Adventures in Car Buying + Weekly Wrap-Up

1. Okay, so I know I mentioned that I hit a parked car this summer, but did I tell you that I ALSO hit a pillar in the parking garage of my complex? Well, I did. Which means that I have dents on both sides of my car now. Because of that, I came to the conclusion that I must not like my car very much (I mean, I am not this careless in general) so got it into my head that I would sell my car and buy a new one.

Continue reading “Adventures in Car Buying + Weekly Wrap-Up”

It’s Monday! I finally finished Necessary Endings!

This past week, I finished:

Demigods & Magicians: Percy and Annabeth Meet the KanesDemigods & Magicians: Percy and Annabeth Meet the Kanes by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Even though I didn’t finish The Kane Chronicles, I really like Carter and Sadie, so it was nice to spend some time with them without all the extra that comes with their series. It’s always fun to see characters from different stories interacting with each other, and seeing the similarities of Percy to Sadie and Annabeth to Carter was extra fun. So yeah, I really liked this.

View all my reviews

 

Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move ForwardNecessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward by Henry Cloud
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Me: I have been reading this book forever. I am going to finish it today because I am sick of saying I’m still reading it.

Mom: Sounds like you need to make a necessary ending on that book.

Me: Yes, exactly.

There is a lot of really useful and helpful information in this book, and I got a lot out of it. Most of it is stuff I had already learned, but I did learn some new strategies and think about some situations differently, both in the NE group I was in that made me decide to read the book and in the book itself. For example, I learned that I didn’t actually hate my job; I was just burnt out so needed to end some of the practices around it. I also had to make a personal necessary ending, which I probably wouldn’t have cast in those terms before. So, you know. Useful.

I think it took me so long because the writing is kind of dry and I kept reading it right before bed. Also, I lost the book for about a week, which didn’t help with the whole finishing it part. But it’s done now, and that’s all that matters.

If you’re trying to figure out how to end something you know you need to but don’t know how, this book may be helpful to you and I recommend it.

View all my reviews

 

Last week, I posted:

More A to Z!

[wrap-up-posts week=”16″ year=”2016″ category=”Blogging A to Z” listtype=”ul”]

 

As of today, I’m reading:

 

I’m still making my way through Furiously Happy which is funny so far, and I can see why it strikes a chord with my daughter. I started Alex + Ada Vol. 2 today and should also be getting to Scrum later this week. Of course this is my insane grading week (end of term! finals!) so we’ll see how far I get with any of those.

 

Hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children's lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.
Hosted by Kathryn @ The Book Date. Children’s lit version hosted by Jen Vincent @ Teach Mentor Texts & Kellee Moye @ Unleashing Readers.

Happy reading, everyone!

Mini Reviews: End of Semester Round-Up

After posting (almost) every day in November, I fell off–mostly because I was caught up on back posts, but also because the end of the semester happened. For those that don’t know, the end of the semester is an onslaught of grading, grading, and more grading. And then calculating and posting grades. And catching up on the things that happened while grading was going on. Oh, and if you have a kid (like I do), all of the winter programs happen.

But! Now the semester is over! And since my last post, I read a handful of books that I’m going to post a bit about now.

1. Introducing Vivien Leigh Reid: Daughter of the Diva by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout: This book is super cute and fun. A total beach read. Leigh is a fun character, and Collins & Rideout never let her become maudlin. It would’ve been easy for the book to devolve into spoiled, whiny rich kid territory, yet they avoided that. I appreciate it, for sure. Plus, always fun to read books set in a different country.

Source: Library

2. The Cardturner: A Novel about a King, a Queen, and a Joker by Louis Sachar: I liked the first half because that’s where all of the relationship and character development happened. Also, it was really easy to ignore all of the bridge. And, really, there is A LOT of bridge. Just…a lot. You know how in the Harry Potter books sometimes the explanations of Quidditch go on too long? Now imagine a book about, say, Oliver Wood. That’s what the entire second half of the book was like. Yeah.

