2019: Week 19 Reading Roundup

Sunday.May.5 – Saturday.May.11

AKA: the week of shiny new ARC’s + HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!! ❤

FINISHED READING: 3

Farewell, My Lovely (Philip Marlowe #2) by Raymond Chandler

​A good mystery but Philip Marlowe’s characterization felt off for some reason. Plus, the ending was neatly tied up. [3.5*]

Trump and Me by Mark Singer 

​A short and funny book about one journalist’s experience with whatshisface [3*]

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 

​SO DAMN GOOD!!! It was unexpectedly funny. Very insightful. Perfection. My favorite parts were the blog posts (they were real thinkers!) [4.5*]

CURRENTLY READING: 2

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

My current audiobook. Really enjoying it. About 42% through.

Truly Devious (#1) by Maureen Johnson

I’ve been wanting to read this YA mystery for a while now. Barely started it so I don’t really know how I feel about it yet.

UPCOMING READ:

Idk!

BOOK HAUL: 2

Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

An ARC I won through a Goodreads giveaway! 😀

The Virtue of Sin by Shannon Schuren 

An ARC I received from BookishFirst! I actually used my points to claim a copy of this book 😀

PUBLISHED POST(S): 1

My review of How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox can be found HERE

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE!! 😀

December 2018 Audiobooks

December was a disappointing month in terms of audiobooks. None of these listens really blew me away. 

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

I’ve always found this book to be a bit intimidating. Not because of it’s length, but because of the story. Granted, my knowledge of said story only extended as far as knowing Oliver is an orphan that is punished for daring to ask for more food. That’s it. That’s all I knew. And that premise has never caught my attention.
 
But, I wanted to check this classic off my list so I audiobooked it. And… while it wasn’t what I was expecting, I still only feel “meh” about it. 

Dickens has a way to of bringing the drab, dirty city alive. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed about his writing. And his characters! They all vary from one to the next. Although Oliver’s childish innocence reminded me of a young Pip. Anyway, the writing is great, the characters are interesting, the narration was on point, and yet I didn’t really care for the story. Hm.

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking

This book first came to my attention when my book twin Morgana @Morganas Book Box reviewed it. Now, I need to learn how to be happier so of course this book quickly went onto my TBR. When the audiobook became available on OverDrive, I jumped at the chance to listen to it. 

The main point I got from this book: comfort is key. The Danish embrace comfort on a whole other level. Candles, books, food. Anything can be Hygge if it makes you calm and relaxed. Seems simple enough to do. 

It was a quick, fairly interesting read. As an introvert, Wiking’s description of Hygge sounds like a beautiful dream. I’m not a writer, so I can’t really put it into words. But. If you read this book, then you’ll figure out what I mean 😉

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides 

I thought the concept of this book was interesting. A college love triangle where the girl in the middle (Madeleine) is writing her thesis on the marriage plot found within Romantic and Victorian novels. But it fell completely flat for me.

My biggest gripe is how utterly pretentious this book is. Dropping author names left and right and expounding their ideas. So you know who Marquis de Sade and Cheever are. Kudos to you, sir. 

I think this book is designed to be read and appreciated by a certain group of people (i.e. English majors and people who thoroughly enjoy discussing literary themes). Me, I don’t like to overthink books. So I didn’t like this book. 

The only reason I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads: Leonard. He is one of Madeleine’s love interests. He is also a manic depressive. I thought his representation was fairly done so I bumped my rating up. Other than that. Nope. Couldn’t stand listening to this book.

Recommend? Only to fans of The Secret History

Favorite listen? Definitely The Little Book of Hygge. A great little book from the CEO of The Happiness Institute. Plus, I found his voice to be so soothing! 

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

I fucked up. I read the foreword beforegetting to the actual story. Completely messed up my reading experience. 

I knew almost nothing about this book going into it. I knew it was supposed to be funny though. That’s it. I knew nothing about the story or about the author. Nothing. That is until I read the foreword. Something I never do. I usually go back and read it after I finish the story. But for some reason, I didn’t do that this time. 

Now, to the story. It’s about this 30-year old guy named Ignatius J. Reilly who has a completely unique worldview. His mother forces him to go out and find a job to help pay for a debt. What follows is a fantastic series of events that all interconnect and directly involve Ignatius and his antics.

I found this book to be depressing. I didn’t laugh or find any part of it funny. If you couldn’t tell I blame the foreword. I read waaay too much into this story. Way too much. I did like how it was equal parts offensive. See, it wasn’t all bad. Honestly though, I want to wipe this book from my memory. So that’s all I have to say about it…

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: a book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

[Someone in the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge Goodreads group recommended this book :/

Challenge Update: 48/50

The Pearl by John Steinbeck

​A Mexican parable that follows Kino and his discovery of a pearl.

When Kino’s young son, Coyotito, is attacked by a scorpion, Juana, the baby’s mother, calls for the doctor. But the doctor does not visit the home of the poor. So Kino and Juana set out with Coyotito to visit the doctor at his home. When the doctor discovers that they have no money to pay him, he refuses to see them. 

