Booking Through Thursday #38 - Recent Funny


What’s the funniest book you’ve read recently?

Maybe a Jessica Darling book? Those can be humorous. But I really don't know. I don't read funny books.

Wait! I have one!
And there's a story. So I was wandering around the teensy weensy town where my mom grew up and came upon this big semi-butt (what are the cargo parts of semi trucks called?) that was filled with rejects from their small-town library. It looked very inviting so I looked around for a bit and found a wonderful children's book called Olivia Kidney. I love books that are based on MCs that share my name. Olivia The Pig, anyone? And so I picked it up for 25 cents and have read the first page. I laughed out loud more than once. And she lives in New York City. How much better can it get?

"Olivia Kidney's new home was an apartment building made of maroon and yellow bricks on New York City's Upper West Side. It was twenty-two stories high, and it contained some of the most awful people you'd ever want to meet. They crabbed up the elevators with their cold, unfriendly faces. The people who lived above her stomped on the floor if she was talking too loudly, and the people below her hit their ceiling with a stick if she was walking too loudly. 'I'm a human being!' Olivia had dropped to her knees, cupped her hands around her mouth, and called down through the floor. 'I'm entitled to move! I'm not made of stone, you know!'"

Waiting on Wednesday #16 - The Six Rules of Maybe by Deb Caletti

A funny, poignant, uplifting, and truly authentic novel by National Book Award finalist author Deb Caletti.

As of now, that's the only summary out there. I'm sure something else will turn up in the near future but for now, this book will go on my "waiting for" just for the cover and title. Also, I haven't read a Deb Caletti book yet (what's wrong with me?) and this one looks like it might be funny, poignant, uplifting, and truly authentic. What else could a reader want? I do have her book, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart sitting on my shelf at home so hopefully I'll get to that one before The Six Rules of Maybe is released on April 20, 2010. Hopefully.

preorder

Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty

Is the real world ready for Jessica Darling?
At first it seems she’s living the New York City dream. She’s subletting an apartment with her best friend, working for a magazine that actually cares about her psychology degree, and still deeply in love with the charismatic Marcus Flutie.
But reality is more complicated than dreamy clich├ęs.
When Marcus proposes – giving her only one week to answer – Jessica must decide if she’s ready to give up a world of late-night literary soirees, art openings, and downtown drunken karaoke to move back to New Jersey and be with the one man who’s gripped her heart for years. Jessica ponders this and other life choices with her signature snark* and hyper-intense insight, making it the most tumultuous and memorable week of her twenty-something life.
(Summary from back of book)

I don’t think this measly review is going to succeed in summing up my immense love for this series. I adore Jessica Darling. These books have been some of the most memorable I’ve read in quite a while and possibly the only ones in recent reading history that don’t allow me to put them down. Literally. I was babysitting this past Thursday and Friday and could hardly stand to part from Marcus and Jessica’s story long enough to make mac ‘n cheese and take the push-bike to the park.

I’m surprised that I was so involved in this book out of all of them because it’s drastically different than the first three. The previous books are Jessica’s private journals – commentaries on the day-to-day events in her life. Fourth Comings was changed because this journal isn’t private, and less significantly but still importantly, Jess isn’t in school.

This one is a journal kept by Jess during the week after Marcus proposes to her in his dorm room at Princeton, until giving him her response seven days later. She’s all grown up and on her own in NYC. She’s got a much more realistic and depressing view of the world because she’s finally faced with providing for herself and living independently.

In Fourth Comings actually get to meet Hope, which I loved. In the previous three books she was alluded to and addressed indirectly through Jess’s letters and ramblings. Now there are conversations and conflicts and direct emotions. I liked it better this way. That’s the way stories about best friends should be.

I also enjoyed reading about Jess’s thoughts on personalities, relationships, and life in general. Even though I’m only around how old Jess was in Sloppy Firsts I feel like I’ve related to her more and more as the books went on. Maybe because she’s gotten better at putting words to her thoughts – something that I think I’m very bad at. And maybe because I only wish that I could experience what she’s going through. It’s a phantom world to me. I’ll get there soon enough though. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading these books, it’s to relish these years where I’m provided for and looked after.

Once again, McCafferty has succeeded in authoring a masterpiece of a novel. I don’t know how she’s hit these homeruns almost every time. The Jessica Darling series is on its way to becoming one of my all-time favorites. It’ll take a lot to remove them from that spot of honor. Because they really are phenomenal novels. I can only hope that Perfect Fifths, the conclusion to the series, doesn’t disappoint.

