Monday, January 12, 2015

What I'm Reading

Yikes! I'm embarrassed about the lack of book posts over here these last few months. And, trust me, I am not short on the currently-read list.

Actually, since the date of my last post, I have read over 20 titles. Call me what you want... reading machine, book nerd, book lover, crazy... I love books. I'm a librarian. It's my favorite pastime. And thank goodness for my hour commute because, contrary to what most believe, I don't get to read on work time. Umm, what? I know. I'm busy doing other things. Anyhoo, let's get right down to my latest good reads.

Two of my favorite reads included Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Wild, which hit theaters recently starring Reese Witherspoon. I added the book to my to-read list after discovering early last year the movie would be released. I never thought I would be intrigued with a book on solo hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. From the beginning I was engrossed in Strayed's experience and writing style. I can't imagine the courage it would take to complete this feat. But when you're broken, I guess you do what you need to do to find yourself again. An excellent read, perfect for book clubs. 

The Shadow of the Wind was a gem. I read this book as part of an online book club through Good Reads. This is definitely one of the best novels I've accidentally stumbled upon. The mystery of it kept me turning the pages well into the night, and the plot twists kept me coming back for more. The intricate details and descriptions are many, but the wonderful writing style allows them to be a great part of the story (almost a character itself) without becoming an annoying part of the book one must skip over in order to actually finish. This was excellent! I plan on reading the next books in the series eventually. But in short, this historical fiction book takes place in Barcelona where "Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Juli├ín Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love" (Good Reads synopsis). It's fantastic.

However, there were a few anticipated reads I was disappointed in, primarily Emily Giffin's The One and Only. I was a huge fan of her Something Borrowed series, but her last few were turn offs. I heard good things about this one, and once I realized the story line was centered around football (squeal!) I was eager to get my hands on it. When I won a copy of the book through another library, I was excited. Can we say total let down? While a few reviews complained about the over-usage of football terms, which I didn't mind by the way, I had issues with the story line. I'm sorry, I just don't think my best friend since birth would be okay with me dating her father (who practically raised the main character also) ever, let alone right after her mother's passing. I don't care how great our friendship is. No way. Didn't anybody else find this weird? Disturbing? Awkward? And it was poorly written. Big disappointment. Pass on this one. Sadly, I don't think I'm a Giffin fan anymore.

Also, I wasn't a fan of one of our recent book club reads, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. It's based off the popular web series, "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries," (I have yet to view an episode) and as a lover of Pride and Prejudice I really wanted to be one of those fans. But I just couldn't. Meh. 2 1/2 stars at best if you catch me on a good day. Not only did the little inconsistencies of this bother me (like trying to find a college football game on TV in the middle of July?), but it's sad and embarrassing to think this is what the youth (and only a few years younger than me, mind you,) and social media are like today. Not everybody has careless sex and makes sex tapes. I understand this is a modernization of Jane Austen's beloved classic, but I kind of think she's turning over in her grave. The two are so contrasted, when this one tries to incorporate a few original lines it's just downright awkward. And Jane Bennett would never have done what she did, no matter how modern the times. I was bummed. I think I need to pick up the original for the second time this year just to rid my brain of "hipster" Darcy. Ugh.

Some YA reads included Scowler (this book is a tad horrifying and disturbing, a perfect read for the month of October), Nation (an award winner by Terry Pratchett), and The Maze Runner Series. It was on my to-read list for a while now, and after Mr. B and I saw the movie in theaters, we were both interested enough to read the books, me more so than him. Not a shocker. However, I wasn't content with just picking up with the first one, I had to start with The Kill Order, which is considered a prequel and was published last in the series. It's a very quick series to get through due to short chapters, and I thoroughly enjoyed James Dashner's writing style. It sort of read like the TV series, Revolution, (which I was fond of and sad when it canceled) because it started from the present moment yet provided flashbacks as the story continued. The characters were introduced at the beginning, but not with an over-load of everything about them. You gradually learned more about them throughout, which I really liked. I wasn't bored, but found some scenes and technology descriptions hard to picture in my mind. The movie adaptation isn't too far off the book, surprisingly. Apparently there is another one set to publish...

And, of course, my beloved audio books. At one point I was flying through these puppies left and right, but now I'm all caught up in the All Souls Trilogy, by Deborah Harkness. The audio books are each 20 discs or more, and while they're not of the amazing-and-you-MUST-listen-to-these-instead-of-reading-the-books, the story has me quite involved, intrigued, of the can't- put-down -stop-listening sort. I was first introduced to this trilogy by one of my book club friends who mentioned she thought I would enjoy it. Of, course, I whipped out my phone and immediately added it to my to-read list using my Good Reads app. A few days later, someone on Good Reads, as part of a reading challenge (oh, and I'll be posting on these challenges soon), went through my to-read list and recommended the same book. So I bit. I needed an audio book, saw my library had it, and I've been listening non-stop since. (Of course, I was a little delayed due to Christmas where I had to get in my Christmas music.) As of now, I'm half way through the last of the books, and though I've been told "it should be titled The Book of Tears!", I'm not there yet. My thoughts on the first book, A Discovery of Witches... I wanted to give this four stars because I really, really did enjoy it; however some parts were a bit too corny, so I really am giving it 3 1/2 stars. Definitely a book for adult fans of the Twilight Series, yet it's much, much better (especially the writing). The time spent on historical facts and the details are what I liked most about this novel; I'm sure most readers might find it boring but I'm a history nerd so it was my cup of tea. Yes, I really like Matthew.

As for juvenile lit, the Mother-Daughter Book Club series is wonderful. I just finished book two in the series, where they read Anne of Green Gables, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to grab the next one. In the first book the moms introduced the girls to The March sisters, and it's fun watching the girls relate Little Women to their own lives, work out their struggles, and communicate (or not communicate) with their mothers. These books give me future dreams of having a mother-daughter book club of my own some day. I can't think of anything better.

Oh, and GO BUCKEYES!!!!!! It's a BIG DAY.

With Love and God Bless,

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