Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best of 2008

I have to admit that 2008 was a 'slow' year for me in terms of reading. I had a hard time sitting still to do ANYTHING when I was pregnant. Then, after having my baby in late April, I was sleep-deprived, and constantly busy. I didn't really get back into reading consistently until I went back to work and could read on my lunch breaks!

That being said, I did manage to read some fantastic books this year. It will come as no surprise to those of you that know me that Twilight by Stephenie Meyer was my absolute favorite. Not only of this year, but it also takes a spot in my top 5 favorite books. It took me a long time to finally read it, because I really didn't think it sounded very good. It's funny now to think about how long I put it off! Besides Harry Potter, I hadn't read many 'young adult' books since I was...well, a young adult. I was wary. I swear, I was hooked after the opening sentence of the book though. I couldn't get enough of it. It was painful to put the book down to do other things. Twilight was my favorite of the four book series (I read the series twice this year), but I did enjoy the other three books as well.

It's hard for me to think of anything else that I read this year that even came close to this book. I'm still obsessed with it, even after reading it twice, seeing the movie multiple times, and finding anything I can online about it. To me, those are all signs of a GREAT book! I know people have criticized it, saying it's really nothing special as far as the writing style...but honestly...who cares? It's rare to find a book that you love, that you can read again a couple months later, and still hang on every word. I'll take it when I can find it!!

I'm very much looking forward to re-reading this series AGAIN, but for the sake of those around me (who may have me committed if I don't get over the obsession soon!), I'll wait a few months. Maybe I can revisit it before the next movie is released. Besides, the DVD will be out in a few months, so I'll be busy watching that! In the meantime, I'll continue to recommend it to everyone I know!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Jars by Jason F Wright

This was a quick read (only about 120 pages), and a great story for the holiday season! I'll go so far as to say it was a heartwarming book. The kind of story that makes you feel good about people, and makes you want to do something good for someone else.

The story is about a young woman who receives an anonymous jar full of change during a rough time in her life, and searches to find the story behind it. Along the way, she meets a wonderful family and realizes what's important in life.

A feel-good read for the holiday season, I'm sure I'll be getting this one out every December in the future!

My Little Bookworm

My daughter turned 8 months old yesterday. Time has really flown! I'm happy to report that she's a bookworm just like Mama! She loves books! I hope her love for them will continue as she grows up. She received a lot of new books for Christmas, and we're looking forward to reading them all!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Election by Tom Perrotta

I'd read another book by Tom Perrotta (Little Children) before, and liked it, so I thought I'd check this one out too.

It was a short book, only about 200 pages, and was the light reading I needed before the holidays!

The story follows a high school election for student body president. It's told from the prespective of multiple characters - usually short (1 to 3 page) blurbs from each. There are 3 students running for president, and a teacher that's helping one of them out. So, you see a little bit of each of their lives (and a couple other characters). There are several side-stories going on (an affair, a brother/sister relationship, etc), but the election is the main plot.

It was a quick read, and I enjoyed it. I'd like to see the movie (starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I need something light to read...

On Friday night I grabbed The Host by Stephenie Meyer off my shelf with the intention of starting it. I bought it when I read Twilight for the first time, and hadn't gotten around to it yet. But, because of the holidays, I've decided to postpone it a little longer. I think I need something a little lighter for this busy time. I was hoping to read a Christmas themed book, but the one I ordered won't get here before Christmas. So now I'm looking through my shelves to find some light reading for the holidays. I'm sure I won't have much time to read, but I never like to be without a book!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Marley and Me - John Grogan

I read this book last week, but didn't get around to reviewing it until now. This is another book that I wanted to read before the movie came out (I think it opens on Christmas Day). It too, had been on my list for awhile. It was worth the wait!

A true story about a couple that gets a puppy that they name Marley, this story is about more than just a dog. It's about their relationship, starting a family, and life in general. I found myself giggling out loud while I read this (always fun when you're reading a book on your lunch break at work!) Marley is not necessarily a 'good dog' and gets into lots of interesting situations... I also teared up several times and admit that I was crying like a baby by the end.

Anyone who has a dog (or other pet!), or has had one at one point would love this book. Anyone who's had a pet who hasn't always been the most well-behaved would definitely be able to relate to it! The copy of the book that I have had a section of photos which I really liked also.

I have to say, I'm a little surprised at the actors chosen for the roles, since they look nothing like the real people, but that's Hollywood I guess. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie, and would definitely recommend the book!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

I'd been wanting to read this for quite awhile, and finally picked it up off my shelf this week. I bought the book when the movie was being released, but I still haven't seen the movie. I generally like to read the book before seeing the movie. I'll be adding it to my Netflix list now!

The book is classified as an essay. It's a look at the story of Chris McCandless, a young man who hitchiked into Alaska and went into the wilderness alone...four months later, his body was found.

