BTW: It's actually really difficult to take a picture with a large hard bound novel, from any angle.
Anywho, I pretty much love Goodreads.com and they have a nifty little program where you can enter to win giveaways for free books. There are literally hundreds of books. You have to pick and choose though, because a lot of them sound terrible.
However, there are some really great ones like books by the majestic Terry Pratchett, who is one of my favorite authors ever.
And then sometimes, really great things happen to you and you win giveaways and Mondays become more bearable.
And you can be sure that I will let you know how good the book is!
Now, I'm a big fan of the odd, absurd and unusual, so this week's Top Ten is right up my alley. Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read
The Silent Gondoliers by William Goldman -- The legend of Luigi the master gondolier and aspiring singer. Very odd premise, but more beautiful each time I read it.
Swords for Hire by Will Allen -- Not what you'd expect. Classic hero's journey but so, so funny and clever.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness -- Strange dreamlike quality to story and writing is haunting. Odd, but one that you won't be able to stop talking about.
The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope -- American history meets a ghost story. Not scary but everything ties together in such a wonderfully unique way! One of my absolute favorites.
The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery -- At first glance, there doesn't look like there is much that is unique about the story. But it was the only one of L.M. Montgomery novel's meant for an older audience. I love the heroine who defies tradition and her stuffy family. It's a novel about fulfilling your dreams and living life to the fullest. It's descriptions of nature stand out as some of the best descriptive writing I've ever read.
Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster -- A bildungsroman epistolary novel. Sweet, touching and funny, you will be hard pressed to find another like it.
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende -- Completely original tale that invites the reader to become a part of the story. However, the second half does drag a bit. But the first half more than makes up for it.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride -- Unique supernatural powers, unique take on the supernatural genre and a snarky protagonist? Sign me up!
The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud -- The footnotes were the most unique part of this series. I remember being so impressed by the depth of the world that Stroud created and how interesting Bartimeaus was.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman -- Literally anything that Neil Gaiman writes is unique with a capital U. The man is a master. Out of everything that I've read from him, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is the most unique. It blends reality and fiction, nightmare and dreams. "It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark."
I liked this week's prompt. Uniqueness in books is something to be cherished and remembered, especially after I read the same paranormal-dystopian-love-triangle YA novel. Same story with different titles. What have been some of the most unique books you've come across?
Ehhh, I don't know what it was about this one, but I didn't love it. I didn't hate it either, which was a bit of a relief. The premise was super interesting. After a devastating virus kills most of the population, a handful begin to rise again from the dead, "rebooted". However, these reboots are stronger, faster and less emotional. Sort of sociopathic clones. Anyways, the HARC is the domineering, controlling governmental agency designed to house these reboots and use them to capture criminals and clean up the streets.
I couldn't get out of my head the idea of zombies, especially since one experiment makes some of the reboots go out of control and start tearing into people. I'm not a huge zombie fan, so that lessened my appreciation somewhat. The other part was just how unbelievable the central love story was.
The protagonist, Wren 178, was dead for 178 mins before rebooting. The longer you are dead, the less human you are when you return. So it's really hard to identify with her emotionally when she is so dead on the inside. Except that she isn't. She still has feelings, even though she isn't supposed to have them? And then her love interest, Callum, still has all of his human emotions and he loves Wren for some inexplicable reason? I don't know. I like love stories to have a little more meat on the bones than "Oh she's pretty? I must like her then!"
Oh well. I did find there is a second book, I don't know if I'm super interested in finding out how it all ends though...
For someone who reads as much as I do, it's odd that such a big book gives me pause. A 300 pg book? Psh! Done in no time. Start creeping over 400 pages and suddenly, I have the hardest time maintaining interest enough to get started. Never mind that once I get started I get completely swept away.
Well, most of the time. Days of Blood and Starlight is a different story. There is so much going on and so much at stake, that I had to stop after every couple of chapters to maintain my emotional balance. (I really get into books.)
The premise: Karou is one of the Chimaera, the half human-half creature race that are in open rebellion to the Seraphim, a race of angels with blazing wings. In the first book, she learns of a betrayal from someone close to her and in this second one, she must decide how far she is willing to take things in her need to avenge her race.
This series takes an interesting look into the nature of war and the people who fight in it. Neither side is innocent, that much is painfully clear as the book goes on. But how do you stop fighting once you start? How do you answer someone's pain that you've caused?
