Adult, Books, Musings

Try a Chapter Tag

I don’t know if this tag has made its way to the blogging community (probably because I am super late to be posting this here … HA!) but the premise is simple.  Pick some books from your shelves that have been sitting unread and read the first chapter.

This is a great tag for people in reading slumps or who are so excited about too many books and need to pick one… as long as you pick one and don’t keep cycling books chapter by chapter.

 

I tried to step my editing game up a bit with this one.  I have been trying to push myself not only here but in all aspects of my life.  I am tired of being sad and mopey, it is time to stand tall and be proud of the things that I do.

Adult, Books, Comics, Musings, YA (Young Adult)

Summer Reading Wrap Up

So it has been a while since I have wrapped up the books I have read.  Not only has it been difficult for Gretchen and I to get together all summer for various reasons (time conflicts, mental health, internet being actual butts) so you weren’t getting weekly wrap ups in any way but I have been completely nonexistent on the blog.  Which we all know I am attempting to change here and now… hopefully forever, but no promises.

In any case I am going to try and talk a bit about all of the books I have read in June, July, and August.

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This was the first book for book club this season so there is a full discussion on it here!  I loved this.  I still feel that way.  It did seem to check all of the boxes of things that Michaela would like though.  So if you feel very strongly that we are akin then definitely check this out.

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This was an ARC review I did back in June.  It wasn’t my favorite book I’ve read this year but I definitely did enjoy it.  I had heard of Lisa Jewell as an author and this was my first of hers.  I think that I will look into some of her other work.  She is a bit more commercial than I usually go for but not bad by any means.

The second book club book was Gretchen’s pick and I was super not a fan.  That could have been due to the fact that I was super ill at the time of reading it but I kind of hated it.

Next we kicked off the second season of Nostalgia Junkie.  Unfortunately the unanimous decision on this was that we weren’t super huge fans.  It may be that we just aren’t the target audience but we all had issues with it.

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Taylor’s pick for the first round of book club was a debut and we all really liked it.  It was surprising because it takes a really good book to win all three of us over.  This one did it so you should definitely check that out!

Gretchen and I read Nimona together and we did a video review of it for you guys.  It was super cute and sweet and we completely understood why so many people loved it.  I have followed Noelle Stevenson for a while and new she is a cookie to pay attention to in comics.  Watch her.  She will do great things.


I started the second round of summer book club picks with Middlesex.  Taylor was the one who liked this book the most, Gretchen and I had a bit of an issue with the way it was laid out. You should watch the whole discussion to find out more.

I have to say that I do so love Patton Oswalt.  I haven’t spoken about this anywhere else.  It was a pick for my pop sugar challenge and I listened to it on audio, read by the man himself.  It is always great to listen to autobiographical works when written by the author and especially so when he is as awkward and nerdy as you.

Now we find ourselves in the books I read for booktubeathon.  This was my pick for the book I would only read at night.  I both read the physical edition and listened to parts on audio.  I actually wound up enjoying it more than I thought I would.  It also fulfilled the requirement of a book that is more than 100 years older than me for the Pop Sugar challenge.

This was listened to entirely on audio.  I was conflicted with this.  I was expecting a bit of a funnier story from Steve Martin.  That isn’t to say I wasn’t a fan of his writing style, it just caught me off guard.  It was about a community that I haven’t spent much time learning about so I did enjoy that aspect of it.

This one will be featured in an upcoming post so look out for that.  It was a book with yellow on the cover and a book I learned about from booktube.  I ended up really enjoying this one though it took me a while to decide that.  It was definitely one the the end justified the rest of the book for me.  I like what it was saying politically.

This was both Taylor and my own book to movie adaptation and we both came out of it feeling like … welp that was a mess.  I think it was meant to be a mess.  It was really entertaining but all over the place.  We both enjoyed it but were mildly disoriented by the experience.  Which I think is apt.


I reviewed this one on the blog yesterday actually!  So here we have an interesting new comic coming from Image.  We all know how much I love Image.  If you like robots and stories that ask what it means to be human then definitely give this one a go.

