Well, I Can Try This… Thursday, Jan 1 2015 

Hello Readers,

Two items of note: I wanted to try to post once a month this year… and obviously that didn’t happen. Maybe we’ll see a change in the new year? (Quite possibly. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.). Secondly, we have some books that fit into some of the Reading Bingo categories. That being said, I leave you to gander the titles below… and as always, spoilers may very well be present:

1-17-14: Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters, Jessica Valenti, 5/5, “The worst thing you can call a girl is a girl. The worst thing you can call a guy is a girl. Being a woman is the ultimate insult.” (6)

→ Reading Bingo: A Funny Book. I am in awe of Jessica Valenti… she is amazing. I really, really love that she seems to write how she speaks… “potty-mouth” and all. I put this particular book in this category not because I think feminism is funny, but because I think that people who don’t take feminism seriously are funny. As a woman, I think that feminism affects everyone… just as a lack of feminism would. Society teaches us to immediately respect men… well, feminism has taught me that we need to respect each other and stand up for fellow women. After all, we are stronger united than we are divided.

1-17-14: The True Story of Hansel and Gretel: A Novel of War and Survival, Louise Murphy, 4/5, “There is much to love, and that love is what we are left with. When the bombs stop dropping, and the camps fall back to the earth and decay, and we are done killing each other, that is what we must hold. We can never let the world take our memories of love away, and if there are no memories, we must invent love all over again.” (297)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book Set on a Different Continent. This story takes place in WWII Europe. I remember the tale I heard as a young girl… the one about the witch trying to throw two children into a fire place/oven. Well, I much prefer this story to that one. The “witch” still throws them into the oven, but she isn’t trying to eat them. I really enjoyed the way that Murphy spun her tale… and I, probably for the first time, really liked how the author didn’t give endings for all of the characters. It gave me… hope for them. The flow was slow in the beginning and it sped up slightly… but after reading it, I found purpose in the general flow and, ultimately, am very happy with it. Overall, I’m really glad I finally read this.

2-27-14: The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness, Simon Wiesenthal, 5/5, “You, who have just read this sad and tragic episode in my life, can mentally change places with me and ask yourself the crucial question, ‘What would I have done?'” (98)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book of Nonfiction. This book was perhaps one of the best books I’ve ever read. The Sunflower did take me a bit of time to read, but the time taken was so worth it. It made me think and it challenged my views. And truthfully speaking, under what circumstances is it appropriate to forgive someone? When do you have the right? The title says everything. Ultimately, forgiveness is a concept individually understood and recognized. This is a great book for discussion in college courses–as well as with friends and family.

2-28-14: Disquiet, Julia Leigh, 3/5, “All things can be refused.” (121)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book with a Blue Cover. Disquiet was somewhat confusing… perhaps worded a bit oddly… but I think that by the end I got the gist of it. For me, it was horribly depressing. A mother weeping and grasping onto her stillborn child is such a horrifying image… let alone a reality. The idea is difficult for me to… digest at best. The characters were all incredibly complex–I feel the expectation to read between the lines and analyze every detail is established at the first word. Disquiet probably deserved a closer read, if not a second one.

3-7-14: Whiskey Beach, Nora Roberts, 4/5, “‘I begged her not to take my husband, not to take the father of my children, and she told me to grow up.'” (478)

→ This is one of those books where I’m just walking around the library looking for something to “spontaneously” read. Nora Roberts was one of the first authors that could really hold my attention when I was first starting to read larger books. This is probably one of my favorite books by this  author… she just seems to get better as she keeps writing. The characters were great–I loved the main character’s grandmother, she’s such a spitfire–and the antagonists… well, part of me saw it coming, but then I was like, Nahh… and then the truth came out. Well, snap! I would probably buy this particular book to add to my mother’s Nora Roberts collection–it was very, very good!

3-11-14: The Testament of Mary, Colm Tóibín, 5/5, “‘I was there.’ I said. ‘I fled before it was over but if you want witnesses then I am one and I can tell you now, when you say that he redeemed the world, I will say it was not worth it. It was not worth it.'” (80)

→ Wow, wow, wow! I closed this book after reading it and felt horribly confused. While this is a work of fiction, it really had me thinking about what happened during the time that Jesus was alive. I wonder about his mother, Mary, and how she truly felt about what her son was doing. I guess your, “Oh my!!” factor will vary depending on your religious/spiritual beliefs… but I just feel very confused in regard to what actually happened at that time compared to what we think happened, and how it shapes our beliefs right now. I feel awkward about how the author’s storytelling affected me. Read this with an open mind…

3-19-14: Juliet, Anne Fortier, 5/5, “He was not Paris, he was not Salimbeni, he was not even Nino. He had always been Romeo.” (295)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book with a One-Word Title. Finishing this novel has been 4 years in the making. I started reading it back in 2010… but I couldn’t get into it, so I returned Juliet to the book cases of the library. So, around the same time of year–4 years later–I decided to give it another go. I am so damn pleased I started reading it again and gave it the chance it deserves! Such amazing plot twists and character development. I’ve discovered I enjoy books that combine the “past” and the “present.” I was so sad to finish Juliet because that meant the story was over–at least until I read it again.

4-23-14: Rustication, Charles Palliser, 3/5, “That threat was executed in full.” (2)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book that Scares You. Rustication didn’t scare me so much as disturb me… so for me, it pretty much amounts to the same thing. The language was horribly vulgar–and the characters were dreadful people. Couldn’t believe I finished it. I was HAPPY to finish it. Rustication wasn’t a HORRIBLE read… I guess we can’t always have the traditional protagonists. The main characters irritated me more than any protagonist ever has.

