Tuesday, June 9, 2015

And the Tony Awards go to the books....

The Tony Awards on June 7 were filled of all the magic of theater-going and Broadway. One of my favorite things to do (it comes close to reading books) is go to the theater. So, you can imagine my happiness when the two shows that tied for the most awards were based off of books that I have read.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon was adapted into a play and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel was adapted into a musical. Both won for the best production in their respective categories. They also both won for best actors in their categories. Besides that they won many other awards.

The fact that these two plays were based on books is great for the literary world. Yes, both of these books have already been popular to a wide audience, but the audience has been expanded now.

I am guessing by now that every die-hard Bechdel, Bechdel Test, and graphic memoir fan has read Fun Home. I wasn't a big fan and am surprised that it was turned into a musical, based on the book's content. I loved graphic novels and think that this one got a lot of praise because it was written by Allison Bechdel (similar to Bossypants being popular because it's by Tina Fey. Review here). Even though I wasn't a big fan of the book, I am a huge Bechdel fan and I am glad this musical won and will hopefully increase her exposure. Although I haven't seen the play, I am guessing that they most likely pulled a Wicked, changed the story completely, and Broadway-ized it.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime was Mark Haddon's debut novel and I fell in love with it. At the time, I was a teenager who was interested in learning a lot about Autism for personal reasons and relationships. I have never been a conventional learner, so, a fiction novel through the eyes of someone with Autism was perfect for learning about it. Autism is a highly misunderstood disorder and is very prevalent in our society, so, bringing it to the stage will only help to educate the world.

Although I may be too hopeful, I can only hope the recent success of these two plays will boost publishing sales. Maybe next year we will see even more beloved books on stage.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey


Worth the Read: If you are a drop-dead Tina Fey fan, yes. Otherwise, skip it and read a Chelsea Handler book.

I was not a fan of this book. I didn't hate it, but I expected so much more from it. Sorry, Tina Fey. Although you dazzle me in most of your on-screen roles, you failed to dazzle me in this book.

I don't read too many memoirs of comedians/actors. About a year ago, I was looking for something fun and different to read and a friend suggested Chelsea Handler's books. I WAS HOOKED.

Now, I know it wouldn't be fair to say that I was expecting a Chelsea Handler hit out of Bossypants, but I was expecting something on the same playing field. 

I think something that disappointed me was that I was expecting it to be more feminist. I can't put my finger on why. Maybe I was unfairly looking for some feminist ranting.... the one part that I loved and think that every woman should read was the breast-feeding section.

Besides that, it feels like this is a book that is just full of punchlines. It was punchline after punchline after punchline with very little anecdotes, in my opinion.

I hope you found this review helpful. I would love to know your thoughts and opinions. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Reading Challenges Update

I have added a few more books to both lists, but I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to read books set in multiple states and starting with multiple letters. I keep repeating ones.... I need to stop that.

A-Z Challenge Update:
E - Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave (review here)
P - Pericles by William Shakespeare
S - Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell 
Z - Zoo by James Patterson (although I haven't finished it and wasn't able to renew it so it may be a while)

Previously completed:
B- BADD by Tim Tharp
C- Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanna Fluke
D- Dead End by Jason Myers
F- Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
L- Like Water for Chocolate by Briana Esquivel
M- The Missions by Jason Myers
R- Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
T- This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
U- Underwire by Jennifer Hayden

Needed: A, G, H, I, J, K, N, O, Q, V, W, X, Y

As far as states go, the books I added above successfully completed California and New York, two states which I already had.

The only new one I get to add to this list is:
Pennsylvania - Bossypants by Tina Fey (review to come) (The letter B was already taken and it might not be fair to put this book in Pennsylvania since only a part of it takes place there, but I'm stretching my imagination.

I am also reading Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, which may or may not be set in Texas. I will have to double check. Until then, hang on to your hats.

Iowa, Alabama, California, New York, Oregon, Nebraska, and New Jersey.

