Categories
books & reading nightstand

Nightstand: November 2011

So it’s mere days before Thanksgiving, which is exciting in it’s own right, but it also means that it’s time for me to fill you in on my nightstand! Haven’t done this before? The fabulous ladies at 5 Minutes for Books ask us each month which books we are reading, read recently or plan to read soon – basically this amounts to “What’s on your nightstand right now?” Get it?

When we last nightstanded, I was reading The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent – the story of Martha Carrier, one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. (description from goodreads.com)

I have to say I really kind of adored that book, although it was slow reading at times, it really kept me hooked and the story was just fascinating, though heart breaking. I definitely recommend it!

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen SimonsonAfter finishing The Heretic’s Daughter, I had planned to read our November book club pick, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. This is the story of Major Ernest Pettigrew, retired, of Edgecombe St. Mary, England, [who] is more than a little dismayed by the sloppy manners, narcissism, and materialism of modern society. The decline of gentility is evident everywhere, from tea bags, to designer sweaters, to racism masquerading as tolerance…

But after about three chapters (or 40 pages or so) I honestly couldn’t read anymore. It is not often that I will put down a book after only a few chapters, but lately I have been thinking that my time is too precious to read books I’m not enjoying. And I wasn’t enjoying this one at all. The book was intended, I think, to be a fairly light-hearted satire, but I found the main character so annoyingly cynical that I couldn’t read it without rolling my eyes at him. I don’t know if the book would have gotten better or if I was being too hard on it. I’d guess there are people who loved it and would enjoy it. But I honestly don’t think I was going to be one of them.

My only reason for reading the book would have been because it was a book club pick and normally I’d give myself a harder time and make myself read it anyway, but I decided to go easy on myself this once because my nightstand is kind of overwhelming me at the moment with books to read and truthfully? There was one book in particular beckoning to me. It’s been sitting there patiently for months, picked up in between books just long enough to read a chapter or so, giggle to myself and then move on to my next mandatory read. Well this month it said, “Um, Jen, knock it off and read me already. You’re gonna love it!”

Such a Pretty Fat by Jen LancasterAnd I totally am! What book am I finally digging into and adoring something fierce? Such a Pretty Fat by Jen Lancaster. It’s basically the funniest book about dieting that you’ll ever read and I think I especially love it because (especially when it comes to food and dieting) Jen Lancaster and I are kind of kindred spirits. It’s like reading my own thoughts on paper except then sometimes SHE goes to the gym or starts a diet or loses weight and I’m all, “Oh, hey, wait for me!”

I’m kind of hoping that this will be a book that motivates me to finally kick my ass and start eating better and exercising (I’m already trying) and that she doesn’t end the book with, “And then I gave up, who are we kidding, really?” We’ll see…. Either way, as far as book choices go, I’m glad I made this one because I now go to bed at night eager to read!!!!! Instead of “Oh yeah… that book….. Maybe I’m tired?”

So what am I going to read NEXT? Man, guys, I have no idea… There are kind of a million positions I’m being pulled in, but here are some of my ideas:

  • Attempting Wicked by Gregory Maguire again and then possibly reading the rest of the Oz series by him.
  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave which I keep hearing is some kind of fantastic
  • Some more funny books like Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin or Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
  • Unbearable Lightness by Portia De Rossi has also been waiting patiently for me for awhile…
  • Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde looks really good – I love his Thursday Next series.
  • And then let’s not even talk about all the OTHER books I own but haven’t read yet and guys, what about the books I WANT to buy? What if I get books for Christmas? If you don’t hear from me for awhile, you’ll know that my TBR pile finally fell over and buried me.

What are you reading right now?

Categories
books & reading reviews

Children’s Classics: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

I wasn’t sure what I was going to blog about for this month’s Children’s Classics carnival @ 5 Minutes For Books. But as I finished reading The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe last night it occurred to me that it was both a children’s book and a classic – it was simply a slightly older read than the things I’m reading to my own son who is just two years old. Still it does qualify even if I haven’t been reading it with a child (just a child at heart). I do hope to read this to MM when he gets older and I hope he enjoys this story as much as I have.

First, to be honest, I didn’t love this book as much as I’d expected to – I read The Magician’s Nephew first and liked it more – but I think that is only because The Magician’s Nephew was a new read for me – The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe is a story I already knew well, and I’d seen the movie adaptations a couple times. I have a very hard time reading a book whose movie I’ve already seen, but I did read and enjoy this book. It is possible I liked the movie more though – but really, in a book this small, it was easier I think to give more details in the movie, something that rarely happens in a book-to-movie adaptation. The length of the movie and being able to see it all unfold in front of your eyes was magical and the recent movie especially was very well done. So while I did like the book, I think I handicapped my own enjoyment by seeing the movie first.

