Monday, March 25, 2013

Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most

This week’s Top 10 from The Broke and The Bookish is Top Ten Books I Recommend the Most.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Pretty safe bet because it’s almost universally enjoyed and not too daunting.

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay – One of my favorite books ever.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – Love this book.  It’s the perfect mix of fun with depth.

We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver – More people need to read it so they can talk to me about it.

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max – Not one of my favorites, BUT even though the author is an A**, it’s funny and told in short stories.  I recommend it to people who say they don’t like to read.

Exile by Richard North Patterson – Fiction but super educational about the history behind the conflict in the Mid East

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – Love, Love, Love

East of Eden by John Steinbeck – My favorite “Classic”

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – My go-to nonfiction recommendation

Prey Series by John Sandford – I recommend these for people looking for a thriller series with plenty of material.

Myron Bolitar Series by Harlan Coben – Ditto (not as many books though)

For those of you counting....yes I picked eleven.  I struggle with boundaries and I gave myself an extra for my birthday :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Through the Ever Night
Veronica Rossi
2012, 341

Summary from Goodreads


It's been months since Aria last saw Perry. Months since Perry was named Blood Lord of the Tides, and Aria was charged with an impossible mission. Now, finally, they are about to be reunited. But their reunion is far from perfect. The Tides don't take kindly to Aria, a former Dweller. And with the worsening Aether storms threatening the tribe's precarious existence, Aria begins to fear that leaving Perry behind might be the only way to save them both.

Threatened by false friends, hidden enemies, and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night?

In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and dystopian elements to create a captivating love story as perilous as it is unforgettable. 

My summary

So, so, so, so, so, excited about this book!  A Trilogy book 2 that didn’t have me tearing my hair out in disappointment!

Through the Ever Night starts where Never Sky ended.  Aria and Perry reunite and their feelings for each other haven’t changed, but the circumstances around them have.   Eventually those circumstances force them to separate.  Perry stays with his tribe while Aria and Roar go off in search of Liv and the Clear Blue.

This book focuses much more on Perry’s relationship with his tribe and the problems that arise from being Blood Lord.  We also get to see Aria develop a friendship with Roar.  It’s awesome to watch that relationship grow without ever feeling like a love triangle is being forced – they are friends.

My biggest frustration reading the first book in the series was some holes in the world building.  Book two answered all of the questions and then some!  I know what the Aether is and what caused it!

This book also had the perfect blend of action and character/scene development.  Tension is build beautifully without action sequences that go on for too long.

My Rating

Enjoyability (4 out of 5 stars)
Relationships (4 out of 5 stars)
Writing (4 out of 5 stars)

So excited for "Into the Clear Blue" next year.  I’ll buy this one when the price comes down a bit - this series is worth owning.





Monday, March 18, 2013

Top 10 Books I HAD to Buy...that are still unread

This week’s Top 10 from The Broke and The Bookish is Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy...But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread.


The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larrson – I was going to wait and read it after the US movie for the 2nd book came out, but that keeps getting pushed back.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter

Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics by Margaret Farley

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater  (Kindle – not pictured)

The Devil's in the Details

I love DIY but I struggle with the little stuff.  Paint a room, picking a sofa...cake.  Finding accent pillow, curtains, and rugs......not my strong suit.

In my previous post about painting my kitchen I mentioned that I chose the paint color based on the hand-me-down patio door covering I got from my mom.  That post was getting fairly long so I didn't include a pic.  Well here it is.

It doesn't show up in this picture but there's a green patterned band on either side of the red.  Check out the inverted box pleating at the top of the curtains - my mother spend a long time making this (and about 6 more like it), and just switched out to gray. 
Up next in the accessories department - covering up the table.  Refinishing that table is on my DIY to-do list, but that's at least two months away.  My mom (can you tell that she's awesome?) found this tablecloth at Gordman's for $5.  The picture distorts the color a bit, but I swear it goes.

