What Have You Been Reading/Watching/Listening To? [2]

H A P P Y   B L O G M A S   D A Y   11

It’s Friday! Do-do-do!

I am spending my morning drinking coffee with a little splash of the best creamer ever- White Chocolate Raspberry by International Delight.

It’s seasonal and my roommate got me hooked on it, and I was just lamenting that it looks like all the stores are out of it because I haven’t been able to find it at any of the grocery stores by us and lo and behold! Guess why two girls were shouting in Target late last night? Because these two girls found the last 3 bottles of this creamer!

Why am I going into this? I don’t know. Just sharing the joy. 🙂

So today is Friday and I am reading..

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Sometimes I Lie and Sometimes I Don’t by Nadja Spiegel

It’s this collection of short stories that I will most likely be writing a blog entry about. It has some of my favorite type of writing where the words are just soaked with emotion.

I am listening toooo…. SERIAL season two!

I’m about halfway through the first episode. This season it’s looking into the story of a U.S. soldier that was captured by the Taliban and all of the unexpected pieces that wind together as to what led him to be captured.

I’ve been watching….

Blue Bloods on Netflix!

I didn’t mean to start this series. I was hanging out with my parents and they were watching it, so it got me kind of hooked. It’s been great background TV as I have been decorating and doing things.

I hope you’ve been having a good week!

A BOOK Uprooted by Naomi Novik

B L O G M A S    D A Y   10

This week in one of my meetings at work we were talking about that tipping point people reach that makes them finally decide to try a book someone has been talking about. I reached my tipping point this week for the book, Uprooted by Naomi Novik. I was in the exact right mood for it and one more person mentioned it at the exact right moment and suddenly it was like BAM. That is exactly what the book doctor ordered.

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Uprooted is set in this medieval-like world following a young woman (I think she’s in her mid-teens) named Agnieszka. Every 10 years this wizard-like man named the Dragon chooses one girl to take to his castle and keep for 10 years. No one is quite sure what happens to the girl when she is stolen away to his lairs, but ten years later when they come back they are never the same.

This year, a girl will be chosen from Agnieszka’s age group, and the entire town is positive it will be Agnieszka’s best friend Kasia. But what happens if it isn’t?

dun dun dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!

So a few things.

1- The magic in this is splendid. I loved it. A lot of time is spent on describing how it works and it was beautiful.

2- I loved the dragon character. I liked how disgruntled he was all the time. He really seemed like a human form of a dragon.

3- I loved the world building in general. In this, there is a terrifying evil that comes from the Woods. You do not feel any sense of safety.

4- Something about this book really seeps into your core. I gobbled it up Monday night after work, then spent time reading during my break, and then finished it Tuesday night. All Tuesday I was basically just existing in these pages even when I wasn’t reading. I got to this really frustrating part of the book during my break where I just wanted to jump into it and be all “HEY! STOP DOUBTING HER!!!!” and I just felt soooo unbelievably defensive for her and unnaturally angry at the characters being stupid. Novik is able to bring this world and these characters alive, and it is so easily to become so invested in them!

5- Reading this for the first time I read this for plot solely. I just wanted to know what the heck was going to happen. I think it definitely would be better to do either a slow meandering read, or a second read-through. There are so many thoughtful explorations on the weaknesses on mankind, the relationship between man and nature, friendship, and the relationship between child and parent. There is so much meat to this book, and it’s done in a way that isn’t overhanded.

Want to add some beauty in your life? Add Uprooted to your to-read list!

Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015

B L O G M A S   D A Y   8

Every Tuesday The Broke and the Bookish hosts Top Ten Tuesday in which they ask a question and you list your top ten answers.

Today’s Question:

Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read For The First Time In 2015

One thing I’m so proud of myself is how much I’ve stretched my reading this year. As a result, I’ve read a LOT of authors I’ve never read from before. I haven’t read more than one book from most of them, so there is a chance it was more of the author+the book that made them my favorite new-to-me authors, but I’m going to give me and them the benefit of the doubt. 🙂

