Woe the broken kindle Wednesday, May 9 2018 

My cat, though soft, sweet, and innocent looking, is a jerk. She’s usually cuddly. She used to be known as the evil b**** cat to my friends because she hated everyone else. But she’s mellowed out as she’s grown older. And so now she’s nothing but headbutts, and scratching, and cuddles. as seen below.


Despite this general cute-ness. She can be annoying jerk in the morning when she’s hungry. In what ways? She likes to knock things off my bedside table to wake me up. One such of these items was my kindle. Which cracked the screen. it turns on, but it doesn’t do much else.

Which of course is where I was reading the Song of Ice and Fire series. Yea. So there’s a delay in that seeing as I now have to get a new one. And I can potentially read it on my phone, or my laptop, or my work computer during breaks, but oh man was the kindle so much easier for it. Maybe I should make Kasseri, my cat, get a job and she can pay for it. Man she needs to start pulling her own weight, especially if she’s breaking my things like a drunken rock star.


No updates? No updates! No updates :( Saturday, Feb 3 2018 

Yet again, I’ve found my old reading habits of being a consistent reader foiled by A Song of Ice and Fire. Getting through A Clash of Kings has proven just as difficult to get through as Game of Thrones. I’m not denying they are good books, but they have yet to grab me. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Again, maybe part of it is because I am consistently told how much I would or should like the books, given my proclivity towards fantasy and sci-fi. I’m a huge nerd. I know it. As a kid I was obsessed with Lord of the Rings and the Saga of Recluce (which I plan on going back to when I finish with A Song of Ice and Fire).

I wonder if it’s also that I just find them so similar in style to other fantasy books that I just wonder why these books got the huge fanbase, and other books that I cherished as a kid did not. And maybe I have to figure out if those books I loved when I was younger are still as good as I remember them.

I’ll get through it. And maybe by the end of this one, they’ll grab me and whisk me away to parts unknown.

Et fin. Thursday, May 18 2017 

I finally finished Game of Thrones. Finally. It took me about forever, and I never thought I’d get through it, but I did it. And do you know what helped? Jillian Michaels.

Weird, right? Yeah, I agree. But last month she started this plank challenge. Participants of it would start off the challenge by planking for 10 seconds. Then you increased your planking time by 10 seconds each day until you reached 300 seconds on the last day. That’s 5 minutes. And if you know planks, you know that’s a long time to torture yourself.

When I got to about minute 2, I needed something to help pass the time. That’s when I started reading my book while planking. This way I wasn’t just staring at the timer. It sounds crazy, but it helped so much. Because staring at a timer for that long will drive you crazy. It even helped me surpass the challenge and get to 6 minutes and 20 seconds (as of last night).

So YAY! Reading and exercise?! It works!

Related image

The writing begins again Thursday, Feb 23 2017 

I’ve been a little down and out (after the election) and just out (of this blog, because I haven’t been reading as much), but I’ve started writing again.  Maybe because of the emotions? Or maybe because I’m close to where I’d like to be fitness wise? Or maybe because I downloaded todoist and have gotten a handle on my daily tasks.

In any case, it started with typing up my college poetry and my story notes, which led to me beginning to actually write. And now on my todoist app, I’ve included a “write for 10 min” task, which inevitably leads to more time spent writing per sitting, as I can’t always just stop at 10 min.

I think this helps too, because having a fresh mind on something, and reading over the last few paragraphs makes me study the language further, and acknowledge past mistakes. The review process has always been something I’ve neglected before.

Essentially this all means, that more writing leads to more reading, and more reading leads to more posting. And maybe more posting will continue the cycle!

To make things better, here’s my new favorite photo on the internet that I will leave you with. (Mind you, this photo has been out there forever, it’s just my current favorite photo).



And She Reads Again Monday, Sep 12 2016 

I used to read all the time (a book a week) but fell out of the habit. Partly because I’m currently in the middle of the Game of Thrones book, the first book in a Song of Ice and Fire and it’s so tedious at the start.

Lately all I’ve been reading articles online (mostly health related ones). But something kicked inside of me and I started reading again!  Yes, it’s still Game of Thrones, and I’m not reading as fast as in the past, but it’s better than nothing!

This stuffed dragon is something I got to celebrate my reading again.  Why a dragon?  I love them (always have) and Dany is kind of awesome, and she’s Queen of Dragons.


The Trouble with Time is: Monday, Feb 1 2016 

I haven’t read in ages, and I blame Game of Thrones.  Okay, so maybe part of it is that I feel like I don’t have enough time.  But I used to make time.  I used to read.  A lot.  So much so, that when I was younger my parents would worry I was depressed or something and to the point where my parents even asked my sister to find out if I was okay.  I was okay, though granted, I hated working at my parents’ restaurant when I was a teen, so I liked to read, especially fantasy novels, to forget about work.

