Thursday, July 31, 2014

'til the well runs dry review

I'm so excited to have some book reviews lined up again.  I've been lucky enough to have found a bunch of terrific books lately, 'Til the Well Runs Dry, by Lauren Francis-Sharma, being one of them.  Spoiler alert: I genuinely, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Basic plot: This story follows Marcia Garcia (from her teenage years as a seamstress all the way through to her middle age), and her life in Trinidad and the U.S.  It spans generations and covers secrets that smother both families and communities.  Macmillan, the publisher, put it this way: "'Til the Well Runs Dry tells the twinned stories of a spirited woman’s love for one man and her bottomless devotion to her children," and I couldn't put it better.

On a scale from 1 to Cripplingly Depressing: 3. It's a book about life, and sometimes life is very messy and very hard.

Favorite bits: The complexity of the female protagonist was something that I appreciated and enjoyed immensely.  The fact that there were realistic characters and familial interactions improved the book and made it far richer than I had expected.  The book did not feel long, even though it spanned almost the full lifetime of the main character.

Memories from reading: This one I couldn't put down - I remember sitting in my chair and devouring it over the weekend and in the evenings.

Weapon of Choice: Hardcover, from the library.

Other titles by this author: None! This was her debut novel.

Have you read it? What were your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

one year out

I realized today that it's been just over a year since I started writing here.  I'd made it a goal to read twenty-five books by the time I turned twenty-five, and what started out as a mostly boring lifestyle blog bumped and stuttered and started into a book blog.  So, in honor of finding my way here, I'm including covers of all of the books (minus the Harry Potter series) that I've read so far.  Were all of them tremendous works of literature? No.  Some could be called fluff.  But no matter where I've been this year they've kept me company, taken me far away, and left me better than I started.  Thanks to you as well, wherever you are, for coming along for the ride.  

Here's to another year of reading and blogging!

some stats for the road:

27 books.
12 written by women.
6 mysteries.
11with women as protagonists.
2 audiobooks.
11 took place in foreign countries.
14 came from the public library.

Did you have any reading goals this year? If you took stock of what you've read, would anything surprise you?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Currently Listening To...

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington

What I'm enjoying so far: The focus on scientific studies and quotes from doctors, researchers, and regular people who are taking wellness seriously when it comes to work-life balance.  I also enjoy the excerpts from literary sources like T.S. Eliot and Rumi, though I think those would be better in print, rather than somewhat unexpectedly out-of-context over audio.

What I hope to see more developed or resolved: While the book does seem filled with practical examples and anecdotes, which are useful, I hope I'll hear more about younger women - or younger people - who are really starting or beginning to develop their careers and taking this concept with them.  It would be a shame and a waste if the realities of this book were only directed towards upper-level career women.

My thoughts on the audio book: I like that they chose someone who is also Greek to read this book - or at least, it seems like a very smart PR choice.  The woman sounds very similar to interviews I've heard with Ms. Huffington, (obviously) because of her accent and the intonation and rhythm of her speech.

Have you ever read Thrive? What were your thoughts? Had you heard the hype around this book?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

top ten characters I would want with me on a deserted island

This week's Top Ten Tuesday with The Broke and the Bookish is a subject that is near and dear to my heart...the deserted island scenario.  When I was a little kid I figured I outwitted the "What food would you bring with you?" question with the (best) answer - PASTA - because! 1) Pasta is delicious.  2) You can make any kind of sauce with the supplies at hand wherever you may be, thereby guaranteeing variety (which is, as they say, the spice of life).

But, getting back to it - here are the Top Ten Characters I would want with me on a deserted island:

Jamie Fraser, Outlander - Hunky and good with non-modern warfare...enough said.
Lisbeth Salandar, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - On the other hand, and on the off chance there is computer activity, I would want her around.  Even if she'd probably hate my guts.
Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games - Someone who would be good with limited resources and high panic situations.
Harriet Vane, Gaudy Night - I feel like we could have a great conversation over the fire pit.
Hannah, Little Women - Is it bad that I picked Hannah for food reasons? I think it would be key to have someone who both kind of mothered and was also thrifty and made good food.  Girl's gotta eat.
Rhett Butler, Gone With The Wind - You'd for sure need a wily character, in case there were any shady types on the island we'd need to trade with (...or something?) Doesn't hurt that he's also a bit of a dreamboat.
Sherlock Holmes - Could probably figure out how to get us off the island, and solve crimes at the same time.
Atticus Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird - He seems like a strong moral compass to have around, and would be handy in case of legal matters.  You know, forming a new society, contracts, etc.  Thinking long-term here.
Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger - They probably would not want to be BFFs with me, since they are already BFFs with each other, but it would be good to have (loyal, brave, caring) friends around.
Paddington Bear - For comfort.

Isn't it funny to think of them all together on an island, and how they'd interact with each other? Not well, I think.  Looking at it, I picked characters with very strong wills, who are determined and prickly (for the most part).

Plus...bonus! Character I would NOT want on a deserted island with me: The Underground Man, unless I wanted to get talked (and talked and talked) to death.  ;)

What about you? Do you love or hate deserted island scenarios?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

row houses in spring

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July Reads

Jumping on the bandwagon! The books I've been reading lately have been less blogging-friendly - meaning, they're enormous and not likely to be finished in a few weeks.  But! There are three shorter reads I'm chugging through and hope to finish this month.**  Here they are:

Not My Father's Son, Alan Cumming.  This is a book I received from Harper Collins for a review, and I'm about a third of the way done with it.  I'm really fond of memoirs, so I'm excited to share my thoughts on this one with you (hopefully soon).

Blink, Malcolm Gladwell.  Fell a bit off the wagon with this one.  I'd started it in the winter/early spring, but life picked up and for whatever reason I stopped reading it.  I looked through it yesterday and realized I've got something like four chapters until I've finished, so it's back on the list! 

The Case of the Love Commandos, Tarquin Hall.  Finally, one from my summer reading list! The library didn't have any other books from this series, so I've started with the fourth, but I can't tell at all.  I'm loving it so far - the whole family of characters, the different places things are taking place in around India, the way the author decided to use dialect - it seems like a fantastic book.  I'm excited to go back and read the series from the beginning.

What are you reading this July? Go check out some great lists here and here.

Friday, July 4, 2014

It's the 4th of July - What are you Reading this Weekend?

Happy 4th of July! Did you sleep in, or were you up and about doing exciting patriotic things? Here in DC there are about a million different things you can do and see, so I am excited for a little bit of exploring this weekend.  The Sheebster and I mostly slept in (true patriots), but I'll be spending part of the day with some friends as well.

In honor of the one-hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, I will also be spending some quality time with these two this weekend:

The Daughters of Mars: I know I've mentioned this book before, and I'm still working on it! It feels like I've been reading it forever, but I like taking this one slowly and picking it up when I feel like it.  It's the story of two sisters from rural Australia who become war nurses during WWI - and their travels and adventures through Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.  Despite my slow reading, I'm really liking it.

A History of the Twentieth Century:  I've just started this one and have made it through the first chapter, "The First Decade," and am on the year 1914.  The one thing this book has made me realize is that as messed up and violent as the world is now, it's been that way for a while.  At least the plague isn't killing as many people! (bright side).  I am no history buff, but in reading about the lead-up to WWI, it seems a lot like one side clamoring for war (desperately, manically) and the other side sort of hassled and resigned to its inevitability.  America seems pretty focused on protecting forests at this point in history, and figures like Franco and Ghandi are just peeking their heads out onto the world landscape.

And that's that! What are your plans for this weekend? Reading anything in particular?

Here's to good books, good conversation, and good weather :)

happy fourth of july!