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Books I want to read but haven’t because I figure I’ll put them down 15 pages in, so what’s the use? (Part Two)

Remember when I wrote that post about some classic novels I wanted to read but was too afraid to pick up because high school ruined classic novels for life? Well, to be honest I’m procrastinating. Instead of picking up one of those classic novels, I came up with a few more that have piqued my interest:

Emma by Jane Austen

Emma by Jane Austen

1. Something by Jane Austen. I don’t care if it’s Emma, Sense and Sensibility, or Pride and Prejudice—just something by Jane Austen. The Book Rat makes me feel like I’ve been missing out on life since she re-reads Austen’s works like I re-read Rowling’s. Plus, Austen has to be doing something right if people keep adapting her work into new movies and new books.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. If being regarded as one of the most important pieces of literature in the world doesn’t make you nervous, perhaps the thickness of this mammoth novels will. I probably would have gone through life not giving Tolstoy a second thought. Then, I stumbled upon the blog, Books on the Nightstand, which was doing a War and Peace reading challenge. They made the novel seem so enticing, and ever since, I’ve been tempted to pick up the novel.

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

3. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. Medieval England. Cries of witchcraft. YaddaRomanceYadda. Richard the Lion-heart, King John, and Robin Hood! What’s not to like? Well, Robin Hood won’t be a fox, and Richard won’t literally being a lion, for start. I’ve had my eye on this novel for a while. I’m not sure what’s keeping me. It has everything I could ask for like legendary characters, history, and adventure. I’m pretty sure the simple fact that it’s considered a classic has me sticking my nose of at it. For shame!

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

4. Any book by Kurt Vonnegut. It almost seems like everyone has read at least one Kurt Vonnegut book (except me), and everyone seems to admire his work. But…what if I’m the only person who doesn’t like Vonnegut? Or worse, what if I don’t get it. The problem with Vonnegut is I’ve built him up in my head as some literary genius that I’ve become weary that it will all just be one huge disappointment.

Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

5. Same thing with Faulkner (except, I haven’t actually met anyone who has read his work and liked it…). I want to read anything by Faulkner. The Sound and the Fury. As I Lay Dying. Light in August. Absalom, Absalom! Go Down, Moses. Faulkner’s books seem so full of things I love—experimental writing styles and an array of vivid characters. What I’m afraid of? Well, again my own expectations. I honestly feel I might actually enjoy Faulkner’s work. But, what if it turns out he’s not half as good as Mark Twain or Flannery O’ Conner?

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula by Bram Stoker

6. Dracula by Bram Stoker. Honestly, I’ve never met a vampire book that I really enjoyed. Nor have I seen a vampire movie that kept my undivided attention. So, I’m starting to think there is something wrong with 20th century (and later) vampires. There must be something about vampires that make people obsessed with them, and I wonder if maybe Dracula holds the key. Or, maybe not. Maybe it will just reinforce my idea that vampires are really, really lame.

For the sake of keeping with my New Year’s Resolutions, which book should I pick up first?

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2013 Tea(ish) Resolutions

New Year's Day, 2013

Hoorah! Hoorah! 2012, you were not my least favorite year of my existence thus far, but I’m glad to say goodbye to you. I rang in the New Year the same way I’ve rang it in for the past four years– lounging around in PJs and watching the Twilight Zone marathon. Thank goodness for Rod Serling.

Yesterday, I wrote about my bookish resolutions. But, I’m not done yet! I jotted down some tea(ish) resolutions as well:

  1. Drink more tea. I’ve reverted back to my old ways. I’ve received comments from my co-workers like, “I can tell when you make the coffee, Jackie. I drink one mug and my eyeballs start shaking” or “did you really just drink that entire travel mug of coffee in an hour?” And to the latter I sheepishly respond, “No…I drank two and a half…”. I can feel the effects of the amount of coffee I’m drinking, too. It makes me feel anxious all the time. And it’s really hard to look at things when my eyeballs are shaking (I’m only joking about that last bit. Kinda.)
  2. Be more adventurous. I have one bad experience with a type of tea, and I’m forever skeptical of that type of tea. For example, Oolong. I hated that tea for the longest time because I thought it tasted like mud and grass. Then I tried Six Summits Oolong from Teavana, and Ooooh Darjeeling from Adagio, and things changed a little bit. Still, I’m worrisome to purchase Oolong tea because of my first experience with it. Ultimately, I need to stop being a Nancy, and buy a bag of some dang Oolong! I think I tried to make this a resolution last year, but it didn’t work out too well.
    (Note: I don’t know any Nancy’s, so I don’t really know what their opinion on Oolong tea is. Perhaps they really like it. I don’t know).
  3. Invest in an electric kettle. This will directly help me with achieving #1, I’m sure of it.
  4. Try new brands. I pretty much stick to what’s available at the grocery store or what’s at Teavana. There is an entire world of tea out there that I haven’t had the pleasure of sipping. This needs to change for obvious reasons.
  5. Actually sit down and write a review of the tea I just drank. You guise, I’ve actually drank a lot of tea this year, and I tried out new flavors too. But, writing teaviews is difficult. Book reviews are easy-peasy because I’ve participated in book discussions for years (just through different mediums). But teaviews…my inexperience with tea affects my ability to adequately express my experience with it. Teaviews are more complicated than just describing the aroma/taste of the tea. It’s about the experience as a whole. How it makes me feel—warm and cozy, peppy and awake, nostalgic, creative, British?