And the final addition to room (at least for awhile) - I found this rug on Joss & Main.  I think it was $30-$40.  It's not the highest quality rug, but the price was right and the colors were perfect.


I still have quite a bit to do, but it's really starting to come together.

Kitchen when I moved in:

And now

The most pressing not too expensive items on my to-do list:
  • Re-finish table/chairs and recover chairs
  • Update window covering over sink
  • Finally finish the crown molding around the light fixture

Thursday, March 14, 2013

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
1960, 323 pgs
Audiobook (Library)

Summary from Amazon
"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.... When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out."

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.

Like the slow-moving occupants of her fictional town, Lee takes her time getting to the heart of her tale; we first meet the Finches the summer before Scout's first year at school. She, her brother, and Dill Harris, a boy who spends the summers with his aunt in Maycomb, while away the hours reenacting scenes from Dracula and plotting ways to get a peek at the town bogeyman, Boo Radley. At first the circumstances surrounding the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell, the daughter of a drunk and violent white farmer, barely penetrate the children's consciousness. Then Atticus is called on to defend the accused, Tom Robinson, and soon Scout and Jem find themselves caught up in events beyond their understanding. During the trial, the town exhibits its ugly side, but Lee offers plenty of counterbalance as well--in the struggle of an elderly woman to overcome her morphine habit before she dies; in the heroism of Atticus Finch, standing up for what he knows is right; and finally in Scout's hard-won understanding that most people are essentially kind "when you really see them." By turns funny, wise, and heartbreaking, To Kill a Mockingbird is one classic that continues to speak to new generations, and deserves to be reread often.

My summary

This was my first attempt at a fiction audiobook.  All my previous audiobooks had been autobiographies and generally humorous ones. 

Sissy Spacek narrates To Kill a Mockingbird beautifully.  She varies the voices and captures the spirit of Scout the main character – a young girl.  To Kill a Mockingbird unfolds slowly, taking a long time to get to the point of the story.  I enjoyed hearing about the children’s lives as they grew up and their obsession with Boo Radley.    Any other Gilmore Girl fan’s out there?  I was constantly agreeing with Lorelai that all towns need as many Boo Radley’s as they can get. 

I also thought it was genius of Harper Lee to tell this story through the eyes of a child, because you hear the racism they are being taught just by watching the actions of those around them, but children also have an instinctive sense of fairness and question things that adults don’t.

I did struggle at times with how slowly it moved.  I could have read it in 4 hours, but instead listened to the audiobook on a road trip.  It took about 11 hours to listen to the whole thing.  Compound the long listening time with the story unfolding slowly and I got a little antsy to finish.
 My Rating
Enjoyability (4 out of 5 stars) (Listening vs reading may have knocked off that star)
Relationships (4 out of 5 stars)
Writing (5 out of 5 stars)
 I’ll remember To Kill a Mockingbird forever.  I also think I’ll reread (rather than listen) at some point in the not too distant future.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Top 10 Books on My Spring TBR list

This week’s Top 10 from The Broke and The Bookish is Top 10 Books on my spring TBR list!

New Releases

Silken Prey by John Sandford
Six Years by Harlan Coben
Fragments by Dan Wells

Classics Challenge

 Beloved by Toni Morrison
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (re-read)

TBR Challenge

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
The Twelve by Justin Cronin

Kitchen Revisited

It feels like it's been years since I last posted about anything home/DIY related, but I've finally compiled my pictures and I'm ready to share some updates.

Last time I posted anything kitchen related I was lamenting my cabinet staining FAIL.  My cabinets didn't quite come out the same shade.

But restaining the cabinets was such a HUGE undertaking that I just didn't have the energy to fix it immediately.  I decided to focus on a few other things in the kitchen that were bothering me.  First up the maroon paint (seriously how dark is it in there?).  I was planning to paint it blue, because I'm in LOVE with this granite and it has a blue vein through it.