But recently that changed.  I have been trying to read Game of Thrones, the first A Song of Ice and Fire novel, but for some reason I just can’t get through it.  My sister keeps telling me to just skip it, but I can’t just skip a book.  Though I haven’t finished a book in forever, I still follow my rules of reading.  But to be honest, I think a big reason, is that yes, it’s tedious because it’s all politics at this point, but also, I haven’t had a lot of time lately.

Since beginning my weight loss journey, I’ve been working hard on exercising, and my workouts have been taking a lot more time now than they used to.  And maybe reading so much is what encouraged my heaviness when I was younger.  I had to finish this chapter, this book, so I couldn’t possibly go and maybe walk or something.  Maybe subconsciously, I worry that I’ll fall into old habits?  Maybe now I’m reading too much into things.  Obviously I’ll continue doing both, I just need to get past this book, and I’ll be back to my old self.

Hell, it kind of happened with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and I both loved that book and didn’t exercise then.  Maybe I’ll love Game of Thrones, even though it’s just another fantasy novel, and in my opinion not as gripping as the ones I used to read when I was a teen inadvertently scaring my parents into thinking I was depressed. Hey, maybe that’s the reason I haven’t been able to get through it?  Maybe on a subconscious level I resent the fact that it is doing so well, when the books I loved as a teen did not reach my television screen?  Okay, maybe definitely now I am reading too much into things.

The Dante Club and the Sins of War Monday, Oct 12 2015 

Prior to reading The Dante Club, I had read Matthew Pearl’s The Technologists and because I’d read that book and loved it so much that, I decided to go Pearl’s beginnings and read The Dante Club.  As The Dante Club included so many of the poets I’d studied in my Lit classes, it was a refreshing jaunt through history.  With Longfellow, Holmes, and Lowell, I attempted to uncover the plot of a murderous fiend, who killed in the name of Dante.

It was interesting to see how much of these poets rich histories Pearl included in his novel.  It wasn’t just a murder mystery to be solved, it was an education into our past.  With the Dante Club, we got a peek into the different personalities of these writers, and what they may have been like.  Of course, since it’s historical fiction, we cannot presume that was how they might have really felt, but it was nice to see these figures as real people and not just names in a history book.  It was interesting to see the passionate Lowell, and the demure Holmes with differing opinions on how things should be handled.  

These men who were compatriots, and friends, at times had many disagreements, and the characters’ various traits is what makes Pearl’s characters so relatable.  They didn’t just solve a murder, but they also delved into the complexities of their relationships.  Holmes and Lowell were at such odds, that it was sweet to see them when they worked together.  Although maybe I’m just a sucker for a love/hate friendship.

Though the novel is a typical murder-mystery, it was also a statement on the casualties of war, even after the battles have long ended, seeing the murderer was a suffering Civil War vet.  Despite the gruesome methods in which the murders were committed, one could not help but feel sorry for the poor vet, who did not know how to survive post war.  In a time where we are seeing more and more veterans unable to cope with life post-combat, this sentiment rang painfully clear, and stays fresh in one’s mind.

When your Secret Santa knows exactly what to get you Sunday, Jan 13 2013 

So, I wrote about this Personal Library Kit, not too long ago.  Well yesterday, we had our annual Secret Santa, and my Santa, Kath, having read my blog, got me this awesome list of materials.  Which I plan on using immediately.

My gift from my Secret Santa

So, my gift was a reading journal, which I can write and rate books in it, as well as an antiquated book plates collection, and a Dumbledore wand pen and bookmark!  Oh my goodness so amazing.  I can use the reading journal to write my thoughts down as I read. And obviously, I can use the bookplates for my collection of books in case of sharing.  I’m super excited!

And the Dumbledore wand pen and bookmark?  Already used 😀  Love that I have an elder wand.  I can’t wait to start putting the bookplates on my books! I’m going to start with my leatherbounds (the set of B&N ones I got for Christmas one year).

*sigh* I love books.

The one where I learn I can’t do everything. Tuesday, Dec 18 2012 

Who would’ve thought that reading 52 books in a year was ambitious? Apparently everyone in The Twelve group. I sure thought it could be done. Especially since I had been reading a new book every four or five days. But apparently the six weddings I went to this year (a grouping of events called Weddingocalypse) drained me. At least, that’s where I’ve decided to place the blame.

Weddingocalypse had more than one casualty, none a living being mind you. One of these casualties was my new good habit of reading. Totally went out the door. Just flew the coop, pulled a disappearing act, and any other departure related cliches you can think of.  I was really hoping I would actually do it right and get it done.  But I think, well no, I know I overextended myself.  And so that just did not happen.  It’s so embarrassing that I barely even got halfway through (though I think I might get to the halfway point by the end of the year).  Or maybe it’s my commitment issues (“Hi, I’m Ms. IstartsprojectsIneverfinish.  Nice to meet you”).

