Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What's On Your Nightstand (June 25)

Can hardly believe that June is almost gone and that the school year is nearly complete.  It only seemed like it was May yesterday and suddenly a Canada Day long weekend is upon those of us in Canada!  Yay!

It actually was a  quite productive month, even though it really didn't feel like it.  This past month, I posted reviews for The House Girl and The Whole Truth (books that I completed before May's post but didn't have reviews for at the time of last months post).

I also completed and reviewed The Gods of Heavenly Punishment and The Help.

I am still reading the classics that I mentioned last month and have started a bunch more books.  It doesn't look like I am going to finish Villette before the 1st, but then again I have a bunch more days to work on it before I have to get it completed for The Classic Club's spin project (you list a bunch of books you want to read, they pick a number, and you have to read the book that corresponds with that number).  I am also hoping to read Twelfth Night in a couple of weeks due to the fact I am seeing a production of the play early in July.

Happy reading :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Right Now I Am...

After a fairly busy day, its really my first time sitting down and I am feeling like I need to say something...

Listening to... a variety podcasts.  There are a few podcasts that are from LibriVox of the classics that I am currently reading and managed to get a few of them down this past weekend.  I am also listening to a podcast on World War II, a podcast on the history of the English language, a couple on British history, one on World War I (its a project through the Imperial War Museum),  and a few on books/reading, including Books on the Nightstand (a really good podcast by Ann and Michael) and the New York Times Book Review and so forth.

Eating...  Right now nothing. I just a wonderful meal that included pull pork (it was so good).  I made a Spinach Strawberry Salad with a homemade dressing.

Watching... At the moment I am watching The National, but I have been watching a number of TV shows on DVD over the past week (including The Bletchley Circle and Upstairs Downstairs) and the odd movie (Lincoln) and also shows that I have recorded on my PVR that for some reason I had gotten behind on.  I watched Mad Men late last night and I was floored by what happened (I don't think my jaw has recovered yet by what came out of Don's mouth on last night's season finale; hard to believe that there is only one season left of this amazing show).

Reading... I am reading a few things and at the moment I feel utterly overwhelmed by the amount that I am reading at the moment.  I am hoping that in the next few days I can get something done.

Making... Do messes count? Because other than making a dressing the other day, I haven't really made anything; not exactly the crafty type

Planning... what the first few days are probably going to look like after the school year ends for me. It probably will consist of reading and catching up on sleep and watching stuff on my PVR.

Feeling... tired.  While I like my job and love the students that come through the library door, there is time when I need to sleep in and rejuvenate myself.

Loving... that summer break is right around the corner and that the alarms on my cell phone will basically go off for the next two months.

Wanting...  A decent night's sleep.  The last couple of nights I have been waking up in the middle of the night and I also just want to go to sleep at a decent hour.

Thinking... that I want some sleep!!

Looking forward to... A lot of things!   I am looking forward to having a night out at nearby Mexican restaurant.  I am also looking forward to going to Bard on the Beach and a Seattle Mariners game in the coming weeks.  As well, I am looking forward to heading up to Sun Peaks and just relaxing for a few weeks.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Salon - Summer Reading

Yet another lazy Sunday in my household (which only consists of myself most weeks) and while I am looking forward to getting back to work, I am also looking forward to summer break and reading lots and lots of books.  And because I (a) can't think of anything else to write and (b) because I just have to, here is my list of potential summer reads:

• Twelfth Night
• Where'd you go Bernadette?
• A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
• The Snow Child
• Moby Dick
• Wives and Daughters
• The Thorn Birds
• Dearie
• Villette
• The Light Between Oceans

I don't know how many I will actually get done off of this list, but I would think that I would likely get most of them done.  I will hopefully keep you updated.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Blogger Hop: June 21st - 27th

The Book Blogger Hop has moved to the Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  I hope you are able to join me.

This week's question submitted by Elizabeth.

When you are writing your reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you are completely done with the book?

I usually wait until I have completely finished the book to write my reviews.  The primary reason being that how I feel at the beginning of a book is sometimes different how I feel at the end of a book and my opinions of the book change as I read.  I have read books in which I really didn't like the book at the start and by the end of the book I quite enjoyed the book and vice versa.

Spring Reading Thing - The End

Spring has ended and summer has begun.  While I am sad spring has ended, I am happy that summer is starting.  For whatever reason, this spring was a bit emotional for me and reading seemed to be a secondary thing to do.  It wasn't that I didn't want to read, it was just that it was hard to get myself motivated to read.

But in the midst of it all, I did actually read quite a bit. Of the 8 books, I wanted to read/finish, I got 6 done.  One of them is still being read and one I just couldn't get myself to finish (it became really weird and I just couldn't understand what I was reading).

Here is my list of books that I wanted to read during the challenge:

1) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy 
2) Crime and Punishment by  Fyodor Dostoyevsky (review)
3) The Accursed by Joyce Carole Oates (review)
4) The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty (review)
5) A Red Herring without Mustard by Alan Bradley (review)
6) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
7) The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
8) The Help by Kathryn Stockard (review)

Here are the other books that I read and reviewed during Spring Reading Thing:
1) The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (review)
2) The House Girl by Tara Conklin (review)
3) The Whole Truth by Kit Pearson (review)
4) The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Epstein (review)

Thank you to Musings of a Book Addict for hosting it this year.  Hope to see everybody in the fall!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Pages: 522
Published: 2011 (Originally published 2010)
Challenges: Chunkster Challenge, Historical Fiction Challenge
Genre: Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Edition: Paperback, Movie Tie-in

Source: Personal 

Description: Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step. 

