September 1, 2014

What I'm Reading Monday - 9/1/14



This week I finished three more books, read a great deal on the other books I have been working on since last week, and I have added on a couple books, as is my manner. :)

Also this week I will be adding on a book for the Travel the World Readathon, which starts today - hooray!


FINISHED READING THIS WEEK:



The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst
*For Review*
4 STARS
Last Week:  50-73%
This Week: 73-100%
Pages Read This Week: 95
Thoughts: Jumps right into the action and barely slows to catch its breath right to through to the end.  I loved the characters and loved watching them grow. 



The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz
*For Review from Publisher and Net Galley*
4.5 STARS
Last Week: 38-60%
This Week: 60-100%
Pages Read This Week: 150
Thoughts:  A fast-paced read with a fierce female and a demonslaying hottie, lots of funny lines, and several twisty surprises.




Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James
*For Review*
3.5 STARS
Last Week: 46-56%
This Week: 56-100%
Pages Read: 176
Thoughts: I enjoyed this light-hearted tale of Jane as a teenager spending two weeks with friends and relations far from home.  The pace stagnated a couple of times, but the characters were so wonderfully depicted that I just had to know how everything resolved itself.


NEW BOOKS ADDED THIS WEEK TO CURRENTLY READING:


The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
*E-book For Review*
This Week: 2%
Pages Read: 7
Thoughts:  Yea, I didn't really think this through.  A Sudden Light, which I am 3/4 of the way through is of a supernatural story in an old mansion.  I need to complete it first so as not to get the stories mixed-up.



Sweet Tooth: A Memoir by Tim Anderson
*For Fun*
Pg. 54 of 319
This Week: 54 pages
Thoughts: I immediately like Tim and I love the writing style.  



CONTINUING TO ENJOY THIS WEEK:



A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
*For Review via Edelweiss*
Last Week: 30-48%
This Week: 48-65%
Pages Read This Week: 54
Thoughts: Okay let's get this sorted out already.  It's dragging.



A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin
*For Review thanks to Edelweiss*
*For Travel the World Challenge*
Last Week: 11-20%
This Week: 20-60%
Pages Read: 121
Thoughts: I'm finding it very interesting to read about a different perspective on Communist China, how the citizens were under such different impressions such as they thought they were liberating Taiwan, etc.  Things never taught in my school.  This is why reading books about other cultures is so important!



Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
*For Project Gutenburg Project and The Classics Club*
Last Week: 14-24%
This Week: 24-48%
Pages Read: 36
Thoughts: Nietzsche has a lot of provocative thoughts on a great many topics, but when he discusses women, he is out of his element.  Not his best material.  I will have to elaborate in my review.



People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
*For Lit Collective Book Club*
On pg. 274 of 372
Last Week: 72 pages
This Week: 72 pages
Thoughts: I am hoping this has some kind of revelatory ending.



Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #2 - Summer Vacation
*For the BSC Readalong*
Pg. 135 of 246
Last Week: 28 pages
This Week: 107 pages
Thoughts: Any 30-something-year-old female remembers devouring these books back in the day.  It is fun to reminisce about them!



The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian
*Wanted a non-review book to read at my leisure*
Last Week: 0-13%
This Week: 13-18%
Pages Read This Week: 16
Thoughts: Slow going but they are getting ready to leave the compound so hopefully it gets more interesting.



STATS:

Total Pages Read Last Week: 719
Total Pages Read THIS Week: 888

Books Reading for Review: 4
Books Reading for Readalongs/Challenges: 2
Books Reading for the Fun of It: 2

Total Books Currently Reading: 8
Total Books Read So Far This Year: 69



WHAT'S NEXT:



 

 




~What are you reading right now?  
~What did you just finish?  
~What book are you looking forward to reading next?  
Share in the comments!

August 30, 2014

Short 'n Sweet Reviews: Jane Austen, The Lost, Goodnight June


Today I am reviewing three books that were graciously given to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.  



TITLE: Jane Austen's First Love
AUTHOR: Syrie James
PUBLISHER: Berkley Trade
RATING: 4 Stars
THOUGHTS:  I enjoyed this lighthearted tale of Jane as a teenager spending two weeks with friends and relations far from home.  Jane is a spirited, optimistic fifteen-year-old.  She is naive, but then most are at that age.  She reminded me very much of her character, Emma. The pace stagnated a couple of times, but the characters were so wonderfully depicted that I just had to know how everything resolved itself.


