AND WITH THIS POST, I am totally up-to-date on what I’ve been reading the past few months! Easier said than done.
- The Fifth Wave (Amazon) (Rick Yancey) – Sci-fi… skimmed it. From the small sampling of books I’ve read or tried to read, I think I’m less likely to enjoy a book if it’s written by a male author. Just an observation worth sharing.
- Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Amazon) (April Genevieve Tucholke) – You know, the story itself was okay. The main character frustrated me a little by her naivete but I still enjoyed it… but… the ending? DRIVES ME NUTS. I hate when I find out that it’s “Book #1″ in a series when I was expecting a resolution. Ugh. Book #1s should have a resolution!
- The Spectacular Now (Amazon) (Tim Tharp) – Underwhelmed. I really wanted to see the movie, and now I’m still curious, but less so. Didn’t love the narrative voice (male author, again!) and didn’t love the ending, but can see how it’d make a good movie.
- Fingerprints of You (Amazon) (Kristen-Paige Madonia) – Simple, sweet, mother-daughter tale… finding-yourself, etc. Liked, didn’t love.
- Warm Bodies (Amazon) (Isaac Marion) – Better than I hoped, but not great. Just watched the movie trailer and like how they applied the humor of the novel. Zombie love story, but not exactly…
- Reconstructing Amelia (Amazon) (Kimberly McCreight) – Another adult novel I picked up because of all the sales and press. I actually liked this BETTER than GONE GIRL which I know everyone loved and was a huge blockbuster (does that word apply to books too?). The ending and the final twist weren’t entire surprises (I feel like it’s been done before, to an extent), but I did like all the little twists and turns along the way. And oof, the heart of her mother…
- Soon I Will Be Invincible (Amazon) (Austin Grossman) – Started, because it was well-regarded in the world of fantasy/sci-fi, but couldn’t finish it. Never got into comic books, so shouldn’t have been surprised that I didn’t love a book that was essentially a spin-off of the comic world.
- Something Strange and Deadly (Amazon) / A Darkness Strange and Lovely (Amazon) (Susan Dennard) – Yet ANOTHER trilogy with a female heroine. Should that be a drama? YA paranormal trilogy with strong female heroine and multiple love interests? This one is set in earlier America, with a twist of zombies and magic (and some science), but still entertaining. I guess the formula works!
- A Really Awesome Mess (Amazon) (Trish Cook) – REALLY liked this. Takes place in an … what do you call it… alternative care facility? Kind of like rehab for teenagers, who come together with a motley of issues. The two main characters struggle with anger/feeling loved (boy) and eating disorders/feeling loved (girl). Unexpectedly funny with a lot of sass, big thumbs up.
- The Name of the Wind (Amazon) / The Wise Man’s Fear (Amazon) (Patrick Rothfuss) – And the grand finale… Patrick Rothfuss. Oh, Patrick Rothfuss. I won’t say that these are MORE fun than the Game of Thrones series because I know that’d raise havoc… but I will say that they are of the same caliber. Set in similar worlds, but I like that these focus on ONE character (Kvothe) and it is a coming-of-age story, just that of an extraordinarily clever, smart, observant, resourceful, powerful, and talented … arcanist? Not sure what we should call him. SO SO SO SO SO good. Gave both 5 stars, which I don’t very often on Goodreads… but high fantasy seriously at it’s best. Cannot wait for the third book, though I’ll probably have to wait ages given it’s apparently not done being written yet!
Kiiiiiiiind of underwhelmed this season, guys. Or is this how it always feels during the blind auditions?
- Observation #1: There was a family interview where they hugged and a Starbucks cup (*cough* prop) fell over and nothing spilled out. How much you wanna bet they’re empty??? And just placed randomly around the shots?
- Observation #2: A lot of the sob stories can’t sing all that well… but they have interesting stories that humanize the show, so I get it.
- HOLLY HENRY. I like like like like like her! I like this song, I like the way she did it and didn’t mind that she had that typical soft raspy quirky voice because she showed she can sing with power too. And, Team BLAKE. Wee!
- And Johnny Gray — I liked him. Great, GREAT song choice and he had a really strong opening. Plus, seems like a nice guy. Yay!