What are some of your New Year’s Resolutions. Oh! And Happy New Year’s to you all!

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2013 Bookish Resolutions

It’s that time of the year again—when I become eager to set out before me changes that will benefit me. Like, exercising or eating less potato chips. I adhere to these changes for a few weeks before ultimately giving up. Before I know it, I’ve not changed out of my pajamas all weekend, and I’ve devoured an entire bag of cheddar and sour cream chips. I should probably admit defeat, but who am I to turn my back on tradition? Here are my 2013 book blogging resolutions:

  1. Scheduled Posts. Blog space providers have this neat function that allow bloggers to write posts in advance and schedule them to post in the future. I’d really like to use this more often. Hopefully it will help me not drop off the face of the blogosphere for months at a time. Consistency is key!
  2. Spotlight older books. Book bloggers go bonkers over new releases. I know my heart skips a beat when I have the opportunity to read an ARC (mostly because it doesn’t happen too often). Sometime I feel lame because I don’t have stacks and stacks of new releases lining my bookshelves. But, there are loads of older books (that the rest of the world can run out and purchase RIGHT NOW) that have been overlooked because of new release hype.
  3. Participate more in the community. I’m not talking about meme’s here, although I’m still keen on Parajunkee’s Follow Friday or For What It’s Worth‘s Blogger Confessions for the dialogue they create. I’m looking at you Read-a-thons and Bloggiesta! I’ve always had to work during Read-a-thons, but not this year. I’m clearing out my calendar just for you!
  4. Read more. Duh! I slacked off terribly this year. I read less this year than I did last year. And I stopped reading all together when I started my Intermediate Accounting class in Fall. Textbooks suck the fun out of life. With no more college classes on my agenda, there is nothing to compete with reading time. Er…except the three Mass Effect video games my mom bought me for Christmas.
  5. Be more critical of reviews. Is it just me, or are there far more positive reviews out there these days? I know everything out there isn’t golden, so what’s the deal? I’ve snagged far too many hyped up books this year that were a huge let down.
  6. Don’t create guidelines. On how many books or what types of books to read. Last year I joined several challenges—fairy tale retelling, e-reader books, non-fiction, indie-pubbed. I didn’t stick to them. I want to read what I want, when I want, and I don’t want to have to be conscious of what kind books I’m checking out. I don’t even want to bother with the Goodread’s book challenge this year! Around this time of the year, bloggers are celebrating the 150th book they’ve read. Meanwhile, I’m throwing confetti in the air because I finished my 20th book. I think you guys have superpowers!
  7. Borrow books from the library. Via e-reader! This is one of the reasons why I wanted a Nook in the first place, and I haven’t actually used this feature. I’m really bad at returning library books on time. Last time, I owed about $35. To make matters worse, I kept forgetting to pay it back so the library threatened to put me in collections. I’ve been ashamed to show my face around there ever since. Don’t have to worry about overdue books and collection agencies with e-readers though. Good ol’ e-readers.
  8. Read outside of my comfort zone. I’ll expand on this one a few days. It’s worthy of it’s own post, I think.

What are some of your bookish resolution for 2013?

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Books I Missed in 2012

2012 was not a year of many reads for me. Frankly, I was a slacker, and I used my preoccupation with my Intermediate Accounting class as a scapegoat. [Digression]I earned a 100% on my accounting final. Oh yeah![/Digression]. There are loads of books on my TBR list that I never got around to reading.

Life Eternal, The Marked, Dearly Beloved

Of all the books that hit shelves in 2012, Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon, The Marked by Inara Scott, and Dearly, Beloved by Lia Habel were the three books I’m most disappointed I didn’t pick up. These were the books I anticipated most this year because their predecessors made it onto my list of favorites from 2011. But, before I knew it 2013 was a few days away, and I never got around to snagging myself copies!

