giving in to the hype – reading The Cuckoo’s Calling

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!

February reading wrap-up

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 :) ).

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On reading the Caster Chronicles

*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.

eat wild today and tomorrow

Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health by Jo Robinson

eatingwildSo 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.

On reading off the shelf in 2014

In light of my decision to join ROOT (Reading our own tomes) challenge on LibraryThing (and my sudden realization that my cameras have been sorely neglected since I became a smartphone toting idiot), I present the shelves to be read!

Seriously, I have to start taking pictures with a real camera again. It’s sad how few high quality pictures are in my 2013 folder. No more of that sorry business! There will be pictures in 2014! And books! And CLASSICS! Yes, I will get around to reading those this year as well.

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And books on the overflow shelf…
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I told myself I would get through at least 30 of the books on this shelf (I haven’t actually counted them, so 30 seems like a good, general number). Maybe I can read them all? Perhaps? Hmm?

I will also find time to paint that shelf and primp it up a bit. It was a hand-me-down that needs some loving care.

New Year, Old Books

For a brief moment, I toyed with the idea of shuttering the blog… I’ve been reading just as much as always, but I’ve been blogging less and less over the years. I’m never going to be a book-a-week blogger, there are plenty of books I enjoy, but I don’t always have something to say about them. I decided against the shutdown, if only because I like the sense of community that comes with talking about books (even if it’s only via this blog). I’ll continue at my own pace and see how it goes.

In the meantime, I’ve joined the LibraryThing Read Our Own Tomes (ROOT) Challenge. My goal is 30 of my own TBR books. I’ve started with A Dance with Dragons.