My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘Blogging for Books’

8 signs you may suffer from low SHELF-esteem

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One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday morning is take my current book (s) du jour and hit up a local coffee shop, enjoying my latest page-turner with a cup (or three) of freshly brewed java and bagel doughnut anything made with just all of the gluten. If I’m lucky (and the weather is cooperating with me), I’ll grab a table outside and hunker down for a few glorious hours.

On one such morning a few weeks ago, I was approached by a man rocking a pretty spectacular fedora who wanted to know what I was reading. Now to preface this, I’d like to point out that I am an equal opportunity reader. I like to dabble in all genres by all kinds of authors. I’m talking mysteries and young adult to non-fiction and the literary classics. My book rolodex runs the gamut! On this particular day, I just happened to be indulging in some chick-lit (if you haven’t read One Plus One by Jojo Moyes, you need to! Like, yesterday). When I told this man what my book of choice was, he kind of gave me a kind of snooty, hoity toity sneer, his nose turned up like he just got a serious whiff of sweaty gym socks.

“Hmph,” he said as he turned back to his table. “I’m more of a literary purist.” That’s when I noticed the book he happened to have in his hands: Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. I’m not gonna lie; I felt my face turning a bright shade of red, slightly embarrassed by my apparent lack of bookish intelligence. Should I be dabbling in these philosophical, historical, meaningful [and ridiculously hard to understand] books too? Am I wasting my time and energy (and ridiculously high level of brain power) on mere chick-lit?

Now, I’m not a psychologist (actually, I’m a librarian which makes things even more confusing. I mean, I am in the business of books after all). I have however been a teenage girl (’nuff said) and definitely noticed that since my crimped hair and Hanson-listening days of middle school, those who scream the loudest about how great they are, are usually the people who are just compensating for actual lack.

This can be applied to many areas of life; school, work, the sports teams you cheer for, and even the kind of beer you drink. The more self-conscious you feel about a certain aspect of your life, the more likely you are to overcompensate for those things/skills/abilities/talents that you think you lack. What I’ve recently discovered is that is also can be apparent in the world of books. Generally speaking, those who are worried about their intelligence level (or lack there of) feel the need to prove their smarts in ways that actual intellects don’t. They suffer from very low shelf-esteem.

Mr. Fedora, I’m talking to you buddy.

Signs that you too may be suffering from a bad case of low shelf-esteem include:

1.You mention what you are reading, but make sure to tell people who your REAL favorite author is (typically someone who’s tres “important”).

“I mean, yeah I’m reading this now, but I usually stick to anything and everything written by Hemingway.

*J.K. Rowling is my girl!

2. You make excuses for what you are reading.

“Oh this thing? Yeah, I only started reading it because…my dog ate my copy of War & Peace.”

*Definitely reading The DaVinci Code, again, because so good, right?!

3. You don’t tell your friends what you’re reading, because you’re intimidated that they read “more important” things than you.

“I’m uhh, well I, it’s actually…but enough about me. What are you reading?”

*Twilight, okay?! I’m reading Twilight!!

4. You nod along when people talk intelligently about dead Russian white guys that you don’t really know anything about…instead of being honest about not knowing.

“Oh yeah. He was the one who wrote that book about that thing that happened a long time ago in that one place, right? Sooooo good!”

*Yep. Nope. I have no idea who you are talking about.

5. You have a fake favorite book for when people ask you what your favorite book is.

“My fave book is totally The Sound and The Fury by Faulkner. Obviously.

*HARRY POTTER! HARRY POTTER! HARRY POTTER!!!!!

6. You keep something fancy on the coffeetable for guests to notice.

“Oh these old things? Yeah they’re just the complete set of Tolstoy’s greatest works. The printed originals. In three different translations. No biggy.”

*Copies I got at a garage sale for $.50 each because they looked neat.

7. You won’t get rid of books you hated because you want people who come over to see that you’ve read them.

“Wow! Of Mice and Men? Crime and Punishment? Anna Karenina? Impressive shelves, girl!”

