Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Miscellany: Ramblings About Blogs

Hey folks!  The Monday Miscellany segment on the blog is where I take off my reader glasses and share some non-bookish musings.  This week is semi-bookish in that I wanted to discuss other book blogs.

I've found that in my years as a blogger, the percentage of YA books I've read has been continuously increasing.  Meaning, I'm definitely reading a lot more YA than I would if I weren't a blogger.  This is largely due to the numerous book blogs I follow that heavily (or completely) focus on YA fiction.  In general, there seems to be more YA book blogs than adult fiction book blogs out there in the I wrong about this?

Now, there's nothing wrong with YA in the least but I have a personal preference for literary fiction and somehow I've deviated from my preferences.  Anyways, I've hit a bit of a breaking point and really want to redirect my focus to adult literary fiction (of course, with smidgens of fantasy, nonfiction, and YA sprinkled throughout).  One of my favorite aspects about blogging is finding great book recommendations.  So, it follows that if I want to redirect my reading back to literary fiction, I need to find some adult fiction book blogs where I can gather recommended reads!  Therefore, I'm asking you, my fellow bloggers and readers, if you have any blogs to recommend.

One of my favorite places to find adult fiction recommendations is the Books on the Nightstand podcast...what about you folks? Also, please feel free to shamelessly self-promote! :)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Towering TBR: Magic, Coming-of-Age, & Books About Writing

Image: Parada Creations
This segment on the blog came about because my desire to read new books vastly outstrips my ability to dwindle down my TBR list...oh, to have more free time!  Anyways, these are some new additions to the good ol' TBR that are all over the place!

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman...this coming-of-age story has been on a lot of top books lists!

City of Thieves by David Benioff...deemed a thrilling coming-of-age WWII story!

The Bell at Sealey Head by Patricia A. McKillip...a magical book by one of the best fantasy writers out there!

 Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani interesting memoir about living as a writer.

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer...this sounds amazing!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Latest Review: The Rosie Project

Summary Blurb:
An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.


My Blabberings:
I really loved this unique and nerd-tastic romantic comedy!  This book was definitely a page turner, the atypical characters compelled me to find out what quirky thing would come out of their mouths.  My connection with both Rosie and Don was immediate - I loved these two misfits!  Don made me smile with his misunderstanding of people and Rosie was tough but vulnerable too. The Rosie Project was unlike most chick-lit books I've read thanks to the strength of the main characters.

This book helps the reader realize that sometimes, even with heavy preparation, we don't know what we want.  Recommended?  Absolutely!  Why should you read it?  Characters that you will be rooting for on the edge of your couch and laugh-out-loud funny to boot!  If you liked the movie "Stranger Than Fiction" or enjoy watching "The Big Bang Theory" you will like The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

4/5 stars

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

TTT: Top Ten Things on My Bookish Bucket List

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Things on My Bookish Bucket List

1.  Read the chunkster Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace!

2.  Keep my book collection culled to only absolute favorites.  I have a lot of unread books on my shelves that I need to get through so I can determine if they're keepers or not!

3.  To go with above, read more books that I own.

4.  Finish The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  This is a veeeerry long book that I got maybe 200 pages in and slowly lost steam.  I really liked what I was reading, the story just hadn't sucked me in yet.  I hope to pick this back up and finish it soon!

5. I originally made a resolution this year to read 100 books in 2014, but I would love to read above and beyond this because my TBR is outta control!

6.  Read all of J.D. Salinger's published works.  I'm pretty sure I've only read Franny and Zooey and The Catcher in the Rye (I cannot for the life of me remember if I've read some of his short stories or not).  Also, I wouldn't mind re-reading Franny and Zooey to see how I like it as an adult.

7. Get into the habit of adding more nonfiction in to the mix.  I used to read more non-fiction before blogging...I need to get back into the habit.

8.  Finish all of the series that I've started (and liked).  If I read the first book right away and the others aren't published for years later, I tend to forget about the series (except The Kingkiller Chronicles of course)!
Yes, this series has been spoiled for me (inevitable) but I still want to finish it!

9.  Have organized Goodreads shelves.  One of these days when I have extra time (snort!) I would love to organize my TBR list on Goodreads.  I'm hoping that it will make the number of books listed seem less daunting :)

10.  Try and do a better job of reviewing right after I finish a book.  I find that the quality of my reviews are much better if I do this!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Miscellany: Indoor Painting and Some Tree Planting

Hey folks!  The Monday Miscellany segment on the blog is where I take off my reader glasses and share some non-bookish musings.  This week I want to talk about our house rehabbing efforts; namely, painting a few rooms and a bit of landscaping.  The smidgen (and I mean smidgen) of warm weather has motivated us to get moving on some projects so that we can focus on our major landscaping plans once the spring weather sticks around!

