Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Ending of a Good Year

I can't believe it has been over a month since I have updated my blog! I also have no idea how we are already at the end of another year! It went by so fast, and looking back on it brings back smiles; which is always positive. This year I made the leap and moved back to my home state, California. I took the leap, quit my job in DC, and moved over to the West in the hope of finding a new job. Starting back was a little scary, but my friends and family are probably the most supportive group of people I know. They helped me find a job in a restaurant while I looked for a job in my field, they let me stay in their homes/apts during contract jobs, and every time I was feeling down, they were right there to pick me back up. I have now started a job back in the field I studied for, just bought my first brand new car, and am living close to my family again! I am blessed beyond belief!

Furthermore, the holidays were good to me this year (hence the lack of any new entries), and although I am excited for them to come around every year, I find that they are also so exhausting and that I am sometimes a little thankful once they are done as well. The eating and drinking, parties, and festivities are a thrill, but also exhausting! It was great to see the family though; I never tire of family time! With everything going on though I made sure to find time for some reading, and wanted to give a quick update on books I have loved, traditions I kept, and some of my possible New Year's resolutions.

Two of my favorite things about the holidays are the music and movies. The day after Thanksgiving I start with the music. I know, I know, technically it isn't December yet, but I only get a month to enjoy it so I don't usually feel too bad. My mom and I every year also try to watch as large a variety of movies as possible. Sometimes it is difficult because I can only come home for a short period of time, and we also want to bake cookies, visit with friends you haven't seed in awhile, and finish the shopping and wrapping of presents. This year though we were able to watch a few, and I think my favorite of the year was White Christmas. you really just can't beat that classic, and although I love A Christmas Story and Elf, the music in the movie gets me every time!

This year I also took part in The Broke and Bookish Secret Santa Exchange, and it was sooooo much fun! I loved taking part in finding books for a book lover, and it was also exciting to get my package in the mail. My secret Santa spoiled me for sure! I don't know if I could thank them enough! One of the books, Fangirl, I have been wanting FOREVER, and I read it in a day. I just could not put the book down, and recommend reading it on a day that's rainy or at least one where you don't have anything else to do. I actually heard about it through The Broke and the Bookish. I have started reading more YA as of late, and finding that I am really enjoying them. I am on to Last Letter From Your Lover next and can't wait to dive into it. I also re-read Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time, and it was as amazing as ever. Even more, my best friend gave me an infinity scarf with an excerpt of the book printed on it for an early birthday present! Needless to say, I absolutely love it, and have worn it everywhere!

 Looking back over the year though for my bookish resolutions though I found out I was a little behind on my resolutions. I know now I am not going to make the challenge for Goodreads I made (always next year!) and I won't make the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge either! For the historical fiction challenge I aimed to read 10 books, but only made it to 6. For my Goodreads challenge I was hoping to finish 45 books during the year and so far have completed 39. Close, and even though I didn't make it, I have confidence I am going to do better this year! I am always looking for new book goals too, so if anyone knows of some good ones, please let me know!

Well, that's all the updates I have for know. I will probably be writing more really soon on the couple of books I have read lately. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, and a safe and happy New Year as well!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.


This is a weekly feature that is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. For this week, the topic was "Top Ten Things I am Thankful For." Hope that you enjoy, and let me know some of the things you are thankful for this holiday season!

1)      Family/Friends: This year has been quite the year. Lots of decision-making and leaps were taken. I could never, and I can’t emphasize this enough, NEVER, have done any of this without my support system. I am truly blessed to have such an amazing family and network of friends who have shown their support emotionally, through guidance, through the opening of their homes to me, and giving me the confidence to take chances!

2)      Coffee: Really, let’s be honest, I wouldn’t survive without the amazing ness of this beverage.

3)      Scandal: The show, not the actual act. I am obsessed with this show. I am ashamed because I am not ashamed of the love I have for this show. I don’t care for drama in my life, so this show gives me a little dramatic fix when I need it. And you just never know what is going to happen……each week I find myself with my jaw to the floor in shock. Shonda Rhimes is a genius!