5-3-14: The Pleasures of Men, Kate Williams, 3/5, “Even Marie-Claire France–who is always demanding why I have no fiancé–amuses me. In all of them, there is a turning to the light, a kind of expansion that I think will be torn down by the world, sooner or later.” (341)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book You Heard About Online. The Pleasures of Men was a pretty good read. At times I felt slightly confused and being confused gets boring fast. I continued to read because I enjoyed the portions that didn’t make me scratch my head. The main character is likeable. I can’t say the same for the rest of them… but that was probably the point.

5-10-14: City of Bones, Cassandra Clare, 4/5, “‘If you wanted me to rip my clothes off, you should have just asked.’ He dug into his pocket and brought out his stele. ‘It would have been a lot less painful.'” (187)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book that Became a Movie. Fan girl squeal: Eeeeeeee! Just sayin’. Seriously, I enjoyed the book so much! I read it after I watched the movie–and definitely prefer the book. Of course, the book doesn’t include Jamie Campbell-Bower… but that’s besides the point. Original ideas and story. Awesome!

6-9-14: The Giver, Lois Lowry, 4/5, “The Giver shook his head. ‘No, flesh isn’t red. But it has red tones in it. There was a time, actually–you’ll see this in the memories later–when flesh was many different colors. That was before we went to Sameness. Today flesh is all the same, and what you saw was the red tones.'” (94)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book Your Friend Loves. In all actuality, most of my friends LOVE this book. They’ve been raving about it for years… I just had little to no interest at the time. I’m grateful, however, that I got to read it now because I’m sure I appreciated it more now than I would have then. The entire concept of  Sameness is something I might have liked when I was younger… but where is the free will and individuality in that? There’s not. Beautifully written and thought out.

6-15-14: Night Broken, Patricia Briggs, 4/5, “The tears on her face weren’t crocodile tears, they were the real, unattractive thing complete with runny nose. She still was beautiful. ‘I’m glad I left, for your sake. You found someone who can stand beside you. I couldn’t live with what you are, but that’s my problem, not yours.’ She looked down, then straight into his eyes. ‘I love you.'” (309)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book Published in 2014. Ms. Briggs, you are BRILLIANT. When will the series end? I hope NEVER. Mercy Thompson is an amazing character and so well developed. She’s not a perfect character, but she’s definitely the perfect role model. It was bizarre to meet Hauptmann’s ex… she’s something, ain’t she? Anyway, definitely a good read.

6-17-14: Divergent, Veronica Roth, 5/5, “I suppose that now, I must become more than either.” (525)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book Written by Someone Under the Age of 30. I read the Large Print version if any of you are wondering what the difference in page numbers is all about. That being said, I could not put this book down. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and have to read it because I was dreaming about it. Quite honestly, I’d been trying to avoid reading it because it seemed that nearly everyone was reading it. If I think about it, that is probably true. The concept and follow through is phenomenal. I would definitely read Divergent again. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

6-21-14: The Bloodletter’s Daughter, Linda Lafferty, 4/5, “It was Doctor Mingonius who led the muttering Don Julius away from the gore. He had gazed around the blood-splattered room in horror, to Don Julius crouched in the corner, fondling a scrap of matted hair.” (466)

→ Reading Bingo: Free Square. The last half of the book… WOAH, I sped through it. I couldn’t put the book down. I understand that at that point in history, and many other times, Don Julius’ behavior might have been seen as mildly tolerable… but this was so difficult to read. I enjoyed the ending–a nice little twist–but anything between the first half and the final pages disturbed the hell out of me. Historical fiction is a favored genre of mine because I love history… but I’d never heard of the Don Julius scandal until I saw the cover and read the synopsis. I wasn’t a huge fan of the slow start, but once the story picked up speed, it had my attention. And my ire.

6-30-14: The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust, Edith Hahn Beer, 5/5, “With this kind of competence at the top, it is no wonder that the French workers and the German communists had so much success with their secret radio.” (243)

→ Beer’s story is… it leaves me speechless. What do you… what can you say to a woman… to anyone who lived through the Holocaust? Despite everything, she survived with her daughter and was able to make a new life for them. I  will probably add this book to my bookshelf at home. If I become a teacher, I’d love to have my students read Beer’s story. Very good example of nonfiction.

7-14-14: The Cloud Roads, Martha Wells, 4/5, “He said, ‘I’m Raksura. So are you.'” (21)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book with Non-human Characters. I am by no means a fan of books which involve non-humans as the main characters. OR SO I THOUGHT. Wells doesn’t mess around with whether or not humans and other beings will get along. There’s good and bad in every species. I haven’t gotten to the sequels to this particular book, but I’m sure I will eventually. Even if you don’t usually lean toward this genre, give this book a shot. You might be surprised.

7-16-14: 1st to Die, James Patterson, 4/5, “Now she was loving it, as she always did. It wasn’t bad–it was good. They all ended up wanting and loving it. He always picked them so well.” (270)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book with a Number in the Title. James Patterson, where have you been all my life?! Definitely a favorite author. His antagonists are something sick and twisted. I love it. I love that his main characters are women that are in male-dominate professions–and they are known for being some of the best. Way to go! Whoop!

7-18-14: Room, Emma Donoghue, 5/5, “I look back one more time. It’s like a crater, a hole where something happened. Then we go out the door.” (321)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book on the Bottom of the To-Be Read Pile. Literally, on the bottom of the pile. It was a Christmas gift from a few years ago and I wasn’t grabbed until the middle of the book when the situation fully hit me. I knew something was strange, I just couldn’t figure out what exactly. Such an amazing read. So worth it.

