Eyes creep me out.  That is it.

4. Half faces: This is also very popular and it just drives me crazy.

5. Faceless chiseled abs:  I realize I may be the ONLY girl to feel this way, but I feel like it cheapens the whole book. I feel like they are trying to sell me on the picture, not the book.


1. Shadowy Figures: I love the mystery of a shadowy figure!

2. Abstract elements that become clear at some point during the book: I love that "ah-ha" moment when you realize why the cover is what it is.

3. Simplicity: I like it simple. 

4. Drawn art:  And I love drawn art.  I definitely would want to commission an artist when I write a book.

5. Black and white: There is something simple and elegant about a black and white cover.

Making Up For Monday: English Class

It's time for Making Up For Monday!

This week's question: If you were a high school English teacher, what five books would you put on your reading list?

I squeal  with glee on this topic because I would LOVE to teach English to high school students!  I feel like you can either make or break readers in high school. I would want the students to discover not only the joy of reading, but the variety.  So here are my choices:

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:  This book was in my high school curriculum and I fell in love. I love the characters and the depth of the situations that she covered. While the main story is about a trial, Atticus teaches his kids so much more through their interactions with neighbors and schoolmates. It's a wonderful tale and I would have it at the top of my list.

2. Animal Farm by George Orwell:  This story is far more entertaining than 1984, and let's face it, high school students need to be entertained. Besides, I think it's a great idea to show how Orwell took something serious, that he felt strongly about, and made a light, humorous tale about it, without losing the seriousness. Team this up with a history lesson of Lenin and Stalin and you could spend quite a lot of time on this.

3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: The tale of kid who thought he knew everything, only to learn that the world was filled with things he didn't understand and that he had a long way to go is a perfect book for a bunch of "invincible" teenagers to read.

4. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut: You are taught at a young age that stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Vonnegut proves that that doesn't mean your story has to be in chronological order. Slaughterhouse Five doesn't fit into a specific category, at least not perfectly.  Vonnegut didn't follow the rules when he wrote this, something I think every writer should know.  The rules are more like guidelines. :)

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Speaking of books not going the way they should, this book is a perfect example of writing complex characters, who aren't exactly the most honorable and guiding the story for such characters.

Ok, your turn....what would you put on you syllabus.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Undomestic Goddess: 3 Stars

The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella is my favorite guilty pleasure read. I never used to like chick flicks, but lately, I have enjoyed them.  Kinsella writes some of the best "chick lit".  It's a breezy read that's fun and entertaining. I have been reading through many classics and the Pulitzer Prize winners, which includes A LOT of heavy material and breaking it up with something fun and light is a welcome break.

In Undomestic Goddess, Samantha Sweeting is a very successful lawyer at a prestigious law firm. She is desperately hoping to make partner.  Then one day she is able to break away form the office on her birthday, only to realize she has no life outside of the office and heads back for the evening.  The next day she gets word that she has made partner and just needs to wait a few hours for the official announcement. Trying to distract herself, Samantha begins cleaning off her desk that is piled with papers. When she gets to the bottom, she finds something she must have forgotten to do, something that will cost millions.  Frazzled and panicked, Samantha walks out of work, terrified to face the consequences. But Samantha can't go home. Her boss lives in her building.  So she blindly walks onto a train.  After some time, she gets off and wonders to a big house for some after, but she is mistaken for someone interviewing to be a maid and before she knows it, she gets the job! But what is she going to do!  She doesn't even know how to boil water!

This was a cute tale of a woman who's whole life was career driven and she never thought about a private life.  With the GIANT career move, Samantha gets a chance  to see what she was missing in a big way. Samantha finds herself happier in the simple life.

Rating: PG-13

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Anne of Green Gables: 4 Stars

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

I grew up with my sisters watching Anne of Green Gables on TV all the time (whoo hoo PBS!).  I was too young, and since the show didn't involve turtles being taught ninjutsu by a rat, I was not interested. By the time I was old enough to be interested, my older sisters had moved on and PBS rarely showed it anymore. And that is how I grew up to know of Anne of Green Gables without knowing much else. In fact, I often confused her with Pippi Longstocking.