 

This is Not a Test, The Other LifeI’m a sucker for Zombies, and This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers seemed like a fresh approach to the somewhat saturated zombie market. Perhaps I’d be a sucker for Weepers too. I wouldn’t know because I never got around to reading The Other Life by Susanne Winnacker either. Oh woe!

 

Scarlet, Kill Me SoftlyFairytale and folklore re-tellings are abundant, and I’ve not been disappointed by any of the adaptations I’ve picked up so far. I’m happy to say that I read and LOVED Cinder by Marissa Meyer, but I’m disappointed that I missed out on Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen and Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross.

 

article 5I’ll admit it. My interest in this book was superficial at first. The cover reminded me of one of my favorite video games– Fallout 3. I wasn’t even disappointed when I found out this book had nothing to do with nuclear fallout, but rather it dealt with the abolishment of the Bill of Rights. Say it isn’t so! I lick my chops hungrily when I see this book. The sadness I feel for not having read Article 5 by Kristen Simmons is similar to the sadness I felt when I couldn’t eat chicken noodle soup for the two years I was a vegetarian in high school. (Note: Chicken noodle soup is pretty much my favorite food group.)

There you have it, folks. Of the myriad of books that were released in 2012, these eight were the ones I regret not reading with the rest of you. Which books do you feel you missed out on in 2012?

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Last Minute Christmas Shopping: Gift Guide for the Book Lover

Six days until Christmas morning, and I still haven’t starting shopping. Instead, I concocted another list of five items under $50– this time for the book lovers in your life:

Book Lovers Journal, Peter Pauper PressBook journals are a great way to keep track of books read whether the giftee is a blogger or not. I really like what the Book Lover’s Journal has to offer. It has places for you to list books you’ve borrowed, bought, lent, and pine for. The book log pages have stars to color in for rating, scales from 1-10 for aspects like characters, plot, illustrations, and more, as well as a place to write down a small review. There is even a checkable list of popular and classic books. This journal seems to rival that fancy-schmancy moleskin, but it’s will cost you about $5.00 less!

Book LampI’m absolutely smitten with my Mighty Bright Xtraflex LED book light since I do most of my reading before bed. While by significant other nods off beside me, I can keep reading into the wee hours of the morning without disturbing him. Plus, it comes in handy when the power suddenly goes out, and I have to dig around for candles and matches.

Harry Potter BookmarksMaybe if I had cute bookmarks like the ones created by bethydesigns I’d be less likely do dog ear my pages. You can hand make these little gifts, or just spend some pocket change if you’re artistically challenged. It matters not.

Nook coverMake your e-reading friends feel like they’re holding a “real” book in their hands! These covers are also useful for protecting delicate screens while being jostled around in satchels and purses. Plus, aren’t these little birdies just the cutest?

Gift cardsWhen in doubt, pick up a gift card! We all have our favorites– Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie bookshops, the Book Depository. Regardless, the book lover in your life will be able to finally snag the copy of the book they’ve been eyeballing.

Pssst, hey! You can check out my Gift Guide for Tea Lovers here.

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Last Minute Christmas Shopping: Gift Guide for the Tea Lover

Are you a notorious, last-minute gift shopper? (yes!) Do you normally wrack your brain to come up with gift ideas for your loved ones? (yes!) Do you have a tea lover in your life? (YES!) Then, here are a few, last-minute gift ideas for your friends and family members who like to snuggle up with a big mug of delicious tea. Five gift ideas under $50.00:

German Rock Sugar, TeavanaTeavana’s German Rock Sugar will add a nice sweetness to your loved one’s favorite tea without altering the flavor like that white sugar sitting in their cupboards. Plus, a little goes a long way. They’ll be set for the year with a pound of this sweet stuff (2013, that is).

Flowering Tea, NumiFlowering tea by Numi isn’t just a novelty. It’s as tasty as it is fun to watch. A box of four hand-sewn blossoms runs about $5.00. Or you can snag a gift box, which includes the flowering tea, a glass tea-pot, and a snazzy gift box for about $32.00. P.S. Check out this wonderful review and animated GIF from Tea For Me Please!

xmastea3The creativity of the Adagio community never ceases to amaze me. I’ve mentioned the customer created signature blends before, but here is a new series I’ve found– Zodiac Tea by Inguna Trepsa. There is a tea for each zodiac sign, and they all seem pretty delicious. Take for instance this Leo tea:  it’s a blend of oolong, rooibos, orange peels, chamomile, and vanilla. Red safflower petals give a pop of color that any bold lioness can appreciate. $9.00 gets you between 3 to 4 oz. of tea, plus a beautifully illustrated tin.

