Book Tag!

A few other Book Bloggers (Brona’s Books, Howling Frog Books) are doing a fun questionnaire, so I thought I’d join in as well since I haven’t done any book blogging in a while and what better way to get to know someone than through the books they read?

  1. What book has been on your shelf the longest? 

I have a lot of books from childhood including some old classic favorites like the Little House on the Prairie series and the Anne of Green Gables series as well.

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  1. What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next? 

Current Read:  The Fellowship of the Ring, In a Dark, Dark Wood

Last Read: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Clasp

Next Read: The Two Towers

  1. What book did everyone like, but you hated?

I thought the Twilight books were awful – same with the first 50 Shades of Grey.  The dialogue wasn’t good and the writing in general I didn’t think was very well done.

  1. What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

I actually can’t think of any… most books I keep telling myself I’ll read, I really do intend on getting to one day.

  1. What book are you saving for retirement?

I’m way too far away from retirement to put off reading a certain book until then.

  1. Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?

Absolutely wait until the end. I think I’ve only peeked at the last page once or twice and immediately regretted it because it took away from the whole journey of the story because I already knew what was going to happen.

  1. Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

Usually a waste, but occasionally I’ll read or skim through them. It all depends on how much I enjoyed the book, the topic, or my mood.

  1. Which book character would you switch places with?

I was going to say Clare from Outlander, but on second thought I don’t think I could handle war and everything else even if I did get to snuggle up with Jamie as reward. 😉  Haha!  Perhaps I’ll go for a slightly easier life and trade places with Elizabeth Bennett… or Darcy, rather.

  1. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?) 

I think there are probably a good handful of these.  Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon will always take me back to my teenage years when I first read it in Junior High over the summer.

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  1. Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

I can’t say that I have ever procured a book in an interesting way… I’ve been gifted books, and bought most of them, but alas, I have no intriguing tales to regale you with.

  1. Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

I have honestly not given away many personal books.  Usually the only time they leave me is if I have not really enjoyed them. Ha!  I have given some paperbacks to my mom that we both read and loved, though, and she wanted to read them again. If I am to give a book to someone from my own collection, however, it will be because it makes me think of that person and that I think they will gain something from the reading of it.

  1. Which book has been with you most places?

I can’t say that there is one in particular that has been with me most places over any other one… I’ve moved many times, and a good majority of my books have traveled with me each time much to the chagrin of everyone who has helped carry my boxes of books.  As much as I hate moving with them, I don’t see my collection ever growing to a manageable amount. Ha!

  1. Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

I typically didn’t mind most of my high school reading assignments, though I did learn to appreciate ‘A River Runs through It’ more with age.  One book I read in college that I will most likely never read again was ‘Moby Dick.’ I hated it. There, I said it.

  1. Used or brand new? 

As long as it’s lightly used, I don’t mind.  I do also collect some antique books, so those are obviously used, but I have to “Feel” something when I pick them up for them to come home with me. Otherwise, I really do love a fresh, new book.

  1. Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Yes.  Almost all of them.

  1. Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

I actually enjoyed the Hunger Game movies more than the books.  At times I felt like the dialogue and some of the story was a bit cheesy and too juvenile when I was reading it.

  1. Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included? 

It’s a given that looking at cookbooks will make me hungry.  Put one in front of me and I’ll likely start salivating in minutes. As for fictional books, though… none are coming to mind easily.

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  1. Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

I’m open to suggestions from just about anyone, though I find the advice is always better when it’s from someone who has similar taste as me. Not very surprising, I know.

  1. Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

I have recently started reading more YA novels and there have been a handful that I’ve really enjoyed. One of my new favorite series is the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas and I’m also enjoying The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer as well, which is also a YA series. Who’d of thought?

The Handmaid’s Tale – Review

 

It’s no secret that The Handmaid’s Tale has become rather popular recently, despite being written 30 years ago.  Without getting into current political debates, I will just say that there are some interesting parallels and I can see why many women are deciding to re-read this novel or read it for the first time.

Okay, so… I find most dystopian novels really depressing so I don’t read that many – unless they’re YA because those usually seem less realistic to me and I can more easily separate myself from the book.  The Handmaid’s Tale is downright depressing overall.  The story is told by Offred and is a mixture of things she is experiencing presently and memories of her past. If anything, that was something I found to be the most interesting about this book.  Unlike many dystopian novels, Offred remembers the way things were and experienced them personally rather than just relating stories of how things were as told to her by others.  She was there to witness the division in time between Then and Now.