TITLE: Goodnight June
AUTHOR: Sarah Jio
PUBLISHER: Plume
RATING: 3.5 Stars
THOUGHTS: Can I live and work at Bluebird Books?  I can? Thanks!  Because I want to so badly.  I admire the way Jio wove the story of June, Ruby, and the bookstore together with the correspondence between Ruby and Margaret Wise Brown.  Predictable at times, it was still so enchanting a tale that I hardly noticed.  I got frustrated with Gavin's character, as he seems too perfect to even relate to, but when I found out about June's past, it turned those feelings on their head. Not a particularly stimulating book, but it will keep you cozy late into the night. 



TITLE: The Lost
AUTHOR: Sarah Beth Durst
PUBLISHER: Harlequin MIRA
RATING: 4 Stars
THOUGHTS: Jumps right into the action and hardly slows to catch its breath right to through to the end.  I loved the characters and loved watching them grow.  Lauren can be a bit more tentative than I typically like in a protagonist, but Peter and Claire help her realize her potential is so much greater than she assumes.  I cannot help but  think Lost actually exists.

August 29, 2014

TRAVEL THE WORLD IN BOOKS READATHON - My Goals for the Readathon!


YAY!  It is nearly time for the Travel the World Readathon to begin!  I am SUPER excited about this one.  If you've been visiting the blog any length of time, then you know I am a huge proponent of diversity in reading and have been championing it for 5 years, since the blog began.  So when Tanya approached me about helping out with the Travel the World Readathon, of course I jumped on it!  

Today I am posting up my readathon goals.  The readathon is September 1st - September 14th.  Two weeks of diversity reading!  Woot!  I will be reading as much as I can, but you can set your own goals - be it a short essay or 1,000 pages - whatever suits you.  We're all laid back here.  The readathon is to encourage us all to read books set in other countries or by authors from other cultures and to learn about these cultures and share with each other!  Why?  Because diversity is the shit, basically.


Here are my personal goals for the Readathon, which I have linked up to here at Tanya's blog.

1. Read at least one book set in another country/culture.  I put up a photo of the book choices I have on Instagram, which you can see here. Help me decide which one I should read!  Then if I get finished, I will go on to another one and another one!


2.  Write up at least 2 posts on diversity in literature and I also have a mini-challenge to host on the 9th!  I will also be checking out the other guest posts, author interviews, and mini-challenges that we have lined up!  Plus there are giveaways, y'all!   LOTS of fun coming!  Here is the schedule.


3. Share previous posts about Traveling the World in books via social media - including my Take Me Away posts - remember those?

4. Participate in the #TraveltheWorldinBooksRAT Facebook chat on Sept. 3rd and the Twitter Chat on Sept. 10th.


I hope you will join us in our Travel the World Readathon!  No big committment, just lots of fun! And we will be showing publishers that #WeNeedDiverseBooks because look at us, we are reading them!   Sign ups are here!




August 27, 2014

Cracking the Whip on My New Year's Resolutions


YAY, ACCOMPLISHMENTS!


1.  Don't force self to read books I'm just not that into.  I am DNF'ing whenever I feel like reading a book is becoming a chore.  Consequently, my reading has become much more enjoyable, free, and exciting.

2. Draw more.  I have made lots of art this year from sketches to paintings to designing bookmarks.  I'm having a lot of fun with it!

3. Dance again.  It is slow and sporadic but I am taking 5 minutes here and there to dance in my bedroom to a song with a good beat.  I might not be able to ever return to dance classes, so I will take this!

4. Give yourself a break.  I have been slowly coming to terms with the fact my body is degenerating each year.  I can do less and less and less.  But that doesn't mean I can't do a little every day and that is what I have been doing. :)

5. Meditate for 6 minutes.  It is very challenging but I can do it.  3-4 minutes is still my comfort zone.  I don't know how people meditate for long stretches of time, even hours.  I hope I can make it to 10 minutes next year.

6. I have re-learned the Spanish I had forgotten.  

7. Laughing a lot.  I have some great friends and they make me laugh every day.  John makes me laugh every day, even when I am sad or angry.  He's really great at that.