4)      Being Employed: There are many who are not able to find a steady job right now, and with the holidays coming up, I am even more grateful to have a new job!

5)      Barnes N Noble: Or really any bookstore for that matter. This is where I go after a bad day, when I need me time, or just want to be surrounded by books for a little while. It makes me so sad that everything is starting to become all electronic….I cringe when another bookstore closes!

6)      Blankets: Doesn’t matter what color, shape, or size, there is nothing like curling up on the couch on a rainy day surrounded by the warmth of a great blanket and book.

7)      Pinterest: I know that it’s probably more of a waste of my time more than anything else. But I love the DIY ideas I get from it! There’s something for everyone on Pinterest!

8)      Having Basic Rights: To be honest, I am probably not nearly as grateful and thankful as I should be about this. I sometimes forget what a privilege it is to grow up and live in a country that has given me the choice of an education/career/childbirth, etc. I know this was not always the case, and I am also aware of some of the battles (same-sex marriage) that are still ongoing today. However, with that being said, there are still countries that don’t allow women to go to school, are given up as a child bride at the age of 11, and those who aren’t even given basic rights!

9)      Post-its: I make lists on those things allllll day long. I heart lists! :) And I know that I could make them on my phone and probably save trees in the process, but for me post-its are just so much more fun to use. They have neon color options, pastel options, small one, long ones, some post-its are lined, while other are not. The options are endless!

10)  Ryan Gosling: I mean…do I even need to explain?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling

By: Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

My Rating: 3 stars

Who Should Read This: Anyone who likes mysteries, but nothing too scary. This had a good plot twist, but you don't have to worry about anything gruesome. People interested in J.K. Rowling would probably also want to check this out!

Synopsis/My Thoughts:

I tried to dive into this book without any expectations. I knew that J.K Rowling had been the ghost writer, and although I LOVED the Harry Potter series, I was afraid I would find myself comparing the two when I shouldn’t because I knew these books would be so different from each other. The book started off great with the death of Lula Landry, coveted supermodel, and then jumps to a couple of months later with the character Robin starting a new temp job with a man by the name of Cormoran Stirke. The story is predominantly told from the point of view of Strike, with bits of Robin’s perspective from time to time. Strike has just broken up with his fiancĂ©, is having loads of money woes, and has a lack of clients. Then a man by the name of John Bristow, older brother to a deceased friend of Strike’s, comes into the office and requests Strike find the person who killed his sister, Lula Landry. The problem is Lula’s death has already been deemed a suicide. Although Strike himself thinks that John is wasting his money he decides to take the case on. Of course, through his investigation Strike comes to realize John is correct in his assumption of foul play in regards to his sister’s death, and so Strike becomes determined to find the truth.

The storyline overall, was pretty good. It could have been a little faster paced and a tiny bit more dramatic for me, but being from mostly the point of view from Strike, the story was very meticulously written. It was written in the way that showed the reader how Strike worked and enhanced his character’s subtle, no drama attitude. I think at some points I got frustrated because I wanted to know exactly what Strike was thinking in regards to who the killer was, and you are left in suspense of this for the majority of the book. I mean, I definitely kept reading because I was trying to see if any of my assumptions were correct. The writing was well written, not really surprising, but the one thing that I would have liked more of is having more character development for Robin. I felt like the reader kept getting small glimpses into who she was and how she felt, and then all of a sudden it went back to the point of view of Strike. I really liked Robin’s character because of her enthusiasm for the job and how dedicated she was even though her fiancĂ© didn’t approve of it, so I thought she deserved more time in the book. There was even some teasing I felt in relation to her and Strike’s relationship. They meet at the beginning of the book, but I feel like the reader could start to subtly see some chemistry between the two of them, and I started to kind of root for them. Probably one of my favorite characters though was Guy Some. He plays a small role in the book, but his attitude and eccentricity was addicting, and I found myself hoping that he would pop up in other parts of the book.

