Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Little Look into Me

I've never really been good at just sitting down and writing about myself or really anything that I can't tie to something else. This lack of ability of mine is probably what motivated me to begin reviewing books in the first place. There is also, of course, my incredible love of any and all literature. Ever since I was a little kid I knew that I was safe in a book. I can't really pinpoint what I mean by that, but I guess it could be that I could get lost in the oblivion of my imagination. In a sense no longer be here and experiencing whatever is actually in my life. I could be anyone! Do whatever I wanted to do. That was my original allure to reading. Since then it's become kind of a quest. 

In junior high I set a goal for myself to read the entirety of the school library. It worked for a while, I read A LOT. What was really the downfall was lack of time and lack of interest in certain books. Never did I want to make it to the Non-Fiction section. I've never been the type to be able to sit down and actually enjoy reading a book of facts. Although, I could probably read a good deal about history. I'm just talking about not wanting to read about general facts. I also have a problem with poetry. I know that I've mentioned in previous posts how I really like books that take the time to create an entire world for you to associate with the characters. You know what poetry does? It spits a few lines at you and tells you to do something with it. I'm not saying I don't understand it... I'm saying I don't see the point. Sorry to all of my beloved poet friends, but I really don't understand. 

The biggest setback I had while attempting to read the entire library was really just the limit of things that I like. When I was younger I couldn't force myself to read things that I didn't want to. If it didn't interest me I'd just walk away from it. Understandable I think, I was 11-14 years old at the time. This was about the time that I really developed my ability to rapidly read through books, and still absorb what I am reading. I know many people who have tried to teach themselves how to speed read, and that there is probably a right way to do it too. Yet, I developed my own style for accomplishing the tasks at hand. Ever since then I've been able to read through books at a somewhat ridiculous pace, and am almost completely unable to slow down and absorb a book at what could be considered a normal pace. It's sometimes a bummer.

People often times ask me if I've ever thought about writing something myself. Pretty much my answer is usually the same: I've given it thought, but what would I write that someone would care to read? My biggest fear of writing is that I'll end up plagiarizing the hell out of someone else's work because I can't remember if I read it somewhere or if I made it up. How do you be completely unique in a world where people have been writing for centuries? You really can't. Many stories have elements of the same things. Maybe you change the names and the order of how things happen, but I bet that its happened in a book sometime before you wrote it. So what's the point? That's cynical at best. But, yeah, I've thought about writing. Almost certain I've attempted to write something before as well. I just never follow through. Maybe one day I'll decide to give it a try. I'll have to keep you in the know. 

Something that I think is pretty nifty. Did you know that if you post your reviews on Goodreads the authors sometimes actually read them?!? Haha. I'm not surprised, but I am surprised when they take the time to comment of what I wrote. So big thanks to Chrissy Anderson and Harry Steinman for both being really great sports about it. I wonder what the authors think when I give their books not so great reviews? I'm just being honest. Take my Molly Ringwald review for example... I was really tough on that book. Mostly because I really didn't like it, but also because I'm not going to lie about how I felt. Then again, at least she was brave enough to try. 

I recently agreed to review a book for an author who just released it. It's called Waiting with God - A 31-Day Devotional with Bible Verses: Where is God? Welcome Jesus into Your Life! by Suzanne E. Anderson. She gave me the book in exchange for reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. I'll also of course post my review here as well. I'm a little hesitant to do the review itself because I'm reading a book that covers a touchy topic. I've very carefully stepped around my views on religion. I don't really feel like that should affect the way I read or the way I review so I avoid it altogether. I doubt you'll hold that against me. Also, I haven't really looked at the book much since it just got sent to me, but am I supposed to read it over 31 days? That will be incredibly difficult for me. Ha. I've decided to finish the book I've already started and then begin this book in the next couple of days. 

This is enough for today. I'll probably have the review for Spin by Catherine McKenzie up tomorrow if I can find the time with work to finish it up. We'll see what happens. Until then, I wish you all Happy Reading. 