*Yeahhhh….about those….not a big fan. In fact, I couldn’t finish any of them because I kept falling asleep.

8. You make blanket statements about which kinds of books are bad without actually reading them.

“Pshhh. Comic books are soooo 2014.”

*Comic books are sooo 2015 and I can marry Thor please and thank you.

As I mentioned before, everyone has their reading preferences. I am not ashamed to admit that I love a good tear-jerker, mushy-gushy love story. I think I’ve single-handedly supported the stock in Kleenex for the number of Nicholas Sparks’ books that adorn my bookshelf alone. There’s nothing wrong with reading what you want to read. Ever.

Just because you choose not to read the difficult, heady or highbrow novels all the time (or any time) doesn’t mean that you are in any way less smart or intelligent. In fact, it probably means that you are confident enough in your self shelf to read what you want, to not be intimidated in any way by judgy McJudgsters who feel your reading is not up to snuff. Be proud of what you read and own your interests no matter what anyone says.

So to Mr. Fedora, I would just like to say, “Yes I am reading the chickiest of chick-lit books and yes it is amazing (and yes I could use a tissue, thank you). So you can just take your Proust and shove it (but not really because that actually is an incredible book and can I borrow it when you’re done?)

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The Book of Strange New Things: A Book Review

I haven’t read anything quite like this book before. Part sci-fi, part adventure, and completely humanistic, The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber is original and very addicting (I pulled quite the few all-nighters on this one.)

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It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC.   His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling.  Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.   Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable.  While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival.  Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.

While I was reading this I had a sense of foreboding, which is I partly I guess what kept me reading until the wee hours of the AM, however, that feeling of foreboding was unfounded. I guess I kept looking for some big revelation or some monumental event but it never happened or was too subtle to notice.

The characters here are all well thought out and I got to know them as their lives unfolded and that is what also what kept me reading. Peter becomes so absorbed in his teachings to the Oasans that he doesn’t take care of himself or his wife’s feelings of aloneness. I liked that Peter quotes from the bible and preaches; I took it as lessons I hadn’t had before.

I wish there had been another few pages to finalize what happens in the end and at close to 500 pages, a few more wouldn’t have hurt. In fact, I think it would have lead to a more satisfying ending. As much as I found this different world and their inhabitants intriguing; I wanted to know more of what was going on with home and the world we know and why.

I’m a sucker for great literature but hate untidy endings so after finishing “The Book of Strange New Things” I was a bit conflicted. The prose is beautiful and mundane. It gets inner monologue. Gosh, there is so much!

It’s a book about beginnings and endings. But it’s also a book about faith.

It’s a book about marriage. But it’s also a book about friendship.

It’s a book about redemption. It’s a book about broken people. It’s the beginning and the end.

Does this sound confusing? It isn’t. It flows beautifully. It is all of those things together and more. It’s a gorgeous story. It’s beautiful and not easily defined. And I whole heartedly recommend reading it. More than once. Because it’s one of those readings that unfurls. And those are the very best kind in my opinion 🙂

*I received an advanced copy of The Book of Strange New Things from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: A Book Review

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My grandma and I once watched an episode of MacGyver that ended up with the go-go gadget hero narrowly avoiding certain death in a boat explosion. After the show ended (and just before Jessica Fletcher began flapping her gums on Murder, She Wrote), my grandma turned off the TV and said, “Lindsay (My name is actually Wendi), it doesn’t get any better than this!” Well guess what, my friends, IT DOES. I’m pretty sure I looked silly to strangers (or, more silly than I usually am) by how much I’ve openly laughed while reading this book. It reeks of John Moe’s irascible wit (I think that’s a good thing) and has left me wanting more.

Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture Correspondences by John Moe is one of those books you look at and think, “Either this is a really, really brilliantly written book that will be jam packed full of side-splitting laughs and entertainment or it will be really stupid.” Well, I’m happy to report that this book was really, really brilliantly written book that was jam packed full of side-splitting laughs and entertainment. It was one of those reads that made me happy I wasn’t drinking anything at the time. You know, the whole milk through the nose laughing thing. We all know how Darth Vader shared his big secret with Luke Skywalker, but what if he had delivered the news in a handwritten note instead? And what if someone found that letter, as well as all of the drafts that landed in the Dark Lord’s trash can?

In this super funny collection, Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth, John Moe finally reveals these lost notes alongside all the imagined letters, e-mails, text messages, and other correspondences your favorite pop culture icons never meant for you to see.   From The Walking Dead to The Wizard of Oz, from Billy Joel to Breaking Bad, no reference escapes Moe’s imaginative wit and keen sense of nostalgia. Read Captain James T. Kirk’s lost log entries and Yelp reviews of The Bates Motel and Cheers. Peruse top secret British intelligence files revealing the fates of Agents 001–006, or Don Draper’s cocktail recipe cards. Learn all of Jay-Z’s 99 problems (I bet you didn’t know he has an aversion to mushy grapes), as well as the complete rules of Fight Club, and then discover an all-points bulletin concerning Bon Jovi, wanted dead or alive—and much more.

Like a bonus track to a favorite CD or a deleted scene from a cult movie, Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth offers a fresh twist on the pop culture classics we thought we knew by heart. You already know part of their story. Now find out the rest.

But please do watch that episode of MacGyver too. It was realllllly good. 🙂

I give this wise-cracking book 4 out of 5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I was asked to write an honest review of this book for Blogging For Books. All opinions and remarks are of my own accord.

A Book Review and More Harry Potter?!

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Hey friends! Happy Monday 🙂

I’ve got another great page-turner for you today!

I received The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review and let me tell you all, it was a wonderful read!

There’s a comfort in reading a book with realistic characters, sort of like sipping hot chocolate from that special mug, or slipping into your favorite pair of jeans sweats. Flash, drama, and excitement in a book is fine, but I also like that other type, the type where I read about people who I might meet perusing veggies at the farmer’s market, or while waiting at a bus stop, or even when picking up the mail in my apartment building. Maddie Dawson created a whole slew of such characters — not perfect or glamorous in any way, but ones with their own quirks, both lovable and irritating. In The Opposite of Maybe they come to life, opening a window into their world so we can glimpse them moving through their days. I found myself on many occasions throughout the book really feeling all of their feels; sometimes commiserating, sometimes cheering, and occasionally shouting “What were you thinking?!”

You know you’re reading a good book when you start having full-blown conversations with the characters.

With Rosie and Jonathan, Dawson unveils a couple who fit each other like an old pair of socks; the type you think is just fine until you suddenly realize your toe is poking out and the heel is threadbare. aka pretty much all of the socks I own. That is if I can keep them longer than a few weeks; anyone else notice how they “mysteriously go missing after a run through in the washing machine? I’ve got my conspiracy theories about that which I’ll share later with you. But back to the book…

Though the couple originally planned to move together from the east coast to the west, Jonathan heads off on his own (to start a tea cup museum? I wish I could make this up.), and Rosie stays home to sort out the world of her cantankerous grandmother, Soapie, who raised Rosie after her own mother’s death. Soapie is flirting with memory loss and other issues of the elderly, but still insists on her evening cocktails. a gal after my own heart. She also refuses Rosie’s help in selecting appropriate home health help, instead relying on a young man, with no credentials, no recommendations, and barely a job. So, Rosie moves in to discover the true situation and sort things out. Instead, she discovers that at age 44, with her lover on the other side of the country, and a cast of characters she never anticipated being in her life, she is pregnant. And the rest, as they say, is a good story in the telling.

This book was just so sweet and funny. Everything from Tony’s misuse of words and Soapie’s unique outlook on life, to George’s mad dancing skills and Jonathon’s, shall we say, skewed way of thinking. Every bit of it came together to create such a wacky yet beautiful story, one that was full of emotion and unexpected twists and turns.

I would give The Opposite of Maybe two giant thumbs up, 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Wendi scale.

