I had a lovely little post ready to go for this, then I decided I wasn’t ready. Then I decided I was, but scrapped my original announcement…
In a nutshell, I feel the time has come for me to say goodbye to book blogging.
I find that when something that should be fun becomes a chore, it’s time to let go. Unfortunately, that’s exactly how I feel about the pressure to keep up with the pace of book blogging while also trying to write books of my own and manage all the other odds and ends that life throws my way. It’s been a wonderfully enlightening experience–I’ve discovered great reads and highly introspective bloggers–but my own posts have become few and far between. The time has come to move on and stop holding on to something that no longer gives me the pleasure it once did.
That said, I’m not going to disappear. I’ll still be blogging about life, writing, and other moments of madness on things she said (with the occasional reading update thrown in for good measure), but the idea of book blogging as a solitary pursuit is no longer in the books.
Adieu, good day, goodbye, and farewell.
In honor of my upcoming birthday, here are 30 books (and series) that got me to 30. These are in no particular order; they’re favorites, loved ones, re-readables, and more.*
- the Harry Potter series
- Bridget Jones’s Diary series
- the Outlander series
- I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
- The China Garden by Liz Berry
- Persuasion by Jane Austen
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Beauty by Robin McKinley
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
- The Julia Grey series by Deanna Raybourn
- Atonement by Ian McEwan
- Tithe by Holly Black
- The mill on the floss by George Eliot
- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
- North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
- Fire by Kristin Cashore
- Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
- Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell
- The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
- The Princess Diaries series
- Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
- Angus, Thongs, and Full-frontal snogging by Louise Rennison
- the Talking to Dragons series by Patricia Wrede
- the Song of Ice and Fire series
- the Miss Marple books
- The Garden by Elsie V. Aidinoff
- Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost
- Little House on the Prairie: the Rose years by Roger Lea MacBride
*this came about because the boy demanded a list of my favorites for some secret reason.
I’ve been doing that terrible thing I do where I read several books at once and take forever to finish any of them because I’m constantly switching between stories. At the moment, I’m having an affair with…
Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati
This epic tome of epic proportions is a spinoff of The Last of the Mohicans, though you don’t need to be familiar with the history of Hawkeye to appreciate this novel. It follows the life and times of Elizabeth Middleton, who arrives in New York from England to settle on her father’s estate, known as Paradise. She soon learns that her father has more planned for her than she realized when agreeing to join him and her brother in Paradise, but Mr. Middleton’s plans are foiled when Elizabeth meets Nathaniel Bonner, Hawkeye’s son who lives between two worlds. The novel is part love story, part adventure, and filled with historical detail and interesting characters.
Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
I actually finished this one! I downloaded Keeping the Castle while testing my library’s new 3m Cloud subscription (for which I was responsible and was dying to test it out before leaving), so it was really a random choice but a wonderful read nonetheless. The blurb on the digital copy likens it to I Capture the Castle, but while it has a similar theme (teen girl lives in a castle with her mad family), I would say that the similarities end there. Keeping the Castle is more Regency farce than coming of age novel. It’s a fun read for any Jane Austen fan, but the narrative bears more resemblance to the comedy in Bridget Jones than Dodie Smith’s classic.
Tanamera by Neol Barber
I only just started reading this one a few days ago and haven’t been able to make much headway yet, but it offers a fascinating account of life in Singapore in the early 20th century. I read it’s supposed to be loosely based on a true story, but don’t know enough about the history to comment on that. It reminds me a bit of Gone with the Wind, especially the account of privilege, balls, and life on the rubber plantations.
VB6 by Mark Bittman
I enjoy the occasional book about food and lifestyle, and VB6 intrigued me from the moment I first saw it for sale at Target. I finally got around to picking it up from my library and have been reading it in the mornings. I was curious to read his take on eating vegan before dinner, since this is something that I’ve been doing for a few years and have found it to be really effective for keeping my own health issues in check.
Decided to change things up with a video post. Check out my totally unscripted review of Kate Locke’s The Queen is Dead and Jessica Bacal’s Mistakes I Made at Work.
Received an ARC of this collection of stories about learning from failure and am loving it already.
I enjoy a good mystery, but I’m not as familiar with the genre as I am with SFF or literary fiction. I’m less likely to pick up an unknown in mystery than I am in SFF. Biased? Probably, but it’s a bias I am aware of and trying to fix in my effort to expand my literary horizons and all that jazz. So… yeah… the chances of my picking up The Cuckoo’s Calling before the great reveal would’ve been slim to none. Just being honest.
That said, I did enjoy the book. It started slow, but the mystery developed fairly quickly once all the players were introduced. It’s a classic British mystery, which fans of Sherlock and the like will appreciate. Rowling has a way of giving you all the pieces before you even realize their significance–a skill she used to great advantage in HP. My biases may be showing again, but I find I prefer her genre fic over her literary work (The Casual Vacancy was kind of a letdown for me).
