Monday, April 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday ALL TIME Favorite Authors

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

This week's theme was: all time favorite authors.

How difficult is that one?  How do I narrow it down????  Ugh!  Ok, let's try it. This list is NOT set in stone and I know I am likely missing someone. 

1. Charles Dickens: His mastery of the written word can not be denied. He's brilliant and magical. I will forever adore him.

2. Harper Lee: She wrote my all time favorite book, so how can she not end up on this list?

3. Neil Gaiman: He's a recent addition to the list, but a strong one right now. I only read my first book by him about seven months ago, but have read quite a few since then. He's awesome.

4. John Grisham: He's one of the few "cookie cutter" writers I actually enjoy. His character development is magnificent and that is one of my favorite things about books. 

5. Shel Silverstein: He's a writer I have had on my list probably since birth. 

6. David McCullough: I have loved everything I have ever read by him. He's great at writing non-fiction without extreme bias. It's so educational.

7. Carlos Ruiz Zafron: While I haven't loved everything that he has written, his talent can't be denied. Therefore, he's always on the list. 

8. Mary Roach: Read her stuff, met her, loved her! 'Nuff said

9. Mark Twain: Brilliant. Just brilliant. You can see his work change over the course of time. His books change so much, but are always good.

10. George Orwell: Animal Farm won me over. I love his brilliance. 

Did I say brilliant enough on this list? Probably not!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Making Up For Monday: Faking It

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It's time for Making Up For Monday!
 This is a weekly meme hosted by me that asks some fun literary questions. Feel free to play along! 

This week's question: Have you ever faked reading a book?  If so, what book and why?

I have, in fact, done this. It was once in high school. My high school English teacher got a bit behind on our syllabus and in the last two weeks of school, we were supposed to read A Tale of Two Cities and write a report. 

A Tale of Two Cities

Considering this was also finals time and I had five other classes, I just didn't have the time to finish the book. So.....I faked it. Thank you internet!  In my defense, I got an A! 

What about you? Have you ever pretended you read a book you actually didn't?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books and Authors

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

This week's theme was: Top Ten Inspiring Quotes from Books and Authors (Ok, so I added the "and authors" part becasue I had one particular quote I wanted to add that was made by the author about his book.)

1. “There have been so many interpretations of the story that I'm not going to choose between them. Make your own choice. They contradict each other, the various choices. The only choice that really matters, the only interpretation of the story, if you want one, is your own. Not your teacher's, not your professor's, not mine, not a critic's, not some authority's. The only thing that matters is, first, the experience of being in the story, moving through it. Then any interpretation you like. If it's yours, then that's the right one, because what's in a book is not what an author thought he put into it, it's what the reader gets out of it.”
― William Golding

Reason:  One of my biggest pet peeves is when people (even the author) tells me what I should have or shouldn't have gotten out of a book. Each of has unique life experience and that effects what we get out of books. I think Golding states it so eloquently in the quote above.

2.  “When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbors whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbors. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like 'the body of Christ' and the actual faces in the next pew. It matters very little, of course, what kind of people that next pew really contains. You may know one of them to be a great warrior on the Enemy's side. No matter. Your patient, thanks to Our Father Below, is a fool. Provided that any of those neighbors sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters 

Reason:  This is one of my all time favorite books because of the way it makes me reflect upon myself. Even if you are not religious, and you take the element of church out of this book and just focus on the difference between being a good person and not, the book leaves you thinking a lot about yourself. This is one such quote. How often in life do I write something off as silly because someone who participates in it does something embarrassing or stupid?


3.  "Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence.  There's no better rule." 
- Charles Dickens, Great Expectations 

Reason: This book is chock full of amazing quotes. Dickens is legendary for a reason.  He is a master of language and thought. This quote is one of my favorites because it is short and to the point, but powerful. It's all about not judging a book by its cover; something I think we are all a little guilty of at some point in our lives.

