Audiobook Challenge Update


Audiobook

 

This post is to update my progress on the audiobook challenge!

I said I would listen to 30-50 books between January 1 and December 31, 2015. Let’s see how I’m doing (all titles are clickable to go to Goodreads!):

Venetia

Never Let Me Go

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

One Plus One

Still Alice

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

The Woodlanders

Cousin Kate

In Cold Blood

The Book of Joe

The Professor

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

The Invention of Wings

Wessex Tales

Joyland

The End of the Affair

Only Time Will Tell

Moral Disorder and Other Stories

One Last Thing Before I Go

Astonish Me

First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby

King and Maxwell

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Tales of the Jazz Age

This is Where I Leave You

I Capture the Castle

Adam Bede

The Sound and the Fury

This Side of Paradise

The Girl on the Train

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Madame Bovary

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

The Beautiful and Damned

Cranford

Well, I’ve listened to 35 audiobooks so far this year! That’s way over half of the novels that I’ve finished this year. Without audible and the library, I definitely wouldn’t read as many books. It was able to swap out a lot of my paperback books at paperbackswap, so I do have some that I want to read, but I usually opt for an audiobook first because I find them the most relaxing. I really liked As You Wish and Still Alice because both were read by the author!

What do you think about audiobooks? Do you love it when the author reads the novel?

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Categories: Uncategorized
Classics Club Membership Reviews

I couldn’t think of an easy way to link my reviews of my (eventual) 50 classic books the way that the Classics Club requests, since I do a simple round up at the beginning of each month. I do separate the contemporary from the classics, but I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to do a quick recap of all of the classics to update my membership!

If you want to know more about the Classics Club, you can go here! You are welcome to start your challenge, pick your number of books, and set your time period at any time!
For my membership, I am trying to read 50 books within two years. My deadline is December 24, 2016. You can read my projected list of books here. It’s already changing, though!

The Awakening

the awakening

Rating: ****

This is the first novel from my list of 50 Classic books that I read! It was a short, but good one that I had always meant to read, but never did.

Daisy Miller

DaisyMiller

Rating: ***

This novella by Henry James was fun look at cultural expectations placed upon women, which A Portrait of a Lady, which I read earlier in 2014, explored more in depth. (This novel was also read as part of my 50 books)

Little Men

little men

Rating: ***

I’m sorry. I can’t not compare this to Little Women. It’s like half as good, so 3 stars was a generous rating.

Cranford

book recommendations cranford

Rating: ****

This short(er) novel from Gaskell was much more fun and lighthearted than North and South, the only other novel that she wrote that I have read. I enjoyed the fist person narrative about the “quiet” country town that was anything but quiet. It was full of quirky characters who had a touching dedication to helping their neighbors–no matter how silly the circumstance might be.

The Beautiful and Damned

book recommendations the beautiful and damned

Rating: ***

I really wish that I had read this before I read a biography of the Fitzgeralds’ since it is semi-autobiographical. It was a little predictable because of that. I also wish that I had read This Side of Paradise first, since it was Fitzgerald’s breakout novel.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

book recommendations lady chatterley's lover
This novel was very interesting because I read it immediately following The Beautiful and Damned. The novel takes place during the Jazz Age, also, but it takes place in the UK. It dealt a lot with social classes, like The Beautiful and Damned, but it referred to World War I and the class changes a lot more than Fitzgerald. Money was discussed at length in both novels. Lady Chatterley’s Lover is much more explicit with sex than The Beautiful and Damned, which danced around the topic much more. Honestly, I was completely shocked that this novel was published in the 1920’s, due to the explicit nature of some of the scenes and language. Lady Chatterley’s Lover does mention jazz, dancing, and bobbed hair in passing, but it more about what love, sex, and intimacy means to men and to women. Lawrence wrestles with the three (love, sex, and intimacy) to see where and if they overlap with each other, plus how men and women might view them differently! Women and aristocratic women, specifically, are held to a different standard in Lady Chatterley’s Lover, as opposed to The Beautiful and Damned, where the men seem to be falling over themselves to make the American women happy.

Madame Bovary

Madam Bovary

Rating: ***

I didn’t love this, but I didn’t hate it. It’s not on my list of books to recommend to anyone, anytime soon. Honestly, I didn’t find Madame Bovary very sympathetic. I know the point that the author was trying to make, but it got lost among the tedious whining and immorality of Emma (Madame Bovary). I know that social conventions were different when the novel was written and where it was written, but that doesn’t change the fact that the main character was written in such a way that I really wanted her to be unhappy.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

the talented mr ripley

While I enjoyed the novel, I hated the fact that the novel ended on a cliff hanger! You have to read the entire series to get the whole story! I couldn’t bear 3 more novels of reading the tedious thoughts of the main character. He’s actually kind of boring for a murderer.