But I love C.S. Lewis’s writing style and the book is very well written and perfect for children. I think it will be a very fun book to read aloud to my own children someday and the story is truly a classic that anyone can enjoy. I recommend both the book and the movie.

For more reviews of children’s classics, head over to 5 Minutes For Books for a list of participants.

Categories
books & reading

What’s On MY Nightstand: December

It’s the 4th Tuesday in November – you know what that means! It’s TIME TO build a word show you what’s on my nightstand. First I’ll show you the books I’m currently reading and have slated to read, then I’ll show you the books that Santa can feel free to leave under the tree for me this year (the ones I wouldn’t kick out of my nightstand, so to speak). So here’s what I’m reading right now or planning to read very soon:

  • The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis: This book is either the 6th in the series or the 1st depending on how you look at it – it wasn’t written first, but it is supposed to be the story of the dawn of Narnia, how it all began, etc. I’ve decided to read this one first even though it says BOOK SIX in huge letters, the back of the book assures me I can read these books in any order. So there. I’ve read two chapters before and already I’m loving the writing style and the plot. I think I’m really going to enjoy this series.
  • Home: A Memoir Of My Early Years by Julie Andrews: I’ve been wanting to read this since before it came out, so last night when the dh let me take myself to the library I searched the racks in the basement biographies section of the library and THERE IT WAS. I was so excited and I’m looking forward to starting this soon.
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer: I bought this with a gift card my mother sent me for my birthday and I am definitely looking forward to reading it, but I keep putting it down and saying, “Not yet.” I think it’s the knowledge that it’s currently the only book she’s written that I haven’t read – so once I read it, I’m screwed until she writes something new – does that make sense? So I put it down and went to the library to get The Magician’s Nephew and Home and I’ll read this just as soon as I’m brave enough!
  • The No Cry Potty Training Solution by Elizabeth Pantley: I am mostly including this to maybe encourage myself to pick it up and start reading it – it does sound like a great book and probably perfect, but like my son, I’m in denial about the whole potty training thing and it kind of feels like homework, which never encourages me to want to read anything. But there you have it.

Now for the books that I’d most like to find waiting for me on Christmas morning – the ones I’d bake Santa TWO batches of homemade cookies for!

What’s on your nightstand this month?

Categories
memes & carnivals travel

Top 5 Tuesday: Places I’ve Got To Check Out, Before I Check Out…

This week’s theme is places you want to see before you die, or as John Mayer and I would so eloquently put it, “these are the last things I’ve got to check out, before I check out…” or something like that anyway. So you know my wanderlust knows no limits and I’m sure I won’t do this list justice, but regardless, here they are folks – the top five locations on my To Be Seen list in likely no particular order:

  1. Canada – let’s start small, right? I think it’s absurd that I’ve moved over ten times in my life and have gone as far as Germany, but I’ve never been to Canada. I’m a New Englander for Pete’s Sake! I’m hoping to remedy that next summer with a camping trip to Jellystone Park.
  2. Paris – I want to travel throughout as much of Europe as possible but Paris seems like the most logical place for me to consider a Must See in Europe – after all, I’ve taken ten years of French lessons and though I wouldn’t claim to speak the language, I think I’d fare better there than anywhere. And it’s the city of love! And desserts!
  3. Washington State – My mother lives there. I’d like to meet her before I die (the last time I saw her I was too young to remember it, so I’m thinking it doesn’t count). It just doesn’t seem right that I can’t claim to have met my own mother while she is living and breathing and I know where she is. If it weren’t for the cost of gas / air fare / time, I’d be remedying this pronto. And I hope to do it sooner than later.
  4. A Cruise Ship – I really don’t care which one, except I’d like for the cost to be reasonable, the amenities to be nice and also reasonably priced and for it to be fun with plenty of layovers and sight seeing. I’d love to go on a European River Cruise or this other fun one that goes from Maine to somewhere in Canada and looks all quaint and actually interests my husband. DH says we have to test the extent of my sea sickness before he’ll pay for a real cruise. I guess that makes sense.
  5. Washington DC – Why not round it out there? I want to see the White House and all those other important places where important decisions are made. I can’t help it, I’m a nerd.

I know this list doesn’t look terribly exciting. I mean, I also want to see Japan, India, New Zealand, Chile, Brazil, Nigeria, whatever. But those are all, “Wouldn’t it be funs?” as opposed to my top 5 which are more, “Really, if I can’t even accomplish these things, what can I really say about the quality of my life?” They are the more likely to happen and important to me as opposed to the dreamer side of me.