7-26-14: When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware #1), Jonathan Kellerman, 4/5, “The psychopath is to the psychologist and the psychiatrist what the terminal cancer patient is to the physician: walking, breathing evidence of hopelessness and failure.” (106)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book with a Mystery. I found my first Kellerman book back in 2004. After that, I read a couple more books. Pretty damn good. THIS book… oh my… I might have thought to throw it across the room towards the end. Another author that writes really nasty, icky, bad guys. SO MESSED UP. Delaware is an awesome but flawed individual; so got to respect that. Do read this if you like mysteries.

7-28-14: Irish Hearts: Irish Thoroughbred, Nora Roberts, 3/5, “‘The twins went wild when I told them that Dee was now their aunt. They claim that makes them Irish and soon they’ll be fey, too.'” (135)

→ Reading Bingo: First Book by Your Favorite Author. Nora Roberts is always going to hold a special place in my heart. Irish Thoroughbred was really good–you could tell it was her first novel–but damn entertaining. Characters were generally likeable and the challenges brought on by the antagonists was pretty good too.

7-28-14: Irish Hearts: Irish Rose, Nora Roberts, 3/5, “‘I recognize a restless soul when I see one… You’re straining at the bit to get out of this little smudge on the map. Though if you ask me, it has its charm.'” (190)

→ Read two books in a single day: SCORE! I figured I have it, might as well read it. Sequel to Irish Thoroughbred, not bad at all. The heroine in this story was feisty–I love when they are mouthy. Seemingly like most of the women in my family, haha. The love interest was a pretty intense individual. Oh well… still seemed to end fairly well.

7-30-14: Sun Storm (Rebecka Martinsson), Asa Larsson, 4/5, “But I feel a sense of peace when I’m working. Happiness, almost. It’s when I’m not working I feel uneasy.” (4)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book that is More Than Ten Years Old. So, I’m not entirely sure that this is more than ten years old, but a couple places said it was, so that’s what I’m going with. What is it about the Swedes? Their books involve a lot of messed-upedness and religion. Fancy that… those two things related?! Pretty good read… some things bothered me quite a bit, but that’s how it goes when you’re reading. Things are supposed to delight you and bother you. This was definitely one of those books.

8-1-14: 2nd Chance, James Patterson, 4/5, “‘I was wrong… What I said when they were wheeling me into the OR. The bastards don’t win We do. We just have to wait to the end of the game.'” (387)

→ Reading Bingo: Second Book in a Series. Hey heyy! We’re back. I adore these characters so much. They are so relatable. I’m starting to see a pattern with these books though… kinda worried about that. We shall see by book #4 if it continues. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this story!

8-8-14: The Collector, Nora Roberts, 4/5, “‘It’s underwear. It’s red underwear. I didn’t even know you, what, just over a week ago, and now you’ve bought me red underwear. Did you even look at the price tags?'” (115)

→ This scene made me laugh so hard–people thought I was crazy! So damn funny. The protagonists are creative individuals… oh, and being a house sitter as a profession? Sign me up. That sounds like so much fun. Kinda like living in hotels for free… although I’m not sure how long that would remain fun. Definitely an entertaining read.

8-14-14: Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn, 5/5, “A child weaned on poison considers harm a comfort.” (251)

→ Reading Bingo: A Best-Selling Book. Oh, Gillian Flynn, your novels and their characters are sick. I love it so very much. Let’s be honest here… you’re writing characters that are closer to the truth of humans than most other writers out there. Terribly flawed individuals–but they have this deeply redeeming quality that is so beautiful and intoxicating. The plot progression and character development was awesome… I enjoyed reading this, I was disturbed and haunted. It was Wonderful. I can’t wait to buy this book.

8-16-14: The Color Master: Stories, Aimee Bender, 5/5, “He could feel it, just feel it, the glimmer of something that he did not understand. He would never call it God. He would not call it prayer.” (149)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book of Short  Stories. Quote is from “The Doctor and the Rabbi.” I found this particular book on a list of books to read before going into a Master’s Program. Since that’s something I’d like to do, I figured this would be good to read. There’s nothing simplistic about Bender’s writing. The complexity of her metaphors is… astounding? She’s a great writer and her work is nothing short of discussion worthy. I can understand why they’d suggest you read her work–but hell, read her work just to read it.

8-20-14: The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes, Cassandra Clare, 4/5, “Something inside Clary cracked and broke, and words came pouring out. ‘What do you want me to tell you? The truth? The truth is that I love Simon  like I should love you, and I wish he was my brother and you weren’t, but I can’t do anything about that and neither can you! Or do you have some ideas, since you’re so goddamned smart?'” (181)

→ Ouch, ouch, ouch! Such a horrible situation–so not pleased with this! This brother-sister relationship has got to go. I wish I could like Simon and Clary together… but there’s nothing there except for a love and respect that you have with siblings. I’d appreciate a change of direction between Clary, Jace, and Simon. It is taking a great deal of effort to not look up what happens in future books… at least then I’d know what happens. HOWEVER, I will refrain. That being said, onto the next book in the series… and hoping for something good.

8-23-14: The Mortal Instruments: City of Glass, Cassandra Clare, 4/5, “‘There is no pretending,’ Jace said with absolute clarity. ‘I love you, and I will love you until I die, and if there’s a life after that, I’ll love you then.'” (331)

→ AHH YAY! Happy Dance starts NOW! Big reveals coming your way–and I LOVED IT. Although, everything leading up to the reason for said Happy Dance was so stressful. Haha. I know when I’m reading rather quickly because when I finally look up from reading, people are looking at me like I just ran a marathon. Hilarious. I’m really pleased that some of the questions are being answered. I feel like this series is similar to Angelology–Nephilim and such–the connections between history, Heaven, and Hell. Part of me will be happy and sad to finish this series… but I’ve enjoyed it so much thus far that I wouldn’t be surprised if I bought the set when the series ends.