I have a list going of books I want to read, but I am always looking for recommendations as well, so, any book you want to recommend, I want to read.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

First, let me apologize for not writing in so long. I have had a crazy life the last few weeks, but I am back in full-swing. Without further ado, I give you my next book review.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

Worth the read: Absolutely, if you like wine, Northern California, cute books with an intellectual side, or you've ever had your heart broken

When I won this book from a Simon & Schuster giveaway, I couldn't have been more excited. I was excited because it was a book about a place close to home - Northern California's wine country. The locations in the book did not disappoint. I could always picture where the characters were in California - Sebastopol, Napa. Having grown up in Sacramento, I don't often find books that take place close to home, so, I was excited this one did. Maybe that creates a bit of a bias for why I like it so much, but I still think it's worth the read and I will explain why.

The book opens with quirky Georgia traveling from LA to her family's vineyard in Northern California. Georgia is a down-on-her-luck lawyer who readers will immediately fall in love with. Unfortunately, she's the only character I fell in love with. I found myself wanting to get to know the other characters more and I wanted more scenes (Dang it, Laura Dave, Write more next time!!). I liked a lot of the other characters, I just needed more of them! I also felt like some of the characters could have been focused on less to give us room to learn more about the other characters. I wanted to get to know Ben, Jacob, and Gerogia's Dad so much more than 250-ish pages would allow. I didn't necessarily care so much about Georgia's brothers, Margaret, or Georgia's lawyer friend. There could have been less of them (or more pages in the book) to focus more on that. But I could just be being selfish here.

The story deals with trials and tribulations of love at many different stages of relationships. anyone who has ever been in love, from the first falling to falling out of love, will relate to some part of the novel. It is more than just love stories between people, too, it is also a love story between a family and a vineyard.

The book also discusses the process of wine-making, which was fascinating, even to someone who can count on one hand the number of glasses of wine she has had this year. I like feel-good books that incorporate intellectual things, so, it was a win there.

Laura Dave's writing style was excellent for this type of novel. It blended dialogue and description. Georgia was the perfect person to have tell this story. My one complaint remains that Dave just needed to WRITE MORE.

Overall, I think people should do themselves a favor and read this book. No, it won't be the most profound thing you have ever read, but it's a feel good book with fantastic writing. Also, readers get to learn a little something and that something just happens to be wine.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Literary Boyfriends Vol. 1

If you read as much as I do, you probably occasionally fantasize about literary characters and what it would be like to date them. There are three I would like to spotlight for the week:

  1. Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre - I have to choose a classic. Although he can be a bit douchey to Jane, you can't help but have a little crush on him. Yes, he does weird manipulative things (what was him dressing up as that gypsy?) and, yes, he is keeping a woman in his attic (and his wife at that), but there is something so charming. He is constantly described as plain and average, and so is Jane, but he is one you can't help but wonder about. He's rich, has a good house, is intense, and seems to genuinely care about Jane.
  2. Lane from Franny and Zooey - I know Lane seems like an odd choice for a boyfriend - he is the boy Franny is trying to break up with. She has fallen out of love with him and his boring ivy league education. But Franny is a spoiled brat and Lane wants to give her the world. I think we have all been on both sides of loving someone who doesn't return the feeling. Lane is sweet and reserved and a little weak, but there is something about him that makes me wonder.
  3. Amory Blane from This Side of Paradise - when that book closes with "I know myself and that is all' I just want to scream "KNOW ME TOO...KNOW ME TOO." This Side of Paradise brings us through Amory's boyhood and his young adulthood, including all of the relationships. I always think that if I date someone like Amory, I will be his Eleanor Savage, a ship that passes in the night. There will always be something there, lingering, but we will have been too stubborn to act on it.
Who are some of your literary boyfrieds?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Library Round-Up: May 11

I try to make it to the library at least once a week. Even though I live in a town with a relatively small library collection, I am always amazed at what I can find.