Gretchen and I did a discussion of this one but the audio ended up being a bit borked.  Over all I enjoyed the experience.  It read a bit like fanfiction but it was nice to dip back into a world that I loved as a child.  I am curious to see if watching it as a play would be better than reading it if I ever get a chance to do so.

David Wong is a comic god.  Well, he is.  This one isn’t my favorite of his works but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good book and he isn’t a good writer.  I loved hearing from a female protagonist it did change the way the story progressed for me.  If you like science fiction and laughing, give this one a go.

There will be a future review of this one on the blog as well.  Gretchen and I have already filmed it, it just needs to make its way out into the world.  We enjoyed listening to the audio book but we didn’t feel like it ended up doing for us what it was trying to. It was a delight to listen to though so there is that.

This book is most likely going to be in my top 10 books of the year.  It honestly blew me away.  It will also be featured in an upcoming review.  I went into this book skeptical and came out just amazed.  She was able to do so much and so well.  I loved it.  A must read in my opinion.

This was a comic that I picked up based on Taylor’s recommendation.  He had really enjoyed it or had heard good things about it, I am not certain which at this point but I picked it up.  It wasn’t my favorite comic but it did go somewhere entirely unexpected and I give it props for that.

And now we reach the last book I read in August which happens to be Gretchen’s pick for the second round of book club.  This showed up on the blog earlier this week so you can find our discussion of it there.  I enjoyed it, even if much of that video is us picking apart the book.  Sometimes you just have to say, it was a fun experience.

Apparently I have read 19 books in the last three months… which honestly amazes me since I have been struggling to read.  A lot of them were audio books and a good chunk were thanks to the booktubeathon but hey they were things that I read.  I have been reading more in the last couple weeks so the hope is that I am feeling safer in myself again and will be able to read a whole bunch more and talk about it with you guys.  That is the hope anyway.

As far as my reading challenges go:

Goodreads: 66/50 surpassed!
Pop Sugar: 27/40 (13 left I think I can do it!)

How are you guys doing after the summer?  Are you excited for fall.  It is my favorite season and I am in the mood for all of the Horror books!  I need a bunch of cider and pumpkin bread and some crisp fall air and I will be a happy girl.

Talk to you guys tomorrow!

Adult, Books

Lions by Bonnie Nadzam ARC Review

I read this book waaaaay back in February so I’m talking to you guys from the past!  Hello future me!  Hello future you!

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Title: Lions
Author: Bonnie Nadzam
Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat
Page #: 288
Genre: Literary Fiction

This Book Will be Released on July 5th!

Now because I am writing this review after just having read the book in February something weird is going to be happening.  I have ordered a copy of Bonnie Nadzam’s first novel, Lamb and am planning to read that as well (which spoils a bit of what I’m going to say in this review, tldr; I liked it).  The reason I am saying this is because one book is called Lamb the other is called Lions they have to be connected somehow.  You don’t name things like this unless they are meant to be in some sort of conversation with each other.  There is a chance that by the time this review goes up that I have read and reviewed Lamb… in which case you already know whether or not I was disappointed that there wasn’t any repeating themes or super excited that both books gain deeper meaning when read and compared.  If not, perhaps I will do that soooooon.  SOOOOOOON.

You aren’t here for things that may or may not have happened already, you are here for a review of this book right here!  Like I said, I liked it.  I read it in one sitting despite the fact that is literary fiction.  That isn’t to say this is a light read, its just an engaging one, or at least it was for me.  It does have several trigger words associated with it that I particularly love though so I may be a bit biased (ghost story, mysterious stranger, westerns … yes please!)  It is relatively short being under 300 pages so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to spend a couple hours curled up in my nice warm bed on a snowy February evening (HI JULY HOW ARE YOU? HOT AS BALLS? PROBABLY) and escape into a summery setting.

One of the things I found most enjoyable about this books is that there are these long prosaic descriptions of the setting and everything going around in this tiny little town in Colorado.  However, whenever anyone speaks its this clipped back and forth exchange of a handful of words.  It is as if the people in this town don’t need to say a lot, everything is already known and understood, and what is unknown is left to the imagination or ignored.  For instance, the catalyst to most of the events in this novel, that mysterious stranger walking into town with his dog.  He is mostly ignored even when he stirs up a bit of trouble.

