Thursday, March 9, 2017

Let's Put a Pin in This....

In management/administration, a favorite buzz phrase is "let's put a pin in that."  It means to pause an idea or train of thought to come back to later.  I have tried so hard to maintain my presence on this little blog, and it's just not working.  It started as a fun hobby and way to connect with other readers and has become a bit of a stress.  :(  Between the infant, the family, the full time job, the grad school... there are whole days when I don't read for pleasure.  (Isn't that sad?)  So I don't always have material to populate this blog.  I'll remain active on Goodreads, so you can find me there.  But I'm putting a pin in this blog for now.  Thank you, faithful readers!         -Marie

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham | Book Review

Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between

This book is wonderful!  And it was released at a perfect time for me.  I had just come off maternity leave, during which I watched the original Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, so I was positively steeped in Lauren Graham.  Confession: I bought this book for my sister for Christmas... and read it first.  (I can't be the only person who's done this, right?)

I loved this book!  I quite literally laughed out loud while reading it.  In it, Graham covers everything from her childhood to the original Gilmore Girls to Parenthood to the new Gilmore Girls, and everything in between.  It sounds like a lot, and like it'd be a dense book, but it isn't!  It's presented like a series of vignettes, so you get snapshots.  You don't get buried in information.  I learned so much about her and her career.  I felt like I was spouting Lauren Graham fun facts for the next couple weeks after reading it!  Y'all, Lauren Graham is an actress/celebrity who has actual writing talent.

*Side note: I didn't really believe in "reading slumps" until this book.  I was slogging through another book, though, and just wasn't making much progress at all with it.  I picked up this one and read it in 36 hours.  The other book was a reading slump book!  I didn't recognize it, because I didn't believe in it.  Now I do!

*I purchased and then nearly immediately gifted my copy of Talking as Fast as I Can.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary | Audiobook Review

Ramona the Brave (Ramona, #3)

On Sunday night I wrote a 24-page paper for one class... tonight I wrote a short report for my other class... and that is why I chose to listen to this series on audiobook!  I needed lighter reading for during the semester!  However, there are layers to this book!  This one is probably the deepest of the series.  In it, Ramona overcomes many fears.  She's six years old, so she's starting full-day school for the first time.  With that change, her mother also feels freed to return to work, so Ramona has a different pattern to her day.  She no longer comes straight home to her mother; now she must go to a neighbor's home after school.  With that new job, the family is able to afford an addition onto their home and that means that Ramona gets her own room for the first time in her life!  Now she's sleeping in the dark all alone.  

As the title tells, Ramona discovers an inner strength and also learns to lean on her loved ones and overcomes her fears.  On Goodreads, there's a bit of the description that says that "Beverly Cleary has a real knack for the subtle emotional complexities of young children.  Never condescending, she sees children as real people with real feelings."  This sentiment certainly comes across in the books!  Even as an adult reading a book with a six-year-old protagonist, I still found ways to connect to her and share in her experiences.  The emotional descriptions took me right back to my own childhood.  And while yes, Ramona does overcome situations in this book that most children would relate to and also find scary, the book itself is never spooky or scary.  I recommend this book to anyone from age 6 to age 106!

As I mentioned, I listened to the audiobook of Ramona the Brave.  It has the same narrator as the first books in the series, who continues to do a good job of it.

*I checked out my copy of Ramona the Brave from my local library.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary | Audiobook Review

Ramona the Pest (Ramona, #2)

While this is the second book in the Ramona Quimby series, it's only the first book that's from Ramona's point of view.  And while Ramona has only aged one year (she's five years old in this one), it was published 13 years after Beezus and Ramona (1955 and 1968).  Interestingly, that's not obvious at all in the content of the book!  There's no blatant cultural shifts.  I think that really speaks volumes for Beverly Cleary's writing talent!

I thought Ramona the Pest was actually a really sweet look at a young girl's perception of beginning kindergarten.  Poor Ramona tries so hard to be good at kindergarten.  She loves her teacher and enjoys (most of) her classmates... but things just keep going wrong!  It can't be her fault, right?  I think I might have been Ramona when I was five...  lol  Even though the protagonist is female, I think girls and boys who are starting kindergarten would enjoy this book as a readaloud!