Anne (not to be mistaken for the spelling of Ann) is a young orphan girl who was sent to a brother and sister by mistake. They had wanted a boy to raise to help on Green Gable as they were getting older and had no children.  Anne was sent by mistake, but after meeting her, Matthew and Marilla can't seem to send her back and decide to keep the chatty 11-year-old.

Anne is a free-spirited girl with a vivid imagination and a curious mind. The book is mostly a collection of short stories about Anne as she grows up and goes to school, and then becomes an adult. She is contrastly different than the sensible Marilla and the quiet Matthew who begins every sentence with "well now".  But their affection for her could not be greater.

L. M. Montgomery was ahead of her time. Considering that this book was written before woman had the right to vote and that a woman getting an education was frown upon, she wrote Anne with a modern attitude. She has her head in the clouds about all the things she could achieve, without restriction. The story is still simple and leaves you with a good feeling. Mark Twain even once said that Anne was "the dearest, most moving and most delightful child since the immortal Alice [in Wonderland]."  I think a compliment from Twain is one of the highest a writer of that time could obtain.

Rating: G

Monday, June 16, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR list

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

This week's theme:  Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR list

Here's my list: 

1. Portrait of a Serial Killer by Patricia Cornwell:  This is a story of what could have happened with Jack the Ripper. 

2. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson:  I hear this book is quite funny. It seems like the perfect book to read while camping this summer!

 3. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman:  I hear this is also quite funny.

4. For the Love of the Game by  Michael Shaara: I love me some baseball!

5. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson: I think summer is a good time for some swashbuckling!

6.  The Hound of Baskerville by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: I have yet to read any Sherlock.  I think I'll start with this one.

7. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper:  I want to read this before seeing the movie.

 8. The Mouments Men by Robert Edsel: This is another I want to read before I see the movie.

9.  The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan:  I promised someone I would get caught p on this series before the newest book comes out.

10. Pretenders by Lisi Harrison:  I PROMISED my niece I would read this (but I really have no interest.

Making Up For Monday: Book Shame

It's time for Making Up For Monday!

This week's question: Is there a book you really enjoyed but are embarrassed to tell people you liked?  If so, what is it?

For the most part, I am not embarrassed by what I read. I have a very odd taste in books, But at the end of the day, doesn't everyone?  Many people I have talked to, don't like the books or authors that I adore. So my embarrassment level is rather low.

But there is one book, depending on the company, that does make me a little embarrassed. If I am talking to someone my age, I am fine.  But If I am talking to someone much younger or older, for some reason I get a bit embarrassed.  It's Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach. It's a fascinating non-fiction look at sex.  

What about you?  Does any book embarrass you?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

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

This week's theme: Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

So far this year, I have read 50 books (whoo hoo!).  I am attempting to read 50 classics in 5 years and all the Pulitzer Prize fiction winners in 2 years, so a lot of my book choices come from those lists. I have found a few gems (and a few stinkers). But here's the ones I have liked best so far:

1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: I read this one because it was a Pulitzer Prize winner and loved it. It is the tale of a hermaphrodite and his/her struggle through life, including a family history. The story was well told and very very interesting, considering the topic is rather taboo with many people, yet something that is very real. 

2. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien:  I know, I know.  It took me forever to finally read this.  I am not a huge fan of fantasy, but I figured I needed to read some Tolkien.  It was very good.

3. The Road by Cormac McCarthy: This is read also because it won a Pulitzer Prize.  It was fantastic.

4. Runaway Jury by John Grisham: I love Grisham!

5. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson: This is a classic I felt I needed to read and I am really glad I did.  This may become a Halloween regular.

6. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini: I read this because the author committed suicide at the end of 2013 and I had been meaning to read it forever.  As someone who suffers from depression (although mine is under control and has been for years), this one just hit a home run with me.

7. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara: This is another Pulitzer Prize winner. I would have never read it otherwise.  While it's fictional, it's a very historically accurate representation of the Battle of Gettysburg, something I knew little about. It was fascinating!

8. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: This is yet another Pulitzer Prize winner.  It is several tales of different people throughout their lives.  Some stories are good, some are bad.  But it was well told and a fun read.

9. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: This is one of the most evil stories I have ever read.  But the author did a phenomenal job.

10. Carlos Ruiz Zafon by The Prisoner of Heaven:  I can't get enough of this author. He's absolutely incredible.