Otherwise, if I’m feeling lazy, which I most likely will, I’ll give myself the goal of reading 10 unread books off my shelf.  Or maybe 5 unread books and 5 from the NY Times 100 must read list.  And if I can’t complete that, then I’ll know that I really have issues.

Casino Royale, where it all started Tuesday, Dec 4 2012 

To aid in my 52 books to read goal, I started reading the James Bond books. It actually worked out in my favor as I’ve wanted to read these books for a very long time. Growing up, I was always a huge James Bond fan. That is mostly because I would watch it with my dad all the time and it was always an excuse for staying up late. As a younger sister, I could always find the perfect excuse for getting around any wrongdoing.

Ian Fleming’s James Bond in Casino Royale

So I figured what would be a more perfect book to read this past summer than James Bond? They are “light” reading and they are short(ish). I managed to read Casino Royale in about a few days, because I am just that awesome, and I really enjoyed it.

I mean, let’s face it, the writing isn’t phenomenal, but it’s definitely worth a read. You don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time reading it, (unlike with some other books, which shall remain nameless) and you find yourself invested in some of the characters.

My only gripe about it is that Fleming comes off as a bit of a racist, and a bit of a misogynist. While I’m aware that racism and sexism came with the times they were written in, it doesn’t make it excusable, and it can make some parts difficult to read. That being said, the books are an accurate portrayal of the times they take place in.

There’s not much that one can talk about with a book like Casino Royale, because like i said its not a book you read for the writing. But it does have a better structure than a lot of the books that get multi-million dollar movies. Then again, the Bond movies always fare well in theaters too. I just don’t think people realize they were books first. And you get what you’d imagine with a Bond book: cars, chases, and chicks (or for us girls, the desire to be one of his).

And you can tell that Fleming did his homework when writing these books, because with the vividness in which he described the game of baccarat, one could feel that they could expertly play the game themselves. The only difference being, I wouldn’t bet my life on it.

Damaged goods Tuesday, Jul 17 2012 

I can’t tell you how much I hate damaged books.  It drives me nuts.  Have you ever seen this video?

They mention highlighting and dog earing books in it, and it totally pains me.  Now, I know you probably think I’m nuts.  Because books don’t have feelings (or do they? okay they don’t), but it totally pains me to think of these poor little books without their poor pages being perfect.

Does this mean that I absolutely keep my books in pristine condition?  No, of course not.  I can’t help it that sometimes my books get creased, or they get bent etc.  I mean you need to look at my copy of The Scarlet Letter (okay, well it isn’t one I bought, but rather swapped on swap.com).  No, please look at it.

my damaged copy of The Scarlet Letter

The front cover is coming off!  And it drives me nuts.  Because while I know that normal wear and tear is common, I feel like that is abnormal wear and tear.  And that kind of wear and tear saddens me.  Again, I’m nuts I know, because they can’t feel (can they? no no no, stop being silly).  And of course I shouldn’t feel sad, because well, let’s see, a) they’re books, and b) I’m not doing it on purpose, and c) they don’t have feelings (I won’t even go there, again).

And as long as I’m not doing it on purpose, it’s okay, right?  Right.  Sure, I’ll keep telling myself that, and yes I’m only a little neurotic.  And it upsets me so much when I accidentally hurt one of my babies books that it boggles me when someone would willingly vandalize one of theirs with a dog ear or highlight.  I know there might (I don’t know for sure, hence the term might) be theory that dog earring or highlighting a book gives it character.  No, that doesn’t.  Regular use does, okay.  But manhandling a book by mistreating its pages is blasphemy to me.  Strong words I know, but I like them.

To be honest, do whatever you want to do to your books, but don’t you dare touch mine.  And again, this is why I rarely ever lend mine out.  Man, I’m so greedy.  Maybe I will get the personal library kit, ‘cause I don’t want to be known as greedy.

Curiouser incidents and deader dogs Monday, Jul 16 2012 

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Dogs die and people lie.  Essentially, that’s the moral of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.  Though the book also has a lot more to it than that, it does at first seem as simple as that.  In a quick and easy narrative, the reader is taken on a journey of discovery and change.It may take some people some time to get used to the narrator’s point of view.  But I felt it was an amazing wonderful and sweet portrayal of a person diagnosed with an autistic spectrum condition.  Christopher’s condition seems to be a lot like Asperger’s but as Haddon is confessedly, by no means an expert on the syndrome, it will go as an unnamed autistic condition.  Also, by all means, the book is not about his condition.  The book is mostly about a young boy’s relationship with his father, and his growth, and the mystery surrounding all of it.  Christopher’s ability with numbers, and inability to cope with certain things, both help and hinder him as he ventures to solve the great mystery around the center of the book.