Days of Blood and Starlight is aptly named. Since it is war that they are involved in, there is so much death and blood. I am afraid that there could never be a movie because to do it right would be too gruesome for the silver screen. There is also the matter of the pain tithe for magic. Even though this concept is brutal, it makes so much sense. You can't get something from nothing (although that seems like the very purpose of magic) and in this world, to conduct any sort of magic, you need a reservoir of pain to purchase it. Cringeworthy, indeed, but it makes you think more about what is worth the pain.
If you had the power to do anything you wanted, but at a cost, would you still do it?
I came across this article on my newsreader iPad app, Zite. It's beautiful because you get to customize your feed and it will automatically bring you more stories with the stuff you like or are interested in. Of course, anything by Mindy Kaling, I'm a big fan of.
Hence, this article by Alexandra Pusateri. Since I talked about my overwhelming love here, I think this article does an excellent job of summarizing The Mindy Project and also pointing about what it does well.
"Instead of taking cues from some other female-driven television shows where women in leadership have to exude masculinity or coldness, The Mindy Project is a lesson to the contrary. Bubbly and quirky, Mindy can come off as ditzy to some viewers' eyes, but looking a bit deeper, there's a lot more to her. Sure, she's a pop culture aficionado, but she's also incredibly intelligent and quick-witted."
I think that is part of my fascination with Mindy Lahiri (the character on the show). Yes, she is a hot mess sometimes, but she is a highly educated, successful professional woman. So what if she loves reality TV? So what if she hates exercising and can't cook with anything beyond a microwave? She's realistic and I love that.
The article gives a shout-out to Adam Pally, who plays Dr. Peter Prentice. "When Dr. Peter Prentice (Adam Pally from the nixed Happy Endings) is hired to replace Franco's character, he brings a raunchy, bro vibe to the show to contrast Mindy — and it fits. Peter's single-guy take on dating, girls, and guy stuff adds a dimension to The MindyProject that makes everyone even more likable." Believe it or not, I love Peter's character on the show. He is a bit much too handle sometimes, but just roll your eyes and look for the times when he is completely charming.
This may be the book nerd in me, but I've always wanted to be part of a book club. I love reading books, but it's even better when you can share books with other people and talk about your thoughts and feelings. It makes me think more deeply about the things I read and helps broaden my literary taste and helps me see things from other people's perspectives.
Book clubs are tricky, because it seems really daunting to start one, but then again if you don't start one, you have to wait to be invited to one. When I moved to my first official job, somehow (I don't really remember) but somehow I got invited to a book club and I loved it. I got to know more people in the community, I was surrounded by other readers, and we discussed books! Dream come true.
This is the explanation behind this book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It was this month's book club book, and a little different than the ones we've read before. First of all, it's a children's book, I would say 8-10 year old. But it's so good. I love saying that because at first, I was a little skeptical about reading it. Not that I couldn't, just why would I want to? I'm glad to say, this little book changed my mind.
Simply put, it's about a china rabbit who is cold and uncaring. He is separated from his owner and goes on many different kinds of adventures and learns about love along the way. So sweet and so much heart. This would be a lovely bedtime book, to read a chapter each night with a child. Some day, right?
Entertainment Wednesday: Once a week, I will highlight some pop culture element that I'm currently enjoying at the moment. Sound off in the comments if there is something that I need to see.
The Mindy Project on Fox: I love, love, love The Mindy Project! And tonight it's baaaaaaaaaaaaaack! (And since I don't have regular TV, when I say tonight, I mean Wednesday after school on Hulu) After a mid-season hiatus, Mindy and her crew are back and I'm thrilled.
What is it about: Mindy Lahiri (played by Mindy Kaling) is a 30-something OBGYN in New York who is an eternal romantic and is trying to figure her life out, still.
Why I Like it: Daniel Castellano (he is a significant part of why I love this show), Mindy Lahiri's fashion sense, and it's basically a weekly rom-com.
Usually my sister and I have similar tastes in entertainment, so it bums me out that she hates this show with such a violent passion. She just can't get past the idea of Mindy as Kelly Kapoor from The Office. I've previously mentioned that I dislike The Office, (Ugh, SO MUCH) so I didn't mind it at all. Fortunately, I have friends that have fantastic taste and who I can gush over new developments with.
