Monday, February 29, 2016

February Reads

Another month of good reading. The cold months are very good for that. Here's what I read in February...

I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman (Nora Ephron)- A collection of short chronicles on being a woman and the anxiety and maintenance of getting older. I'd heard a lot of her books mentioned recently and randomly saw this book at our local library while I was waiting on an audio book of hers to arrive. So I grabbed and thought it would be a fast, easy read, which it was. It was not entertaining for me however. Maybe I'm not at the right age. Maybe I'll appreciate it more when I'm older. I think it could be one of those things, you know? This time around it wasn't great. I did love the final chapter, where she talks a bit about death and knowing your own mortality and such, but the rest was a bit of a dud for me.

Heartburn (Nora Ephron)- Ephron relives the demise of her own marriage in a tale told from the perspective of Rachel, who at 7 months pregnant discovers that her husband is having an affair and is in love with another woman. This book was not bad. I have to preface with that. It was fine. It was funny in parts. Maybe Ephron is just not my jam because it wasn't side splitting to me the way it seemed to be to other people. We all have our things, right? I listened to the audio book of this, read by Meryl Streep, and I think that was a lot of the problem. Meryl Streep was phenomenal. Truly. She did a great job! It was just that it was a 179 page book and it was FIVE AND A HALF HOURS of audio. I could have finished it in under 2 hours and that's all I could think while listening to it. I think it would have more enjoyable for me if I'd read it rather than listened to it.

The Distant Hours (Kate Morton)- A mysterious story following 3 elderly sisters and the secrets they have kept for over 50 years. A young woman stumbles upon them while trying to unravel her own mother's past. Kate Morton, I think I love you. I read The Forgotten Garden a while back and loved it. This book has taken me months to plow through, not because of any fault of it's own but because I've been entranced with library orders and since I OWN this book it didn't have the same shiny appeal of library books with a very loud return date. HOWEVER, it was fantastic. It was a toss back and forth between the 1940's and the 90's, which I am always intrigued by, and had the makings of a delicious historical mystery thriller. A spooky old castle, secrets long hidden, an English country side, a dark and stormy night... I'm glad I own this one.

The Elite (Kiera Cass)- I blogged about reading The Selection in January and now I'll tell you all about how I felt reading the rest of the series, so spoiler warning in case you are reading these! The Selection has been narrowed down from 35 girls to 6. Amid growing threat from outside rebel forces, America has to decide where her heart lies. With Prince Maxon or with her first love? This was another fun, fluffy read. It's great for a quick reading escape if you like some marshmallow romance. Admittedly, the lack of character development for like 2 and a half books was throwing me off but I DID enjoy it. Because I know there are a lot of people reading it I don't want to give anything away!

The One (Kiera Cass)- The Selection is nearly over. One must be crowned. Again, I don't want to give anything away! This was my favorite of the series so far. I thought the plot thickened nicely. The emotions were a little over simplified and it had me cussing at imaginary people a few times but sometimes that happens with books, am I right? #booknerdlife

The Heir (Kiera Cass)- SPOILERS, TURN AWAY NOW Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing about her parents' epic story of finding true love and happily ever after through The Selection but she isn't interested in finding a Prince Charming of her own. Fate intervenes and this princess is going to have to put on a brave face and make her way through her very own selection. But she has no plans to fall in love or end her Selection with a ring on her finger. It was a little meh to go from America's story to Eadlyn's because I liked America. I also wanted to hear all about how America and Maxon fixed the country and got rid of those pesky rebels but that is largely skipped over in this book. I know there are short stories and such so maybe I will search for those. I also found Eadlyn slightly insufferable through a lot of it but I think you're meant to? She had her endearing moments and I loved her brothers and their whole family dynamic.The end of this caught me completely by surprise!  

I do have to say that I love love love Kiera Cass as a person and want to be buddies with her and her acknowledgement sections were often my favorite parts of the entire book because she is SO CUTE. Those book covers are also SUPER swoon worthy. Love them. 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)- A horrible tragedy sends 16 year old Jacob on a journey to the island his grandfather escaped to during WWII. There he plans to search for answers to all of the mystery surrounding his grandfather's early life but what he finds is more than shocking. Uncovering secrets older than he could imagine, he immerses himself in a world of peculiar children and dangerous enemies. I loooooved this book. It has been on my to read list for over a year and I randomly purchased it last weekend for funsies and I'm glad I did because I would have wanted to own it anyway. It's beautifully told and the old photographs that go along with the book are fantastic. My copy had an interview with the author and I think that made it even more fun and interesting. The story is haunting and equal parts sad and liberating. It is such a diverse and intricate world you step into. 

Insurgent (Veronica Roth)- Possible Spoilers The 2nd book in the Divergence series, Insurgent follows Tris in her escape after the attack on her old faction. War is blooming. Haunted by her grief and decisions, Tris must learn what being Divergent truly is and embrace it no matter the cost. I loved this book. It definitely has middle book syndrome. The story drags a little for a while. I see a lot of people complaining about the characters changing so much between the last book and this one but like... they kind of went through a lot, right? To me it made sense that they were different people and they didn't have the same characteristics we'd grown used to. You have to get used to the new dynamic but that's how life actually is, right? People change, especially under stress. Anyway. I really enjoyed it. Very excited to read the next one and FINALLY watch the movies. 

