Sunday, May 28, 2017

On a Reading Roll

Post-wedding, I've been on a reading roll. Finished The Scar and The Magician King from Bookmooch, took out a ton of library books, and made some purchases at the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

I enjoyed The Magician King and look forward to finishing the trilogy with The Magician's Land. I better appreciate now Lev Grossman's  transmutation of fantasy tropes, not to mention his D&D references--he casually refers to characters using "cantrips" and "Magic Missile." The protagonist Quentin, a snarky teenager for most of the first book,  is truly becoming the hero he felt entitled to be. It was also interesting to see Julia's story, although the essence of it was given away in the first season of the TV show. There were some differences, and I wonder if the show will go where this book does with her story. We haven't finished the second season yet, so don't tell me!

I found some longtime TBR books at the library and have finished two already--Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking and the audiobook of Lauren Graham's Talking As Fast As I Can. Neither were quite what I expected. Both are general memoirs more than they are about the topics I picked them up for--though I still enjoyed them. Palmer's memoir does coalesce around themes of asking, trust, and community. It clarified to me again that "your audience" typically isn't people you don't know, but rather your family and friends. Those are the people you are writing for, singing for, making art for. Those are the people who want to help you. Graham's memoir, while it does cover her time on Gilmore Girls and Gilmore Girls again,  dips more whimsically throughout her life as an actor. I'm glad I listened to the audiobook. It was a treat to listen to her voice, and although I love both characters, it's clear she has more Lorelei Gilmore in her than Sarah Braverman.

At the Gaithersburg Book Festival, I purchased Wangs vs. the World after attending a panel with the author Jade Chang as well as the author of All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg. I enjoyed the readings and repartee from both authors. That's probably next up on the list.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

1. We got married! It was beautiful and perfect and it's over :-)

2. We went on our honeymoon to Colonial Williamsburg, which was also pretty perfect, and I picked up Everlasting Syllabub and the Art of Carving by Hannah Glasse, an 18th century cookbook intended to be for the servants and thus not written in the "high polite style." Although I don't think I'll be attempting any of her recipes, it is a fascinating read.

3. While I was gone, a pair of books arrived from Bookmooch, The Magician King by Lev Grossman and The Scar by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko. I gave up on the former at the library, so now I've got two handsome hardcovers to call my own. I read The Scar first, and enjoyed it immensely. It reads like a fleshed out fairytale about an arrogant man from a militaristic culture, who receives a scar that turns him into a coward. It has strains of Beauty and the Beast, now that I think about it, and I liked it much better than A Court of Thorns and Roses. Plus, I love that it's a standalone fantasy novel. I will definitely be reading more from Sergey and Marina Dyachenko, a husband and wife team whose award-winning fantasy novels and stories have been translated from Russian to English.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts

1. I finished reading A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, but I didn't like it as much as I wanted to. A fantasy fairytale retelling should be right up my alley, especially one of my favorites, Beauty and the Beast. But the power differential between Tamlin (the Beast) and Feyre (Beauty) rubbed me the wrong way, and I couldn't get past it. Maas creates a dark fantasy world where humans live apart from monstrous, bloodthirsty, and powerful faeries, including nearly omnipotent immortal High Lords like Tamlin. Worse, although Feyre is a huntress, she's a nearly physically powerless and illiterate mortal. That huge power discrepancy made their love story icky to me, and the book is at least as much romance as fantasy. I got through it, but I'm reevaluating whether to read any more of her books.

2. Next up, Fairest by Marissa Meyer, a fairytale background retelling I'm almost certain to like.

3. Both of these books are due back to the library AFTER my wedding! Gulp!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Reading Update

If wedding planning loomed before, > three weeks out and it dominates my non-work life. I'm feeling accomplished at that moment though, as some looming wedding tasks are done or on their way there, and I just finished reading Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight.

Although I enjoyed perusing it in the bookstore and Knight's irreverent tone is amusing in and of itself, my biggest takeaway from the book is that I'm perhaps better at adulting than I thought. For example, I can do my taxes all by myself (sorry Sarah Knight!). Small manageable chunks and converting to-do to must-do lists are my daily cup of tea, so even though my apartment isn't decorated and I haven't yet done my hair trial (tomorrow!), I'm feeling calmer.