And there is always something new. Part of the genre of rom-coms are romantic story lines, and Mindy really plays with the concept. The Mindy on the show is an expert on all the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan-esque films and tries (and fails) to make her life like one. Mindy has had SO many love interests and yummy guest starring men from James Franco, to BJ Novak, to Ben Feldman, to Seth Rogen. Oh it is glorious.
Mindy is a realistic character. You can totally see her functioning in the real world, unlike Jess from New Girl who is too Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl to handle sometimes. While I loooooved New Girl the first two seasons, season three was truly terrible (although Jess's b-day party from Nick was adorbs). Mindy is realistic in tone, her observations on social expectations are ON POINT, and her fashion is to die for. Seriously, I would drool over almost every piece her closet.
So, if you haven't yet, give Mindy a chance. (I'm looking at you, Denay). And rejoice because it's back on tonight (Tuesday) and I will finally get to see what happens after this:
If you are still reading, this fan-vid will give you a glimpse why I absolutely ADORE Danny Castellano:
Top Ten "Gateway" Books/Authors In My Reading Journey
The Boxcar Children-- These were the first books that I remember being excited about reading. I remember my mother making a copy of all the title from the back of one of the books so I could see which ones to get next at the library. These were a very large part of my childhood.
The Baby-sitters Club by Ann Martin -- Like the Boxcar Children, The Baby-sitters Club series was transformative for me. I remember when Mary-Ann got her hair cut super short, that inspired me to cut my hair. Simple, but that was probably the first time I remember being so influenced by a book.
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede -- When I was in elementary school, I remember one of my fellow students pulled Searching for Dragons off of the shelf and asked how anyone could read such a BIG book. Prideful elementary student that I was, I took it on as a challenge and fell in love with it.
Anna Karenina--Freshman year of college, I took a Comparative Literature course and this was the one book that our professor promised us that we would read again, out of all the books we read that semester. It was also the novel that got me started reading Russian literature, which I won't say that I'm an expert on or an avid fan of, but it does enrich my life.
American Born Chinese-- Junior year of college, I had to take an Adolescent Literature class for my major. "Had to" pshaw! I got to read YA fiction for CREDIT. Tell you what, I aced that course. In the class we had to read a whole variety of YA literature. One type was graphic novels, which I hadn't paid much attention to. I didn't really understand the appeal. American Born Chinese changed that for me. First of all, it is a Printz medal winner and it had such depth. I am sold on the idea of graphic novels, all because of this book.
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World-- Likewise, in this class, we had to read some non-fiction which I had never really been a fan of. SatBotW (it's a mouthful) changed all of that. For once, I was fully engaged in a true story. I was fascinated and couldn't put it down. It also furthered my fascination with the Arctic exploration era. Ernest Shackleton FTW!
Neil Gaiman -- I've never been one to appreciate anything in the horror genre. I don't willingly see scary movie or tell scary stories around the camp-fire. Neil Gaiman made me appreciate horror like I've never done before. I think it's because he gave meaning to the horror. It wasn't just to scare. It was meaningful and beautiful.
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-- Number 8 and 9 are both important for different reasons. I think Hitchhiker's Guide was technically the first example of true Science Fiction that I remember reading. And if I were to be honest, I think Sci-Fi is one of my favorite genres now.
Stainless Steel Rat-- Harry Harrison's series is one of my favorites. It straddles the border between Sci-Fi and Satire and it's one that has opened up new opportunities of other Sci-Fi books like Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury.
Murder on the Oriental Express-- Last but not least, Agatha Christie's immortal mystery Murder on the Orient Express. Like I said earlier, I'm not one for suspense, and always read the end of the book to see how it will resolve itself, but with this one, I didn't. And I saw how exhilarating it was to not know the ending. And I wanted to read more mysteries because Christie did such a good job with it. Classic.
So this is probably waaayyy more than you wanted to know, but these are my Top Ten Gateway Books that opened up new books, genres and authors for me on my reading Journey. Let me know what books have been gateway books for you! I love comparing books and experiences.
Last Friday was Girls Night Out (GNO henceforth) to see Pride and Prejudice at BYU. Of course, with such an event, you have to go out for dinner! I've always wanted to try Molly's while I was going to school in Provo, but it was only open for lunch and it was inconvenient. Well, ta da! It was open for dinner on Friday.