The other thing I think this book did incredibly well was to move around the idea of ghosts and haunting.  One of the character’s father dies within the first couple pages of the novel and his father’s dying wish was for him to continue his life’s work.  Now we are not privy to what that is and neither is anyone else in the town beside the now deceased father and his son just about to step out into the world for the first time.  People speculate that their family has been tasked with taking care of a sick or injured ghost.  The mysterious stranger is believed to be a ghost.  Then of course there is the theme of this dying town with all of the inhabitants moving away to something larger, something better, something bigger creating the illusion of a ghost town because it is so empty.  This theme continues through the book in different ways including the haunting of regret, the haunting of past relationships and even insanity in some cases.  It was fully explored without being too heavy handed.

There was enough mystery involved in several aspects of the story and whenever something got resolved something new sort of sparked up.  There is a lot of secrets in this town and a lot of inferring and gossiping.  There is always something new to try and glean from the sparse words you get or to parse out through the narrators description of this town and its few straggling inhabitants.

If you enjoy books about how our decisions effect us, tales of mystery, tales of young love and regret then this is definitely something you should pick up.  It creates a story through atmosphere and both gives and withholds of information with perfect timing.  This was one of the best books I’ve read so far this year (reminder this is in February I could read something earth shatteringly good two months from now but as of the 22 books I’ve read so far, this was really freakin’ good).

That’s all I have for you guys today!  I hope you enjoyed this review from the past, now back to the present!

Books, Musings

Happy New Year! 2015 Wrap Up and Top 5 Books!

Hey Guys, I have a two week streak of having posts for you.  Three times a week at least, no less.  I’m going to try and keep this up.  I’m working really hard.  Speaking of working hard, I edited three videos this week all pertaining to the year as a whole.

You will find two of those videos below but the last can only be found over on Gretchen’s Blog so please go check it out!

In this first video I talk all about the year as it pertains to you guys here on my blog as well as tell you my Top 5 Books for the year:

On top of that, Gretchen and I got together to talk about all of the things we have done together this year including: our book club videos and everything to do with Betwixt the Books.

How was your year?

What were your favorite books this year?

I hope you guys are looking forward to the new year and I hope its a good one for you!

Happy New Year!

Adult, Books

The Stranger by Albert Camus Review (BEDO)

*Blog Everyday in October

This book had one of the single most frustrating second halves to books I have ever read and I want to rant about it but I can’t because spoilers.  There is a rant in me that wants to come out.

Title: The Stranger
Original Title: L’Etranger
Author: Albert Camus
Translator: Mathew Ward (from French)
Page #: 123

This was a respectively quick read.  A short book that was essentially split into two parts.  The first following a guy around his everyday life for a few weeks, the second being a trial and its outcome.  The first half was perfectly fine, I enjoyed all of the different vignettes of life Camus gives us within there.  I especially liked the scenes walking to the funeral and the description of the old man who lives near the main character as well as that old man’s dog.

While the writing style can be simplistic at times it is also incredibly beautiful.  It has moments of incredibly vivid imagery and moments of simplistic description.  I enjoyed the writing very much and might look into some of his other works.

A thing to note about this novel, the narrator is totally a sociopath.  I had to keep reminding myself of this fact, it would be obvious at times and then he would do something and I would get all huffy and have to go, “He isn’t going to do things logically because he doesn’t think the same way.”  This probably didn’t help my frustration with the second half of the novel.

As a person who spent two whole years about her life learning about how the government works and then trials respectively this trial made me so outraged.  The trial was the biggest ruse of a trial with the most ridiculous outcome I have ever seen.  I want to explain why, but I won’t because spoilers.  Just understand that it is terrible, well written, but not the way things should have gone down.

Some people have mommy issues and some people get put on trial and all’s well that ends well or not.