8. Cook more.  I have learned several new recipes, I can cook pretty much any vegetables, and I am almost to the point where I can tell meat is done without cutting it into a thousand pieces.  But more was the point, not well.  That's still a work in progress. :)



IN PROGRESS


1. Read 75 books in a year.  I am at 67 now.  I will meet this goal in September or October.  Yay!

2. Write more.  I've blogged a lot more than I did last year, and I wrote most of a children's story.  I just need to figure out some of the kinks in it, which has not been an easy task, unfortunately.

3. Graduate from physical therapy.  I just started again this week after having to take a break for insurance reasons.

4. Still doing daily stretching.  I have missed several days when in horrible flare-ups, but since I have stretched nearly every single day since January, I am still calling it an in-progress goal. If it is over 320 days of the year, I say it is a successfully completed goal.  Flare-ups can't count all the time, right?

5. Eat healthier.  I am better at this sometimes more than other times.  Flare-ups I suck at it, when I feel better I tend to eat better (it also helps I can cook when I am not so sick.) I have been eating more vegetarian meals.

6. Learning more Spanish.  Almost have conversational Spanish down (you know, beyond the formality greetings and what have you.)  I am hoping to become pretty good by 2015!

7. Still working on re-learning Sign Language as well, although this progress is a lot slower than my Spanish simply because I have apps to help make re-learning Spanish easier.

8. Remember to take care of yourself first and the rest will fall into place.  I still suck at this but I am getting better at saying no when I feel something is too much for me or I feel like my health issues will get in the way.  I am also trying to schedule in rest days during my week so I don't overwhelm my body anymore.  Easier said than done.

9. Tell the people I love I love them more often.  This seems to come in waves.  I really need to just keep doing this.

10. Spend more time at the park.  Not doing very well at this, but I have been to the park several times this year.  I need to step it up.

11. Visit 2 museums.  I have been to one, the Science Center and Museum.  So I have one down, one to go!

12. Try 7 new things this year.  Tried some new Egyptian food.   Tried some new paints.   Tried out designing bookmarks.   Getting ready to help run a Readathon for the first time!   So I need 3 more things still.


SUPER IFFY :/


1. Learn to knit.  I am going to give it another try.  I've been procrastinating because I feel like if I fail a third time I will have to stop trying and admit defeat.

2. Learn guitar/ukulele/piano.  I really need to get my uke tuned.  I've had every intention of getting help with that for months.  You know, since January. 

3. Looking dire on the whole restoring the old wooden chair project.

4. Call long-distance friends more often.  It is more often, but not as often as it should be.  Hoping to improve.  

5. Paint your fingernails more often.  I have painted my fingernails a total of once in the past 8 months.  

MISERABLY FAILED!


1. No more than 1 review book a month.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  

2. Walk at least a mile a week. Considering I have been really sick this year I have not been able to do this weekly, and even have had to skip whole months altogether.  I'm hoping now that I'm back in physical therapy and I am getting help for my bum ankle this can pick back up, but the goal is blown at any rate.

3. Same with daily yoga.  I don't know when or how it happened but I slowly started doing less and less yoga.  I had to stop the classes because of money but I need to pick up my home routine again.  


How have you done with your New Year's Resolutions?  Did you accomplish anything?  Did you totally forget about them?  Share in the comments!

August 26, 2014

Native American Heritage Month in Books




August is Native American Heritage Month and I want to celebrate (though I am late getting on this) by sharing some books about Native American history and culture, as well as novels that feature Native Americans.

I have listed below a variety of books to check out, and if you are so inclined also feel free to peruse my Take Me Away posts for more reading lists- CherokeeSioux, and Inuit Cultures. 


(All following book descriptions are thanks to GR.)

HISTORY



Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is Dee Brown's eloquent, fully documented account of the systematic destruction of the American Indian during the second half of the nineteenth century. A national bestseller in hardcover for more than a year after its initial publication, it has sold almost four million copies and has been translated into seventeen languages. For this elegant thirtieth-anniversary edition -- published in both hardcover and paperback -- Brown has contributed an incisive new preface.

