Tuesday, December 30, 2014

RGRC Book #4 - The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

"The true magic of this broken world lay in the ability of the things it contained to vanish, to become so thoroughly lost, that they might never have existed in the first place."
― Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Review copied from Goodreads (12/30/14):

I absolutely loved this book. For what it's worth, I listened to it on Audible, and I liked the narrator, so that helped. But whether I had listened to it or read it on paper, I'm positive that it still would have made its way onto my favorites shelf. Kavalier & Clay is about so much more than just comic books. The subtle (and not-so-subtle) undertones and side plots are every bit as developed and interesting as the primary plot. The relationships between the characters - friends, family, lovers - are so very well-written and real that you can almost feel what they feel.

It takes an excellent writer (Chabon) to produce a story about an excellent writer (Clay). I see why this book won a Pulitzer. It is definitely a feat to get through it, but if you take your time and read it through, it is absolutely worth it. Five stars.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

RGRC Book #72 - Ella Minnow Pea

"Love one another, push the perimeter of this glorious language. Lastly, please show proper courtesy; open not your neighbor's mail."
― Mark Dunn, Ella Minnow Pea

Review copied from Goodreads:

This book was OK. Kind of cute, actually. It's about a fictional island nation where a statue is erected to the man who is credited with inventing the sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." As the glue that holds the letters of the sentence to the statue begins to loosen, tiles begin to fall off and break. As they do, the island high council bans their use, until only LMNOP remain. The story is told in a series of letters passed back and forth between characters. It is funny to watch the letters fall out of the novel, though it does get a little difficult to read (understandably) at a point. Three stars.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

RGRC Book #127 - How the Grinch Stole Christmas

"Christmas doesn't come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more...."
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

I am not even going to attempt a review.  Everyone knows the story, be it from the book, the cartoon, or the live action movie.  Suffice it to say, I love it.  The Grinch is a Christmas staple.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

RGRC Book #61 - The Devil in the White City

I read this book as the very first book selection for my beloved Ladies Book Club, or LBC as it is affectionately known.  I gave it a four-star review, and it has actually grown on me with time and distance.  I have copied my review from Goodreads below.

"Great murderers, like great men in other walks of activity, have blue eyes."
― Erik Larson, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America

Review copied from Goodreads:

This book had a REALLY slow start, but it's worth sticking with it! I agree with other reviewers who say that it's easy to forget that this is a work of NON-fiction. It is a truly interesting book, especially at the end, though it is profoundly sad in a way. I would recommend it to anyone who likes non-fiction, history, true crime, or just something different.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

RGRC Book #53 - The Da Vinci Code

"Men go to far greater lengths to avoid what they fear than to obtain what they desire."
― Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code

I read The Da Vinci Code my senior year of high school, and I wrote a rather lengthy entry about it in this blog.  Rather than attempt to write a new review, I simply direct you to that one:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

RGRC Book #48 - Crime and Punishment

I originally read this book for an AP Literature class my junior year of high school.  The thing that I remember most about it is that in order to finish it by the class deadline, I was reading over 100 pages per day and staying up late into the night just reading and reading and reading.  It was a feat, I'll tell you that, but I was proud of myself for finishing it.  I don't ever want to read it again, lol.

"Don’t be overwise; fling yourself straight into life, without deliberation; don’t be afraid - the flood will bear you to the bank and set you safe on your feet again."
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

Review copied from Goodreads:

The premise for the "crime" in the title is a little blah, but the book picks up beyond that. It's an interesting, though daunting, book. If you're feeling brave and want to add this to your "cultural literacy" shelf, I'd recommend giving it a shot.

