Friday, August 26, 2011

Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Selling Books, Oh My!

I keep vanishing and for that I apologize. You know that term, when it rains, it pours? That's been happening for the majority of this year. We all know of previous issues but more have arrived.

But the good news is that I have a fancy new job and I love it. I'm very busy between work and getting my life squared away. Trying to play grown up and all that.

This week has been rather eventful. My area felt the much talked about East Coast earthquake. Now, for those who do not live in the East Coast, understand that we don't typically receive earthquakes. This is only the second one I've ever felt in my lifetime. It wasn't horrendous, more amusing because I thought my car was breaking down (my mother thought it was the washer), but it was still talked about because it's such a rare event. And it was strong enough to put a crack in a bridge I cross over to get to work. Now that was fun, being literally two minutes from my job and being told I had to turn around and find another way to it because they were afraid the bridge would collapse (it didn't, btw). And it messed up cellular service so I couldn't call my job to say I would be late.

This can be considered my 'earthquake picture', only because I took it the day of.

Now we're due for the biggest hurricane we've ever received in my life time. The most unnerving part of all this is that my friends are being evacuated from the coast. I, luckily, am far enough inland to not be affected with the evacuations but we're still in for a hellish weekend. And I need to get my car fixed at some point during this hurricane. Ah, bad timing is bad.

In other news, I am on a minimalist kick. I want to downgrade as much of my belongings and part of that is... books. I love books. I love reading. We all know this but I feel the need to remind you before I continue. I have about 20 books sitting on my floor awaiting a trip to my favorite used book store. I'll be selling them to the store so that, hopefully, someone else will buy them and enjoy them as much as I have since owning them. But wow, so many books! I went through my book shelves and considered each one. What ones have I read and intend on reading again? What ones will I return to in search of quotes? What ones are 'classics' that maybe, one day, my children will have to read in school? If I answered 'not this one' for any of the books I took them off the shelves. It's given me so much room for my ever changing book collection.

So besides the real life issues, saving for a plane ticket to visit family in Florida, car troubles, nature kicking our butt, and work- I have been reading. I've been flying through a book series and I hope to actually (gasp) provide you all with some type of book reviews in the future! You know, after I finish reading this series and we aren't being pummeled with bad weather.

I hope you're all doing well. I'm sorry for the lack of posts. And if you happen to be in the line of this hurricane, stay safe!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guest Post: This Is Where I Leave You

Hi all! I’m Amanda, from Amanda’s Musings. While I don’t run a specifically book related blog, I do read. A lot. I’m also an English Lit major, which adds to the time I spend reading.

I recently finished “This Is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper. While I’m pretty sure this book was all the rage last year, I’m sometimes slow getting around to things.

That being said, Tropper’s novel is a wonderful one. It’s one of the funniest, saddest, happiest, most depressing books I’ve ever read, and no, that won’t make sense until you pick it up for yourself.

Judd is forced to return to his childhood home after the death of his father, whose dying wish was for his family to sit Shiva. For the Foxman family, seven days spent with everyone under the same roof may very well be their undoing.

Judd recently found his wife having an affair with his boss. Phillip is the family screw up. Paul blames Judd for ruining his chance at college sports and the opportunities it would have afforded him. Alice just wants a baby. And on it goes.

“This Is Where I Leave You” is an absolute gem of a novel. Tropper’s ability to dissect the familial relationship is almost scary – I saw threads of my own family within the walls of the Foxman home. I was taken by complete surprise by the sheer truth of the words on the pages, and loved every time it happened. Families are far from perfect (all of them). But your family is also your home – sometimes whether you want it to be or not.

"We all start out so damn sure, thinking we've got the world on a string. If we ever stopped to think about the infinite number of ways we could be undone, we'd never leave our bedrooms." – This Is Where I Leave You

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Help

I am such a stubborn person. If you know me personally then this isn’t new information. While working in a bookstore this book was released and people couldn’t get enough of it. Everyone was buying a copy and raving about it. So, because I’m stubborn and make no sense, I pushed it aside and refused to read it. Why? I’m not even sure. No, wait, I didn’t want to just jump on the bandwagon when everyone else was obsessing over it. Because I am stubborn.

Insert a year or so and now I get wind that The Help is being made into a motion picture. It seems that Hollywood is doing that a lot lately - making books into films. And I’m relatively quick to see these films, however, I always try to read the books first. So, I stopped being stubborn and got the book on my Kindle. I opened it, curious to see how it began (I always look to see how books start, forever reading the first page before I usually getting around to reading the book) and I couldn’t put it down.

It’s a thick book but I flew through the book and enjoyed every moment. See, for the past few months I’ve tried to stick to the more relaxing, happy, short books. It’s been all that I can concentrate on with an assortment of less than happy things going on in my life. So this was my first serious book since my life became topsy turvy. And I loved it… I see why there was such hype and so many customers would tell me to read it.

