Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls

by David Sedaris
published: Little Brown and Company, 2013
pages: 275

David Sedaris writes about his life in narratives from childhood into adulthood.  He explores his life and what it means to be a part of a family, to love and be loved in return.  Also, owls.

Most of these stories are his, however, there are a couple that he has written from someone else's point of view.  It's rather confusing because I sometimes couldn't tell which ones were his stories and which ones he was making up.  He did warn us at the beginning of the book, but I kind of wish he hadn't included those stories.

There is a great deal of humor in this book, some that I even appreciate, but it was much darker than I anticipated it.  I had people tell me that Sedaris books are great and that I should read them.  Maybe I just chose the wrong Sedaris book.

Some of the narratives in this book are insanely interesting, if not a little morbid.  I enjoyed reading the one about the Kookaburra and the one about the passport was interesting too.  However, I found myself skimming stories near the end of the book because I just wanted to be done reading.

There is no denying this book is well written.  It's vivid, entertaining and the humor is evident.  However, I just did not get into this book as much as I wanted to.  It's not to say that someone else shouldn't read it.  I would gladly recommend this book to someone who has similar humor to David Sedaris writing style, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

Stars: 2/5


"Wickedly deadpan prose.... Even the most mundane experience is described through the skewed prism of Sedaris's unusual sensibility."
     ---Sarah Lyall, New York Times

"Sedaris is still the funniest guy around, hilarious enough to make you want to call your friends, book in hand, and read pieces out loud."
     --Juliana Barbassa, Associated Press

"Sedaris ain't the preeminent humorist of his generation by accident, and his reluctant charm and talent for observing every inch of the human condition remain intact."
     --Whitney Pastorek, Entertainment Weekly

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Goals and Resolutions for 2015

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Apparently 5 is a good number this year...

1. Last year, I was minimalist in my challenge selections, this year I have chosen six challenges.  I'm shooting for the moon with this one but I want to finish all challenges that I committed to this year.  That would be great!

2. I didn't get to read nearly as many books released in 2014 as I wanted to. (I think I only read two books.) This year I'd like to read 5 books released in 2015.  I know that doesn't sound like many but I spend a lot of time reading books I already own, or catching up on books that I forget great ones come out all the time.

3. I made a small dent in my unread books in 2014, but as one naturally does, I gained more books in 2014.  So I'm going to continue to continue hacking away at my unread books.  This year I'd like to read 12 of them, one for every month.

4. I love reading books more than once, but usually I'm so busy reading books I haven't read that I don't get around to rereading books.  This year I'd like to reread 5 books.

5.  Building off the last goal, I haven't read the Harry Potter series straight through in years.   I mostly pick one book a year and reread it, so there's a little bit of Harry all the time.  This year, however, I'd love to reread the entire series. 

6. I'm going to read more graphic novels/ comics in the year 2015.  I said this last year and then I read a total of 2 graphic novels, which, if you look at statics, means I met my goal because in 2013 I read zero graphic novels.  However, I'm going to set a number goals this year because I liked the graphic novels I read, and so I want to read more.  Let's say 5.  I'm going to read at least 5 graphic novels this year. 

7.  The library is a beautiful place and I need to use it more.  However, I also need to use it better.  By that I mean I need to stop returning books and movies late.  I don't need to tell you how much I've spent, but my card has been suspended at least once this year due to overdue fines.  I bet I have some fines on my card right now.  I just need to get way better at this.

8. I'd like to become more active in the community this year.  Last year, I tried to do this, and while I think I was semi successful at this,  I'd like to do more.  One way I can think of doing this is commenting on blogs posts more.  I'm going to comment more and not just on TTT or HPMotW  posts.  I'm going to make an effort to find more blogs that I am genuinely interested in and make some friends. 

9.  I'm going to finish a writing my book this year.  Every year for the last four years, I've taken part in NaNoWriMo, so I have four first drafts sitting around collecting dust.  This year, I'm going to take one (or maybe start from scratch, who knows) and turn it into a draft that I want to show people.  2015 is the year that I finish my book.

10. I'm going to leave this one open because the goals this year could be endless... catching up on series, attending events (BEA, YallFest), go to author events, visit independent bookstores, make new friends, anything is possible with an open end.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Notable Quotable: Matthew Quick (#60)

"Most people lose the ability to see silver linings even though they are always there above us almost every day."
     -- The Silver Linings Playbook

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (#22)

hosted by Uncorked Thoughts.

