Top Ten Tuesday – The Best of 2016 – So Far

Top Ten Tuesday

Since I missed the prompt last week, my favorite reads so far this year, I decided to do it this week. Yay me!

Without further adieu….

  • Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt
  • The Sculptor by Scott McCloud
  • My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman
  • Sweetgirl by Travis Mulhauser
  • Stoner by John Williams
  • The Fireman by Joe Hill
  • The Wander Society by Keri Smith
  • The Regional Office is Under Attack by Manuel Gonzalez
  • The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

These are in no particular order. I don’t think I COULD put an order to them. They are all SO GOOD. As soon as I want to say The Fireman was my favorite, I want to change it to The Sculptor. But then Sweetgirl completely blew me away. Mr. Splitfoot was soooo trippy, in the best way. Sleeping Giants was magnetic. Stoner moved me in so many ways. I can’t get enough Fredrik Backman. The Wander Society inspired me to put the phone down and get out to see the world, without the lens of the camera. I was SO SAD to let the Raven boys go with The Raven King – which was an incredible end to an incredible series. And damn if The Regional Office is Under Attack was just not the most fun ever.

If it’s this hard now, I can’t wait to see what the end of 2016 is like. This is quite the year for books.

topten

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. More HERE.

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday!

I don’t often struggle to finish books; I usually ditch them. Yet, for some reason I’m pushing through Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour. It’s…well, it feels done before. Probably because it’s a fairy tale retelling and I read another fairy tale retelling of Tam Lin that was very similar to this book. This one is just darker.

I started Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll yesterday. I’m reading it with Andi, who is on vacation (lucky duck). I think it’s going to be hard to put down, which is EXACTLY what I needed. I was on the verge of a major slump.

The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee is my current audiobook and wow, it is really making the work hours fly by. Thank goodness.

What are your plans for the reading week? Reading anything good this week?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

 

Currently // Where Did That Week Go?

START (3)

Right this minute | I’m watching Pee Wee’s Big Adventure with my daughter. Again. *pokes at eyeballs* *tests plucking them out*

Feeling | Bored? lol

Reading | I started Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll today, to read it with Andi who went on vacation. I’ve already read about 50 page and will be diving back in soon!

Listening | I started listening to The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee last week and I’m really enjoying it. It’s been too long since I read any historical fiction. The reader, Lisa Flanagan, is fantastic.

Watching | See Right this minute. Ugh.

Blogging | Not much. Summer weeks are not made for blogging around here. I have to figure something out. n

Loving | I’ll be loving Wednesday. My kids, who are on separate vacations, come home that day! I CANNOT WAIT.

Hating | The humidity!

Eating | I gotta find something – I’m hungry.

Anticipating | My own vacation, NEXT MONTH!!!! T.T

Have a great week!

 

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

IT'S MONDAY!

Good morning and happy Monday!

I am having one of those days where I’m not quite sure what I’m reading. I know I’m reading Under the Dome by Stephen King. I started it yesterday and read 87 pages! I don’t know the body count any more; I lost count. I also know I’m “reading” Jack Thorn by Katherine Harbour, but it’s super long, it doesn’t seem like much is happening (I’m about halfway through) and I’m losing momentum. I’m also reading Mort by Terry Pratchett, but it’s a reread and I really seem to be taking my time. I meant to start Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, instead of Under the Dome, but, well, you see how that went. I’m still looking for a good audiobook. It may be another day of podcasts for me!

What are your plans for the reading week? Reading anything good this week?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

 

Currently // Happy Father’s Day!

START (2)

Right this minute | I am home. Currently alone. I have piles of books assembled and I’m getting ready to dive in somewhere. It’s quiet. All I need are snacks and a cat to cuddle. There’s one around here somewhere…. Zelda usually comes when I whistle. Ah, there she is.

Feeling | Pretty excited!

Reading | I am currently into Thorn Jack by Katherine Harbour and Monk by Terry Pratchett. I’m getting ready to add to that! I’ve noticed I seem to have a tradition of picking a huge Stephen King for my summer reading – Under the Dome is currently sitting next to me.