Not much of a review, but I figure there’s enough that’s been said about this novel. I liked it. Yes, I’ll probably read the next one and look forward to it.
Now, back to the TBR shelves!
Finally finished A Dance with Dragons, the only TBR book I’ve managed to read from my personal collection… Oh well, the year is young and my ROOT challenge entry is modest. Suffice it to say, Dragons left me torn and shaken with a hefty side of withdrawal.
Have mostly been reading books on writing lately. Among these, Stephen King’s On Writing may be my favorite, but James Scott Bell’s Revision and Self-editing for Publication is the most useful. Both are great reads and sources of writerly inspiration.
Next up… The Cuckoo’s Calling (after about 300 holds, it finally arrived at my library :) ).
Reading for work and play… Finding some much needed inspiration.
*Warning, this is a reaction to the series as a whole, so there may be SPOILERS*
I decided to read Beautiful Creatures after reading an author interview featuring Kami Garcia and being intrigued by the idea of the book being written as a way to engage students who wanted to read something different from what was being published. I really enjoyed that first novel in the series. I found the writing evocative and lyrical, and was drawn to the characters–especially some of the side characters. Family is a huge part of the Caster Chronicles, as is the idea of the South, and these are two elements that I loved and enjoyed reading throughout the series. Macon and Amma may very well be two of my favorite parental figures in young adult literature. That said, I found myself losing interest in the actual plot after Beautiful Darkness. Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption kept me reading because I wanted to know how it would come together in the end, but the action felt lacking to me and Abraham and Sarafine were more like caricatures than well-rounded, motivated villains. Just when it seemed like there was more to Sarafine that just being a big baddie, her redemption became lost in a whirl of “I’m going to get you my pretty”. Sarafine’s history, like Genevieve’s, was a deciding factor in many of the events that occur in Lena’s life, but those glimpses of the girl who was rejected by her family were overshadowed by her irrational desire to kill kill kill. The idea that Dark Casters are bad just because they’re Dark Casters didn’t work for me, in the same way that the reason behind Ethan’s decision didn’t work for me. His journey through death and his experience of the afterlife were interesting and had a mythic quality, but the part about Angelus’s involvement in Ethan’s sacrifice lessened it for me. Angelus just didn’t read like a villain to me. Don’t get me wrong, he was evil and full of hate, but it was stark evil without reason. Kind of a let down.
Beautiful Redemption ended well, but I found myself reading just to get to the end. The first part seemed to drag aimlessly until Lena’s book, but the last few chapters reached a satisfying conclusion.
And those are my 2 cents.
Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson
So the first book of the new year is really one that I started reading in November, but forgot at work when I went on break for the holidays and didn’t pick up again until last week. I was torn between coming in to pick it up and waiting to finish it, but my desire to stay away won out and I waited until I was back at the library to pick it up. Contrary to popular belief, librarians don’t spend all their time reading, so this took me longer to read than it would have otherwise because I was reading it in stolen snatches of time between meeting with students and working on project. I always have a smart go-to read when I’m at the desk for those rare moments when there’s no one around to ask for help with their research. Makes me look busy and studious :)
Eating on the Wild Side is one of my first forays into the world of food and nutrition writing. It’s full of information on making the most of your produce purchases by knowing which fruits and vegetables provide the greatest amount of nutrients and antioxidants, as well as how to prepare them to receive the full benefit of their bounty (ha! how’s that for a summary). Robinson also provides plenty of history and information for those wishing to grow their own produce (wish I had the space for that, I really do).
I learned so much while reading this book… seriously, I jotted nearly half a notepad full of notes on how to pick and identify different varieties of fruits and veggies, how to eat them, and how to store them. And I’ve already been applying these lessons while doing groceries and preparing meals. It’s strangely empowering to know what you’re eating. In addition to packing a lot of information into an approachable, readable book, Robinson includes summaries at the end of each chapter to highlight key points for future reference and provides variety charts for the fruits and veggies mentioned in each section (each section is divided by type of fruit or veggie).
Some of the neat factoids I learned:
You should prepare garlic (pressed, sliced, etc.) 15 minutes before cooking it to get the most antioxidant value
Limes should really be yellow when ripe, so choose a heavy one with a yellowish tinge for ripe juiciness
Pineapples, Bananas, and Papapayas don’t have much to offer nutrient-wise, but they’re still delish
Lettuce varieties with wide-open leaf structures (such as Bibb, but especially red varieties) have more antioxidants because they produce more phytonutrients to withstand the sun
Eat colorfully, but don’t forget cauliflower, even the white one is full of the good stuff
and lots more!
If you’re into learning about food and nutrition, this is a great introduction.