Snape Moment

I'm a huge fan of Snape, not all of his choices mind you, just the idea of redemption that his character embodies.  Here's a man that has had every opportunity to make bad decisions and he makes them.  He's drawn every short straw life could offer him, a bad home environment, being bullied at school, not many friends, ect.  So when he finally makes the right choice, in his mind it's too late, but Dumbledore makes it work.  He uses Snape as a spy and ultimately, Snape helps the Order bring down the reign of Voldemort.

One of my favorite moments with Snape is from The Deathly Hallows, when he's explaining to Lily what it means to be a witch or a wizard.

Two children sat facing each other, cross-legged on the ground.  Snape had removed his coat now; his odd smock looked less peculiar in the half light.
"...and the Ministry can punish you if you do magic outside school, you get letters."
"But I have done magic outside school!"
"We're all right.  We haven't got our wands yet.  They let you off when you're a kid and you can't help it.  But once you'r eleven," he nodded importantly, "and they start training you, then you've got to go careful."
"It is real, isn't it?   It's not a joke?  Petunia says you're lying to me.  Petunia says there isn't a Hogwarts.  It is real, isn't it?"
"It's real for us," said Snape. "Not for her.  But we'll get the letter, you and me."
"Really?"  whispered Lily.
"Definitely," said Snape, and even with his poorly cut hair and his odd clothes, he struck an oddly impressive figure sprawled in front of her, brimful of confidence in his destiny.
"And will it really come by owl?"  Lily whispered.
"Normally," said Snape. "But you're Muggle-born, so someone from the school will have to come and explain to your parents."
"Does it make a difference, being Muggle-born?"
Snape hesitated.  His black eyes, eager in the greenish gloom, moved over the pale face, the dark red hair.
"No," he said. "It doesn't make any difference."

This moment reminds me of his innocence.  At one point, he was just a boy trying to make a friend.  In this moment, Snape decides to put aside anything he might have been taught about being pureblood, rather than Muggle-born.  Even though he hesitates, it's clear that he's decided that, for Lily, it doesn't matter.  He's confided much in her and the fact that she's Muggle-born doesn't bother Snape, although it's almost certain that it would bother his family.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Santa Could Bring Me

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker - I had a friend tell me to read this, and I trust her opinion with out a shadow of a doubt.  Plus, the pages on this book are black and it's gorgeous!

2. What It Is by Lynda Berry - This book is b-e-a-utiful.  The artwork is incredibly intricate and insane.  I would love to have the book for my collection so that I could go back and look at the drawings again and again.

3. Legend, Prodigy, and Champion by Marie Lu - I would love to get these books for Christmas either separately or as a box set, it doesn't matter to me.  I love this trilogy and I don't actually own it, so it's time to change that!

4. Cinder and Scarlett by Marissa Meyer - I own Cress, but Santa could bring me hardcover copies of the first two books to match.  They would look so good on my shelf together.

5. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick - I browse this book almost every time I'm in a bookstore because the artwork is so incredible.  I would love to own this story because while I've seen the movie and read bits and pieces of it over the years, I've never read it cover to cover.

6. Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator and Gilda Joyce: The Dead Drop by Jennifer Allison - I own the second, third and fifth book in this series and man is it annoying not having them all.  I haven't even started it yet because I don't have the first book and I really want to read them.  Santa could solve this problem.

7. Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan - This book is beautiful and for that reason alone I want it on my bookshelf.  I also want to read it, but that came after I drooled over this cover for a while.

8. Something Real by Heather Demetrios - This book has a cool cover and I have a feeling that my bookshelf would welcome it with open arms.

9. Expertus by Holly Lauren - This book is not at my library and I highly doubt it will ever come to my library, so it would be amazing to see Santa bring me this book.  I really enjoyed the first book and want to read the sequel badly; it ended on a pretty good cliffhanger.

10. Jackaby by William Ritter - I just found out about this book and all I know is that it's supposed to be mix between Sherlock and Doctor Who to a certain extend.  That's all I need to know, plus the interesting title/name to want to own this book.

Friday, December 19, 2014

First Line Challenge

Notable Quotable: A.S. King (#59)

"I'm sorry, but I don't get it.  If we're supposed to ignore everything that's wrong with our lives, then I can't see how we'll ever make this right."
     -- Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (#21)

hosted by Uncorked Thoughts.

Minerva McGonagall line.

There are so many things that McGonagall says that I love, so it's incredibly hard to choose just one line that sums up my love for her.  I've decided to move toward McGonagall's more sarcastic and  humorous side.

If we're talking favorite line from the movies, I would say the moment from Deathly Hallows Part II where she is instructing people, and/or giant stone warriors, how to prepare for battle.  There are two specific lines in that section.  The first one is:

"Do you duty to the school!" 

