Sunday, July 29, 2012

In My Mailbox - Inspiration needed

I've hit a book block.  I don't know if I just hit a bad bunch of books (I don't think so) or if I have just not been in the mood for anything lately.  All I've done for the past month is re-read (zero new books).  So to break the cycle, I decided to participated in The Story Siren's In My Mailbox meme.

Does anyone one else have a tendency to get less excited about a book the longer you have it without finishing it?  I know I do.  So here's my list of books I've had for at least 3 months that keep droping down my list.  Which should I read next?

 Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - I picked this one up at the store the day it came out along with another book I had been waiting for.  Read the other book immediately and just haven't picked this one up yet.  It's sounds awesome so what is wrong with me?

 The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett - I have actually started this one.  I got about 200 pgs into it before I hit my reading slump (so maybe this book is to blame, but I don't think so).  I was really enjoying it, but I think I was actually feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the story.  There is just so much book

 Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta - This book come super highly reviewed on many blogs I read.  I bought it for my Kindle about six months ago and then just never read it.

 Supernaturally by Kiersten White - I've had this library book sitting on my coffee table for about 2 months (I keep renewing - I promise no one is waiting for it).  I really enjoyed Paranormalcy, but haven't been in the mood to go back.

 I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella - Has been on my Kindle since January.  I generally enjoy Kinsella's non-Shopaholic books, but haven't read this yet.

So which of these is going to help me out of my book slump?  I'm leaning towards Code Name Verity, but let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Bedroom: Country to dorm room to bright and clean (I hope)

So the previous owners of my house tended to go for country decor.  So when I moved in, even though I didn't completely know what direction I wanted to go in, I started painting to to erase the country from my mind.

This is was the Master Bedroom looked like when the previous owners lived here.

The second I took possession (before moving in) I painted three rooms starting with the Master.  I also added shades and that solo piece of art on the wall.   I picked that out and had it framed living in an apartment a couple years earlier.  I love it and it's how I chose my paint color. 

This is what the room has looked like for three years.  Definitely better than country, but it's pretty barren. 

A couple month ago I ordered a new bed (KING - I don't care if it's takes up the whole room).  It will arrive next week.  In preparation for it's arrival, I started looking for new bedding and curtains (finally).  I found the comforter set a Macy's on vacation because Omaha doesn't have a Macy's :(.

Curtains have been a struggle.  I refuse to spend a lot of money but nothing has worked with the comforter.  Walking through Garden Center these caught my eye.

Yeah I have a red addiction.  I picked them up because I loved the slight pattern (seen in the second picture).  Lo and behold, the back of this lovely red fabric looked like this

I was pretty sure it would work and even if it didn't - The Garden center had two 2 yard pieces for $5.99 each.  So even if the gray was totally wrong I would only be out $12. 
Anyway,  here's the master bedroom with new comforter set and curtains (same bed).

I still have quite a bit to do, but at least now I have a direction.  I probably will bring a couple pops of red into the room - possible a pillow and/or painting an entertainment stand.  I also need something on the wall above the bed, but that will have to wait until the new bed arrives so I can be sure of the size.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Top 10 Vivid Worlds/Settings in Books

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

This week we're picking The Top 10 most vivid worlds/settings in books. 

I’m separating my list into two groups.  This first group is the list of dystopian/apolcalyptic/fantasy that I’m sure will make quite a few lists

  1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – I marvel at the imagination of J.K. Rowling.  How she put together a world this involved that spanned almost a decade, seven novels, and remained consistent and REAL the whole time is amazing.  The fact that she didn’t leave any plot lines hanging astounds me.  Seriously.
  2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – You could see the rundownness of district 12, the over-the-top extravagance of the Capital, and the brutality of the arena.
  3. Partials by Dan Wells - A little more science fictiony than most recent dystopian YA it gives more of a post apocalyptic world.
  4. The Passage by Justin Cronin - There aren't words for the world building required for this one. 
  5. The Host by Stephanie Meyer - A world where Earth isn't violent is definitely different than what I've seen.  It's interesting to see how this can be disturbing too.  I felt like I was in the caves of the human camp.
The second group of books are vivid and require equal world building, but also research because they are real times, and real places even if the characters are fictional.

