Posts Categorized: Books

Nonfiction November

October 31, 2014 Books 7

cork-w-books

Last year, I totally miss the month of reading nonfiction that is Nonfiction November that was hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness and Leslie at Regular Rumination. So this year, I jumped at the chance to join in, as I’m discovering nonfiction is something I really enjoy reading. Hosted by Kim, Leslie, and Becca atI’m Lost In Books and Katie at Doing Dewey; I’m excited to devote an entire month to (mostly) nonfiction books. And I have SO MANY. I’m not even lying. Just glancing through the iPad, I see I have 30 on there. Then there are the ones on my shelves, the audiobooks, and I even have a couple out from the library! Rather than make any set plans to read certain books (hello! free range reading!), here are the list of books I hope to try.

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew by Peter Mayle
Howards End is on the Landing: a Year of Reading from Home by Susan Hill
Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land Through the Five Books of Moses by Bruce Feiler
American Canopy: Trees, Forests, and the Making of a Nation by Eric Rutkow
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Lauren Hillenbrand
A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Nonfiction by Terry Pratchett
The Bright Continent by Dayo Olopade
The Removers by Andrew Meredith
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott
Sous Chef by Michael Gibney
It Looked Different on the Model by Laurie Notaro
The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel
A Fifty-Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot
The Call of the Farm by Rochelle Bilow
A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka by Lev Golinkin
Feeding a Yen by Calvin Trillin
Becoming Odyssa by Jenifer Pharr Davis
Upstairs at the White House by J.B. WEst and Mary, Lynn Kotz
Home Sweet Anywhere by Lynne Martin
Leave me Alone, I’m Reading, by Maureen Corrigan
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
Gult: : Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories by Simon Winchester
Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen (It’s fiction! Dang it!)
The Whole Fromage by Kathe Lison
Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr
Paris in Love by Eloisa James
Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman
Defiant Brides: The Untold Story of Two Revolutionary-Era Women and the Radial Men they Married by Nancy Rubin Stuart
To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl
Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel
Nothing Daunted:: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden

So, yeah. That’s most of them. Okay, yeah, there are a few more. Maybe a lot. Okay, FINE, it’s the tip of the iceberg. BUT, these are the ones I MOST want to get to. Can you help me narrow it down? Which ones do you recommend I try?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

October 27, 2014 Books, Meme 7

October26I did something yesterday I haven’t done in quite awhile. I picked up a book, started reading, and next thing I knew 100 pages had flown past. It was delightful, heady stuff! The book I’m referring to is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I can’t wait to see how these threads she’s weaving come together. As in, really, forget you guys, I’m going to go read.

Just kidding.

Maybe.

In other reading news, after finising the AMAZING The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (read by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham) I started listening to The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester. It’s read by him and, often, I’m leery of listening to books read by the author, but this time I needn’t of worried. He’s a delight.

It’s not HIS fault I keep loosing my focus. {sigh}

It’s also not Rene Denfeld’s fault. The Enchanted is fantastic.  It really is. I just keep stalling on it. If I pick it up, I can whip through 50 pages in a go. It’s just, once I put it down…I have a hard time picking it back up. If it wasn’t for Station Eleven, I would have been worried I was on the verge of a slump. It’s not uncommon for me to have one after a Readathon. Plus, I just speed-read Rick Riordan’s latest Percy Jackson book, The Blood of Olympus. Of course, this is a middle grade book and shouldn’t have taken me long to read.

Alas, we’ll see how this week pans out. Hopefully Station Eleven will keep me engrossed, The Enchanted WILL be picked up again, and The Professor and the Madman will succeed in captivating me because goodness knows I’ve been meaning to read it for like FOREVER.

What are your plans for the reading week? Read anything good next week?

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

October 20, 2014 Books, Meme 9

October 19

Whew! I don’t know about you, but I”m tired. The readathon always takes something out me, something that takes a couple days to get back. Something like a hangover.  It usually takes me a couple of days to get back to reading and normalcy. So, later this week, I’ll pick The Enchanted by up and I hope to get more into The Blood of Olympus. I’m sad to see this series end! Since The Scorpio Races is an audiobook, I can still listen to it; I actually am now. I can’t not. I have to finish. This book is just so fantastic. It will be in my top ten for the year, without a doubt.

Plans for the week include; continue working through the readathon aftermath, find a new audiobook to listen to (I’m leaning towards a reread of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier), and figure out what to read next. Oh, and plan what I want to read for Nonfiction November!