While the reader may think this is about the eponymous dog, it isn’t.  The dog, Wellington the poodle if you must know, is only the beginning of a series of mysteries which unfold.  I won’t ruin it for you, because I feel like you should never hint or reveal clues of a ‘mystery,’ but I will go on to say that this is definitely not your usual mystery.  The Curious Incident has a much more interesting take on the mystery theme.  Part of this, is because Christopher is narrating this mystery, and his inability to tell lies or create fictional scenarios proves to be rather cumbersome, both to himself and those involved with him.

But despite these inhibitions, Christopher is able to grow immensely as a person, and he finally realizes what actually has to happen in “real life.”  Through the novel, his relationship with his father also grows, and he manages to actually, for once, make his own decisions.  Christopher’s relationship with his father is a subject greatly touched upon throughout the book, and it is something that keeps the reader glued to each page.  But in the end, it’s Christopher’s sweetness and sincerity, and search for honesty and truth that keeps those pages turning.

Technology is no reason for murder Sunday, Jul 8 2012 

Technology is never a good reason for murder, but Matthew Pearl gives one character a compelling, if not crazy reason, for comitting crimes against humanity in the name of technology in his recent book The Technologists.  I recently had the benefit of reading an advanced copy of The Technologists by Matthew Pearl.  Though it was the first book I’ve read of Pearl’s, I had been really excited to read it.  This was partly because it was an advance copy, and partly because, well it was free, and I get giddy over free stuff, because I’m almost always broke.  And let’s face it, who doesn’t get excited about free stuff,  because aren’t we all broke?

my advanced copy of The Technologists

The Technologists was one of the free books I got from goodreads.com.  It was actually really cool, because it was an advance copy, the cover wasn’t even the actual design, and I received a large notice notifying me I could not actually post a review until after the release date.  Not to worry, Random House, I’m such a procrastinator, I didn’t read the book until January, and I am just now writing a review for it.  Sorry, that’s just how much I suck.  I do promise to do much better in the future.

But it wasn’t just the cover that I really loved about this book, it was the author as well.  I mean, I’m just going to say this as matter of factly as possible: Matthew Pearl knows how to grab a reader.  As a writer, (and I can hear my Eng 312 professor now, “you are all writers, but once you get paid to do it, you’re an author”), I know that grabbing the reader is one of the most difficult things to do.  You can’t just start the reader off with something bland.  They want a reason to start reading, and then they need a reason to continue reading.  For example, with The Alchemist,  my only reason to continue reading that was that it was quick.   In The Technologists, Pearl entices the reader so effortlessly, it must be simply second nature to him.  Honestly?  I couldn’t put the book down.

I do have to admit, it did start a bit rough for me, simply because there was a bit of science in the beginning, and though I love Mythbusters (who doesn’t? They blow stuff up), science was never one of my favorite subjects.  And Pearl does his homework, so there was some science in there (for reals).  And it’s not just science he studies, because I read The Dante Club soon after The Technologists, and I can tell you, the man knows how to do his research.   But really, that’s how you should define a good storyteller.  They should do their research, so they know what they are talking about, and they should possess a keen ability to make you want to continue reading their work, even after you finish it.

And for the record, though I love Sherlock Holmes, I don’t typically like murder mysteries.  So that fact alone should tell you that The Technologists is a must read.  It makes a non murder mystery fan, like a murder mystery book.  I will admit, it’s not your typical murder mystery and that it doesn’t really fit the Dan Patterson profile.  And technically, it can’t be classified a murder mystery.  There really isn’t a murder in this book.  Some people die, but the intention wasn’t murder, it was chaos. And I guess I should actually talk about the plot some, huh?

The Technologists’main plot is that there are these ‘accidents’ happening all around Boston.  And, unfortunately for them, the kids over at MIT are being blamed for them.  Now of course, these ‘kids’ (though I use the term loosely, as some of them had already fought in a war), won’t take this sitting down.  They fight these allegations especially hard, since they could lose their school over it.  And it’s a shame, really, that they get blamed for these accidents, because on top of all that, they have to suffer the pious and their disdain of the school’s Darwinist principles, and the obnoxious snobbery from the Harvard students.

One would think that the answer to who the culprit is would be clear cut, but there are definitely a few twists to this book.  One, for example, is the budding romance that develops.  It was especially surprising because it revolved around nerds.  I mean, no offence.  Afterall, I am one, but one never expects them to get any in a book.  Who wants to read about fingers touching over beakers?  Okay, that didn’t actually happen, and I may have actually died if it did.

Would I recommend this book in general?  Yes, definitely.  I thought it was a really quick, fun and intelligent read.  Like I said I could barely put the book down.  And when I did, it was to look up something (pertaining to the plot) on Wikipedia.  I mean, this book not only keeps you enveloped in the mystery but also makes you want to learn!  Where else can you find that?