The Sense of an Ending (Julian Barnes)- Thinking he'd left his childhood friends behind, Tony is surprised when his closest friends return, one of them from the grave, after he is well past middle age. He is forced to reconsider his relationships and things he thought he'd understood all along as a mysterious new legacy is put before him. This was very compelling. So much of it was really rather scary. The big ideas and grand gestures and plans of youth replaced by essentially just letting life happen to you in later years. The philosophy aspect, which I'm sure is very interesting for some people, was pretty meh for me because I don't really care but the human parts were very raw and I felt like I was watching a wound closing and being opened again. I did not see the end coming at all.  

I'm about to head off on a walk to the library for more books. A heaping pile of books are waiting on hold for me there and I am a delighted lady. Happy reading!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Little Confessions

Another confession filled Thursday? As my goddess Amy Poehler states- Yes Please.

- Deadpool is the filthy, R-rated, swear wordy, Ryan Reynolds flopping penis filled, gory movie you can't bring home to Mama and I loved every second of it. I'm one of those geeks that has been waiting around for a Deadpool movie since forever and it is FINALLY here and it is beautiful in all of its filthy glory. Thoroughly enjoyed. Will probably see it in theaters again before buying it as soon as it is released.

- Valentine's brunch was lovely and full of heart shaped pizza and caprese skewers and making bird feeders. Then I got sick. A cold came out of nowhere and kicked my ass and I have been down for the count since Sunday afternoon. Instead of sexy fun V-day times, I napped from 3 to 7 and then went back to bed around 10 and slept on and off for the next 2 days. Me and cold meds have a serious fling going on right now. Nyquil, will you be my Valentine?

- Our kids are dinosaur obsessed (is there anyone with a kid that isn't?) and have begged to see Jurassic World and we decided to let them watch it and just fast forward through the gory/scarier parts. It worked out well. The only thing that scared Alice Mae (and ME because I forgot it happened) was that scene with the hand that slaps up onto the car window. Yeah. Alice was having NONE OF THAT BUSINESS. She screamed. Very loud. But in general she is the kid who loves all things gross (she will ball her tiny little fists up and smile so big while saying in a very excited voice 'this is gonna be SO AWFUL') so it was just a little scare and then back to the action. Ollie was fine but he had a very deep attachment to the dinosaurs so when the first one ended up dead he was shattered. Sob city. The end (SPOILER ALERT) where some of the raptors didn't make it? Do not even start. He cried for a solid 10 minutes. That kid has a big heart. All in all though, a nice movie night with the kids who already think Chris Pratt is the ultimate BAMF because of The Guardians of the Galaxy.

- Because of being sick and Valentine's weekend plans and such, it has been over a week since our last library trip. I need my fix! Even though I have 2 books at home that I own and am currently reading. Life is not complete without a fresh new stack of library books.

That'll do it for this gal who still needs at least one nap a day to feel up to life. Go forth and be random.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Little Confessions

I've never done a confessions post but it sounds fun so I'm going for it!

- I did yoga camp for 30 days in January and I haven't done jack all since. I probably need to find a daily workout I can do in my living room but so far I've been too busy... not doing that. #sorrynotsorry

- My reading list keeps getting longer and longer and at this point I am having panic attacks about how I will never get to read all of the books I want to read before I die.

- Yesterday I was so lazy that my kid had toast for breakfast and cereal for lunch and then I saw this meme and I was like oh snap, it's like January (from Birth Without Fear) knows me or something. Cue the 'I always feel like somebody's watching meeeeee' song. Ain't no shame in my mama game. #nailingit

- We have started the Spring cleaning process a little early this year. My confession? We cleaned out our room. Our room that was just one mountain of dirty laundry that I have ignored for months. Some of it wasn't even dirty. It was clean laundry that I pretended wasn't there and never put away. The good news is it that it's all out of there now. The bad news is that it's in my kitchen (where our washing machine is) and it's a slow washing process due to our tiny machine.

That's about all I have in me right now. A girl has to have some mystery after all. Head over to The Newly if you want to link up with your own confessions.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A(nother) Baby Blanket

Last year I made the resolution to crochet a blanket for each of my friends' new babies throughout the year. I decided to continue on with that this year and because I know such fertile myrtles there is already one done and dusted and being mailed off tomorrow.

Here's a problem I run into literally every time I go to make something. Color. I love color, I think I'm quite good at matching color, but it mostly gives me a hardcore panic attack in the moment and I have a VERY hard time choosing. Most of the time I just ask someone what they want or I'll make a blanket based on what I know they like. Like the Jets color blanket I made for my friend's baby last year. Easy enough! This friend had no idea what colors she wanted, though, and only mentioned something about probably going with a very bright scheme of pink and blue so I went to the store unarmed and ultimately had an anxiety attack over what colors to choose. But then I thought why choose any colors at all? Why not let the yarn do all the work for me? And ta-da, a variegated blanket was born and in the perfect colors, I think!