What are your plans for the reading week? Read anything good next week?

It's Monday What Are  You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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October 2014 – Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

October 18, 2014 Books 21

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think this will always be my favorite. I had a good day when I made that.

It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here! Obviously, I never got around to posting any more this week. I was too wrapped up in preparations. Now, it’s time to pray my hard work holds as well as it did last year. I’m off to go host my two hours at the Readathon blog, then I’ll be back over here to chart my reading and cheering. I hope everyone has the best readathon EVER.

Thank you DEWEY!!!! We love you!

8:00 – Opening Meme

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

My tiny, cluttered, but beloved home in North Carolina! Specifically, at this very moment, in my cozy little reading corner.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Y the Last Man #4. After that it will be #5. Then some Lumberjanes #7 and the latest Rick Riordan.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Apples and caramel. Ice cream. Cheese. Chili beans with gluten free cornbread. Oh geez, I’m hungry.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

Well, hi there, I’m Heather! I’m co-coordinator and head cheerleader of this massive event with my best bud Andi from Estella’s Revenge. This is our, what? Fourth time hosting? We have such a blast, I can’t remember.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

Differently? Not get a headache.

4:00 update

Reading: The Mystery Society by Steve Niles and Fiona Staplse

Finished: Y the Last Man: Deluxe Edition 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra

Pages: 276

Foods: Chocolate Chex cereal with milk, Reuben Casserole, 4 gluten free chocolate cookies, and habanero bbq almonds

Naps: 1/2 (didn’t get to finish… :()


 

8:30 Update and Mid-Event Survey

Reading: I’m between books at the mo’.

Finished: Y the Last Man: Deluxe Edition 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, The Mystery Society by Steve Niles and Fiona Staples, Wytches by Scott Snyder

Pages: 391

Foods: Chocolate Chex cereal with milk, Reuben Casserole, 4 gluten free chocolate cookies, Habanero BBQ Almonds, Chili with cheese, and another cookie. Oh, and lots of water.

Naps: still only that half of a nap.

Mid-Event Survey

1. What are you reading right now?

I’m between books at the moment. Thinking of getting out a book of short stories.

2. How many books have you read so far?

3

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Not sure. Depends on if I get that book of short stories, or go with the latest Rick Riordan.

4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

OMG, Have I? Constantly. I have given in to every single one of them, because it’s always the kids. Or the readathon. Which is like a kid, in a way.

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

Nothing. I’m a veteran. I fully expect all the reading, the love, the delight, the chatter, the fatigue, ALL OF IT.


 8:00 am, The End

End of Event Meme

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Midnight. I admit it. I saw 12:36 and I crashed.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

As always, graphic novels were my saving grace.

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

I have a few ideas.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

Andi! Girlfriend made it the whole 24 hours! She is the Readathon Queen for sure.

5. How many books did you read?

5

6. What were the names of the books you read?

Y the Last Man The Deluxe Edition 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
The Mystery Society Vol 1 by Steve Niles and Fiona Staples
Wytches by Scott Sn yder
Lumberjanes #7 by Noelle Stevenson
105 pages of The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

Anything with Fiona Staples name on it seems to be my bag, baby. And Lumberjanes is just made of awesome.

8. Which did you enjoy least?

Wytches. It’s a little…different.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?

Recruit, recruit, recruit!!! 70 cheerleaders for over 900 readers makes very large teams.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

Oh, I’ll be there. Co-hosting as usual, reading, cheering, all of it.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

October 13, 2014 Books, Meme 5

Monday

I bet you guys can’t believe this, but I don’t plan on getting much reading done this week. You see, I have this tiny little event to get ready for, called Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. Have you heard of it? Are you ready? I’m not! I’ll be working on it all week and I can’t wait for Saturday!!!

In the meantime, I’ll grab a bit of time with The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld where I can. Ideally, I’ll finish it before Saturday. For some reason, I’ve always want to start  the readathon with a clean slate. I have most of my weeks posts scheduled already, so I’ll be around. Just SUPER BUSY.

What are your plans for the reading week? Read anything good next week?

It's Monday What Are  You Reading

It’s Monday, What are you Reading is hosted weekly by super-awesome Sheila from BookJourney.

