Thursday, May 30, 2013

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I'm behind again! Sheesh. I just can't seem to stop reading long enough to get myself caught back up on all my blogging. Since my body has decided that it is going to be lame and feel awful today, I decided that this would be a good time to get the reviews down for the three books I've finished since The Marriage Plot. The first one I found as a group read on Goodreads and picked it up. I was a bit skeptical about it based on the reviews that I read. In my last post you'll remember that I said I don't read reviews before reading the book, and this is exactly why.  Orphan Train has an average rating of 4.07 on Goodreads, and generally that bodes well. (Assuming that you like things that many other people like.) 

What can I say? I liked it well enough. Parts of the book were extremely likable, and parts were downright unbelievable. The book didn't draw me in well enough to be able to suspend my sense of reality and possibility, so the unbelievable stuff is hard for me to overcome. Molly is a very angst driven foster kid, who finally finds a reason to care in Vivian. Vivian is the old lady who is recounting the story of her life to Molly for a class project as the sort through all the things in the attic that tie her to her own reality. 

I read this two books ago, and it's already fading from me. It didn't leave a great impression. It was all a bit to fantastical for me. And yet I can say that it was an enjoyable enough read that I would happily suggest it to you. It's not going to change your life. Definitely might make you realize how different life is now from what it was in the 1920's. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. 

Not really sure what else to say. Maybe now isn't the greatest time for me to be writing a review. Fairly certain that I'm not doing myself or the book justice by this. And thus, again, I will put of the reviews of the next two books. Maybe after a nap I will feel more like being my witty and awesome (narcissistic) self. Until then my readers, I bid you adieu. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

My wonderful husband to be reminded me that I'm falling behind on my blogs again! But lets face it, no one is surprised by that. :) So let me get you caught up on me! Nothing has happened. Unless you count gaining more weight and becoming more uncomfortably pregnant. Ever the pessimist? Maybe not. Things have been really good. Working my last few weeks and I'm more than ready to take that time off to rest and recoup before pushing a new being into the world. It's an ongoing debate with myself about whether or not I'll go insane as a stay at home mommy? I've never had a real opportunity to do something like this. With my first child I ended up going back to work a couple months after he was born and then had multiple jobs for a long time. It's really nice to have this opportunity. Besides, when I'm home I'll have plenty to do, right? Cloth diapers and a baby means lots of laundry.. I'll figure it out.

So lately I've bee reading books from that group I'm in on Goodreads and then adding some random filler items in between. This is one of those books that I just sort of picked up and decided to read. I love the Barnes and Noble bargain priced section. Getting hardback editions cheaper than I even could at half-price books!? Hell yeah, I'll take it. Especially when they are by trusted authors. That last Anita Shreve novel I reviewed should be sanctioned as an accident. Since I got both The Marriage Plot and A Change in Altitude at the same time. When I bought the Marriage Plot the lady at B&N told me that I wouldn't be disappointed and that the only thing she found hard to accept about the book was the end. Which of course made me fret throughout the book that something awful was going to happen to ruin the whole thing. Thankfully it didn't. Normally I'd complain about someone giving me an opinion on a book before I read it, but that isn't fair at all. What am I doing right now? Of course, I'm telling you that the book is wonderful and you should read it. So I won't hold a grudge. Mostly it bothers me because I don't read reviews or even a summary of what a book is about before I start it. I don't like walking in to something and expecting it to be one way or another. However, I can understand those who do. Why read a book if it only gets 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads? Or if enough people tell you how awful something is, shouldn't you believe them and look for something more enticing? 

I can tell you that I probably end up agreeing with the other reviewers more often than not. Consensus usually shows what's right, but sometimes I just end up loving something everyone hated, or really hating something every one else loved. I really will have to leave things like Twilight, Fifty Shades of Whatever, and Hunger Games to everyone else though. I'm not willing to brave the positive or negative reviews to read any of that crap. No offense. Just Ew. 

Anyway. I have another blog to write after this so I should probably get to talking about the book. The Marriage Plot was a good read. Slow going in the beginning for sure, but by the end I couldn't put it down. I can see why many people wouldn't really enjoy the book. It has tons and tons of huge, ridiculous words for no reason. It's kind of like... Let me put every big word I've ever heard of and throw it in here.. Hell I'll even Google some for good measure! This is really how it felt. At the same time that's what defined a few of the characters. Too smart for their own good. The story parallels between two different college students and discusses their journeys into what could be considered adulthood. Set in the 1980's makes it a little difficult for me to relate to the college mentality and the things those students had to look forward to, but I can say that I could picture it for what it was. 