- And yes, I think Tessanne Chin is good… but too many similarities to Judith Hill! Producers, we can see what you’re trying to do! Back-up singer, mixed heritage, power vocals. At least she seems nicer… and I will admit, hearing her talk is super cool. But… yeah, not the end all be all by any means.
More books! More books! Seriously, never-ending pile of books. I wonder if I’ll get bored of reading… that’d be weird.
- Why We Broke Up (Amazon) (Daniel Handler) – Not only did I really like the story (totally thought it had a female author), I loved the illustrations (it’s kind of like a graphic novel in that sense). Heartbreak… but shouldn’t have been surprised because of the title, duh.
- Maine (Amazon) / Commencement (Amazon) (J. Courtney Sullivan) – You hear about this author a lot, but realized she’s not exactly my cup of tea. She’s what you would call a feminist novelist (I think) so there’s a lot of women in her novels… and all the drama that comes with it. MAINE is about a family of women (oh the dynamics…) and COMMENCEMENT is about 4 girls who become friends in college at an all girl’s college. Going to try to read her newest one (THE ENGAGEMENTS) but may not continue reading any of her future works.
- Feed (Amazon) / Deadline (Amazon) / Blackout (Amazon) (Mira Grant) – FUN! Zombie/political novels set in the future. They’re pretty long, which kind of scared me off, but once I really got into them, super super fun. These are more adult-targeted, so less ooey gooey fun and less breezy and more science and all that, but I liked them.
- Fire With Fire (Amazon) / Burn for Burn (Amazon) (Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian) – After the PRETTY series, was excited to read these two (plus, AWESOME cover art!). Story of 3 girls who become friends under unusual circumstances, and then the fallout of their scheming. Didn’t catch or initially love the sci-fi turn of the story, but am curious how it’ll resolve all the various conflicts in book 3.
- Sheltering Rain (Amazon) / Windfallen (Amazon) (Jojo Moyes) – More Jojo Moyes As previously mentioned, her older works felt a little more formulaic but still enjoyed them. Am SUPER looking forward to her new book (THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND) with the gorgeous cover art.
- On the Jellicoe Road (Amazon) (Melina Marchetta) – One of my favorite book blogger websites mentioned this book as one of their writers’ absolute favorites, so I had to read. Can see why they liked it, but was a little too quirky for me.
- Austenland (Amazon) /Midnight in Austenland (Amazon) (Shannon Hale) – SO FUN. I knew AUSTENLAND was made into a movie, but didn’t have expectations going into it and love love loved the first book (and was pleasantly surprised by the second book as well). Clever, witty, feel-good. Recommend.
- Nantucket Blue (Amazon) (Leila Howland) – Another one of those easy-breezy summer books, which I enjoyed.
- Sweet Tooth (Amazon) (Ian McEwan) – Thought I might like it after seeing all the press, but couldn’t even skim through to the end… and once I saw the spoilers online about the rest of it, was so happy I stopped. Ugh.
- Big Brother (Amazon) (Lionel Shriver) – Another book around weight… really inspired (is that the right word?) by her involvement in her brother’s life, but didn’t love the way it affected her life and family… and then at the very end, couldn’t handle the ending. Could not.
I’m still super behind on remembering everything I’ve read, but there were some great ones in this batch… just you wait!
- If I Stay (Amazon) / Where She Went (Amazon) (Gayle Forman) – I’ve been hearing about Gayle Forman’s writing for a long time but finally delved in with these two — the first is ethereal and tragic (big car accident) and is mostly her (not quite dead) thinking about the implications of “staying” or “leaving”… it’s pretty sad. And “Where She Went” addresses the aftermath of her decision. Didn’t love book 2, but like that it resolves a lot of really realistic issues.
- Just One Day (Amazon) (Gayle Forman) – This book took the beautiful, thoughtful prose I liked in IF I STAY but took away some of the paranormal/tragedy and set the story in Paris. Love. Love. Love. Am DYING to read book two (JUST ONE YEAR) which comes out in early October. I really liked how she didn’t end the book in the place you might expect a similar book to do so.
