Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Reading

I posted a little while ago on Instagram about what I've been reading lately - most of it nonfiction about the Holocaust and the Second World War - and while meaningful and necessary, it has been grueling.  I'd been searching for books to read along with them which were a bit lighter, and which provided an escape from the heavy material.

Strangely, the ordered world of mystery novels fit the bill exactly, and I finally made it through The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) and have started in on the second novel in the series.  Is it always the most well-written? No.  I enjoyed reading it on my phone (!) as I waited for the train and while at 30,000 feet - I ended up getting it through 3M, quickly and efficiently, which is how my library mostly does e-books.

My more pressing concern: I know the characters fall into certain tried-and-true categories, but I would love to see Ms. Rowling write a mystery novel where the female character isn't the blonde secretary or the doddy/anxious stay-at-home mom.  I sometimes thought it would have been a more interesting read if Cormoran Strike were a woman - a veteran, not conventionally attractive, an amputee, slightly overweight, not always agreeable but focused and valuable... How many female protagonists have we read like that?

And yet. Are there publishers who would go for that sort of woman? Are there any books out there like that now? I can only really think of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovitch.  I'll be on the lookout for more.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Websites I Love That Aren't About Books

This week's Top Ten Tuesday was a breath of fresh spring air - ten websites we love that have nothing to do with books.  Well, I can't say these sites never mention books, but they're ones I go to again and again for a variety of different reasons.  Without further ado, and in no particular order...

When I want something minimalist without going crazy:
Reading My Tea Leaves

When I need to slow down and listen to a slightly silly podcast:
Slow Your Home

When I want to read an essay that speaks to my humanity:
C. Jane Kendrick

When I want some inspiration for being more financially savvy:
Budgets Are Sexy

When I want to feel luxe:
Bois de Jasmin

When my roommate talks at extreme volume and I need to work:

When I want to love the city I'm in, without spending all my $$:
the skint

When I need some new threads*:

When I need a different perspective:

When I'm in the mood for a virtual trip abroad:
Aspiring Kennedy

What non-bookish websites do you love?

*referral link! means if you click and end up buying something, you get $10 and so do I - not too shabby. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Hello from the other side!

My first year of graduate school is done, which is incredible and almost unbelievable.  I'm genuinely happy to have chosen my program, and while the past year has been mental, it's also been more wonderful than I had thought it would be.  There have been lots of busy days and nights, lots of uncertainties, but also real strides and progress.

So...so far so good.

But what have you been reading, Cornelia?!

Well, this is the part where I flop.  Not much - lots of rereading books, since after long, long days filled with different kinds of reading assignments, I was too exhausted to try anything new or stick with it.  Magazines hit the spot on very early weekend mornings before doing a million things.  However, I have been dabbling, thanks to browsing around once a week at the library.

I started to read The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling and am sticking with it.  Having read many a detective-crime novel, I don't see what everyone went crazy-angry about.  This is a mystery - it's not meant to be another Harry Potter.  The characters are engaging and different, relatable and also captured well (classic JK Rowling) and I like the plot so far.  The only downside is the hardcover is a door-stop and hard to carry around.

I've also begun Until We Are Free by Shirin Ebadi.  I read Iran Awakening in 2003, and as a young teenager found her account of her life and work to be inspiring, compelling, and frightening.  I haven't picked up her work since then, until I saw this one sitting out at the library.  A Nobel Peace Prize winner and phenomenal woman - if you haven't heard of her, check out her work and her writing.

That's all from me - still getting used to the change in season.  Life is more relaxed but still busy, and I'm relieved that the weather is finally nice enough to read outside.

What are you reading this first Monday in May?

Monday, April 25, 2016

National Poetry Month: Fourth

This April, in honor of National Poetry Month, I'm posting a poem a week.  There are too many good ones out there to post them all, but this one stuck into me when I read it.  Short and to the point.  It's by Ko Un, called Asking the Way.

Monday, April 18, 2016

National Poetry Month: Third

In honor of National Poetry Month, this April I'm posting a poem every Monday. This week it's one by Meena Alexander, from Raw Meditations on Money, 1. She Speaks: A School Teacher from South India.  Go read something good for your soul.

Monday, April 11, 2016

National Poetry Month: Second

In honor of National Poetry Month, I'm posting a poem a week instead of my usual post.  This week it's Covenant by Alan R. Shapiro - a long one, and a bit of a doozy, but intimate and almost Norman Rockwell-ish in the way it immediately captures family and siblings.

Monday, April 4, 2016

National Poetry Month: First

In honor of National Poetry Month, this April I'm going to be posting a poem (or a link to a poem) a week instead of my usual post.  I've only got four weeks, but I hope I'll get in some good ones, on and off of the blog.  First up is Maya Angelou's Awaking in New York, over at the Poetry Foundation website.  Go read something good for your soul.

Monday, February 1, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Hello from the beginning of another semester - we've made it through the first two weeks! I think a ginormous nap is in order.  Pleasure reading has snuck in here and there in the evenings and weekends, and these are the books that have been on rotation:

Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle
I always forget about the completely out-of-left-field story break about Mormons in the middle of A Study in Scarlet.  Anybody know what that's about?! It trips me up and I put it down because I've lost interest.  I think I've read the first part about four times...here's hoping I'll burrow through and finally finish.