After finishing the book I went and read some of the reviews on Goodreads for the novel, there was an overall weird mix of reviews. I believe that most people read The Virgin Suicides and then expected this to be just another regurgitation of the same, but it's not. And that's what's great. Each book I've read by Eugenides has been unique and moving in a different way. I see people complaining about the language of the book more than anything else. The language is half the point. Have you ever spoken to a college student who thinks they know the whole of everything? There are a lot of them. It's about being realistic, and not about making you fall in love. I really enjoyed this book and I would suggest it to anyone who is okay with a somewhat taxing read. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Change in Altitude, by Anita Shreve

Blah, blah, blah. That's exactly how I've been feeling lately. Lacking motivation for even completing the most simple of tasks. It's kind of ridiculous. I'm really starting to wonder how much my mood really does effect the way a feel about the books I'm reading. Although, when I'm feeling down I can pick up a good book and feel a jillion times better. So maybe it's the opposite? What I'm reading effects the way I'm feeling. In all honestly I can tell that whatever I'm reading influences the language I use on a daily basis. Take for instance when I read a few different classical English lit books in a row, I'll begin using much more proper anecdotes. And likewise, when I'm reading modern jargon, I speak in the way that best reflects that.

Strange. Admittedly, I am a little strange. I've never had a problem seeing that part of me. Meh. I think it adds to my charm. I hope so at least. If I'm wrong, don't correct me. Just let me live in my complacent delusion. It'll be much better that way. For me. Not you.

So, A Change in Altitude. In the past I have read many of Anita Shreve's novels and found much to delight in. Plot lines that drew me in, and characters that I could believe in. And that brings me to the latest novel of hers that I read, A Change in Altitude. First of all, I'll tell you what I'm sure you already know. I didn't like it much. The story was set in Kenya. It's about a newly married couple who go to Kenya to work with the locals. The husband, Patrick, is a doctor and Margaret, the wife, a photographer.

I don't know what to write. I walked away from the blog for a few minutes and I'm struggling to come up with what I should say about the book. The most I can really say, is that there are just so many things that are hard to grasp. The first climb made me feel uncomfortable, and maybe this is the point, but the discomfort didn't leave me for the rest of the book. Margaret is a whiny sort of empty character. She doesn't have much to do since her husband works away from home at the hospital for his research. So, she finds something to do. Overall the story line was sporadic and off. The flow and content were really lacking in any kind of comfortable movement. The characters were underdeveloped, and left me wanting so much more.

The end was probably the hardest part to understand. She finished her journey, but it ends abruptly with her realizing how hard she has worked to get nothing but a muddled view of nothing. I don't know. All I can say is that I sill not hold it against Anita Shreve, and will probably attempt to read another of her books soon. Maybe I'll even go back and reread one that I know I enjoyed and review it just to prove to you (and myself) that she is normally awesome.

Now it's time for bed, because this old lady has to go to work tomorrow. And that isn't really ever any fun. I try to pretend like it is though, sometimes it works. Mostly I just end up watching the time creep by, and text my fiance a lot about a bunch of nothing. It's a good thing he loves me. :) I'm often times a very needy individual.

Anyhoo. Happy Reading!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Flora, by Gail Godwin

What a day it's been! Just kidding. I woke up at 10:30 and have done a good deal of nothing so far. Pretty exciting stuff, I know! Today, I really spent an hour or so thinking about all the things I was going to have to do to begin getting ready for the baby shower next month. Cheese and Rice, I got overwhelmed and walked away from the whole setup of planning. I at least set a date, and let people know about it! Baby steps, right? Haha. So when I gave up on the planning I decided that it was also a good time to go get my nails and eyebrows done. Living the high life! It's becoming more and more apparent that I am beginning to have big problems with focus. Yeah. I'll be doing something, and then out of no where "SHINY" distractions. Fairly certain that you can equate this stage of the pregnancy to a form of dimensia. Mostly, I'm just hoping that this mental state doesn't begin to effect my reading beyond the amount of time I am able to spend reading before I have to walk away.