Grown ups can have reading lists too Wednesday, Jun 6 2012 

Last year my awesome friend started a Facebook reading group, called the Annual Grown Up Summer Reading Program.  Its cause is to encourage grown ups to read, similar to the reading lists of our childhood.  Suggestions for books to add to the list are made, and a final list posted.  A prize is given to the person who reads the most on the list.

I personally think this is a spectacular idea.  I partook last year, but only read a few of the books.  I do have many of my own books to read, so it makes it difficult.  I could always add other books onto the suggestions, and that way, I could kill two birds with one stone.

The group is open, so anyone can join, provided they have a facebook account.  And if you like reading and discussing, or if you want to start reading more, than you should really join.  And you should especially join if you just need an idea on a good book to read.  Because, really?  The more the merrier.

Why is it called the Hunger Games? Was murder ball taken? Monday, May 21 2012 

I recently had the pleasure of reading Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.  I have to start off by saying how awesome they were.  I finished all three books in three days, but it would have been two, had I not had a crazy day at work on my first day of reading them.  And when i finally finished reading them, I had an empty pit in my stomach.

I couldn’t decide why I felt so empty.  Was it due to the fact that these characters felt so honest, and so real, that it was sad that their story was finished?  Or was it that that the story was so raw, and too frightening as a possible reality (a dystopian world where kids had to kill each other)?  I still haven’t decided.  It’s probably a combination of both reasons, really.  And why did these books affect me so much?  While I consider the books are classics, but not the same caliber, as Ulysses.  James Joyce, Collins is not.  But she does build a vivid world filled with suffering and interlaced with with brief moments of humor and hope.

These books started a love, and addiction, to the characters, akin to my love of Coca Cola (or polar bears).  They are close to being as awesome, in my opinion, to the Harry Potter books.  Cue the braiding my hair sideways, and my sister buying an archery kit for us to practice with.  I even bought myself a District 11 shirt (because Rue is awesome, and because that’s where thecapitol.pn put me).

What makes these books so addicting is all the characters are extremely likable.  While they do all have their faults (some are cold, some are dumb puppies, others are too blindsided by their causes), you can find yourself wanting to know each of the main characters.  The other amazing thing about this trilogy is that there is a female protagonist who actually kicks butt.

And she isn’t just any female protagonist.  She’s a strong willed female character.  She’s not like Bella, who is happy to wait for her boys to fight over her.  Katniss, though clearly in like (we can’t exactly describe it as love at first), also realizes that she doesn’t need anybody to survive or to be happy.  She could do fine just on her own.  And it’s this realization which eventually has her realize who she really wants (not needs) to be with.  And the readers find us chanting along with Katniss.  We can’t decide who we want her with, either.  Some of us want her with Peeta, naturally.  Others wanted her with Gale.  And a few could see her with both.

And while one may think it’s a book simply about teen angst, these novels are more than that.  They are, obviously, a fight of good and evil, but also the idea that too much power is not good for one person.  One side used power for evil, setting children to fight against children, and another side used power for ‘good’ food and comfort for everyone.  But in both cases, they were overexerting themselves over the general populace.  The populace never actually got to decide anything for themselves.  And it’s this idea, this inequality, that so brings to mind past, present and future politics.

This is where I wonder why this so-called pageant (yes, they do use these terms in the books), is even called the Hunger Games.  I think a title using the word Murder would be more appropriate, as that is really what the tournament is about, but then I guess the leaders of the Capitol had to give it a more appealing nature to their citizens.

This book only served to remind me, that yes, this hasn’t happened for us, but it has happened for children in war torn nations across the world.  Not this exactly, but nothing much better.  Why is it okay for kids to be taken and used in wars and battles?  And after reading and watching the movie, it made me worry, “am I much better than a citizen of the Capitol, reading and watching a story about kids fighting each other?”  One would like to think so, and I try to remind myself of the differences.  But I can’t help but wonder.

To lend or not to lend Tuesday, May 8 2012 

Being an avid book reader can have its problems. Not only does it lead to too-full bookshelves (my apartment is currently housing 561 books), but it can also lead to lending anxiety. Lending anxiety is a term I have only recently coined. And it stems from the suffering one feels after loaning out a book.

I love my books. While I do love sharing my loves, so that others could love them too, it leads to an anguish that only comes with waiting for the book to arrive back in hand. And it isn’t until I see those books back in my hand that I feel totally better.

It’s obviously all in my head (then again, what isn’t?). But, I still get an empty feeling when I see that gap on my bookshelf. I like seeing all the books lined up perfectly on my bookshelf. So much so, that as you know, I’ve even organized my bookshelf by theme and then by author. And if you don’t know, then, I had, for a while, just placed (though it felt like dumped, to me) them all on my shelves, in no particular order. I kept my shelves this way until I had time to organize it, which went from waiting a few months to a few years. And this disorderly conduct, as I have dubbed it, drove me absolutely nuts.

