Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Twitterature (July 2014 Edition)

If I've learned one thing about my reading style, it's I really can't make a to-read list that demands to be followed in any type of order. That doesn't mean I don't have to-read lists. It's quite the contrary, but I have to meander and follow my whims. Reading can never feel like homework and I can't follow reading rules.

Saving Francescsa // Melina Marchetta

After drinking two (!!) iced chai lattes last night that were regrettably not decaf, I stayed up much too late to finish this YA novel that's mostly been hibernating on my Kindle. Goodreads tells me that I started this book in March.

After Francesca's mother is suddenly stricken with acute depression, Francesca's life suddenly spins off its axis without her mother while attending her new school that has recently gone co-ed. Life is anything but smooth for Francesca and she has to learn to save herself. It's not nearly as YA-chick-lit-ish as the cover below suggests. This isn't even the cover that was on my Kindle edition, but I liked it better than the sad girl that graces my Kindle edition. This novel is solid, but it did take me a long time to read this. Obviously, it's put-down-able with some slow sections, but the novel finishes strong.

I thought I'd add the Kindle cover art after all. If you saw both of these covers, would you even consider they were for the same novel? What a different tone this black and white photograph sets.

Up at Butternut Lake // Mary McNear

Apparently, this is the first book in a planned trilogy. Why must everything be a trilogy these days? After reading it, the book wraps up nicely without any cliffhanging moments.So, why the need for a trilogy? Young widow, Allie Beckett arrives at her childhood cabin on Butternut Lake in Minnesota with a young son in tow. But wait. There's a hot single guy across the lake. It's time for this grieving widow to find love again. It's a gentle love story probably a little reminiscent of Nicholas Sparks and if you've read my blog, you know how I feel about him (I don't really enjoy his novels much), but I did enjoy this. It's good and sweet and the supporting characters are interesting too. I listened to the audio version while working around the house.
Who can resist this cover art? I want to spend a summer on this lake.
What I picked up from the library today:

I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends: Confessions of a Reality show Villain // Courtney Robertson

I rarely, if ever, watch The Bachelor and I definitely didn't see this season, but I'm totally interested. I know the show is heavily edited and the story line is crafted and is the furthest thing from reality. I want to see the other side of this show.

Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs // Mary Jane Hathaway
I'm always game for a little Austen-inspired fun.

Just started:

Surprise. I love movies based on books! The film adaptation arrives in theaters in August. It looks delightful.

That's it for me today. Check out more books at Modern Mrs Darcy.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Morning Book Post

I've been thinking about my little blog space for a long time now. I started blogging in 2007 mostly to highlight family life and our home education adventures. I wrote about home life, our faith, books, and knitting. I wrote about knitting a lot. I wasn't super prolific here, but last year I logged only a paltry 16 posts. That was low even for me. This year, I wanted to return to this place renewed and ready to write more. I also found that I love writing about books. I love reviewing them. I love just talking about books.

What I discovered is that I wanted to talk about books and the reading life more. My oldest child will be starting his sophomore year in August and I'm no longer really homeschooling with the exception of teaching my five year old to read. Life changes quickly and my kids are get older. Luke isn't as excited to be featured on my blog anymore. I'm still heavily invested in the written word and the reading life. So, this year, I could tell that I was moving in a new direction which led me to reevaluate this space. I mean, I still want to write about family life and of course, knitting, but I do think in some ways, I've outgrown this particular blog. I'm thinking about a re-brand of sorts.

After last year's dismal blog post count, I'm not sure if I have any readers left. I never check that stuff. I just write. Anyhow, if I do have any readers, I'm thinking about moving to a new blog platform by the end of the summer. I want a brand new look infused with optimism and the love of words. Stay tuned....

             As for reading, I finished two books this week, but I'm only going to write about one.

I reviewed this book this week on Goodreads yesterday. I mentioned this book in my last post. It took me nearly 200 pages to get into this book. I almost abandoned it. There are eight main characters and not enough time to really get to know any of them really well. At Mount Washington High School, there is a tradition in which The List is posted the Monday before the Homecoming dance. Wielding a lot of power, despite being anonymous, the List simply lists both the ugliest and prettiest girls in each class. Can you even imagine this? I mean, high school is hard enough without some list chipping away at a girl's biggest insecurity, right? The thing is that the list has a huge impact on even those crowned the prettiest. Honestly, it isn't pretty and it turns out to be a curse either way. How can something that is so arbitrary and anonymous and subjective have so much power??

It took me a long time to keep all the girls straight, but once I did, the story picked up some momentum, but really it was the last line of the book that was the humdinger. I was left with lingering thoughts on the perception of beauty and its power especially in the microcosm of a high school. I'm still thinking about it.

I've been reading a lot of YA this year. I find it thought-provoking in ways I don't always expect. Even when I'm reading a re-telling of an Austen novel set in a contemporary high school, I find that it isn't just a silly diversion.