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone. 

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken. 

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own. 

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: This was my second read of the book and I enjoyed it probably more this time around because I was actually paying attention to the small details and noticing things I had missed the first time around.   It was also interesting reading the book on the 50th anniversary of Medgar Evers' assassination on June 12 and realizing what the community was feeling at the time of that event.  I can say that the book is much more detailed than the movie, but that the movie does utilize a lot of the material in the book through narration.   I felt as read on in the book that I was able to feel as though I was actually there.

Bottom line:  I know that I said that couldn't see myself re-reading this book, but since it was a book for my bookclub, I was needing to read it again and I think reading it again, I was able to find new things that I had overlooked the first time around I read the book.  It might become something that I read on a yearly basis, but knowing my reading habits, it may not.  And like I did last time, I am going to recommend this book.

Rating: 4.5/5

Pages for 2013: 7586

The Gods of Heavenly Punishment - Jennifer Epstein

Title: The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
Author: Jennifer Epstein
Pages: 384
Published: 2013 (first published 2012)
Genre: Historical
Challenges: Historical
Edition: Hardcover
Source: Library

Description: Fifteen-year-old Yoshi Kobayashi, child of Japan’s New Empire, daughter of an ardent expansionist and a mother with a haunting past, is on her way home on a March night when American bombers shower her city with napalm—an attack that leaves one hundred thousand dead within hours and half the city in ashen ruins. In the days that follow, Yoshi’s old life will blur beyond recognition, leading her to a new world marked by destruction and shaped by those considered the enemy: Cam, a downed bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army; Anton, a gifted architect who helped modernize Tokyo’s prewar skyline but is now charged with destroying it; and Billy, an Occupation soldier who arrives in the blackened city with a dark secret of his own. (via Goodreads)

Thoughts: I struggled with this book and had to basically force myself to finish the book, but it was odd because once I was into reading the book, I really got into the story lines, even though they felt very confusing as to how they all related to one another.  Despite the fact that the book was well written, it felt disjointed and as though I couldn't place myself wherever the story was going, even though by the end, I really wasn't really surprised at all what had supposedly happened had in fact happened.

Bottom line: Due to my ambivalence to the book and that at times I just wished it would end, I don't know who I would recommend the book to.  It is well-written and there were chapters that drew me in more than others and if you enjoy literature that deals with World War Two, I would recommend it to you. Recommended.

Rating:  3/5

Pages for 2013: 7064

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Whole Truth - Kit Pearson

Title: The Whole Truth : a novel
Author: Kit Pearson
Pages: 336
Published: 2012 (first published 2011)
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Canadian
Challenges: Historical
Edition: Paperback
Source: Library

Description: It is 1932. Polly and her older sister, Maud, travel by train and boat from Winnipeg to an island between Vancouver and Victoria. Polly will live with their grandmother, the sisters? new guardian, and attend the small school on the island, while Maud will go to boarding school in Victoria.

Their extended family welcomes the girls warmly. New-school jitters give way to new friendships and even a new puppy, and slowly Polly feels that she is becoming part of a larger family she never knew until now.

But Polly and Maud have a dramatic secret, and they have promised each other never to tell anyone. A surprise arrival on the island, however, threatens Polly?s newfound happiness and tests the bonds of family love. Can Polly keep the secret and her new life on the island?

Thoughts: When I saw this book come through a book box this past September at work, I knew I had to read this book.  When I was about 12, I read my first Kit Perason book and she quickly became a favourite author of mine.  Sure the book was probably a tad predictable, but just like the other books that I have read of hers, I enjoyed it and was fully satisfied with the book.  It took me awhile to read the book, but once I was able to really get going with the book, I was able to get through it quite quickly and just couldn't shake it.

Bottom line: I would probably recommend this for readers starting at around age 9 and for those of us adults who grew up with her books and just enjoy being transported to a time and place that they didn't get to experience.  Highly recommended.

Rating: 4/5

Pages for 2013: 6680

Sunday Salon - What a few days

What a few days of reading and I feel slightly bagged and like I don't want to pick up a book at the moment, but sadly, I have too.  I know some of you are saying what, you don't want to pick up a book for a few days?  Its sad but true, but even though I do love to read, there are just times that I want to pull myself away from reading my books, especially when I have been intensely reading over a few days.  And such is a time, but at the same time I really can't pull myself from my books, as one of the books that I am reading I need to get done for my Saturday book club (I am leading the discussion), another book I need to get done for the Classics Club spin for the 1st, and other I need to read for a readalong.  Part of the reason that I am "booked" out is because within a 24 hour period I read a large portion of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment, which I had to return because I was unable to renew the book.  And last night I read The Help for over the course of a few hours and maybe I'll just take the morning and do some reading during the afternoon and evening hours today.

Overall it was a pretty good reading week and I hope that this week is just as successful, if not more so.

Monday, June 3, 2013

June Meme: Question #11 #ccmeme

This month, The Classics Club asks:

What is your favourite opening sentence from a classic novel (and why?)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

I really don't know why its my favourite opening sentence, but I think it has to do with the contrasts that Dickens uses throughout the opening sentence and its a sentence that doesn't specify a specific time period and could be any time period.
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