4. “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird 
Reason: I could have made this entire list on How to Kill a Mockingbird quotes, but I decided to limit myself to just one.  This, of course, is a quote by Atticus in the book. He is a brilliant character who I adore. He speaks of real courage. This aspect of courage is reiterated in several different ways in the book. Courage isn't just being brave and strong in a fight, but doing so in a fight you know you can't win.
5.  “Too late, I found you can't wait to become perfect, you got to go out and fall down and get up with everybody else.”
― Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes 
Reason:  This book, while filled with spooky elements, has a rather deep meaning to it. It's all about what we want and what we struggle with, and what we'd be willing to give up for what we think we want (confusing, huh?). I like this quote because it so eloquently states that mistakes are a necessary part of life.
 6. "Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue. Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five 
Reason: I adore Vonnegut. He is so funny, yet so profound.  How strong of a statement is he making here about our society's view of money. Those who have it think it's easy to come by and make it known.  Those who don't have it know it's hard to come by, but blame themselves for not having it. More often than not, we use people's monetary status as a reflection of their worth. It's really not that black and white.
7.  “It's like the people who believe they'll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn't work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book 
Reason: With my recent obsession with Gaiman, it's no surprise he made the list.  Honestly though, this is advise my dad has given me in the past. You can run from your problems all you want, but if you are your problems, then they will follow.

8.  “I do not understand it. I would not have believed that such things could happen on our farm. It must be due to some fault in ourselves. The solution, as I see it, is to work harder. From now onwards I shall get up a full hour earlier in the mornings.”

― George Orwell, Animal Farm 
Reason: Orwell is another one of those authors that has brilliant insight and is a master of conveying it. Animal Farm is my favorite of his books. This is a quote by Boxer, the ever loyal horse, who is one of the best characters. No matter what goes wrong, Boxer blames himself. While I think working on yourself is an excellent goal, self-blame for all things can be very self-destructive. 
9. “Accept who you are; and revel in it.”
― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie 
Reason: Eight little words in this quote, but something I think everyone needs to hear often in their lives. Too often we compare ourselves to others and too often we focus on only our flaws.  We are all unique and strong in our own ways. We need to embrace ourselves and be happy with who we are, no matter what others do, say, or think. 
10.  “Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout as you did in Rome. Do your worst, for I will do mine! Then the fates will know you as we know you.”
― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo 
Reason: This quote is one I need to see more often.  Life is hard. It never gets easier. Some weeks I just want to sit and cry because there is just too much to handle. But crying doesn't solve anything. I need to look at life and say "Do your worst, for I will do mine!".  

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Making Up For Monday: The Reading Life

It's time for Making Up For Monday! This is a weekly meme hosted by me that asks some fun literary questions. Feel free to play along!

This week's question:
When people ask you why you read so much, what is your answer?

Besides saying "because reading is awesome"?  Honestly, I tell them I was born into reading. My parents read to me often as a child. I have vivid memories of my dad reading and doing all the weird voices and sound effects that go with it. My mom would read longer books to me as well; ones that would take weeks to get through.

So, as an adult, reading seemed like a very normal thing to do.

I honestly think I am more surprised when I find out there are people who don't read at all. Seriously, why not?! 

What about you? Do you get the question a lot?  If so, how do you answer?

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Graveyard Book: 4 Stars

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 

Ok, so I have had a slight obsession with reading Gaiman's work lately. I had never read anything by him until December and now I can't figure out why. He's brilliant.

During the brutal murder of his family, a young baby manages to crawl out of the house and into a graveyard. There he is protected by the residents from the assailant. Without a name, the residents of the graveyard call him Nobody (Bod for short) and he is taken in by a ghostly couple.  Silas, who has the ability to leave the graveyard, takes the responsibility to keep Bod fed, protected, and educated. And it is in the graveyard that Bod lives, not knowing that the man who killed his family was still looking for him.

The Graveyard Book is a unique children's book. It's filled with dark humor and silliness. I absolutely loved it. The characters were deep and unique. Gaiman never states what some of the residents are specifically (is Silas a vampire?) so you feel a lot like Bod might. Bod knows nothing but the graveyard. Gaiman really did a great job of capturing the essence of a young boy who doesn't know anything different.