Friday, December 19, 2014

RGRC Book #38 - A Christmas Carol

"There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor."
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Review copied from Goodreads (12/18/11):

I've never actually read this book until now, though I knew the story (of course). I was surprised to see the relaxed and modern tone used by Dickens. Of course I feel about the actual book the way I've always felt about the story: it warms my heart and inspires me to charity. It is a quintessential part of Christmas for me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

RGRC Book #33 - The Catcher in the Rye

"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."
― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Review copied from Goodreads:

Meh. It was a pretty quick read, but I felt like I kept waiting for it to get the point. I think it was supposed to be a commentary on teenagers having to figure out what to do with their lives, or something like that. I don't know. I didn't really like it all that much.

Monday, December 15, 2014

RGRC #20 - Beloved

"Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined."
― Toni Morrison, Beloved

I read Beloved my junior year of high school for AP American Literature, and I remember hating it.  No particular reason, I just didn't like it.  I guess it might have been something about the style.  Of course it's a book that says some really profound things about the desperation that slavery (and motherhood, for that matter) can drive a person to do.  Just not my favorite book.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

RGRC Book # 112 - The Group

Technically speaking, I think this is the first new book I've read for the first time as a part of the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge.

"You mustn't force sex to do the work of love or love to do the work of sex."
― Mary McCarthy, The Group

Review copied from Goodreads:

It had an extraordinarily slow start, and I kept having to open the Wikipedia article as a reference to keep all of the characters straight, but it picked up rapidly at the end.  I absolutely see how it was a radical and scandalous book at the time, though in my opinion it was (and is) an important book for young women to read.  It was an accurate portrait of the way life treats us, and the way you never know how you and your friends will turn out over the course of seven years.  While I disliked the character of Kay (and maybe that's why the book had a slow start - it begins with her), I think the lessons that can be learned from her debacles are the ones that stuck out to me the most. "You could not love a man who was always playing hide-and-seek with you; that was the lesson she had learned."

I can't give it 5 stars because it was too slow and was not my favorite book along the way, but I give it 4 stars on the merit of its ending.  I like the way things turned out and I like the morals of the story lines.

Monday, December 8, 2014

RGRC Book # 2 - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I've given up on the idea of rereading any and all books originally read before 2012.  Partially because I'm  lazy, partially because some of them are so terrible I can't bear the thought of putting myself through the torture again, and partially because I'm too excited to read too many new things!  With that in mind, I only plan to reread the books that I either a) genuinely do not remember, or b) want to read again because I liked them.  I'll probably get the Cliff's Notes on a few of them to refresh my memory.  With that said, here's another previously read book from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, finished when I was in middle school, most likely the summer before I started high school in 2002.

"I do not wish any reward but to know I have done the right thing."
― Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I can't honestly remember if I first read this book as a school summer reading assignment, or if I just found myself in possession of it and decided to go for it, but I do remember that I already knew it was a literary legend.  I remember be entranced by the language, which I as a Southern-bred girl could easily translate.  I loved how richly the characters were developed, though at the time I'm not sure I would have know how to describe that that was what I liked about them.  Jim was hands down my favorite character, and I loved the relationship between Huck and Jim.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

RGRC Book #32 - Catch-22

Here's another previously read book from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, finished on May 11, 2012.

"Man was matter, that was Snowden's secret. Drop him out a window, and he'll fall. Set fire to him and he'll burn. Bury him and he'll rot, like other kinds of garbage. The spirit gone, man is garbage. That was Snowden's secret. Ripeness was all."
― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

Review copied from Goodreads:

This book was hard to follow. There were so many characters to keep up with, I kept forgetting who was supposed to match which description (to the point that by the end of the book I had no idea what anyone looked like), the story was told out of order, the plot kept coming back around to the same event over and over and retelling it again and again, and pretty much none of the characters were very likable. I give it two stars on merit of having its good points and surviving this long as a prominent piece of American literature.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

RGRC Book # 7 - Anna Karenina

Here's another previously read book from the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, finished on August 2, 2012, as part of an online book club reading.