Another A+, of course.


*According to Microsoft Word, snark is not a word. I wish I could come up with a snarky comment about that.


Reviews of books 1, 2, and 3.

January 1, 2007 // Three Rivers Press // 336 pages
Goodreads // Amazon // IndieBound

Some R&R


For these next two weeks I'm going to be a little in-and-out.

I left Saturday morning to spend the week at my cabin and will be back "in town" Thursday night only to leave Friday morning on a plane to Arizona.

I have a few posts scheduled but no reviews because I didn't read far enough in advance for that. I will not have that much access to internet this first week but I'll try and get a review or two scheduled during the one night I'll be spending near wifi. No promises though. And I'll also try to get a few things scheduled for the second week too during my short layover at my own house.

But while there's all this uncertainty please just bear with me. I promise there will be tons of good stuff happening when I get back online. Pictures from the Grand Canyon, footage of my screeching while I learn to drive a motorized vehicle, pretty pictures of the peaceful lakeshore, and of course about a bajillion reviews because what else am I going to do with my two unwired weeks but read?

So yeah. That's my little state of the union for you guys. See you soon.

Feet.1

I never realized how many pictures I take of feet. Going through my photo archives I realized that there was an unreasonably large amount of photos focusing on those ugly appendages.
You guys might think this is totally weird but I'm going to do a few posts with the pictures here. I think it's interesting. I think the photos tell stories. And I think feet are pretty cool.

Exfoliation 3

This week I really got into the cleaning/exfoliating spirit which is extremely rare. I re-organized some stuff in my room, filed papers, and through away a shopping bag full of random crap I had sitting around. I don't think the random crap really qualifies as a true exfoliation though so I also went through my dresser and decided to throw out five different shirts that I don't wear any more either because I just don't like them or I grew out of them. So ta-da.


I only bought one thing this week - a roughed up big brown leather belt but I gained a lot of life experience. I got a schmancy debit card, a driver's permit, and I submitted my first ever real job application. I feel like everything just changed so fast this week. Just seven days ago I was a young lass who used only cash, was toted around by her parents in the old station wagon, and whose sole source of income was babysitting and allowance. I'm growing up guys! *sniff*

Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty

Things are looking up for Jessica Darling. She has finally left her New Jersey hometown/hellhole for Columbia University in New York City; she's more into her boyfriend, Marcus Flutie than ever (so what if he's at a Buddhist college in California?); and she's making new friends who just might qualify as stand-ins for her beloved best friend, Hope.
But Jessica realizes that her bliss might not last after she lands an internship at an uber-hip Brooklyn-based magazine. As she and Marcus hit the rocks, will she fall for her GOPunk, neoconservative RA...or the hot grad student she's assisting on a summer project...or the oh-so-sensitive emo boy down the hall? Will she even make it now that her parents have cut her off financially? And what do the cryptic one-word postcards from Marcus really mean?
(Summary from back of book)

I would call the Jessica Darling series my guilty pleasure series but it's not all that guilty. There's wonderfully fluffy parts and then there are parts that make me want to go running to my mother and cry for hours.

Something like this:
Jane was right about one thing: Marcus's T-shirts were a schtick. But so is everything we do when we exercis the free will that Kieran held so dear. And we're all guilty. We convince ourselves that these choices declare WHO WE ARE to whe world, and we hope that others - or just one person - will see these on-the-surface signs and somehow, suddenly understand WHO WE ARE down to the depths of our souls. But the cruel reality is that these choices serve a different purpose altogether. They act as cheery distractions from the only tragic Truth-with-a-capital-T that matters: We all die alone.

I think the thing that's most provocative about Jessica Darling is how much she seems like me. Everything she does, everything people tell her, every experience that she goes through resonates with me. And I think that's one of the most amazing things about these books. Because I know that I'm not the only one who sees a bit of myself in her. I think every reader does. She's a universal kind of gal. Everyone wishes they were Jessica Darling.

One of the things that still bugs me about this series though is how much I didn't like the first book. It just doesn't make any sense how the two next books could be so awesome. Maybe I just wasn't in the mindset of the books when I read that one. Because they do require a certain mindset - a type of mentality. Maybe it really was amazing but I didn't get anything out of it because I was too busy being cynical and teenager-y. I don't know. I guess all that matters is that I'm with it now. And I'm loving that I'm with it.