My May 11 Library Round-Up

1. Zoo by James Patterson

A guilty-pleasure of mine is James Patterson novels. No matter how much of a literary snob I may be at times, there is no denying they are page turners. This one is turning into a mini-series on CBS and I am excited to both read the book and see what they do with it. James Patterson movies usually end pretty good. Although if I am holding this to the standards of Kiss the Girls I may be in for utter disappointment.

2. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I am also a Jodi Picoult fan. Although some of her books can get a little redundant, I have heard The Storyteller is not one to miss. Plus, I met Jodi Picoult 5 years ago when House Rules came out, so I will always have a special place in my heart for her. 

Bonus fact: She is surprisingly one of the bubbliest people. Ever. If you ever have a chance to see her, go.

3. Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

I was first attracted to this cover because it had bicycles. And then I saw the name. I have a character in a book I am writing that I call Golden Boy (simply for lack of finding the perfect name). And then I saw that it was about someone who is intersex. I am always looking for books to expand my mind.

4. Palo Alto by James Franco

I may hate myself for this. BUUUUT, I am curious. I've always been curious. I just need to quench that curiosity. 

5. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

I am a few years behind on this trend, but this one has been on my list for a long time. Plus, I like those cute book clubby reads.

6. Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood

I have never seen the movie, but I know how it ends. Even still, I'm a sucker for cute tearjerkers and I will probably see the movie after reading the book. Double Whammy.

7. Finding It by Cara Carmack

Every once in a while, I need a bubblegum, romantic chick-flick. I found this. I hate to admit how excited I am to read it. I haven't read Cora Carmack's other novels, but depending on this one, I just might.

8. Secret Society Girl: An Ivy League Novel by Diana Peterfreund

I've always wanted to check out some of Diana Peterfreund's work and this gives me the opportunity to not only do that, but be reminded of my college days as well.

Have you read any of these books? Are they worth the read or should I skip some of them? 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

ZOOMA Napa Half Marathon

My next half marathon will be ZOOMA Napa on June 20. It will be just in time for my birthday.

To familiarize myself with California's Wine Country, I am reading Laura Dave's Eight Hundred Grapes (review to come later in the week), as I just won an advanced copy from Simon and Schuster.

I also have a playlist going for my half. Here it is:

  • "Gimme More" by Britney Spears (because it starts with "It's Britney, b*tch and my name is Brittany. Good starting motivation)
  • "Movin'"by Group1Crew
  • "My Mistake" by Cam
  • "Yeah" by Usher, Lil John
  • "Toxic" by Britney Spears
  • "Say What You Say" by Eminem
  • "Walkashame" by Meghan Trainor
  • "I Love Rock'n'Roll" by Britney Spears
  • "When The Music Stops" by Eminem
  • "Fragile" by Kenrick Lamar, Tech N9NE
  • "Girl Crush" by Little Big Town (as kind of a take it easy, cool down kind of song)
  • "Work B*tch" by Britney Spears
  • "Stronger" by Kanye West
  • "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera
  • "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" by Daft Punk
  • "To Write Love On Her Arms" by Helio
  • "Remember The Name" by Fort Minor
  • "I'm a Slave (4 U)" by Britney Spears
  • "Survivor" by Destiny's Child
  • "Til I Collapse" by Eminem
  • "DONE." by The Band Perry
What else should I add? I need to double the length of this playlist for my half marathon. Anything you can't run without?

Monday, May 4, 2015

My Half-Marathon and a Bookish Update

Aside from books, I have a love for running. Although this blog mainly deals with books, I wanted to some photos my (first) half marathon. Also, I'd love to review some books (memoirs, fiction, anything) about running. If any runners or readers have any suggestions, please let me know.

First: Here is a few pictures of the trail:

On the beach the night before, I decided to write in the sand to get pumped about my race:

The start of the race:


 What we were all waiting for, folks. Our medals.


The night before my race was Independent Bookstore Day, so, naturally, I had to go to an independent bookstore and get something.