I have found many who did not like the ending of the book, but I honestly don't know how else it could have ended. Gaiman stays true to the story and follows it to it's end, even if it's not the fairy tale ending that some might hope for.

I highly recommend this book and fully intend to read this to my daughter one day.

Rating: PG

Recommended for those who enjoy: fairy tales, dark humor, and quirky writing.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Top Ten Characters You'd Like To Check In With

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

This week's theme was: Top Ten Characters You'd Like To Check In With

Don't we always wonder what happens to our favorite characters after the final page?  I do! 

1. George Weasley: Seriously, he lost his twin brother and life long best friend/second half. I want to make sure he's ok.

2. Skeeter Phelan:  How has her life turned out since her book was published?

3. Tiffany and Pat: How have they been doing since becoming friends and letting go of the past?  Are they a couple now?

4. Nick Dunne:  How has his life turned out since "the incident"?

5. Isaac:  By far my favorite character in this book, I would love to see how his life has turned out.

6. Neeley Crenshaw:  How has his life changed since confronting his past?

7. Craig Gilner: How has life changed since his time in a mental institution? Hopefully better than the authors. :(

8. Nobody:  On his own in a world he wasn't raised in, you have to wonder how his life has turned out.

9. Clay Jensen: I feel bad for this poor kid and the traumatizing night he had following the tapes recorded by a dead girl. I hope he turns out ok.

10. Charlie: Now having faced his traumatic past, has he been able to get his life and thoughts together?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Making up for Monday: Author Love

It's time for Making Up For Monday! This is a weekly meme hosted by me that asks some fun literary questions. Feel free to play along!

This week's question:
Do you have an author you will read anything they put out?

Last week we talked about authors we avoid so I figured we should balance it out with some author love!  I have quite a few authors that I would read just about anything they put out. 

Ready?  Here we go: 

John Grisham: While I am not typically a fan of "formula writers" like James Patterson, Tom Clancy, etc., John Grisham roped me in with his books. His character development is outrageously good and that is one of my favorite things about books. So I will keep reading everything he puts out. 

Mary Roach: She is hysterical and informative all at the same time.  She writes on topics that I never had interest in and somehow makes me fascinated by it. Also, I met her and she's amazing in person as well.

Matthew Quick: Ok, frankly I have been unimpressed with his last two books, but other than that, I tend to love his books. He may eventually drop lower on my "love" list, but for now he's still up there.

David McCullough: History is not my strong suit. But McCullough keeps me educated and entertained.  One of my pet peeves with non-fiction books is author bias. McCullough is the one man who seems to be able to keep his opinion out of it. I love the education I get from his books, and his ability to keep me interested, despite his books being incredibly long.

What about you? What author gets your love?

Friday, April 3, 2015

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail: 4 Stars


 A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson decided to hike the Appalachian Trail; a feat that requires walking over 2,000 miles. The book chronicles his adventures with his friend, Stephen Katz. It starts with him buying his equipment and he immediately had me hooked. His reaction to the prices and "necessities" of a sporting goods store is similar to my own. His sarcasm and wit knew no end. 

Eventually he starts out on the trail and the journey begins. Starting off slow and inexperienced, Bill and Stephan eventually find themselves keeping up a decent pace and giving advice to less experienced hikers. They interact with several different kinds of people from the entertaining to the annoying. 

Bryson also gives us a wonderful history lesson on the Appalachian Trail; something I know very little about. There are also towns along the trail with fascinating histories, such as Centrailia, PA, which has been burning underground since 1962, making it a ghost town. 

Bryson talks about the ups and downs of life on the trail. He has the ability to break away from time, schedules, electronics, and really free his mind. He also accounts of the number of people who have died on the trail, whether because of accidents, bear attacks, or murders (two girls were murdered during his time on the trail). 

Bryson is an excellent writer with an excellent ability to keep you hooked. I was thoroughly impressed with his adventures and would love to try other books by him.

Rating: PG-13

Recommended for those who enjoy: sarcasm, nature, and journeys.