What 5 places would you most like to see before you die? To see other bloggers’ bucket list checking out to check out posts, just head over to Supernanny Where Are You.

Categories
books & reading memes & carnivals reviews

What’s On Your Nightstand: October

Last month I said that I planned to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Well Of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde, In The Hand Of The Goddess by Tamora Pierce and Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick. When I wrote last month’s What’s On Your Nightstand almost none of the books were actually in my possession. Similarly, this month the only book on my TBR list that’s on my nightstand is the book I’m currently reading. But first let’s talk about how I fared in the last month.

  • Jane Eyre I never finished. I really wasn’t enjoying it. It was kind of depressing me and I decided that life was too short to spend reading bad literature. I wrote more on that here.
  • I just finished reading The Well of Lost Plots a couple days ago and LOVED it, but it seems like it took me forever to finish it. Fforde’s books are always so detail-rich and complex in plot that it’s not something I can devour in one sitting. You have to immerse yourself in his world and if you don’t love that world, you probably aren’t going to make it. I LOVE it though so it was well worth the effort. I think this was the best of his books that I’ve read so far. My full review is located here.
  • I am reading In The Hand Of The Goddess right now and liking it a great deal. It’s picking up much quicker than Alanna: The First Adventure did and so it took me no time at all to get hooked on the story. I’m becoming a big fan of Tamora Pierce as well.
  • I hope I read Mayflower this year. I’ve had it for awhile but keep putting off reading it for various reasons but it does look good and it seems like it would be a good book for the fall, but it’s hard to stay committed when I also want to read….

Books To Read Soon

  • American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld – I’m hoping to read this next month at some point
  • Tale of Despereaux by Katie DeCamillo – the movie is coming out soon and I want to read the book before I break down and see the movie (which you know I will)
  • Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde – Book number 4 in the Thursday Next series, I swear it’s like crack.
  • Rumors by Anna Godberson – follow up to The Luxe, I’ve been wanting to read this for ages, but the library never seems to have it in stock and of course there are always other books that I want to read, too.
  • How To Teach Filthy Rich Girls by Zoey Dean – this book has gotten a few bad reviews, but I know it’s one that I’ll need to read for myself or I’ll never be able to let it go, you know?

What’s on YOUR nightstand? Have you blogged about it and linked up @ 5 Minutes For Books yet?

Categories
books & reading reviews

Kids’ Picks: Grumpy Frumpy! Happy Snappy!

My son hasn’t gotten into too many new books since last month’s kids picks a great book carnival @ 5 Minutes For Books EXCEPT this little gem that I picked up at Target in the $1 bin…

He immediately seemed to know that these little guys were “monsters” in a big scary silly voice, though I’m not sure where he learned about monsters in the first place, it’s hilarious to hear him read this. I guess that means it’s hilarious to hear ME read this, since I read it to him first and he now imitates me, but the cool thing is he seems to remember each page, each voice and I think he really gets the idea of the opposites on these pages. Here’s an example from MM The Future Hand Model…

He loves to turn the book upside down on THIS page to show me how it works – how did he figure this out because I’m pretty sure I didn’t teach him that, much like I didn’t teach him his ABCs. This genius little two year old seriously taught himself. I honed it all in, but really, he was the mastermind there. And here. I’m so proud… sniff…

This book is awesome and a short quick read and so fun to make silly voices with. Did I mention it was a DOLLAR?

I’m trying really hard not to show you every page because there must be some copyright thing against that but all the pages are so adorable and my son just LOOOOOVES this book. Here’s him showing you what a grumpy frumpy looks like…

Sort of… He kind of smirked right when I took the picture but trust me, he was Grumpy Frumpy at it’s finest.

What books is your kid reading this month? If you blog about it, make sure to link up here, and also let me know in the comments section!

Categories
books & reading reviews

Children’s Classics: Newbery Medal Favorites

The big topic at 5 Minutes for Books this week is Newbery Medal winners. Have you read many of the books that have won a Newbery Medal? Do awards influence which books you will or won’t read? I think for the more official awards like the Newbery or Caldecott – or even the NYT bestsellers, having that recognition would definitely influence me to read a book if I’d maybe been the fence about whether or not to read it, whereas I’ve on occasion opted not to read a book if say, Oprah has it on her book list. Some hype is worthy, some not so much.

I’ve read a good handful of the Newbery award winners, some of which are high up there on my favorite books from when I was a kid. Here are some of my favorite Newbery Award winners:

If I were to make a list of my favorite books from that time period of my life, this would likely be it, so I’d definitely recommend any of them to a young reader or an older reader. I’d be extremely excited if my children chose to read these books someday and may read them again just to brush up on the classics.