Electric Tea KettleMany tea drinkers would agree that an electric tea kettle is indispensable. It heats up water quickly, and it eliminates the guess-work in achieving the right temperature of water for brewing different tea types. The cost of an electric tea kettle starts at around $20.00 and can cost as much as $100.00. This kettle by Oster (found at Target) is $40.00, and it offers 11 different temperature settings.

Rubber Duck Tea Infuser, Stash TeaNormally I’m not a fan of these small tea infusers since they don’t offer enough room for loose leaf tea to expand. But, there is no denying that a little rubber ducky floating in my tea would make me smile even during crummy Monday mornings. I found this little guy at Stash Tea.

What was the best tea related gift you’ve ever received? Mine was a shiny, cherry red tea kettle. It was the item that kicked off my love for tea!

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Books I want to read but haven’t because I figure I’ll put them down 15 pages in, so what’s the use?

The Great Gatsby, any book by Ray Bradbury that I’ve managed to get my hands on, Animal Farm, Huck Finn, and Catcher in the Rye were the only classic novels I’ve ever finished. And without the aid of Cliffs Notes Sparknotes (do people even buy Cliffs Notes anymore?)

I have a bad habit when it comes to reading the classics, and the bad habit is not finishing the books. I give up on them a handful of pages in even though I know these books must be held so high in people’s esteem for a reason. When I was in middle school and high school, I went on a classic novel buying binge because I wanted to be “well read”—whatever than means. I read a couple of pages, maybe a chapter or two before stuffing the books away in boxes that now sit in my father’s basement. Jane Eyre. 1984. Wuthering Heights. Treasure Island. Emma. Frankenstein. Fricken Heart of Darkness. And, (trust me) far too many titles I care to reveal for fear of judgment from literary snobs.

At least I tried, right?

But, I’m in my 20s now. I’d like to think I’m better able to appreciate the classics now that I don’t have to read up to chapter 10 and be ready for the quiz on Wednesday. I’d like to think I’m at least more patient than I was seven years ago to get past the stuffy language to enjoy the story. Maybe not. Regardless, I feel left out because my experience with classic novels is not as expansive as I’d like it to be. Below is a list of classic novels I think I’d like to read but haven’t because I’ve been deterred by my poor experience with classics:

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I picked up this book at Barnes and Noble years ago. A gentleman passing by told me I held a great book in my hand and that is was the book that changed his perspective on the world. He walked away, and I read the back. I promptly set it down and walked away because it seemed dreadfully boring. Oh, I don’t know. What do you think? Everyone seems to be reading it, why shouldn’t I? Maybe things would have worked out differently if I had noticed Anthem first. On the plus side, the cover reminds me of the video game, BioShock, and I’m shallow enough to be persuaded by these types of things.

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

2. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. I still think this book sounds absolutely exciting, but one bad experience makes me wary to give this book another try. I don’t know why I thought it would be a good idea to read this book when I was 13. I think I wanted to read books that made me seem enlightened, but all it did was fuel my resentment toward classic novels. I think I’m almost ready to pick it back up again. Almost.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

3. The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. My experience with Tolkien is kind of similar to my experience with H.G. Wells. I picked up the trilogy after the Fellowship of the Ring hit theaters. All I knew was the movie was the greatest thing I’d ever seen in my 13 years of existence, so the books must be the greatest thing I’d have the pleasure to read. But they weren’t. I persevered all the way up to the third chapter in Return of the King. Then I put it down and never picked it back up. It was Tolkien’s world building that killed me, which is weird because I think that’s why Tolkien is such a popular author. I keep saying I’ll give the trilogy a re-read. I even dug up my old books. It just hasn’t happened yet. I did read and enjoy the Hobbit though, so that gives me hope.

Wishbone as Oliver Twist!

4. My desire to read this next author may or may not be because of a certain Dr. Who episodeCharles Dickens!  I’d also like to experience one of his novels without help from Wishbone. I’m sure Oliver Twist is great, but it’s Great Expectations that has continued to pique my interest over the years…mostly because my dad seemed to really enjoy the Great Expectations film featuring Ethan Hawke and Gweneth Paltrow, and I used to listen to the film’s soundtrack all the time back in high school (Tori Amos is so great).

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

5. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Was there a little girl who grew up during the 1990s that didn’t love this film? I know I adored it. Who am  I kidding? I still watch it! But, this is one of those books that I’m afraid I won’t like half as much as the movie because I’ve seen the film so many times. I bet this book goes perfectly with a spot of tea though!

For those of you who are wary to read the classics like me, are there any that have piqued your interest? Or, if you’re a fan of the classics, which books do you think I should read?