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Not really sure if I have mentioned this before, but I recently got a new library card, I'm pretty sure I haven't had one since I was about 13? I have a small phobia of library books.... They smell funny, and you have no idea who has had them before you, or who will have them after you. Funny thing is, that I don't have the same problem with going to a used book store and buying books that someone else has owned. I'm going to guess that's because I willfully force myself to believe that only one person has had them before me and I make a great effort to make sure there are no food stains or boogers located between any of the pages before I buy them. Again, this has very little to do with the blog at hand. Excepting of course that I have begun to use the library's online Lending Library to borrow books. Doesn't matter how many people have used them (or eaten while reading) because when it gets to my Kindle it's brand new! Oh the wonders will never cease. No more scrounging to find random free books, let's not get me started on paying for Kindle books again. Now! I have a variety of books that I actually want to read right at my fingertips!

Still, I stumble across gems like Catherine McKenzie. What I was expecting from the book, and what I got are two very different things. Exactly what I was expecting, I'm not really sure, but what I got was a very well written witty story about a woman who is unlucky in love. Anne has just finished another bad relationship, identical to the three that came before. And now she finds out that her best friend is getting married and completing the fairy tale love story that she has always dreamed of. Is it a sign that she found a card for a supposed dating service just a short while before? Is it really time to give up on finding love herself, and let someone else do it for her instead? Maybe it's fate, but maybe its desperation. Whatever it is Anne lets go and gives it a try.

After an all inclusive arranged marriage and honeymoon getaway Anne and her now husband Jack make a go at life together. With an arranged marriage you can expect all kinds of up and downs, and that's exactly what you get. With a compatibility score of 8 (which is perfect) will is be love everlasting, or will the pressures of the world tear them apart? You'll just have to read it to find out. And believe me, you won't be disappointed.

There are some key points in the books that really intrigued me, mostly the idea of giving up on romantic love for the basis of a relationship and using a "friendship philosophy" to found a relationship. I can really see the validity of this. Friendship between partners is what creates a bond that lasts forever. I've seen many of my friends relationships fail because they thought that love feeling was enough, and when that love feeling goes away all they are left with is a hollow shell. Makes sense to me. Why kid myself, I've experienced the same thing myself. What counts is that I've learned that love isn't enough. Which is why Nick and I have taken the effort to read up on things, and to progress past just loving each other and moved into building a strong foundation for forever. 

And really just the second thing that I've thought about the idea of having entered into an arranged marriage. It has worked for centuries in other cultures. The book even mentioned how people here look down on the whole idea. We've been spoon fed the romantic ideas of love at first sight and happy endings from our books to our movies. Would I have had the courage to let someone else decide who would make me happy forever? That's exactly what it would take, courage. I'll gladly admit that I'm a huge chicken when it comes to making any kind of decisions, let alone making someone else decide my marital fate. 

Those are just a couple things that the book made me think about. I'm thinking about posting later tonight with just a general personal update on my life. But, for now I'll leave you to your own happy reading. We are on our way to the library to get Ryland some new night-night stories. I'm doing my best to not be super grossed out by the books at the library, because I know how much Ry loves our reading times at night. But... gross.. Happy Reading!

The Diplomat's Wife by Pam Jenoff

I finished this book Monday night before I went to bed and then just didn't seem to have time to post about it yesterday. I know that you'll all forgive my delay. Even though the delay means that you'll have to read two whole different review from me today. Ahh, doesn't that sound exciting!

Pam Jenoff also wrote a book call The Kommandant's Girl and this is a follow up to that. The Diplomat's Wife follows a secondary character from the original book called Marta. She plays a decent roll in the original and before The Kommandant's Girl ends you think she must be dead. Which brings me to the actual book I just read. It was an unbelievable love story. And I don't mean that in the way that I'm saying that it was so incredibly moving it was unbelievable. What I mean is that every other thing that happens in the story is so unrealistic that it absolutely ruins the story for me. 

I really enjoyed the first book and so I was hoping that this one would be as good, but it was purely ridiculous. One incredible impossibility after another. I'm a reader who can sort of suspend reality in order to allow for certain possibilities to happen to make a love story function, it's me saying a lot that I absolutely couldn't do that for this book. Jenoff has an amazing ability to write. I will never argue with that. I read the book all the way through in one sitting, even with the struggles of imagination I was fighting against. It's hard to tell you why I feel this way in detail without ruining the story for you, so I'm just going to have to leave you with this. 

The fact that I know some people can suspend reality well enough to believe in this story astounds me. Reality is just so... real? It's supposed to be real, this isn't science fiction or fantasy. I can make all kinds of allowances for books found in those genres. 