This third book had a different tone than the previous two. Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings took place in high school after Jessica's best friend Hope moved away. For those books she was really sullen and moody and sarcastic. She was also sort of big-headed. Graduating from high school changed her drastically. I don't know if it's "for the better" but it's a change for sure. Jessica grew up. In Charmed Thirds she's much more contemplative and humble. The real world smacked her in the face and she knows it.

The way that she changed might be one of my favorite things about the series so far. Megan McCafferty is able to write with a different tone in each book so that you can see how Jessica is maturing and becoming a different person. That takes some mad skill - to be able to adapt your writing style with a character through a course of almost ten years. Pretty fabulous stuff.

And the cherry on top of this already grand book? Marcus Flutie. *sigh* That is all.

So the rare A+ for this novel. I adored it. Thank god I have Fourth Comings sitting on my shelf staring at me with puppy-dog eyes, begging to be read. Expect a review of that one real soon.

Review of Sloppy Firsts
Review of Second Helpings

April 11, 2006 // Three Rivers Press // 384 pages
Goodreads // Amazon // IndieBound

Booking Through Thursday #37 - Preferences


Which do you prefer? (Quick answers)

Reading something frivolous? Or something serious?
Serious

Paperbacks? Or hardcovers?
Paperbacks

Fiction? Or Nonfiction?
Fiction

Poetry? Or Prose?
Prose

Biographies? Or Autobiographies?
Autobiographies

History? Or Historical Fiction?
Historical Fiction

Series? Or Stand-alones?
Stand-alones

Classics? Or best-sellers?
Classics

Lurid, fruity prose? Or straight-forward, basic prose?
Straight-forward and basic please

Plots? Or Stream-of-Consciousness?
Stream-of-Consciousness

Long books? Or Short?
Long

Illustrated? Or Non-illustrated?
Non-illustrated

Borrowed? Or Owned?
Owned

New? Or Used?
Used

Bits 'n Pieces - Megan McCafferty

Mountains or beaches?
Beaches. Even after all those years working on the boardwalk.

Favorite music artist?
When I was 11, Michael Jackson. Then I hit puberty and got too fickle for favorites.

Have you ever gotten a tattoo?
No.

Would you rather end hunger or hatred?
Hunger. I'm a pragmatist.

What does your perfect day look like?
I like to believe it's in my future.

What movies could you watch over and over again and still love?
Dazed and Confused, Dangerous Liaisons and Sixteen Candles.

When you were a kid, what did you dress up as for Halloween?
I usually wore my spangly, sequined leotards from my dance recitals and said I was a Broadway star or princess or fairy or something sparkly like that. My mom always made me wear a turtleneck underneath which totally ruined the look.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?
I can't tell you. But it involved a cappella.

If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
Barry Manilow. He was born Barry Alan Pincus. Look how well it worked for him.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? And what is the true nature of evil?
Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West, a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.
(Summary from back of book)

When I was in New York City last month I was lucky enough to be able to see the musical, Wicked on Broadway. It's roughly based off of this novel but I'd heard from a few of my friends who read the book that the two works have almost nothing in common. Ingtrigue.

I picked up a copy to see what all the fuss was about. Also, I just really like the idea of what people see on the surface not being the reality. How perceptions are often mislead and how people are often misunderstood. I like the thought of never being able to know the whole truth. Like there's always guesswork involved and it's all we can do to try and figure out at least some of the facts.

So with that said, even though it wasn't all that similar to the musical, I adored this book. It's much darker and more political and sexual than the play but that kind of stuff worked in prose form. It wouldn't have worked as well on stage. I don't think people would want to sit there and think all of this through but when they're reading, they have the time to do that. Having that little edge of controversy and dissention there really helped to add an urgency and a seriousness to the events in the book.

Also, the characters were so amazing. Maguire knows how to give characters layers and personalities so that you never know what's going to come out of them next. Elphaba and Nessarose and Fiyero were some of the most complex people that I have ever read about. It was honestly a work of art.

The other thing that I enjoyed about Wicked is how nothing ever turns out perfect. In the play there's always little light moments and everyone ends up relatively happy but in the book it's more realistic. There's death and danger and hatred and lies and the author shies away from none of that. It's all there laid out on the table for you to make of it what you will.

Gregory Maguire knows how to capture a reader's interest. He definitely captured mine. I would recommend Wicked to anyone who's seen the play or anyone who's looking for a little excitement.