I did a little shopping and I think this granite will be hard to find and since the only chance I have at affording granite is if I can find a remnant I like,  it's very unlikely.  So back to color.  If I wasn't going with blue then maybe yellow?  Turns out my mom no longer likes the window coverings that she made (and spent a TON of time on) for her living room.  I've always liked them and snagged one to replace the vertical blinds I currently had on the patio door.

Anyway her curtains made me settle on a light green.  I struggle with light colors - I tend to paint with saturated hues.  I put about 6 slightly different samples on the wall (can't find the picture anymore).  Crossed my fingers and picked a shade and voila!


I am in love with the green.  Its amazing but the two tone cabinets don't drive me nearly as crazy now that the room is no longer maroon.  I still have quite a bit left to do in the kitchen, but it's awesome how much of a difference paint makes.


Kitchen at the very beginning and then after restaining cabinets and repainting.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Boys Next Door by Jennifer Echols

The Boys Next Door / Endless Summer
Jennifer Echols
2007, 336 pgs

Summary from Amazon

Cute, available, and one cabin over

Lori lives for summertime on the lake. She spends all season wakeboarding, swimming, and hanging with her friends -- including the two hotties in the house next door. With the Vader brothers, Lori's always been one of the guys.
But while Lori and the "baby" brother, Adam, are inseparable friends, she can't deny a secret crush on Sean, the older Vader boy. This year Sean's been paying Lori a lot of attention, and not in a brotherly way.

But just as Lori decides to prove to Sean she's girlfriend material, she realizes that her role as girl friend to Adam may be even more important. And by trying so hard for the perfect summer romance, she could be going way overboard....

My Summary

Lori has decided that this is the summer she quits being one of the guys and starts being seen as a girl (a desirable one).  Adam and Sean live next door and during the summer, Adam, Sean, Lori and her brother ___ work at the same place and spend their free time on the water.  Lori is pals with Adam, but has had a crush on Sean for a long time.

So when Sean hooks up early in the summer with Adam’s girlfriend, Lori suggest to Adam that they pretend to be together to bother Sean and ____.  And you can guess where the story goes from there.

OK – It’s a cute story.  Cute boys, summer, water fun, there are worse ways to pass an afternoon.  Unfortunately I’m starting to get tired of Echol’s penchant for turning parents cluelessly unfair, autocrats.   I feel like in order for you to not overly judge the teenage characters for being immature and dumb, she has to make sure that the parents treat them badly right beforehand so you’ll feel their behavior is justified.

Both Sean and Adam are immature and unhealthily competitive with each other.  Their parents continually side with Sean to the point that I was super frustrated.  Then I would get annoyed with myself because just because Sean is an idiot and gets away with it doesn’t mean I should give Adam a pass for being dumb too.  Grr.

Anyway I did reasonably enjoy reading The Boys Next Door.  Enough that I started the sequel Endless Summer the next day.  Lori accidentally stays out overnight with her new boyfriend (one of the brothers).  Her father’s response is to restrict her from seeing said boy indefinitely.  His parents threaten military school if he doesn’t comply with this restriction.  Overreact much?!?  Twenty pages in and I’m already pissed at the adults. 

Lori comes up with the brilliant(not) plan to start dating someone her father will hate even more so that he’ll relent on her relationship with (unspecified brother).  Uhm wait wasn’t this the plot of the first book.  Haven’t I already read this?  ARE YOU INSANE?!?  And I was done.  Anyway the 30-40 pgs of Endless Summer that I read tainted my view of The Boys Next Door.

If you want summer water fun with cute boys I would recommend The Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy by Jenny Han.  Still teenagers who make immature decisions, but not ridiculous ones.

My Rating
Enjoyability (2.5 out of 5 stars)
Relationships (2.5 out of 5 stars)
Writing (2 out of 5 stars)
This book will stay with me for a few months, but mostly because it was frustrating in a way that sticks.