Teaser Tuesday

“In the past fifty years, as factory farming spread from poultry to beef, dairy, and pork producers, the average cost of a new house increased nearly 1,500 percent; new cars climbed more than 1,400 percent; but the price of milk is up only 350 percent, and eggs and chicken meat haven’t even doubled. Taking inflation into account, animal protein costs less today than any time in history. (That is, unless one also takes into account the externalized costs – from subsidies, environmental impact, human disease, and so on – which makes the price historically high).

– Page 109 of Eating Animals by Jonathon Safran Foer –

teasertuesdays31

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Sunday Salon: St. Augustine Photos and More

As I mentioned before, we spent last weekend in St. Augustine.  Before getting to my week in reading, I wanted to share some photos with you. [The pictures look blurry in this post and don’t on my computer and I’m not really sure why.]

Our Inn
St. Augustine Lighthouse
The Spanish Quarter

St. George Street

For more pictures, click here.

We had a great time. It was very cold. Even the visiting northerners were complaining. But we still did our sight seeing and took in a lot of wonderful history in this 400 year old city. We also went on a haunted pub tour and, on the way home, we drove down A1A and we were so distracted by the gorgeous ocean drive that we took it all the way to Daytona before cutting across the state.  St. Augustine is a cute little city and I can’t wait to go back for a warmer weekend.

The Books

I did not have as much time to read this week as I would have liked, but I did manage to finish two books: The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by LJ Smith and The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson.

I tried to start The Eye of The World by Robert Jordan but I didn’t make it very far. I’m not sure if it’s my kind of book, but I will give it another try when I’m in the right mood.

I posted one review: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray. I must say, it was a refreshing change to write a negative review.

This week, I plan on starting East of Eden by John Steinbeck and Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I also hope to get to the second Vampire Diaries book before it’s due back to the library.

Review: The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray

Title: The Sweet Far Thing
Author: Libba Bray
Genre: Young Adult
ISBN: 0440237777
Pages: 819
Year: 2008
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Source: My collection
Rating: 2/5

Plot summary (from The Book Depository):

It has been a year of change since Gemma Doyle arrived at the foreboding Spence Academy. Her mother murdered, her father a laudanum addict, Gemma has relied on an unsuspected strength and has discovered an ability to travel to an enchanted world called the realms, where dark magic runs wild. Despite certain peril, Gemma has bound the magic to herself and forged unlikely new alliances. Now, as Gemma approaches her London debut, the time has come to test these bonds. The Order–the mysterious group her mother was once part of–is grappling for control of the realms, as is the Rakshana. Spence’s burned East Wing is being rebuilt, but why now? Gemma and her friends see Pippa, but she is not the same. And their friendship faces its gravest trial as Gemma must decide once and for all what role she is meant for.

Plot summary (from me):

600 pages of pointlessness. 200 pages to wrap up the story. Oh, and there is some kissing. And some magic. But that’s all that sticks with me.

Other Books I’ve Read By Author: A Great and Terrible Beauty and Rebel Angels (the first two books in the series).

Why I Picked Up This Book: I started it ages ago for Seriespalooza, but basically I just needed to finish the trilogy.

My thoughts:

I’ve been pretty vocal about my dislike of this book while reading it.  I have no idea why this book was 820 pages long. I’m pretty sure I could have skipped the first 600 pages and been fine. I thought the first two books picked up toward the end, and so did this one, but there was just too much before any real action happened.  I was annoyed with the characters – I disliked Ann and her whining, Felicity and her selfishness. And Gemma and her “oh what should I do, what should I do” complaints all the time.

My biggest problem with the book was that I don’t think their world was explained well enough so I didn’t care about it or what happened to it.  Because Gemma is the story teller and she doesn’t know anything, I didn’t either. Perhaps I just don’t remember the first two books well enough, but I felt like it was all just made up as we went. I want my fictional worlds to be carefully crafted and make sense.

I also was annoyed by all the selfishness that happened in the book. I know they’re only teenagers and maybe I’ve just watched too many episodes of Charmed, but I’m a believer in the idea that the people who hold magic should not use it for personal gain. I was annoyed by all the scheming.

The only thing that kept me going (besides the need to finish the trilogy) was the Gemma-Kartik storyline. I did want to know what happened with them.

Memorable Passages:

“Peace is not happenstance. It is a living fire that must be fed constantly. It must be tended to with vigilance, else it dies out.” p. 301

Will I Read This Author Again?: Possibly, but I won’t go out of my way.