"All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow."
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Review copied from Goodreads:

I'm done! I'm finally done! What a feeling of accomplishment at having survived this mostly awful feat of literature. This book seemed so much longer than it needed to be to express its main point, there were so many characters and storylines that seemed entirely superfluous, and there were far too many instances of what my dad would call "all preparation and no H" - build-up without a climax. Things would foreshadow and build-up and then...fizzle out. Or just get dropped altogether. Let me sum it up for you: the moral of the story is that it's much better to lead a boring, practical existence (even if it bores you to tears) than to passionately chase after freedom and happiness in illegitimate ways. Because the boring people might have an existential crisis every 10 chapters or so, but they end up supremely happy in the end; the passionate people are supremely happy for a little bit, but then they end up suicidal.

I only give it more than 1 star because that's a rating I reserve for books I HATE, and that's not the case here. Boring and tedious? Yes, it was. But it was OK. I wouldn't recommend it, though.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

RGRC Book #3 - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

I decided that any book on the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge list that I have already read from 1/1/2012 and forward I am not going to reread.  However, anything that I read on 12/31/2011 or before was too long ago to write an accurate review and therefore I will reread.  Since I have decided that I will not necessarily go through the list in any sort of order, I wondered how best to post my reviews of the non-rereads (books I have read since 2012).  For now I think I'll try posting roughly one per day until I run out of them.  Sound like a plan?  Cool.  On to book number 3 of the list!

"It's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then."
― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Review copied from Goodreads:

Having seen the movies and known the story from my childhood, I thought it might be interesting to read the book that inspired it all. It was OK, but it wasn't as mystical as I remembered it as a kid. All in all, 3 stars.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

RGRC Book #1 - 1984

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—for ever."
― George Orwell, 1984

So, the first book (alphabetically) in the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge goes down.  I originally read 1984 my senior year of high school for AP American Government.  I loved it then and I love it now.  It did strike me, though, that I didn't remember there being quite so much gruesome violence in it.

The most striking thing is how believable the dystopian future that Orwell imagined seems.  It's not just a political satire, it's a warning about power-hunger and an overreaching government.  It also beautifully explores the complexities of human sexuality, slavery/oppression, war, absolute truth, and psychology.  The last four words of the book are arguably some of the most bone-chilling words in all of modern literature.

Five stars.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge

I've decided that I'm going to go through the entire list, rereading the books that it has been over 2 years since the first time I read them.  I.e. I read 1984 in high school and remember liking it, but not much else about it, so I plan to read it again and write a new review.  If there is a book that I read recently or that I am currently reading, I'll just copy over my Goodreads review here.  I am skipping the time-sensitive reference books, however.  For instance, a book on traveling through Europe in 2003 or finding a job in 2007 is going to be 1) pretty much irrelevant by now, and 2) pretty difficult to find by now.  If you want to take a look at the comprehensive shelf on Goodreads, you can check it out here.  And if anyone wants to take the challenge with me, I would welcome the company!

Monday, November 3, 2014

I remembered today on my drive home that I have a blog

Work is outrageously busy, I'm working on my Master's degree, I have a robust social life involving friends across at least 3 different countries and I don't even know off hand how many states (#humblebrag #amirite), I am in training for a half marathon, I have my loving husband, I have a household to keep up, I still binge watch shows on Netflix in addition to keeping up with Doctor Who and Outlander, and yet I have not stopped my reading.  In fact, I have picked up both the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge and the Buzzfeed list of 65 Books You Must Read in Your 20s.  I am a crazy person, apparently.

Back in February I bought a new car.  It's a 2014 Ford Focus and I love it.  Bluetooth audio is the best thing ever.  I can listen to Spotify and audiobooks from my phone in the car and my 40-minute commute sucks that much less as a result.

