Monday, September 30, 2013


Here's some conclusions to questions, ideas, and projects written about in the past:

1. Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)
I did not finish it! I read 150 pages (out of 455) and found the plot to be uninspired and boring. I could not read any further. However, Boomer picked it up after I tossed it aside and proceeded to read it all the way through. Now, after having read The Casual Vacancy and half of Cuckoo's Calling, I am feeling discouraged about Rowling's move into books for adults.

2. The Summer of the Re-Read
Well, the summer didn't hold much re-reading for me, but September did. I re-read a favorite, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. In addition, I re-read The Tiger Rising, also by Kate DiCamillo (which was as disappointing as it was the first time around).

If you're newer to this blog, please read my post about asking the librarian if the dog dies at the end of Because of Winn-Dixie. It contains some valuable lessons about 1) making sure the animal doesn't die at the end of the book and 2) how helpful librarians are!

Also, in anticipation of Jhumpa Lahiri's newest book, The Lowland, I re-read her collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth. I am also in the middle of re-reading Interpreter of Maladies, another collection of short stories by Lahiri for which she received the Pulitzer Prize in 2000.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

"I obviously wasn't thinking like a lawyer yet. If this was what it meant to work in a prestigious law firm, I clearly was not ready." -Sonia Sotomayor

Sotomayor is one of the Supreme Court Justices, and her story is quite remarkable. She grew up in the housing projects in the Bronx. Her father was an alcoholic who died when Sotomayor was only nine. Sotomayor also had juvenile diabetes and learned to give herself insulin shots at a very young age. Nevertheless, she graduated from Princeton (she applied there when someone suggested she consider the "Ivies" although she had no idea what that meant), and then Yale Law School.

There were a couple of surprising things that I learned about Sotomayor. I didn't know that she had been married briefly. I was also surprised that she struggled as a young lawyer learning how to think and write like a lawyer. I found it encouraging that even Sonia Sotomayor at one point was a newbie.

Sotomayor also writes about an attorney who was quite rude to Sotomayor about affirmative action when Sotomayor was still a student at Yale. Where is that attorney now? I don't recognize his name, so I know for sure he's not sitting on the Supreme Court. Hah, I hope he reads about himself in this book.

My Beloved World was sometimes slow reading at times, but overall it was interesting to read how someone's life was shaped by family, circumstances, and determination.

Thanks to Amy G. for this recommendation!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Do you ever think about where you want to be as you're finishing a book? I don't want to be sitting in a waiting room when I read that last page. I want to be at home in a comfy chair or sitting on the stairs (yes, sometimes I read sitting on the staircase because there's a great window above the stairs that provides great light).

Anyway, I was thinking about that all as I headed home on a Saturday evening because I knew that I was nearing the end of this book, and I was hoping to finish it that night. With some hot chocolate in hand, I settled down on the couch to finish this book. Whoah, this book had me on my toes until the very end.

Louisa is 27 years old and sailing along, living at home, and working at a little cafe. She's been dating her boyfriend for seven years and will most likely marry him. Her job at the cafe suddenly ends and she  takes a very well-paying job as a caregiver for 35-year-old Will, who is in a wheelchair after an accident ended his high-flying, extreme adventure lifestyle.

This book has twists and turns, and a plot like nothing I've ever read before. Very original, and it prompted me to think about life and what's worth living for.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology by Caroline Paul, illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton

"...I saw in her face all the hope and enthusiasm and future heartbreak of a new cat owner." --p. 159

Caroline Paul was in an accident, and spent much time at home recovering. Her two cats loved having her around all of the time, but then, one of them, Tibby goes missing. Caroline consults a psychic who believes that Tibby is being cared for. Caroline visits the local animal shelter to look for Tibby, and plasters the neighborhood with signs.

Six weeks later, Tibby finally returns but there's something different about him. He doesn't look like he's been lost on the streets for six weeks. In fact, he looks a bit more plump and now he walks with a swagger in his step. Furthermore, he stops eating the food that Caroline serves him.

Caroline wants to figure out where Tibby went and where he continues to go to eat. She fits him with a GPS tracker, and then a camera (there are some really cute photos included which show things from the perspective of a cat's collar, whiskers included!). She, with help from her girlfriend, Wendy, narrows down the area that Tibby frequents, and they finally figure out where he's been going.