This Side of Paradise

this side of paradise

Rating: ***

I wanted to read this novel because it was the novel that gave Fitzgerald his start. Again, not my favorite book, but I can appreciate it for what it was, a portrait of the “lost generation.”

The Sound and the Fury

the sound and fury

Rating: **

Ok, I love Faulkner. Sanctuary and Absolom, Absolom are two of my favorite novels ever. This one, however, I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe I’ll try it again some day!

Adam Bede

adam bede

Rating: ***

I did enjoy this novel, however it was not Middlemarch. It wasn’t close. It felt like an early Thomas Hardy novel. The rural setting, unrequited love, odd/far-fetched situations, and may an attempt to make commentary on social mores and hypocrisy left me feeling like I really did just read something along the lines of The Mayor of Casterbridge (minus the the whole wife selling thing…).

I definitely enjoyed it, but I guess I was looking for something either along the lines of Middlemarch or something more original than an early Hardy novel with a slightly happier (only slightly) ending. So, if you DO want more Hardy novels, read this.

I Capture the Castle

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This novel was a reread for me! You can read all of my thoughts from a book club link up here! (Josie enjoyed it, too!)

Wessex Tales

wessex tales

Rating: ***

Some of these stories were insanely creepy. I can see why they are included in anthologies with Poe. I also think this was my last Hardy novel (well, short stories) to read!

The End of the Affair

the end of the affair

Rating: ***

This was an interesting novella. I can appreciate it for what it is, but it is not at the top of my recommendation list.
I honestly enjoyed the novella a little bit more in hindsight when I looked up some more information about the author and criticism of the novella. Putting it in context would have made the novella more entertaining, but I was afraid of spoiling the book!
It didn’t hurt that I listened to the audio version read by Collin Firth… 🙂

The House in Paris

the house in paris

Rating: ***

It took me a while to get through this book. The prose was very thick, so to speak. There were beautiful details and insight into human nature, but the French characters who spoke broken English made it harder to understand the middle part. I am glad I read the book, but I would not recommend that anyone rush to read it immediately.

The Convenient Marriage

the convienent marriage

Rating: **

Just not funny. I prefer Heyer’s funny novels. All these villains and “silly” women kind of rub me the wrong way.

What I Read

You can read my past monthly round ups:

February 2015
January 2015

December 2014

November 2014
October 2014
And other archived roundups here!

Also, you can find other individual book reviews, tips on saving money on Audible books, book recommendations based on genres and all things related to literature here!

Don’t forget that you can add me as a friend on Goodreads so I can steal ideas on what to read next–or see your ratings, so I know what to stay away from!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links that helps defray the cost of running the blog.

 

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Categories: Uncategorized
Currently {Vol. 10}


Currently
Well, if you haven’t been following along on Twitter or Instagram, you may have missed that I have had a LOT going on in my life in the last few weeks. I went to The Mayo Clinic, had my birthday, and had some bad customer service, among other things.

Ok, I know wrote my complaint post about Passionfruit. I have tweeted them in the past to complain about not getting my refund, too. Earlier this week, someone tweeted about leaving Passionfruit and going to AdProval, so I tweeted “Slow Clap.” And then, while I was complaining about the customer service of another company, I mentioned how they were like Passionfruit. Passionfruit favorited the tweet and then blocked me. That sure is a great business practice, in addition to being notorious for delaying refunds until you’ve publicly called them out.

I haven’t purchased a single ad from anyone using Passionfruit since August 2014, and I will continue that for…ever now.

Actually, after I tweeted that, an employee for the company started tweeting at me to “forgive” the company. I blocked her, so she emailed me. I should forgive bad customer service? She wanted to have a conversation about it? You can’t have a conversation about the fact that Passionfruit tried their damnedest to not give me a refund.

 

Last Saturday morning was nice to sleep in and recover from my trip to the Mayo Clinic. Yes, still recovering days and days later. My husband snapped this awesome picture of our dogs, but I used some newly acquired editing skills to make it look a little better!

Thank goodness for night mode on my phone.