Even though I had my differences with parts of the book, I commend J.K. Rowling in writing a book for a different genre. Although the book was a little slow at times I found that overall I enjoyed it. As I stated before it was very well written, and in the end I was surprised on who the killer was. Once Strike started to explain the pieces I found myself wondering how I didn’t see it! I am a fan of trying to figure it all out and finding out in the end if I am right or wrong. This time, I was wrong. Way wrong. But maybe that is just a testament to the book! If you have read the book let me know what you think!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

By: Carol Rifka Brunt

Rating: 4 stars

Who Should Read This: This book is for those who are looking for a story to read a powerful story about loss and love, and how we find friendships in the most unlikely places.

Synopsis (Goodreads): 1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood 14 year old June Elbus, and that’s he uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about it, June’ world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life – someone who will help her to heal and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own self.

My Thoughts:

June is a 14-year old who has lost her best friend, her Uncle Finn, whom she loved most in the world. He was he confidant, the person who takes part in her favorite memories, the one person who she feels she can actually be herself around and who understands her. Tragically though, Finn has contracted HIV and dies of AIDS, leaving June feeling like her life has become one confusing, downward spiral. And then she meets Toby. Someone she didn’t even really know existed until her Uncle’s funeral. She finds out he was her late uncle’s partner, who her mother ad family view as “the killer,” the one who took her uncle away from them all. Feeling confused and frustrated herself, June attempts to keep Toby out of her life, but when he shows up at her house one day when she is alone and gives her, her Uncle’s tea set. Something in which she has always treasured, and with the promise of other things her uncle left her, June finds herself drawn to him realizing he knew a side of her uncle that she never did.

This book captured me right from the start. I used to work in HIV, so after reading what this book was all about, I knew I had to get it. I was not disappointed. From the very beginning my heart ached for many of the characters and I realized that this story was ultimately about love in its many forms. Whether it is the love of a dear uncle, a sister who picks on you relentlessly, a mother who is just trying to protect her children from the evils of the outside world, or the love you find in a new friendship you never thought would happen. Throughout the entire book, June is so vulnerable and I found myself wanting to protect her, while also wanting to let her experience situations that would push her to grow no matter how uncomfortable she might find herself to be. Her innocence is very endearing, and a lot of the time I felt I could relate to what she was feeling in her confusion towards life and its many questions. This is possibly why I might have also wanted to push her to try new things! And then there’s Toby. Oh, Toby! I absolutely loved him. His sincerity and patience is a gift, and his persistence in attempting to befriend June, when at first she deals constant low blows to him, is inspiring. The author did a fantastic job in shaping the characters and making them relatable to the reader. This book deals with some serious issues, but does so in a way that the reader roots for everyone. Even Greta, June’s sister, who is constantly hot and cold in their relationship, has demons she is struggling with from which you want to shield her. Not all is what it seems in this book, but that only enhances the writer’s goal for the reader. You learn to realize that there are always two sides to a story, and although on the surface some may seem perfect and that they have it all together, that is rarely the case.

I commend the Carol Rifka Brunt on a well written noel. I almost made it through the book without crying (was fighting them back ½ the time) but in the end I crumbled. I have not read many fiction novels lately that have done such a fantastic job showing the power that forgiveness, love and friendship truly have. This is definitely a recommended read!

Monday, September 23, 2013

A to Z Survey

I love surveys!! I am all about filling in surveys, no matter what their content. I actually got the idea to do this survey from a blog I frequent, The Perpetual Page Turner  I have been wanting to get back into blogging for awhile now, (yes, I know it has been way too long since my last post), and I thought this might be the post to get me back into the groove of things. So without further ado......the A to Z Survey.