The color is Bon Bon by Red Heart. I used nearly 3 skeins to get this size, which is about 37 inches from corner to corner. I had enough left over to make a headband to go with it and some more after that (enough perhaps to make some granny squares for my Weasley Blanket). I used this ripple blanket pattern which I highly recommend. Super easy to follow, fast and pretty. I've used it at least twice in the past.

I'm pretty obsessed with this blanket. I love the colors. I love the feel of it and the size and the shape and all of the pointy, flower like goodness. It leaves for it's new home tomorrow and I can't wait to see the little miss all wrapped up in it when she arrives soon.

Monday, February 1, 2016

January Reads

Hard to believe January is already done and over with and in the bag. The Winter months always seem to be good for my reading. All of that snuggling under blankets and trying to cuddle up and stay warm means more reading. Here's what we started our year off with-

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (Beverly Cleary)- Ralph the mouse lives in the knothole of a hotel room. When he makes friends with a little boy who comes to stay, the boy lets him borrow his toy motorcycle and makes little Ralph's dreams come true. Starting off strong with some Cleary. Always good for the soul. I had so much fun reading this book with the kids and they enjoyed it as well. One of those books that they begged for more than one chapter at a time. It was a quick read for us and such a sweet book to cuddle up to.

The Reapers are the Angels (Alden Bell)- Temple is a young girl wandering on her own in a fallen world where a plague of the dead haunts everyone. I picked up this book because I'd heard a few people talk it up. I wasn't hugely impressed. The writing style is lovely and the characters are really well developed and full but something was just missing for me. Maybe it was reading it so close to The Girl with All the Gifts that did it in for me because that book was so devastatingly good but although I enjoyed this book as a whole, it didn't ring any bells for me. It had some really interesting differences to other books in the zombie genre so I'd definitely recommend anyone interested in that genre to check it out. I enjoyed that in general the book had little to do with the zombies and more to do with what life for people living in a world like that would be like.

 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)- The final chapter of the Harry Potter series. I hadn't read this book since it's release date however many years ago and I remember being disappointed with it. I think it was mostly that I was disappointed that the books were coming to a close or maybe 20 year old April was just too young to appreciate it. For whatever reason, I enjoyed it so much more this time around. And now that I've finished reading the entire series again (many of those books for the 5th or 6th time) I get to start it all over again with my kids which is actually kind of exciting.

The Last Olympian (Rick Riordan)- The campers of Camp Half-Blood have been preparing for a full year to battle against the newly risen Titan lord Kronos. Percy Jackson must face the unfolding of the long awaited prophecy as a battle for Western civilization plays out in the streets of New York City. Another last for us. The first born and I were so sad to be done and we sped through it much faster than usual, reading multiple chapters after school as well as before bed time. I think this book was definitely the best of them all and it was very fulfilling to see the character bloom and come into their own. We're reading The Lost Hero now, which still has some of our Olympus friends in it, which dulls the blow of goodbye a little bit.

Tuck Everlasting (Natalie Babbitt)- Winnie Foster stumbles upon the Tucks quite by accident while attempting to run away from her stuffy home. Once she learns their secret, events unfold that will tie the family to her forever, quite literally. I had never read this and was looking for an easy read. It's a charming book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A very quick read if you're looking for one but definitely full of enough action and pretty words to keep you interested.

Autobiography of Red (Anne Carson)- A book in verse, Carson re-imagines the Greek myth of the red winged monster Geryon. It was wholly beautiful and heavy and tender. The writing style was perfectly unique and the story was gripping and heart breaking. I can't wait to read more by Anne Carson now that I've discovered her.

The Selection (Kiera Cass)- A selection of 35 young women is chosen from the country to attempt to win the heart of Prince Maxon. It's a chance to change their lives and take them out of the caste they were born into. I started this book not entirely sure what I'd think. I'd seen it on a few book lists and had some friends recommend it to me. I did enjoy it. It's definitely fluff reading but there's nothing wrong with some fluff in your life. It took me about half the book to really get into it but once I did I was hooked. I'd describe as being like Cinderella entering The Hunger Games. There's a little danger, a lot of pretty dresses, some love triangle action. A good read for when you don't want to ponder things too hard.

Divergent (Veronica Roth)- A dystopian world where the people are divided into factions dedicated to a specific virtue. Sixteen year old Beatrice must choose a faction to dedicate her life to on the appointed day. Can she choose what she feels is right for her or will she stay in the comfort of her family's faction? I don't know why I haven't read these before. It's right up my alley. I just kept forgetting about them, to be honest. I've even made myself stay away from the movies all this time because I prefer to read the books before I see the movie. I picked it up on a whim simply because I saw it at the library and was like why not and I'm hooked. Hooked I tell you. I stayed up way later than I should  have reading this book and I had to text my sister the next morning and bed her for the next book (knowing she owns them) so that I wouldn't have to wait on the library to mail it to us here in the boondocks. I'm sure most people have read this by now so I don't really have to talk it up but if you like dystopian YA, like The Hunger Games for instance, you'll probably like this. A lot. BRB, gotta go finish these books.

That's a wrap for the first month of 2016. I hope you're reading something good and staying warm. xx