  1. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy M Montgomery – Even without seeing the movies, who didn’t feel like they had seen Prince Edward Island?
  2. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – I remember picturing the South and the parties and the hoop skirts (a world just as foreign to me as Hogwarts) and feeling like I was there. 
  3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson – Oh my Lord.  I didn’t love this book, but I respected the hell out of it.  Seriously I have never done drugs, but after this book I feel like I know what they would feel like.  Yikes!
  4. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger – Again I read this before seeing the movie and the world of high fashion is extremely vivid and then add in a Miranda Priestly and watch out!
  5. Room by Emma Donoghue – That room was their whole world and it was disturbing and comforting all at the same time.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Angry Houswives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons
Lorna Landvik
2005, 512 pgs

Summary from Goodreads

The women of Freesia Courtare convinced that there is nothing good coffee, delectable desserts, and a strong shoulder can’t fix. Laughter is the glue that holds them together—the foundation of a book group they call AHEB (Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons), an unofficial “club” that becomes much more. It becomes a lifeline. Holding on through forty eventful years, there’s Faith, a lonely mother of twins who harbors a terrible secret that has condemned her to living a lie; big, beautiful Audrey, the resident sex queen who knows that with good posture and an attitude you can get away with anything; Merit, the shy doctor’s wife with the face of an angel and the private hell of an abusive husband; Kari, a wise woman with a wonderful laugh who knows the greatest gifts appear after life’s fiercest storms; and finally, Slip, a tiny spitfire of a woman who isn’t afraid to look trouble straight in the eye.

This stalwart group of friends depicts a special slice of American life, of stay-at-home days and new careers, of children and grandchildren, of bold beginnings and second chances, in which the power of forgiveness, understanding, and the perfectly timed giggle fit is the CPR that mends broken hearts and shattered dreams.

My Summary

I can’t believe I read the whole thing. Seriously if it hadn’t been a bookclub book I wouldn’t have.

The Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons are Faith, Audrey, Merit, Kari, Slip and at the very end Grant. The book starts in first person from Faith’s perspective. I was put off immediately because I’m generally not a fan of first person, plus I was fairly certain the book was going to change perspectives between all the women of the group and that makes it really confusing. Well I got to chapter 2 and the book changed to third person. I was quite relieved….and then it changed back to first person. Eventually I started keeping track – the chapter that were told from Faith, Audrey, Slip and eventually Grant’s perspectives were told in first person and the chapters from Merit and Kari’s perspectives were told in third person. WHY??? I haven’t a clue.

Okay so I was obviously annoyed and distracted by the changes in perspective. Next up – How many major life issues can we cram into a single book? Hmm…Interrational adoption in the 1970s? Check. Infertility? Check again.

Hidden past, Domestic Abuse, Vietnam (War), PTSD, Political Activism, Alcoholism, Women’s sexuality, Motherhood, Nursing, Finding God, Being called by God, Drug use, Pet death, Bullying, HIV, and Cancer? Check to all of the above and more.

These are all interesting and important topics and since Landvik crammed so many of them into this book none got the attention they deserved. It also felt like a literary “cheat” to me. If you stuff the book full of this many different topics you’re bound to hit on an element or two that every reader will identify with.

My final complaint about this book was the time span. It spanned three plus decades so large chunks of time were skipped between chapters with a sentence or two given to catch you up on what had been missed. And I felt that left some HUGE holes in the plot. Like how does the stay at home mom in the ‘70s with an abusive, but successful, respected, doctor husband file for divorce and get the house and kids?

So there obviously wasn’t much I liked about the book. Some of the issues address hit close to home for me (shocker) and I liked the relationship between the women. I also laughed out loud a few times, but over the course of 500 pages some emotional reaction is inevitable, right.

My Rating
2 out of 10 stars

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stenciling, Stenciling, yeah I'm still stenciling...OK done

UPDATE of my post from last week cause I finished stenciling!

Here's the finished wall with the desk in place:

That chair in the corner needs a real slip cover but for now I just threw a white blanket over it.  I am thrilled with how the stencil turned out, but it will be a LONG time before I try a stenciling project this big again.  I have pretty close to 20 hours into that wall.