- The Heiresses (Amazon) (Allison Rushby) – Had low expectations for this one, but reminded me that I really enjoy historical fiction and I love the (broken but beautiful) relationships between sisters. I also think I’ve always had some kind of fascination with twins/triplets (Sweet Valley High, anyone?) and the protagonists are triplets
- Uglies (Amazon) / Pretties (Amazon) / Extras (Amazon) / Specials (Amazon) (Scott Westerfeld) – The UGLIES series is one of the most famous and “foundational” (i.e. early) paranormal/sci-fi/dystopian YA series from a few years back. Finally picked them up and while I wasn’t blown away (I think the novelty has worn off and newer, better authors have emerged), they were still fun and I read them up.
- 45 Pounds (Amazon) (K.A. Barson) – This was a WONDERFUL book. I think because I grew up chubby (until about middle school), I’ve always been a little preoccupied by my weight, what I eat, and the emotional turmoil that comes with it. I love the juxtaposition of the protagonist and her mom, the inner struggles she faces as well as what she learns about her family… and the motivation for her changes, ahhhh I love. So good.
- Me Before You (Amazon) (Jojo Moyes) – Can I just tell you? SUCH. A. GOOD. BOOK. SO. GOOD. I had never heard of Jojo Moyes before this book started getting really amazing press, but I also ado-red the cover typography/design (the power of a good cover!). I started it late in the night and never intended to finish it, but literally couldn’t stop reading it until like 4 or 5am and I was bawling… straight up pile of tissues next to me (and growing). SO GOOD. Please read!
- The Last Letter From Your Lover (Amazon) (Jojo Moyes) – Instantly requested more books from Jojo Moyes from the library and this was the most recent one that they had — I think most of her previous works were more like this, where there are two love stories set in different historical settings (one contemporary, one historical) and somehow they connect. Very entertaining reads that tug at the heart strings… though (SPOILER ALERT) it breaks. my. heart. when the love stories aren’t wrapped up “happily ever after” in the “older” context. UGH. HEARTBREAK.
- Still Star-Crossed (Amazon) (Melinda Taub) – Another GREAT book! (Was on a roll that week!) I haven’t read a ton of Shakespeare spin-off type stories, but this was one that really worked for me. It’s a spin off of ROMEO & JULIET and gives life (with a made up backstory) to two side characters in the original series. So fun. Reminded me a little bit of THE RED TENT just in the way it took a smaller character and gave it a LOT of life, taking advantage of the framework in the original. Fun.
- My Life Next Door (Amazon) (Huntley Fitzpatrick) – Simple, predictable story, but sweet.
- Heads in Beds (Amazon) (Jacob Tomsky) – This is actually a totally different type of book — HEADS IN BEDS is an “expose” type nonfiction around the hotel industry, in the same way that KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL exposed some of the secrets of what it’s like to work in the restaurant industry. Especially as B & I have been traveling more in the past year, I was ashamed to read about tipping and how I should have been tipping a lot more than I was… and immediately applied some of the things from this book when I went to Portland in August and was happy to make the bell-person unexpectedly surprised READ THIS if you travel!
- Fifteenth Summer (Amazon) / Sixteenth Summer (Amazon) (Michelle Dalton) – I’m kind of embarrassed to talk about these books and why I picked them up… but… basically, I was at my aunt’s and saw them on my cousin’s shelf… and read them. Sigh. My cousin is 12 years younger than me. EEEEE. hahahaha, but the books were fun and breezy and easy. Still so weird to acknowledge I’m reading the same books as her!
- The Summer I Turned Pretty (Amazon) / It’s Not Summer Without You (Amazon) / We’ll Always Have Summer (Amazon) (Jenny Han) – A friend had read the PRETTY trilogy and I was in the mood for an easy-breezy fun read, which these were. All 3 books together = 1 Korean drama. And the main character’s nickname is Belly. Yes, like our dog. HA! Still fun.
- Invisibility (Amazon) (Andrea Cremer) – A strange premise (invisible boy, only one girl can see him) and the implications. Expected more of an EVERY DAY type story, but then it went more fantasy/sci-fi, which picked up the pace.