This is a monumental book.

A

I interview you

Questions from Ms. Steph Bowe

You can travel anywhere in the world instantly in a matter transporter. Where do you go?

GREECE. So I can live in a little white-washed house and swim in blue water and eat oranges and become raven-haired and olive-skinned.

You can read only one book for the rest of your life. Which book is it?
Either Wicked by Gregory Maguire or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I think they're both endlessly interesting. You could read them a bajillion times and still never pick up every nugget of awesome that the author deposited in there.

Do you believe in magic?
How else would Harry Potter have been able to defeat Voldemort?

You can combine any two animals into one creature. Which two animals do you choose and why?
A horse and a fish. Like this Neopet:Yeah. I still connect things in "the real world" to the marvelous world of Neopets. Don't judge me.

Zombie apocalypse scenario: You have about five minutes before a horde of zombies break down your door and eat your brain. Death – or zombification – is inevitable. You can make only one call. Who do you call, and what do you say? (For this question, you can imagine you have the phone number of everyone on the planet, including famous people.)
I don't want to answer this. It's too hard.
I'd probably call Barack Obama just because he's the voice I would want to have resonating in my head as I met my death. I'd probably do a lot of huffing and squealing. And tell him that I loved him. That would be a good way to die.

Follow these instructions:
1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.” Please include your email address.
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

You know you want to.

Exfoliation 2

This week I decided to go through my horribly large magazine stack and weed out any thing older than six months. So now I have six magazines left. And a few newspapers. And some yearbooks. It's much better than it was. The trash pile is below...


I also went through the trashed mags to see if there were any fun pages. The ones that I liked, I tore out and folded into envelopes. So now anyone getting a letter from me receives it in style.


To counteract all of this cleansing and productive goodness I bought some stuff too. Bad me.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo Sandoval hears music that nobody else can hear - part of an autism-like condition that no doctor has been able to identify. But his father has never fully believed in the music or Marcelo's differences, and he challenges Marcelo to work in the mailroom of his law firm for the summer...to join "the real world."
There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file - a picture of a girl with half a face - that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.
(Summary from back of ARC)

After reading this review and basing my expectations off of that, I find myself slightly disappointed but still satisfied. Marcelo in the Real World wasn't the sort of edge-of-your-seat type of reading that I was expecting. It was more thoughtful and slow and deliberate. It was like an old classical piece of art as opposed to an Andy Warhol. Both beautiful, just in different ways. I think I relate more to the Andy Warhol-esque books but I still have a deep love for the classical ones. I just don't think they're as fun.

The best thing about this novel was how it was narrated. Marcelo has a mental problem that slows him down. His analyzations and conversations and reactions are all more thought out and perfectly executed than most normal people. He takes the time to make connections and figure out the best way to approach a problem. More people should be like him. I think there would be a lot less hate and a lot more love and appreciation if everyone took the time to sit down for a few minutes and think things through before acting.

I also liked how Marcelo affected the people around him. How their lives were improved and made better just by his being around. Like everything he touched turned to gold. Again, we need more Marcelos.

The only thing that didn't work for me was how slow it moved. And yeah, I realize that that totally goes against the point of the book. But to me, things are just more fun if they move fast and this book moved at a snail's pace. It took me a while to get used to. But I guess that just proves that I'm one of those people who needs to slow down once in a while.

So yeah, this was a pretty fine book. I think Marcelo will strike a chord with anyone who reads his story and cause them to take a step back and look at things from a different angle. Definitely recommended.

B

Booking Through Thursday #36 - TBR


Do you keep all your unread books together, like books in a waiting room? Or are they scattered throughout your shelves, mingling like party-goers waiting for the host to come along?

I do keep all my unread books together. I have my main shelves for the books I've read and then the bottom shelf is devoted to books that I haven't gotten to yet. Both groups are organized alphabetically by author's last name. :) I'm just a teensy bit OCD like that.

A List - pro and con version

The pros and cons of possibly, maybe, if I'm lucky, having a job during this school year.

Pro -

1. Money.
2. Good working experience.
3. Money.
4. Looks good on college apps. Apparently they look at job and working related stuff more now.
5. Money.
6. It's close so I wouldn't have to get a ride or take a bus. I could just walk/ride the bike.
7. Money.
8. It's across the street from a delicious and cozy coffee shop. I could befriend the cute baristas there. I could be one of those people that come in and have a drink already made for them because they come in on the same days at the same times and order the same things. That would be nice.
9. Money.
10. It's the public gathering place. I could see people I wouldn't normally see. It would be fun to be recognized.
11. Money.
12. Free popcorn and movie tickets.