The book is told from three perspectives. Two black women who are maids in white homes in Jackson, Mississippi and another woman, Miss Skeeter, a white woman who is breaking away from the typical expectations of the southern 1960’s woman.

While Miss Skeeter is expected to get herself married because, my goodness, she is a whole twenty-three years old and single, her educational endeavors are looked down upon. She has a degree and it seems like no one finds it important or an achievement in any way. God forbid a woman in her twenties isn’t engaged or married.

There was something more than this. Aside from Miss Skeeter being single, she was also tall, thin, her hair wasn’t perfect, and goodness how will she ever get a husband looking like that?

I immediately related to this woman on so many levels. I’ve heard comments pertaining to my height and the height of women in my family. We’re all above average and closer to six foot than anything that’s considered ‘petite’. People have commented, “But you’re so tall” as if it was something disgusting. “You wear heels?” As if it’s completely incomprehensible that I, a woman of 5’9”, would even dare to consider wearing heels. The comments continue, “You’re twenty five and you’re not dating anyone? Oh, we know you’ll never marry.”

The other women of the story (Minny and Aibileen) are trapped by the presence of people who are fearful of difference and extremely racist. They cannot look at a person who is different from them and see nothing but separation. Minny and Aibileen may suffer some weaknesses but they are so strong and brave. I just fell in love with all of the main female characters. This was a book that days after I had finished reading it I was still trying to grasp words to describe how wonderful it is. I still was struggling to express my feelings because it was just that good.

I can say for sure that I will definitely be seeing the movie once it's out in theaters and I am telling everyone I know to please pick this book up and read it. It is worth the hype. It isn't a romantic story, it isn't flimsy, it's real and tough, sometimes funny, often sad, but just so well written that the words completely transport you to Jackson, Mississippi during an important time in American history. Grab the book and give it a read before the film comes out and also check out the trailer to the movie down below!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Go the F**k to Sleep

This book absolutely and positively cracked me up. Family members who have children loved the concept and humor. Yeah, I have no children. I hope to be a parent one day but I haven’t the personal experience of what it is to be a mother. However, I know enough people who have children that I’ve been around. I recall clearly trying to get a child to go to sleep with a friend. We would pretend we were asleep, sing to the child, do an assortment of things and yet this child insisted on staying awake. After two hours we were pretty tired of it.

This book is humorous and well, it’s more for the parents than the children. If you don’t mind saying the word ‘f**k’ around your child then sure, go ahead, read the book to your child because there are cute pictures and a rhyme scheme. It’s entirely your choice. But I do believe this is something that a parent or caregiver to a child can identify with and laugh over.

What’s better? Friggen Samuel L. Jackson reading the book. You can hear what the book is about in the awesome youtube video below and decide for yourself if you would like the book. Or, better yet, get it as a gag gift for a friend (I’m intending on doing just that!)

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Vampire Diaries- Stefan's Diaries: Vol. 3 The Craving

Ah, the last book of this little trilogy. Really, they are so short and such quick reads that why not read them? When you're stressed and looking for some brainless entertainment I look to these books. It isn't a snub to the writing or anything because it serves it's purpose in entertaining me and giving me a temporary break from whatever is causing me stress in my real life. I welcome these type of books and due to an assortment of stressful things happening in my life for the last three months I have been devouring them any chance I get. Serious literature with deep concepts? No, sorry, I can't concentrate on that right now. Let alone any book that is highly emotional, I need something that's exciting or happy.

The book picked up shortly after where the last one left off. Okay, no problem. It might be a good idea to read the three books of Stefan's Diaries one after another since they all take place so closely to each other.

I appreciated that this book featured Lexi more. If you are a fan of the tv show (and these books are based off of the tv show not the book series) then I hope you are a fan of the character Lexi. While watching the show I always wanted to know her history and while the second Stefan's Diaries book introduced her, this book continued with tales of her. I really enjoy the character and wish I could find out her history. That's the problem with vampire literature- I'm introduced to an assortment of characters who are all immortal so they've lived a number of years and I'm left wondering about the details of their lives.

The book felt a little rushed at the end. It had a huge build up and my fav Damon pops back in and is controlling as always. But then all of these elements are thrown in, this interesting plot develops and then is quickly finished. I was disappointed with that, really, because I was hopeful to hear more about the details of this plot. But it was quickly taken care of and finished. But now, see, I want Damon's diaries. Yeah, he doesn't write in a diary (I don't think?) so maybe it can be Damon's Mind but there is a gap in time from the end of this book to when the television show begins and I would really appreciate allowing my obsession to continue!