Using council records, autobiographies, and firsthand descriptions, Brown allows the great chiefs and warriors of the Dakota, Ute, Sioux, Cheyenne, and other tribes to tell us in their own words of the battles, massacres, and broken treaties that finally left them demoralized and defeated. A unique and disturbing narrative told with force and clarity,Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee changed forever our vision of how the West was really won.



Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog
This is the powerful autobiography of Mary Brave Bird, who grew up in the misery of a South Dakota reservation. Rebelling against the violence and hopelessness of reservation life, she joined the tribal pride movement in an effort to bring about much-needed changes.



The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull by Robert M. Utley

Few figures in American history have been so little understood as Sitting Bull. This first authoritative study of any Native American leader considers the legendary warrior in terms of his people's cultural values, exposes many ironies of Indian-white relations, and more. 



The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History by Joseph M. Marshall III

As a brilliant leader of a desperate cause and one of the most perennially fascinating figures of the American West, Crazy Horse crushed Custer's 7th Cavalry and brought the United States Army to its knees. Now, with the help of celebrated historian Joseph Marshall, we finally have the opportunity to know Crazy Horse as his fellow Lakota Indians knew him.  Drawing on extensive research and a rich oral tradition that it rarely shared outside Native American circles, Marshall - himself a descendent of the Lakota community that raised Crazy Horse - creates a vibrant portrait of the man, his times, and his legacy. From the powerful vision that spurred him into battle to the woman he loved but lost to duty and circumstance, this is a compelling celebration of a culture, an enduring way of life, and the unforgettable hero who remains a legend among legends.


CULTURE



The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday
In this enchanting book, Scott Momaday retells myths of his people and describes the Indian way of life he knew as a child. In two dozen passages, he tells of how his people entered the world through a hollow log, shares stories of great events and heroes, and recalls fantastic creatures like a buffalo with horns of steel. Supplementing these stories with factual notations and personal reminiscences, Momaday has created more than a collection of folklore. The Way to Rainy Mountain is a treasury of images that preserves the Kiowa way of life.



American Indian Myths and Legends by Richard Erdoes

Gathering 160 tales from 80 tribal groups to offer a rich and lively panarama of the Native American mythic heritage. 100 drawings.



FICTION



A Yellow Raft in Blue Water by Michael Dorris
Michael Dorris has crafted a fierce saga of three generations of Indian women, beset by hardships and torn by angry secrets, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of kinship. Starting in the present day and moving backward, the novel is told in the voices of the three women: fifteen-year-old part-black Rayona; her American Indian mother, Christine, consumed by tenderness and resentment toward those she loves; and the fierce and mysterious Ida, mother and grandmother whose haunting secrets, betrayals, and dreams echo through the years, braiding together the strands of the shared past.




The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

n his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.



Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie

The life of Spokane Indian Thomas Builds-the-Fire irrevocably changes when blues legend Robert Johnson miraculously appears on his reservation and passes the misfit storyteller his enchanted guitar. Inspired by this gift, Thomas forms Coyote Springs, an all-Indian Catholic band who find themselves on a magical tour that leads from reservation bars to Seattle and New York--and deep within their own souls.



The Plague of Doves by Louise Eldrich

The unsolved murder of a farm family still haunts the white small town of Pluto, North Dakota, generations after the vengeance exacted and the distortions of fact transformed the lives of Ojibwe living on the nearby reservation.  Part Ojibwe, part white, Evelina Harp is an ambitious young girl prone to falling hopelessly in love. Mooshum, Evelina's grandfather, is a repository of family and tribal history with an all-too-intimate knowledge of the violent past. And Judge Antone Bazil Coutts, who bears witness, understands the weight of historical injustice better than anyone. Through the distinct and winning voices of three unforgettable narrators, the collective stories of two interwoven communities ultimately come together to reveal a final wrenching truth.

Mean Spirit by Linda Hogan
Native Americans made rich by the Oklahoma oil boom of the 1920s fall victim to a campaign of fraud and intimidation on the part of white businessmen eager to rob them of their new-found wealth.
The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin
This moving adaptation of the classic children's story Cinderella tells how a disfigured Algonquin girl wins the heart of a mysterious being who lives by the lake near her village.  The powerful Invisible Being is looking for a wife, and all the girls in the village vie for his affections. But only the girl who proves she can see him will be his bride. The two beautiful but spoiled daughters of a poor village man try their best to be chosen, but it is their Rough-Face-Girl sister, scarred on her face and arms from tending fires, who sees the Invisible Being in the wonder of the natural world.  The dramatic illustrations reflect the vibrant earth colors of the native landscape and the wisdom and sensitivity of the protagonist.