Here we moved two of the Boxwoods into planters by the front door just as I planned in a previous Monday Miscellany post.  Oh, and our lovely Green Bean Delivery box :)

We also planted several trees in our side yard in an attempt to get a little more privacy.

Lastly, we painted our master bedroom (finally)!  The room went from white to Eddie Bauer Gourd.  I was scared that the color might be too bold, but I ended up loving it once it was on the walls.- phew!

Has anyone else been motivated to do some spring cleaning/projects?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Towering TBR: Mixed Bag

Image: Parada Creations
This newish segment on the blog came about because my desire to read new books vastly outstrips my ability to dwindle down my TBR list...oh, to have more free time!  Anyways, these are some new additions to the good ol' TBR that are all over the place!

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie...said to be an amazing space opera!

The Real Boy by Anne was compared to His Dark Materials...'nuff said.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (AKA JK Rowling)...this made a ton of 2013 lists.

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein...a mashup of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night at the Museum, sounds fun!

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black...a bit out of my comfort zone but I've read rave reviews for this book!

Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan...I loved her Moorehawk Trilogy so I can't wait to read her latest.

Six Gun Snow White by Catherine M. Valente...a Wild West retelling of Snow White - awesome!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

TTT: Spring 2014 TBR

 Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, this week's topic: Top Ten Books I Want to Read This Spring!
1.  The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes...sounds like a nail-biter!

2.  Ready Player One by Ernest Cline...this has been on the TBR forever!!

3.  The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer...this sounds like a perfect spring read.

4.  Song of the Lionness Series by Tamora Pierce...I've heard this fantasy series is amazing!

5.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz...I've read rave reviews.

6.  Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan...sounds like my kind of book :)

7.  Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith...A coming of age SciFi book that tackles sexual orientation confusions and giant bugs - whuu??

8.  Among Others by Jo Walton...a magical realism novel that's been on my mental TBR list for way too long!

9.  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell...loved Eleanor & Park so I have high expectations for this one!

10.  A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony the title, cover, and premise!

What's on your Spring TBR?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Miscellany: Yard Overhaul

Hey folks!  The Monday Miscellany segment on the blog is where I take off my reader glasses and share some non-bookish musings.  This week I want to talk about the improvements we want to make to our yard this spring!  Anybody else doing some spring-time landscaping?

Here is the before photo of our backyard:
See the lovely chain-link?

We've already replaced most of the chain link fence with a wood fence - just one more section to go!  Our other plans for the backyard include:
  • See the tree on the right? It was cut down by the previous owners and they left a lovely wood chip pile.  That along with the huge sections of lawn we had to spray to kill poison ivy means we have a lot of grass seed to plant!
  • In the far right of the photo you can see the backboard of our built-in basketball hoop.  This sucker needs reset (it's leaning) and a new paint job - I'm thinking Cream & Crimson for IU!
  • Lastly, there's this creepy run-down barn (not pictured) that we are planning to tear down.
Here's the before photo of our front yard:
It's actually in way worse shape than this picture suggests...the folks before us planted stuff at random all along the front beds and they are a big old mess now!  Our front yard plans include:
  • Redo the plant beds: I'm taking out those boxwoods on the left (but putting 2 of them in planters for the front stoop).  A lot of the shrubs are being relocated to the back or side of the house (we already took out the one on the far right).
  • Add a cohesive landscape in the beds: it's relatively shady on the front side of our house so I'm thinking lots of hostas and coleus.
  • Paint the door: I want to paint our door bright red to add a pop of color!
  • Redo our mailbox: it needs to be reset as it is listing forward...and it's just ugly - time for a revamp!
  • Mayyyybe paint the siding...I go back and forth on this one :)
What do you think?  Too ambitious? Not enough?  Have any success stories or tips you'd like to share?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Latest Review: Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Summary Blurb:
A 2014 Michael L. Printz Honor Book

In Sally Gardner’s stunning novel, set in a ruthless regime, an unlikely teenager risks all to expose the truth about a heralded moon landing.

What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the "train-track thinkers." So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And it’s big...One hundred very short chapters, told in an utterly original first-person voice, propel readers through a narrative that is by turns gripping and darkly humorous, bleak and chilling, tender and transporting.

My Blabberings:
I love, love, loved this book!  It was a strange but beautiful little tale that stays with you long after you finish the last page.  I'm going to have to buy a copy so I can lend it out to as many friends as I can!

Maggot Moon defies category conventions.  Due to the book's short length and the age of the protagonist, I think this is marketed as a YA/MG book, but there's some very adult events that transpire.  It is also a mixture of historical fiction and science fiction as it is set in an alternate Big Brother-esque past.

I admire that the author created a main character, Standish Treadwell, that is not conventionally smart or handsome.  Despite these handicaps he is one of the most loveable protagonists I've come across in my reading.

Bottom line: the writing is beautiful, the characters captivating, and the story memorable.  Highly recommended - go read this book!

5/5 stars