Source: Library

3. A La Carte by Tanita S. Davis: I think I would have enjoyed this story more if Lainey hadn’t spent so much of the book alone. Also, I wanted more character development for Topher and Simeon. On the plus side, Lainey’s mom was awesome, and I want to try the zucchini latkes. Mmm, latkes.

Source: Library

4. Girl Meets Boy: Because There Are Two Sides to Every Story edited by Kelly Milner Halls: Pretty uneven short story collection. While I liked the concept, the execution was sometimes lost. Fast read, though.

Source: Library

So no real standouts, though I did enjoy the Diva book the most.

I have been attempting different books lately, but nothing is sticking with me. Sometimes at the end of the semester, I don’t want to do ANY brain activities. We’ll see if that changes before the end of the year.

Book Review: The Demigod Diaries

You know what Rick Riordan’s The Demigod Diaries confirmed for me? My love for Leo Valdez is not in vain. That kid is awesome.

Oh, and Percy’s alright, too, I guess.

I was going to end the review there, but the picture looks stupid with so little text, so I guess I’ll continue. I GUESS.

I also loved seeing the pictures of Thalia, Piper, Leo, and Jason. Plus, while I’m here, I should talk about Luke’s story and how I can totally see why he would fight against the gods. Dude had some bitterness deep in his soul–and with good reason.

You know what’s cool? That Riordan included a story by his son in the collection. You know what else is cool? The story fits the mythology and is well-written. Some of Alistair’s powers seemed more in line with The Kane Chronicles, but I’ll trust that they have some basis in Greek mythology. The plotting in Haley’s story is fast-paced, and the characterization is sharp.

All in all, the collection was a nice companion to the other books set in Percy Jackson’s world.

Source: my daughter’s

Novella Review: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption

“Remember that hope is a good thing, Red, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

“Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” is a novella in Stephen King’s Different Seasons collection. If you’ve seen the movie before, you know the deal: Andy Dufrense is wrongly convicted of a crime and then (spoiler alert!) breaks out of prison in spectacular fashion.

I chose to read it for the Classic Double challenge because, as King’s website says, it’s “the most satisfying tale of unjust imprisonment and offbeat escape since The Count of Monte Cristo.”

As I said in my review of CoMC, when Edmond was in prison, I totally yelled SHAWSHANK! at the book. Or in my mind. Or texted it to my friend. The point is: I totes immediately thought of Shawshank. SHAWSHANK! So when I went to King’s website and saw that very direct connection mentioned, I felt quite smug with my rightness of CoMC inspiring the story.

If you’ve seen the movie, it’s very faithful to the story and its tone. I kept picturing Morgan Freeman as Red even though he’s Irish and, um, not Morgan Freeman in the book. I like that Red believes in his friend’s innocence, even as the narrative is set up so that we never know if Andy did it or not.

I love that Andy doesn’t tell the story and that so much of what happens to him is open to speculation. We don’t really know that he’s innocent, we don’t really know how he got out, we don’t really know…well, anything. We only know what Red knows and what he’s able to piece together from his interactions with Andy and prison gossip. Of course, the point of the story isn’t that this guy Andy came to the jail and broke out. The point is the importance of hope, and I totally got that on all sides.

In fact, that message of hope is the biggest difference between The Count of Monte Cristo and “Rita Hayworth and the Shawhank Redemption.” Yes, the communication between prisoners and the prison escape and the cave fortune are in both. But King substitutes the fantastical nature of Edmond’s escape and revenge fantasy with a very grounded meditation on what happens to those left behind when someone offers them a glimmer of hope and a chance of escaping what they thought their lives could be. Andy rewrites how Red sees himself, and that’s where the redemption comes in.

In conclusion: Really well-written and heartfelt story. Totally worth a read.