Also tool suggestion.  On Young House Love they used various size spouncers.  I started with spouncers and ended up raiding my scrapbooking supplies and using a couple sizes of daubers.  I think I could have cut a few hours off the project starting with daubers and gotten a cleaner result.

Now I really feel like I need a decent camera - those pictures are not very good.

So my favorite DIY blog, Young House Love, is cohosting a summer Pinterest Challenge.

Basically take something you've pinned on Pinterest and put your own spin on it and get it DONE, linking back to the original source of source.

Well back on June 10th (yeah a month ago) I started stenciling a focal wall in what will be my office/craft room.  I'd pinned this from Young House Love and searched stencils, but couldn't find anything I liked better so I'm a big copycat.  The only part of this I can say is my own spin is that they were going for understated and my color contrast is pretty bold.

I did not get as far as I planned cause stenciling is time consuming and tedious.  I SHOULD have gone home every night, worked for 3 hours, knocked out a few more stencil repositions and been done by now, but it was in a room where the door closes so it was out of sight and basically I'm just a huge procrastinator.  So the wall looked like this for a few weeks.

Anyway when I saw the Pinterest Challenge on Young House Love last Tuesday I decided that I was gonna get it done (I've had the stencil pinned for a long time so it counts I think).  I spent most of July 4th stenciling (Yay! for 100 degree weather and no desire to leave my house).  And got this far:

I had planned to continue stenciling Thursday and Friday evenings, but my air conditioner was struggling and it was 81 degrees in my house.  All I was up for was chillin' in my shorts and tank top and reading/watching TV ( and still sweating).  I started stenciling again briefly on Saturday before deciding that my stencil needed to be cleaned before continuing so that's as far as I've gotten.

I didn't quite complete the challenge, but decided to go ahead and post anyway.  Maybe having it up here will give me a little accountability to keep working consistently!  I'll definitely repost once complete.  The desk I painted will be up against that wall.

Materials for this project

1 Stencil
1 pint Behr Pointsetta flat enamel paint
1 pint Behr Irish Mist flat enamel paint

Spouncers - assorted sizes (I got mine at Michael's)

Daubers  - I had these in my scrapbooking supplies and they were very useful on the curved line sections of the stencil.

Frogger painter's tape
Krylon Easy-Tack repositionable Adhesive

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Trafficked by Kim Purcell

Kim Purcell
2012, 384 pgs

Book Summary from Goodreads

A 17-year-old Moldovan girl whose parents have been killed is brought to the United Statesto work as a slave for a family in Los Angeles.

Hannah believes she’s being brought from Moldova to Los Angeles to become a nanny for a Russian family. But her American dream quickly spirals into a nightmare. The Platonovs force Hannah to work sixteen-hour days, won’t let her leave the house, and seem to have a lot of secrets—from Hannah and from each other.

Stranded in a foreign land with false documents, no money, and nobody who can help her, Hannah must find a way to save herself from her new status as a modern-day slave or risk losing the one thing she has left: her life.

My Summary

The current slavery situation in the US is something that I think is really important for more people to learn about. Teenagers are lead to believe that they are being brought to the US and it’s their ticket to a better life. Instead they end up imprisoned in garages and basements working inhumane hours. They don’t know/understand the US justice system and are scared to come forward.

For Hannah when she arrives in LA, the first sign that something is wrong is when she sees the very nice spare bedroom, but instead of being able to sleep there, she’s given a sofa in the converted garage (not much conversion took place). She had planned to take English classes in the evenings, but between the nanny-ing she was planning on doing and the cleaning she wasn’t, Hannah’s work load keeps her busy at least sixteen hours/day. She can’t even practice her English with the children she’s taking care of – she’s under strict instructions to speak Russian with them so that they don’t forget it.

These are by far the mildest of the issues Hannah faces. I really liked Hannah as a character – she was written believably. I also like that the author gave a few slightly not depressing moments. Hannah was able to briefly interact with a next door neighbor boy.