Listening | I finished This is your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison on Thursday and had a day of podcasts on Friday. Now I have the Reading Music Spotify playlist on. Michael Giacchino is currently playing. <3

Watching | Not a thing! It’s glorious.

Promoting | The Fireman Readalong for July! It’s gonna be hot.

Loving | The peace and quiet.

Hating | The peace and quiet – in a few hours, I’m sure. lol

Eating | Cheerios and milk for breakfast to get some iron.

Anticipating | My walk later; if it’s not too hot! And lunch with my uncle, who is the only father figure I have left on this mortal coil. Don’t worry, the kids and I did Father’s day with my hubby yesterday!

Have a great Sunday!

The Fireman – A Readalong

FiremanAlong

Or, a #FiremanAlong

I’m just going to lift this from Care, because she said it all so well.

Spontaneous combustion of book thoughts on Twitter resulted in eruption of readalong endorsements for The Fireman by Joe Hill. It’s the hot book right now.tfbyjh

The hardback is 768 pages; the audiobook is 22 hours and 20 minutes.

FiremanAlong1

Starts in July.

Thus giving you all time to secure a copy? I hereby declare myself as Captain of this Fire Squad with Heather as Co-Command – due to locale (when can we do lunch?) and the fact she just read it but wants to reread it on audio. Ti and Melissa and Jen and Trish are the Platoon Leaders. Michelle and Katie are Advisors (they already read the book!). ALL ARE WELCOME OF COURSE. Just wanted to mention those who participated in the twitter-firestorm about it.

Follow hashtag #FireManAlong

I have also made a list so you can find the entire crew on Twitter. If you want to join us and please do, all are welcome, please let me know your Twitter handle in a comment and/or link to a post or whatever. I might also want your snail mail address if you want correspondence (send me an email or private msg) — I am not promising anything. This is a quick and informal readalong. It’s a “Join in if you want to, no rules” kind of readalong…

I thought better of looking for a hot firefighter person to display, because 1) sexist inclinations and assumptions on my part sad to say, and 2) no legal usage rights to the ones that appealed to me the most. You know how to do your own search so feel free to act on that. OR, to see professionals of all genders, you canclick on THIS SEARCH. Not sure what the most ethical of decisions it is to provide a link to all images in a search result with parameter ‘not filtered by license’. Probably not ‘best’. Oh well.

I will be audiobooking. Here’s the link to Audible: fma3                    The bookcover at the top of this post links to goodreads and the Twitter convo links to the hashtag #FiremanAlong. I’ll make a Twitter List, too, so feel free to subscribe to it.

pieratingsml

And please remember to tweet any pie references!!!

Really. Don’t forget the pie. Head on over to Care’s post, since she started all this and sign up! It will be my SECOND read this year and honestly. I can’t freaking wait.

The Fireman by Joe Hill

The Fireman by Joe HillThe Fireman
by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow
on May 17th 2016
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 768
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
Amazon
five-stars
From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author ofNOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke. -- From Goodreads.com

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I feel like my meager reviewing skills are not up to the task of reviewing this book. I can’t find the right words to say just how much I completely and totally adored this book. There is only one other book I can think of that ranks as high with me and that is The Stand by Stephen King. How “odd” that both are apocalyptic plague novels – and that the men who wrote them are from the same family.

In both books, a deadly pandemic reduces the worlds population by millions. Both feature a pregnant woman who is a survivor of the plague, and also carrying someone who will prove if humanity will perish or not. Both feature a deaf man named Nick (saw what you did there Joe!) and, for me, I just had the same…”feeling…” that I had reading The Stand. I can’t explain it any better than that. It was a feeling and both books made me feel it. And lastly, while both books are dystopian both have an optimism that I can’t help but love. Humanity is dying, long live humanity. Perhaps that is the “feeling” I can’t identify? Do I put these books down feeling more hopeful for our future?

I hope so.

The writing is great. The characters are memorable, root-for-able, and real. The book, while long, does not feel long – which I always find to be quite the accomplishment when it happens. Kate Mulgrew reads the audiobook; which is how I plan to reread this book, and soon! I can’t say more than what is in the summary. I don’t want to say anything more than what I’ve said. The Fireman is one of those books I think one is best reading with little to go on other than, hopefully, my opinion that it is a fantastic book. I hope you believe me. I hope you decide to get it, take it on vacation this summer, and devour it. I’m ready to read it again.