  1. Fredrick Backman. He has this unique way of storytelling that adds so much magic. I listened to the audio, and I just remember going on super long walks just listening to A Man Called Ove and it was the best thing ever.
  2. Lauren Groff. She wrote Fates and Furies and MAN. Can she write. She is fierce. In Fates and Furies she created this larger than life story that bursts out of the book and drags you into the complicated world she created. My coworkers and I talked non-stop about her for like a good month.
  3. Kate Forsyth. She wrote Wild which is a historical fiction about the girl who told several of the fairy tales to the Grimm brothers which were put in their Fairy Tale collections. Forsyth’s tone reminds me so much of Juliet Marillier- beautiful and filled with hope, yet melancholy and so tragic.
  4. Pierce Brown. I’ve only read Red Rising by him, but I love his world-building skills and the way he balances action with taking breaths for the reader to get to know the characters.
  5. Claudia Rankine. I love her poetry– how it feels like they stand on stable ground, yet still reaches beyond for symbols and metaphors. I like how she doesn’t hold back and how her words are so sharp.
  6. Haruki Murakami. Finally!! I’ve only dabbled in the out skirts of his writing, but I am closer to making the plunge further to some of what he is known for. What I’ve read so far is a lot more accessible than I expected it to be, and I’m enjoying what I think to be his personality shine through.
  7. Tamara Ireland Stone. I think she wrote my favorite YA book of the year that I read. The book she wrote, Every Little Thing followed a girl with OCD so closely that the character sort of seeped into you. Her ability to get inside of the character’s head is so powerful.
  8. Lauren Holmes. I read her newest short story collection Barbara the Slut and I love how she lingers on the details. I like the humor and the commentary– the ridiculous situations and how she is able to make something small and seemingly mundane into a larger interesting part of a story.
  9. Chris Abani. Oh man, this man. I read Becoming Abigail by him and somehow in the span of this novella he just ripped my heart apart. He mixes poetry with fiction and it’s beautiful and he certainly does NOT stray from super hard subject matters.
  10. Anthony Marra. I read his short story collection The Tsar of Love and Techno and I like how he takes these little bits of threads and string them together for a larger message. I still haven’t read his first novel, but it’s definitely on my to-read list!

 

A BOOK : Binge by Tyler Oakley

B L O G M A S  D A Y 7

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This is a memoir that does not need extra promotion really, but I still wanted to talk about it. 🙂 Tyler Oakley is a large internet personality and has also made his way into mainstream media through appearing on talk shows and red carpets.

I’m a fan of Tyler Oakley’s podcast and truly this book felt like him. His voice definitely carries over and it has a very similar feel to the content he has already created– just written down. He covers the same type of stuff, just spends a little more time in his childhood and school years going deeper with those stories. You pretty much get what you expect– inspirational stories, funny stories, and a lot of innuendos.

Which brings me to the thing that I liked the most about the memoir– but also shows off this weird sort of tension that exists in the book. What I like is seeing how Tyler Oakley is just so… Tyler Oakley. He is himself and is bold and is messy and is fun and is just him. All day every day.

And the tension lies where at the end of the day he is trying to be his 26-year-old self while reaching an audience that is VERY diverse in age/skews super young in the bulk of the numbers. So there’s this thing where he is sort of walking the line of sharing these details from college and beyond of more… adult situations- haha- but still be able to connect with readers that are 12, 13, and 14– basically a lot younger than him. As a result, there is a story literally for every age and it’s neat to see that bundled up in one collection. But at the same time, I almost wish he would have split the book in two and just focused on one batch of ages per a book. As someone super close to his current age, there were things I would have loved for him to expand upon from his later years, and there were sections I definitely skimmed from his earlier years.

Do you have to be a “fan” of Tyler Oakley to read this? I wouldn’t say so! It’s essentially a really interesting person that’s done a lot of really interesting things talking about his life so far. It has a lot of wide appeal. 🙂 It’s goofy, yet filled with heart. Although clocking in at 300-ish pages, it’s a pretty quick read with short chapters and a lot of jumping around that keeps you going.

Did you read it? How’d you like it?

Add it to your to-read list!

A BOOK : Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

B L O G M A S  D A Y  6

Starting tomorrow, Librarians will be using #Libfaves15 on Twitter to share their top 10 favorite books they read that were published in 2015, posting one a day. I want to join in too, so I have started reviewing my year in reading. I stumbled upon a book I loved, but can’t include because it was published earlier. So instead I’m going to share it here. It was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

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It’s this absorbing modern day coming -of-age novel following Ifemelu, a young woman born in Nigeria. It starts when she’s a teenager. She falls in love she starts coming into her own– and then she ends up moving to America to attend school. She’s broke and is suddenly immersed in this country so different than what she is used to. She’s away from most of her family, the love of her life, and her friends. Through the process of acclimating to a new country, Ifemelu undergoes a massive amount of hardships, but she still somehow maintains her persistence, humor, and awareness.

The things I liked the most were-

  • the details in Ifemelu’s life in Nigeria and her life in America. It is an immersive book that brings her experiences to life.
  • How much of a tangible character Ifemelu is. She’s this 3-dimensional person that lives and breathes outside of the pages. I don’t even know how Adichie did it– what makes a character real and what makes a character seem less real? I don’t know. But this to me is an example of a character built with her own nature, yet placed in a setting so strongly built that she is also molded by her nurture.
  • Her perspective. Reading about her experience living in America and being aware of the color of her skin for the first time was powerful. She is a character aware of her surroundings and isn’t afraid to add her own commentary and musings on them.
  • It also jumps to Obinze as the narrator– the boy she fell in love with as a teenager. As a character he too was insightful and interesting, and I looked forward to reading from his perspective. Their love story is also

My only hesitation, is I feel like it just ended a little too perfectly, quickly, and easily. It’s nice because there is resolution to this– I am so happy that we got that. However, one of my favorite parts of the novel was it was a meandering exploration of the growth of these two characters… and then suddenly everything went full speed ahead. Personally, it drew me out a little bit– but not enough to not consider this as one of my general favorites of the year.