This is why I like to sit down and write my reviews right after I finish a book. Everything is much more clear and my ideas are more defined. As it is I just finished another book that I'm about to review as well and it is so much more pristine in my mind. I'd say that's because it left a good impression though, and all The Diplomat's Wife did was leave me incredibly unsatisfied and unhappy. Either way, I'll willingly admit that this isn't the best review I've done to date. Happy Reading all! 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

the time keeper by Mitch Albom

Since this will be my third complete blog within the last 24 hours I'll do my best to just stick to the book itself. That may be difficult to do, being me and all. :) 

Mitch Albom gets a good deal of praise. He is a very well received Christian author, and I can rightfully say he should be. I've read some of his other works and they were great. What I really don't like, though, is his writing style. Especially this book. It drove me insane. Ugh. Jumping back and forth, tiny tidbits here and there, having to piece things together. Very annoying. One thing the book did really well was invite the reader to think about time. And not just about time in the sense that it's passing, but time in the meaning of how we use it. Are you asking for more time than you deserve? Are you fighting to run out on your life earlier than the higher beings have planned? 

I won't really go into details about the book at all other than to say that the three main characters are interesting. Father time, an time hungry old man, and a broken teenage girl. All in all I think it probably took me about 2 hours of reading time with plenty of interruptions for play time and make-believe with my wonderful three year old boy. I get the feeling though that this is a book you should take the time to read. Maybe I missed something that would make it more special? It's an incredibly well received book. Then again, not everyone likes everything the same. And I didn't like this book. More than anything it's the writing style that killed it for me. Far too much jolting and jumping about. Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I have great affection for books that tend to be a little more long winded. 

The characters really only inspired more dislike for me. An insipid girl who can't pull herself out of a funk created by a bully of a boy. Then again, what 17 year old girl really can? She's realistic-ish but annoying. Really don't get me started on the power hungry, money grubbing old man. Bleck. I understand the message, it's pretty obvious. Don't measure your life by the time that passes, measure it by the way you spend that time. I'm just very underwhelmed. I'll give it 2 out of 5 stars on my Goodreads. Here's to hoping my next random book choice is better! Happy Reading!

The Guestbook by Andrea Hurst

I don't know what it is, but I've had all the best luck about picking books that involve women walking away from broken relationships and finding great strength within themselves. Really, the books just kind of find me I guess. Since I end up with most of them because they were on the FreeBooks list at some point and I just happened to download them and then decide to read them now. Today Nick and I were talking about my habit of not reading anything about the book before I actually begin reading it. That's always been a benefit to me. It really opens my horizons and I'm not going to get turned away from a book just because someone wrote a bad captioning for it. Yet it makes it kind of a gamble. I read really quickly though, so if a book is lame it doesn't take me long to get through the torture and I can get on here and vent to you all about how bad the book was. 

Thankfully the things that I have been reading lately have worked out for me. The Guestbook I settled on reading this morning and finished about an hour or so ago. Nap time is the best time for uninterrupted reading. Monster took a really good nap today! Today was a good day for a lot of things though. We got Ry his first library card, and got me a new one. Which means that we can get him some new bedtime stories and I don't have to read the same books over and over and over again at bed time. Also, I can now download books from the library and have them go straight to my Kindle Paperwhite. I downloaded my first book and will probably commence reading after I get us through dinner and bath time. The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. I know nothing about it, so we will see how it goes. 

Either way, I know that I get distracted and you aren't really here to read about my day. Which means it is on to the topic at hand: The Guestbook by Andrea Hurst.

Lily is busy living her life as the perfect wife. The gourmet chef, the perfectly dressed woman, the wife who does everything she is told to please her husband of ten years. But she feels as she looks around their home, that it isn't hers. It never has been. Brad makes all the decisions. He chooses the way she dresses. He even sent her to many many cooking classes and schools in order to make her into his image of a perfect wife. Then it happens. Brad leaves his cell phone when he runs out of the house and Lily reads the messages. Brad's having an affair. It was the end, and Lily takes the basics of her life and runs away.

She recently inherited an eccentric bed and breakfast in Washington from her grandmother who passed away. She gets there and begins to see what she can really accomplish on  her own. Then she meets him. But what will she do? In the middle of a divorce and alone for the first time in years she is drowning in her own distrust of men and lack of faith in herself. In this small town she finds what it means to be a woman. Lily makes friends with some of the local women and really begins to establish herself. Bringing the bed and breakfast back to life along with her own love. 