8-26-14: 3rd Degree, James Patterson with Andrew Gross, 3/5, “He took my hand. ‘My name’s Joe, Lindsay. Not Molinari, or Deputy Director, wink, wink. And what I’m talking about is you and me. And not trying to joke it away because you’ve been hurt before. Or because you lost a really close friend. I know this’ll come as a disappointment, Lindsay, but you’re entitled to be happy. You know what I mean. Call me old-fashioned.’ He smiled.” (282)

→ Spoiler time: I’m so pissed that Patterson killed off Jill. And her nasty husband… I hope this was his final appearance in the series… grrrr. I connected so much to Jill… I just… WHY?! At this point in the series, my least favorite installment. Good read overall… but really displeased with Jill’s absence from here on out.

8-30-14: The Help, Kathryn Stockett, 5/5, “It is 1963. The Space Age they’re calling it. A man has circled the earth in a rocketship. They’ve invented a pill so married women don’t have to get pregnant. A can of beer opens with a single finger instead of a can opener. Yet my parents’ house is still as hot as it was in 1899, the year Great-grandfather built it.” (238)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book by a Female Author. The book was amazing. The movie was amazing. Seriously, standing ovation. Definitely want to buy both. The Help pulled at my heart strings and made me think. Up until this point, I’d no idea about the true stories behind book… no clue that this crap was happening. I could go on and on… just a damn good read. You’d be doing yourself a service by reading it.

9-6-14: The Mortal Instruments: City of Fallen Angels, Cassandra Clare, 3/5, “To Simon’s surprise it was Jordan who answered. ‘The past always matters… You can’t forget the things you did in the past, or you’ll never learn from them.'” (295-296)

→ What. The. Hell. WHY?! Really thought about chucking the book across the room… but I thought better of it. Every single time I think they will finally get a happy ending, something happens to Jace. Seriously: What. The. Hell?! Anyways… I’m iffy about Jordan… but I kinda feel he’s going to make extreme efforts to make up for his royal mess-ups from the past. Refreshing. Simon! Stop playing the field–make up your mind because someone gets hurt no matter what you do. This read was so frustrating… and maybe I’m just being impatient, but I feel like a majority of this book was filler. I’m hoping for better from the next book in the series. Here’s to hoping~

9-13-14: The Search, Nora Roberts, 3/5, “‘But I’ve finally lived. In a few short months I’ve lived and experienced more than I did in all the years before…'” (482)

→ I’m kinda sad about this one… it had such a Hamlet ending (big build up to something negligible/nonexistent.) Fiona was an awesome character–and I actually learned some new things (dog training) that I can take with me in the future. Overall, Roberts will always be one of my favorite authors, but The Search doesn’t get to be part of that. 😦

9-24-14: No Beast So Fierce, Edward Bunker, 3/5, “And thinking is a curse.” (283)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book Based on a True Story. I’m pretty sure I was offended throughout the entire book… and I honestly have no idea how I was able to finish it at all. Call it morbid curiosity at its worst. I saw little to no entertainment value and, therefore, looked at it as more educating people on a world that not everyone knows about. Sadly, the characters were believable… and the brutal honesty is why it gets 3/5 versus a 2/5… let’s face it, everyone lives their lives differently… and change is a powerful concept… but REALLY?! Bring on the headache…

9-27-14: The Mortal Instruments: City of Lost Souls, Cassandra Clare, 4/5, “‘You don’t like ‘Hot Stuff’? You think ‘Sweet Cheeks’ might be better? ‘Love Crumpet’? Really, that last one’s stretching it a bit. Though, technically, my family is British–‘” (94)

→ So irritated with how CoFA ended, I hardly wanted to pick this one up. BUT, as is well-known, I have a horrible curiosity. That being said, YAYYY for the ending… at least for Clary and Jace! However, Alec, WTH are you doing? STOP. Just STOP. Magnus is awesome. I hope they get back together… but Alec, figure out your B.S. please. Now… Sebastian… Johnathan… whatever your name is: YOU ARE NASTY. JUST NASTY NASTY. Ms. Clare is definitely pulling all the stops for you being a foul creature. One more book before I reach the end… and I’m sad about it. I could reread these… but there’s nothing like reading it the first time. Perhaps I’ll move onto the other series Ms. Clare’s got going…

10-3-14: Insurgent, Veronica Roth, 4/5, “Just as I have always insisted on his worth, he has always insisted on my strength, insisted that my capacity is greater than I believe. And I know without being told, that’s what love does, when it’s right–it makes you more than you were, more than you thought you could be.” (454)

→ I’m so irritated with myself for waiting so long to read this series. I enjoyed this book so immensely. What can I really say? READ THIS TRILOGY.

10-7-14: Outlander, Diana Gabaldon, 5/5, “‘Because I wanted you.’ He turned from the window to face me. ‘More than I ever wanted anything in my life,’ he added softly.” (596)

→ Reading Bingo: A Book with 500 or more Pages. Well, hot damn. Ms. Gabaldon… you are one solid writer. Not especially a fan of Frank. Go figure. Was not quite pleased until, TADA, Claire falls through time… and TADA, Jamie is introduced. Happy dance for ALLL. Such an entrancing story and the characters are so wonderful… Murtaugh is such consistent guy. Rupert and Angus… OMG. lol. Each character is absolutely fabulous.

