books & reading memes & carnivals

My Nightstand: June

My nightstand and I have been having some disagreements lately as to what I want to read and what is readily available. My first trip to the library yesterday proved to be mostly stressful. I’d only been to the downtown library here, which I will certainly not be traveling to just for a book fix, but now I’m not sure I feel like driving the five minutes to our local branch either. Maybe this is normal outside of New England, but I was pretty surprised to find our library was nestled in the middle of a shopping center, like between the dry cleaners and the bank. Have I been spoiled by antique schoolhouses and small red brick buildings filled to the brim with books? This was like a small square room that someone haphazardly dragged some books into.

And what’s worse – I didn’t find a single book I felt like checking out. Not one. Do you even know who I am? How was this possible? It didn’t help that I had MM dragging himself behind me, whining, “No mommy – you don’t want to look at books!” desperate to get to the kids section, which was also lame. The only good thing I got out of the trip was the handy tip from one of the other parents there that the next town over has free water playground, or “splash park,” which I’m planning to check out this weekend.

But back to books. Here’s what I read this month:

  • Angels & Demons by Dan Brown – Finished June 8, 2009 – Dan Brown seems to be amazingly good at leading his readers astray. I’m surprised I didn’t guess some of the many twists, after having read The Da Vinci Code, but I was honestly surprised every step of the way. Very enjoyable and thought provoking.

Um yeah, that’s it. Unimpressive, huh? To be fair, there was the whole moving thing. I started reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma shortly after finishing Angels & Demons, but I’ve put it down temporarily in favor of finding something lighter to read as I’m feeling a bit too exhausted at my night time reading for non-fiction, as much as I was enjoying it. The next book I picked up was The Year Of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg which is beautifully written but it’s also the story of a newly widowed fifty-something. Depressing much? Did I mention I’m pregnant and hormonal? Part of me wants to read it anyway but part of me thinks that I might be a dumb little glutton for punishment.

Here are the books I’d LIKE to be reading:

  • Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen – I won this in a giveaway at Serendipity‘s blog and as soon as it shows up in the mail I’ll probably start reading it immediately. Here’s a snippet from the book description: “The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.”
  • Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris This is the first book in the Sukie Stackhouse series. It’s also the series that the tv show, True Bloods is based off of. I started renting the first season on Netflix a week or two ago and shortly after seeing the first two episodes I read about the book series online, which was oh so ironic. I am now “dying” to read this series and so seriously annoyed that my library system has like 70 holds of the first book already – I’m trying so hard not to buy books right now so this is really disappointing as I have been craving this book ever since I heard about it. I want it now. 😦
  • Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich – This just came out today actually and I probably have a long wait until I’ll be getting my hands on it, which is pretty disappointing because it is exactly the kind of light read I’m looking for right now. Stephanie Plum books always hit the spot for me.

So what’s on my nightstand? A bunch of other books that aren’t these books. They’re pretty heavy reading because a couple months ago I was really into that and I seem to have stocked up on that style. Silly Jen. Didn’t I know I’d be nine months pregnant and then I’d be the mother of a newborn? Light reading is just the only way to go, I’m thinking. So I’ll hold out for Garden Spells and continue hoping that these other books find their way into my possession soon (or other delightfully light books).

What’s on YOUR nightstand this month?

books & reading

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen On Sale Today!

Just a heads up to all of the Stephanie Plum fans out there – Evanovich’s newest Plum novel, Finger Lickin’ Fifteen hit bookstore shelves today. I know I am anxiously looking forward to reading the latest installment. If you are also waiting impatiently for your next Plum fix, you can satiate the cravings a tiny bit with the new online tour of The Burg – take a peek inside Morelli’s house, figure out how to get from The Bail Bonds building to Cluck In a Bucket – and more, of course. This website is super cute and one I don’t think any Plum fan will want to miss.

books & reading memes & carnivals reviews

My Nightstand: April

I probably have way more important things I should be doing right now, but I wanted to get this up while I had a chance and I’m guessing this is that one chance, sooo…

This month I read:

  1. Here’s the Story by Maureen McCormick – Finished April 2, 2009This memoir was so much more than I thought it would be. She recalls not only her life as the actress portraying Marcia Brady, but her fight with depression, drug abuse, an eating disorder, falling in love, getting married, having children, and trying to attain a better relationship with her parents and siblings against pretty straining odds. I really loved this memoir. – Full Review
  2. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink – Finished April 11, 2009This was not an easy read for me – very difficult to relate to, from start to finish, but fascinating. The Nazi Germany history was interesting but what really kept me reading was the unfolding story of the main female character’s secret of illiteracy and how keeping that secret affected her life. I would not say that I loved this book, but I liked it and I’m glad I’ve read it. – Full Review
  3. Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich – Finished April 24, 2009 I always love a good Janet Evanovich book. The between the numbers books are good light fluff, even more so compared to the rest of the series. This one was hilarious and a very quick read. Leprechauns, Atlantic City, hot guys. Good stuff.

