confess

The Mood Reader

I am a mood reader, but my moods change as quickly as the weather in Michigan. This makes focusing on one book at a time challenging. I’ve mentioned before that I have multiple books going at a time– sometimes I’m switching between five different books! And considering I am a slow and easily distracted reader, it takes me a long time to finish what I start. I don’t generally give this habit much thought, unless another blogger writes about peculiar reading habits, inviting discussion in their comments. But, lately I find myself growing frustrated by it because how do you write about books if you don’t finish any?! I have a feeling it will be a while before I’m ready to write another review, so here are the books I’ve started and the moods I have to be in to read them:

onesummer_small One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson. By now you must know that I’m a big fan of Bill Bryson, but I can’t just read Bryson any ol’ time. Most of the time, his books are best enjoyed while doing a bit of traveling yourself. One Summer, however, is best enjoyed when I’m feeling nostalgic for the good ol’ days. Preferably on a back porch during the dog days of summer with a glass of iced, sweet tea within reach. I think the average temperature this summer was 75 degrees, and while I absolutely appreciated this because I have a low tolerance for anything close to “sweltering”, this season didn’t really feel much like summer, and that’s my excuse for taking so long to read this book.

universeThe Universe in a Nutshell by Stephen Hawking. Half the time I’m reading whimsical young adult books. The other half, I’m reading non-fiction books. No subject matter is too daunting too me, which is how I ended up with The Universe in a Nutshell. Also, there were illustrations. I’ve actually read a fair amount of this book, but I started on a chapter that I find particularly challenging. It takes everything I know to be true about atoms and throws it into the garbage; apparently there is more to an atom than protons, neutrons, and electrons, like bosons and quarks (and their particular “flavors”, which really just describes how the subatomic particles spin). It’s all very fascinating, but I have to be feeling especially curious and patient because I spend a lot of time doing research to understand the ideas in this book.

sunburnedcountryIn a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson. I must be nuts to read two Billy Bryson books at one time. Actually…yes, I am. I feel like I’ve read a little too much of Bryson this year. I did finish A Walk in the Woods earlier this year. To make matters worse, In A Sunburned Country is probably my least favorite Bryson book. He likes Australia a little too much because this book isn’t nearly as snarky and funny as his other books. I have to feel nondescript to read this book. It’s the book I pick up when I’m waiting in line…

spoonThe Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements by Sam Kean. Phew! In the defense of this book, it’s absolutely fascinating and funny, but I think I have too much non-fiction in my life. I’m frequently switching between this book and the next book on my list depending on whether I’m at home or I’m at work.

 

exiledThe Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima. The more frustrated I am in the real world, the more I want to immerse myself in the fantastic seven realms. Especially now, since Hans Allister and Princess Raisa are  at Mystwerk House and Wein House (read: BOARDING SCHOOOOOOL!!!) Consider my accounting software has been out of commission for the past three days, which just makes me really, really behind at work, and I’ve dealt with really awful customers lately, all I want to do is bury my nose in this book. I just want to get swept away amongst warriors and mages.

 

 

Does your mood influence the types of books you read? Are you good at sticking to one book at a time, or do you switch between different books depending on your mood, like me?

confess

Creativity FAIL

I am a humble person, so let me share with you a recent failure.

 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Last week I read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. I really enjoyed this book, but I struggled to write a review for it. I’m still trying to get back into the groove of reviewing, so sometimes the words don’t come as easily. I also made the mistake of reading other reviews of this book on Goodreads, and oh my gosh, all those other reviews were much more eloquently written than the garbage that was spewing forth from my own ink pen. Eventually, every time I thought about writing this review, I started to feel dread, and this is not a good feeling to have when you’re trying to be a better blogger. Nothing fuels a blogging slump more than when a hobby starts feeling like a job.

So…I decided not to write the review. It took some convincing because…well, this is a book blog. What else should I do? Then, the idea came to me, probably when I was really hungry– concoct a delicious snack inspired by the book! And then I thought, ohmygosh! I could totally turn than into a feature!

In Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, Bernadette’s gnatty neighbor, Audrey, is annoyed and inconvenienced by the blackberry vines that are growing from Bernadette’s yard and under Audrey’s fence. Audrey demands Bernadette get rid of the vines, and after complying a series of unfortunate but hilarious events follow. Initially I wanted to make a blackberry pie or a blackberry sauce to pour over a simple pound cake. But, then I remembered the one time I ate a blueberry sauce over pound cake that turned my teeth blue for about four hours…and I decided against that. And then I was stuck. Just as stuck as I was when facing the review I didn’t want to write. But, I sucked it up, I snatched the package of blackberries from the fridge, and I got to creating…something TERRIBLE.