The Sunday Salon: Quick Update

Only two weeks in and I almost forgot to do a Sunday Salon post. So this one is going to be just a quick update.

As I mentioned in my last post, Ben and I went to St. Augustine this weekend. We had a wonderful time (despite the arctic air that invaded the state) and I hope to share some pictures with you all soon.

I finished my first two books of the year this week:

  • Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (review)
  • The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (review to come)

Books I’m reading/hoping to start this week:

  • Eating Animals by Jonathan Safron Foer
  • The Vampire Diaries: The Awakening by L.J. Smith
  • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck

I apologize.  I’m feeling much to tired/under the weather to insert pictures/links into this post. I promise I will be back in full force next Sunday.

1/8/2005

Five years ago today, I married my favorite person in the world. While I don’t think I’m old enough to have a 5-year anniversary, it has apparently come and we must celebrate it. So today we are driving across the state and spending the weekend in St. Augustine. We have a room at a small inn and with the chilly weather we’ve been having, I think it should be a nice cozy weekend (I’m going to pretend it’s the Dragonfly and St. Augustine is Stars Hollow). Luckily, St. Augustine is probably one of the few places in Florida that can be enjoyed in 30-degree weather (unlike the Daytona trip from last January).

Sadly, this means I will not be around to join in the fun with all you Bloggiesta participants, but I hope you all have an enjoyable and productive weekend.  I hope to see all kinds of changes when I return on Monday.

One of My Favorite Wedding Pictures

*I added a soft focus to the picture and I can’t decide if I like it, but I really wanted to play with Picassa.

Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

Title: Right Ho, Jeeves
Author: P.G. Wodehouse (read by Nicolas Coster)
Genre: Perfection (thanks to Maria for helping me find the correct genre)
ISBN: 1597771917 (Audio)
Pages: 8 CDs, 9 hours (print version is 240 pages)
Year: 1934 (recorded in 2008)
Publisher: Orignal – Herbert Jenkins/Audio – Pheonix Audio
Source: My collection – Christmas gift from Ben
Rating: 5/5

Plot summary (from The Book Depository):

Gussie Fink-Nottle’s knowledge of the common newt is unparalleled. Drop him in a pond of newts and his behaviour will be exemplary, but introduce him to a girl and watch him turn pink, yammer, and suddenly stampede for great open spaces. Even with Madeline Bassett, who feels that the stars are God’s daisy chain, his tongue is tied in reef-knots. And his chum Tuppy Glossop isn’t getting on much better with Madeline’s delectable friend Angela. With so many broken hearts lying about him, Bertie Wooster can’t sit idly by. The happiness of a pal – two pals, in fact – is at stake. But somehow Bertie’s best-laid plans land everyone in the soup, and so it’s just as well that Jeeves is ever at hand to apply his bulging brains to the problems of young love.

Other Books I’ve Read By Author: The Code of the Woosters

Why I Picked Up This Book: It was an audio and I had a long drive home after Christmas. Plus Bertie and Jeeves are hilarious.

My thoughts:

Reading Wodehouse is absolutely fabulous. Listening to Wodehouse is simply wonderful.  Nicolas Coster did a wonderful job bringing the characters to life.  And of course, the messes Bertie manages to get himself into and the lengths Jeeves goes to to get him out of them are more than entertaining.  I know a lot of you are already Wodehouse fans, but if you aren’t, I challenge you to read one of his books and not like it.

It’s hard to review this book because you really have to experience the madness to appreciate it.

So I’m going to leave you with things this book made me want to do:

  • Go back in time or be rich enough to summer somewhere.
  • Have a butler who solves all my problems.
  • Try Anatole’s food.
  • Refer to all alcohol-infused nights as taking place in a “post-orange juice era.”
  • Be British.

I’m also glad that this was my first book of 2010.*  I think it starts my year off perfectly.

Will I Read This Author Again?: Of course!

*I know that audio books should count as books read, but I still feel like I needed an asterisk next to the claim that it was my first book of 2010.  With time, I’ll get past this.  I promise.

Teaser Tuesdays

“Well, well, well, Jeeves.”

“Yes, sir.”

“This is splendid news.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You see now how right I was.”

“Yes, sir.”

“It must have been rather an eye-opener for you, watching me handle this case.”

“Yes, sir.”

“The simple, direct method never fails.”

“No, sir.”

“Whereas the elaborate does.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Right ho, Jeeves.”