As with the first book, there a few cultural differences in this book versus more contemporary reads.  Ramona walks herself to school alone, and I think there's a mention that her dad smokes, and there's a big deal made about her teacher's stockings (would a modern kindergarten teacher wear stockings?  Possibly not)... but it's not enough to detract any from the plot, and there's no language used that wouldn't be understandable by a modern five year old.

The same narrator narrates Ramona the Pest, and she continues to perform at or slightly above expectations.  With YA books, the narrator often sounds young, like they're a teen or very young adult themselves.  With Adult books, the narrator is, of course, an adult.  It kind of throws me a little when I'm listening to Juvenile literature and the narrator is an older adult.  But that's the way it always is.  You'll see in my next review- I get more and more used to it!

*I checked out my copy of Ramona the Pest from my local library.  (In fact, they had a "package" where I used only one download credit on Hoopla and got all of the Ramona books in one!)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday

Happy Tuesday!  Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish blog.  Click on the image above to visit their blog and join in the fun yourself!

Top Ten Books I Ended Up Liking a Lot More Than I Thought I Would!
Sometimes I get book recommendations from loved ones and I always follow up on them.  Sometimes, though, I'm a little skeptical about them.  For instance, I wouldn't say that fantasy is one of my fave genres, and my aunt and hubby recommend them to me all the time.  I almost always end up loving the ones that they recommend!  Or books assigned for class- I don't think anyone expects to end up loving their textbooks!

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2)Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3)
1. The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas.  As I mentioned, fantasy isn't my go-to genre.  Two years ago, though, my Bookish Secret Santa sent me a lovely hardcover copy of Throne of Glass, I read it in 48 hours, LOVED it, and have never looked back.  Celaena kicks butt!

The Martian
2. The Martian by Andy Weir.  I definitely don't pick up sci-fi on my own.  But my manager at the time told me that I needed to read this one... and who can say no to that?  lol  I am so very glad I read it!  It's hilarious, and definitely not your typical sci-fi.  I immediately gave a copy to my dad to read too!

The Harlem Hellfighters
3. The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks.  I received a free ARC of this one from the publisher and put off reading it for the longest time.  Look at that cover- it did not scream "read me!" to me!  But then I was trying to complete the PopSugar Reading Challenge in 2015 and needed a graphic novel and I grabbed this one and LOVED it!  I now recommend it all the time.  It's very well done, and I learned a lot of new history facts from it.

Oracle of Philadelphia (Earthbound Angels, #1)Raising Chaos (Earthbound Angels, #2)
4. The Earthbound Angels series by Elizabeth Corrigan.  These are published by a really small indie press, so I didn't have a ton of faith in them.  I know I shouldn't pre-judge like that, but I do... just can't help myself.  Anyway, these books came to my attention through my other blog, Tynga's Reviews, and I LOVE them!  They're full of so much excellent, snarky humor.  And I love snark.  :)

Napoleon's Pyramids (Ethan Gage, #1)The Rosetta Key (Ethan Gage, #2)The Dakota Cipher (Ethan Gage, #3)
5. The Ethan Gage series by William Dietrich.  My dad passed along a copy of the fourth book in the series to me awhile back... I'm one of "those people," though, who have to start at the beginning of a series, so I read the first three books.  I did not care for Ethan Gage at first, but he's totally grown on me!  I haven't yet read the fourth book, but I'm actually looking forward to it now!

The Invention of Wings
6. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  Honestly, I knew nothing at all about this book before I picked it up, but the sister-in-law recommended it to me.  I'm so glad she did!  It's a fantastic historic fiction read, told by two narrators.  I should've known Sue Monk Kidd wouldn't disappoint!  Two thumbs up.