Flora was one of those books that, on a normal occasion, should have been done in pretty much a single sitting. Do I blame the baby, or do I blame the story!? On Goodreads the story has an average reader rating of 3.49 out of 5 stars, and I'll just give it a three myself. This means that I'll blame the story. It's a brand new book that came out on May 7th, which I didn't realize at the time that I started reading it. All I knew was that it was on hold because it hadn't been released in ebook format on the library's website until then. 

The story is about a ten year old girl who loses her grandma and then her father goes off to work for the summer, leaving her cousin from Alabama in charge of her. Most of the story was pretty bland, and the little girl, Helen, was an obnoxious, pretentious girl. Flora on the other hand is the slightly uneducated cousin who lacks self-confidence in anything she does. It doesn't take long for Helen to realize that she can play this to her advantage in some things. The story overall was slow and uninviting, but how inviting could a book about two girls essentially stuck on a mountain for a whole summer be? 

The ending of the book seemed to be trying to make up for the lack of content throughout the rest of it. There was a major onslaught of information that came all sorts of jumbled to give the reader a sort of satisfaction of knowing what ended up happening to everyone. Most of these tidbits I found to be sorely lacking in any necessity. Why do we need to know what happened to so many of the supporting characters? Just didn't make sense to me why. Nor did it flow well. Almost made the story end even more abruptly. 

I'll keep Gail Godwin on the list of authors I can pull from when I need something to fill my time, but as of right now I think I'll walk away from this book and leave it at that. I'm not really certain what I'll be reading next, but I'm hoping it's much better than the last couple of things I've picked up. My luck needs to come back in!

Until we meet again readers, I wish you all the best.

Happy Reading.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

So my fiance and I did something really exciting today! We finally got our rings! :) We worked at saving up and didn't put anything on credit. I'm proud of us. We were successful, and it hardly took any time at all. But, the real point is that I have new bling.. and being a girl I am terribly excited about it. Granted I'm not excited just because it's shiny. I'm excited because it's one more thing that is falling into place for our lives. The Fates have really been on our side. I'm a very lucky woman to have found such a wonderful man.

You should know by now that I very seldom am on topic in the beginning of my blogs. Which means I am going to stop apologizing about my rants. Over time I've really learned that a good amount of why I like or don't like a book is about the environment and how I felt when I was reading it. This is not always true. Some books are just awful. No amount of a great mood can change that. Might make me a little nicer in my reviews though. Who am I kidding, nothing makes me nice about books I don't like. So this all being said I'll tell you a little about what happened in the three days it took me to read this book. 

I worked, I do a lot of that. Most of my reading time was spent on my lunch breaks. You have no idea how many people will look at you with almost sadness when you are pregnant, 20-something, sitting by yourself, eating and reading in a restaurant. It's unfathomable! Haha. I think I just look lonely or something. When I go to Barnes and Nobel no one treats me like a leper, but I spend way too much money. I'll stick to Chic Fil A. So other than work I spent time at home with my loves. Nothing too crazy going on until we went out today. Today we went to a parade. A very noisy, hot, and long parade. A hoard of candy was taken in (none of it good). Then mother's day lunch and the rings. And now here I am. 

There are serious second thoughts about that last paragraph having anything really of value to add to this blog, but we'll let it slide this once. If it's a huge miss I'll leave it out next time. Nothing really exciting happens in my day to day of which you would really care to know. Meh.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. I'm in a group on Goodreads that is 52 books in 52 weeks or something like that. You should be my friend on Goodreads and join me in the group! Anyway, this is the book that they are reading this week. The library actually had it available to borrow on my Kindle so I jumped on board and started reading it. Finished just in time for the week to be over. Some of the reviews so far that I've read say that the characters are hard to love, and I think maybe that's the point. Maybe we get so lost in the idea that you have to love everyone that you read about, or connect with every thing. But some people are just hard to love. Kind of like it's hard to love your weird uncle who smells like pickles and never changes his jeans? You know what I mean? Well, maybe that's a bit different. Haha. The point I'm really making is that no matter how hard we try to make everyone fit into our molds, sometimes they are just selfish, mean, and downright unlovable.

I think it also makes some difference that it is written by a dude. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that men can't write emotionally driven works. What I'm saying is that they have a very different style of writing. This is a love story of a sort, albeit not a conventional one. It's about realizing that sometimes what we thought was right or wrong for us, might really not be. It's about waking up and realizing the things that you've walked out on, or taken for granted. 