Are any of your favorite children’s books a Newbery Medal winner?

Categories
family fun

Top 5 Tuesday on Blogging

Thanks to Rachel for this week’s Top 5 Tuesday questions, a meme hosted by Dana @ Supernanny Where Are You? This week, Dana wants to know…

1.) How long have you been blogging?

I’ve kept a livejournal since 1997, but I didn’t start publicly blogging until March of this year, on the blog I currently use, so I’ll say 6 months.

2.) Link to your first blog post ever?

It’s entitled, “oMop, Oh You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me! a.k.a. Hi!” I was going for that, rather than introduce myself, I’ll just start talking spiel, but really, there was still kind of an introduction, in which I tell you I won’t be introducing myself. Because I’m clever. Or something.

3.)What is the one driving force that actually made you create that blog account?

I felt like I wasn’t writing anything of importance, wasting a perfectly good English degree, and ultimately I was bored. I don’t know that this blog will win me any awards or earn me money, but it lets me use my creativity as I see fit and I love the blogging community so I’m thrilled I went for it. Oh also, reading about Dooce and her whole awesomeness, really made me want to give it a try – I should mention that – she inspired me. < / cheesiness >

4.)How did you come up with your blog name and what were other names you considered?

Um well they say write what you know and I know I am a mother and that I write a lot, or blog a lot. It sounded nice a ring to it you could say, but I frequently consider changing it. My first “attempt” at a blog was actually called bookstorebetty, but I didn’t want my blog to be solely about books – I really did want a mommy blog. And I haven’t found anything better than mommablogsalot yet, so it’ll do for now…

Hmm I just found a post I wrote on my old elJay about contemplating starting a blog and here’s what I said:

“So I keep thinking about this idea of “professional blog” and the more I think about it, the more it intrigues me. I could do it. I have seen the good blogs and I think I could come close, but then I am biased. Am I really a good enough, interesting enough blogger for this? Would anyone read it, or would it be an endless sea of crickets (could crickets even survive in the sea?)? I honestly don’t know. The easiest way to find out, I suppose, would be to try it out and find a good means of tracking who visits.

Some name ideas:
-Momma Blogs Alot (mommablogsalot.com) Could have sections like Momma Reviews Alot, Momma Reads Alot, Momma Surfs the Web Alot…. And if it’s taken I can try name variations like mama, mommy, mother, etc.
-Oh Baby – probably already taken and again, at some point my kids are gonna grow up and there will be no babies really… But I’ll always be a mother, right?

Any other ideas? Does anyone think this is a terrible idea and that I’m terribly boring and shouldn’t waste my time? Crickets?”

And yeah, I still have no better ideas, but if anyone thinks of the perfect name for my blog, let me know. 🙂

5.) Post a link to your favorite blog post ever.

This is a post I still get excited about when I think of it – it never got the big following I thought it deserved, indeed other posts got much more fanfare. But I’m very proud of this one in particular.

So yeah that’s all for Top 5 Tuesday – be sure to link up at Dana’s blog if you play along on your own.

Categories
family fun

Pet Peeves: What Are Your Top 5?

Supernanny Where Are You wants to know your Top 5 Pet Peeves – I know you are all probably getting a little sick of me and my crazy obsessive need to post 5 or 6 times a day (maybe it’s a pet peeve of yours), but I promise this will be my last post of the day.

So what really annoys you? What gets you piping hit annoyed in this world? Head over to Supernanny Where Are You and play along!

  1. People, who, feel, the, the, need, to, put, commas, everywhere, for, no, good, reason, (me, included)
  2. When the bagger at the grocery store puts my things into 30 bags that could easily have fit into 5
  3. People who park like an a**hole. We call them a**hats in our family – at least, when the kiddos aren’t listening we do. (i.e. you parked in the fire lane; you parked your car in the middle of two spaces for no apparent reason; you aren’t even parked in a space at all, etc.)
  4. When the media uses our emotions to try and create political scandal over nothing – scare tactics, smear campaigns – anytime they assume we are too ignorant to do the research and will just read the headline and go “OMG, how could HE/SHE/IT/THEY?” and of course the sad thing, is that most people will only do that, but it doesn’t make it right.
  5. Killing people over peace. Religious Wars. Mothers, Sisters, Daughters fighting over the right to stay at home or the right to work; the right to nurse, the right to bottle feed – people thinking their opinion is the end all, and that other people are just ignorant if they don’t believe what you believe. We’re all different – and we all deserve a chance to make our own choices. And going to war over which Religious Figure you believe in is just stupid. Sorry. (okay this could have easily been 3 different pet peeves but I ran out of numbers…)

What are your Top 5 Pet Peeves?