I hate to admit this, but I skipped about 75-100 pages of this book. A little past halfway I just was really depressed and it got monotonous. There just wasn't enought fluxuation in the story for me. I skipped ahead and read the end of the book. I felt really guilty about it, because I do feel that this is such an important issue and fiction is a good way to get that message out. I think that’s why I have trouble with “issue” books. When the focus is on a single issue it can be repetitive.

It’s not fair for me to rate this one since I didn’t read all of it so I’m not going to.

Other Reviews
So Many Books, So Little Time
The Broke and The Bookish

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Megan McCafferty
2011, 323 pgs

Book Summary from Amazon

A virus has swept the world, making everyone over the age of eighteen infertile. Teenagers are now the most prized members of society, and would-be parents desperately bid for "conception contracts" with the prettiest, healthiest, and smartest girls—cash, college tuition, and liposuction in exchange for a baby.

Sixteen-year-old Melody has scored a record-breaking contract with a rich couple. And she's been matched with one of the hottest "bumping" partners in the world—the genetically flawless Jondoe.

But her luck is about to run out.

She discovers she has a sister—an identical twin. Harmony has grown up in a strict religious community and believes her calling is to save Melody from her sinful intentions. All Melody wants is to meet Jondoe and seal the deal—but when a case of mistaken identity destroys everyone's carefully laid plans, Melody and Harmony realize they have much more than DNA in common.

Sharp, funny, and thought-provoking, this futuristic take on teen pregnancy is compellingly readable and scarily believable.

My Summary

I think this is a really interesting topic. What is the right answer when everyone is infertile by 18-20? Get married and raise babies young? Have babies for profit to pay for your education so that when you are ready for kids you can pay for a baby? Let the human race go extinct?

Best word to describe how I felt the first chapter of this book – CONFUSED. McCafferty drops you in the middle of a foreign world filled with unrecognizable future teen slang and says “attempt to read this, I dare you”. I’m lucky I made it through the first third of the book because it absolutely breaks rule number 4.b on my list of literary annoyances.
“You’re glowing!” Trynn gushes
I caress my stretchy belly with pride.
“God-mocking,” chimes Harmony with cheery confidence.
Trynn is a skilled sales woman and won’t be put off by Churchy negs on her trade. She puts two hands on my tumescent tummy. “Can you feel the kicking?”
I can.
“And you’ll note the tiny, tastefull stretch marks,” she continues, lifting my brand-new expandable-contractible MyTurnTee.
That’s the section where Melody is trying on fake pregnancy bellies (since they are stylish). It went on for at least three chapters and it took me that long to figure out that’s what was happening.

Or this lovely section shortly afterward,

“You could have learned a lot from watching the Cheerclones and the Ballers in action last night,” he says.
“Ugh. MasSEXtinction parties are nasty,” Melody says, scrunching her nose. “Those amateurs are so desperate.”
Zen clucks his tongue. “How can you be the next Pro/Am president if you neg any girl who doesn’t have a contract? You have to promote positive pregging in all forms.”
I also struggled to get into the right mindset for this one. The topic of teen pregnancy being this enviable position, bidding on babies, “bumping” for pay (futuristic teen slang for f*cking), sexMAS parties, and arranged marriage at thirteen are all really important topics; heavy topics that should be discussed. And I just felt like the way Bumped was written was a little cavalier about all of these topics. Most are just mentioned in passing and then brushed aside. Who is the target audience? To me it was written for young teens/tweens, but the topic/themes are more suited to older teens.

I didn’t find either of the twin main characters, Melody and Harmony (gag me), likeable. Both were incredibly wrapped up in themselves and obviously way to young to consider pregnancy. But then considering both of their adoptive parents were pretty much selfish twits – and at the end of the book when Melody and Harmony each have their own epiphany it amounts too “My parents are wrong and I shouldn’t be forced to live my life the way they want me too”. My issue isn’t so much that message it’s the fact that the parents are clearly set up to look terrible the whole book – not putting the needs of their children above their own. My issue is that instead of facing the real issue – there’s no good solution until the root problem is solved, the message is “your parents aren’t always right”.

And maybe in book two McCafferty will actually address the serious issues of the world she’s invented, and I might read the second book eventually since I’ve already learned the language, but I obviously had some big problems with Bumped.