Kino sets out in his canoe and joins the ranks of other men in the water, searching for pearls. As luck should have it, Kino finds a big, beautiful pearl. And that’s when things go from bad to worse.
 
One of the morals I got from this incredibly short story is, be careful what you wish for. Kino looked to the pearl as some kind of savior. He hoped that from the money he got from it he would be able to give Coyotito a better life. But the pearl corrupted him, and drove him a bit mad. 

Throughout the story, Kino struggles between right and wrong. He has this idea of what the pearl will be able to provide and does whatever necessary to hold on to it. His wife and brother are the voices of reason he refuses to listen to. Because the idea has taken root deep within him. When tragedy strikes, Kino is finally able to see the error of his ways.
 
The ending is melancholy when you think about it. I won’t spoil it, but I will say I found it depressing. Because the way I interpreted it, the ending suggests there is no hope. Not the most comforting thought. 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: an allegory

Challenge update: 42/50

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck


The Joad family embarks on a trip from Oklahoma to California. Amidst the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl that hit the mid-west, the Joad family loses their farm in Oklahoma to the bank and are left financially devastated. They look to the west, to California, as a land of opportunity and begin a trip that despite everything they endure doesn’t break their spirit. 

I cannot emphasize how much I loved this book. It perfectly encapsulates the American experience. The Joad’s are trying to find a new home where they can work and prosper. All they want is a chance at a decent life. It’s an experience that transcends time. From Homo sapiens first leaving Africa, to the Puritans fleeing religious persecution in Europe, to the caravans of people that still look towards the States with hope. 

Anyway, the Joad family is consistently struggling to survive. They encounter trur hardships: near starvation, abandonment and death. So much death. But despite it all, they remain true to who they are. They don’t falter. No matter the obstacles, they continue to work hard towards their dream. And even though the Joad family has absolutely nothing, they consistently help other migrant families out in whatever way they can. 

A true American masterpiece.

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Prompt: a book with a fruit or vegetable in the title

Challenge update: 40/50

[Ten prompts left! *sigh of relief* My reading challenge posts may become sporadic because I’m smart and left some long reads until the end.]

Mini-Reviews: On Chesil Beach & Good Vibrations

Progress! Only two mini book reviews today haha. The weather is a little bit more bearable so I’ve actually been out and about in the world. Madness, I know. 

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan



The best way to describe this book? Awkward. 

Florence and Edward are virgin newlyweds in early 1960’s England. Edward is excited to finally consummate their relationship. Florence on the other hand, is repulsed. 

So, Florence and Edward are stuck in a society where marriage is the ultimate step towards adulthood. Societal constraints define their relationship. Is it any surprise their marriage is in trouble only hours after saying their “I do’s”? 

For a fairly short story, it packs a lot into it. Mainly dealing with the importance of communication. Florence is an interesting character. It is alluded to that she was sexually abused by her father. And as an adult she shows signs of being asexual. She is simply not into any sexual activity. When she and Edward fail to have sex on their wedding night, she finally reveals to her new husband how she truly feels about any sexual activity (i.e. It nauseates her), and well, he doesn’t deal with it too well.
 
A very poignant read, indeed. 

Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy by Mike Love with James S. Hirsch 

I went with the audiobook for this read. It made for a fun experience. Mike Love is a founding member, and frontman of the legendary group, The Beach Boys. Now, when it comes to celebrity memoirs, you have to take everything they write with a grain of salt. There’s a certain image of themselves they’re trying to portray, after all. Mike Love is no different.

Over the years, Mike Love has been vilified not only by the press, but by Brian Wilson’s devoted fans. This memoir, is his side to the numerous hurtful stories that have been spread about him. 

Mike Love’s ego is off the charts. But I guess when you’ve been a rockstar for over 50 years, a healthy sense of your self-worth is not surprising. His life story is remarkable. He doesn’t shy away from any of the unpleasantness in his life. All of the rumors are addressed. All of them. From the group’s formation, his relationship with his cousin Brian Wilson, his rivalry with Dennis Wilson, the mishandling of his song-writing credits, the band’s association with Charles Manson. 

I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. Whenever Mike Love talks about one of the group’s songs he starts singing a portion of it. Quite entertaining! Especially since after he discussed a certain song or album, I immediately listened to the music.

HAPPY BLOGGING EVERYONE! 😀

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I went into this book blind. I had absolutely zero idea what this book was about. Which was probably a terrible idea. 
​This book is surreal. Strangely magical? I didn’t have a clear grasp on what was happening. Which bothered me. Because this book is over 600 pages long and I still don’t understand how everything is interconnected. But I still kind of liked it?

Toru Okada is recently unemployed and drifting along. His wife works while he stays home. When their cat disappears, things take a strange turn. He starts to get weird phone calls from a phone sex operator, he meets his neighbor, young May Kasahara, and a slew of other characters appear. A lot of things happen. All leading back to his initial attempt to find the cat. It’s all very… weird. 