The Red Tent by Anita Diamond
A classic! Everyone says they've read it but I never had, so I took the time over the massive blizzard that took over the East Coast last weekend to hunker down and finally do it.  Man.  It definitely had me thinking, "Wait a minute...this...this did not happen in the Bible, right?" Right.  Glad to have finally read it.  Worth a read if you haven't, but I'm not sure I'd reread.

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
I haven't actually started this one, but it's one I've been looking forward to for a LONG time.  I've heard many good reviews.  A "resonant tale of love, vengeance, and war" tucked into a journey across a land in ruins?? Can't go wrong...I hope.

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Review of The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

The beginning of this month was absolutely frigid - I mean, the kind of cold chill that makes you sprint down the block while clutching your extremely full laundry bag in the hopes that it will both warm you up and count as some sort of workout.  It came after weeks and weeks of mild (even warm) weather, and was a shock.  I found this one one night when I was feeling a bit down from the instant winter, and it was an immediate pick-me-up.  

Basic plot: (from Goodreads) "I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they'll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next." American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

On a scale from 1 to Cripplingly Depressing: Deliciously silly.

Memories from reading: This was a very quick read, over one or two nights, where I lay first on the couch and then in bed with a small light on and a huge comforter wrapped around myself.  This is the first time since maybe middle school that I actually (really) gasped and said "NO!" or "Oh my gosh!" while reading.  It was a lot of fun.

Teeth-gnashing: Only that there aren't any more books written by this pair.

Weapon of Choice: E-book, on my Kindle.

Other titles by this author: None!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review of The Girl In The Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz

When Steig Larsson's books came out several years ago, I read them quickly and compulsively - the combination of mystery-thriller, wildly alive characters, and falling headfirst into Swedish winters was fantastic.  If you liked those books, I think you'll find this one nice, but a bit light.

Basic plot: (from inside cover - though this is not really how I would have described it...maybe that is to protect spoilers?) She is the girl with the dragon tattoo - a genius hacker and uncompromising misfit.  He is a crusading journalist whose championing of the truth often brings him to the brink of prosecution.  Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a source claiming to have information vital to the United States.  The source has been in contact with a young female super hacker - a hacker resembling someone Blomqvist knows all too well.  The implications are staggering.  Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help.  She, as usual, has her own agenda.  The secret they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, cybercriminals, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it...

On a scale from 1 to Cripplingly Depressing: Interesting, with a spritz of grim in a few places.

Memories from reading: This was a bedtime read as I tried to get back into a routine after vacation.

Teeth-gnashing: I loved being back in the world of Millennium and Sweden, but my time reading was tinged with a feeling that something wasn't quite right.  For me, the critical characters (Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander) felt off.  Especially Lisbeth.  As I read and wondered why, it struck me how unique Stieg Larsson was in his ability to create a strong female character that wasn't necessarily likable or outwardly loving.  She felt a bit too soft for me in this book, like ice cream that was melting, and parts felt a bit cringe-y.  While most of the book was engaging, there were moments when I thought: "Haven't I read this before? Didn't this already happen in another book?"

Weapon of Choice: Hardcover from the library.

Other titles by this author: 
Lagercrantz: Fall of Man in Wilmslow, I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Larsson: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

Have you read The Girl In the Spider's Web or any of Larsson's books? What did you think?

Monday, January 11, 2016

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

The Classics Club Challenge kept getting the backseat this year, and I finally decided to try again with something that seemed lighter on the list for 2016.  I went online and downloaded Watership Down by Richard Adams from the library.  So far, the tale of ragtag bunnies (written in 1972) has been exactly what I needed - a complete escape.

It has seemed like everything is completely backwards and upside down lately (even the weather), and it's been nice to sit back and escape into something completely separate.  Plus, it feels good to want to dive into one of the books on my list.

Truthfully, I haven't even looked at any blurbs - I'm too scared of finding a spoiler.  Isn't that silly? It's such a classic I just know they're out there, and I'm enjoying it too much.  Go check it out if you haven't read it already.

It's Monday - what are you reading? Have you made any headway on your Classics Club books or other 2016 reading challenges?

Monday, January 4, 2016

Favorite Book Blogs of 2015

In honor of the new year, and a little celebration in the midst of winter, I thought I'd put together a list of some of my favorite bookish blogs.  Normally I don't do these, since they're so subjective and they're only for fun anyway, but here I am.

All of these blogs are different, but what I like most about all of them is that they are unpretentious.  Is calm a bad word here? There is no fanfare and there is very little YA.  Their writing is intelligent, their recommendations solid, and it's clear they're in it because they love reading.  I'm abysmal at commenting, but I find myself going through their posts when I have spare moments.

As is usual with many internet things, I can't remember how I found their blogs, but I'm glad I did.

Take a look and let me know if you've got favorites I'm missing. Do you write a book blog?

Subway Book Review//Uli, New York City

Fourth Street Review//Rory, Colorado

Lit Nerd//Ellie, London

River City Reading//Shannon, Virginia

Brona's Books//Brona, Australia