May The Odds Be Ever In Your Favor

Sad day! I finally finished Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series. The last book in the series was Mockingjay, and while it was amazing I agree with the majority that it wasn’t the best in the series.

But first, I have to apologize for my last post because I wasn’t my usual chipper, witty self. Or at least my mamma says I’m witty. Heather, my 19 year-old baby sister, is the brilliant one and I’m the witty one. Yeah, we’ve been labeled. Thanks, Mamma.

I have just been plum exhausted with the holidays (apparently getting people their gifts on time is exhausting), work, and preparing for my lover’s surgery. I’m actually at the hospital waiting for him to get out of surgery now. Send your good thoughts our way because he’s going to need them, especially since he has me as his nurse. For those of you who know me I am not the warm, nurturing type, like at all. I mean I’m definitely capable enough, he’ll have food, ice, meds, and anything he else he needs, but I’m not the type to coddle or fluff pillows, it just isn’t in me. He calls me Nurse Ratchet and even though he made me watch that movie, I still don’t get it. Whatev because I’m all he has. Poor Aaron.

Back to the book. I really loved the whole series. A friend of mine read it a couple of summers ago and highly recommended it. So glad she did because it really was that good! Now we’ve already established that I am a crazy nut of a Harry Potter fan. Like we’ll have words if you have a problem with HP. I once got into a heated debate (yes, a heated debate) with someone, who had only ever watched the movies, and was complaining that there were holes in the story. Um hold the phone mother fucker! There are no holes in HP; Rowling is a genius. Point is I’m attached to the Harry Potter series (obsessively attached) and while I don’t have that type of attachment to the Hunger Games it is still way up on my list of favorites. And far surpasses the Twilight series.

Confession time. A lot of my friends love the Twilight series but the thing is, they are written horribly. I mean yeah it’s a nice love story and yes, I couldn’t put the books down once I started, but that doesn’t change the fact that the words on the page are written at a fifth grade level. So if we’re comparing the series against one another, we have HP vastly above the others, then Hunger Games, and then Twilight. Hear that Twihards? If you have yet to read Hunger Games, or HP for that matter, pick up a book and get going. Today.

Also, I realize that I go off on tangents but that’s how I roll. So once again back to the book. The series starts off with the first book the Hunger Games. The story is set in a post apocalyptic world, you know how I love end of the world scenarios, years past the end of our current civilization. North America has been divided into districts that are controlled by the Capitol, which is located near the Rocky Mountains. The districts are all required to provide a certain service for the Capitol depending upon the resources their districts contain. In the past, the districts had tried to rebel but it ended horribly for district 13, which was demolished during the rebellion.

 To remind the districts of their folly during the rebellion the Capitol created the Hunger Games, a type of cage match tournament where two tributes, children only, are randomly picked from every district to compete against tributes from the other districts. The tributes then fight to the death, as there can only be one victor.

Okay, well that’s the general overview of the series and I don’t want to go too much into the last book in case you haven’t started the series yet. I will say that throughout the series we meet some pretty amazing characters. Our leading lady, Katniss is incredible. She’s independent and strong (no depressed teenager crying in the woods in this series!) even though her life is really, really hard. I also appreciated that Collins took care to show the emotional struggle Katniss experiences throughout the whole series. And the men in her life! Oh the men! You’ll fall in love with both of them or at least I did. What I found particularly unique about this series is that I didn’t choose a team, I mean with Twilight I was definitely Team Edward, without a doubt, but for this series I loved both the men and as a result I was torn for three books, which is probably what Collins wanted. Way to go with that Collins.

More exciting news, the first movie will be coming out in March and I can’t wait! I love going to see the movies of books I’ve already read. There’s an air of excitement about it. I just went and saw The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo with a bunch of my friends last week and really enjoyed it. I felt like it took all the good parts of the book (and got rid of all the financial crap) and created an astonishingly gritty portrayal of the book. My friend, Jen (oh my gosh you’re becoming famous!), recommended that I start this series so I don’t really count this book as one of my great picks that become movies, same with Hunger Games. But I did just find out today that the book from my last post, Every Secret Thing, has been picked up as a movie project. So yeah, I’m still on a roll.