My Score:
Bicycles by Nikki Giovanni
What Is This Thing Called Love by Kim Addonizio
The Dream Keeper A Langston Hughes Collection.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

5 Poets to Fall In Love With

As poetry month comes to an end, I would like to take a few moments and reflect on some of my favorite poets. I have always been an avid reader, but poetry was something I wasn't super into until about five years ago.

Jim Harrison

In a university poetry class, I was assigned Songs of Unreason  by Jim Harrison. I fell in love with this collection and every thing about it. I went into it with very low expectations. It was a poetry collection about horses and rural living - I am a suburban girl through and through, but it was beautiful.

To date, it is the only Jim Harrison collection I have read, but I plan on reading more. If you haven't read anything by him, I highly suggest Songs of Unreason

Kim Addonizio

What can I say about this woman? No one embraces being a bad ass poet quite like Kim does. I've read a lot of her poems, her fiction, some things she has helped edit, etc. I love her because she's not afraid of anything when it comes to writing. She is an outstanding poet and such a voice for the modern women. 

She also published an anthology called Dorothy Parker's Elbow about writer's and tattoos. That's how I learned that Dorothy Parker (another great poet) and a bunch of other authors and poets had/have tattoos.

Side note: I am pretty sure reading Kim Addonizio's poems is what pushed me over the edge to get my first tattoo. The first collection I read by her and my first tattoo were very close in proximity. Thanks, Kim. 

Nikki Giovanni

Nikki Giovanni came to my university and did a poetry reading. The next day I ran into her at a local Starbucks (it was a small university town, so, not too many Starbucks to go to) and fan-girled over a poet. I have been in love with her poetry since I discovered "Woman" and I had the opportunity to be face-to-face with her in a Starbucks. Of course, I used that opportunity to say "Oh my god, you're Nikki Giovanni!!" which caused most people in Starbucks to turn and look at me like I was crazy. It's my generation's fault for not having an appreciation of Great Poets.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to see her speak. It was life-changing.

Lang Leav

I am just discovering Ms. Leav and I love her. Every time I read one of her poems, most of which have to deal with love or writing poetry, I feel like they explain an exact feeling I have had. Plus, she plays around with style and form and she does so very boldly. I love poets who aren't afraid to play around and experiment with different forms.

She also has awesome art too, so, go google her!

Side note: Her boyfriend, Michael Faudet, just published Dirty Pretty Things, also a poetry collection. I just bought it and am excited to read it.

Elizabeth Bishop

I had to do at least one classic poet and Elizabeth Bishop is a great one. She was another one who liked to play around with form. She put so much effort in her poetry and took care to make sure the poems were the way she wanted them. There were some poems (I believe "Waiting Room" was one) that she would work on for ten years or so before she published.

Plus, I feel that she helped pave the way for women writers of this generation with how open they could be. 

Poetry will always be a big part of my life. These are just a few poets I love who have had an influence on me. I am always looking for new poems/poets to fall in love with and I can only wish that one day my local bookstore will have a bigger poetry section. 

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

Worth the Read: No
I do not consider myself a Jane Austen purist. I'm far from it, actually. I thought it very clever of Ms. James to add an apology to Ms. Austen, saying that she in no way, shape or form meant to offend fans of Pride and Prejudice. With that said, however, I was disappointed in the portrayal of Ms. Austen's characters in this novel.
     Lydia is her usual self, Mary and Catherine are absent from the book and Jane and Lizzy are not at all the Jane and Lizzy readers have loved. On top of that, Mr. Darcy seems uncharacteristically compassionate and Bingley, the man I'd originally fallen in love with, seemed very dimwitted. Georgiana was much more of a flirt, although we didn't get to know her super well in Pride and Prejudice, so, Ms. James took full creative liberty with her.
     As for the plot, I found it rather boring. I feel that mysteries need to be compelling to the point of always making readers wonder what will happen next, but during this book, I found myself thinking, "When will this end?!" The passages in this book
     You have to give credit to PD James for being in her 90's and still writing. That is the impressive thing about this book. With that said, for a contemporary mystery novel, this book was  very padded with words, had boring characters and I didn't find it to be worth the read.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading Challenge 50 States

The other day, I discussed that I was trying to read a book for every letter of the alphabet. Another one of my goals has always been to read a book set in every state. Going off of the list of books I have read so far this year, I have achieved Iowa, Alabama, California, New York, Oregon (tentative), Nebraska, and New Jersey.