The company that I was complaining about and compared to Passionfruit, in terms of getting my emails responded to was obviously datamining for mentions of their business. Good for them. You know what’s not cool? When the founder sees it and jumps into your conversation (where you did NOT tag them) and attacks you with his private account. Then your complaint emails about the ethics go unanswered. If this company had any competition, I would switch in a heartbeat. Their product is amazing, but seriously, answer your dang email.

JOSIE TURNED 3 YEARS OLD! We still haven’t had a chance to officially celebrate her birthday because I was at the Mayo Clinic on her birthday, but we will!

I haven’t worked in a pretty long time, but I officially left my job last Friday. My dad worked there for 30 years. I planned on working there a long time, too. I have no idea what the future will hold, but I hope it will help people.

So, I officially turned the big 2-7! I was still recovering from my trip, so nothing too fancy (Papa John’s pizza at home and cupcakes), but my husband had a custom made mug with a cartoon version of Josie made! I knew it had to be custom because he coloring is so strange. I have hand washed it every day, so I could keep using it. I love it that much.

Since I got sick, styling my hair has been very hard. It is thin and fine, so when it was long, I found myself curling it every single day, which was time consuming. Before I left work, I cut a ton of it off. After leaving work, all I wanted was a ponytail. Regular washing and styling for short hair was too difficult. Now, although I can get a baby ponytail, it makes me feel sad because I can never feel pretty like I did before I hurt so much. I had been thinking about getting hair extensions for a long time, so I decided to get a clip on ponytail. I absolutely love it! Within seconds, I can have hair that I’ve always wanted (in a bun or ponytail), plus I feel pretty again.

I am planning on writing a post with a few more beauty hacks for the chronically ill!

I haven’t watched American Idol in years, but a girl from my college, who currently attends, made it to Hollywood week, so we had to watch. Now we can’t stop watching. I love Harry Connick Jr., anyway. I definitely have my favorite singers, but I have a bone to pick with these “theme” nights. Just let them sing what makes them sound great!

Finally, the first day at the Mayo Clinic, I was unable to fast because they weren’t able to tell me when my bloodwork would be, but I needed to eat for my medication. So, I went ahead and had breakfast. Unfortunately, I had to register before the hotel breakfast started, so when we made coffee in the hotel room, all they had were these tiny little cups that were far too small. After double fisting them, registering, going to my first appointment, and then finally having a short break before more things, I bought the largest coffee possible in the cafeteria. I was up at 4 AM, 5 AM, and 6 AM on all the days that I had appointments, plus I didn’t sleep well over the weekend because of all of the stress. Don’t go there to relax. So, after my 6 AM blood draw and fasting, I ended up REALLY double fisting the coffee! I got some hilarious tweets #ilikebigcupsandicannotlie

I hope this caught you up a little, since it’s been awhile since I’ve done a Currently post. You can keep up with me real time on Twitter and Instagram!

 

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Categories: Currently, Uncategorized Tags:
10 Book Related Problems that I Have


I’m two days late to this party, but I just had to jump in – and hope to participate in the future because the prompts are so fun.

This week’s prompt is:

10 Book Related Problems that I Have

1. Time.

I know a lot of people would be envious of the amount of time that I have to read, but sometimes being sick gets in the way. I listen to books when I can’t get my eyes open, but I fear that I’m missing the really good parts. That’s why I save things like crime series (Hello King & Maxwell and your stupid narrators, music, and sound effects) or books that aren’t as important to me for those days.

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2. Too many books!

I want to read ALL THE BOOKS. My wishlist on PaperBackSwap is maxed out. I always have 10 books on hold (the max) at the library. I have audible credits and have figured out how to get classic audible books on the cheap. I also saw that buy 5 get one free book deal on Thriftbooks and had to buy the books that my library didn’t have. So, I have books crammed in the living room shelves, in the bedroom shelves, and all over my nightstand. It is not unusual for me to fall asleep with books in the bed.

gif-belle-books

3. Getting to the Library

It’s no secret that I have some mobility issues. I try to wait until the last possible date to pick up books, so as many as possible will be in and I can return finished books. Fortunately, my library is kind enough to let my family members pick up my holds, if they have my library card. I couldn’t use them, if that wasn’t possible.

love_the_library_logo_311

4. Deciding what to read next.

So, I have so many books that I want to read. It’s hard to pick what to go with next. Of course, I juggle a few books at once, but I am influenced a lot by recent reviews that I read, new books in series, books that I said I would read to review, and now that I’m trying to get back into writing essays, I’m trying to read more examples of good ones, plus advice on non-fiction writing.

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5. Fiction Vs. Non-Fiction.