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Amazon) (Maria Semple) – This one got a LOT of attention in the press, and understandably so. Pokes a lot of fun at a certain type of parent (set in Seattle) but I didn’t love, love, love it. Fun, though.
- Throne of Glass (Amazon) (Sarah J Maas) – YA fantasy fiction with a strong heroine… in fact, an assassin. Graceling-esque, but stronger and a little scarier. Enjoyed and looking forward to book 2 (which *just* came out).
Wellllcomeeee back, the Voice! And what’s that you have? AN EMMY???? Well-deserved, I’d say! And welcome back to our dear old coaches, Cee-Lo and Christina. Looks like it’s going to be an interesting season, no doubt.
Too lazy to recap everything, but the things I thought that were worth commenting on:
- Favorite line of the night: “You can’t lose either way…” Blake: “Yes, you can.” HA! Blake, I missed you!
- Kat – super strong voice, but can’t see the rocker thing making it to the end…
- The young blond (Caroline) — felt like the producers were trying to hard to recreate someone young and innocent like Danielle Bradbery, who obviously won last season. BUT, her voice reminded me more of Caroline Glaser, who was eliminated. Not expecting her to make it very far.
- Donna Allen – obviously an amazing vocalist, but will never win.
- Matthew Schuler – LOVE. GOOD. GOOD. KEEP HIM. I think he’s charming and sweet and I love his song choice (not what you’d expect, arranged and sung interestingly) – he’s going to do well! I feel it in my bones. (Couldn’t believe he went with Christina, but okay!)
- Nic – good for a laugh, but can’t imagine him making it to the end… and you know, only like 1 in 4 make it past the knock offs!
- Shelbie Z – am curious about this one… liked her, but nothing jaw-droppingly awesome. But that being said, I ate my words when Amber Carrington made it to the end last year!
- Josh Logan – you know what, Microsoft ruined this song for me. But I still like your voice and your quiet, gentle demeanor.
- And the closer of the episode – James Wolpert – I had never heard his song before, and the first half of his song wasn’t that exciting… but then… he hit the middle and you KNEW something good was going to happen. Goosebumps! (Plus, he’s cute! and he’s clearly smart, educated, and made a very intentional decision to a) work for the Apple store and b) drop out/”postpone” school). Curious what else he can sing!
Episode 2, here we come!
As is the theme of all my blog posts today, I AM BEHIND. ACK.
- What Should A Person Be? (Amazon) (Sheila Heti) – Started and literally could not keep reading. DNF. It’s kind of liberating when I find myself confident that I just don’t want to finish a book… more time for others! Wee!
- The Magicians (Amazon) / The Magician King (Amazon) (Lev Grossman) – Amazing. Known as the ”Harry Potter for adults” and it really is, in every sense of the word. The stories and the fantasy and the magic are more adult, the characters and their dilemmas are more adult, even though they start as older high school students as they begin their “coming of age” in some ways. Felt like the first was better than the second, but perhaps that’s because a little part of me died when (SPOILER ALERT) A died. At least a little part of me. And a lot of me could care less about Julia, who takes on a bigger role in book 2, somewhat strangely.
- The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (Amazon) (Jennifer E. Smith) – Short, simple, somewhat predictable, but still so satisfying.
- The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Amazon) / The Crown of Embers (Amazon) (Rae Carson) – Yet another amazing fantasy-esque trilogy with a strong female character who has special abilities/powers/etc and discovers them on her own. I hate, but love how the author introduces the love interests and how they’re handled — tastefully, though I predicted how it would twist in book 2. Excited for the 3rd!
- The Brides of Rollrock Island (Amazon) (Margo Lanagan) – Ethereal, rambling (but clearly thought out) and hard to grasp initially, but once I got my bearings straight, it was such a hauntingly beautiful written novel. My first (I think) sea-creature-esque fantasy novel.
- Eleanor & Park (audiobook, Amazon) – Listening to the Eleanor & Park audiobook was my first audiobook ever… and it was awesome. I loved that I could “read” while I cooked or cleaned, and because I’ve read it before, it was okay that sometimes I couldn’t hear every word, though at other times I sat in front of my computer, attention rapt. The narrators were so, so good and the way they said things and the way I listened to the story highlighted different moments or nuances that I hadn’t always noticed in reading the actual book. Two thumbs way, way, up.