Contributing to my calm may be a recent spurt of feel-good reads. I finished The Winner's Kiss, the third in the Winner's Curse trilogy, and in my opinion, each book got richer and deeper. I thought the characters were bland at first, but both Kestrel and Arin grow and change in response to the obstacles they face. I especially like the device in the third book where the author refers to Arin's warlust as a deity ("his g-d grinned inside him"). I wish the device were used throughout the series to be more consistent, but oh well.

After I finished the trilogy, I sailed right into Marissa Meyer's Heartless, the imagined backstory of Wonderland's Queen of Hearts. Meyer does refashionings of fairy tales mindblowingly well. I adored the main character, Cath, and was mesmerized by the story (and although most elements were obvious, that's what's satisfying about a fairy tale). In the end, you're rooting for Cath and Jest...but knowing that she becomes the Queen of Hearts, a sick part of you wants to see how that happens. It's an interesting twist in writing about villains...you think you want to root for the protagonist, but, really, you just want the story to have the 'right' ending. I wonder what that says about us, or just about me =P.

In other news, I just finished the March 25 Economist...I'm only like three behind? But I do feel much more informed about the world. And now that you're more informed about mine, goodnight!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Reading Update

It's been a busy month, for many reasons. I'm yet again a couple of issues behind on The Economist; I think I'm going to try more skimming/speed reading. I definitely do feel much more aware of what's going in the world and world economy, so I feel like I'm getting some value. I'll see if the value is worth the price at the end of the year.

I revived my ereader this past week and read The Winner's Curse and The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski. The first book came up as a $2.99 deal on Amazon, and I recalled enjoying a free sample of the first chapter when it came out. It's a quick read with world-building elements I like, and the author hasn't met a metaphor she doesn't love (fortunately, I loved hers). The two main characters, general's daughter Kestrel and rebellious slave Arin, are a little bland, and their romance obvious from the first sentence. However, I was intrigued enough to continue to the second book, which was meatier in both plot and character development. I'm sure The Winner's Kiss will follow shortly.

I also recently picked up Spark Joy by Marie Kondo and Voyager by Russell Banks at the library. Spark Joy is for those, like me, in the middle of 'tidying up' KonMari-style, and it reinspired me all over again. Post-wedding, I will conquer you, komono! On the other hand, I'd never read Banks before, and probably won't again. I enjoyed the New England specificity of his stories, but the writing style seemed overwrought, and there wasn't enough of a payoff for me. I finished the first novella in the collection, but I'm DNF-ing the rest.

Up next: most likely, The Winner's Kiss; more Economists; and if I'm lucky, The Magician King audiobook from the library.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

1. I'm on eye drops, ear drops, and nose drops ftw. Here's hoping I'm back up to full health soon.

2. Wedding planning looms. I hit the three-month out mark, and although I'm totally on checklist, wished I had more details completed. If you've got more time, you might want to think about how you'll feel at xyz points. The WIC (Wedding Industry Complex, recently learned acronym) pushes you to decide earlier and it's definitely not necessary...but it might make you feel better, which is an angle I hadn't considered when I decided to take it more item-by-item.

3. That said, I'm now two months out and don't feel any MORE stressed than I did three months out.

4. Choosing and sending the invitations has been my favorite task so far.  Choosing my own stationery felt so gloriously luxurious. Highly recommend Minted.com--gorgeous designs and excellent customer service. I'm looking forward to getting back all the RSVPs!

5. Books...I'm loving inspirational and self-improvement books right now, even though I'm having a hard time getting motivated to do anything non-wedding or health-related because those are so time-consuming. Looking forward to Sarah Knight's Get Your Sh*t Together.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Reading Updates

So, I finished Revenge Wears Prada. My assertion that it doesn't measure up to the original stands, but also that it was interesting to peer further down the lane of the characters' lives. There was one brilliant bit of plot that I didn't quite see coming, and another that was obvious, but still satisfying. The focus on weddings, since Andy and Emily run a luxe wedding magazine, was obviously interesting to me right now, as I plan my own!

I haven't been keeping up as well with The Economist or with The Case for G-d. I did this last time I read Karen Armstrong, where I got kind of slogged in the middle--even though it's fascinating, it requires a lot of in-depth thinking as you read along. I'm more than halfway through though, just need to keep going. For The Economist, I'm letting myself skip a couple of issues and start fresh. I'm still keeping up better than the last time I had a weekly magazine when piles of The New Yorker buried my closet floor.

Next up on the reading list will hopefully include the next two Magicians books, depending on the library selection, and I'm interested in reading Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.