And onto the next . . . I just started Stephen Crane’s Red Badge of Courage.

For all you mystery/crime readers out there

I was doing so good at not starting another book until I posted about the previous one ….. until now. I finished Laura Lippman’s Every Secret Thing over the weekend and because it was Christmas I decided to treat myself and read Mockingjay. Finally.

I enjoyed this book and it’s definitely one you won’t put down. The summary goes something like this . . . Two eleven year old girls, Ronnie and Alice, come across an infant, Olivia, sitting in her stroller on a front porch and decide to take her because, to them, it seems as though she has been abandoned. Fast forward seven years and the little girls, now 18, are being released from a juvenile detention center where they were incarcerated for the death of Olivia. Soon after their release, toddlers around the area go missing, some only for a few minutes and one for much longer.

What unfolds in the following pages is the story of what occurred that fateful night and how many women’s lives were affected by it. I like that the story was told from the perspective of all these women, from the homicide detective who was a young police cadet when she found Olivia to Olivia's mother to a reporter covering the cases of the recent missing children.

Lippman did a great job of developing these characters and showing you their deepest thoughts, some of which made me very uncomfortable. Seriously, you know those thoughts that even you are ashamed to being having and try to shake away? Well, these characters have lots of those. One part in particular that sticks in my mind is when Olivia’s mother takes notice of how unfortunate looking Alice is compared to her mother. She wonders how hard it must be for a beautiful mother to raise a child who is anything but and then she realizes she doesn’t have to wonder because she knows, well, knew. It was such a subtle but poignant part to me because at that moment you can feel her pain at thinking that her now dead child was never going to be as pretty as she is and then, automatically, thinking what kind of horrible person thinks that about your own murdered child?

The book’s ending is a twist, which is nice given that this is a thriller, but it did feel kind of rushed at the end.

What I didn’t like about the book was the constant problems with food and weight that the characters had. Maybe it was necessary to develop Alice’s character, but I felt as though it was incredibly repetitive for some of the other characters. And yeah, I’m nitpicking but it bugged me.

And onto the next. . . As I said I’m finally reading Mockingjay!! Crazy excited to finish the series but also super sad. I always feel like I’m losing friends when I finish a good book and it’s even worse with series. So if y’all know of any good series that can help fill the hole in my heart that Katniss is leaving let me know!

Who knew American Horror Story would dish out such literary gems?

I just finished reading a short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilmore called The Yellow Wallpaper.

I came across this little gem while watching American Horror Story. Have you guys seen this show?! It is so bizarre and creepy that I won’t watch it if I have to leave the house before the sun comes up, seriously some episodes are just that scary. Anyways, if you haven’t seen the show there was this one episode where the adulterous maid was explaining to the mistress of the house (yes, I said mistress. If you have a maid and live in a mansion in my eyes your title is automatically upgraded to mistress), that men are crazy possessive types. To illustrate her point, the maid described the story about The Yellow Wallpaper.

Moira the maid to the Mistress of the house:

Haven’t you read “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilmore? Her husband—a doctor—locks her away in the upstairs bedroom to recuperate from a slight hysterical tendency. Staring at the yellow wallpaper day after day, she begins to hallucinate that there are women trapped in the pattern. Half mad she scrapes off the wallpaper to set the women free. When her husband finally unlocks the door, he finds her circling the room, touching the wallpaper, whispering “I finally got out of here.” Since the beginning of time, men find excuses to lock women away. They make up diseases, like hysteria. Do you know where that word comes from? The Greek word for “uterus.”

(I tried to find a youtube clip of the scene but of course FX took it down because of legal reasons, blah blah)

She made it sound so interesting and desperately sad that I just had to read it. Also, I’m not sure if you all care how I come across the books I read, but I kind of feel like how I end up with most my books is a part of that book’s story, and I want to share it with everyone.