Favorite bits:

“There’s something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out. Of course, I suppose everyone ALWAYS dies in the middle of a good story, in a sense. Your own story. Or the story of your grandchildren. Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.”

“Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.”

“It’s so fucking cheap when people say I love you. It’s a name to stick on a surge of hormones, with a little hint of loyalty thrown in. I’ve never liked saying it. Here’s what I say: We’re together, now and until the end. You have everything I need to be happy. You make me feel right.”

It’s easy to dismiss religion as bloody, cruel, and tribal. I’ve done it myself. But it isn’t religion that’s wired that way – it’s man himself. At bottom every faith is a form of instruction in common decency. Different textbooks in the same class. Don’t they all teach that to do for others feels better than to do for yourself? That someone else’s happiness need not mean less happiness for you?”

Currently // Just Sayin’ Hi

START (1)

Right this minute | Getting ready to go to church, but, since I had a few minutes, I thought I’d post a Currently!

Feeling | I’d really like a coffee. Like, really really.

Reading | I am reading! I am reading Mort by Terry Pratchett and The Mermaid Girl by Erika Swyler. Let’s pretend I didn’t have to look that up, shall we?

Listening | I am listening to This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison. I am completely loving it.

Watching | Still watching Doctor Who with the daughter (and sometimes the son). I’m not sure, but I think Tennant may be beating Matt Smith in the running for her Doctor. We shall see.

Loving | That the humidity is down. It amazes me, even after living my whole life in the South, just how much humidity affects temperature.

Hating | Ticks! I pulled two off the girl last night! Nasty buggers.

Eating | I had a sausage, egg, and cheese on a GF English muffin this morning. It was glorious.

Anticipating | Leaving for church! Gotta go!

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Getting My Butt in Gear – Part 4 – The Reading

IMG_2879 edit

I don’t know about you, but the first thing I do when I want to learn more about something, is reach for…

BOOKS!

Exercise is not an exception. I know all about exercise for young people, I used to be one and could run all day with the best of them. Now, however, I need to learn about exercise as an adult. As a *gasp* middle age adult. So, I know I need help. But where do I go? There are SO MANY BOOKS about exercise out there! Yoga, Pilates, running, walking, jumping jacks, squats…the list goes on goes on goes on. So, I had to sit down and think about my body, my determination, my willpower, and my limitations. My body isn’t going anywhere unless I make it and, some days, I have no determination or willpower. And Lord, don’t even get me started on the limitations. I have a few. Mostly all in my mind, but still, those are limitations as well.

Where did I go? Not to how to books, that’s for sure. They always seem so advanced and over my head. Same with YouTube videos. I am out. of. shape. y’all. It took me more than a couple of weeks to make the 1.65 mile hike on my local trail without stopping. Shoot, without stopping more than once. Most days I have to wear a knee brace. Most days I wish I had a brace on both of them. I don’t want to go out and have to literally force myself to go some days. I don’t always make it out the door.

No, I don’t need how to. I know how to walk. I actually know how to run. (High school track team FTW!) I need inspiration.

So, the books I have been reaching for are memoirs. And y’all, I started off with a kicker. Running Like a Girl: Notes on Learning to Run by Alexandra Heminsley. From the description:

Running Like a Girl tells the story of how Alexandra gets beyond the brutal part, makes running a part of her life, and reaps the rewards: not just the obvious things, like weight loss, health, and glowing skin, but self-confidence and immeasurable daily pleasure, along with a new closeness to her father—a marathon runner—and her brother, with whom she ultimately runs her first marathon.

Gets beyond the brutal part….” Yeah. That’s where I need help. That brutal part is a bitch.

For any woman who has ever run, wanted to run, tried to run, or failed to run (even if just around the block), Heminsley’s funny, warm, and motivational personal journey from nonathlete extraordinaire to someone who has completed five marathons is inspiring, entertaining, practical, and fun.

Yep. I read this one. And I LOVED IT. Heminsley fired me up, got me out of the house, and got me going. Her writing is wry, insightful, and pretty darn hilarious at times. She gives great advice too. If you want a book about someone learning to run, this is it.

