Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Post (80) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

It was such a beautiful week. Friday was so nice I wish I'd had the day off. Of course it got colder again this weekend but still not that bad for February. The strange weather has caused plants and insects to emerge. We even had a bee in our library. My coworkers and I were trying to figure out the source of the loud buzzing. I thought maybe another computer was going bad but it turned out that a bee was in our light fixture. It has now gone to its eternal reward.

I am exhausted. I have not been sleeping well because of sinus headaches and nausea but hopefully that will pass soon. Today I need to try to finish at least one of my book group books. At least Cold Comfort Farm is a short book and I did find a chapter by chapter summary and analysis in case I don't get to finish it. The other book club selection finally arrived but unfortunately it isn't a fast paced book. I feel bad when I don't finish a book for book group since I'm the leader but this time I may have two unfinished books!

For awhile it looked like my trip to Mexico with my sister wasn't going to happen. The prices went up considerably but we were finally able to find something (still more expensive than we'd originally planned on but it also includes an extra night). We are going to Playa del Carmen at the end of April/beginning of May. Now I just need to start exercising and do some shopping. It's nice to have something fun to look forward to.

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a great week! What have you been reading lately and have you read any of the books on my list?

Last week on my blog:

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (review)

Books read:

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

I thought this was pretty good. It did remind me a little of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. 

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I decided to give this another try since so many people loved it. I initially found the characters immature and annoying because of the games they played with each other but I started to like them more and more and ended up loving the book. That doesn't happen often! If this book is ever made into a movie, I hope Anna Kendrick plays Lucy.

Currently reading:

The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack

This is a historical romance based on the life of Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. He meets the girl of his dreams as a young man of 19 (she was years younger) but she isn't sure of her feelings for him and her father doesn't approve.

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

I started this sure that I would really enjoy it but it isn't as easy to get into as I'd hoped. I thought about watching the movie version to help me get into the story more.

Currently listening to:

The Supremes at Earl's All You Can Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore (reread)

On my TBR pile:

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

This is the book we are reading in my evening book group. I don't know if I'll be able to finish it in time since I just got it. Also I've heard it is really slow going and from perusing it I'd have to agree.

New books received:

The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff (for review)

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord (for review)

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller (for review)

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens (for review)

Their Finest by Lissa Evans (library book)

Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer (library book)

As Old As Time by Liz Braswell (library book)

The Young Wives Club by Julie Pennell (library book)

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn (library book)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Review: My Not So Perfect Life

My Not So Perfect Life
By Sophie Kinsella
Published: February 7, 2017

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.

My review:

Unlike Becky Bloomwood (from Kinsella's Shopaholic series) who is a financial trainwreck,  Katie (or Cat as she prefers to be known in London) is actually good at her job and financially responsible even if she is struggling and doesn't get the credit she deserves. I liked her and felt bad for her when she lost her job. Katie bounces back though as she helps her dad and stepmom start up their new glamping business, creating a website and advising them on what to buy and activities to offer to make the place marketable. Then Demeter arrives and Katie (who hasn't told her family she lost her job) is terrified that they'll find out. Katie comes up with a disguise to fool Demeter since she has facial recognition issues anyway and Katie even has the opportunity to get a little creative revenge but eventually she'll have to face the music. On top of that, she hasn't found a new job and the guy she likes also suddenly turns up.

Something else I liked about this book was the focus on other things besides romance. Katie's career aspirations, her desire for friendship and her family relationships took center stage. Katie's family is wonderfully supportive though they have reservations over her living in London. Her dad keeps hoping she'll move back home and that is part of the reason she keeps her job loss a secret. Demeter is an unexpected character. She may appear to be like the boss in The Devil Wears Prada at first but there is much more to her than meets the eye. The romance actually wasn't as compelling for me and I could have done without it. The love interest doesn't seem like the right guy for her. 