3 out of 10 stars

Other ReviewsGood Books and Good Wine

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mini Reviews - quick book thoughts

So I’m going to do some quick reviews of books that I read earlier this year, haven’t been reviewed yet, and therefore probably won’t ever be formally reviewed by me.  I liked some of them quite a bit, but for a multitude of reason didn’t write a formal review.

The Passage by Justin Cronin – This is one of my top 5 books read this year.  LOVED IT.  It was also the first or second book I read after starting this blog and it was definitely a daunting book to try to summarize.  I think if I read it now I’d probably have a better shot at finishing the review, but back in Feb/March there was just no way.

I loved that I couldn’t skim this one (every time I started to accidentally skim I had to go back cause I missed something important).  Every word has a purpose and there are a lot of words in a 750 pg book.

9/10  (So close to 10/10 but not quite up to Gone with the Wind and The Power of One on my list of favorite books)

Other Reviews that did it better than I could

Good Girls by Laura Ruby – Another good book that I really enjoyed reading.  I didn’t review it because I ended up reviewing The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti and I would have covered a lot of the same thoughts.  The Purity Myth is nonfiction about how the abstinence movement has a gender bias (we only truly expect it of girls) and Good Girls is a fictional young adult novel that highlights the dangers of that message and how the gender bias plays out in school.


Other Reviews

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma – It’s hard to believe I could want to root for a brother and sister having an incestuous relationship .  Unfortunately this book for me was a little too depressing.  Something very heartbreaking happens at the end, but that wasn’t what made the book depressing.  What really bummed me out was that even after the depressing event (that I don’t want to spoil) happens, the book finishes with Mya moving forward in the same hopeless situation she started the book in, with less support IMO.

The writing is beautiful and Suzuma does an incredible job of making you care about Mya and Lochan.  The ending was just a little too bleak for me.


Other Reviews

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – I read way to many gushing reviews before reading this book and it wasn’t able to live up to my expectations.  I thought it was cute, but I think how much you love this book or Lola will depend on whether you find the main characters (Anna and St Clair or Lola and Cricket) entertaining.  Anna and St Clair didn’t wow me the way I was expecting from all the reviews.  I reread Anna about a month ago and enjoyed it more because I wasn’t expecting too. 


Other Reviews

Perfect on Paper: The (Mis)Adventures of Waverly Bryson - Maria Murnane
I remember enjoying this while I read it…..and now I can barely remember what it was about.   Seriously I just had to go refresh my memory and read the Goodread synopsis.  Really sad considering I have the sequel on my iPad right now.  Basically it’s the reading equivalent of eating Cotton Candy, enjoyable in the moment, but with no substance or beneficial properties.  I feel like I laughed out loud when reading it, but obviously nothing stuck.

6/10 (I really did enjoy reading it)

Other Reviews (the first one includes quotes that reminded me why I enjoyed it so much)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - If You Like that, then give this a try

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

This week we're picking 10 recommendations based on other books/authors.  I'm not going to make it to 10, but here's my list.

If you like the early Stephanie Plum novel's from Janet Evanovich
Try the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben starting with

Coben's books aren't quite as light as Evanoviches', but they are just as funny.  They also have interesting, slightly out there secondary characters.

If you like the Millenium Trilogy by Steig Larrson

Try the Lucas Davenport series by John Sandford starting with

Bad-ass but flawed protagonist and truly evil bad guy.  These are easier reads then Steig Larrson's books, but they have the same dark feel.  Each book stands alone so you don't necessarily need to read them in order, although I would recommend it because you can see Lucas Davenport grow as a character over the course of the books - as an added bonus there are more than 20 of them so you'll have reading material for awhile!

If you like Little Earthquakes and Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner 

Try Knitting Under the Influence and If You Lived Here you'd be Home by Now by Claire Lazebnik.

I haven't liked Weiner's recent stuff as much but Claire Lazebnik hasn't gone wrong for me yet.  Chick lit with depth.

If you like The Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter

Try the Paranormalcy trilogy by Kiersten White

I just found both of these series fun in same way.