I am currently reading The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I am more than half way through it and absolutely hooked. The hype is real – it does start out a teeny bit slow but only because you’re scratching your head trying to wrap your mind around the whole body snatching / love triangle thing, but she does a great job getting you into it, and understanding it, and then totally rocking your world. I recommend it, obviously.

Up next, I’m thinking will be some combination of the following…

Books I’m browsing on the Kindle 2 which I’m reviewing (on a loaner basis – drats!) for Mommas Review:

books & reading memes & carnivals

BTT: A Couple Of My Favorite Couples

This week’s Booking Through Thursday question is:

Name a favorite literary couple and tell me why they are a favorite. If you cannot choose just one, that is okay too. Name as many as you like–sometimes narrowing down a list can be extremely difficult and painful. Or maybe that’s just me.

Well obviously I have a couple of couples in mind. The first which comes to mind is Scarlett & Rhett from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind:

They are like my classic favorite. Their love is absurd and messy and real. They aren’t perfect, they don’t get it right, but it doesn’t make their love any less intense and brilliant and wonderful. The other favorite from classics would be Lizzy Bennet and the infamous Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice:

It takes these two a while to realize they are perfect for each other but the chemistry is obvious. Two people so similar but in varying ways, you can see how it took them so long to get their acts together but gah.

A less classic literary “couple” I adore would be the couple-triangle of Stephanie Plum, Joe Morelli & Ranger in Janet Evanovich’s Plum series. Their love story never gets old, thank goodness. Fourteen books in and I’m still hooked on them, still unsure myself which “bad” boy Stephanie should end up with although I think we all know… It’s just the other one is so…

Who are your favorite literary couples?

books & reading memes & carnivals

Booking Through Thursday: How I Read

I don’t think I’ve done a BTT in a while, but I saw that my very bestie Ange @ Red Knows How did it this week and I was all, “Someone beat me to a meme!!!” and “Holy crikey, it’s a good one!!!!” so you know I had to stop throwing out random exclamation points and just join in already.

What was the last book you bought?

I really should remember that, right? I am going to guess that it was Breaking Dawn but I could be wrong. But I’m probably right because what else would be worthy of my hardly earned thus hardly there cash than this:

Name a book you have read MORE than once

That’s a pretty tough one to answer – there are a lot of books that I love and think about constantly but not many that I actually read more than once. But here are a two:

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

Nothing comes to mind sorry. I think every book you read changes you a little bit, but I can’t think of one book that just completely changed me. At least not yet. The closest would be French Women Don’t Get Fat – while it certainly hasn’t made me French or skinny, there were a couple lines that made me re-think my eating habits at least a little bit. The biggest being that if you are going to put it in your body it should be amazing and really worth it. I don’t always remember it, but sometimes I do and I’m glad. If you are going to indulge, REALLY indulge, you know?

How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews

Lots of ways! I get the Borders newsletters via email, I keep a list on and see what some of my friends are reading, I read a few book blogs – one of my favorites is 5 Minutes for Books, I browse the aisles of bookstores or I ask my bestie what she’s reading, cause it’s usually good!

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

I prefer fiction but I try to read both

What’s more important in a novel – beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

I guess the plot, but good writing (not necessarily beautiful, but GOOD) is also very important. At a certain point you have to get picky – I read a lot but I don’t have time to read everything – it has to be good in both regards.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)

I’m gonna go with Stephanie Plum but there are a lot of good characters I’ve read it’s hard to choose!

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

Right now I’m reading Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde, then I plan to read In The Hand of The Goddess by Tamora Pierce

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?

Breaking Dawn was the last book I finished, and according to my list I finished it September 25.

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?

Yes, it definitely happens – the last book I abandoned was Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. For details on why, check out my review here.

family fun

Children’s Classics: on the wasted potential of my youth

I think I may have mentioned I love to read, and have loved reading since I was a young child. I may have mentioned my grandmother taking me to the local library, lying to me about the book limit that there wasn’t, and consequently me taking out 17 books at a time for years for no reason…

Plowing through 17 books at a go, several times a week had the potential to open me up to a world of literature. So it surprised me when I decided to participate in this month’s Children’s Classics Carnival at 5 Minutes for Books devoted to the middle reader range (8-12 years old) that I was at a loss for what book I could write about – indeed a quick search of the classics for that age range yielded a lot of, “Oh yeah, I never did read that, did I?” What happened? I can assure you, I was reading. A lot. 17 books at a time, a lot.

