Thursday, February 26, 2015

What I've Read: Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

Barbara from Blackpool just want to be a famous actress, a beloved comedienne just like Lucille Ball. In Funny Girl by Nick Hornby, she accomplishes just that. To make her dream come true she heads to London in the 1960s, takes on a new persona named Sophie Straw, and in a whirlwind of good luck, land a part in a one-time comedy hour that turns into a leading tole in a full time series call Barbara (and Jim). The book focuses not only on Sophie's new life as a comedic actress, but also her co-star Clive, her writing tem Bill and Tony, and the producer Dennis. The team becomes its own little family, and through all the dramas that revolve around their personal lives, the series pulls them back into what they love most. Towards the end of the series, the team begins to fall apart, and then the reader is propelled fifty years into the future where the team is reunited for Barbara (and Jim)'s fiftieth anniversary award ceremony. Unsurprisingly, the team falls right back into their old friendships.  13/75

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What I've Read: Things I've Learned from the Women Who've Dumped Me: Edited by Ben Karlin

My 11/75 book of the year was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Yes, I'm reading those out of order), but I feel like writing a review on the Harry Potter books is a bit repetitive. I love them all, that's all you really need to know! So I'm going to skip ahead to my next book, Things I've Learned from the Women Who've Dumped Me by Ben Karlin, Andy Selsberg, Nick Hornby, and David Rees. Instead of reading something mushy around Valentine's day, I would much rather read satirical essays about failed romances. This book is comprised of 46 different lessons learned from different writers about failed romances. Some were really funny, for example one man got his middle school crush to agree to talk about their two week relationship on the phone and he recorded their conversation. He was "in love" with her, while she barely remembers them going out for more than a few hours. Some were a little depressing, one was just a summary of the nine years they spent together. I thought it was funny in places, while sad, because the stories were all so real. You could maybe not relate to all of them, but some of them are stories that sound similar to your friends, good, bad, and the ridiculous. It was a quick read and enjoyed it thoroughly. I like when I find I book that actually makes me laugh out loud! 12/75

Thursday, February 19, 2015

My First Apartment

It has been radio silent around here in terms of personal posts, and this is a big part of the reason why! I have been preparing to move into my first apartment and I finally have everything settled and in a place. I am living alone for the first time which is something that I've always wanted to do, and so far it's been great! I have been here for almost a week so while I'm still adjusting, so far it's nice.

I live in a studio apartment, as you can see from the pictures, and so far I'm loving it. I was initially worried that I would have to get rid of a lot more of my things than I did, but I did have to do a lot more organizing than I did at home so that everything fits in a place. I wanted to studio because since I was living alone, I don't need that much space and I don't see myself hosting many large gatherings in the future. This studio in particular is a lot bigger than some that I saw online while I was searching. I have a full separate kitchen with an eat in area, four closets, a little hallway (which holds my shoe rack!) and a cute little bathroom.

I still have a lot of decorating I'd like to do, and I'd like to get a coffee table for the "living room" side of the room. I have been obsessed with looking at gallery walls on Pinterest and I'd love to make one over my bed. I really love that I get to decorate this little space exactly as I wish.

I have never lived away from my family, so not seeing them every day has been a little odd, but I'm also only about five minutes away so I can visit whenever I want with no problem. I've had my family and friends over so often, I think last night was the first night I actually just came home from work and didn't have to entertain and could just relax and enjoy. 

One funny thing happened the first night. The building is heated by radiators, and I've never lived anywhere with radiators before. I was sitting and relaxing, tired from unpacking boxes and all of a sudden, I here this loud hissing coming from the bathroom! I had an Elf moment, but instead of calling my mom and just creeped over very slowly to investigate. If you've never seen Elf, here is the clip I'm talking about:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What I've Read: Lady Susan by Jane Austen