10-11-14: Allegiant, Veronica Roth, 4/5, “How have I never seen the schism inside his heart? How have a never realized before that for all the strong, kind parts of him, there are also hurting, broken parts.” (407)

→ No… no… no… NO. NO. NO. Why did you have to kill off Tris?! Damn. Her brother… ugh. So disappointing. I cried and cried during the final pages. Seriously, read this trilogy. You’ll thank me later.

10-21-14: Dark WitchNora Roberts, 3/5, “And now, on the longest day, when the light refused to surrender, she was loved. At last.” (342)

→ Woman leaves America and lands in Ireland. Common setup from Nora Roberts, but as usual, the characters are different, for the most part, every time. I really like the looking back and then into the present. The plot is great. But I feel like something is missing, can’t put my finger on it though. 😦

11-2-14: Shadow Spell, Nora Roberts, 4/5, “She’d chosen a ballad, sang in Irish though he doubted she knew the meaning of all the words. Heartbreaking they were, and as beautiful as the voice that lifted over the clearing, into the night, and across all the dreaming time.” (313)

→ And we have a singer! This was a pretty cute story all around. The main female character was awesome and outspoken, SWEET! Don’t have much to say about this one, I liked it for sure. If you like Nora Roberts, read this.

11-17-14: Dance Upon the Air, Nora Roberts, 4/5, “He caught a blur of movement, a glimpse of the blade hacking down. He twisted, going for his weapon with a cross-body draw. The knife ripped through his shoulder instead of burying itself in his heart.” (365)

→ More Nora Roberts! I had no clue there were so many of her books this year. WOW. Dance Upon the Air is probably more than ten years old. I really liked that her character was breaking the law. NOW HANG ON A SEC; usually her main characters are singularly goody-goody. This woman is running for her life. Go you. I appreciate the discussion of domestic violence. It needs to be talked about. Interestingly enough, her husband ends up in a psych institution and she gets a good man. WHOOP!

11-18-14: Dark Places, Gillian Flynn, 5/5, “I was not a lovable child, and I’d grown into a deeply unlovable adult. Draw a picture of my soul, and it’d be a scribble with fangs.” (1)

→ Have I mentioned this author is sick and twisted… and I love it?! haha. The protagonist… if that’s what I can call her… is such… I don’t even have the words. How somebody can write about such despicable characters and have you feel sorry for them is an art I need to learn. The plot was amazing and the characters… were something entirely out of this realm. Loved the story. This is a definite will buy.

11-25-14: Heaven and EarthNora Roberts, 3/5, “I can’t stop thinking about her. Trying to separate personal feelings from professional judgment is hard enough, but how can I be sure those feelings don’t stem from professional interest?” (185)

→ So… dude’s got a problem. Mixing personal and professional?! Well, don’t break up. That could be awkward. Haha. Pretty good story. Characters had a little bit more fight/resistance than her usual characters do… which is cool. The antagonist is getting annoying though…

11-28-14: 4th of July, James Patterson, 4/5, “Her hand was shaking as she started to write. She cocked her pretty head. ‘I’m going to put it down that I did it for the children. That I did it all for them.'” (383)

→ Mr. Patterson, wow. Another book where children are the subject of sex crimes. Let me not tell you how angry it makes me… because that could take awhile. Det. Lindsay Boxer is at it again, except she got in a pinch of trouble. Started reading this around the time that Michael Brown was shot and killed… this book really makes you about the ethics of being a police officer, and in Boxer’s case, protecting yourself. Definitely a good read… however, that plot pattern is still present. Will continue to read the series because I just like it that much.

11-30-14: Blue Nights, Joan Didion, 5/5, “How could I have missed what was so clearly there to be seen?” (16)

→ If ever there was a writer that I respect immensely for her use of the writing craft, it is Ms. Joan Didion. Blue Nights is so haunting… and beautiful. Really makes you look at what you have and the people that surround you–and appreciate them… hold them a little closer. Powerful, powerful prose. If I’m ever able to write half as well as Didion does, I will be quite pleased.

12-6-14: Face the Fire, Nora Roberts, 2/5, “Even as the water closed over her head, her eyes were open, and the baby’s screams pounded in her ears.” (182)

→ This one seemed really forced for two people who have some deep and profound history. Definitely not one of my favorites… and for that I just don’t have much to say. It wasn’t horrible… but I don’t believe it to be some of her best work.

12-10-14: The Witness, Nora Roberts, 3/5, “Elizabeth Fitch was pronounced dead on arrival at three-sixteen  p.m.” (482)

→ A lot of backstory at the very beginning… and for the first time, it works. I was a tad worried… but it worked out. Haha. I am finding that I read Nora Roberts when I get a bit stressed out. So, I enjoyed this story. Pretty straightforward and not so much dwelling on the details. Great! The two main characters balanced each other nicely. And her security system… her dog AND the technology… can I get that? haha.

12-16-14: The Next Always, Nora Roberts, 3/5, “When she went into the boys’ bedroom she spotted Murphy in a dog’s bed with Yoda, and Ben wiggling under the covers in Harry’s bed. Liam sprawled in his own with the glazed, droopy eyes of the nearly passed out.” (310)

→ Oh, look. NORA ROBERTS. My assessment was pretty accurate the last time. I do tend to read her books when I’m stressed. It’s been fairly stressful. Just had Gallbladder surgery. Not fun. Take care of your body! The Next Always was really good. I like that the ghost doesn’t take up the entire focus, she adds to the story but doesn’t overwhelm. And the stalker dude… no, back it up buddy. Beckett and Claire have my vote.

