Sunday, September 11, 2016

Book shopping and new reads

I said that I wasn't going to buy any other new books after reading The Couple Next Door, but of course I broke that promise to myself! I bought a few new books, including Zadie Smith's NW, Gloria Steinem's My Life on the Road, a new edition of Shakespeare's Hamlet, and Garth Risk Hallberg's City on Fire. So many good books! I am super excited about each of them.

I've started reading City on Fire, and so far I LOVE it. It is a really long book, so it will probably be a while before I report my final thoughts on it! But this is exactly the kind of storytelling I love. The writer is amazing. Though some people have complained about the length (over 1000 pages of smallish print), I think that everything is perfectly written so far. I love it when a writer can create a world that feels so complete, and though I never visited NYC in the 1970s, I feel like I am there in this novel. The characters are fascinating, and I just don't want to put the book down when I'm reading it. Unfortunately, because things have been so busy at work, I've only been able to read before bed at night. In other words, this is going to take me a while to finish!

I'm also rereading Hamlet  on my smaller breaks. I'm not really sure why I felt the need to purchase a new copy of the play, but I did. I go with my gut on these things. You never know what it might lead to in the end in terms of creativity or thought.

Other than that, nothing much is going on. I've just been super busy at work! So, I will keep you posted about City on Fire! Happy reading!

Thursday, September 01, 2016

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena


Has anyone read this title yet? I'm probably speaking out into the void here, but I'm just interested in getting some thoughts on this book. I've read some reviews (no spoilers), and I heard this praised to the moon and back on the All the Books podcast. I bought it for my birthday, and I'm just having some trouble adjusting to the narrative voice and point of view. The story so far is fine (I'm a little over 100 pages into it), but sometimes I just wish it was told in a different way. Anyway, if you have thoughts, leave a comment!

I finished the book, and though it was a quick read, I just couldn't get past the style of the novel. It is just a personal thing. Someone told me (after I described the book to her) that this book sounds like the same type of storytelling as can be found in Girl on the Train. I can't speak to that, because I've never read that book. It isn't that the story isn't any good; the problem for me is that I just never felt like I really got into the head of any character. For me, that is crucial to the reading experience. Still, if you like thrillers, you could go online and read some reviews to see if this might be something you are interested in reading.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I'm 40!!

Yes! I am 40-years-old now! It has been such a great month of celebration. Yesterday, on my birthday, I took Madison for a walk, and I told her that it was my first walk of my 40th year! It was a great time, because I thought about all of the wonderful things in my life. I also had a chance to reflect on my 30s, and I though about all of the crazy things that have happened!

In my 30s, I finished and wrote a dissertation and graduated with a PhD, taught a few hundred students, found a full-time job, finished a manuscript, made some great friends, took care of my dad, lost two grandmothers, experienced the joyful event of my best friend's little girl being born, went to my first professional writer's conference, became secretary of my local writer's group, made some crazy terrible mistakes (as we all do!), found out some really interesting things about myself, had the courage to ask for help when I needed it desperately, became even closer to my mom (if that was possible!), watched my family grow together, and so much more. In some ways, my 30s was a really hard decade. In others, it was the most enriching decade.

So, here is to my 40s! Yay!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Massive Update (Thank you for getting me to do it, Chris!)

And, yes, that photo is totally filtered. I was exhausted when I took it. I admit to vanity.  :)

Yes, I have been away from the blog for so long! It has been quite a year. I think my last post was in April, but I haven't actually written an update since last January. Wow. I have been a terrible blogger! But Chris, a reader of this blog, sent a kind message to me, and it inspired me to post again!

So many things have happened since I last wrote. My grandmother passed away in February. She fell and broke her hip in November 2015, and she just never recovered. We did get to celebrate her 94th birthday in January, and luckily she had a really good day where she was aware of everything and knew us.