 

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Weekend Inspiration

October 11, 2014 Art, Books, Lists, Miscellaneous 6

With the fall season upon us, the fact that temperatures will actually drop below 40 degrees this weekend, and because my favorite scarf is looking a little worse for wear, I am feeling the need to either knit or crochet myself a new one. As my skills have developed, this decision (which scarf do I make this time) has become harder every year. When I could only follow one pattern, it was easy! It was just a matter of deciding which color this time! Now, this all important decision includes questions like cowl? Infinity scarf? Go all out with a shawl? Knit or crochet? That awesome yellow color I used last year:

Screenshot 2014-10-03 at 7.32.23 PM

or pick something new? A dark orange? An interesting blue? Oh, the decisions!

This is why Ravelry exists. And Pinterest. And Google. They give me the hope I can narrow down my choices and make a decision. So, for submitted for your approval, here are my top choices of what to make this year:

Screenshot 2014-10-03 at 7.40.24 PM

This GAP-tastic Cowl looks humongous, but also terribly warm and snuggly.

Screenshot 2014-10-03 at 7.45.23 PM

But this New Year’s Cowl does too. And I love that color!

Screenshot 2014-10-03 at 7.49.15 PM

Or, is this the year I finally learn cables? Because good golly look at that thing?? Love! Even the color! Hmm…

So, do you see my problem? What do you think? Which scarf tickles your fancy? What colors are in this fall? I am in no way up on the latest fashions. Have something else to suggest? Hit me up in the comments!

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So, a Little More on that Routine Thing…

October 10, 2014 Blogging, Book Reviews, Books 6

by Mason Currey
Published by Knopf
Genres: Nonfiction
Source: Purchased

dailyroutineSo, I’m still making my way through Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. I hate to admit it, but it’s a slog. I am about to give myself permission to give it up, even though I’m slightly over halfway through. Like Amanda, some of my problems stem from the lack of balance between man and woman, white and not (and I mean, that is a LOT of my problem, there is basically no balance. If you want to know how a privileged white male finds time to write, this is your book) but, honestly? I think he included too many authors! There are 161 authors, composers, philosophers, poets, playwrights, scientists, mathematicians. After about 50 or so routines, it starts to loose it’s impact.

Where was Currey’s editor?

How did they not see they could have gotten 3 books out of this one?

Don’t they realize that sometimes a brief message is more powerful that one that goes on and on and on and on and on.

I wonder how many more people in this book get up early or late? How many take a walk (or three, like Dickens)? How many have a bit of fun with themselves before they get down to it (seriously Thomas Wolfe? I am NOT looking at you, but you know, I’m looking at you) (and Ben Franklin, with your air baths! Get own down with your bad self!). How many eat meals? Take naps? Sharpen their pencils? Set up the fridge as their desk (Geez, Thomas Wolfe, you were an odd duck).

Another bit of a peeve is the lack of 21st century authors. Yes, there are a few, but the majority of this book is 19th and 20th century writers. Couldn’t you find anyone alive Currey? I have to admit, I am a little more interested in how the creative types of TODAY juggle their routines that those who lived lives of leisure 200 years ago. Times, uh, they have a-changed.

Despite these quibbles though, there is a lot of good information in this book. A couple more favorites:

 “The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”  – Haruki Murakami

And I think I’m OCD:

The founder of behavioral psychology treated his daily writing sessions much like a laboratory experiment, conditioning himself to write every morning with a pair of self-reinforcing behaviors: he started and stopped by the buzz of a timer, and he carefully plotted the number of hours he wrote and the words he produced on a graph. – B. F. Skinner

Actually, I can totally see myself doing that. Heck, I DID do that when I tried to do NaNoWriMo.

I love this from Joan Miró i Ferrà, a Catalan painter:

Miró hated for this routine to be interrupted by social or cultural events. As he told an American journalist, “Merde! I absolutely detest all openings and parties! They’re commercial, political, and everybody talks too much. They get on my tits!

Love it. LOVE. IT. I am totally breaking that line out at parties.

But really, the best piece of advice from the whole book is this, from Chuck Close, another painter:

“Inspiration is for amateurs,” Close says. “The rest of us just show up and get to work.”

And really, that’s all we really need do, right?

