Wednesday, October 3, 2018

What I Read: September

September was a great reading month! I liked almost everything I read. I didn't just read the five books pictured...I also read three other books through Hoopla. (It's a free service through my local library, so you can see if your library uses it or something similar.) One was an ebook (though I knew I would hate the format, and I did), and two were audiobooks.

I tried audiobooks a couple of years ago but it never clicked for me. I didn't have a cell phone at the time so I had to listen at my computer, which was not convenient, so it took me months to get through one audiobook. I decided to try them again, this time downloading them to my phone so I can listen while I cook, clean, etc. And I love it! I definitely still prefer real books, but I think this is going to be really useful for rereading books or just listening to ones that I can't get my hands on otherwise. It makes me feel so productive to be "reading" while I'm doing other things. So while I will never actually purchase an audiobook, I'm really glad that I gave them another shot through borrowing them from my library.

As always, click on the titles for my Goodreads reviews!

I'm a Stranger Here Myself, by Bill Bryson. I have to take Bill Bryson in small doses! This book thankfully had much less of his usual profanity and crass humor, so that was a good thing. (It's a collection of articles, so I guess he had to tone that down.) Some of the chapters were really funny, like the one about going to the beach, but a lot of them were mediocre.

A Study in Charlotte, by Brittany Cavallaro. I picked this one up because I'm a Sherlock fan. It held my interest but unfortunately it just wasn't that special or memorable! I also didn't like the bad language or drug use.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm finally rereading the Lord of the Rings again this year! I'm participating in a read along on Instagram and the slower pace is working well for me. I did just reread The Hobbit a couple of times within the last few years, with the movies coming out and all, so it felt like it was dragging a few times. Still love the humor and characters though!

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. I didn't love this book like a lot of people seemed to, but it was really fun! Ridiculous and maybe longer than it needed to be, but still fun and quirky and I liked the pop culture references.

Hunger, by Roxane Gay. (Audiobook, not pictured.) I've heard this author mentioned a lot lately, and this book was the one of hers that I was most likely to pick up. My main feeling about it was that it was really sad! She went through some horrible things and I really thought there was going to be a more conclusive, positive ending, but no...she's still hurting and still struggling. So yes, all very sad. I went into a lot more detail in my review.

Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale. (Audiobook, not pictured.) I've been meaning to reread the first two books in this series for a long time, so I can finally read the third book! I've always loved this book, and this time was no exception. I did have a few pet peeves about the audiobook itself though. (Miri's voice was so young and annoying, and the songs at the beginning of the chapters felt out of place.)

Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It; by Gail Carson Levine. (Ebook, not pictured.) Gail Carson Levine has been one of my favorite authors since I was a kid. This book was on my radar but I'd never had the chance to read it. Since it was very short, I decided to read it as an ebook on my phone. I hated the ebook format, but the book itself had its moments. It's a collection of false apology poems, so it's super short. Some of them were very funny and some were mediocre!

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. I liked this one even better than the first one! Probably because Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. :) It sticks pretty close to the original story but with a supernatural subplot and the Brontes are intertwined, which was pretty clever. Again, I liked the humor and pop culture references (lots of Princess Bride ones!).

Monday, September 3, 2018

What I Read: August

August wasn't as wonderful of a reading month as July, but it was still decent! I read six books, one of which was a reread. I also started a book but gave up on it. As always, click on the titles for my Goodreads reviews.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar: And Six More, by Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl is such a good writer. No matter what he's writing about, he always manages to make you interested! I wasn't really looking forward to this book, but I'd owned it a long time so finally decided to pick it up. Short story collections tend to be a mixed bag, and as I expected, I liked about half of these and didn't care for the rest (more details in my review). Worth picking up if you're a big fan of Roald Dahl!

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd, by Alan Bradley. I liked this one much better than the last feels more like the series usually does. I really enjoyed it, but I did not like the ending! I can't believe that happened.

A Jane Austen Education, by William Deresiewicz. This is another one that's been on my shelves for far too long! Unfortunately I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped to. It's part memoir, and I just found the author to be really annoying most of the time. It was also sort of repetitive and I feel like it could have been much shorter than it was.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling. I finally got around to reading this illustrated edition that I bought last fall! Fall just puts me in the mood to read all the Harry Potter books and watch all the HP movies, so this cozy reread was perfect. The illustrated edition is gorgeous, of course, and this is one of my favorites of the series.

Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby. This book was very strange. I couldn't really decide how I felt about it until it was over! I really liked it though. It's supposed to be magic realism, but it was more like quirky contemporary YA mashed up with fairy tale. It was all over the place, but somehow it worked?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by J.K. Rowling. I never would have expected it, but I actually enjoyed Quidditch through the Ages more than this one! It was just a sort of boring glossary of magical creatures. Still worth a read though, since it's part of the Harry Potter universe. :)

Did not finish: Tracy and Hepburn, by Garson Kanin. I tend to accumulate classic movie star books, and I bought this one at a library sale years ago. I got over 100 pages into but just had no desire to continue! I love Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn together in movies, but this book was just sort of boring and the stories told seemed so insignificant. The book is really about them separately, not as a couple. The only interesting thing I learned was that Spencer Tracy was so against going to the Oscars when he was nominated and sure he was going to lose that he scheduled a hernia surgery for that time so he wouldn't have to. Then he won, ha!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Knitting: birthday socks.

