Saturday, April 30, 2016

Brooklyn: A Coming of Age Love Story

A few months ago, I saw the movie version of Brooklyn and I absolutely adored it, so I just had to read the book it was based on by author Colm Tóibín. It is the story of a young Irish woman named Eilis Lacey who has fairly routine life in a small Irish town in the 1950s. She worked on Sundays at a local grocery store, took care of things around the house and her mother, and went to the town dances with her best friend Nancy where she giggled at boys with too much grease in their hair. Rose, Eilis’ older sister, wanted a better life for her sister. With the help of a priest, Father Flood, Eilis got the chance of a lifetime: a job offer in America.

The story follows Eilis across the Atlantic, through the doors of Ellis Island, to her boarding house in Brooklyn. She began working in a department store, became homesick, and started taking night classes. She lived a fairly routine life, not unlike the one she had in Ireland, until she met Tony. Tony is a handsome Italian plumber who went to the Irish Friday night dances Eilis attended with the girls from her boarding house. He quickly swept Eilis off her feet and they fell deeply in love. When tragedy strikes back in Ireland, Eilis must decide which life she wants to live: her new life in Brooklyn, or one at home in Ireland.

Check out both the book and the movie!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Round 2!

It's April 23, 2016, and do you want to know why today is special????


So, like I did in October, I'll be updating this post all day long! Let's go!

8:21 am

I am starting with The Tales of Beedle the Bard. I'm ashamed to say this has been sitting on my shelf for over a year and I haven't picked it up (the same thing has happened with many other books on my bookshelf), and I also feel like a bad Harry Potter fan for letting it sit so long.

9:18 am

Finished my first book! I'm not going to lie, I wasn't that into Tales of Beedle the Bard, and maybe that's why it sat for so long. I wanted to like it because it's J.K. Rowling, but I just don't really like reading "traditional" fairytales, not even the Muggle ones. I'd rather just watch a Disney movie. But, it was a short book at only 109 pages, so not too bad. Now, I'm on to Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

 6:27 pm

Sorry for the extreme delay there in updates, this afternoon I took a minor detour from reading in the form of shopping with my mom (though I did bring the book along with me and read in the car and in a few stores!). I just finished Me Before You and I have so many feelings! I loved it, I hated it, I'm sad, I'm happy, this book was excellent!! If I hadn't gone out to shop I would have read it much much quicker, because I really couldn't put it down! I definitely need to check out more of Jojo Moyes' books. Alright, next on my list is Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern

Total Books Read: 2
Total Pages Read: 478

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What Would You Wish For?

This non-mystery reader may have just become a mystery fan after reading this charming little tale set in the quaint British village of Finch. I just finished Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well by Nancy Atherton, which opens with the death of the sole reclusive neighbor in the village, Mr. Hector Huggins. As his perfunctory eulogy was wrapping up, an unexpected visitor arrives in the form of the very young and boisterous Jack, who claims to be Mr. Huggins nephew. The nosy villagers swarm him, trying to get any snippet of information they can about him and his uncle, all while filling his plate to the toppling point with their best pies, cakes, cookies, and other treats at the church luncheon.

Jack reveals that he would be staying at his uncle’s home, Ivy Cottage, until further notice to tie up his uncle’s affairs, and to get the home ready for sale. This causes even more of a flurry because no one has set foot on the Ivy Cottage property since it was bought by Mr. Huggins decades before, so not surprisingly, there are many volunteers, including Lori Shepherd. Lori and a few other neighbors started work on cleaning up Mr. Huggins overgrown yard with Jack when they discover a wishing well. Lori makes a silly wish into the well, wishing for the rain to stop. It does. This gets out into the town and villagers left and right begin sneaking into the yard, making their own wishes. There’s a bit of magic surrounding this well, and Lori makes it her mission to find out what’s behind it. She also gets some help from Aunt Dimity, who is very sweet and quite magical.

Friday, February 12, 2016

finding love in lowercase

Samuel de Juan is a lonely linguistics professor, who listens to classical music, reads, and is a self-described hermit. He follows the same routine every day of his life and becomes distraught when there is the slightest detour. One day, the biggest detour of his life appears in the form of a cat. This cat arrives at Samuel’s door, darts in, and refuses to leave. At first, Samuel wants nothing to do with this uncontrollable force, and immediately tries to find him a new home. Despite his disdain, he slowly warms up to the unrelenting kitty, to the point that he panics when the cat runs out of the house and down the road. Samuel pursues him, ending the chase at a storefront, where he sees a woman he believed he was in love with many years ago. She sees him, and Samuel takes this as a sign that the world was telling him to pursue his lost love.