Katie falls victim to the faux happiness of Instagram and other social media that allows people to show their best selves to the world so she has this idea that other people are leading glamorous and exciting lives and her own Instagram feed gives off that impression as well. Her boss assumes she has money as Katie is always talking about expensive trendy restaurants even though she can't afford to eat there and just reads the reviews. As she returns home she finally is able to let go of that and part of me kind of wished she'd stay at the farm and keep working there because it was so much more peaceful but Katie's dream was London and I also wanted her to find career success.

Like Kinsella's other books, there are plenty of laugh out loud moments such as Katie's "bespoke"  farm activities that she creates for Demeter during her glamping trip. I think readers who are looking for a fun and lighthearted story would enjoy this. It would make a great beach read. Too bad I read it in the middle of winter! While I've been disappointed by the more recent Shopaholic books, I was surprisingly pleased with My Not So Perfect Life and very glad I gave it a chance. I hope Sophie Kinsella creates more characters as likable as Katie.

Note: I received an ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Post (79) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Greetings from southern Ohio! I am currently visiting my parents for the long weekend and enjoying this beautiful weather. It's February and it's in the 60s :) I am also blogging from my new laptop. 

My old Dell finally gave up on me last weekend and since there are usually good sales during Presidents' Day weekend, I went to Best Buy today where I bought my first ever Mac. It is really different even though I am used to using an iPhone. I've had to Google how to do things like saving an image or even getting the scrollbars back (surprised that isn't a default). I love how light it is compared to my old one and they are supposed to be much more reliable. I hope that is the case after the issues I had with both my Dell laptop and my Dell desktop. I almost bought an HP but my dad has one he just got in 2016 and already has had to take it back several times to get stuff fixed. His previous desktop was an HP too. Maybe we both just bought lemons!

I got some good news relating to my car. I only need to get two tires for it instead of four which is great since my sister invited me to go to Mexico with her in April. I was waiting to figure out how much my tires would cost as well as how much I'd be getting back in taxes. The laptop sets me back quite a bit but I should still be able to go depending on the deals that are available. I've never been to Mexico but I'm looking forward to it. While I know the responsible thing is to save the money for the inevitable car repairs (or dental work-just got my broken tooth fixed but will eventually need a crown), I don't get the opportunity to travel very often with my sister. We went on one other trip together in 2005 and everything else has been work related (she tagged along to my library conferences) or quick day trips to Indy so this should be fun.

Work is going well. I have a couple of programs coming up and the winter reading program is almost finished. This week I need to read one of my book club books and I hope we'll get more copies of our evening book in because we ran out and I don't have one. I guess that's an excuse to not read it! 

I managed to read a few books in the past two weeks but after reading The Chilbury Ladies' Choir I was kind of stuck looking for my next book and nothing held my attention till I downloaded an ARC of Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley. I had planned to read The Hating Game but it was just disappointing me. The main characters were behaving so immaturely. I had such high hopes for it too :(

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you have a great week and sunny weather wherever you are :)

Last two weeks on my blog:

March: Books 1-3 by John Lewis (review)

Books read:

March: Book Three by John Lewis

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

I liked this one more than the recent Becky Bloomwood books. I also liked the focus on the main character's career and family and how she was less of a mess than some of the author's other protagonists.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I mostly enjoyed this creative fantasy. The main character Agnieszka lives in a world where there is an evil forest with malevolent trees and a wizard known as the Dragon keeps the kingdom safe from it. Every ten years a young woman from the village is chosen to move to the Dragon's tower as his servant and everyone is sure it will be Agnieszka's best friend Kasia but they are wrong--it is Agnieszka herself. Also there is magic and a little romance.

The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

This is a novel told through letters and journal entries set during WWII. I liked it though some of the characters weren't very likable especially in the beginning. It reminded me of the TV series Home Fires as well as books like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Summer Before the War.

Books listened to:

Starflight by Melissa Landers (reread)


Currently reading:

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

The premise of this book reminds me a little of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (but for adults). It also brought to mind a similar true story about a young woman who is allergic to her husband and parents.

Currently listening to:

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore (reread)

On my TBR pile:

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

This is the book we are reading in my afternoon book group. It sounds like it will be fun. There is also a movie with Kate Beckinsale and Rufus Sewell. 