So more about the book, the good news is that you can all get the story for free! That’s right! (Said in Pauly Regan’s voice!) I was able to download it for free via the Kindle, which is like crack by the way. At first I was so against getting one for all of the obvious reasons, you lose the touch and feel of a book, it’s electronic so you’re going to be iffy about taking it near the water, ect . . . But now that I have one I love it, except for the fact that I spend way too much money on books now. Being able to buy any book I want, at any time shouldn’t be an option for someone like me. Like I said it’s like crack, you know, if you were a crackhead. 

More good news about the story is that it’s short, really, really, short, as in read in thirty minutes short. So no excuses my busy friends; free, short, and a good read, this story is like the holy grail of books. Although I’m only guessing it’s like the holy grail because I don’t really know what that is, except that maybe it has something to do with Indiana Jones, but again I’m not sure because I haven’t seen any of those movies.

As for the plot line, there really isn’t any point in going into depth about the story because it’s so short and Moira explained it pretty well. But I will say that I liked how the author told the story from the woman’s perspective as a type of journal; it really displayed the wife’s descent into madness. I also appreciated that Perkins gave the impression that someone else had also lost his or her mind in that room. She describes this “smooch” along the bottom of the walls, as though someone had rubbed their shoulder along the walls over and over to create this mark. Can you imagine walking in on someone creeping round and round a room?! It freaks me out, especially because people crawling about terrifies me, nothing good comes from people crawling. Ever.

So yeah, y'all should read it.

Also, my husband says that I’m going to get some kind of emo cult following if I don’t start reading and posting about more uplifting books. Well I can tell you right now my next book is a crime mystery, so chances are it will not be a departure from my past posts.

And onto the next …. I started Every Secret Thing by Laura Lippman.

PS. Still reading The Grimm Fairy Tales and the first ones I’ve read have been kind of disappointing.

A YA Novel Filled With Too Many YA Problems

Just finished Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher.

Clay Jensen receives a mysterious package in the mail, which contains 7 cassette tapes. The voice on the tapes belongs to Hannah Baker, a girl from his school who recently killed herself. From beyond the grave (too cliché?) Hannah directs Clay, and the other people who will receive the tapes, to listen to her story and find out how they played a part in her death.

The plot sounds interesting right?! Well I thought so too at first, but unfortunately the book fell short. To start off with, it’s a young adult novel (Yes, I know another one. Don’t judge me) and instead of being clever or insightful I thought it was only filled with teenage angst. Okay, I know. It’s a YA novel about suicide what did I expect? Well, I kind of expected there to be some mystery or serious wrongdoing on the parts of the tape receivers but no dice. Instead, the book mostly centers on high school drama, which caused me to roll my eyes at the stupid stuff Hannah couldn’t get over. 

Even still, in the beginning of the book you’re led to believe that the last person to receive the tape did something unforgivable to Hannah, so I chugged along and didn’t judge her too harshly. I mean something really bad must have happened to cause her to do something so permanent. But no, the end just kind of pitters out and you’re left feeling kind of pissed off.

Another thing that bugged me , but I quickly got used to, was the way the author arranged the dialogue. One minute you’re following Hannah’s voice on the tape recording and in the next Clay’s mom is interrupting him. It was very jumpy and weird at first.

The only saving grace of the book was Clay, and when Hannah describes why Clay is in her recordings it’s actually quite touching. But, and it’s a big fat but, that one chapter does not save the book! So my advice is to skip it, unless, of course, you're a high schooler who needs to learn to be nice because your actions can hurt others. 

I do feel obligated to mention that this book has won a ton of awards, so maybe I’m crazy in not liking it. But I doubt it.

And onto the next…I’m going to start reading the Grimm Fairytales but as you can imagine the book is crazy long so I may only read a few of the stories at a time while consecutively reading something else. 

More to come. B

Very Peculiar Indeed.

Just finished reading Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children and I loved it!

But first…..have you guys seen the posters for Tim Burton’s new movie, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter?

Seriously, this is not as weird or dumb as it sounds. 

Well, it’s also a book that I just read last year. And here’s the thing, I don’t want to say I have a knack for these kinds of things, but really I do. No, seriously, a healthy portion of the books I read become movies. Why? Probably because I pick amazing books. Or maybe it’s just because I read a shit ton of books. Either way it happens a lot and it inevitably leads to the same conversation between me and my husband whenever a movie preview comes on tv:

Me: Aaron! Did you just see that?!