Situation Momedy: A First-Time Mom's Guide To Laughing Your Way Through Pregnancy & Year One
7. Situation Momedy: A First-Time Mom's Guide to Laughing Your Way Through Pregnancy & Year One by Jenna Von Oy.  I read this one while preggers myself, and I really did laugh my way through it!  I have a deep mistrust of celebrity memoirs- so many of them fall flat.  But this one was honest and funny and even gave me reassurance about some pregnancy stuff, so it was a win in my book.

The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind #1)The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2; Rincewind #2)Equal Rites (Discworld, #3; Witches #1)
8. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett.  I've only read eight or nine of the forty-some books in this series, but they're addicting!  I'm sure I'll get to the rest of them sooner or later.  This one was recommended by the hubby.  He kept mentioning them and mentioning them and I kept resisting and resisting until he finally said I HAD to try the first one.  So I did.  And I laughed through the whole thing!  No more badgering- I'm voluntarily picking them up off the shelf to read!

Library Technology and User Services: Planning, integration, and usability engineering
9. Library Technology and User Services: Planning, Integration, and Usability Engineering by Anthony Chow.  This one was a textbook for my Library Administration/Management class, and I ended up truly enjoying it!  It was actually useful, and I think that helped.  Definitely didn't resell this one!

Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle, #1)Merlin (The Pendragon Cycle, #2)
10. The Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead.  I've only read the first two books in the series (they're pretty thick, and require some concentration to read), but so far they're only improving.  The hubby told me that I need to read them.  They're a version of the Arthur/Merlin legend.

And you?  Any books that you ended up loving or hating more than you thought you would?  Leave your link below and I'll come visit your list too!  Have a great day!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary | Audiobook Review

Beezus and Ramona (Ramona, #1)

Oh what FUN, revisiting these books during my commute!  Beezus and Ramona is the first book in the Ramona series.  This series is about young Ramona and her family- older sister Beezus, her mom, her dad, and her cat, Picky Picky.

Beezus and Ramona is actually slightly different from the rest of the series.  In this one, Beezus is the primary narrator.  I remembered Ramona being the narrator of the whole series, so that makes me wonder if I ever actually read this very first book.  In it, Ramona is only four years old, and very precocious.  Reading about her, I laughed out loud.  Thinking about being Beezus, older sister to Ramona... I certainly felt for her!  

These sister have such an authentic and caring relationship.  Even though Ramona can drive Beezus up the wall, Beezus still doesn't hesitate when their mother suggests that she take Ramona to the library for the afternoon.

Originally published in 1955, there are a few cultural differences in this book... the girls go quite a few places around town completely unsupervised.  They're very responsible about it, and there's no sense of abandonment.  It was just a completely different time.  Now, you'd probably not leave your nine year and four year old home alone together, or send them walking down to the community center alone... especially knowing that the four year old would be playing alone outside of the community center while the nine year old was in art class!

Like I said, I literally laughed out loud while listening to it.  I found the sisters' relationship so sweet.  The narrator did justice to the tone of the book.  Overall, a good read!

*I checked out my copy of Beezus and Ramona from my local library.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Nursing Mother's Companion by Kathleen Huggins | Book Review

The Nursing Mother's Companion

The summary on the back says that "breastfeeding is natural, but it is not entirely instinctual..." and that is so true.  This book is comforting and engaging and informative.  It covers everything.  I'm a reader, so I read it cover to cover, but you don't have to.  This means that I even read some pages that covered how to train yourself to produce milk for breastfeeding an adopted infant!  Fascinating.

Like I said, though:  it's an excellent book to have as a resource if you're choosing to breastfeed.  It's informative without ever coming across as judge-y.  My boy and I hit pretty nearly every roadbump mentioned in the book, and I found it comforting to read that they're common roadbumps!  There are so many stages to the breastfeeding process, too, and this book can help prepare you for the next stage, whatever that stage may be.  If you're able to continue breastfeeding and/or pumping for the entire first year, the book also covers the weaning process; if you choose to keep going, the book describes what it looks like to breastfeed a toddler.  And if you are not able to make it the whole first year, the book tells you options for that, too- without judgement.  I love it.

The Nursing Mother's Companion is time-tested and chock full of information.  I highly recommend!

*I checked out my copy of The Nursing Mother's Companion from my local library.