My last problem brings me to the Fiction vs. Non-Fiction problem. I love fiction. I always have. My mom read books to me every single night before bed all the way through elementary school. I didn’t want her to stop when I was in the 6th grade. I was an English major, so that was quite a bit of fiction. I just gravitate towards getting lost in fiction. However, I love history. The history department at my school recruited me aggressively to be a double major, I was most of the way to an accidental minor in Religion and there was really only one history professor that I liked. I love authors who write about history in a way that makes it feel like a story. Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, and other books in that vein. And now that I want to work on my own writing, I’ve accumulated, but haven’t read those writing books yet.

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6.  Self-imposed pressure to read as much as possible.

Ever since I had more time to read and started posting quick reviews every month, I have been putting pressure on myself to read more and more. If I don’t read as many as the month before, I feel like I let myself and everyone else down. It makes no sense whatsoever, but I can’t cut myself a break.

CaarlaSAYS

7. Finding an author I love, but getting burned out.

Sometimes an author is so good that I want to read all of his or her books in a row. Some authors are really versatile, so this isn’t a problem, but other times, each book is individually good, but too many at once feels like reading the same book on repeat!

A6Fl0RK

 

8. Picking a medium.

Some books just don’t translate well onto audio, my preferred method for fiction. Even with the multiple narrators that new recordings are using, it can be hard. For example, I’m reading Astonish Me, which skips around chronologically. Even thought the narrator gives the new date at each change, I think that seeing it or being able to flip back a few pages to see what the last chapter was would be more helpful. One book that I picked up at the library in paperback, Dept. of Speculation, is probably best in hard copy, but sometimes you don’t know that until you’ve already started.

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9. Choosing reading over other activities.

I love to read, but I love to listen to music. I like some TV. I like other things, but reading is great companionship when I feel lonely and sick. However, sometimes I sacrifice other things I enjoy in the name of reading. I need to stop competing against myself.

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10. That TBR list that is out of control.

I read a review, see something on my Goodreads feed, etc., and it gets added. For every book I read, it feels like 3 get on the list. The fact that I like to sign up for online reading challenges is not helpful, either!

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Linking up with Broke and Bookish!

You can add me on Goodreads here!

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Categories: Reading, Uncategorized
The Potluck Dinner

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It was a few months after I received an official diagnosis. I dragged myself to a monthly potluck dinner that I had been attending every month for almost a year. Each month, my friends picked a theme, so we all brought something to fit the theme. I loved to go because one friend was in grad school, so I was always able to meet new people.

I would go to work early, so that I could leave early. I had gone home at 4 and fallen asleep, so I almost missed the dinner. I was still in my work clothes when I woke up. I put on some flat shoes, grabbed my contribution, and headed over to the dinner.

I had always enjoyed learning a new card game or sitting in the middle of the group after we ate, which was so fun. However, that night, I was in pain. I pushed myself to go through the pain because even though my body was failing me, my mind was still 24. My mind wanted to have all of the fun that a 24 year old feels entitled to have. At that point, I had been in pain for only about a year. In hindsight, a year of pain is laughably short, but at the time, I was already starting to fade into my new personality. My pain-personality.

After I picked at my food, I found a chair in the corner of the dining room. It was absolutely the opposite of where I used to be during the dinners. After awhile, I found myself sitting next to a friend. This friend was a salesperson for software. He was fun and nice to talk to because he was just as talkative as I used to be. His life was so interesting, but I couldn’t keep up small talk like I had been oh-so-good at before the pain. During our conversation, I tried to explain a little bit about my illness, but the weight of pain, diagnoses, treatments, medications, and still mysterious symptoms caused me to start tearing up. I excused myself and left the dinner.

During the 15 minute drive home, I bawled my eyes out. I wanted to participate in life. I didn’t want to leave that dinner. I didn’t want to be an observer of life. I wanted to live a life.

It’s over four years later. Probably close to five. That software salesman lives in New York City now. He quit his job to pursue his dreams. He acts in plays there. I’ve even gotten to watch him on my own TV at home since then. I’m even looking forward to seeing him on the big screen this summer.

Now, I sit in my recliner and write about my observations of life. My observations of the life that I lived in the past. I can reflect on that. I can reflect on how memories stick out. How two friends could have a conversation at a potluck dinner, but after four years, be separated by 600 miles and thousands of life and missed-life experiences. I’m not bitter. I don’t think. I am glad that he left his cubicle not long after that dinner to pursue a promising acting career. But I’m sad that I left my cubicle to sit in my recliner.

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Categories: Uncategorized