Con -

1. It would be time consuming.
2. School is important to me. I like being good at it.
3. It would cut into my social life a little bit. Not that I'm much of a butterfly to begin with. But still.


You make the conclusion.

Waiting on Wednesday #15 - Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

Restless souls and empty hearts
Brooklyn can't sleep. Her boyfriend, Lucca, died only a year ago, and now her friend Gabe has just died of an overdose. Every time she closes her eyes, Gabe's ghost is there waiting for her. She has no idea what he wants or why it isn't Lucca visiting her dreams.
Nico can't stop. He's always running, trying to escape the pain of losing his brother, Lucca. But when Lucca's ghost begins leaving messages, telling Nico to help Brooklyn, emotions come crashing to the surface.

As the nightmares escalate and the messages become relentless, Nico reaches out to Brooklyn. But neither of them can admit that they're being haunted. Until they learn to let each other in, not one soul will be able to rest.
(Summary from Amazon)

This book likes it'll be heavier than Lisa Schroeder's first two books but I think that it will turn out to be a positive improvement. Although if Nico and Brooklyn end up getting together then I might be a little turned off. Because hooking up with the dead boyfriend's brother is wrong. I guess we'll see.

Released February 9, 2010

A lightbulb's death

Sometimes I wish I were a poet or liked poetry or wrote song lyrics because there are certain moments in life that I feel should be recorded not in prose but in swaying and sweeping phrases. Like it's a moment too beautiful to be over analyzed. Like you want to be able to go back and look at the sparse letters and words and remember with perfect clarity what happened even though there's little description. And have other people who weren't there be able to visualize it. So I'm going to use my nasty, teenager-y, valley girl prose to convey to you what I wish I could do through poetry.


The moment a light bulb dies.

There are some light bulbs that gradually dim and dim and dimanddimanddimanddim until you can't see them any more and the battery juice or the little metal filament just totally give out.

There are some light bulbs that decide not to turn on one day. They die in their sleep. No last words. No last wishes. Just graceful, eternal slumber.

And then there are the light bulbs that I like the best. The ones that go out with a flash and a bang.

I went to turn on the light that's in the lamp that's on top of my bookshelf tonight and it up and exploded on me and blinded me for a second and then disappeared completely.

It sort of reminded me of Tinker Bell from Peter Pan when she'd get all sparkly when she was happy but then also how when she supposedly dies her light goes out completely.

There was a little fairy inside my lamp and it performed its final spectacular show and passed on.

I think it was a happy death. I mean, how can it not be happy when it's all bright and shiny and awe-inspiring.

What better way to die?

Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman

Maus is the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe, and of his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father, his father's terrifying story, and History itself.
Moving back and forth from Poland to Rego Park, New York, Maus tells two powerful stories: The first is Spiegelman's father's account of how he and his wife survived Hitler's Europe, a harrowing tale filled with countless brushes with death, improbable escapes, and the terror of confinement and betrayal. The second is the author's tortured relationship with his aging father as they try to lead a normal life of minor arguments and passing visits against a backdrop of history too large to pacify. At all levels, this is the ultimate survivor's tale - and that, too, of the children who somehow survive even the survivors.
(Summary from jacket flap)

Graphic novels have always been a bit iffy for me. They don't seem to have the same amount of legitimacy as a novel with lines and lines of sentences and words and letters that have been put together artfully and thoughtfully and been rearranged a countless number of times. Pictures are so un-concrete almost light-hearted.

At least that was where I stood coming into this book.

Now I'm in a completely different place. Because Maus was amazing. Truly and seriously amazing.

The pictures are well done and the dialogue and narration fits in perfectly. Being able to see the expressions of the characters gave me a whole different perspective on the story than I would've had if it had just been written in prose. It was like watching a movie but one that was intelligent and creative and sort of monumental.

Maus tells the story of the Holocaust for goodness' sake.

I've mentioned my Holocaust obsession, right? I have one. It fascinates me. I can't get enough of it. Not the death or the horror but the knowledge. I feel like in order to be a world citizen I should be as educated and informed and horrified by the event as is humanly possible. Like it's my duty to understand the whos, whats, and whys. Please someone else say they feel this way.