I think part of the appeal of this is that it's a true story. And since he was alone, the truth of exactly what happened is hard to know for sure. He kept a journal, but it wasn't very detailed. He also had a camera, and took several rolls of film during his time in Alaska. Basic facts are known, but not all of his thoughts or reasonings for things. The author talked to people that knew him - his family, and people he met along the way on his journey. There is more to the story than just his trip into Alaska. Also, the writer himself is an 'adventurist' (is that the right word?) so his take on it was interesting as well.

I liked the way this was written, not just as an account of what happened, in the order that it happened, but a look at what happened from all angles. And even though the front cover of the book seems to tell all of the main information about what happens, I was still anxious as I was reading it.

Looking foward to seeing the movie!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What to buy, what to buy...

I have a $10 Barnes and Noble giftcard in my pocket, and a 25% off coupon code in my email that expires at the end of the day. It's time to buy a few books!

Why am I so tempted to buy the Twilight boxed set? I already own all the books! (although 2 are paperback and 2 are hardcover and they aren't in a nicely decorated box).

I have several books on my 'wish list' and several others that I've been looking at... but I can't make up my mind. I also have a couple on my Christmas list, but I don't know if I'm getting any of those yet...

I could be a geek and buy the Twilight movie companion book! ;)

Decisions, decisions...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Best Secret Santa Gift Ever??

We had a little gift exchange at work today. We had drawn names a few weeks ago. Our spending limit is $10, and I don't know some of the people too well, so it's always interesting to see what people end up with. Last year I got a candle and some Christmas washcloths.

This year, I got the best gift of the bunch! A $10 giftcard for Barnes and Noble!! I was so excited! And the person that got it for me apologized for the 'boring' gift! No way! It was perfect!

Also, when I got home, I had a package from Barnes and Noble! My books that I had ordered with my birthday gift cards! I think I got 12 books! Can't wait to dig into those!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Owning Books

I have a confession to make...

I like to OWN books. It doesn't really matter to me how I get them...buying them new, getting them from second-hand stores or garage sales, getting them as gifts or passed on from someone else that read it, buying them on ebay...whatever. I just enjoy having stacks and shelves full of books that I own.

When I was younger, I practically lived at the library. I'd check out tons of books at a time, and be back a few days later to return them all and get new ones. Now I'm a little ashamed to say that I don't even have a library card! (I did just 'apply' for one though, so I should be getting it soon). I have so many books that I own that I still haven't gotten around to reading though, so even without buying new ones, I'd have enough reading material to last me awhile! (I am expecting a shipment from Barnes and Noble any day though, with a bunch of books I just ordered using some gift cards that I got for my birthday!)

With the library card, I'm hoping to check out some new authors that I've been a little reluctant to buy...(just in case I don't like them). Also maybe some different genres that I normally wouldn't try. So, I'm looking forward to branching out a bit. And if I don't like what I try, at least I'm not out any money!

It's gotten to the point now where I don't have enough space for all of the books that I own. I do like to re-read books if I really liked them, but I know there are some that I'll never read again. I guess it's time to purge a little bit, or at least trade for some new ones that I haven't read yet!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Reading Dangerously

I've seen a few blogs recently about a "Reading Dangerously" challenge that they're doing for 2009 (Originally posted here). The basic idea is to read books that intimidate you. Or at least that's what I'm going to focus on. I have a lot of books on my shelf that I'm always a little intimidated by -- I'm not sure I'll like it, it looks too long and complicated, or something that I've started and not finished. So my goal for 2009 is to read TEN of these books. I have several in mind already...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Review: Duma Key, by Stephen King

I'm not much of a book reviewer, so bear with me. Here are just a few of my thoughts about this book, which I finished tonight (with my heart racing!).

Stephen King has changed a lot with his last few books. Maybe it was the accident that almost killed him. Or maybe he's just evolving. He's as creepy as ever. But there is something different. It's not a bad thing. I think his books seem less gory to me. That's all I can really say about that. I like it though...

This book was 600 pages long, and most of the action was in the last 200 pages. That's not to say that nothing happened in the first 400. I was definitely hooked from the beginning, and really had no idea where the story would go. A lot of pieces to the puzzle, character and relationship development happened in the beginning, without it seeming obvious. Stephen King isn't 'flowery' about his details. It's refreshing to read something with so few adjectives. I don't think I even really would have noticed it, except that I've read almost all of his other books, so I'm used to the style. That's what makes a good book to me - I don't NOTICE all of that stuff. In my mind, if I'm focusing on HOW it's written, instead of WHAT is written, then I don't really care about the story at all, and it seems kind of like a waste of time. He describes what needs to be described, and it's so stark that you can SEE it. There's just no question. It's RED. Or it's HORRIFYING. That's all he needs to say.