So what’s my excuse for being very poorly read in the 8-12 middle reader range of classic children’s literature – well I was very busy reading what I consider to be the classic children’s book series for the tween readers of my generation and beyond – that’s right, The Baby Sitter’s Club. Oh you’ve heard of them? Oh you haven’t? Regardless, yeah I read them, yeah I still own them, yeah I think the newer books are garbage. Yeah I religiously skipped the first chapter of every book after say the 3rd installment of her hundreds long series, because yeah seriously, they are ALL the SAME. Way to utilize the copy and paste button that may or may not have been available to you then (…and ohhh if it wasn’t, do I ever pity you Ann).

And when I say I own them, I mean I have a box somewhere with quite possibly 100 of them, and I refuse to sell them – my daughters may need those books someday – heck, I may want to read them again someday. And I’m certain if that day comes I won’t easily find them all again – bookstores everywhere are stocked with the most pathetic selection ever and almost always have new ugly horrible covers.

And okay, there’s a chance I won’t really read them all again. I’ve found some of those old chapter books can be painful to read as a grown up – even Nancy Drew made me want to scouge my eyes out with a spork trying to read it recently. Which is strange when I read a lot of the current middle reader books, like the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage, the Harry Potter, the Lemony Snicket, yeah I’m up on all of that. Did the old books I devoured just suck or is there something wrong with me? Although, okay, I’ll admit I don’t re-read many books ever anyway, so there’s that. Sometimes it just sucks to already know what happens I guess.

But I loved the Baby Sitters Club. I watched the movies, I bought the merchandise, I almost never baby sat ever until I was in college, but still considered myself an avid fan. I was disappointed when I too turned 13 and found, lo and behold, I was still very much a kid, the boys were not hunky gorgeous, and I was not cool – what happened? It wasn’t until years of watching Dawsons Creek and Buffy that I caught on to the fact that we don’t like looking up to our exact selves, but older more mature versions of what we’ll never be.

And now I have no idea what I’m talking about, but just wanted to say, Baby Sitters Club – I ❤ you, and I’ll never sell you even if my husband begs, even if we have all boy children – there is still hope for grandchildren, Ann M. Martin, I will find a use for all your works yet. I thank you for entertaining me through those years, for lying to me ever so sweetly about what being 13 would really be like, and for writing so so many books – you had your work cut out for you, I know, knowing that I’d be in the following week looking for 17 new books and it took you a long, long time to start running out of steam – and by then I was ready for Janet Evanvoich. And by then I realized my grandmother had lied to me. It’s okay grandma, I forgive you.

So thank you Ann M. Martin. And goodbye (and by goodbye, I mean, I’m going to try and publish this already so I can write my NEXT brilliant post).

family fun

Who would YOU trust to write YOUR life?

I read on 5 Minutes for Books about a weekly book meme called Booking Through Thursday – sounds pretty perfect for me, the absolutely book obsessed and the memes look pretty short which is always nice (not to mention all the cool kids are doing it). Maybe I can type this up before MM notices I’m not paying all my attention to his truly? I mean… anyway, here’s this week’s questions?

Are there any particular worlds in books where you’d like to live?

The first one that comes to mind is the dawn of the 20th century in Libba Bray’s Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy – I know it’s not really a world, but given that magic is possible, I’m going with it being a world of it’s own, and in a time that truly fascinates me with the whole women’s suffrage movement and women still being women but also striving to be something more, when something more was truly needed.

Other books that come to mind are the world within His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman (jumping through different parallel universes, seeing the different possibilities for reality – as long as I don’t have to go through the specific tragedies that Lyra endures by the end… I think it could be neat; and the world within the Eyre Affair also fascinates me – more with the time jumping and the book jumping and just the whole fascinating world that Fforde creates where everything is kind of exaggerated and fantastical and a little bit conspiratorial, but just so neat. All the best and worst theories you might ever have about the world, true and real and bluntly there… I’d better move onto the next question though before this can no longer be called a short post… (too late?)

Or where you certainly would NOT want to live?

Well any dis-Utopian world or post-apocalyptic world would certainly suck – prime examples being the world in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood or the whole sucky existence in I Am Legend which I haven’t read yet but I saw the movie and yeah… that’d suck.

What about authors? If you were a character, who would you trust to write your life?

Janet Evanovich and Stephenie Meyer both seem to have my number – I think I could trust them to do me justice, to not make me too perfect or too annoying – they seem to have an understanding of the type of character I’d be – a sort of mixture of Stephenie Plum and Bella Swan but married and with one small monkeyToddler – I think they could handle that.

What would your answers be?


Simple Woman's Daybook: Joining Yet Another Bandwagon

I keep seeing this cute meme on other blogs and it looked fun and whatnot, and you know I’m a sucker for a good meme (as you’ll find out soon when I post half a dozen more) – you know I found this meme here and that you should post it on your own blog and all that jazz…

For Today…

Outside my Window…is a view of the “court yard” in the middle of a cluster of apartments in my complex. There is a man doing yard work, and making a lot of noise doing so!

