Wednesday, September 18, 2013

This Just In

I know I just posted books I purchased from a few days ago, but my local library was having their annual book sale and fall festival this past weekend so I couldn't help but stop by and pick up a few things, right? It's totally guilt free shopping. (Except for that time when I said I would no longer be buying books for a few months... oops!).

Here is what I bought:

I honestly have no idea what these books are about apart from the descriptions on the inside covers.  A majority of these books seem to be about down and out characters that have to fight circumstances beyond their control to succeed in life.. I'm okay with that. 

Have you bought anything new lately?

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Happy Monday, everyone! Only four more days until the weekend!

I've set a pretty high goal for myself this week .. I would like to finish a book.  I know, this seems like an easy to accomplish one, huh? But based on my track record for September so far I am lagging behind on the reading.  Last week, I finished The Witches by Roald Dahl and did not do much else.

I am currently on page 128/362 of Wuthering Heights so my goal is to finish this book by Friday.  That's only about 60 pages per night so hopefully I will reach that goal and post a review for RIPVIII.  It's a surprisingly enjoyable book, and I have enjoyed reading it at a slower pace so I can immerse myself in the time period and language but it's been going on for quite enough time and I would like to find out what happens and put this one to rest.

I've also started reading The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente and I am loving it so far.  It's a nice change of pace to break up the desperation that is Wuthering Heights.

Other than these two novels I don't have plans on picking anything up until the end of September. I will be vacationing in Disney world all next week so I am unsure of how much time I will have to read.  As for The Historian read-a-long I signed up for in August.. well, hopefully the first two weeks of October will remain open so I can finish it up then. :)

It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Witches Review

Confession: I am nearly 25 years old and this is the first Roald Dahl book I've ever read.  I was a reader as a child, too- always in the library at school or in my town.  I've seen the movies inspired by his books but if you had asked my 9 year old self who Roald Dahl was I wouldn't have any idea.

I decided to fix the oversight in my children's literature experience by reading The Witches.  This read was inspired by quite a few sources - Julia Pistell from Literary Disco recommended The Witches in their podcast, Chels from Chels&ABook hauled quite a few books from Roald Dahl over the summer AND it was just Roald Dahl Day on September 13! So, I hopped on Amazon and purchased The Witches and read it in one day.

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The Witches tells the story of a 9 year old boy who is orphaned and then raised by his Norwegian grandmama.  Grandmama is quite the story teller and we learn an incredible amount of information about the existence of witches throughout the world - how to spot them, what their motives are, and best of all -- how to get rid of them.

My favorite part of Roald Dahl's writing is when he breaks down the fourth wall and speaks directly to the reader (usually a child).  I remember this being present in many other books I read when I was younger and I loved it.  It makes the child feel special, like the author is recognizing their important role in the art of story telling and making sure they are paying attention to everything is going on.  Dahl also plays up children's humor very well (and tastefully) and I found it quite funny as an adult.  Here is an example when describing how to tell witches from regular women:
She might even - and this will make you jump - she might even be your lovely school-teacher who is reading these words to you at this very moment.  Look carefully at that teacher.  Perhaps she is smiling at the absurdity of such a suggestion.  Don't let that put you off.  It could be part of her cleverness.
I am not, of course, telling you for one second that your teacher is actually a witch.  All I am saying is that she might be one.  It is most unlikely.  But - and here comes the big "but" - it is not impossible. (c) Dahl, 1983.

HOW GREAT IS THAT? I can picture a classroom of children going wild while their teacher/maybe witch reads this aloud to them.  It is a great way to engage the child in reading and keep them coming back for more.

Overall, this was a fantastic read and I will be purchasing more Roald Dahl books in the future!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Where Have I Been? | This Just In

Ooops.. I disappeared for a week.  It happens.  I am in the final planning stages for my wedding (just one more week!) so the literary aspect of my life has taken a backseat to everything else.  I started reading Wuthering Heights last weekend, and am about 30% way through it right now.

This Just In

Even though I haven't had much time to read, I was tempted to buy a few books on Amazon.  I bought The Witches by Roald Dahl in honor of Roald Dahl Day (September 13) and I plan on finishing and reviewing that tonight.  I also bought Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Under My Hat: Tales from the Cauldron, a short story anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan.  All of these books were inspired by Chels from Chels&ABook.  They are lighter and shorter reads to break up the more serious novels I am focusing on for the RIPVIII read-a-thon and a fun way to get in the Halloween spirit.