I don’t know. I was never fully immersed in the story so I was often quite bored. It took me weeks to finish the book. But there was something comforting I found about Toru. Maybe it was his own uncertainty with what was happening around him? Who knows. 

Can someone please explain this book to me???

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Update: 30/40(*50)

Prompt: a book with an animal in the title 

[I asked my 2-year-old to name an animal for me. “Birdy” is what she came up with. Which is how I ended up with this book. Ha! Should’ve read the synopsis.] 

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

​In a post-apocalyptic world, a man and his young son struggle to survive as they wander along a road heading south.

This is a fairly short book that manages to pack a punch. This little boy is being raised in a near-dead world. Gruesome scenes are a part of his everyday life. While his father is hesitant to help anyone they meet (with good reason!!), the little boy looks past his own fear and shows compassion. 

I’m not going to lie, this book scared the shit out of me. I had to set it aside multiple times. The reality portrayed in this novel seems very close to coming true. Which is damn terrifying. 

It is an extremely bleak read. What is the point of trying to chisel a life out in an already dead world? Are they lucky to have survived? Those are just some of the questions that continually crossed my mind. Questions that I have no answers for. 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge.

Reading Challenge Update: 28/40(*50)

Prompt: a book from a celebrity book club [Oprah’s Book Club. Her Reader’s Guide for this book can be found here.]

Memoria de Mis Putas Tristes (Memories of My Melancholy Whores) by Gabriel García Márquez

When I read the opening line of this novella, I was hesitant to continue reading because I was so sure it would be like Lolita. Thankfully it wasn’t. 

An elderly man wants to celebrate his 90th birthday by having sex with a young virgin. That was the opening line, in a nutshell. (You see why I paused?) Anyway, this man calls the local madame and gives her his request. Through her, he meets 14 year old Delgadina. (Not her real name). And so on his 90th birthday he wakes with Delgadina by his side. Except he doesn’t have sex with her. They continue to meet for about a year, with Delgadina remaining a virgin because pretty much all that happens is the old man watches her sleep. His infatuation with her grows though. But an incident happens that forces him to go months without seeing her. And although he is in peak health, the old man begins to die of love for her. 

Throughout the story, the old man recounts tales of his past sexual exploits. We also get a glimpse into his everyday life. He writes a column for a local newspaper. And when his feelings for Delgadina begin to grow, he starts to publish love poems(?) that everyone takes to be nostalgic musings. 

I read this novella in the original Spanish text. The language was beautiful. Gabriel García Marquez’s genius shines through. But. But my Spanish reading skills aren’t that great. 

I decided to challenge myself by reading this in Spanish. I don’t really use my native tongue that often. I’ve read only one book in español, Retrato en Sepia (Portrait in Sepia) by Isabel Allende, and it took me months to read. I had the same problem then as I had this time around: focus. It took me a while to get my mind to concentrate and make sense of what I was reading. It’s not easy to transition from one language you use 24/7 to one you unfortunately don’t use often. 
This is a 112 page story. What should have been a quick read, took me a few days to get through. So I would say I understood about 85% of what I read. That is how terrible my Spanish is. I really need to work on that. I might have to reread this in English sometime in the future because I feel there are some ideas I didn’t quite grasp. Which bothers me. 

Overall, I did enjoy the novella. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Which is a wonderful surprise. Not surprising? I need to spend more time reading books in my native language. Sigh.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Kambili is a 15 year-old girl living in politically unstable Nigeria. To the outside world, she is lucky to have the life she has because her privileged Catholic family is pretty perfect. In reality, Kambili’s father is not only strict, but physically abusive towards her, her older brother, Jaja, and her mother, Beatrice. When Kambili and Jaja stay with their aunt and cousins in a different town, they encounter a household full of laughter and freedom. Something they have never experienced before. A change occurs within them causing increased tension when they return home. 

God, this book! There is a tenderness in Kambili’s narration that quickly drew me to her. Her home life is far from ideal. Her father has instilled such fear in her that Kambili is completely closed off. She socializes with no one but her brother. Her time is either spent studying or praying because that is what her father demands. To stray from her father’s expectations is to incur his wrath. She seems so vulnerable that you hope everything turns out okay for her.

And then there’s Kambili’s father, Eugene. The guy is an asshole. He oppresses everyone in the household and then hides behind his religion. He tortures his children and cries as he does it. He beats his pregnant wife multiple times. When Jaja finally stands up to him, like Kambili I was terrified for the boy. Man, I was worried for all of them.

I absolutely loved this book. Parts of it hit a little too close to home. But the writing is exquisite and the story itself is captivating. It’s authentic. And this was her debut novel? Wow! As my first foray into Adichie’s writing, I can’t wait to get lost in her other books. 

2018 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge

Challenge Update: 24/40(*50)

Prompt: a book with your favorite color in the title 

[well, purple is my default favorite color haha. I couldn’t find any books with burgundy in the title that appealed to me. Recommendations would be appreciated! ☺ ]