Also, I don’t know what it is about this book, but I even remember the exact weekend I was reading it. It was hot and during the summer and we weren’t turning our air on and I just remember reading this non. stop. To the point that I would bring it with me anywhere I went and if I had to wait for like more than one minute, I would pick it up and start reading it (except when I was driving ;]).

It’s funny how a reading experience can be so consuming, that it can just stick in your head like that and you remember the how and when and emotion of the reading experience even more than what you actually read.

So for the next ten days keep an eye out on twitter for all of the favorites published this year! I’ll make sure to either do a master post of all of my favorites later on, or scatter them throughout Blogmas.

See you tomorrow–

 

Christmas Decorations

B L O G M A S   D A Y    5

So I’m still working on decorating for Christmas with my roommate, but I wanted to show some of what we have so far. She has done some more art on the walls, but since she’s not around at the moment for me to ask her if it’s okay to share it, I’m limiting myself to the vase she did and then just sharing some of what I put off.

To start off- this vase!

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We have it on our kitchen table and I love it. Instructions:

Materials: empty paper towel cardboard tube, coffee beans, a clear vase and fake flowers.

All you do is cut the paper towel cardboard tube to the height you want it to be so it doesn’t stick out on the top, put the flower stems in the tube, place it in the vase, and then put the coffee beans in around it. You could also put the coffee beans in first if you wanted to and just force the tube and flowers in the center.

It’s super easy and a cute idea! For Halloween my roommate got different fake flowers and put candy corn in the vase instead. She’s crafty. 🙂

Okay, so these are some tiny little snowmen I got from my mom. I wanted you to see the perspective of how tiny they are. They’re adorable!

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And a close up…

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Look at those happy smiling faces!!! And the super tiny one is so cute with the humongous mittens. Unfortunately I have no idea where she got them from to be of help.

Next is also from my mom. My mom always used to build these elaborate villages when I was younger, which I LOVED. I always would make up little stories and just be a pest and play with them. She no longer does them, so she let my sister and I take some. I ended up just taking a few odds and ends–

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I took one of the houses and then a little shop. Because I love the people, I ended up taking more of them then I needed– a mother and daughter walking, a newspaper boy, a snowball thrower, a man bringing home a tree, a person on a bench, and the two sledding people.

The downside is I’m using my record player as the little plot of land for this town, so no Jerry Vale for the month, but the good news is it’s just darling.

Finally… the tree!

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It’s a hand-me-down tree and my roommate will probably be adding more decorations on it, but it’s at least bloggable. Right now I’m using a table cloth as a temporary tree skirt until we buy a new one. Then the table skirt is going to more to the table next to it where I have like a mantle set up to my sister’s cat for some reason- haha. It’s just a framed picture of her (we cat sat previously for her) and a candle.

There are more odds and ends I want to do– I keep meaning to put up a string of lights in my room, so maybe that will happen later on too.

I tried my hardest to build a book tree, but it most definitely did not work. Fun fact. I learned I have 47 green books. Wow. haha

What Have You Been Reading/Watching/Listening to? [1]

B L O G M A S    D A Y    4

Happy Friday!

Let’s share what we’ve been reading/watching/listening to!

I am almost done reading….

Sara Bareilles’ memoir, Sounds Like Me: My Life (so far) in Song. I’ll probably do another ENTIRE post about her like earlier, so I will refrain from talking about this. But I will be blogging about it soon!

I am listening toooo…. PODCASTS.

I’ve been in a bookish podcast mood lately, so I’ve been catching up on one of my favorites, So Many Damn Books.

So Many Damn BooksIt’s two guys (Christopher and Drew) talking about soooooo many damn books! I just finished episode 26 in which they cover City on Fire and Purity, which I ended up enjoying particularly a lot for some reason. It was just such a good discussion. One bonus of listening to the podcast is the way they talk about the books is general enough that you don’t have to have read it, pretty spoiler-free, and specific enough where there are general meaty discussions. My favorite episode of all is when they brought Saeed Jones on it on episode 18.

I’ve been watching….

No TV or movies really this week. Instead I’ve been watching different Youtube videos. I’ve been really enjoying the channels doddleoddle and Daniel J Layton. You can watch them together on Daniel’s cooking series in which Dodie (from doddleoddle) is VERY excited to bake with him. I enjoy their abilities of goofiness, creativity, and thoughtfulness.

THAT LAST PARAGRAPH IS REALLY WEIRD TO TYPE. Hahaha. I don’t know why, but it just seems really strange.

Hope you’ve been reading, watching, and or listening to things you really enjoy this week!

See you tomorrow–