Aaron: sigh, what?

Me: That movie! It’s a book, that I already read.

Aaron: Oh okay that’s cool (not showing nearly enough enthusiasm for my taste)

Me: No, Aaron, don’t you see? EVERY book I read!

Aaron: Brittany, I said that’s really cool.

Me: Never mind, I’m just saying I have a gift here.

Aside from no one caring about my obvious talent for choosing books, there are some other things that bug me about the whole book to movie thing. Like I hate that they print books with the movie covers, I mean is that necessary? Why do I need a book with some actor’s face on it? Especially when the author went to all the trouble picking out a cover they felt represented the book?

And I hate that everyone starts talking about the book like it’s this new amazing thing when really it’s been out forever! For instance, I read The Time Traveler’s Wife in 2005 and then the movie came out in 2009. So for four years no one gave a damn, and then BOOM! People see a movie trailer with Rachel McAdams (who I adore!) and everyone and their mother loves the book. Kills me.

But a positive thing coming out of this is that authors are now making mini book trailers to get people more interested. Kind of neat, really. Here’s the one for Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children:

Kind of creepy right? I first came across this book on one of the many days I was studying for the bar at the Barnes & Nobles by my school, and the vintage(ish) cover grabbed me. As you can tell by the trailer, the book is primarily about children with unusual abilities and their headmistress, Miss Peregrine. But the book is so much more than that! Our main character is Jacob a 15-year-old boy who was unfortunate enough to discover his dying grandfather and learn of his last wishes. From there, Jacob’s mission unfolds. He is supposed to find the mysterious island where the peculiars live and learn their secret. I can’t really give much more of the plot away without spoiling the book for you but I will say that the ending was left open and I foresee a series developing! 

So what did I love about the book? Well, it isn’t a sugary, corny young adult book. Riggs wrote the book in a way that leaves you feeling unnerved, but in a good spooky way. Also, the story is supported by various photographs, which are laced throughout the book. And get this; nearly all of the photographs are authentic! Apparently, there are collectors out there who find and amass random, unique pictures. Riggs borrowed some of these photographs and has brilliantly integrated them into the book. Don’t worry; it’s not a picture book by any means, the pictures only add to the atmosphere Riggs has created.

On a side note, I would recommend that if you plan on reading this book to buy an actual copy and forgo a Kindle or Nook version. The cost isn’t much different and I just feel like this is one of those books that should be held.

And onto the next….. I’ll be starting Jay Asher’s Th1rteen Reasons Why

Update:  Okay, so remember my knack for picking books?! Well ..... while I was searching online for the book trailer to post on here I found out that they’re making this book into a movie!!! Freaking random, but I told you!! See now y’all can read it before a movie trailer comes out and be like “Oh, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, I read that ages ago.” You’re welcome. 

Love me some Erik Larson

Have y’all heard of Erik Larson!? If not you’re not alone, most people that I talk to haven’t. But this needs to change. Like now. This week I read his latest, In the Garden of Beasts.

I first came across Larson during my summer down south in Alabama. I had decided to branch out in my reading preferences a little bit because it was the first time since law school where my work and studying schedule wasn’t too crazy. So glad I did because the man is a genius. Seriously.

I guess the best way to describe Larson’s writing style is that of an entertaining historian. Technically, it falls under the rubric of Popular History. He takes a historical event and using letters, memoirs, journals and pretty much any other reliable historical scrap, he pieces together a story from it. The result is that you end up learning about a piece of history from a uniquely personal perspective and it’s bloody brilliant.

In the Garden of Beasts follows the rise of Nazi Germany as seen through the eyes of the American Ambassador assigned to Germany in the 1930’s, William Dodd, and his daughter, Martha. And I know that you’re sarcastically thinking “Oh yay! A history book on Nazi Germany, exactly what I want to read,” but stop that nonsense right now because the book is A-Mazing.