Like the movie (500) Days of Summer, this is not just a simple love story, but a story of Samuel finding himself. Samuel’s life in all aspects comes alive after meeting this cat. He makes friends with his neighbors, begins working on projects outside of his work, explores more of his city, and begins to realize how vibrant life can be outside of his apartment. Read Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles to learn more about Samuel, and see a person whose life is revived by a small feline friend.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tango, Taxis, and Tasting the World

The bright yellow cover intrigued me on our new-books shelf months ago, and I knew I wanted to read this book. Driving Hungry by Layne Mosler is a traveling culinary memoir about a San Francisco 30-something who loved restaurants and worked in one, knew rather quickly that she could never be a line cook, uproots her life and goes on a gastronomic adventure.

Her first stop is Buenos Aires, where she takes her first tango lesson in flip flips, falls in love with a tango instructor, and also falls onto the idea for her popular food blog Taxi Gourmet. The formula for each adventure is that she gets into a taxi, asks the driver about their favorite restaurant and dish, and has them take her to try them out. Her blog starts to become more popular as she writes about food and the interesting people she meets along the way. After a few years, she decides to move on, back to the States in the land of taxis-New York City.

The section on NYC is decidedly a darker time for her, but it does have its highlights. She actually decides to get behind the wheel after so many taxi rides and becomes a taxi driver herself! Layne shares her driving adventures (and disasters), somehow still finding time to go on her own food field trips. She begins to feel the pull of wanderlust rather quickly in New York, so she makes her way to Berlin for a summer.

Layne falls in love with Berlin, with the people, its war torn history, and the food. She makes friends quickly, in particular with a taxi driver who writes his own taxi blog, Rumen. After her summer, she returns to New York, still feeling the pull of Berlin.

Overall, the book surprised me. I was expecting the bulk of the writing to be about the actual food, but instead it was more about Layne discovering herself and learning life lessons from the people that came and went so quickly in her travels. I truly enjoyed this book and hope that you will pick it up as well!

See, sometimes you can judge books by their covers ;)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

I came across this reading challenge just two days ago, but it sounded like so much fun I have to participate! This is called the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, and if you'd like to participate too, just click the link and sign up. All you have to do is read for any combination of time you'd like, for 24 hours, updating whatever form of social media of your choosing. I will try to update my reading progress every hour right here!

Since I'm potentially reading for 24 hours straight, I have a few different books from my TBR (to be read) pile at the ready, just in case I get tired of reading the same thing for so long.

Here's what I'm starting with:

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

Gene Kelly: A Life of Dance and Dreams by Alvin Yudkoff

(I make no promises that those are the only books I'll read from)

...and we're off! Check back and see my reading updates every hour or so.

Update 1:  The 8 o'clock hour was slow for reading. I woke up a little late and so while I was getting breakfast together, I listened to a bit of Far from the Madding Crowd on audiobook. I've already been reading this book so I'm pretty far in, currently on chapter 41. (Recorded 9:21 am)

Update 2: Still listening to Far from the Madding Crowd. I started this morning at 67% and I'm currently at 83%, so percent read so far today: 13. I've also stopped listening to chat with a new neighbor and my mom. I think I'm going to switch over to the physical book (I have that sitting next to me too), because listening is slow going and I only have 100 pages left. (Recorded 11:11 am)

Update 3: I finished my first book of the day! Switching over to actually reading was a good idea. Mini-review time: I actually saw the movie with Carey Mulligan earlier this year, loved it, and then bought the book (I know, shame on me for seeing the movie first). Since I did, I knew where the story was going and how it was going to end, so that wasn't a surprise. I do have to say I really enjoyed the book, I like a good romance with lots of difficulties between the not-very-soon-to-be happy couple. I will say Bathsheba dissapointed me in the movie and again in the book by not just staying that strong independent farm lady and not falling into the arms of those men, but, we wouldn't have had a good love story that way. **Boring reading totals section** when I switched over to the physical book, I started on 319 and read from there, giving me a total of 95 pages read so far. The next book I'm going to read is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I've been waiting anxiously to get this one in at the library so I'll let you know what I think in the next update! (Recorded 12:17 pm)