And so you can imagine my chagrin, when I see an empty space on my shelf. Something that had troubled me for so long, and had been fixed only so recently, is still having its peace and stability threatened by the mere idea of an empty space. And this disappointment is only doubled when you think about how this book might never return to you.

I’ve honestly thought about ordering this Personal Library Kit. Partly because it fits into my idea of eventually having my own library (more on that later) and because it means I can make sure that I always get my books back. At the same time, I hardly find myself send out my books, due to the reasons mentioned above, so I am not sure if this would be a worthwhile enterprise.

And though I do complain about the unease I feel when sharing a book, it does make me proud and happy when i find out that the person I loaned the book to thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s also a point of pleasure for me to discuss in detail the specific plot points we enjoyed, the ideas we shared, and the concepts we disagreed on. Discussing a book in length is one of my favorite things (cue Julie Andrews). So, really then, what is so wrong with sharing? Maybe I will buy one of those library kits.

Death is not an option for many in Suzanne Rivecca’s novel Sunday, Apr 29 2012 

Death is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca is a great quick read, perfect for the upcoming summer months.  In her compilation of stories about young women dealing with love, sex, and growing up, Rivecca cautions readers to the hazards of life.  There are 7 stories in this collection, and each story, though short, has very strong, warm, and detailed characters.

The first story is the eponymous “Death is Not an Option.”  This story takes us into the world of a high school teenager, Emma, who fights with her insecurities, and worries about her lack of plans for the futuret.  She is forced to deal with a frenemy who seems nice enough, but manages to humiliate her regardless.  Whether these attempts are on purpose or by accident, remains to be seen.

And so we age from adolescence to collegiate, in “Yours Will do Nicely,” and Katrina, who is also found struggling with identity and personal crises.  After a failed one night stand, the narrator finds herself writing letters to him.  She struggles with her change in personality and how that affects those around her.

And then we age to graduate level in “It Sounds Like You’re Feeling.”  And now the tense is second person.  The narrator here, unnamed, is young female who works at a hotline, answering just before they are escalated to counselors.  Unable to cope with her work, she is told to see an appointed therapist, who she grows attached to in a paternal way.

When we move on to “Very Special Victims,” where we have a young woman who was sexually assaulted at a very young age, and how she had to cope with parents who believed her, and yet didn’t want to, and an uncle who would never admit to his crime.  This sad yet poignant tale, brings home the point that not all victims immediately get the love and support they deserve.

And then we move to “Look Ma, I’m Breathing,”a short story of a young memoirist who gets stalked by a would-be landlord.  Here we experience a woman being wrong, who at first doesn’t not want to admit it herself, and so does nothing to stop it, but eventually finds the courage to enact a restraining order.parents who believed her, and yet didn’t want to, and an uncle who would never admit to his crime.  This sad yet poignant tale, brings home the point that not all victims immediately get the love and support they deserve.

The next tale, “Consummation,” is really a long letter, but a very long and detailed letter to a doctor who saved her (the letter writer) father’s life.  The entire letter is a long story of the person he saved, and his effect on his daughter.  And how at times she is happy he is saved, and most of the time she thinks she is not.

The final story, “None of the Above,” is of a recently married teacher who struggles with dealing with a student who may be abused at home.  She follows the appropriate steps, and though confronted, it seems like there may be no abuse.  Not to be fooled though, the young teacher begins to create her own investigation, and eventually discovers what the family has been hiding.

All in all, each story strongly grasps the issues many women face.  And the struggles with emotions that many have to go through.  I have to say that the only issue I found with this book is that it left me wanting more.  I wanted to know what happened to each of these characters after their individual tales end.  I felt like I could really hear more about each of these stories.  Then again, at most, that’s all we ever really get when we meet people, brief snapshots into their lives, and it’s just greedy to ask for more..

The 12 in 12 (for 2012) Wednesday, Apr 4 2012 

New Years resolutions suck.   Which is why I’ve decided to not partake in that nonsense this year.  Instead, a few of my friends and I will be doing what has been called “The Twelve.”  The concept is simple.  Instead of doing things you think you should do, you decide to do something you want to do.  And of course, they have to be positive things (no “I plan to punch someone 12 times”), and they have to be quantifiable (nothing like go to the gym more).  Well before you ask what this has to do with a reading blog, one of my twelve is reading 52 books this year.

For some people this may seem a lot, especially when taking into consideration I have 11 other things to do on this list.  And yet for others, this is something so easy peasy, I have nothing to worry about.  I’m in the latter group to be honest, because it really comes down to a book a week, and some books (like The Hunger Games) can be read in a day.  The only problem is, is that though the 12 is supposed to be for the full year, my final list wasn’t completely written out until February (and I didn’t actually start a book until mid-March, naughty me).  But, good news, is that not only am I a fast reader, but I started off with The Hunger Games, so though I’ve only started my reading in the past two or three weeks, I’ve got seven books completed (go me!).