It started with a package of blackberries. Amazing blackberries, actually. I don’t think blackberries are in season, so I was surprised that these berries were so big and so ripe. It took a lot of effort to not just shove fistfuls of them into my mouth– I had a blog to think about!!!

Smashed blackerries

Smashed blackberries

Instead I ruined them by smashing them into a seedy pulp and dumping them into a glass.

Green tea and blackberries

Green tea and blackberries

And then I poured green tea over top because…because…oh, I don’t know! Look, it was just an idea I had. The last time I had the urge to concoct something entirely without the aid of a recipe, I was about 9 years old and I was trying to make homemade chicken noodle soup out of wavy egg noodles and a chicken bouillon cube.

If I had written a review, it would have been as successful as the blackberry green tea.

If I had written a review, it would have been as successful as the blackberry green tea.

This is the finished product. A miserable glass of blackberry goop submerged in green tea. I tried to drink all of it down, but I could not. It was depressing. Luckily, I only wasted 4 blackberries on this. The rest I shoved into my mouth by the fistful.

Despite my cooking flub, I’m not giving up on this idea. I still think it will be a fun and tasty project to work on. In the future, I will probably seek the guidance of a recipe though.

 

What do you do if you don’t feel like writing a review? Do you push yourself to write one anyway, or do you choose not to write one? Have you ever had a super fun and creative idea for your blog that didn’t go according to plan?

 

feature

Feature and Follow: Book Buying Before Blogging

Before book blogging, how would you find out about new books, or did you?

bookfair

Scholastic Book Fair: the day you especially did not want to stay home sick

When I was a youngin’, I learned about new books through the Scholastic Book Fair! As soon as the book catalog was sent home with students, I became antsy with anticipation. I’d spend the evening circling the books I wanted to purchase, and my mom would send me to school with a check to cover the cost. I think this was the only time I ever “discovered” new books. You see, as a kid, I was a bit of a habitual reader. I would discover an author or series, and I would stick with it.

The Time Warp Trio books were some of my faves.

The Time Warp Trio books were some of my faves.

My go-to authors were:

  • Jon Scieszka– the Time Warp TrioThe True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, Math Curse
  • Louis Sachar– Sideways Stories from Wayside School and of course, Holes
  • Jack Prelutsky– all his poetry books, but especially A. Nonnymouse Writes Again! and The Dragons are Singing Tonight
  • Robert Munsh– Again everything that came out during my childhood, Paper Bag Princess, Pigs!, Love You Forever, Purple Green and Yellow
  • R. L. Stine– Goosebumps, Give Yourself Goosebumps (which were the choose your own adventure series), and oh gosh, FEAR STREET!!!
  • Shel Silverstein– EVERYTHING! I also had his poems on tape, and I listened to them on repeat, repeat, repeat.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks (series) by Nancy McArthur
  • The Magic Treehouse (series) by Mary Pope Osborne
  • The Boxcar Children (series) by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • The Bailey School Kids (series) by Marcia T. Jones, Debbie Dadey, and John Steven Gurney

Do you see a theme here? Almost everything I read was a series. I wonder if I burned myself out on them, and this is why I cannot finish a series now.

Angusthongsandfullfrontalsnogging

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging made me laugh until tears streamed down my face

In high school, I was on my own to discover new books. And this is actually pretty strange to me. All of my friends were book nerds too, but we rarely talked about books unless that book was Harry Potter. There was one exception– I turned a friend onto The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson books. These books were hilarious! But…I never finished the series.

Most of the time, I would walk in to Barnes and Noble, armed with $70 of allowance money, and I would spend then entire day roaming the bookshelves. I would pace in front of the young adult section for covers and titles that caught my eye and summaries that kept my attention. People weren’t as avid readers of young adult books back then, so I don’t recall the selection changing too often. Still, I felt like I re-read those summaries and stared critically at those covers every time I went to buy books. Despite the lack of reviews or book chatter, I always seemed to love the books I picked out.

Feature and Follow is a weekly feature hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

justmycup

Just My Cup of Tea: unBEARably cute

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So, I had this clever idea for my Just My Cup of Tea feature– I would present a series of tea cups that fit a theme from the book I reviewed during the week. That fell by the wayside when I went on that unintended hiatus though, and now I’m trying to catch myself up. Have you read A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (review)? If you have, then you know that Bill Bryson becomes worried by the idea of bears meandering on the trail he’s hiking, and he’s absolutely hilarious about it. I’ve discovered some unbearably cute mugs that would be perfect to sip tea from while reading this book


 

etsy_mugsleys_mamabear-papabearSip tea with your honey dearest from this mama bear/papa bear gift set (from Mugsley – etsy)