Author you’ve read the most books from:
Gosh, I think this would be between Jane Green and JK Rowling. I read all of the Harry Potter books so it would be a close race between the two ladies.
Best Sequel Ever:
Hmmmm...I will say that I LOVED the Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I usually don’t read YA books, but I really, really got into this series.
Currently Reading:
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane By: Katherine Howe- and it is really good!
Drink of Choice While Reading:
Tea or wine. If it is during the day I always love to have a cup of tea next to me. At night, it could be either of the two.
E-reader or Physical Book?
Physical book for the most part, and definitely Kindle when I am travelling. I used to really only read from my Kindle, but realized how much I missed the feel of an actual book so I had to go back to the original!
Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:
Ron Weasley- I absolutely adored him in the Harry Potter series

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:
The Book Thief – I had this book on my Kindle forever before I dove into it. I started it once, but at the time I was so afraid it was going to be depressing and put me into a horrible mood so I had to stop. Once I did get into it though I couldn’t put it down!
Hidden Gem Book:
Me Before You By: Jojo Meyers- I thought this was just going to be a fun, random chick lit book, and it was SO much more! I read it in one day. Please, please read it!
Important Moment in your Reading Life:
When I started to bring a book everywhere with me in case I was ever somewhere that I needed to wait for someone. People started noticing I always had a book on me, and then started asking for book recommendations. I realized I loved sharing books that I really enjoyed and so I started a book blog. I know I have been horrible on entries for the past couple of months, but I do really plan on getting back into it. Life has been hectic with me moving across the country.
Just Finished:
The Tea Rose By: Jennifer Donnelly
Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:
I usually don’t read sci-fi. Every once in awhile someone or a blog will get me in the mood to tolerate one, and I find that I enjoyed them, but I still don’t ever crave or look for sci-fi.
Longest Book You’ve Read:
The books in the Game of Thrones series for sure! Those books are beasts!
Major book hangover because of:
The Shadow of the Wind By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon- Oh my gosh, I couldn’t get like 20 pages into a book before deciding it wasn’t worth my time for a couple of weeks after that one.
Number of Bookcases You Own:
I used to have 2 in my last apartment, but now I have none. I moved across the country recently, and I have a huge box of books at the moment, including some on a bookshelf there. At the place I am living I have them in stacks on the floor and in a couple of nightstands. They are all over!
One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:
Pride & Prejudice- I read it every Christmas without fail!
Preferred Place To Read:
At a comfy coffee shop or snuggled on the couch with a blanket (especially on a rainy day).
Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:
“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced--or seemed to face--the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Reading Regret:
I hate not being able to finish books. It really, really bothers me to put give up on a book. I used to never leave a book before finishing it, and now I do. Ugh, I hate that I give in and don’t finish books now, but I feel like my time is limited, so I want to read a book I really enjoy.
Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):
The Divergent series. People will probably think I am crazy, but I just didn’t love the first book. I kind of want to keep reading the series though to see if maybe I am missing something. I just don’t know, I feel lostnot liking the books and everyone loving them!
Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:
Ugh, I don’t know if I can just pick three! I guess I would have to say Pride & Prejudice for sure, and then The Shadow in the Wind, and Harry Potter.
Unapologetic Fangirl For:
Pride and Prejudice. A lot of people roll their eyes when they ask me what my favorite book is and I mention this. I don't care if it seems cliche, I absolutely love this book!
Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:
Umm….to be honest, I can’t really think of any. I have so many books at the moment I want to read that I haven't really been focused on upcoming releases.
Worst Bookish Habit:
I dog-ear my books. Yes, I know. Everyone is always asking me how I can do that, but one, I love being able to go back and look at great lines I read, and two, I love worn looking books, so it doesn’t bother me. I am ashamed that I am not ashamed.
X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:
See, this is why I need to buy some bookshelves.
Your latest book purchase:
The Tea Rose for a book club.
ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton- by far one of my favorite authors!!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hello Again....

I will be the first to admit I have been unmotivated to blog. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been reading; I have been doing plenty of that. A couple of weekends back I finished one book and read a whole other one as well. I have been so busy with work/life changes that when it came to my “down time” all I wanted to do was curl up with a book. I felt like that was the only way to get out of my own head and dive into someone else’s story. So for this blog I decided to write short, little blogs on a variety of books I have read lately. I promise to be better at writing from now on!