12-26-14: The Last Boyfriend, Nora Roberts, 4/5, “‘Oh, I think a kid inside one gets a pretty good picture. You didn’t just walk away from your marriage, you walked away from your daughter.'” (221)

→ JUST FOUND OUT THAT INN BOONSBORO IS AN ACTUAL PLACE. I FEEL LIKE I’VE BEEN LIVING UNDER A ROCK. That being said, I craved pizza the entire time I was reading this. So not fair. Now I’ll have to go make some. Oh! So enjoy the fact that Owen is about detail nit-picky as I am. Ugh. I want pizza. Really good read… not a fan of Avery’s mom… but I doubt anyone is.

12-28-14: The Perfect Hope, Nora Roberts, 4/5, “‘Take my word as gospel on this point. You’re the last person I’d want as a shopping buddy. And my ass isn’t going to look fat in any dress. Write that down, etch it in your memory.'” (302)

→ Looks like this may be the final book of the year. I liked this one the best out of this trilogy. Hope and Ryder are great together… a little rough  around the edges at first, but it grows on you. YAY for Lizzy the Ghost! Found her man after all these years… bittersweet… but it looks like she gets her happy ending in the end. Ugh. The scene with Hope’s ex’s wife… oy vey. No slapping. Not cool. Anyway, liked this one a lot. Very good read!

49 books this year! So wanted to read 52, but I’ll take 49. I am super excited to find out if there will be a Reading Challenge for 2015. I completed each challenge, with the exception of the forgotten classic. I hope to see some improvements, on my end, in the coming year. I wish you all a Happy New Year! May you have much luck, love, joy, success…

Always,
Nolaleigh

Reading Bingo: Challenge Yourself Sunday, Jan 12 2014 

Hello Readers,

Here’s a thought: Reading Bingo. A challenge to any and to all. I can’t guarantee that every book I read this year will fit into any of these categories, but I am going to try to read one book per category–and even if one book can cover more than one square, my goal is not to kill two birds with one stone. It takes a little bit of research and decision making. Also, there’s a YA Reading Bingo board… if you’re a YA fan, you might consider looking into one or both. I will announce which category (if any) the book I read fits into. So, click here for more details.

Enjoy,
Nolaleigh

 

Reading Bingo

YA Reading Bingo

A Hop, Skip, and a Jump Sunday, Jan 5 2014 

Hi Readers,

Obviously, no posts in June so we are going to post now… a little more than 6 months later. I’m going to keep changing my posts up until I find a style that suits me. Here’s to the one constant in life: Change. If you keep reading, you’ll find some tidbits here and there… maybe some spoilers…

7-4-13: Reviving Ophelia,  Mary Pipher, 4/5, “Most of what girls read in schools is written by men and about men. We need more stories of women who are strong, more examples of women in a variety of roles. History needs to include the history of women; psychology, the psychology of women; and literature, the writing of women.” (289)

→ It took me awhile to read this book, but once I finished it, I wished I owned it. I’ve read some reviews that call it biased. I’ve got to say–it is a book about girls/young women by a woman. I feel that if you’re going to call it biased because it doesn’t include the experiences of boys/young men, your argument wouldn’t really hold water with me because this particular book isn’t about the guys. What a concept?! In any event, I think this is definitely something every girl/young woman/woman should read simply because it does give some helpful insights. I wish I would have read this book sooner.

7-13-13: Bone River, Megan Chance, 4/5, “I heard those spirits again the night the river gave up its bones.” (9)

→ This book was a very different choice for me. I wouldn’t have usually chosen it… but one of my friends was reading it and he liked it… so I decided to give it a shot. The end result was shocking to me, but for some it might not be. I enjoyed reading it for multiple reasons–and let’s be honest I have a weakness for all things Native American. Leonie was a terrific character–and her chemistry with Daniel is destiny. Really good read.

7-30-13: Affliction, Laurell K. Hamilton, 4/5, “The only part of love that is blind is that first rush of endorphins and craziness; after that wears off, no one knows you as honestly, warts and all, as the people who love you, truly love you.” (297)

→ I really, really, really enjoyed reading the latest installment of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series. There were a couple of books that made me question whether or not to keep reading… but if you’re 20 or more books into a series, I highly doubt you’d stop reading. There’s obviously something to the overall story that keeps me hooked. Old and new characters–they all help make this series something to remember. Anita Blake is definitely one of my favorite characters of all time.

8-9-13: He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, Jessica Valenti, 5/5, “Looking back, I realize that it could have been any of those thing, or nothing. Most likely, it was because I had a bit of a  potty mouth (shocking, I know), told dirty jokes, and was louder, more opinionated girl than some of my peers. I know better now, and realize that labeling girls ‘sluts’ is a pretty common silencing tactic. After all, there’s no better way to silence a woman than to call her a whore!” (10)

→ FINALLY! THANK YOU! Another book women should read! Valenti is so not joking when she writes that she goes into 50 double standards. It took me a while to read this one as well (simply because my sister delivered my nephew and, at present, nobody has much time to do anything other than anything baby related–but he’s so perfect… OOPS!) but that just means I was able to appreciate it a little bit more! If you’re a man, read it. If you’re a woman, read it.