 

etsy_oldenglishco_bear-hug

Tea is kind of like a bear hug in a mug anyway, so why not enjoy it from this Bear Hug mug? (Old English Co – etsy)

etsy_kinshipgoods_get-stuff-doneI don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I would be ten times more motivated if I could drink my morning brew from this mug telling me to get stuff done…plus, more bears! (kinship goods – etsy)

etsy_shlos_stacking-animal-cups

If you need  a little more wilderness in your life, check out these stacking wildlife cups! psst! you can even mix-and-match their bodies to make the animals looks like grand mythical beasts (shlos – etsy)

etsy_bearcreekpotter_treemug

Or, if you don’t like bears (what’s wrong with you?!), here is a simple pine tree mug. I’m sure there are plenty of pine trees along the Appalachian Trail (BearCreekPottery – etsy).

 

Which mug is your favorite? Alternately, bears are ferociously cute– do you have a favorite type of bear?

I’m quite partial to pandas!

 

 

 

 

 

The Weekend Review

Weekend Review: pumpkins and stray gods

Happy September!

My mom has started her countdown for Christmas, but I’ve started my countdown for the first day of Autumn– just a mere 15 days! I’ve already started dreaming about pumpkin spice lattes, and vendors have already been teasing me with products that taste like Fall. When I checked my e-mail this morning, Teavana had sent me an e-mail about their seasonal Pumpkin Spice Brulee Oolong tea, which is described as having a “balanced swirl of rich pumpkin and flavors of caramel, toffee, butterscotch, and creamy vanilla”. How can I even say no to that? Trust me. I tried! I tried to be the responsible adult, but…Teavana was offering free shipping with the promotional code pumpkinlove (ends 9/9), and before I knew it, I had also added Earl Grey Creme black tea and some tea tins to my basket. I suppose it’s appropriate to treat yourself every once in a while, right?

Aside from some goodies that should arrive in my mail shortly, I also finally finished a series other than Harry Potter, and I celebrated my two-year work anniversary (with more tea!)

So far, September is starting out on the right foot!


noragami

Noragami (ノラガミ : stray god)

I’ve discovered something new on Netflix this week– the anime Noragami! (Of course, it was a manga first). The anime is about Hiyori Iki, a middle school student, who is hit by a bus, while trying to save the life of a fella named Yato. While Hiyori survives, the incident causes her to turn into a half-phantom, and she learns that Yato is actually a god trying to make a name for himself by doing odd jobs around Japan. And, I really mean odd jobs. Sure he fights phantoms by night, but during the day he serves ramen and cleans people’s showers for a mere five yen; he’s saving to buy his own shrine for people to worship him at. Noragami is charming and silly and funny, but it’s also incredibly deep because it’s delves into issues like bullying and death. The artwork and the music are also impeccable, and I cannot encourage you to watch this show enough.


Books On My Radar:

Apparently I’m craving something spooky. I’ve just added a handful of books to my wish list, and they all deal with ghosts or haunted houses or pacts with the devil.

On My Radar 1

Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre ♥ Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson ♥ Conversion by Katherine Howe ♥ The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco ♥ Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine ♥ The Supernatural Enhancements  by Edgar Cantero

 

This question is probably more suitable for October, a month for mischief and horror movies, but have you read any spooky books lately? Do you have a favorite horror novel?

 

aboutaseries

I Finally Finished Another Series: Twilight

I’ve done it! I’ve really done it! I have officially completed two entire series in my 26 years of existence. I spent the afternoon of Labor Day power reading the last 200 pages of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. And this GIF of Kristen Stewart sums up my feelings over losing several hours of my life to the book:

I avoided the Twilight saga for as long as possible. I had heard too much about the bland characters, the poor writing, and the sketchy romantic relationship to know that this was one book hype I should probably avoid. And! When Twilight hit the shelves, people compared its popularity to Harry Potter. As if it were even in the same league! But somehow, I got talked into reading it. I went in totally prepared to hate everything about the series, but if I’m honest, I don’t actually hate the series. Not all of it, anyway.

 

When I read Twilight, I was surprised. Surprised by how much I didn’t dislike Bella and Edward and Jacob. Surprised by how easily I was swept up in the fantasy of Bella’s budding romance with a sparkling vampire. Surprised by how I did not want to put the book down– not even for Fallout 3, which I had just purchased that weekend, and this is kind of big deal. I ended up reading it in two days even though I’m a pretty slow reader. I was just…hooked! I mean, obviously I could tell the quality of story telling and character development wasn’t the greatest, but for some reason that didn’t even matter. Twilight has this junk food quality about it. I compare it to cookie dough, which is unhealthy, but I cannot help gobbling down spoonful after spoonful of it anyway.