August 25, 2014

What I'm Reading Mondays



This week I added on a book to my reading list that is simply and purely just for the enjoyment of reading.  Every other book is an ARC or for a readalong, so it was refreshing to pick up a book of my choice and just read for THE FUN OF IT.  Ah. remember that?  I forgot about that.  Blissful.

I also finished two books, How to Build a Girl and But Enough About You, both good reads, and made good progress with all of my books.  I should have several completed next week as well.  I need to make time to review them now, too!


FINISHED READING THIS WEEK:


How to Build a Girl: A Novel by Cailin Moran
*For Review thanks to Harper and Edelweiss*
4.5 STARS
Last Week: 41-65%
This Week: 65-100% 
Pages Read: 124
Thoughts: Very enjoyable read- bitterly honest, clever, and laugh-out-loud funny.



But Enough About You: Essays by Christopher Buckley
*For Review via Edelweiss*
3 STARS
Last Week: 51-67%
This Week: 67-100%
Pages Read: 148
Thoughts: Clever and witty essay collection.  


CURRENTLY READING:
(check below this section for new books for the week)



People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
*For Lit Collective Book Club*
On pg. 202 of 372
Last Week: 23 pages
This Week: 72 pages
Thoughts: I'm fascinated by Hanna's chapters and story.  (Her MOM, though!)
The wine stain historical story bored me, but the saltwater story in Spain has me intrigued.



A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
*For Review via Edelweiss*
Last Week: 19-30%
This Week: 30-48%
Pages Read This Week:  58
Thoughts: It's a ghost story that isn't scary, just oddly fascinating and mysterious.
I look forward to where this is going.



The Lost by Sarah Beth Durst
*For Review*
Last Week:  36-50%
This Week: 50-73%
Pages Read This Week: 81
Thoughts: I'm almost afraid to finish this one because I have a very definitive viewpoint on how I think this should turn out!



Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James
*For Review*
Last Week: 33-46%
This Week: 46-56%
Pages Read: 40
Thoughts: Still enjoying it, though there was a section with far too much rambling on about which friends and acquaintances she wanted to set up with which other friends and acquaintances.  



The Dark World by Cara Lynn Shultz
*For Review from Publisher and Net Galley*
Last Week: 21-38%
This Week: 38-60%
Pages Read: 83
Thoughts: Hmm...getting suspicious of someone I thought was on the side of good.  Twisty!  



A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin
*For Review thanks to Edelweiss*
*For Travel the World Challenge*
Last Week: 0-11%
This Week: 11-20%
Pages Read: 28
Thoughts: I think there will be many layers to this tale.



Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
*For Project Gutenburg Project and The Classics Club*
Last Week: 0-14%
This Week: 14-24%
Pages Read: 15
Thoughts: First narrator was much better than the woman on this second chapter.  She read at the speed of lightning.  If I hadn't been following along on my Kindle, I would've been lost. Even reading quickly, she made 15 pages feel long.


NEW BOOKS ADDED THIS WEEK TO CURRENTLY READING:


Baby-Sitters Club Super Special #2 - Summer Vacation
*For the BSC Readalong*
Pg. 28 of 246
This Week: 28 pages
Thoughts: I like that this is told from multiple viewpoints, as was the Super Special #1, the favorite book of my pre-teen years.



The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian
*Wanted a non-review book to read at my leisure*
This Week: 0-13%
Pages Read: 42
Thoughts: A dystopian, yes, but an interesting twist on the genre.  
Hoping it continues that way.



STATS:

Total Pages Read Last Week: 796
Total Pages Read THIS Week: 719

Books Reading for Review: 6
Books Reading for Readalongs/Challenges: 2
Books Reading for the Fun of It: 1

Total Books Currently Reading: 9
Total Books Read So Far This Year: 66




WHAT'S NEXT:







~What are you reading right now?  
~What did you just finish?  
~What book are you looking forward to reading next?  
Share in the comments!