The true star of the book is Martha. When she first arrives in Germany she immediately falls in love with the storybook scenery of the country. And let me tell you, I felt the same way when I visited Germany. To me the place looked like Disneyland with its gingerbread trimmed buildings and breathtaking backdrops. Not to mention how clean everything was. Out of all the places I’ve vacationed Germany is one of my favorites.

Tell me this doesn't look like it's out of a fairytale. 

Okay so I went a little crazy with the pictures, eh.

Anyways, back to the book… So Martha’s enchantment with the country logically led to her fascination with its’ current leaders, the Nazis. This is where the book really interested me because I still have trouble understanding why the Nazis retained power for so long, I mean how is it possible that they went unchecked for the amount of time that they did?! The typical historical explanations always focus on the treatment of Germany during the Versailles treaty and the world’s hope for peace after WWI. In contrast, this book attempts to provide an explanation for the world’s appeasement of Hitler from a personal point of view. For instance, in the beginning, Martha’s, and others’, love for the Nazis wasn’t tarnished by the government’s acts against the Jewish population because the degradation of the Jewish population started so slowly and on such a small scale that it didn’t cause an outrage among the world at the time. In fact, many persons of the Jewish community were still attending parties and dinners with the Nazis when Martha first arrived. Although to be honest it wasn’t even until nearly every Jewish person lost their civil rights that Martha and Dodd started to become disenchanted by how the Jewish people were being treated, mostly because of the anti-Semitic attitude of the world in the 1930’s. It was astonishing to actually read Martha and Dodd’s words concerning Jewish people or the Jewish problem as they called it, especially since they were considered to be the average moderate person. Before reading this I never really understood how widespread and prejudiced people at that time really were.

If the history of it all isn’t enough to draw you in, the sex will. Larson gives us accounts of all of Martha’s torrid love affairs. The lady got around! She had affairs with the Chief of the Gestapo at the time (who believe it or not was very moderate as far as Nazis go) princes, French statesmen, and even a member of the Russian KGB. Crazy right?!

Another thing I love about Larson’s writing style is that he sneaks in fun, seemingly random facts throughout his books. Although he didn’t do that as much in this book, which left me feeling kind of cheated.

All in all I liked the book but not as much as The Devil in the White City, which simultaneously detailed the growth of the Chicago World Fair and the life of a serial killer who lured in his victims by creating a sort hotel of horror complete with in room gas ventilation systems designed to knock the occupant unconscious. Again, craziness. So if this is the first you’ve heard of Larson I recommend starting with The Devil in the White City and then give In the Garden of Beasts a whirl.

And onto the next….. I’m currently reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and so far it’s really good. Like hard to put down good. 

Bring on the Nostalgia

I just had my monthly book club with my law gals on Friday, so I’ll be sharing my, and their, thoughts on Julian Barnes' Sense of an Ending.

One of my friends (here’s looking at you Jen!) had the idea of starting this “club” (we're really not serious enough to be an actual club, no really, we aren't) so we could all meet once a month now that law school is over. It makes my heart happy because I miss them! Seriously, we spent nearly every day together in stuffy study rooms and classrooms memorizing and applying incredibly boring laws (Damn you future interests!) for three years and then BAM, it’s over. So having a standing time to get together is amazing. Each month is hosted at different girl’s house, and we do dinner and drinks (I’m always a fan of drinks) and whoever is hosting that month picks out the book we’ll read. Although I do have a confession, we spend very little time discussing the book, as in maybe 10 minutes. Whatev, it’s more about catching up, and did I mention the drinking?

This month my friend Meghan was hosting in Philly and I nearly didn’t finish the book because I waited until the night before to really start reading it, and of course, I decided that it would be a great idea to bake Christmas cookies for the girls. Great idea yes, but in practice baking and decorating 50 cookies takes a freaking long time. Apparently.

Get the recipe at So Good!

Well about the book, I’m really struggling with how to write this because I want to share but not too much, you know? I mean let’s face it, y’all are going to fall so in love with my posts that you’re going to want to rush out and read the book, and I don’t want to ruin the endings for you. A few summers ago my mom was reading one of the Twilight books (yes, my mom has read Twilight, but not Harry Potter and, yes, this is only my second post and I have mentioned Harry Potter yet again, which means it’s bound to keep happening) at the pool and a lifeguard, with his face deadpan, told her that Edward dies in the end. He left it at that and my poor momma was left believing, until she finished the book, that Edward truly was going to die. The point to my ramblings is that I don’t want to do that to you guys. So bear with me while I figure out how to exactly share but not over share.