Not only was this an outstanding graphic novel it was a moving illustration of what life was like for some of the Jews who were in hiding for months, trying to figure out what card the Nazis were going to play next.

The bad thing is that it left off just as the main character and his wife were being taken to Auschwitz. Which means I'll have to make a trip to the bookstore and get the second book.

So yeah, this is a phenomenal book. I recommend it to anyone and everyone. A must-read. Especially if you haven't read a graphic novel yet. This is a good way to start.

A

Exfoliation

I have come to the realization that gradually this blog is becoming more and more personal. I still do reviews and interviews and other book-ish features but there are starting to be a lot of posts about random stuff that pertains more to my life and random rantings than to the literary industry. Do you guys think this is a good or a bad thing? I don't think it's my goal to have a completely book-related blog. But would you guys want it more book-related? Or is all of the personal crap at least relatively interesting? Let me know either way. I want some people to weigh in.

This post is going to be personal. Just saying.

So over at makeundermylife.com the girl who runs it does this thing called an End of the Week Exfoliation. She gets rid of one thing every Friday that she hasn't used for a while or isn't being loved enough. Sometimes she'll give it away to the first commenter who wants it. But I just like the idea of gradually cleansing myself from all the crap that I keep around so I think I'm going to participate in this. Maybe I'll eventually give away some of the stuff if anyone shows interest but a lot of it is going to just be junk.

This week's exfoliation comes in two parts. Cuts and cowboys.



I got a weird hair cut. Not sure if I like it yet. I'm going to wait for it to grow out and shag up a bit before I decide. I am liking the airiness though. I have extremely thick hair so having it long was not working so well. And in the second picture I'm wearing pajamas. So don't judge me on that. I was too lazy to change.

The real exfoliation was a cowboy hat spray-painted red for my school's homecoming this past year. I feel bad for the people that made them because they put hours of work into them but no one wore them. Eh. So it goes.



So there you go. Thumbs up or down on all of this personal business?

Booking Through Thursday #35 - Unread


Give me the list or take a picture of all the books you have stacked on your bedside table, hidden under the bed or standing in your shelf – the books you have not read, but keep meaning to. The books that begin to weigh on your mind. The books that make you cover your ears in conversation and say, ‘No! Don’t give me another book to read! I can’t finish the ones I have!'

Oh boy. I'm doing this all out so get ready.
In no particular order, these are the books sitting on my "still to be read" shelf.

My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews
Seeds of Yesterday by V.C. Andrews
Melody by V.C. Andrews
If There Be Thorns by V.C. Andrews
Heaven by V.C. Andrews
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Getting Warmer by Carol Snow
The Vampire Diaries: The Fury and The Dark Reunion by L.J. Smith
Are We There Yet by David Levithan
Glass by Ellen Hopkins
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson
Amigas and School Scandals by Diana Rodriguez Wallach
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Top 8 by Katie Finn
The Oath by Elie Wiesel
To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Golden Girl by Micol Ostow
A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare
How To Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
How To Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson
TMI by Sarah Quigley
Crank by Ellen Hopkins
Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
Th Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle
Twelve Long Months by Brian Malloy
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
Peace, Love and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle
Vegan Virgin Valentine by Caroline Mackler
When Lightning Strikes by Meg Cabot
Marley and Me by Josh Grogan
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
Slant by Laura Williams
Wondrous Strange by Leslie Livingston
Bikeman by Thomas F. Flynn
Shine Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro
13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Kiki Strike Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller
A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson
Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
House of Dance by Beth Kephart
The Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer
Dream Factory by Heather Hepler and Brad Barkley
Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner

Yeah...

Bits 'n Pieces - Cyn Balog


book // website // blog

City or country?
Country, definitely, cities make me claustrophobic!

Favorite coffee chain?
I don't drink coffee, so my favorite would be the one that charges people a lot of money so that I can sit there and laugh at them as they spend 5 bucks a day to feed their caffeine addiction.

Have you ever sang karaoke?
Nope, I think the world would explode if I did that.

Would you rather have stars in your eyes or eyes in the back of your head?
I would much rather have stars in my eyes and just be blissfully ignorant about everything. I look at my 2-year old and she is so happy because she doesn't understand what "taxes" and "work" and all those horrible things mean. I'd like to be like that-- always seeing the positive about life. People who have eyes in the back of their head are generally very negative-- how can you see all that and not be?