– Page 17 of  Right Ho, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse –

[I basically cheat every week and use more than 2 sentences.]

teasertuesdays31

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Sunday Salon: My 2010 Goals

The Sunday Salon.com

It’s a new year and I’m using this turn-a-new-leaf time to write my first post for The Sunday Salon.  These are some of my favorite posts from other bloggers and I want to join in the fun.  The description of the Sunday Salon is one of a mini-readathon, but I’ve noticed that most use it as a sort of weekly recap or a place to discuss a particular idea.  So if I’m doing it wrong, let me know, but I’m taking my cue from loads of other book bloggrers.

This week has been a bad one for reading and a good one for blogging so I guess overall it’s been an average week.

Reading

Despite the limited time spent at work, I still didn’t manage to finish a book (a feat I last accomplished on December 5 – how sad).  I am currently reading:

It is my goal of the day to get to page 600 in The Sweet Far Thing.  That’s about 125 pages and will bring me 200 pages from the end and is certainly possible if I can just sit down and do it.  I must say I’m not enjoying this book very much and only want to finish it because it’s the  last in a trilogy.

Blogging

This could very possibly be the most I’ve written in one week.  This week I told you about my Christmas goodies both in book form and reading related.  I shared my favorite books of 2009 and my reading stats for the year.  My favorite post (and most visited by you) is my husband’s guest post sharing his favorite books of 2009.  I’m glad you all enjoyed hearing from him and left encouraging comments.

I loved reading everyone’s end of the year recaps.  This might be my favorite time of the year to open my google reader.

Goals

Everyone is talking about their reading goals for the new year.  I don’t want to set myself any numeric goals because I’ve learned that I can’t predict how much time I’ll have to read.  Instead, I want to set a few guidelines that can apply no matter how much I read and list a few books/authors that I hope to get to in 2010.

  • I want to read more adult literature than young adult/middle grade.  While I love YA/MG books, I felt like I got a little distracted from other books in 2009.  So it doesn’t matter if it’s one book more or 30 books more, I just want to read more adult literature than not.
  • I’m aiming for 20% of my books to be classics.  That’s a little better than I did in 2009.
  • And I’m aiming for 15% of my books to me nonfiction/memoir v. fiction.  I’m trying to broaden my reading horizon.
  • Specific authors: Margaret Atwood (never read); Isabelle Allende (never read); Kurt Vonnegut (haven’t read in awhile)
    • Specific books: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld; The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein; David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (my one daunting read for the year) ; Finish the last 5 Betsy-Tacy books; The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

      While I didn’t meet all of last year’s goals, I did like having them as a guide, so that’s all this is: a guideline. If I don’t meet it, no worries.  I’ve also joined a few challenges so with these guidelines and the challenge requirements, I think my year is on the right track.  If only I could finish The Sweet Far Thing.

      My Year of Reading (in Numbers)

      Some Numbers:

      • Books Read: 42 (1 audio)
      • Pages Read: 13,807 + 13.1 hrs audio
      • Average Pages per Book: 337
      • Books Acquired: 156
      • Fiction: 38
      • Nonfiction: 4
      • Female Authors: 26
      • Male Authors: 16
      • New (to me) Authors: 24
      • Most Read Author: Maud Hart Lovelace (5)
      • Kid’s Lit: 13
      • Contemporary Fiction: 11
      • Classics: 6
      • Young Adult: 5
      • Memoirs: 3
      • Plays: 2
      • Essays: 1
      • Short Story Collection: 1
      • Rereads: 3
      • Series Started: 4
      • Longest Book: War and Peace (1,386 pages)
      • Shortest Book: The Tales of Beedle the Bard (107 pages)
      • Library books: 10
      • Books from my collection: 32
      • Challenges finished: 1 (Maud Hart Lovelace)
      • Challenges failed: 1 (Everything Austen – will finish this year)
      • Challenges continuing: 1 (Shelf Discovery)

      2009 Goals

      • Read 48 Books (4/month) – Failed
      • Read Northanger Abbey and re-read Pride and Prejudice
      • 12 Classics (1/month) – Failed (I read 6 and was much better earlier in the year)
      • Specific Books
        The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
        Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
        Peony in Love by Lisa See
        The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
        Something Rotten and First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
        The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray (I’m halfway through)
        War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

        To sum up: I thought I would read more this year since it’s the first full year that I haven’t been in school, but regular old work life turned out to be more time-consuming than expected. I also didn’t mean to read so much kid’s lit but between Betsy-Tacy, Harry Potter re-reads, and The Mysterious Benedict Society that somehow became my biggest genre. I think it was a successful year even if it wasn’t my best according to numbers.  I discovered the greater book-blogging community, reading challenges, and I participated in my first read-a-thon.  And I enjoyed almost everything that I read which has to be the most important measuring stick.