A Wedding in Great Neck
By: Yona Zeldis McDonough
Synopsis/My Thoughts: I recommend this book for an easy summer read. It is about a family getting together in Great Neck, Long Island for one of the daughter’s wedding, and it is filled with misunderstandings, second chances, fighting, heart ache and love. The book jumps back and forth each chapter so the reader is able to get a glimpse of the day through various characters. I enjoyed the fact that I knew what was going on with Gretchen and dealing with her marital problems, while her dad was coming up with the courage to be there for Angelica on her wedding day while also not breaking his sobriety. It is a book that reminds us that all families have their wild and crazy moments, even when everything is supposed to go right. At points I felt irritated with some of the characters and their decisions, but I think that it just shows how well the author created the characters because you feel invested in them. The grandmother, Lenore, was by far my favorite character. She was definitely a ball-buster who decided to make it her priority to get everyone in check.

By: Alexis M. Smith
Synopsis/My Thoughts: This is a very quick read. It is a short book that revolves around a young, twentysomething woman. Isabel works in a library working on damaged books and is in love with Spoke, a young man recently back from the war and working in technology at the library. This book is about Isabel’s love for Alaska, her childhood hobby of collecting postcards, and how to find a way to portray how she feels to Spoke.

To be honest, I just didn’t relate a lot to Isabel and her journey. I almost felt guilty about this, really. The author clearly was opening Isabel up and putting her out there in a vulnerable situation, but there was just no connect for me. The author did a good job with portraying Isabel, but I think that at the time of my reading this, maybe I just wanted something more exciting. The book revolves around one day in her life, and I wanted to speed things up.

The Passage
By: Justin Cronin
Synopsis/My Thoughts: This book was great! To be honest, I am not always into futuristic/post-apocalyptic books. I was captivated with this one though. It revolves around a project being done by the U.S. government and what happens when things do not go as planned. The U.S. is never the same and those who survive are left to figure out how to save the remaining few. I need to warn you that it is a long one. And it is one book in a three part series. So when you get to the end don’t wonder why so much is left unsaid with so many loose ends. The author did a great job with coming to a point to end the book, but also keep the reader wondering what was going to happen. He put in a great amount of detail and the book is broken down from many different viewpoints. Definitely a fun read for the summer. It is, for the most part, fast paced and will keep you on the edge of your seat!!

Me Before You
By: Jojo Meyers
Synopsis/My Thoughts: If anyone was to ask me which one of the books they should read, if they only could read one, this book would be it! I LOVED this book! It was so powerful, and impacted me on so many different levels! The protagonist, Louisa, is out of a job and finds herself applying for a job that will involve being a companion to a quadriplegic during the day. Will used to be a powerhouse, adventurist, and lived life completely. After an unfortunate accident he is bound to a wheelchair and has to depend on someone else for everything- eating, drinking, changing, MOVING! When Louisa comes to meet him and finds him moody, depressed, and rude she doesn’t know if she will last the week. Over time though the two of them become inseparable and share a bond that many people probably don’t experience.

I read this book in a day. I kid you not; I stayed up way past my bedtime because I just had to finish it. I fell in love with these characters and was almost upset with myself for reading this in one day. I wanted the book to keep going so I could stay with the characters. By the end of the book I was balling almost uncontrollably and knew that this was one of the best books I have ever read. The author found this way to subtly get the reader to be invested in the characters and make you able to relate to some of the struggles they were going through. I think one of the things that I appreciated the most about this book actually was reading about the struggles and difficulties Will goes through. Being quadriplegic makes someone so extremely vulnerable, and reading about how long it took them to dress him or take him to the races was so eye opening for me. I learned appreciation for having the use of my body and be able to do things that I have always taken for granted! This is a MUST READ! I will be telling everyone I know about this book.