Overall the book was good. If I had to pinpoint anything that I disliked about it, I'm not sure I could. The Guestbook was a quick and easy read. Not the most particularly emotionally involving and some of the things in the story were kind of bypassed. I'd say I feel that way because short reads leave too much time unexplained or really just leave a lot up to you to decide. Can't say that is my favorite style of writing. Give me a story that is written with livid details and can really make me feel like I'm there, and I'm a very happy woman. I don't know what else to say really. It was an okay book and once the other two in the trilogy become available for the kindle I will probably read them as well. I felt enough for the characters to want to find out more about their stories. Maybe I'll keep up with Andrea Hurst. God Bless Goodreads? Anyway. I'm giving this 3 out of 5 stars. That is the end of my chat for now. Happy Reading! 

The Life List: the difference between doing something and doing nothing is everything by Chrissy Anderson

Do you ever think that things can come into your life, or just happen at the perfect moment?

Have you ever wondered or fervently believed that there is someone up "there" who is watching out for you personally? I mean this not in a "God" sense, but more in the sense of a relative or friend who has passed.

I'm going to take a wild leap and say that very many people in the world feel this way. Even if they are going to be slow to admitting it. I don't mind that people are sometimes afraid to admit what they believe in. It's a tough world, and people judge incredibly quickly. I am 100% willing to admit that I believe that both of these ideas are possible, and have happened in my own life. I very randomly met the love of my life, and we have become amazing together. There is also a strong certainty in my heart that my Grandma is up there making sure that I don't mess things up too badly down here. I can almost feel her sometimes. Which is kind of crazy to some of you I'm sure. Also, it's very true that I barely even knew her while she was alive.

You may be wondering how all of these questions pertain to the book that I am writing about, but to be honest these are exactly the viewpoints that Chrissy carries herself. I'm not going to talk about the fact that the author named her main character after herself, and also states that it is a work of fiction. I may address that later though. It kind of bothers me. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Chrissy and her husband Kurt are the couple that everyone secretly wants to be. The couple that met in high school and survived through college and got married. Both very beautiful people with exciting jobs and a flashy home. Who wouldn't want to be them, right?

Then all of a sudden Chrissy meets him, Leo. And she realizes that perfection on the outside doesn't mean that everything is also perfect on the inside. Then everything breaks down. It's a mess of lies, therapy, separation, divorce, love, hate, loss. Anything you'd imagine an incredibly emotional woman feeling, Chrissy goes through it. Through it all she comes out stronger and more brave than shes ever been. It's all about reestablishing herself without trying to fit into someone else's frame of mind. That liberating moment of personal freedom after so long trying to be who someone else always wanted you to be. And maybe, you'd already convinced yourself that you are that person.

This was a good read. It made me tear up in some places, and become incredibly frustrated in others. I could say it was an emotional roller coaster, but that could just as easily be attributed to my pregnant hormones. Either way. It's not an educational read, and it's not really the most well written (by the book) kind of book. What it is, is real. The language is something that you'd hear spoken on the bus while some lady gabs to her friend sitting next to her. I used to be really uptight about books being written in a certain fashion, but I realize how much I was missing out on. It's really hard to feel an emotional tie to something that makes you feel like you should be analyzing every other sentence to look for the hidden meaning. I really strongly dislike poetry because of that.

I said that I'd consider addressing the author using her name as the character name in this work of fiction. So here I go! I don't like it. If it's fiction then there should be some form of disconnect between who wrote it and who the book is about. I don't want to force this image of a person onto the author. It could really taint anything that I read from her afterward. From what I can tell this book is the first of a trilogy? I don't know. It's so far the only thing that I see out by her right now. It was released in the first half of 2012, and I got it for free from my blog that tells me what books are free on random days. It's 3.99 on Amazon for the Kindle. I'd say that's a fair enough price? I'm not judge of book cost. Then again I loathe and despise paying for Kindle books. If I'm going to buy a book, then I am going to have an actual book to put in my library downstairs. Not everyone agrees with that (Nick!) but I'll forgive him because he's cute. It's late and I have a whole lot of playing with a three year old  to do tomorrow. So I'll leave all of you lovely readers to your own devices now. Happy Reading!