The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman

The Lady of the Lakes by Josi S. Kilpack

New books received:

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones (for review) 

Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley (for review)

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (library book)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Review: March

March: Books 1-3
By John Lewis, Anddrew Aydin and Nate Powell
Published: 8-13-13 (Book one), 1-20-15 (Book two), 8-2-16 (Book three)

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper's farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president. 

Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis presents March, a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole). 

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. 

Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1958 comic book "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story." Now, his own comics bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations.

My review:

The March trilogy is the illustrated graphic novel format autobiography of John Lewis, specifically focusing on his time as a leader of the Civil Rights Movement. The first book covers the years from his childhood (when he wanted to be a preacher and preached to his chickens) to his college years and his involvement with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in downtown Nashville. The second book is about the Freedom Riders and the March on Washington and the third book covers the Freedom Summer (Mississippi Summer Project) to register black people to vote and the march to Selma (Bloody Sunday). 

In school (in the 80s-90s) we learned a little bit about the Civil Rights Movement with a focus more on Dr. King. Rosa Parks was also mentioned. I didn't know anything about the other Civil Rights leaders so I learned a lot from reading these books and it definitely makes me want to read more about it. The comic book format is a unique way to tell Lewis's story. I thought the illustrations really conveyed the emotion behind what was happening.

These books were informative and written in an accessible way. The first book starts out on the day of President Obama's inauguration and each book includes segments from that day as well as what happened in the past. March: Book Three has won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and the Michael L. Printz Award (an award from the American Library Association for teen literature) among others. 

Reading the books made me feel so angry and sad about the treatment of black people and inspired by the brave people in the movement who stood up to that abuse and discrimination in a nonviolent way. While I knew about these books and had purchased them for my library, I hadn't read them yet until recent events brought the books to mind again but I'm so glad I read them. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday Post (78) / It's Monday, What Are You Reading

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a fun weekly meme now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date, where we share what we've read and reviewed over the past week and what we plan to read next.

Not much happened this week. I have been having some minor sore throat issues for the past several days. I don't know what is causing it but I've been drinking lots of tea to help. This week I have to go to the dentist because a piece of my tooth broke off. I'm not in any pain and it was a small piece so hopefully I won't lose the tooth or need any expensive procedure. If it isn't my car, it's my teeth. Grr. 

In positive news I had a great evening book discussion with some new people showing up. Everyone liked Little Women but some people ended up with copies that only had the first part of the story. Thankfully they'd seen the movie so they could participate in the discussion. I also have a vacation planned for this spring. My parents and I will be going to Savannah to see my uncle and aunt. It's nice to have something to look forward to.

At the library I am planning more programs. I haven't made much progress with the Peeps Diorama contest idea. I also have to decide if I am going to charge for attendance at our paint night. It is so expensive and I know of another library that charged patrons half the price (the Friends of the Library paid the other half). I have never charged for any of my programs so I'm a little worried about even charging half price.  

I know Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow but it is supposed to warm up here later this week and I hope spring is around the corner. Besides, what do groundhogs know about the weather? :) Have a great week!

Last week on my blog:

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins (review)

Books read:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (reread)

To my surprise I did like this book and got sucked into the story. My favorite part was reading about Neave and her sister, their makeup business and the suspense plot. In between are chapters of The Pirate Lover, Neave's favorite romance novel (it ties in with the main story). 

March: Book Two by John Lewis

I thought this was really good. This second volume covered Lewis's time as a Freedom Rider and the March on Washington. 

Currently reading:

March: Book Three by John Lewis

Currently listening to:

Starflight by Melissa Landers (reread)

On my TBR pile:

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

While I've lost interest in the Becky Bloomwood books I'm hoping that this will be better.

The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan

I think this sounds really good and I have high hopes for it. It is set in an English village during WWII and the synopsis reminds me of the TV series Homefires as well as The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (it is also told in letters).

New books received:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (for review)

My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (for review)

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller (won)