If anyone can actually confirm that Fight Club did in fact take place in Portland (I know there is much debate on it), please tell me and define your evidence. If you think it took place somewhere else, please let me know that too.

I seem to have a problem where I keep reading books set in New York. I have three that I have read set there and I am currently reading Sex In The City. I need to be consciously aware to be reading things set in different states.

Last year, I missed Tennessee, Wisconsin (although I just found Shotgun Lovesongs and I plan on reading that for Wisconsin this year), Rhode Island, North Dakota, and New Hampshire, which always seem hard to find books. Some other states I might have stretched if the book had multiple settings. Okay, I admit in some cases, one or two scenes took place in a state and I used it. This year, there are no cutting corners. The book's major setting must be the state it counts for.

Is anyone else doing similar reading challenges for 2015? Anybody have any reading challenges to recommend?

If not, anyone have any favorite books set in states I haven't read yet?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Denim Day

Tomorrow is Denim Day, so, I am encouraging everyone to wear jeans.

For a while, I felt like America was moving forward in the name of feminism and working towards helping women. Now I feel like there is a constant war against women and Denim Day is as important as ever.

If you don't know, Denim Day was started because a woman in Italy was told her jeans were too tight and, therefore, the man who raped her couldn't get in trouble. She was too enticing. While wearing jeans. So, wear tight jeans if you think women should be able to wear whatever they want without fear of being raped. If you don't think that, don't read my blog.

Here is why it is more important than ever:

Companies can deny insurance for people on birth control because of religious freedom. Forget that some women take it for hormonal balance, health reasons, etc. They believe it's unethical, so, they believe women employed for them should just suffer through those problems.

Purvi Patel. If you don't know who that is, I encourage you to look her up. She was just sentenced to prison for 20 years from what was most likely a miscarriage. They termed it "feticide" even though there wasn't enough evidence to actually convict her of it. The state of Indiana gave that woman 20 years when what she really needs is a hug. Losing a baby is hard. Mentally. Physically.
Indiana was the first state to convict a woman for this. So, basically, our country just convicted a woman for losing a child. Last time I checked my clock, time seemed to be moving forward, not backward.

Last week, Washington DC lawmakers passed a bill (that Congress and others will hopefully shoot down) that would allow employers to fire pregnant women because of, you guessed it, "religious freedom." If a woman gets pregnant out of wedlock, they can can her. If a women is having trouble getting pregnant and she gets pregnant through IVF, they can get rid of her because it goes against the natural way of conceiving a baby.

The War on Women is real, folks. These are just a few examples. Please wear denim tomorrow, not just to show your support for rape survivors, but to show your support for women and their freedoms everywhere.

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

As part of my blog, I am going to do book reviews on Mondays. I haven't been feeling well today, so, I pulled a review I wrote a long time ago for a different blog that never got published. I hope you enjoy it. In the future, I plan on changing the style of them and making the reviews longer, but, for tonight, this will have to do.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Worth The Read: Yes
Jeannette Walls gives readers a very compelling memoir of growing up with an alcoholic father. Her quick-paced, to the point writing style makes this book a quick read and an "unputdownable."
     She provides readers with an account of what it is like to be always on-the-go with an alcoholic father. It starts off when Walls is three and her family does the "skiddadle" - leaving town in the middle of the night. Her family does this often, moving from place to place, before settling down in Welch. Walls and her siblings quickly hate it and cannot wait until they are able to leave.
     Her father is a constant gambler and drinker while her mother refuses to do work, claiming that everyone is alright. The kids not only don't always have enough money for food, they often don't have money for electricity or running water or any of the other common luxuries that most of us are given.
     I cringed at the starvation that these kids endured, cried when the children are pleading for the drinking to stop, and stood back in awe of the brilliance of Walls and her siblings. I fell in love with this book until I stood back and remembered that it is a true story, and that left utterly heartbroken.