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Thoughts on The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

October 9, 2014 Audio Books, Book Reviews, Books 7 ½

Thoughts on The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LerouxThe Phantom of the Opera
by Gaston Leroux
Narrator: Ralph Cosham
Length: 7 hours, 35 minutes
Genres: Classic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
half-star
First published in French as a serial in 1909, "The Phantom of the Opera" is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daaé. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her. After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully. All goes well until Christine's childhood friend Raoul comes to visit his parents, who are patrons of the opera, and he sees Christine when she begins successfully singing on the stage. The voice, who is the deformed, murderous 'ghost' of the opera house named Erik, however, grows violent in his terrible jealousy, until Christine suddenly disappears. The phantom is in love, but it can only spell disaster. Leroux's work, with characters ranging from the spoiled prima donna Carlotta to the mysterious Persian from Erik's past, has been immortalized by memorable adaptations. Despite this, it remains a remarkable piece of Gothic horror literature in and of itself, deeper and darker than any version that follows.

I know I said all I was going to say about this book was that “it stinks,” but I feel moved to say more. So.

You know how when you pick up a classic, you’re expecting something special? I mean, there must be a reason a classic is a classic. It’s either brilliant, to a glimpse into another time, or excellent writing, or excellent characters….there is something defining about a book that has stood the test of time.

This is why I’m left baffled by The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. I found it absolutely horrible. Feeling left out and confused, I mean, WHY? WHAT AM I MISSING? I took to the internet for insight, reviews on what is so great about this book? Why has it endured? What am I missing?

So, what’s my problem? What’s NOT my problem.

Also, probably spoilers. Watch out. 

1. The Phantom/Angel/Erik/who ever he is this minute, is decidedly bi-polar. He loves Christine; he kidnaps her. He sets her free; he stalks her. He wants to keep her from Raoul; he gives her to him. MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MIND. Keep her or don’t keep her, but DO SOMETHING.

2. Christine is an idiot. She’s terrified of the Phantom, yet she pities Erik. She loves and wants to marry Raoul, but she refuses to run away with him. She is kidnapped by Erik, she continues to see him after he sets her free. I know we all want to believe everything our beloved parents tell us, but she actually believed her father would send her the Angel of Music? SHE HAS NO FACULTY TO MAKE DECISIONS AND ALSO; NAIVE!

3. The love of her life, Raoul, knows about the Phantom, knows how scared she is of him, yet allows her to continue down her crazy path instead of saving her from herself. MAN UP RAOUL AND BE A FREAKING HERO ALREADY. Get her the hell out of that Opera.

4. Gaston Leroux had brief moments of brilliance. Yet, honestly, I want to introduce him to Wilkie Collins and say here, THIS IS HOW YOU WRITE A SENSATIONAL NOVEL. He tried, Lord love him, but his plotting is haphazard and slower than a snail, his characters are one dimensional and boring, and his sense of style is poor in-comparison to my Wilkie. If you’re going to rip off someone else’s style, please DO IT WITH STYLE.

5. I’m left wondering, was ULTRA-CLINGY and BULLY SPARKLE PONY VAMPIRE EDWARD really Erik in disguise? Because dudes could be abusive lover twins.

I know this is a beloved book and I hate to bring on the wrath of its faithful fans, but Good Golly y’all, I hated it. I sped through the end. The only saving grace was Ralph Cosham’s excellent narration. He deserves better yo. Much, much better.

Care to take a stab at making me understand what’s so great about this book? I’m willing to let you try!

 

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Monthly Wrap Up – September 2014

October 7, 2014 Books, Monthly Wrap Up 5

Month

Better late than never, I always say. I do have to be late though.

My September was a roller coaster. New job, settling into the old school routine again, and a couple meltdowns later, I’m starting to feel like I might have my feet under me again. I’m honestly surprised I got any reading done, but somehow I did. Thank God for audiobooks is all I can say. And graphic novels. Here’s what was read in Casa CR this month:

84. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
85. Lumberjanes #5 by Noelle Stevenson
86. Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, read by David Weyman
87. Will Storr v.s the Supernatural: One Man’s Search for the Truth About Ghosts by Will Storr
88. Bluffton by Matt Phelan
89. Battling Boy by Paul Pope
90. Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
91. The Dream Thieves, Book 2 of the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton
92. Lumberjanes #6 by Noelle Stevenson
93. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, read by Ralph Cosham

All in all, not a bad month, in quality or quantity. I loved all the graphic novels I read. I loved visiting Stephanie Perkins’s Paris again. Marina was everything I expect out of Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Will Storr was a delight. And of course, my reread of The Dream Thieves was a dream (ha! See what I did?). The only draw back was, da da dum!

The Phantom of the Opera. Oh, how I detested that book. But more on that later.

All in all, I think reading kept me sane in an insane month. Let’s hope October is calmer and invites much more reading. And, of course, the readathon! Go sign up!

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