Yet, I finished this book over a month ago. My gumption is waining. What’s a girl to do? Seek out more inspiration, of course! I have two more books waiting in the wings; Honey, Do You Need a Ride?: Confessions of a Fat Runner by Jennifer Graham, which may win for best title, and Confessions of an Unlikely Runner: A Guide to Racing and Obstacle Courses for the Averagely Fit and Halfway Dedicated by Dana L. Ayers, which I hope will also fit the bill. I can’t wait to get started and get some motivation!

What do you do when you need motivation?

Mother Tongue: My Family’s Globe-Trotting Quest to Dream in Mandarin, Laugh in Arabic, and Sing in Spanish by Christine Gilbert

Mother Tongue: My Family’s Globe-Trotting Quest to Dream in Mandarin, Laugh in Arabic, and Sing in Spanish by Christine GilbertMother Tongue: My Family's Globe-Trotting Quest to Dream in Mandarin, Laugh in Arabic, and Sing in Spanish
by Christine Gilbert
Published by Avery
on May 17th 2016
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads
four-stars
One woman’s quest to learn Mandarin in Beijing, Arabic in Beirut, and Spanish in Mexico, with her young family along for the ride.

Imagine negotiating for a replacement carburetor in rural Mexico with words you’re secretly pulling from a pocket dictionary. Imagine your two-year-old asking for more niunai at dinner—a Mandarin word for milk that even you don’t know yet. Imagine finding out that you’re unexpectedly pregnant while living in war-torn Beirut. With vivid and evocative language, Christine Gilbert takes us along with her into foreign lands, showing us what it’s like to make a life in an unfamiliar world—and in an unfamiliar tongue.Gilbert was a young mother when she boldly uprooted her family to move around the world, studying Mandarin in China, Arabic in Lebanon, and Spanish in Mexico, with her toddler son and all-American husband along for the ride. Their story takes us from Beijing to Beirut, from Cyprus to Chiang Mai—and also explores recent breakthroughs in bilingual brain mapping and the controversial debates happening in linguistics right now.Gilbert’s adventures abroad prove just how much language influences culture (and vice versa), and lead her to results she never expected. Mother Tongue is a fascinating and uplifting story about taking big risks for bigger rewards and trying to find meaning and happiness through tireless pursuit—no matter what hurdles may arise. It’s a treat for language enthusiasts and armchair travelers alike.

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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When I was 8 years old, my school district had something called Summer Enrichment. It wasn’t just summer school. You didn’t have to go if you didn’t want to. It was fun classes. You could take Art, Newspaper, the kind of PE classes you DID like, like swimming, printing (little did I know I’d wind up in the field), and foreign languages. I was desperate to go, because, crazy little me loved to learn.

I went for years, until I aged out, and I learned lots of fun things I would have never learned without SE. One of those things was French. I took it for several summers and retained enough to excel at French in high school and then college. In fact, my college professor really wanted to pursue a degree in it, but I knew I would never want to leave home and that degree would necessitate it.

Now, I find opportunities to speak French with some French Ghana friends I have made around campus. The French I use the most? The French I learned in Enrichment. I have often regretted not learning a more useful (for me) language, such as Spanish, since my part of NC has a rich Latino population, but French was, and remains, my love. I have often dreamed of learning other languages, but fear I’m too old.

So, when a representative from Avery (a division of Penguin Random House) contacted me about Mother Tongue, I jumped at the chance. What better way to see if I’m too old to learn something as difficult as a new language, than to read the escapades of a woman trying to do just that?

It was eye opening.

Gilbert and her family travel to China, Beirut, and Mexico in an effort to fully immerse in the culture and the language and learn. Just learn. How to speak, how to converse, how to read, how to understand. And they have varying degrees of success and I admire how Gilbert dealt with the situations AND that she owned up to them in her book. Learning a new language at (most) any age is not easy and Gilbert doesn’t sugar coat it. She worked her ass off and it shows. This book is fascinating not only from the learning aspect, but the glimpses of the different cultures Gilbert encounters and how her husband and son deal with those changes as well. At times repetitive, this book is still a fascinating look at what taking a huge risk can earn one who takes the chance.