What does your perfect day look like?
I would just love to spend a nice summer day on the beach with my whole family, then go home and have a big pasta meal, some fun fruity mixed drinks, and maybe play some card games like Michigan Rummy or Seven and a Half.

What movies could you watch over and over and still love?
I love stupid movies like Dodgeball and Vacation, but I also love romances like 13 Going on 30. And I am BIG into Disney movies! But my favorite movie of all time is The Goonies. I saw it in the movie theater, and have watched it a billion times since then. I can recite every line to that movie by heart. I have the DVD and once watched it with Spanish dubbing, but translated it to my husband as it was going along. He thought I was whacked. But he can do the same thing with Raiders of the Lost Ark, and that's really messed up.

What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
In 4th grade we had this assignment where we had to write about a dream we had-- I had a dream about a kid in my class named John, so I just wrote about that, because random people always showed up in my dreams. Then my teacher read it out loud and everyone was like, "Ooooooh, Cyn and John, sittin' in a tree..." Puhleeze. He was a total goober.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer! I have been writing stories since I was 5 years old. I used to sit inside writing all these crazy tales while all the other neighborhood kids were outside getting fresh air. As a result, my growth was stunted and I am two feet tall. No, not really, but I thought this interview could use some pizazz.

If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
Stephenie Meyer.

A Summer List

8 things I love about the summer.

1. Eating burgers and hot dogs and potato chips and potato salad and jello and and and.

2. Being able to get my belly tan.

3. Wearing flip flops on a daily basis. Especially the cheap Old Navy ones that mold to your foot after enough use. Yum.

4. Biking everywhere. Hearing the hushhush of the pedals and feeling the world rush by.

5. Listening to Christmas music.

6. Fruit smoothies!

7. The odor of sunscreen that emanates from everyone you pass.

8. Anticipating the school year. Twisted? Yes.

A Shakespearean Summer - Othello


A summary by me:
This play follows a military guy named Othello. He's pretty high up and has control of a large number of troops and minions.
His right hand man/best friend is named Cassio. Cassio is a good guy through and through. He's content with his position and with his life.
Othello's standard-bearer guy is named Iago and Iago is Cassio's opposite. He's wily, selfish, conniving, and greedy but he's able to hide it and get people to trust him.
Othello is married to a lovely woman named Desdemona who adores Othello and is always faithful to him.
The big event of the play is that Iago wants to take hold of Cassio's position and will stop at nothing to get there.
He convinces Othello that Desdemona is cheating on him with Cassio and much drama ensues including lots of death and lots of sexual innuendoes.
In the end, Othello stabs Desdemona and then kills himself once he learns that Iago's been lying to him all along. And that's basically it. No joke.

So what did I think?
I thought that it was an...um...interesting and sort of pointless play. It made me wonder how these works have actually stood the test of time. I guess a bunch of it was probably in the delivery. Also, I think there was a lot of satire and medeival naughtiness that I didn't get. Shakespeare was a pretty sexual guy. But I did enjoy some of the different passages and lines. There were deeper, more intellectual undertones in certain scenes that really stood out to me. Like when they talked about honesty and intelligence and worth. I think that Shakespeare offers something to everybody. He's able to please the cynic, the comdedian, and the intellectual all in one play. That takes skill. And while the plot might have been a little weird, I think that it was worth reading. Just to say that I did it.

What plays have you guys read for the challenge so far? And what did you think of them?


It's Not You, It's Me by Kerry Cohen Hoffman

Zoe loves Henry.
Henry dumps Zoe.
Zoe wants Henry back - at any cost.
Zoe's two best friends come up with a plan to help Zoe get what she wants. The plan: make Henry jealous.
But the plan takes a surprising turn...
(Summary from jacket flap)

So I read this book a while ago and thought so little of it that I didn't want to write a review of it. I think it's probably worse that I'm doing it now because I remember almost nothing about the plot or the characters or really anything.

So basically, the thing I think I can say with certainty is that this book sucked. First of all it was too short to actually have any space in which to develop a story line or build any tension or emotions. Secondly, Zoe was completely pathetic and Henry was a loser and the other guy who Zoe decided to use and smooch around with was just as lifeless. It was like reading about the adventures of paper dolls.

I don't know if there's anything good to say. The cover's cute, I think. I like the little chicks and the spirals coming out of the red ones mouth. Very aesthetically pleasing.

But not memorable at all. Just a stupid book, IMO.

D - just for the cover.

I'm back. I hope.

I promise to post at least 20 times this July with half of those being reviews. The end.