     Overall, I was very impressed with this read.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Reading Challenge A-Z

I have always wanted to read a book for each letter of the alphabet in a year. I will update my progress at least once a month and keep my blog updated on my progress.

Unfortunately, I find a lot of books I want to read have the same first letter as books I have already read. So, therefore, I keep repeating "T" and "L" and I need to stop doing that.

So far, I have accomplished B, C, D, F, L, M, R, T, and U. 

B- BADD by Tim Tharp
C- Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanna Fluke
D- Dead End by Jason Myers
F- Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
L- Like Water for Chocolate by Briana Esquivel
M- The Missions by Jason Myers
R- Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
T- This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
U- Underwire by Jennifer Hayden

I will try to get reviews going, but I may skip over a few of the ones listed above. If you have any questions, or want to know what I thought of any of them, please feel free to ask. Also, if you have any recommendations for books that I should read (that may begin with unusual letters like "Q" or "X") please let me know! I am always looking for new and different things to read.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

About This Blog and Me

My Books

I am literature obsessed. It's more than an obsession, it's a disease. Books run my life and I will read anything I can get my hands on. Lately, I have been on a Jason Myers kick, but I have an appreciation for everything. If I could, I would go back in time, live among the authors of the Lost Generation, and seduce F. Scott away from Zelda.

Books on my list of all-time favorites:

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Secret History by Donna Tartt (I like this one so much, I got a tattoo inspired by it.)
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

A few of my (most recently read) favorites:

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
The Mission by Jason Myers
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Vein Fire by Lucia Adams

As you can see, I have a soft spot for fiction. Fiction, however, is not the only thing I read. I thoroughly enjoy poetry. Drama is high on my list, but I would rather see the play. I find memoirs enjoyable. I always have a graphic novel going. I love books about feminism and cultures and social sciences. Give me a genre and I will give you a title I like.

My Running

Five years ago, I broke my back falling down some stairs. I was told that I would probably always have back pain and that I probably wouldn't be able to do exercises that would be hard on my back. A few months ago, I decided I was going to prove them wrong and I ran a 15k. Now I am training for a half marathon. One of these days, I am hoping to join 1% of the population and complete a full marathon.

                                (My 15k. I am on the left and my sister is next to me)

My next run will be in the Avenue of the Giants. After that, I am going to take it easy for a while, really focus on strength training, do a few 5ks and start training for Disney's Rebel Challenge, which is in January 2016.

Also, while I run, I contribute to my bookishness by listening to books on tape.

My Other Interests

I love going to the theater. Oregon Shakespeare Festival is my favorite vacation destination. It's a gorgeous town and the plays are never a let down. Ashland is a truly amazing place and I think everyone needs to go there at least once in their life.

I studied English in the wonderful town of Chico. While there, I overachieved and ran an honors society, taught English classes, maintained a good GPA, graduated with honors, took the maximum amount of units I could take per semester, competed in Speech and Debate, and graduated on time. I'm still not sure how.

After that, I wasn't sure what to do with my life, so, I hopped on a plane to Spain and taught English for a year. When I came back, I became a legal assistant at a wonderful law firm. It is a field that I never thought I would get into. I stumbled in it when I was lost and I am glad I did.

I love trivia and knitting. I like optimistic quotes. I am a feminist who believes in equal rights for everyone and I hope to see a day when this country doesn't discriminate against people. I write things. Poetry. Fiction. Trying my hand at blogging.

I would love for you to share my journey with me through blogging, reading, and running, so, follow me.

Thank you and enjoy.