Update 4: I finished Between the World and Me. For such a short book at 152 pages it is definitely a powerful one. Written in the form of a letter to his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates tells the story of his childhood growing up black, and how as a black man his life was effected by the history, past and present, of America. I thought it was wonderful. I believe that hate breeds hate, and understanding breeds compassion and the dissolution of hate. Many (not all, as I don't like to judge people as a whole) people don't realize the struggles of others, not just black people, but all groups of people, and this brings us a divide. By knowing the story of a group of people, and by knowing the backgrounds of others, people can begin to respect each other more and the hate can lessen a bit. There is a quote from Toni Morrison on the cover that says that this book is required reading, and I think that many people should take a look at this book. I think it is important and very timely. With the mini-review done, the book was 152 pages, so that brings my total pages up to 247 and counting. The next book in my pile is much much shorter, and lighter, and that is Audrey Niffenegger's The Night Bookmobile. (Recorded 2:12 pm)

Update 5: The Night Bookmobile was a beautiful story, told in the form of a graphic novel. Alexandra stumbles across a 70s Winnebago camper one night, and is introduced to Robert Openshaw, the Librarian of the Night Bookmobile for the Library. He invites her in, and the camper is much bigger on the inside (like the TARDIS), and she begins looking through the shelves, and notices that she's read all of these books. When she asks the Librarian, he tells her that yes, all of the books are her collection. Dusk arrives and Alexandra has to leave the camper. She then goes home and spends years reading and searching for the camper again, finally finding them 9 years later. This goes on for years, and each time she begs him to let her stay with him, and he says no. But he does encourage her to become a regular librarian, and so she does. This was a lovely story and the illustrations were gorgeous. Page wise, this book was 40 pages, so I'm now at 287 pages and 3 books done! My next book is A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern. (Recorded at 3:04 pm)

Update 6: I promise I haven't given up already, I've just been reading away in A Step Toward Falling (and there may have been another phone call break in there...and dinner). I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm pretty close. Currently on page 278 and the book has about 100 pages left. I really enjoy Cammie McGovern's writing, and the fact that she writes about characters with disabilities in her books from their perspective, so you feel like you understand them a little better. Her other YA book, Say What You Will, is similar in this, and equally as great. I'll write more about it after I finish the book! (Recorded at 7:09 pm)

Update 7:  I think this is going to be my final update. I've read from about 9 this morning until now (not continuously, but pretty consistently), and I can't concentrate anymore. It took me FOREVER to read the last 100 pages of A Step Toward Falling because my brain was wandering away from the book, and I'm getting tired. But, I did finish the book! Cammie McGovern wrote another great book. Belinda, a girl with developmental disabilities who loves the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice, has to fight off a potentially horrible assault as two other high school students, Emily and Lucas, see that she's in trouble but do nothing to help. As a punishment for them, they have to go and volunteer in a developmental disabilities learning center to understand Belinda better and have more compassion towards her and other people with disabilities. The book is told from the viewpoints of Belinda and Emily, so you get the perspective of both of them. This has been a fun challenge, props to those who actually can read the entire 24 hours without falling asleep! I look forward to being able to read other people's updates tomorrow.

Total Reading: 
Percent: 13
Pages: 651
Books: 4
  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffennegger
  • A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Rajesh Koothrapali Finds His Voice

If you haven't been completely out of touch with the goings-on in tv land in the past 8 years, you've most likely stumbled across or at least heard of the show The Big Bang Theory....and if you've seen it, you know and probably love the character Raj, the selectively mute astrophysicist that can only talk to women when he has some liquid courage.

Yes, My  Accent is Real is the story of the funny man who plays Raj, Kunal Nayyar. He breaks his life down into little essays, so it's not quite a memoir, but more of a "Sit down and I'll tell you a few stories" book. I listened to the audiobook, read by Kunal, and that's exactly how it felt.
Within the pages (or as you listen to Kunal read) you will find out:
  • how he became a teenage badminton champion
  • why he felt like Robocop in his parents home
  • what his first year in America was like as a college freshman studying business
  • why Romeo and Juliet and Cabaret are still sore spots
  • how he met and fell in love with his wife Neha

...and of course, how he landed his spot as Raj on The Big Bang Theory.

Spoiler: Sadly, he isn't really an astrophysicist.