Speaking of good books, did you hear the news? My girl J.K. Rowling just released another short (emphasis on short) story, a short blob about Celestina Warbeck, a singing sorceress and Molly Weasley’s favorite singer. The character doesn’t appear in any of the seven Harry Potter books, but Rowling says she’s one of her favorite “off-stage” characters.  You can read the new story at Pottermore if you’re a member (and if you’re not, then we obviously cannot be friends. Just kidding. But really, what are you waiting for?!) I’ve always wondered if Rowling wouldn’t one day go back to the HP Universe and explore it more in depth. I would love to see more stuff like this, stories about characters in the HP universe that don’t necessarily involve HP! But instead of just a few paragraphs, I would love, love, LOVE a full-on book.

J.K. if you’re reading this, it’s time girlfriend.

But while we’re all waiting with baited breath for the next HP book, give The Opposite of Maybe a go. I think you’ll really like it.

And if not, I will personally send you some of my famous, award-winning (I’ve got references) chocolate chip cookies.

 

2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas: A Book Review

catWell hello, there friends.

And happy hump day! To celebrate only two-ish more days until the weekend graces our presence, I have another book review for you.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for free in exchange for an honest review and honest I will be.

2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino is set in one day—Philadelphia on Christmas Eve—and follows several different characters, including Madeleine, a nine-year-old aspiring jazz singer who recently lost her mother to cancer; Madeleine’s teacher Sarina; The Cat’s Pajamas club owner Lorca and his son Alex, and several others. Madeleine and Sarina are the most engaging by far, and Madeleine’s feisty independence (she could give Johnny Depp a run for his money for her mouth-of-a-sailor antics) made her a fun character to get to know and spend time with. As the book gradually winds all the characters closer and closer together, they all benefit, becoming more important and interesting to the reader. The intertwining and sprawling of the characters coupled with the fact that it took place on Christmas Eve kind of reminded a bit of Love Actually, actually. Unfortunately, I feel like the massive cast works better on film, where you can put a face with a name.

It’s kind of a strange book to describe—the story itself is very literal at first, but it becomes fantastical, almost fairy tale-like at unexpected times. This to me felt a little off-putting while I was reading it however now, 12 hours after having finished the book, I think the fantastical elements were a good idea. The entire book feels a little magical, so what’s one more magical thing among the rest?

If you’re looking for a new book club read, this would be a fun option. (It’s short and fast enough to not be a burden to club members who drag their toes.) It has plenty to talk about in terms of plot and characterization and there are a few passages in the book that are really, really, delightful and worth marking to come back later and dissect.

The best way that I can describe this book is to tell you how I felt after reading it. Did you ever have a childhood movie or book that you would watch or read often? For me, that list was and is very, very, VERY long, ranging in everything from books like A Wrinkle in Time and Harry Potter (naturally) to movies like Field of Dreams and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I literally watched everyone’s favorite crime-fighting and pizza loving amphibians so much that I wore out all three of my VHS tapes. Speaking of TMNT, I may or may not be a going to see the new live-action movie which hits theaters this Friday. And I may or may not be way too excited to see it. And I may or may not be embarrassed to admit that, seeing as I am a 27-year-old woman.

We went/go back to these books and movies over and over again because of the way they made us feel afterwards, leaving us with a warming in our hearts and stomachs, making us believe and feel like everything in the world could be as fun and magical as what we just saw or read. After turning the last page of 2 A.M at the Cat’s Pajamas, I recognized that happy, contented feeling as one I’d had before: It was like the childishly optimistic, happy afterglow that would stick around after a favorite movie or book.

I didn’t think 2 A.M was the perfect book; it was kind of hard to get in to at first, the back and forth between characters was confusing at times, and I wish that the concept of how whenever Madeleine would sing, strange and peculiar things would happen would have been explored a bit more.

That being said, however, this book did make me smile.

And that counts for a lot.

On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, I would give this book a solid 3.5.

I guess you could say that this book was, indeed, the cat’s pajamas 😉

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