As for the representation of this new American society, it’s an extreme one, to say the least. Is it perhaps unrealistic that in such a short amount of time society as we know it could leap from what freedom women have now to having zero freedom and prized strictly for their ability to produce offspring… probably, but then again, maybe not?  At the heart of this new regime is religious fanaticism, which as history has shown can lead to great extremes which includes violence and misuse of power. Food for thought.

From Goodreads:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

Mr. Mercedes

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

It’s been a while since I’ve read anything dark and even longer since I’ve read a novel by Mr. King.  Right off the bat, I wasn’t sure if I could go through with it.  Did I really want these dark and gruesome images stuck in my head? I’ve really become a wimp over the years.  I pressed on, though, and I’m glad I did.

For starters, Mr. Mercedes is a thriller without any supernatural aspects as many of Stephen King’s books have. King has never been one to skimp on words, and he has always done a really good job when it comes to describing a scene. You aren’t left filling in a lot of blanks in your mind – there’s no need to. Perhaps that’s what makes it even more difficult when something horrendous happens, like the mass killing of a group of people in the very first chapter. I have a difficult time reading about violent occurrences that could happen in real life because I just get sucked into books so easily… and movies, and video games, and you name it.

The further I got into it, the more I didn’t want to put it down and became more immersed in the characters and the story.  By the final ¼ of the book, I didn’t want to stop reading and was trying to read as fast as I could to get through it because I had to know exactly how it turned out. I knew on some level that there would be a “happy” ending, but I didn’t know at what cost because, let’s be honest, you don’t really expect a skipping through fields of daisies ending in a Stephen King novel.

My conclusion?  I’ll be reading the next two books in the trilogy. There’s something about the characters that I really, really like.  Perhaps it’s a tad cliché to have the unexpected friendship between such unlikely characters, but I enjoy the charm of it anyway.

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again.

Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

The Book of Speculation

I don’t know about you, but I typically don’t enjoy really long reviews whether it be for movies or books. I also don’t want too much to be given away and like sort of a mysterious and vague glimpse that gives me enough of an idea of whether or not I might like to read it. So, here we go. I probably won’t get around to talking about every book I read, but I’m going to try and do as many as I can. Like I mentioned before, I have a hard time remembering most of the books I read, so it’s helpful for me when I can’t recall whether or not I actually liked a book and why or why I didn’t.

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

The story overall was good and I enjoyed the writing and use of description in terms of location. You can easily see in your mind’s eyes the house slowly falling apart as the sea creeps in closer and closer and you can smell the salt in the air.  Water is a prominent and important character in this book as it tells the tale of a family of mermaids and what can only be a curse that has followed several generations.  While there is a sense of urgency in the story as the narrator attempts to save his sister from what he is certain is impending death, the pace itself is sometimes slow.

If you enjoy books about family, secrets, circus life (whether it may or may not be based on fact), some mysticism, the power of books, and a taste of fantasy then I recommend this. Ideally it would be the perfect vacation read, but really any old time would work.

I give it:

Goodreads Synopsis

A sweeping and captivating debut novel about a young librarian who is sent a mysterious old book, inscribed with his grandmother’s name. What is the book’s connection to his family?

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother. Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler’s gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic

Book Review – My Grandmother…

So I’m trying something new… partly because I have a difficult time remembering what I’ve read, and I also like hearing what people thing about books I may want to read. I am no great critic and I make no promises that my reviews will astound you in anyway, but here goes. I do need to get better about taking notes whilst reading, though.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry

by Fredrick Backman

I have mixed feelings about this book.  In the beginning I wasn’t even sure I’d keep reading it because it didn’t grab me in the way I want to be grabbed (more like a creepy too delicate hug when you want a passionate embrace). It was a slow burn with an occasional pop and crackle that would just keep my interest enough that I stuck with it, assuming that eventually there would be a burst of flames.

It’s a unique story in the way that it’s told, but I felt like the imaginative world often overshadowed reality too much at times and it wasn’t until a little over halfway through the book that I actually started to get into it and wanted to know what happened next. The imaginary world of Miamas is complex and in the beginning I became a little bored with it quite frankly.  Eventually it made more sense and the way the real world and Miamas were weaved together became more enjoyable and I appreciated it more for what it was.

Ultimately, I did end up enjoying it. Maybe I was even in the wrong frame of my mind when I began it and only appreciated it in the end because I persevered and my mood changed?  I think I may read it again to see… maybe next year.

The synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.