I am thinking… I might be in over my head this weekend but that I intend to love every minute of it, busy and all. 🙂

I am thankful for… good friends, and good family and wish I saw more of them, despite knowing it’s usually my own fault when I don’t.

From the kitchen… Oh dishes that need to be done – I’ll get on that soon I swear – as for dinner tonight? Sorry, no idea. I tend to figure that out when I get in there. I can tell you lunch is likely to be peanut butter and jelly and / or left overs. Fun, huh? Yeah I’m a real gourmet some days… or not.

I am creating… a calendar for next year with pictures of the family, on my iMac – it’s fun and a work in progress. I love making photo gifts and items and love that I can do it right on my computer. It makes up for my complete and utter lack of crafty skills otherwise.

I am going… to be figuring out how to wrap a huge kid’s fold out futon for a birthday party this Sunday…

I am wearing… laundry day pajamas, which are different from normal pajamas only in that it’s imperative that they have pockets, for my keys, phone, timer, etc.

I am reading… Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich – not at this very second, but most nights whenever I get a second to sit down and devour…

I am hoping… to find time for all the wonderful things I’d like to do in the coming month.

I am hearing… someone singing on Sesame Street mingled with the sound of what may be a street vacuum of some kind… and the timer going off to tell me it’s time to attend to my laundry …..

Around the house… is evidence that I am not a tidy person. A rug that needs vacuuming, dishes that need doing, toys that may or may not get picked up today. I know, I’m a great influence.

One of my favorite things… is a good book.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week… Wrap presents, plan for festivities this weekend, entertain two small toddlers, normal mayhem

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you… of my son and his little bestie…

I told them to high five for the camera... they tried...
I told them to high five for the camera... they tried...

Curse of the Spellmans: A Review

Have I mentioned I like books? A wee bit. Un peu. Un poco. Немного. Seriously – and yet I rarely take the opportunity to really review the books I’m reading on here – sure if you are a really devoted mommablogsalot fan you may have noticed my mini reviews on the right sidebar of my website (which are in fact a replica of the reviews I post on my GoodReads account and then email to myself for my ongoing “How many books did I read this year and which ones did I like?” list.

But enough about me boring you. I just finished reading Curse of the Spellmans which was the sequel to Lisa Lutz’s brilliant novel The Spellman Files (now in paperback!). I picked up this novel after confirming my obsession with Stephanie Plum, Veronica Mars, Alias and anything everything spy / Private Eye related – in short, I apparently love a good mystery, but prefer to avoid anything too dark and dreary – a little humor with my homicide is key, you see (no wonder I also love the TV show Bones… hmmm…). The Spellman Files and already mentioned follow-up novel? Perfect for me.

The main character, one Isabel Spellman, is a perfect example of a heroine who doesn’t always necessarily know what she’s doing, what’s best or what’s good for her – she is not a heroine in shining armor (or Armani) – she swears inappropriately and probably spills things on herself. She’s barely getting by and she knows it – which for me is oh so relateable – call me crazy but I get annoyed reading about girls who have it all perfectly together – I see them at the playground every day (okay, every day that I drag my arse to the playground to humor my poor deprived Monkey Son).

Isabel Spellman is a girl I can get behind you could say – she saves the day by the skin of her teeth, much like my other favorite book character Stephanie Plum – seriously, these two should meet, have a slice of pineapple upside down cake and chat. Maybe Plum can get Spellman to start smooching the man every person who reads Curse of the Spellmans will demand she start smooching. Maybe Spellman can give Plum some not necessarily needed tips on how to give her mother a coronary. It’d be good time, in my humble opinion.

So yeah, I finished the book – took me nine days which felt like ninety – like I kept nagging myself, “Geez, your two year old could read this book faster, Jen,” but then I finished it and thought, “You had 13 days till it was due at the library – what exactly was your rush? Other than Fearless Fourteen sitting pretty on your night stand nagging you in its shiny pink brilliance…”

I finished the book and adored it. I love to hate on Lutz’ formatting style which closely resembles a notebook of random thoughts but cleverly transforms itself into a bestselling novel. I love the footnotes that make me feel like I could convince someone I was doing my homework if that was necessary – I love her not remotely subtle plugs for her first book, The Spellman Files (now in paperback!) – it was all genius. I love feeling like I am so much smarter than the main character but still kind of wish I was more like her despite knowing I wouldn’t trade lives with her for anything in the world…

And I sincerely hope there will be more installments to come, because in my book – the case isn’t closed Ms. Izzy – not even close. I want to know more, and I’d prefer to know more as soon as humanly possible (unless Lutz can type at inhuman speed, then that’s okay by me, too).