After that, my cousin found out that she had an early stage of melanoma (thank goodness she caught it in time), and that combined with the two times my dad was in the hospital during all of this really sent me into a bad place. It was just a lot of emotional stuff to deal with, and I didn't cope well at all. My anxiety levels went through the roof! But things are getting much better now, and I feel like I'm making my way back to normal.

During all of this, I also had a lot more responsibility coming at me at work, so I am really staying busy there. We have a really big issue coming up, so there is a lot of extra work. Plus, I am going to be teaching an OLLI class with my editor starting in early September.

As far as writing goes: Well, I haven't done much. (I am still meeting my goal of going to one literary event/meeting per month. I am traveling to DC in a couple of months to visit my friend, Kelly, and I know we are going to go to a few plays and bookish things!) I did complete the edits for my chapter on Augusta Evans Wilson, so that is good. It shouldn't be long before that book of essays is published.

I have been reading so much, though! Ahhh, the books! I posted a few on March 29, 2016, and I also have been listening to some great audiobooks.  As shown, I finished Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart and The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606. I have also listened to The River of Doubt (by Candace Millard...a nonfiction book about Theodore Roosevelt's trip through the Amazon and along the River of Doubt), The Wicked Boy (by Kate Summerscale...about a late-nineteenth-century child murderer), The Accidental Feminist (by M. G. Lord...about Elizabeth Taylor's feminist movie roles), A Religion of One's Own (by Thomas Moore...about exactly what the title says), The Joy of Less (by Francine Jay), The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher (by Kate Summerscale...about a mid-nineteenth-century murder of a child...I promise I am not a dark person! LOL!), The Swerve (by Stephen Greenblatt...about many things but basically bringing all of western thought together as the result of a poem being saved from extinction), and The Fellowship (by Carolll and Philip Zaleski...about the friendship between the Inklings...this could have been in 2015, but I can't remember). All have been interesting, but my favorites are the Charlotte Bronte book and The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.

As far as physical books go...In 2016 I  have read the following:

Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey
Cain  by Jose Saramago
The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean
The Earl's Mistress by Liz Carlyle
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracy, Treason and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant by Robert Hutchinson
Hex by Mackenzie McGuire
Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott
Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle
Connecting Rooms by Jane Ann Krentz
Longing for Darkness by China Galland
If Books Could Kill by Kate Carlisle
The Four Agreements  by Miguel Ruiz
Magnate by Joanna Shupe
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Full Heat by Carla Swafford
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling (OF COURSE!!!)
The Quick  by Lauren Owen
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Napoleon's Privates  by Tony Perrottet
Anna and the French Kiss  by Stephanie Perkins (YA)

Most of these were funny or light reads, because that is just what I needed at the time! My favorites have been: Longing for Darkness, After Alice, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and The Quick.

As you can imagine, I was super excited about the new Harry Potter release!! Just for your viewing pleasure, here I am with my copy after I finished reading it:

LOL! I was so happy! 

I am currently reading two books: Armadale by Wilkie Collins and The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell. I also just bought City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg, and I am really looking forward to starting that one.

The only other major thing that I have been doing lately is that I have spent the last couple of weeks celebrating my 40th birthday early! I had a party with my family a couple of weeks ago, and that was amazing! I was so happy! I had a special martini glass, ribbons, beads, a cake--the whole nine yards! Here I am celebrating at my aunt's house:

Then, last weekend, my sweet five-year-old niece (well, she calls me Aunt Susie because her mom and I are best friends!) wanted to throw an early birthday party for me, which I thought was the sweetest gesture ever made! So, she jumped out to surprise me when I got there and put a tiara on me, we had pizza and cake, we watched the new Annie movie, and then we had a dance party! It was a great way to bring in my new year of life! Here is a photo of the three of us:

Anyway, I officially turn 40 next Monday. So many of my friends have bemoaned reaching this age, but my point of view is that at least we are still alive. So many people don't have that luxury! So here is to a great year!