What it comes down to is making sure I read about 100 pages a day.  Most of which has to be done at night, which means that I can’t do my normal goofing off on facebook (gasp!), which may actually be a good thing, because most of my facebook time is spent liking things my friends post, or checking for new posts.  Thrilling.  But now, I spend my time actually reading!  The only thing I fear is that with all this reading, I won’t have time for the other things on my list.  But I think I’ll just have to find a day or two to take a break from reading to focus on the other items on my list.  In any case, I’m really excited about completing this item on my list, and it will definitely take a chunk out of my unread books on goodreads.com.

Death of a bookstore Thursday, Mar 29 2012 

I meant to post this ages ago, when it originally happened, but with a lot of things on my plate, I only finally got around to posting about this.  The end of Borders was a sad day for me.  You may ask why, since it’s just another one of those giant megastores.  And while megastore bookstores are often ‘stealing’ business away from their smaller, privately or independently owned operators, it’s still a shame to see one go.  (Virgin Megastore how I miss thee).  Because for me, big or small, it’s sad when a bookstore dies.

Borders at Columbus Circle

Borders was the first bookstore I really spent a lot of time at.  I would sometimes visit the Barnes and Noble, and almost always visit the library, but I usually went to Borders.  To be honest, I had really been rooting for it to survive, and now whenever I pass by the carcass of what used to be a Borders, I feel a strong sense of shame and guilt.  The reason why I liked Borders so much was that its layout always made sense to me.  Whether i was visiting the Borders in my hometown on Cape Cod, or visiting one of the giant locations in New York, I could always find my way.  You could say this is because those stores have one generic layout.  But that wasn’t true.  Locations varied on where they would put certain subjects and where they would put the rest.  And yet, I seemed to always know exactly where to look regardless of which Borders I was visiting.

Borders was somewhere I could go to find anything I wanted, even for non book related products.  And then, the new Barnes and Noble opened, and I must guiltily confess that I started going there instead.  The idea that I will never visit Borders again upsets me. It makes me think on the future of books themselves, but since the debate on Kindle vs Spine should be saved for its own post, let’s leave this entry with a moment of silence for our lost friend.

On goons and pauses Tuesday, Sep 27 2011 

“Time’s a goon, right?”  Right.  Though it may seem like a collection of short stories at first, Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squadis actually an intricate web of lives thrust together.  You could say the main characters are two people.  A boss, Bennie Salazar, and his secretary, Sasha.  Though the novel is filled with many other vibrant characters, it is these two that stand out the most.  And it is these two that have a connection, however indistinct, to every other character in the novel.

The novel itself becomes like a puzzle.  Each chapter, each individual story is an interlocking piece of a larger picture.  Much like one of those digital art pieces you can buy at a poster store, made up of thousands of still images, each chapter in this novel can stand on its own, but when combined together the stories are a beautiful portrait.

And you don’t have to be a pure good person to make it okay in life.  Even those who make mistakes end up well, because they’ve tried to make up for all the hurt they’ve caused, by doing good.  It isn’t a matter of black and white, but different shades of gray, and sometimes color.

The way Egan meshes these character’s lives, is an obvious allegory to life itself.  As you don’t see some people every day of your life, you only know what happens through snapshots.  And so we are this additional character in the novel.  Unspoken of, and not made reference to.  And we just meet up with our friends through the years, and recall some of our favorite, and some of our worst memories.  And we see their lives change as time goes by.  A Visit from the Goon Squad tells us, throughout the course of the book, is that time can be a goon, but sometimes you can stop it from pushing you around.  And the other times, you can always stop and listen to the pauses.

One man’s loss is another man’s gain Wednesday, Aug 31 2011 

I honestly feel awful for Borders.  It always had great discounts, great sales, great events.  I still remember dragging my mom there, before I had learned to drive, just so that I could browse.  But everyone has been feeling the financial stress, and especially in this economy, even giant megastores feel it (oh Virgin Megastore, how I miss thee).  But as the old adage goes, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, and here the public gains.

Borders is having their going out of buisness sale.  That’s 50% – 70% off of their entire stock.  Everything.  They are even selling their fixtures.  And while it’s upsetting to see them go, one could always use a few more books.

I would go into a diatribe how this is not the fault of kindle, as I’m sure most people are quick to put the blame on ebooks, but really, I feel now is not the time for such things, but rather mourn the loss of a good friend, and help them with their financial troubles by buying all their stuff at a really low price.

First free book! Wednesday, Aug 10 2011 

So remember how not too long ago, I posted about goodreads’ giveaways?  Well, I won my first book!  It’s called Death Is Not An Option, and it’s the next one I plan to read, after I finish Casino Royale. This actually has me really excited.  It’s a bunch of short stories mized together, which is typically not the type of book I like to read, but I think it would be a good train ride read.