Classic Double: 1

Source: Library

April Mini-Reviews

Since I am so behind on book reviews, it’s time for mini-reviews! Here are some books I’ve read but have yet to review:

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie: Along with The Count of Monte Cristo, this book is a Revenge inspired read. The EW recapper floated an Agatha Christie theory [full of spoilers for Revenge and Orient Express] that–even though the show is based on CoMC–maybe the writers are layering in an Orient Express element of revenge as well. I won’t spoil the book, but I liked the idea, so, of course, I had to read Murder on the Orient Express after reading the article.

I think I read this book when I went through an Agatha Christie spell in high school/college because I was not at all surprised by who did it and how. Plus, everything about the book felt really familiar. So it was good, but unsurprising. If you want to read it, I recommend going in cold and trying to figure it out with Hercule Poirot. It’ll be more fun that way.

Also! This book counts for the TV Challenge because there totally used to be a Poirot TV series! I’d call that a win.

TV Addict: 2; Classic Double: .25

Source: Library

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi: A quick read about a girl who boards a ship whose crew members attempt a mutiny. Charlotte is smart and clever. If you think about it too hard, her transformation, as a review on Goodreads says, isn’t well foreshadowed in her character’s background. But I didn’t think about it until after I read that review, so I bought her transformation. Love Charlotte.

Off the Shelf: 3

Source: personal collection

In the end, my hope is that you’ll learn that Angry Management ain’t really where it’s at. When the rage has got ya, it’s got ya. But if you learn to tell your story, an’ tell it loud, your angry won’t get you so often.

Angry Management by Chris Crutcher: You know what’s sad? I totally started a review for this book, but never finished. That is SAD.

Anyway, it’s a collection of three short stories–excuse me, novellas–all based on some of Crutcher’s other works. Really, what Crutcher does is write fanfic of his own novels. Can you do that? Sure, if you cross, say, the world of Sarah Byrnes with that of Angus Bethune, especially when they live nowhere near each other or exist in different times. I mean, Crutcher doesn’t even have to come up with a plausible scenario for these two to meet/live near each other (oh, right, except the frame for all of the stories is that the kids are all in group therapy together, but, except for Sarah/Angus, the stories seem to exist outside of that framing device. I just went with it. Because, really, what else can you do?) but they do! So they become friends. AU fanfic right there. And, let’s face it, we all know that Crutcher is a big fan of his own books. As well he should be.

The three novellas are:

  1. “Kyle Maynard and the Craggy Face of the Moon”: Sarah Byrnes and Angus Bethune (from Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes & Athletic Shorts, respectively)
  2. “Montana Wild”: Montana West and Trey Chase (from a book/books I never read)
  3. “Meet Me at the Gates, Marcus James”: Marcus James, Mr. Simet, Matt Miller (set in the same town as Whale Talk with Mr. Simet from Whale Talk and a kid mentioned briefly in Deadline)

I liked all of the stories, but the third was probably my favorite. Matt Miller is totally literary boyfriend material. I LOVE HIM.

Man, what do you do when you know the truth, when it’s stretched out in front of you, silent?

If you’re Matt Miller, you totally do the right thing. So much love.

POC Reading Challenge: 3

Source: Library

Book Review: The Eternal Smile

In three very different stories, master storytellers Gene Yang and Derek Kirk Kim pit fantasy against reality, for good or for ill.  Subtle, surprising, and entirely entertaining.  The Eternal Smile delves into our dreams, and the unexpected places they lead.

That’s from the inside flap of The Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim.  It’s a short story collection in graphic novel format, and, as the description says, all three are about how fantasy affects reality and vice versa.  The three stories are “Duncan’s Kingdom,” “The Eternal Smile,” and “Urgent Request.”

What I Liked

– If I had to pick a favorite story, it would probably be “Urgent Request.”  The artwork is amazing, and the storyline is quietly affecting from beginning to end.  Janet is empowered by her online experience, even though we know from the beginning that she’s responding to a scam (it’s the Nigerian prince dealio).  It just went in an interesting and unexpected direction.