How is your September reading going so far? Are you in full swing for the RIPVIII read-a-thon yet?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Fahrenheit 451 Review - Classics Club

I recently finished Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury as part of my Classics Club Commitment and for the Classics Spin #3.
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This book is so popular and frequently assigned to high school students that I am not going to recap the events here.  After finishing the book I was left with a "huh?" feeling.  The first 130 or so pages demonstrate Guy Montag's struggle against himself and the society in which he lives; he finally finds a release through the discovery of literature.

However, immediately after the climax of the book Bradbury takes Montag into a path that I neither saw coming nor understood.  Once he meets up with the other literary scholars along the railroad tracks I have absolutely no idea what Bradbury was saying. All of a sudden the focus became on the limits of human society in comparison with nature as a whole and I did not understand how that related to the previous societal conflict.  Overall this was just an average book for me.  I may have to read it again to put the puzzle pieces together on what Bradbury was trying to do at the end; I don't think I fully grasped his message (the same thing happened with The Great Gatsby, I read the book three times before I could connect with the plot, let alone the meaning behind it).

Have you read Fahrenheit 451 and understood it, or did you also have difficulty understanding Bradbury's message? Let me know (or help explain) in the comments!

Fahrenheit 451 was originally published in 1953 by Ballantine Books.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Night Circus Review - A RIPVIII Read

I have a confession - I did not finish this book.  I am listening to the audiobook and I have about 2.5 hours left, but I can't bring myself to listen to them despite having a story line I was initially interested in and beautiful writing, not the mention the rich voice of Jim Dale.

The Night Circus follows three story lines: the challenge between Celia and Marco, the creation and characters of the circus, and Bailey, a young man from Concord, Massachusetts who wishes to be rescued by the circus like so many characters in fairy tales.  It really is too complex to try and explain to someone without spoiling; each detail builds upon the one before it and eventually manifest into a bigger picture.

These story lines are interwoven through multiple decades by the phenomenal writing of Erin Morgenstern. She has the ability to describe setting, character and dialogue utilizing all five senses and I was immersed in the story line from the very first line.

So what happened?

The Night Circus is written with vignettes that jump across decades, continents, and story lines.  While this normally isn't a problem to read, listening to a story written in this form is an entirely different and confusing experience.  I could only listen to the book for about an hour at a time without getting antsy so a book that would normally take me 1-2 days to read would eventually elapse into a 13 day listening experience due to the length of the audio.  Even when I forced myself to listen to a few hours per day, I would mentally wander or distract myself with something else.  I think if the story was told in a more linear manner I wouldn't have such a difficult time with the book.

Despite my inability to finish the audio version of The Night Circus I might still pick up a physical copy of the book to read so I can finish the story. I would highly recommend this book, especially for an event like RIPVIII because it was generally creepy at the very beginning and has an overall, fantasy/noir feel.

The Night Circus was published in 2011 by Anchor Books.

Monday, September 2, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading?

Happy Labor Day, everyone! Rather than enjoying the last warm days of summer, I am holed up in my apartment because of the torrential thunderstorms forecasted for the rest of today.  I'm not going to complain too much however because it's perfect reading weather,  There are a lot of good things going on this month.. RIPVIII, The Historian Read a long and Classics Club Spin #3 are all in full swing!

I'm currently reading...
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  This book was picked from my Classics Club Spin #3 list.  I will finish and post a review by Oct. 1

I'm currently listening to...
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  This is the first book I will review for RIPVIII and while it is enchanting, and wonderfully written, I'm starting to get bored.  I think this has more to do with listening to the book on audio (which will take about 14 hours) rather than reading the physical text (which I would have finished in one night).  A good experience however because the narrator's voice adds a lot to the atmosphere the writing in the book creates.

The last book I finished was...
Nothing yet.  I've put down The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel and The Essence (Pledge #2) by Kimberly Derting.  I am not feeling either of those books right now.

It's Monday! What are you reading? Is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

This Just In - September 1

Happy Sunday, everyone! I hope you are enjoying the long weekend we have in the U.S. for Labor Day.

 I know I said a few posts ago that I wasn't going to pick up any new books for a while, but I just happened upon Nightfilm by Marisha Pessl in my local Books a Million.  I first heard about this book from Chels and a Book on YouTube (she also has a blog!).  She posted a rave review about it last week that piqued my interest.  Nightfilm is a literary thriller, and since it fits in perfectly with the theme RIPVIII I bought it without hesitation when I first saw it. 

Have you picked up any good books lately?