It’s funny how the word won makes you feel so happy.  Though I didn’t need to do anything to win, just drop my name into a hat essentially, it still has me feeling like I’ve achieved something.  And I think that’s why goodreads has such a large amount of giveaways.  It makes the submitters feel really happy, which will most likely have a positive spin on the reading experience, and have the reader leaving a lovely, if not glowing review of the book.

This is why I plan on waiting before reading the books I read in the mail.  Not because I think people take me seriously, far from it actually, but because it would make me feel better about myself.  And really, isn’t that what we all strive to do?

Franzen and freedom isn’t really free Tuesday, Jul 26 2011 

Forget about its title.  For those looking to read about those living the American Dream and finding a happy story, you aren’t likely to find that in Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.  While the novel doesn’t end like a Shakespearean drama, it does have a series of ups and downs throughout.Freedom explores the concept of freedom in a different way.  It explores the idea of too much freedom, too much exploration, too much avarice.  Freedom is a good thing.  As long as you have the wisdom to use it wisely.  The moral is that everyone deserves their freedom, their right to choose whatever they want, but not at the expensive of others, and not at the expense of yourself.  And we learn this because of the characters in the novel.

There are no perfect characters in Franzen’s novel.  There are no Mary Sue’s.  Each and every character has their good and bad.  Some are more ‘good’ than they are bad.  And some are the reverse.  But not one person is more than they should be.  The characters have their happy fulfilled moments, but they also experience their own heart wrenching drama.  And all the pain they experience is of their own doing.

And it isn’t just the characters that make Franzen’s work so memorable (although we do all want to “talk about Patty”).  Franzen’s natural affinity for the written word is what makes Freedom whole.  He has an ability in making long sentences sound just right.  And at first, because the words just flow over the course of the book, you don’t think twice about it.  It’s not until you think about it a third or fourth or fifth time, when you are say, discussing it at a book club, that you realize you just read a sentence that spanned 6 or 8 lines, and it barely phased you.  And while many may not take this into consideration, it is a feat to wonder at.  His sentences are not only thoughtful, but meticulously structured.  And it is this, that makes you realize how talented a wordsmith Franzen is.

So for those who are looking for an enthralling read this summer, I highly suggest you read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom.  While not the normal lighthearted summer read, its character more than makes up for it.

Goodreads good books giveaway Thursday, May 19 2011 

So, while I’ve been a fan of Goodreads since my recent “Bookcase Revitalization Project,” and I just noticed, quite literally, ten minutes ago, this great feature they have on their website: Giveaways. Awesome, right? Right. Well, I first found out about one specific giveaway quite literally this morning before I left for work, during my normal Facebook routine in the morning. And since I love Goodreads so much, I have their app on my Facebook account and on my phone, and so I got an immediate notification that they were having a book giveaway And of course I submitted an entry, because really, I just love books.

Well, silly me, I accidentally closed out of the window without posting about it. And so here I am, unable to access Facebook, but really wanting to spread the news. So I use my phone to go on to goodreads.com and try to find the giveaway news I had seen earlier this morning. I couldn’t find a notice of it anywhere. So I searched in all the links on the site, and eventually find what I was looking for and more.

Little did I know that Goodreads provides users with a constant surge of giveaways. Awesome right? Right. Who doesn’t like a free book? I’ve already submitted myself in the running for a few, and keep planning to submit for many more. They have several going on at a time, and it takes little to no effort to submit. So it should take little to no effort to consider it!

The book shopper’s curse Sunday, May 8 2011 

(c) ginnerobot

Well sometime last month, I decided it was imperative that I finally get the task of organizing my bookshelf completed. I don’t know what possessed me to get it done now, after what must have been ages of clutter. And since I’m occasionally a bit of a glutton for punishment, I decided to add another task to my already enormous to-do list. Since I’d have to remove all my books and reorganize them, I’d decided I would also catalogue them (so to speak) on Goodreads (and also LivingSocial Books).

In doing so, I discovered that not only did I have close to 350 books, but also that I had over 150 books unread. How could this be possible? Truth be told, I did include some poetry and anthology books from my college years which I had not finished in their entirety, and did not feel like I could say I had finished them. Maybe I will change those in to having read as I had started them (and honestly, don’t know if I have a particular urge to read them). But the idea that I had so many books unread kind of frightened me, especially knowing that so many of these books have gone unread. And so I resolved (resolutions shouldn’t be a once a year thing) that I should read more instead of spending most of my time after work playing those facebook games (ugh way too many of them).

And now I find myself planning out which books should be read when, and in what order should I read them. And I also contemplate, should I in fact re-organize my bookcase and have it organized dewey decimal or library of congress style? I’m undecided at the moment, if I even want to go that far, but should have that figured out eventually. After all, as long as it’s organized in some way, I am very happy. And really, that’s all that matters.

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