This is a fun book. It has illustrations by Caroline's girlfriend which are also very fun. There's also sadness in here as well which is always true when we love a pet. However, if you like cats or pets and want something fun to read on a Sunday afternoon, I would recommend this to you.

Thanks for the recommendation, Rebecca! =D

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

A lighthouse keeper and his wife live in isolated Western Australia. The wife longs for a child of her own, but has had two miscarriages and one stillbirth. One morning, the couple finds a small boat shipwrecked with the dead body of a man and a very alive baby girl. The couple decides to keep the baby and raise her as their own child.

This book contains a lot - the effects of war, what makes up a marriage, longing for children, lies, secrets, and jail time. The writing is simple but the themes are complex.

Make sure you have some free time when you start this book because you won't want to put it down.

Thanks for the recommendation, Rebecca! =D

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

15-year-old Thea Atwell is involved in a mysterious, scandalous act that causes her family to send her away to riding camp. She thinks that it's just for the summer, but they've actually sent her away for the school year.

This is a coming-of-age story that goes back and forth between present and past as the secret that sent Thea away is gradually (a bit TOO gradually) revealed. Thea experiences some change in her character toward the end, but not nearly enough to make this book worth reading. It was lackluster at times, dragged at others, and lacked something. Just a so-so read.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Violet Hour by Katherine Hill

Cassandra and Abe are sailing on the San Francisco Bay with their daughter, Elizabeth, who's about to head off to Harvard. Life seems pretty good until Cassandra admits her infidelity. Abe jumps off the boat and swims to shore.

Fast forward to about ten years in the future when the family reunites for a funeral.

The book goes back and forth between the present and the past, basically dissecting Cassandra and Abe's marriage throughout the years. However, such flipping back and forth got kinda confusing, and sometimes I'd be a paragraph or two into a section still wondering if we were in the past or present.

Also, the book became dull at times. When I start flipping to the end of a book to see how many pages I have left, that's a sign that things are a bit dull. I liked the ideas behind this book, and the beginning seemed promising. There were some nice moments, but I think it could have been about 100 pages shorter.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lost in Suburbia: How I Got Pregnant, Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs by Tracy Beckerman

In my profession, August is the start of the year cycle, so there's extra trainings and meetings. I knew that the last several weeks would be especially busy which meant that I'd have less time to read. I wanted something light and easy to read in the spare moments I did have, and this book fit the bill.

Beckerman worked in television in New York City before having kids. When the kids started coming, and her family needed more space (and more than one toilet), she and her husband decided to move to New Jersey. She quit her job and became a stay-at-home-mom. After she's pulled over while wearing a bathrobe, she becomes determined to find her "cool" once again and reclaim herself.

The "finding her cool" part was a bit thin. The story was much heavier on the self-deprecation.

Well, I needed something light, funny, and distracting from the busyness of the last weeks, so this book worked well. However, not something I would highly recommend or anything.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World by Nancy Jo Sales

A group of teenagers, the "Bling Ring," robbed the houses of celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Orlando Bloom, and Paris Hilton. They admired the clothes and accessories of these stars, so they did their research with Google Maps, tracked when the stars were out of town on TMZ, and made plans to rob their houses. Surprisingly, it seemed quite easy as the teens usually entered through unlocked windows or doors, and the security systems were not enabled. They would take their time and basically shop around the house, and take what they wanted.

This is a true story, and the book is categorized as "True Crime." We get to know each of the teens, especially the ringleader. The book also goes into celebrity worship and why people strive to look like celebrities and want their lifestyles.

This book was recently made into a movie starring Hermione Granger aka Emma Watson. I'm curious about what the movie is like. Plus, I've only seem Emma Watson in the Harry Potter movies, so I'm interested to see her in a different role.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist

I appreciated Niequist's Bittersweet, and I also liked this collection of essays as well.

Sometimes Niequist writes a bit too much in detail about how wonderful her friends are and how delicious the food is that they eat, but maybe I'm just jealous.

Like Bittersweet, I read an essay a day and that was a good pace in order to digest it all.