        Thank you all for listening to my ramblings this year and leaving wonderful comments for me.  I’m looking forward to seeing what 2010 brings.

        My Favorite Reads of 2009

        When I sat down to write this post, I was going to give you my top 5 reads of 2009.  I only read 42 books so anything more than that seemed like a cop-out.  But I read some really good books this year and I could only get my favorites list down to 10.  With one honorable mention.  I know – it’s pathetic.  But I have actually ranked them so you can see my top five.  You will also notice that there is significant overlap with this post and my husband’s below. Mostly because as soon as one of us loves a book, we incessantly nag the other to read it (in 2009’s case, it was all me nagging I think).  My next post will be a year-end reading recap with stats and other fun figures, but for now here are my top 5 10 11 books of 2009.

        Honorable Mention: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

        (review)

        A surprisingly enjoyable read that I couldn’t bear to leave off this list.  It is a book about a teenage girl at a private boarding school who tries to break secret society traditions and gender roles.  And she likes P.G. Wodehouse.

        10: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

        After creating this list, I realized that I failed to review a number of my favorite books.  And I read this one almost a year ago now so it’s hard to remember what it was exactly that I liked about it.  I guess I feel like it’s one of those great coming of age stories that all girls (well boys too but they’ll be hard to convince) should read like To Kill a Mockingbird or Little Women.

        9: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

        (review)

        As much as I love happy endings, I also love tragic ones.  I loved this story so much as I was reading it, but the way it ended sealed its fate on this list.

        8: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

        (review)

        A fantastic series for young readers and equally enthralling for adults.  This year I read all three MBS books and while I enjoyed all of them, this one was the best by leaps and bounds.  I was looking for a new group of kids to start following and Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance were just what I needed.

        7: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

        (review)

        This book took me ages to read.  I really struggled to get into it.  I don’t know if it was my mood at the time or my desire to love this book as much as everyone else, but it just wasn’t working for me.  Then I decided I was reading it no matter what.  And I fell in love with it.  I’ve just learned that my attention span for epic novels (this, War and Peace, Middlesex, etc.) is just something I will probably struggle with no matter how good they are.

        6: Peony in Love by Lisa See

        (review)

        Part of why I love reading is because of the knowledge I gain through each book.  Peony in Love (and all of See’s novels) are full of history and culture that I knew very little about.  The characters in this book are based on real people and the book that the story revolves around is a real book.  The way that See manages to shape this into a story is simply amazing.

        5: Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace

        (review)

        I think I will always remember 2009 as the year I discovered Betsy-Tacy.  I wish I had read it as a child so that I could have reread it 10 times by now.

        4: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

        (review)

        Everyone I’ve discussed this book with has said that it took them some time to get into the novel.  Me? I was pulled into the story immediately.  It revolves around one apartment building in France and its diverse and eccentric tenants.  Our two narrators are a 12-year-old girl intent on killing herself and a middle-aged concierge hiding her true passion for high culture and the book is full of philosophical ramblings and right place, right time interactions.  Tell me you don’t want to read that book.

        3: Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy

        I never reviewed Love Begins in Winter. I’m not sure why because I have so many good things to say about it.  The book is made up of five short stories about chance encounters, hope, and (you guess-it) love.  It is remarkably written – one of those books that makes you realize how wonderful language can be when manipulated just right.  This was a spur of the moment buy and read and I’m thankful I wandered into that bookstore in St. Louis and picked it up.

        2: The Hunger Games (review) and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

        (review)

        The Hunger Games/Catching Fire make the list at #2 because this series was my most enjoyable reading experience of the year.  I got completely lost in the books and cannot wait for the third book to come out in the fall.  They weren’t the “best” books I read this year, but reading is entertainment and entertain me these did.

        1: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss (review)

        I apparently never reviewed this book and thus my thoughts about it are escaping me, but I know for a fact that it is my favorite book read in 2009.  It was one of those books that gets as close to perfect as possible.  The language was beautiful, the story was beautiful, and the characters were beautiful.  Please read it.

        ***

        Wow, this post took way longer than I anticipated. I really hope you enjoyed it. And stay tuned for my next 2009-recap post.

        Happy New Year!