In March Matt and I went to Rhode Island (my first ever flight, by the way) to see Chris graduate from OCS.  It was a really cool experience and I'm glad I went.  Super proud of my Super Friend!  ;-)

In April we threw a party for my birthday that will go down in history, at least in my book.  I have four words for you:  Mario Kart drinking game.  So much laughter.  So much drinking.  So many things that I will not put in print, haha.  I am pretty proud of myself, though, for getting up with what you could maybe call a hangover and running what was then a distance-PR 6 miles the next morning with Jordan.  :)

In May Matt and I flew out to sunny southern California, partially to visit with Chris while he was at SWO school in San Diego (because we wanted to hang out with him one last time before he shipped to Japan), and partially to go to DISNEYLAND!  That's a picture of the three of us in front of Space Mountain, I just hate that it's washed out and you can't really tell what it is.  Oh well.  We did more than just Disneyland, as you might imagine.  We went to Pacific Beach, the Gaslamp District, the San Diego Zoo, Legoland (Matt's idea lol), and of course the Navy base.

The summer was pretty uneventful, lol.  I just kept running and running with Jordan in preparation for the Tower of Terror 10-Miler.  Oh, and I got my first (and so far only) grad school B in a class.  I'm kinda relieved that I got it out of the way early.  If I'm gonna mess up a 4.0, I'd rather do it now than the semester before graduation, lol.

The first week of October Matt and I went to Disney World with my mom and Dallas for the big run!  We got to enjoy a little bit of the Food and Wine Festival, and we got to do all of the parks and Downtown Disney.  We stayed in a one-bedroom at Old Key West that had the most AMAZING view.  I didn't do as well on the run as I had hoped, but I got a medal that glows in the dark and has a moving elevator, lol.  Plus we got to go bowling with Tracie!

Anyway, I think that's about all for now.  I plan to do some updates on the reading and running, but I have separate sites that keep track of those (Goodreads and MapMyRun, respectively).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Wow, I can't believe it's been over a year since my last post.  I guess 2013 was a busy year for me.  I became a Whovian, a social butterfly (sort of), and a fitness enthusiast.  My Ladies Book Club became some of my closest friends, and I reconnected with an old friend to become Super Friends.  ;)  Some highlights from 2013:

In January Laura and Todd got married.  Matt and I were a groomsman and a bridesmaid.  That was a super fun wedding.

In February I read a ton of books and went to a Mardi Gras ball with Matt (yes, I did recycle the bridesmaid dress from the wedding, lol).

In March we became the proud owners of a treadmill that we bought with a bonus I got at work.

In April we learned that Todd and Laura were having a baby, I turned 25, and I dyed my hair for the first time in 5 years.  It came out just a LITTLE bit more red than I had originally intended, lol.

In May Jacob and Rachel got married, and I ran into an old friend who I hadn't seen in person in 5 years (Chris).

In June we went to a really epic party, we found out that Todd and Laura were having a girl, and I tried (unsuccessfully) to hook Chris on Doctor Who.

In July we spent a week in Houston visiting Nathan and Elana.

In August I began running using C25K and we hosted an awesome "Lame Party" at our house.

In September Chris (by now we were Super Friends, lol) moved into our guest room and started renting it from us, and I started going to a LOT more Spartan training sessions.

In October we went to a Saints game at the Super Dome, I ran my first 5K (the Color Run) with my friend Autumn, I ran another 5K (the Dog River Ghost Chase - I wore a runaway bride costume) with Chris and Matt, and I increased my running distance to four miles.

In November I got to watch Chris' enlistment in the Navy, I got to hold Todd and Laura's baby Delaney the day after she was born, and Matt and I took a Disney cruise to the Bahamas followed by a quick 2-day trip to Disney World for our second wedding anniversary.

In December I dropped Chris off at the airport for his 12 weeks of OCS, finally read the last 3 Harry Potter books, enjoyed several wonderful Christmas parties with family and friends, and threw an awesome New Year's Eve party at my house where I made a new friend (Chelsey).

I'm hoping that 2014 will be another good year for me.  I'm starting classes for my Master's degree on January 13 and I'm registered for the Azalea Trail Run 10K for March.  Here's hoping for a great next 12 months!