Okay about the book, for real this time. Our main character, Tony Webster, is an older man who starts to delve into his memories and the past when he receives a legacy out of the blue from someone he knew long ago. The legacy brings forth countless questions about the devisor and his old flame Veronica, who dated a close friend of his and who has been dead for many years. The crazy thing is that the story is really just background for the true purpose of the book, which is to demonstrate how truly faulty our memories of the past can be. For instance, throughout the book Webster is our narrator and the author does not shy away from giving you the impression that Webster’s perception of the past can’t be trusted. I was seriously second-guessing everything this man thought. I especially took issue when Webster described his memories of Veronica, which I believed portrayed a slightly frigid, but on the whole average girl, and then later his present self would remember her as being a horrid bitch. However, when I brought this up at the book club some of the other girls felt as though Webster’s memories did depict Veronica in the same manner the whole time, so it’s all open to how you interpret it.  

Another apect of the book revolved around Webster’s remorse and nostalgia for the past. Webster, who is recently retired and long time divorced, ruminates on how he expected his life to turn out, people he misses, and acts he wishes he could take back. This really hit a chord with all of us girls. I’m telling you this book made me sad (like dark cloud hanging over my head sad) and left me brewing up my own special brand of nostalgia and remorse. But hey, isn’t that the point of a book, to make you feel something?

Overall, I enjoyed the book, even though it’s more on the haughty taughty side of my reading preferences. It’s short, only 163 pages, so you’ll probably read it in one sitting and then be stuck quietly reflecting on why you’re not a millionaire yet or why you lost touch with those people who were once your best friends.

And onto the next….the book I’m currently reading is Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts. Love this author and pretty excited to sink my teeth into it. 

The Beginning!

Wow! I have been wanting to put the pen to paper for awhile now, (well since I saw my baby sister’s blog cataloguing her time in Europe, it really is amazing check it out: primarily so that I have an outlet to share my thoughts on all of the books that I read. My husband is becoming incredibly bored with hearing about them; he’s not really a reader (I judge him for it) so writing about them is good way for me to get my thoughts out there without annoying the crap out of him. In addition to describing and reviewing the books I read, I also wanted a place where my friends can recommend new books to me and give me their opinion of a book we’ve both read. I think that’s the beauty of books, different people can dive into the same book and share in the magic of having experienced that book together. I think that’s part of the allure of the Harry Potter series (along with it being the most amazing set of books ever written); I can connect instantly with anyone who has read the books because we have already shared an experience together.

Anyways, I feel like I’ve been in a reading frenzy lately because the last three years of my life have been so centered on law school and, along with sucking the soul right out of you, it really curbed any desire I had to read for pleasure. So now I feel like I’m making up for lost time and have literally been reading any book that I can get my hands on. I’ve started a lot of book series because apparently that’s what hot right now, but I haven’t finished any of them. I’m really odd because I like to savor stuff, like with my meals I always save my favorite foods for last. This always turns out to be a horrible idea because it’s usually cold or I’m full by then, but I do it every time and that’s how I am with book series, I want to keep the series going for as long as I can.

I recently started Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series (damn these young adult novels nowadays so good and addictive!), Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse novels because I’m in love with True Blood, and Geroge R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series. I’ve only read the first book of the Stackhouse novels, Dead Until Dark, and the first two of the other ones and I'm enjoying them all. Everyone’s been telling me not to wait to read Mockingjay, the last book in The Hunger Game series, but once I read it that’s it, sayonara Katniss, so I plan on waiting a little longer before I finish it off.

I just started reading Julian Barnes’ Sense of an Ending for my law gal’s book club and I’ll give you my take on it after I finish it. Normally, I don’t think I’ll be posting unless I’ve finished a book and have something to say about it but I wanted to get this thing going while I had a second.

More to come. B