We popped on by and it was busy! Which is always a good sign. The restaurant was a little small, but the food was delicious. The eating area was light and friendly. It is homestyle BBQ with the most gorgeous dinner rolls I think I've ever seen. The lemonade was sweet with a little splash of pineapple juice, which made is 10x better than any other lemonade I've had recently.
Lastly, if nothing else convinces you, four words: chocolate-cream-cheese-cake. Yes, it was real and it was beautiful delicious.
Genres: fate vs. free will, the individual vs. the majority, gods and goddesses, desert survival Summary: Liyana has trained her whole life to be a vessel for her clan's goddess. When her goddess doesn't come, Liyana's clan abandons her to the desert to find a more worthy vessel. Liyana then meets Korbyn, the trickster god, who claims that the gods are being trapped and Liyana must help him find them again. The longer Liyana goes without her goddess, the less she wants to give up her life just yet. But she might have to sacrifice herself to save her people. Response: I don't know what I was expecting when I picked up this book. I only knew that I liked the author's previous novel, Ice . I was really impressed by the complex world-building present in this novel. Focusing on the nomadic desert tribes and giving life to each clan's gods was really interesting. The other supernatural elements found in the desert like the giant silk/sand worms, the sandstorm wolves, the sky serpents, etc. added to the depth and detail of that world. I liked the foreign feel of the desert people. I don't think many YA authors take that route. It felt new and interesting. Liyana was such a strong character. She has been raised her whole life for one purpose, to be the vessel for her goddess. After that time, she no longer exists. But when her goddess doesn't come, what then? Liyana suddenly has to live for herself, instead of just for her fate. She still considers others needs before her own, but that whole dilemma of the individual will versus the group good was just fascinating. And it wasn't just Liyana who had to deal with this dilemma, there were other abandoned vessels, each with varying degrees of acceptance of their fate. I loved that the author was able to explore so many perspectives to the same problem. I didn't quite know how to take the ending. It was mostly satisfying, but I wonder if there will be more?
Entertainment Wednesday: Once a week, I will highlight some pop culture element that I'm currently enjoying at the moment. Sound off in the comments if there is something that I need to see.
Community on NBC: A critical darling with a cult following. I do love the absurd, so my taste in TV shows is a little bizarre. I like Parks and Rec but I hate The Office. I do NOT like Arrested Development but I like 30 Rock.
I was a little worried that it would be strange, considering the very small but very vocal minority at my school that was advocating it. But when one is stranded at a drama competition two hours away, one commits to certain things.
I started watching it on Sunday...which turned into an all-day affair. Then Monday after school. And Tuesday. I've made it through Season 1 already.
Community is fantastic for several reasons. 1.) Endlessly quotable 2.) Highly unique 3.) Fast paced and always engaging 4.) A lovable group of misfits. I realize that I am probably behind the times but I fully support this TV show.
Be warned, I've been told that I have a fascination with jerks. I loved TV jerks. Elliot from Leverage, Danny Castellano from The Mindy Project, Jake Peralta from Brooklyn 99. So Jeff Winger is a tool, I will admit that. But I can't help it! I love him still.
The real gem of the show, though, is Abed. His observations on human nature and media stereotypes is hilarious, wise, timely and brilliant.
So give it a shot if you haven't yet. Let me know when you get to the Paintball episode. Oh, you'll know what I mean when you see it.
I want to do more regular series on the blog. This is going to be a Tuesday regular. I will take most of my ideas from the blogs I mentioned, but if it strikes my fancy, I might do a random list. This week's topic is Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List
Meet John Green and Hank Green -- Favorite youtubers and creative geniuses
Read Moby Dick
Social Media Storm (instagram, pinterest, blog) the books I read as I finish them. #BooksWithBeddes
More than a month ago, I applied for the masters program in Teacher Education at BYU. This is a program that I've been thinking about for a couple of years now. I have been on pins and needles for the better part of March, waiting to hear back.
No more worries! I've been accepted! This means I have a roadmap for the next two years. This means I am on my way to becoming a better teacher. This means whole other world of possibilities and opportunities.
I have some thanking to do.
To all those who knew I was applying and had no worries that I would get in, thank you for putting up with my stress, fears and tears.
To those who helped-either with the GRE or letters of recommendation or even talking me through the process, thank you.
To everyone who I told today, thank you for being excited with me as I start this new chapter of my life!
I can't wait to get more information about the classes I get to take and the professors and cohort that I will get to work with! I can't wait to share what new things I am going to be learning and doing.