These are the socks I knitted for my Mom's birthday earlier this month! They're pretty basic, so not that much to say about them. The main speckled yarn is KnitPicks Hawthorne Speckle in the Birthday Cake colorway. I used scraps for the heels and toes...I wanted to do both pink but didn't have enough yarn! (I don't like pink so I only buy it for projects for my mom.) The pink toes are KnitPicks Stroll Tonal in High Tea, and the heels are the same in Poppy Fields. I think they turned out pretty cute! :)

Ravelry project page.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

What I Read: July

July was a great reading month! I read more than usual (seven books in total), and I loved nearly everything I read. Very satisfying. :) As always, click on the titles to read my Goodreads reviews!

Jayber Crow, by Wendell Berry. Wendell Berry is my dad's favorite author, so while I've been buying his books as gifts for my dad for years, I had never actually read any of them myself! I did really enjoy this. It's slow moving, but it felt so realistic and the writing style is very nice. I definitely plan on reading more of his books!

I'll Have What She's Having, by Erin Carlson. I loved this book. It was such a fun read with lots of behind the scenes details from one of my favorite movies, You've Got Mail! (Plus Sleepless in Seattle, which I also enjoy a lot.) Many more details in my review.

Why I Am Not Going to Buy a Computer, by Wendell Berry. My first dip into Berry's nonfiction, and it was very thought provoking (but occasionally over my head!). This is a tiny collection of two of his essays that are connected to each other...the second one is a sort of response to the first one.

Rilla of Ingleside, by L.M. Montgomery. So this is the end of my first complete read through the Anne series! It was such a nice conclusion. It didn't feel like an Anne book at times to me, because it's set during WWI and is a lot darker than most of the other books. But the pretty writing and lovable characters are still there! I cried multiple times during this book. (Basically anything related to Dog Monday turned me into a baby...)

The Good People, by Hannah Kent. Just like her first book, Burial Rites, this book was dark and atmospheric and haunting and impossible to put down. I didn't really know much about it going in. It's set in the 1820s in rural Ireland, in a community of people whose Catholic faith is mingled with folklore and beliefs in fairies and changelings. It was depressing and hard to read at times, but so, so good.

Paris, My Sweet, by Amy Thomas. The one book that I read this month that disappointed me! Years ago I went through a spell where I bought lots of travel memoirs, and a lot of them happened to be about Paris. (There seems to be a much higher number of them written about France than about anywhere else!) This is one of the last ones I had left to read. Being someone who loves chocolate (and sweets in general) and travel memoirs, I thought I would love it! But the author was annoying and wishy-washy at times, and it felt sort of shallow.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I read this book about 7 or 8 years ago now. I didn't remember much about it, except that I liked it, and I've planned on rereading it for a long time. With the new movie adaptation, this seemed like a good time! I don't know what took me so long, because I loved this book. It's so charming and funny while still touching on darker topics related to WWII. I can't wait to see the movie!

Friday, July 13, 2018

I'll Have What She's Having: How Nora Ephron's Three Iconic Films Saved the Romantic Comedy

I loved this book! I expected to like it...I'm one of those people who loves watching special features on a DVD and hearing behind the scenes stories about my favorite movies. You've Got Mail is one of my favorite movies ever, one that I can rewatch a hundred times and never get tired of it. I also really enjoy Sleepless in Seattle a lot. (I had only seen When Harry Met Sally once. After reading this book, I watched it again and while I enjoy certain parts, it's not even close to the same level as the other two are for me!) So obviously this book would appeal to me, but I didn't expect to love it as much as I did.

First of all, it's not exactly a scholarly study of rom-coms, if that's what the title leads you to believe. There are a few passing references to other ones and certain directors and such, and how modern romantic comedies have and haven't changed from the 1930s and 40s. But mostly it's a tribute (an honest, non-glossy one) to Nora Ephron and the stories of the making of her three most loved movies.

I loved reading all about these movies! I learned so much, and I kept reading out random facts to my husband. (Like, I never knew that her parents were a screenwriting team during Hollywood's Golden Age.) There was so much of interest here. At the very beginning, the writing jumped around a bit and I found it confusing, but then things settled into a mostly chronological order and it was easy to follow. The writing style was clear and descriptive enough to suit this sort of book.

So yes, I highly recommend this book if you're a fan of these three movies. Just keep a notepad handy, because if you're like me, you'll be making a list of movies you want to watch or rewatch while reading this. And I also want to read some of Nora Ephron's works now!

(Really my only complaints are that there wasn't more information about Julie and Julia, because I really love that movie too, and the smattering of f-words in quotes from different people.)
Note: I received this book for free from the publisher, and this is my honest review.