The second is when she's instructing Neville and Seamus.

"Why don't you confer with Mr. Finnegan? As I recall, he has a particular proclivity for pyrotechnic."  

If we're talking books, one of my favorite moments is when McGonagall is talking to Harry after he received a detention from Umbridge for claiming Voldemort is back.

'Is it true that you shouted at Professor Umbridge?'
'Yes,' said Harry.
'You called her a liar?'
'You told her He Who Must Not Be Named is back?'
Professor McGonagall sat down behind her desk, frowning at Harry.  Then she said, 'Have a biscuit, Potter.'
'Have -- what?'
'Have a biscuit,' she repeated impatiently, indicating a tartan tin lying on top of one of the piles of papers on her desk. 'And sit down.'
After reading this passage for the first time, I remember fist pumping the air and audibly saying something like "you go McGonagall!"   Because throughout the entire book, McGonagall has been defiant of Umbridge in every way possible.  She literally rewards Harry for yelling at Umbridge.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Read in 2014

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead - The fact that the main character's favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time is one of the reasons I like this book.  The story is so carefully crafted, you're not sure what's going to happen until it does.

2. Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger - This book has such an interesting concept and the title is so intriguing.  That's what drew me to the book.  I stayed because the adventure was so fun and the characters were really cool.

3. Cress by Marissa Meyer - She has continued to impress me with this series and I cannot get enough of it.  I loved hearing Cress addition to the story and how she interacts with the other characters.  I cannot wait to read the last two books.

4. Champion by Marie Lu - This was the first conclusion to a trilogy in a long while that I loved.  I would not change a thing about it.  Marie Lu is amazing and I'm glad she started another series.

5. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro - This book was incredibly beautiful; the writing is striking and poignant.  The story is crafted in such a way that it is heart breaking, yet so compelling.  It made me want to watch the movie again.

6. The Maze Runner by James Dashner - I absolutely found this trilogy engaging and intense. I read all of these books one right after another because I found myself needing to know what happened.

7. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick - This book proved to me just how much I like Matthew Quick as a writer.  His ability to create a story is amazing and his characters really come to life.  I had myself believing that Pat was real.

8. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King - I could not put this book down and when I had to, all I could think about was this book.  I needed to know what happened next.  It's so engaging.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Notable Quotable: Kate DiCamillo (#58)

"Thinking about her was the hole you keep on feeling with your tongue after you lose a tooth. Time after time, my mind kept going to that empty spot, the spot where I felt like she should be."
     -- Because of Winn-Dixie

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (#20)

hosted by Uncorked Thought.

Favorite Dragon Species.

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Norwegian Ridgebacks, but I the Chinese Fireball is probably my favorite dragon. They are known as the Lion Dragon; they are known for being small, fast and clever.  Dragons in general are majestic but the Chinese Fireball seems to be one of the coolest.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Please Ignore Vera Dietz

by A.S. King
published: Ember, 2012 (first published 2010)
pages: 326

Vera spent most of her life keeping her best friend, Charlie's secrets, even after he betrayed her.  Even after he ruined everything.  So when Charlie dies under mysterious circumstances, will she continue to hold the secrets that might just help clear his name?  Does she even want to?

This is my first experience with A. S. King, despite the entire internet yelling that all of these books should be read.  I'm not going to lie, I couldn't put it down and when I had to all I did was think about the book.  I had this incredible desire for everything to turn out alright, but as we know from the first page or so, nothing turns out alright.  I wanted to hate this book because it wasn't what I expected it to be, but I can't.  I can't and here's why:

The story telling is amazing.  I loved the short chapters from different points of view.  The story is mostly told from Vera's POV, but we get snippets from other characters and inanimate objects, which are hilarious.  There's also a POV that is all knowing, but doesn't quite understand how to explain everything to Vera, mostly because he's dead and he can't talk to her in the conventional way.

The short chapters are great because you get more of each character glimpses at a time.  They bounce around from present to history to explain relationships and reasons why Vera is mad or wants to be considered invisible.  It great storytelling really.  I was hooked by this book.

The characters in this book felt real, like I was reading something that actually took place.  Everything seemed gritty and raw from the way characters interacted to the way they made choices and the parentage that the characters tried to deny.  I was incredibly frustrated with choices that characters made, the same way I would have been frustrated if my friends would have made these choices.

There's a reason this book was awarded the Printz Honor.  I cannot wait to read more of A.S. King's books.  In fact, Everybody Sees the Ants is on my shelf right now waiting to be read.