9-25-13: Those Who Save Us, Jenna Blum, 5/5, “She can never tell him what she started to say: that we come to love those who save us.” (445)

→ I couldn’t put this book down. I’d get angry because some parts and characters were just so disgusting, ie: The Holocaust wasn’t real, it was propaganda. Are you for real?! I couldn’t believe it. The fact that some people still deny that The Holocaust ever happened… long story short, just makes me sick. That being said, the progression of the plot interlaced with flashbacks was perfection. There was a reason for everything and elements came full circle by the very end of the novel. Incredibly enjoyable read… even if I did become livid at some points. 🙂

9-29-13: The Heretic’s Daughter, Kathleen Kent, 4/5, “And with every step I thought, I am my mother’s daughter, I am my mother’s daughter…” (322)

→ I actually started to read this while on a 20 minute break from reading Those Who Save Us. The only reason this wasn’t read by the next day was because I had chores to take care of around the house. Anyways… I’ve read a great deal of information about the Salem Witch Trials, but never anything about any specific person. I knew that things were difficult and, more than likely, strict, but I didn’t know that just a whisper could land somebody in front of a panel of judges. I wouldn’t have done well back then… I am definitely a woman of the now. The start of the book was kind of slow, but it sped up in the last 100/150 pages. A fiction, yes… but the imagination is a type of monster… and when facts might correlate with the imagination… the results are frightening. This would be a good read for anyone. I’m glad I finally followed through and read it.

11-21-13: Reconstructing Amelia, Kimberly McCreight, 5/5, “‘I want you to know… you were never a mistake, Amelia. You were the best thing that ever happened to me. You always will be.'” (380)

→ I don’t usually cry after reading a story. I might present strong feelings about one of the characters or events… but I wept after reading Reconstructing Amelia. The cruelty that people (especially girls and women) bestow unto others is… I don’t know… Tragic? Horrifying? Disappointing? So many different ways to put it. The fact is, we spend more time causing pain to others than trying to give them an ounce of happiness. That being said, overall, this was a fantastic read… so well written. It was a bit slow for me at the beginning, but when  it finally got going, I couldn’t put the book down. Reconstructing Amelia is what I call a “take a chance” book (not usually something I’d read, but generally very glad I did).

11-23-13: Shutdown, Laurell K. Hamilton, 5/5, “‘I am not an abuse victim, Ellen. I’m not a victim at all. I own my sexuality in every sense, and I top some of the men in my life. It’s not just me on the receiving end of the rough.'” (20)

→ It was super awesome to read this simply because it is another Anita Blake book. That being said, I really enjoyed Shutdown because it explained more of the dynamics of a polyamorous relationship… and trying to explain it to someone who has no idea about it at all… well, probably (obviously) incredibly awkward. It is refreshing to see Richard finally come into who he is… and I’m very happy to see that Anita and Micah are still going strong. Very quick read and can’t wait for what LKH brings us next!

So needless to say, I did not get to read everything I wanted to… but things CHANGE a lot when a baby comes into your life. Presently, I’m reading two books. I wanted to finish them before NYE, but that just wasn’t going to happen. That being said, Happy New Year. My hope is that 2014 will be kind to you.

Always,
Nolaleigh

Why Can’t I? Thursday, May 30 2013 

Hi Readers,

Any ideas as to what this post could possibly be about?

Oh, I don’t know. Let’s think about this…

I would love to post every single time I finish a book… but that is just not going to happen. For one reason or another I just can’t do it. Hell, I can’t post once a month. Maybe it isn’t “can’t…” I don’t know. Not a clue. Either way… you’re reading this post for some reason, and me? I am posting this out of some off sense of obligation. Without further ado, here is what I’ve read since January 1, 2013, (spoilers might be involved):

1-15-13: Blood Noir, Laurell K. Hamilton, 3/5, “Sometimes it’s not the light in a person you fall in love with, but the dark. Sometimes it’s not the optimist you need, but another pessimist to walk beside you and know, absolutely know, that the sound in the dark is a monster, and it really is as bad as you think. “

1-31-13: Skin Trade, Laurell K. Hamilton, 4/5, “I’m a Christian, but if God is truly a God of love, then why would he have a private torture chamber where he put people that he was suppose to love and forgive to punish forever? If you actually read the Bible, the idea of hell like in the  movies and  most books was invented by a writer. Dante’s Inferno was ripped off by the Church to give people something to ba afraid of…”

2-14-13: Flirt, Laurell K. Hamilton, 3/5, “I put power into the words, all the power I had, and willed it to work.” (149)

2-19-13: Bullet, Laurell K. Hamilton, 3/5, “I’d more likely be staring into a pair of my own dark brown, and I can see that everytime I look in a mirror. I’m not fond enough of my own eyes to want to see them in someone else’s face.” (356)

2-24-13: Lost in Time, Melissa de la Cruz, 4/5, “The battle was finished.” (328)

2-28-13: Gates of Paradise, Melissa de la Cruz, 4/5, “Sometimes love means letting go.” (332)

3-3-13: Last Sacrifice, Richelle Mead, 3/5, “‘Just because we want something doesn’t mean it’s right.'” (452)

3-12-13: Hit List, Laurell K. Hamilton, 5/5, “‘Tell that to the BTK killer,’ I said. ‘He was a churchgoer, raised two kids, married, and resisted the urge to kill for decades. He was a person, but he was a monster, too.'”

3-21-13: Kiss the Dead, Laurell K. Hamilton, 4/5, “I’m beginning to try and wrap my head around the thought that no one gets to hurt the people I love, not even another man that I love.” (359)

3-22-13: The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court, Michelle Moran, 4/5, “He smiles widely. ‘As accomplished as any Hapsburg archduchess should be.'” (12)

3-26-13: Cleopatra’s Daughter, Michelle Moran, 4/5, “He brushed his lips against my ear. ‘A brave young woman who has always fought for what was right, even when it was unpopular. A woman who can’t return to the land of her birth, but is welcome to cross the seas and rebuild Alexandria in mine. And a woman who has suffered enough in Rome and deserves happiness for a change. Will you come to Mauretania and be my queen?'”

4-8-13: Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, Natalie Goldberg, 4/5, “Writing practice brings us back to the uniqueness of our own minds and an acceptance of it. We all have wild dreams, fantasies, and ordinary thoughts. Let us to feel the texture of them and not be afraid of them.Writing is still the wildest thing I know.”