There you have it my short little review of The Stranger for its short length with the beginnings of a rant but not a full on rant.  I hope you guys are having a good weekend so far.  I have so much due next week for school that it is time for me to get back to working on that stuff and as always The Pied Piper is calling me.

Adult, Bibliomancy For Beginners, Books

Bibliomancy for Beginners: Ep. 5. Tree of Codes by Jonathan Safran Foer

TWO BIBLIOMANCY FOR BEGINNERS BOOK REVIEWS IN TWO DAYS MICHAELA, YOU FIEND!

I know, I know, but this is what happens when I don’t make a post for two weeks … you get a bunch of posts as a form of catch up.  I’m sorry -.- .

Alright let’s get into this:

Bibliomancy for Beginners is the collaboration of Gretchen, of My Life is a Notebook fame, myself, and two of our friends from college.  We get together every Tuesday at 8:30 EST and talk about a book we all read.  This week it was Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes, and my second pick.

Title: Tree of Codes
Author: Jonathan Safran Foer
Publisher: Visual Editions
Genre: Post Modernist Text, Literary Fiction
Page #: 139 (though its really much less than that; continue reading to find out why)

Now the thing that drew me to this novel was the thing the perhaps makes it most unique.  This book was created from the bones of another novel.  Now, many of you I am sure have seen photos on tumblr or in some art instillation or poem where an artist takes a page out of a book and blacks out some words and leaves others open to create a new sentence, or poem, or whatever.  This is what Foer did, but with a whole novel.  He took Bruno Shulz’s Street of Crocodiles and literally cut it up to create a new story.

Now, I have not read Street of Crocodiles but I have it in good authority (or from several goodreads reviews) that the plots to both novels are EXTREMELY similar.  While I am not surprised by this, there is only so much you can do with the words you are given, I have to wonder if what Foer did was write a new novel, or merely condense the old one into a sort of ballad.

Each of us on Bibliomancy for Beginners noted on the lyrical qualities of the writing of this novel.  It is work of beauty to say the least, a piece of art if you will.  We also all noted the difficulty we has in picking out what was actually happening in the story based on the way it was presented.  Since each page is filled with holes, die-cut in a way so that only the words he wished to remain were physically there, it creates a difficult reading environment.  The part of my brain which normally contemplates the metaphorical or symbolical representation of what I’m reading (or even the basic plot the first time through) was distracted making sure I was reading all of the words that I needed to and not picking up words from pages later in the book.

I wanted to open a blank word document and type each of the sentences in myself so that I could read it in one chunk.  I felt like I would have better comprehended what I read if I could read it normally, and would have better been able to contemplate what the novel was trying to say between the lines.  I did read it twice and was able to grasp things more clearly and perhaps if I ever get around to reading Street of Crocodiles I should revist this novel and see what it brings to the old text and to myself.

This is definitely an interesting book to have on your shelf.  It is a talking piece at all those literary gatherings I know you all attend.  You can sip your hoity toity tea and break out your english professor voice to talk about the groundbreaking and intersting techniques employed by Foer in this novel.  It is extremely expensive, obviously due to the processes necessary to create it and it can be hard to get a hold of (one of our hosts was put on back order twice and had the book read aloud to her so that she could participate in the discussion).

While it was beautiful and masterful and interesting, it wasn’t my favorite read of the week.  I did read one of Foer’s other novels Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close as well this week.  It is strange to say but I feel like even when using Shulz’s words I could still see Foer’s voice in Tree of Codes so if you have read something else by him or wish to read something else by him, I would highly recommend it.  It would definitely be worth it.

If you want to see me and my friends talk about this book and mostly grumble about how it was so difficult to understand then watch the video below.  It is entertaining if not very informative.

I might have made it to South Carolina by the time this post goes up, we shall see.  I hope you had a great weekend and enjoy the week to come.  Be sure to check out the newest episode of Bibliomancy for Beginners to air this coming Tuesday at 8:30 EST.  I might treat our audience to an ocean view. 😀  I have to go now, I need to be up early as I leave on this adventure but I wanted these posts to go up regardless.  See you guys soon, the Pied Piper is calling me.