- Boy Nobody (Amazon) (Allen Zadoff) – The writing was really bland, though the story intriguing. Really not much more to say. It does remind me that I should start a shelf on Goodreads for books I skimmed, but finished.
- Gorgeous (Amazon) (Paul Rudnick) – Super strange concept (at least in a novel) with a strange touch of the magical/paranormal (which I totally didn’t expect), but deftly written with so many chuckles and smirks that it was sweet in the end.
- The Testing (Amazon) (Joelle Charbonneau) – Okay, so I think the marketers or designers for this book did a bad job because I was really reluctant to read The Testing, until I started reading it. The cover made me think it would be kind of dark and masculine… but it was actually a female protagonist with a lot of heart. Low expectations -> high reward. Can’t wait for the second one.
- Before I Fall (Amazon) (Lauren Oliver) – Lauren Oliver also wrote the DELIRIUM trilogy, so was curious about her first big novel. The premise is a Groundhog Day-esque story where a girl dies and then relives the last day of her life over and over again, attempting to change elements of how it turns out. I loved seeing the character grow and change and develop over and over again, being thwarted sometimes and succeeding in others. Reminded me a bit of the movie Sliding Doors.
- Born Wicked (Amazon) / Star Cursed (Amazon) (Jessica Spotswood) – Yet another trilogy, but more of a historical fantasy with a trio of witch sisters at its core. The usual political machinations drive me nuts, but I love the dynamic between the sisters and the tension of “prophecies” that have to be fulfilled in some way increase the anticipation for Book 3.
I can’t remember a lot of the little things that happened in August, but a lot of big, exciting things happened and they were SUPER memorable
- New Year’s Resolution Update: I will confess that I’ve snuck (sneaked?) a fry or two from B’s McDonald’s and In N Out meals… #guilty.
- Met up for good ol’ Korean food in KTown with a friend from Cal/Haas who moved down to LA and is engaged!! Crazy realizing I haven’t seen her in-person for four years!!
- Spent 3 of the 4 weekends in the OC… and for two of them, our friend the 405 had major closures. Ugh. Would love it if they could STOP DOING THAT. kthx.
- Attended C&S’ wedding and was a fun clash of worlds — B’s in dental school with C, but we met him through S, who was attending our church before she got engaged. Small world, right?
- More mini-reunions the next weekend at our friends’ baby’s “Dohl” (Korean first birthday party) — lots of friends from Cal, including meeting the adorable baby girl M! NEVER MET HER and loooooooved her. I think I just love babies…
- Hung out and then ate out and stayed with old friends D&J at their house. It has a DOGGY DOOR! And Bella liked it!
- A couple of delayed birthday gatherings with family
- TAYLOR SWIFT CONCERT AT THE STAPLES CENTER. AHHHHHH!!!! J & I were definitely the minority (in age and ethnicity) but we had SO MUCH FUN. AHHHH!!! It was a totally different kind of fun than the Bey concert — she is such a performer! I think she felt a little TOO polished at times, but I love love loved Holy Ground and all the crazy lights and acrobats going up and down. (Starting at around 2:45 of this video) and OMG SARA BAREILLES was one of the surprise guest stars! The other I had never heard of (Cheryl something) but when they were standing up there, you realize omg TSwift is tall! And 5’10″ looks like that?!
- and then, my belated birthday present from B, was (drumroll) A TRIP TO DISNEYLAND! kekekekkek! We went with two other couple-friends and it was so fun. Spent a lot of time in CA Adventure, which I had only been to once, and even though we were waiting in line for 2 hours for Cars Land (before it broke down), the passes to cut the line were super awesome and we ended up riding everything worth riding that day, PLUS, awesome fireworks. WEEEE!
- The month ended with us flying from LA -> Louisville, KY to begin an epic road trip… which… I’ll post about separately. But basically we flew to KY, then rented a car and drove to St Louis, Kansas City, Tulsa, and Little Rock. Got to see a lot of old friends and check off 5 more states off our list