Stars: 5/5


"A harrowing but ultimately redemptive tale of adolescent angst gone awry."
     --Kirkus Reviews, starred

"Deeply suspenseful and profoundly human."
     --Publishers Weekly, starred

"Vera's struggle to put Charlie and his besmirched name behind her is at the crux of this whitty, thought-provoking novel, but nothing compares to the gorgeous unfurling of Vera's relationship with her father... [A]n arresting tale."
     --Booklist, starred

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: New To Me Author in 2014

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. James Dashner - There's something about the way he writes that made me need to finish The Maze Runner trilogy as fast as possible.  It's addictive and intense, and absolutely fun to read.

2. Holly Lauren - I was introduced to her book Tempus by a co-worker who thought I would love it and guess what, I did!  The sequel recently came out and I look forward to reading it.

3. Rebecca Stead - I read her novel, When You Reach Me, which I thought was brilliant.  She only has two other novels, but I've made it my mission to read them as well.

4. Carrie Ryan - Her zombie story, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, was unexpected and engaging.  I don't know what I expected when I picked up her book, but I really enjoyed it.

5. Jay Asher - I really liked 13 Reasons Why and have had my eyes on The Future of Us for a while now.  His writing was a smooth read, I could sit for hours without having to take a break.

6. Gale Carriger - Her steampunk style made me very happy as I was reading about girls going to a school for espionage, disguised as a finishing school.  Etiquette and Espionage is clever and engaging.

I didn't read a lot of books with authors that were new to me this year, but here are some that just missed the cut, but should be on this list anyway. (I read a book by them in December 2013.)

7. Matthew Quick - I've read The Silver Linings Playbook and Please Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.  Both of them were very good reads and I really enjoyed them both.  He has quickly become apart of my favorite authors.

8. Maggie Steifvater - I've read ShiverThe Raven Boys, and The Scorpio Races.  All three were good although I preferred the latter two more.  Ever since reading The Raven Boys, I've been meaning to read the sequel and now that the third one's out, I've got to to get on it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Notable Quotable: A.S. King (#57)

"Because with Charlie, nothing was ever easy.  Everything was windswept and octagonal and finger-combed.  Everything was difficult and odd, and the theme songs all had minor chords."
     -- Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Harry Potter Moment of the Week (#19)

hosted by Uncorked Thoughts.

Favorite Magical Pet

Hagrid had some fun and interesting beasts/pets.  I'm sure if I could have tamed a dragon and kept it puppy-sized forever, I would have it as a pet.  I would have so much fun with my tiny dragon although, it could accidentally (or on purpose) set the house on fire, so that's something to thing about. 

However, I absolutely LOVE owls and for years and years I couldn't figure out where my love had started.  Once day my mom pointed out that it probably stemmed from the Harry Potter series because Harry had Hedwig.  I laughed because it had never occurred to me that it could have come from reading Harry Potter.  I'd say that owls are my favorite magical pet, you can't get more classic than Hedwig, now can you?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

7 Reasons Why I Love Artemis Fowl

1. Artemis Fowl is an 11 year old criminal mastermind.  He's incredibly intelligent and altogether too mature for his age.  It's hilarious to read about but totally believable in his own right.  The social awkwardness because of his evil genius nature is probably why I love him so much early on in the series.  He has no ability to interact with someone his own age and I love it!

2. The underground world of fairies, Haven City, is brilliant.  Just think an entire metropolis of fairy creatures living underneath the human population without their knowledge.  It's crazy and the shuttles to and from the city to the surface of the Earth as really an awesome way to travel.  Taking a ride on a magma flare from the core of the Earth is a brilliant mode of transportation.

3. Butler is a macho man with killer instincts and reflexes.  He knows what's what and he can kill you in several different ways without trying.  He's got so much bad-assery but when it comes to family he will do whatever it takes to protect them.  Butler is fiercely loyal to Artemis and in return he has Artemis' respect, which is very hard to get.

4. Holly Short is quite possibly my favorite character in this series.  She is a spitfire who doesn't let Artemis boss her around but knows when to take orders and when to give them.  She's a rule breaker and that gets her into trouble, but it also saves the day more than once.

5. The character transformations over this series are incredible.  You start off reading one set of characters and by the end you are still reading about them, but they are completely different in the ways they think and interact.  It's amazing to see character development to this degree.

 6. Mulch Diggums. There's no more to say other than he is brilliant.

7. The plot is fast paced and engaging.  I never felt like not reading these books.  I continued to think about what Artemis and the others were doing when I wasn't reading these books.  I loved the action pack battle scenes and the sarcastic character development moments and the problem solving that seemed to happen on every page.  I always wanted more, to know what was going on in Holly and Artemis' worlds.