New Moon made me even weaker in the knees. In Twilight, I got to read about Bella and Edward’s relationship, but in New Moon, I got to read about Bella and Jacob’s friendship, and I adored that. I freaking loved Jacob Black in New Moon– in all the books. And I finished this up just as quickly as the first book. I had to because the second movie was hitting theaters, and I ended up dragging both my parents along to see the film.

Then, my love for the series ended abruptly. Eclipse happened, and I fell out of love with the series. Eclipse was so boring. I actually skipped about an entire chapter of this book because it was not holding my attention– the one where Bella is sitting about a campfire with Jacob and his family/friends, learning about shape shifters. I consider myself Team Jacob, but not even he could keep my attention during the info dump. To make matters worse, Bella turns into a jerk toward Jacob– like she was over compensating her faithfulness to Edward because she finally realized she had feelings for Jacob too.

I didn’t think it were possible, but I started to like Bella even less in Breaking Dawn. Edward too. Because they were just so, so mean. It was off-putting enough that I ended up putting the book down for two years. I regret doing that because the last 200 pages of the book were such a doozy that attempting to finish the book became a real challenge. I ended up skim-reading to the end, but nothing really happened anyway. I thought it was going to be this battle royale– Cullens and Co. vs. the Volturi. I thought that’s what New Moon and Eclipse were building up to, but they just talked through their differences and everyone lived happily ever after. It was anti-climactic. [Note: I actually saw Breaking Dawn part II in theaters before finishing the book, which was also a mistake because while I liked the movie's ending a little better than the book's ending, it was still a "cop-out", and this affected my attitude towards the book.]

I of course dragged my mom to see all the movies, and I think I preferred them to the books despite Kristen Stewart’s emotionless acting and all of the cheesy fight scenes. I liked the scenery and I loved the music. Also, I liked this guy and his abs:

Taylor Lautner, you are so dreamy.

 

Have you ever read the Twilight saga? Did you love it or did you hate it? Or, do you fall somewhere in the middle like myself?

confess

Book Buying Woes

I am uncertain how this is even possible, but I am terrible at buying books. I spend months, even years pining over books and organizing them on my Goodreads shelves according to which books I want to read the most. Yet, when I receive my Barnes & Noble gift cards for my birthday or Christmas, I almost never purchase the books that take the top rank. I celebrated my 26th birthday at the end of July, and I ended up filling my shelves with the following:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple ♥ Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell ♥ The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan ♥ Life After Life by Kate Atkinson ♥ I Wrote This For You: Just the Words. by pleasefindthis

Most of these I want to read. Eventually. People have raved about these books (with the exception of I Wrote This For You, which I bought on a total whim late at night), but they are hardly the books that make me feel giddy when I think about finally having the opportunity to read them. I think the only reason they ended up in my Barnes & Noble cart is because of indecision. Being apart of the book blogosphere puts so many different books on my radar that sometimes it’s overwhelming; sometimes I forget how to prioritize. Do I go for the book that I’ve had my eye on for months, or do I go for this shiny new book that everyone has been talking about? I spent so long flipping between tabs of potential purchases in my browser that I eventually became fed up and just picked something. Anything.

If I had a time turner, I’d probably go back and fill my cart with these books:

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer: Who hasn’t read this book? *raises hand sheepishly* Considering I loved Cinder so much, I’m really surprised I still haven’t read the second installment in this sci-fi fairy tale adaptation.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan: This book was immensely popular when I was first introduced to the book blogging world. I read so many positive things about this book that I knew I had to read it. I also knew that I needed to take a step back from all the hype. It’s been about five years since this book was first put on my radar… that should be a sufficient amount time for that hype to fizzle, right?

Y is for Yorick: A Slightly Irreverent Shakespearean ABC for Grown-Ups by Jennifer Adams: The summary says it’s the perfect gift for Shakespeare fans, and I really, really like Shakespeare. (Digression: one of my co-workers put a plastic, Halloween skull in my office, and I’ve named him Yorick. A lot of my co-workers seem put-off by Yorick.)

Spook by Mary Roach: I was introduced to Mary Roach in 11th grade. We read and analyzed an excerpt from one of her books, Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers. She tackled such a morbid subject in a fascinating and sometimes humorous way, and I’ve wanted more ever since.

The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way by Bill Bryson: I also just really, really, really like Bill Bryson, and I probably won’t be satisfied until I read all his books.

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson: It was a toss-up between this book and Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. I’m a sucker for non-fiction, and lately I’ve been fascinated by these micro-histories.

Alas, I do not have a time turner. And to be honest, this Christmas, when I get my second bout of gift cards, I’ll probably end up with another cart filled with books I only kind of want to read because they’re titles that are fresh on my mind.


What was the last book you purchased that left you with buyer’s remorse? How do you prioritize what books to purchase when you’re perusing bookshelves in the store (or online)?