As for my kids' reading:

It's not really happening.

 Sam is reading The Hobbit, albeit very slowly. I don't care. I'm just happy he finally settled on a book. I took him to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 recently. Since Luke owned the collection of these books, I thought Sam might want to try out this series, but it didn't take long to discover that he wasn't really interested. It's more difficult to find books that Sam loves. I can tell that he's going to gravitate more towards graphic novels. At 9 (Sam's age), I could suggest almost anything to Luke and he'd try it, but now, Luke isn't really reading for pleasure right now (He's 14). I did tell him that Summer is the best time to sink into a good novel (or ten) since he's free from school work and other obligations, but so far, it's not happening. The last book he read was The Giver so we could go see the movie in August.

This is the first year that my kids have had an unenthusiastic reaction to the Summer reading program at the library. I decided not to push it. Reading should be fun and I have mixed feelings about rewarding kids for reading. Reading should be its own reward, right?

So, I'm trying really hard to be hands off about the reading. They live in a house with  tons of books and they go to the library regularly. They see me read at every opportunity. I won't worry that they won't turn into lifelong devoted readers just because they're not reading much this Summer. Okay, I'll only worry a little. ;)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What I'm Into (June 2014 Edition)

It's July 1 already! I definitely get all glass-half-empty about my Summer slipping away. I feel like I've only just settled into Summer and here we are in July already. We've relaxed our schedule considerably. I can tell that the kids are just relaxing into Summer as well. The first week or so, I could tell that they were having a hard time shaking off their school schedules. So, what have I been up to? Honestly, I've been doing a lot of the same things I always do! I've got my usual stack of books on my nightstand. This week, however is different. Both my husband and my oldest son Luke are in Arizona doing Missions work on a reservation. So, I'm on my own with my youngest four and I'm exhausted.

This is the week that we move the kids' rooms again. I've mentioned in several posts that my bedroom arrangement for the kids just didn't work. I couldn't bear shuffling the kids around during the school year despite how awful it was. So, this week, my mom helped me paint and move furniture all over the house. It's now official! The twins have been separated. Tess and James are now roomies and Sam and Liam are roomies. What was I thinking having 4 kids in one bedroom? I've moved Luke to the basement and he's the only one with his own bedroom.

Tess and James's new room. It has a fresh coat of paint. It's Benjamin Moore's Breath of Fresh Air, 2014 Color of the year (just in case you're interested!)

I've been thinking about this post from Modern Mrs Darcy for a while. It was just the post I needed to kick my butt into gear about getting serious about decorating my house and making it home. I've lived in my mountain home since the end of 2005 and even though we've put in some substantial work into this house, it's taken me forever to make the simplest of decorating decisions. Perfectionism is just fear. Perfectionism is just procrastination. Okay, I did have three more children once I moved into my house and of course, I just didn't make the house my priority although it bugged me every. single. day.

Today, I hung a picture on the wall. I know. That doesn't sound huge at all, but if you knew me, you'd know that I agonize over every decorating detail and I second guess my own taste. Today (okay, technically July and not June) I made a quick decision and I decided to just go with it. I put something on the wall and guess what? It's making me happy.

It's from Ikea.

In June, I've tried something new. I wanted to get more exercise and my good friend invited me to join her Zumba class. I learned that Zumba is crazy hard. Most of the ladies I've talked with in the class have told me that it took them about a year to really get it. Yikes! After a month of classes, I'm totally frustrated and yet, I totally refuse to give up! I think this could be fun. I don't think it's fun yet, but it could be and I will get this.

I stand in the back and I refuse to even look at myself in the mirror. I'm pretty sure that I'd be horrified of what I saw, but whatever! I'll keep dancing even if I look like Napoleon Dynamite!

I've got skills!
Reading: I'm still reading This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper.  I totally dropped The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks. It's just dull even for Sparks. I'm reading another YA novel (I'm always reading something YA), The List by Siobhan Vivian. It's not dystopian, but it's still set in the harsh landscape of high school. I don't know how I feel about it yet. I'm having trouble keeping up with the large cast of characters. The List chronicles how eight girls react to being chosen either the prettiest or ugliest in each class. I can tell you that it isn't going to be pretty.
I downloaded the Hoopla app this week. Hoopla partners with your local library to offer movies, music, and audio books. Overdrive makes me crazy. So, It thought I'd try this app and I immediately found a book that sounded interesting. Just yesterday, I listened to nearly three hours of Up at Butternut Lake while working around the house. I didn't even realize that I was working so hard because I was enjoying this book.

I'm not really watching anything right now. I haven't really settled into any shows right now. I'd rather read at night. I did go see The Fault in Our Stars and it was really a great adaptation of the novel.

James on a Summer day
That's it for now. We'll see where July takes me. For now, I'm linking up with Leigh Kramer.