Did I love the book? No, I can't say that I did. But I liked it well enough to recommend that you read it if you haven't already. It's worth the time it takes to read. This is pretty much all I have to say about the book. I finished it a few hours ago and I already have a disconnect from it, which mostly tells me that I can survive without it. Only the really good ones stick around long enough for me to recall very specific details hours later. Although, I can say that I hate the end. Ugh. It was so... Unorganized. And now, really, I'm done.

If you stumble across this blog from Goodreads, or have a Goodreads account, please add me as a friend. I need more friends on there and many more book suggestions. For REAL. Ha! I'm getting to a point where I'm scrounging to find things I want to read right now. 

Happy Reading.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Since I got  myself so burned out on reading books at a radical pace, I've been doing my best to moderate the amount that I read each day. Which basically means that it takes me three days to finish a book instead of 1 or 2. I can't really promise that it's working out because I've learned self control. I'm fairly certain that the only reason I have been able to do it this way is because I'm a tired old lady. Reading on my lunch breaks and the little bit before bed that I can squeeze in before I fall over with exhaustion. Or before Nick goes to bed. He makes it so much more inviting to go to sleep instead of reading. At any rate, I finished Life of Pi last night after starting it Sunday I think? Not really important. Somehow I ended up with a Kindle version that had random pictures in it every once in a while as well. Which is also equally unimportant, but I found it very odd to see pictures in the story on my Kindle. 

Something I've been asking myself is why I even bothered reading Life of Pi? I've had absolutely no interest in the book the entire time it's been out. Not even through all the excitement about the movie or anything. So, why now? I decided that it's because the book I really wanted to read made me go on a waiting list, and so I just picked something to read in the interim. Regretfully enough, it wasn't the best decision I've made. 

There will be no spoilers in this review, but I'll tell you that I'd like to. Pi Patel is a strange, affected character. A boy with a religious zeal not to be questioned. I never really quite decided whether I liked him as a character or whether he was just a bit too outlandish and unrealistic for my tastes. The book itself consists of a few different sections that detail different phases in Pi's life, with a couple of random interjections by the man who is interviewing Pi. The final section is the one that really kind of sealed my initial dislike of the book. It's the story of being a castaway and the sole survivor of the boat that his family was traveling from India to Canada on. Some parts of it were plain ridiculous, and others were far to detailed for any reason at all. I get the idea of wanting the reader to almost be able to feel what is happening, but gruesome descriptions are too much for me. And the end.. The end just made me angry. It made the whole irregularity of the rest of the story begin to make sense and clear up, but still. Lame.

Either way, it is a critically acclaimed novel, and now a full-length film. Many people have really enjoyed it, and I'm sure found greater significance in it than I did. I know that someone mentioned having recently watched the movie and liking it, which I doubt I will ever purposely do. I think that I'll give this a 2 out of 5 on Goodreads. The writing is good, I'll definitely give you that. Yann Martel is gifted with words. I may look into reading some of his other works another time. Right now I'm reading Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, and it's coming along fairly well. Since the sky has decided to break open and pour down a very noisy and lightning filled rainstorm I'll probably be up a while. Progress is in my future. Happy Reading to you all. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

You know how I disappear for a while?

Well, I did that again. I'd like to think that it isn't possible to burn yourself out on reading, but I think I did. I was reading a lot, almost a book a day and occasionally more than one. And I just needed to walk away for a bit. I didn't really stop reading, I just stopped devouring. Apparently I also stopped reviewing, which does myself no good. 

I'm always surprised when I go away from the blog for a couple months, only to return and see that people have still been reading. It's nice. I guess I should really not just forget about the blog like that. But whatever, life happens.

Speaking of life. The one I'm creating inside my womb is getting really big. 24 weeks pregnant and having an absolute blast. Okay, so that last part was a lie. It's been awfully uncomfortable and distracting. I don't really want to make this a long post like they normally are. Mostly I just wanted to stop by and say hello to all of you readers. I'm reading a book about Nazi Germany right now, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to put it down and I've only barely begun it. It's not very enticing. 

I may instead pick up Life of Pi or Middle C. They both stand to be much more promising than this other. My library loan is only for 7 days though.. And it's already been two I think. I don't know... Just so dull. And I find myself so easily distracted by other things I should be doing. Anyway. This is really all I wanted to do, so I will wish you all happy reading. And maybe I'll be back tomorrow or the day after with a review on either what I'm reading, or something I read in the past couple of weeks.