So there's the review...without even a mention of the storyline. How did I manage to do that? :)

I really enjoyed the book. I'd definitely recommend it, especially to someone who's enjoyed Stephen King before (I think some people just 'get' what he writes better than others).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Now I remember...

...why I don't read Stephen King right before I go to sleep!! I was too involved in the book this evening, and should have stopped before I did. Now I'm totally freaked out, and trying to distract myself with other things so that I don't have nightmares about it!

The book will be staying downstairs tonight when I go to bed. I have a weird thing about having scary books around while I'm sleeping!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Great Read

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Whenever someone asks me to name my favorite books, this one is always near the top. As with most of the books that I LOVE, I didn't read this one right away (why IS that??). I had heard it was good, and I thought it sounded interesting. I bought it, and then it sat on my shelf for several months.

Once I finally picked it up, I couldn't put it down. The story is amazing, and unlike any other novel I've ever read. The characters are interesting and unique. The writing is beautiful. It's the story of a man with a rare genetic disease that causes him to time-travel at unpredictable times, and his wife, who deals with his disappearances and the dangerous things that happen due to his disease.

As with other books that I love -- when I was done, I felt a little lost, and sad that it was over. I spent a lot of time thinking about it, and going over the story in my mind. I had dreams about it, and just generally felt a little looney for caring about a book and fictional characters so much. You know, the usual!!

I read this a couple years ago, and haven't re-read it yet. I definitely plan to, and maybe I'll read it in 2009 (actually, writing about it is really making me want to read it again!) They are making a movie based on the book, and it looks like it will be in theaters sometime next year. I'm sure it won't be anywhere near as good as the book, but hopefully it will be a decent movie.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting novel!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Challenges, Goals

I enjoy a good competition. Even if it's 'against' myself.

So, after getting some ideas from message boards and other blogs, I've set a few reading goals and challenges for myself for next year. I'm attempting to read more, and read things I might not normally pick up.

Since I really have no idea how many books I read in a year (I've never bothered to keep track, except during the summer reading program at the local library when I was younger!), I've set my goal for 2009: 100 books. That may be way too high, or maybe it's not really that far off. I guess I'll find out!

And to try to branch out a little bit, I'll be doing an A to Z challenge for the year - the goal being to read a book that starts with each letter of the alphabet. I thought I might come across some interesting books that way, especially with some of the more tricky letters.

One other thing I'd like to do is read more Pulitzer Prize winning books. I saw the complete list, and I've only read five of them! So, I'd like to read at least two of those in 2009. I'll start small on that one!

Feel free to share book recommendations! I just ordered several new books (hooray for Barnes and Noble gift cards!), and have several on my bookshelf that I haven't read yet, plus a few series that I'm planning to re-read soon, so I should be set for awhile...but I'm always looking for something new!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Now Reading...Duma Key by Stephen King

This book came out last winter and I bought it right away. I can't resist Stephen King - he's been one of my favorite writers for years. So, although I bought it right away, I did resist reading it for quite awhile. I have to admit that Stephen King scares the crap out of me. As much as I love him, he freaks me out. When I bought this book, I was pregnant. And as anyone who's been pregnant's hard to get a good night's sleep when you're up all night going to the bathroom! So, where this is going? I was too scared to read the book when I was getting up multiple times in THE DARK at night to go to the bathroom. (I won't deny that I'm a total wuss!) So, I held on to it, and saved it for after my baby was born...which was 7 months ago. I didn't seem to have any time to read after Mara was born, but once I went back to work I had time to read on my lunch breaks. I got caught up in a few other books in the meantime, and just finally dug this book back out this week.

So...on to the book. I'm not quite halfway through the book, but I'm really enjoying it. It's an interesting story about a man who is in a bad accident and loses his arm. He has some other issues, and ends up getting divorced and moving to Duma Key, Florida to clear his mind and start over. Once he's there, he starts painting, and some odd things start happening. That's the generic summary, without giving too much away. Pretty typical Stephen King kind of stuff!

I admit that I'm a sucker for Stephen King. He could probably write about paint drying, and I would find it interesting. Of all of his books, there have only been a couple that I didn't LOVE. I'm looking forward to reading more of this book and seeing where it goes.

Trying something new...

Since I love to read so much, and I bore people around me on a daily basis talking about books, I thought I'd start a little blog in honor of reading. What I'm reading, books I love, books I didn't like, books, books, books.

As a nerdy "English major" in college, I read a lot...all kinds of things. But there are still so many things I haven't read...and new books coming out all the time! I love book recommendations, and I love finding new great things to read. So, feel free to share, or comment, agree, or disagree!

I'm not sure if there will be any sort of order or organization to this blog...I think I'll just see where it goes, and hope that maybe someone else will enjoy it along with me!