...and I promise to blog more! :)

Monday, April 11, 2016

Current Audiobook...

And, for the record, it is SO good. I have been listening every chance I get. This is a fantastic biography.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: My Latest 5 Star Reads

A weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Join in!

Today's Top Ten Tuesday theme: My Latest 5 Star Reads!

1. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale. I listened to this book on audio, and it is so addicting! This is a true crime story about a murder in Victorian England. I highly recommend it!

2. The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory. This book is centered around Margaret Pole, and it is one of my favorites in the series. If you enjoy historical fiction about the Tudors, you should check this one out.

3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you need to refuel your creative soul, I recommend this book.

4. If you haven't read The Crimson Petal and the White, DO IT NOW. More recently, I finished these short stories set in the same world as the novel. I'm not a fan of short stories usually, but I really enjoyed the ones in The Apple by Michel Faber.

5. Part memoir, part writing advice, and all parts wonderful. Check out What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami.

6. I loved this YA novel. I read The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider some time ago, but it definitely goes on my top 5 star reads.

7. One of my absolute favorite books of all time is Rutho Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being. I can't say enough wonderful things about this book. Another one to read NOW.

8. The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison is a fantastic collection of essays centered around the idea of (obviously) empathy. A great collection that I come back to time and again.

9. Another great YA by Rainbow Rowell. I loved Fangirl even more than Eleanor & Park.

10. I really enjoyed Elizabeth by David Starkey. This book covers the early years of Elizabeth I.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Office moving...hospitals...oven breakdowns...etc

I think if you post your New Year's Goals that you automatically jinx yourself.

Right after I posted all that stuff, my life went nuts. The heating element in the oven went no baking. My grandmother is not doing well, and then my dad had a health scare (he's fine, thank goodness), so I haven't been able to do much reading or exercising because of...well, life. However, I have managed to exercise almost every day (I think I have only missed two days). I just haven't upped my mileage as much as I would like. One day I managed four miles, but usually it is only one or two. Ugh. That has to change.

Added to all of this is the big move I made at the office. My coworker and I moved into offices upstairs in our building. The new offices are fantastic! But, you know how it is...exhausting.

Anyway, now that dad is doing well, the kitchen is back in order, and I have finished all of my moving stuff (sorry to say that grandma still isn't doing well), I can at least cook and perhaps work in a bit more reading/exercise.

This weekend, I plan to make a few things that I can bring to work for lunch next week. I'm really looking forward to it!

As for my book life, I haven't read that much this week. I am still reading The Last Days of Henry VIII (very is a good book, but I needed a break for some fiction...I am a little over halfway through it). I also read the new Sarah MacLean book, The Rogue Not Taken.

I've seen some mixed reviews for this book, but I really enjoyed it. I know people love Sarah MacLean, but some of her books have been hit or miss for me. This one was really enjoyable. I liked the heroine a lot, and the plot didn't drive me crazy. It is also the first in a new series, so I have high hopes for the next ones, too.

Last night, I picked up Dorothy L. Sayers's Gaudy Night

I've had this book since 2009, when I went to Oxford. (Note: The version above is the one I bought in Oxford, but I haven't seen that cover here.) I bought the book at Blackwell's, and I'm finally in the mood to read it. So far, I am loving it. 

Anyway, that is what I am up to these days. Hope your January has been great!

A Place on the Shelf

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rest in Peace, Alan Rickman.

Yes, everyone knows of  my Alan Rickman love. He was an amazing talent, and he brought so many characters to life. Of course, I loved him in just about everything I saw him in. I first remember him from Die Hard, and I loved him in Sense and Sensibility. But I loved him best as Severus Snape. He took a character that so many people hated, and in the end, he gave such dignity to him. It was more than acting. It was an act of service to the readers and all of those who were devoted to the series. So, I thank him so much for playing that role over and over again.

Rest in peace, Alan Rickman.