– The twists of all three stories are pretty ace.  That moment when it’s clear what they’re doing and what the message is just really hit it.  All three got me right in the gut, they were so heartbreaking.

– I like that all three have different things to say about how reality and fantasy go together.  Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.  But it’s not all good or all bad or any extreme really.

What I Didn’t Like

– The drawings in “Duncan’s Kingdom” and “The Eternal Smile” are kind of garish, but they make sense in the story.  For both, though, it wasn’t until the end that it became clear why they were drawn the way they were.

– I didn’t really connect with the narratives (except for “Urgent Request”).  I appreciate them as art, and I liked the endings, but I was just reading to see what would happen without really caring about the characters.

In conclusion:  It’s a fast read, and the endings pack a wallop, but I’d probably only really call one out of the three stories a good story that I would want other people to read.

POC Challenge:  4/15; YA Reading Challenge 8/75

Book Review: Athletic Shorts

“Superman’s not brave. […] He’s indestructible. You can’t be brave when you’re indestructible. It’s guys like you and me that are brave, Angus. Guys who are different and can be crushed–and know it–but go out there anyway.”

Athletic Shorts:  Six Short Stories by Chris Crutcher is…a book of six short stories.  All of the stories except one feature characters from his books Stotan!, Running Loose, and The Crazy Horse Electric Game.  Of those books, I have read exactly none–not that it matters.  The stories are accessible and stand up well on their own.  They are also slightly spoilery for the other books–not that that matters either.  If anything, they made me more interested in the stories and worlds featured.

What I Liked

– My favorite story is probably the first one, “A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune.”  Mine and Hollywood’s since it was turned into a movie.  At any rate, Angus’s parents are awesome, his voice is awesome, and the story is a lot of fun.  It’s one of the two more light-hearted of the six stories, so that’s also a plus.

– Even though these are short stories, they are clasic Chris Crutcher, dealing with issues of death, racism, abuse, guilt, homophobia, and bullying.  You know, the usual.

– “The Telephone Man” is the story about racism and it is uncomfortable to read because it’s from the POV of a racist, but I liked its honesty.  Before each story is a small explanation for it, and this is what Crutcher says about Telephone Man:

Racism speaks volumes about those who hide behind it, says exactly nothing of those at whom is it directed.

I think the story does a great job of exposing the kid who hides behind racism and also where he gets his ideas.  (Hint:  It’s his daddy!)

– I loved the story about homophobia.  It was very affecting.  Great characters.

What I Didn’t Like

– I think there was maybe one story I’d count as a weak link.

In conclusion:  One weak link makes for a very solid short story collection.  It’s  a great introduction to the themes that dominate Chris Crutcher’s works as well as to his storytelling style.  I liked it a lot.

YA Challenge:  3/75

Diversity Roll Call: Short Story Stroll

The current Diversity Roll Call is for short stories, and I have decided to share three of my favorite short story collections.

Twice Told:  Original Stories Inspired by Original Artwork by Scott Hunt – The concept for this collection is pretty simple:  two authors were sent one drawing by Scott Hunt and then asked to write a story about it.  The brilliance of this collection is that the stories very often deal with very similar things to resolve the picture.  It’s kind of uncanny.  For example, one of the pictures is of an axe on a table with a cake; both stories deal with gender expectations.  One picture is of a little kid in a bunny suit; both stories deal with inappropriate sexual attention.  One picture is of a man in front of a donut shop; both stories are about girls scared to confront their pasts.  The other great thing is that I read that book two years ago at least, and I still remember those stories clearly.

I Believe in Water:  Twelve Brushes with Religion by Marilyn Singer – This short story collection is all about religion, and the different encounters and struggles people have with it.  Great collection because it opens up possibilities and understanding.

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer – I don’t remember all of the stories in this collection because I read it several years ago, but the one about the teacher rang especially true with me (and I think even inspired a lesson plan).  And I do remember that Packer is an awesome writer and reading this collection led me to seek out more of her work.