This is probably the shortest Jane Austen novel I've ever read, and honestly the only one I really wasn't fond of! Lady Susan is an epistolary novel, in which Lady Susan is attempting to gain a second marriage for herself by imposing herself into London for the season while also trying to set up her daughter. Lady Susan was just an unlikeable character and I found myself fuming at her scheming. I don't know, I'm a bit flabbergasted as I am a huge Jane Austen fan. Maybe if I read it again it will be better? I didn't mind the fact that it was told in letters, it was purely the story. Have you ever had that happen, when you really love an author and you just don't like one of their books even though you really want to?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What I've Read: An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde is one of those authors that I have always felt the "need" to read since he shows up on so many great classic author lists and I made a goal a few years ago to try and read more classics (Shakespeare has also been on that list for a long time). So, I dove right in and started with An Ideal Husband. First things first, I had no idea it was a play, which shouldn't have been a surprise since I could have just looked at the Wikipedia page, but that's okay. I have a had time reading plays, I love seeing them but just reading scripts was never my favorite part of English class. On to the actual story...the plot deals with high society lords and ladies who are dragged into a blackmail plot that Sir Robert Chiltern must go through with because Lady Chiltern  proclaims she has "an ideal husband", meaning a proper man who would not take back his word. There are a few other storylines, one of which involves a couple named Mabel and Lord Goring. Lord Goring proposed to Mabel every Tuesday and Thursday for what seemed like forever and she continually turns him down. The play was comedic in nature which was a definite plus, and I enjoyed it even as a play.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What I've Read: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

After reading Code Name Verity I immediately got on the waiting list at the library to read the sequel/companion novel Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. Rose Under Fire is about a girl named Rose Justice, an American Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) pilot who is friends with Maddie Brodatt, one of the main characters in the first book, has a boyfriend who is constantly proposing to her, and is an amateur poet. Her life drastically changes when she accidentally flies into German territory one night and is captured by Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, a concentration camp.

She is mislabeled as French Political Prisoner 51498, and endures six months in Ravensbrück, befriending and surviving with the "Rabbits". The Rabbits were a group of girls who had horrific experiements done to their legs; some had chunks of bones removed, some had muscles peeled away, and some were purposefully infected with various diseases such as gangrene to see how the infections reacted. The reason given for this torture was that it helped German doctors learn to treat their wounded soldiers by having live test subjects.

Rose tells the stories of these girls, they helped each other survive, some sacrificing themselves for the greater good. All throughout the story, which is told in the form of Rose's journal entries, she keeps spirits up by reciting poems.

Again, just like Code Name Verity, I couldn't put it down. The descriptions of the pain and suffering were just enough that you understood the pain, but it wasn't unnecessarily graphic. If you haven't noticed I'm stuck in a WWII themed book cycle, but it's not a bad place to be! Again, if you like historical fiction, are interested in WWII, or just want to read a really gripping story, I recommend both Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire.

Friday, February 6, 2015

What I've Read: March by Geraldine Brooks

I picked up March by Geraldine Brooks after seeing that it was a story about Mr. March, the father in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Little Women was one of my favorite childhood books, I desperately wanted to be Jo March and was devastated every time she turned down Laurie (I was secretly wishing the story would magically change just one time). One character whose story was not fully developed was that of the father, Mr. March. For so much of the book he is gone fighting in the Civil War, and we only really know that he fights, he's an abolitionist, and that he was wounded and sent home.

March fills in the gap of his life, while also giving a somewhat graphic insight into the Civil War. It begins with a battle scene in which Mr. March loses a friend, and goes back and forth between telling his story of what led to the war, and his actual experiences within the war. He befriends and tries to help slaves, teaches some to read and write which was extremely dangerous, but he was rewarded with loyalty and friendship from his actions.
I never know exactly how much is too much to tell when writing these. I don't want to spoil the story but I will say it was intriguing and kept me wanting to read more! If you enjoy reading spin off books and historical fiction, or if you just loved Little Women you should pick this up!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What I've Read: With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin

After the slightly disappointing book experience with Mr. Ripley, I decided that I needed a little cheesy rom-com story in my life. Enter: With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin. With Every Letter is a story set during World War II about a woman named Mellie, who is a shy army nurse who doesn't quite fit in and doesn't know how to make friends. Her group of nurses is assigned to write anonymous letters to a group of army men and Mellie is extremely nervous about the assignment. The other girls are all prepared to write romantic letters and Mellie is very firm in hers that there would be no romance (oh, how wrong she was!). Unbeknownst to her, her letter is picked up by Tom, who like her, just wants friendship. As each letter passes, they begin to fall in love, even without knowing each other's real names. Eventually, they meet in person, but only Mellie figures out that Tom is the same person in her letters, but he does not figure it out as quickly. They spend time together in person, Tom falling in love with Mellie while he still yearns for his mystery girl in the letters. Overall, the cheese factor was high but honestly I thought it was great!