4-9-13: The King’s Concubine: A Novel of Alice Perrers, Anne O’Brien, 4/5, “‘It is important for a woman to have the duplicity to make good use of whatever gifts she might have, however valueless they might seem… You have to have the inner strength to pursue your goal, and not care how many enemies you make along the road. It is not easy.'”

4-16-13: The Last Nude, Ellis Avery, 4/5, “She looked up at me then as if I were a dream she was having, and that’s when I thought it: I can do whatever I want to her.” (287)

4-18-13: Wintergirls, Laurie Halse Anderson, 5/5, “She wipes a snowflake off my cheek. ‘You’re not dead, but you’re not alive either. You’re a wintergirl, Lia-Lia, caught in between the worlds. You’re a ghost with a beating heart. Soon you’ll cross the border and be with me. I’m so stoked. I miss you wicked.'” (196)

4-25-13: Daddy Love, Joyce Carol Oates, 3/5, “Of every one hundred children perhaps one interested Daddy Love in the depths of his soul. Of every two hundred children perhaps one excited him.” (53)

5-2-13: The Vanishers, Heidi Julavits, 3/5, “Blame is the cord you can never sever, the viscous umbilical you can swipe at with you hands, but there it will be always ghostily hover, connecting you to monsters exactly as pitiful and needy and flawed as yourself.” (278)

5-23-13: God is Not One, Stephen R. Prothero, 5/5, Click here to read my review!

5-23-13: Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, 5/5, “Each clue was hidden in a spot where I’d cheated on Amy. She’d used the treasure hunt to take me on a tour of all my infidelities.” (226)

5-26-13: Frost Burned, Patricia Briggs, 4/5, “I was going to have to come up with a rank for myself besides Alpha’s mate. In the pack, I was just Mercy- but if ten more people called me the Alpha’s mate, I was going to hit someone. It sounded like a chess move.” (316)

I love Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. Damn near addictive. Michelle Moran is truly fantastic! The authors that I keep returning to… they know their stuff. Wintergirls broke my heart. The quotes at the end are my favorite lines–just fyi.

Daddy Love and Wintergirls… they were difficult to read. That is probably the point, but after reading them, I felt angry. And I’m not going to lie… a part of me still isn’t over it.

In other news, I feel like a majority of 2011’s Reading List is going to be… cancelled? Yes, cancelled. I’m just not into the titles now like I was when I first found them. That being said, I am finished with 2010’s Reading List–even God is Not One by Stephen R. Prothero. I’ve been reading it since January–it is fairly intensive on some portions, so I decided to take it slow.

So, it is the end of May… and this entry has been five months in the making. Here’s to attempting another entry similar to this in June. Or maybe we’ll all wait until December…

Always,
Nolaleigh

God is Not One Thursday, May 23 2013 

Hi Readers,

I think I’m going to change up how and what I blog. My goal, at present, is to post once a month. I’m not entirely sure how it is going to work yet, but I guess that is the beauty of figuring things out. Which is where I bring you to this book, God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter by Stephen Prothero.

God is Not One was incredibly informative and gave me a better insight into religion than my Religious Studies professor did when I was in college–but I guess he had to “guide” us in the direction of Christianity because that’s what he believes–ANYWAY. At times, Prothero was obviously giving his opinion about a certain topic, but for the most part, I felt he was able to stay impartial.

He introduces each religion as the “Way of…” This method, without having to read further, immediately tells the reader that all religions are different. Who knew? Prothero titles them:

Islam: The Way of Submission
Christianity: The Way of Salvation
Confucianism: The Way of Propriety
Hinduism: The Way of Devotion
Buddhism: The Way of Awakening
Yoruba Religion: The Way of Connection
Judaism: The Way of Exile and Return
Daoism: The Way of Flourishing
Atheism: The Way of Reason

While incredibly simplistic, his “four part approach” for each religion states:

a problem;
a solution to this problem, which also serves as the religious goal;
a technique (or techniques) for moving from this problem to this solution; and
an exemplar (or exemplars) who chart this path from problem to solution (14).

He uses Christianity and Buddhism as his examples.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It took nearly six months to finish… but what can I say, life happens. If you want to get a basic understanding of “the world’s major religions” this is the book to read. Also, he acknowledges he doesn’t discuss religions such as: “Shinto, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Wicca, Baha’i, Rastafarianism, Scientology, and Sikhism,” simply because he was ranking the mass of the religion by number of followers. Overall, I am giving God is Not One a 5/5. Some parts were dry, but Prothero has a way of writing that helps people understand what exactly it is that they’re reading.

Favorite quotations:

“The ideal of religious tolerance has morphed into the straitjacket of religious agreement” (4).

“Unfortunately, we live in a world where religion seems as likely to detonate a bomb as to defuse one. So while we need idealism, we need realism even more. We need to understand religious people as they are–not just at their best but also at their worst. We need to look  at not only their awe-inspiring architecture and gentle mystics but also their bigots and suicide bombers” (7).

“You don’t have to believe in God to want to understand how beliefs in God have transformed individuals and societies from ancient Israel to contemporary China” (15).

“After 9/11 and the Holocaust, we need to see the world’s religions as they really are–in all their gore and glory. This includes seeing where they agree and disagree, and not turning a blind eye to their failings” (17).

“Religious Studies scholars are rarely honest enough to admit this in person, much less in print, but we all know there are things that each of the world’s religions do well, and things they do poorly” (20).

“…just as hitting home runs is the monopoly of one sport, salvation is the monopoly of one religion” (22).

If you read this, I hope you enjoy it.

Always,
Nolaleigh

Next Page »