Monthly Archives: November 2013

December Reading List

Hello everyone! Sorry for releasing this later than usual, but this one was a little tricky for me to put together. December’s theme for our “one book per week” challenge is “Month of Holidays.” My intention was to find books that would cover all the holidays in the month of December, but it was hard to find books to represent any holiday other than Christmas. I was a little ashamed that the book store had three aisles dedicated to Christian books and Christian fiction, but half a shelf dedicated to Judaism, and perhaps three shelves dedicated to “Eastern Religions.” I checked the comedy section and found plenty of books by Jewish authors, but nothing holiday related. I found tons of books online, but nothing downloadable, and nothing I wanted to pay $25 for.

So… I pieced together a list as best I could, and hope no one feels left out this month!

Dec 1 – 7 – Holidays on Ice – David Sedaris

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I am a big fan of Sedaris, who writes comedic novels about his life. In this book, Sedaris tells short stories about his family holidays in his youth, which will probably be hilarious and exceptionally entertaining! This will be a fun one to read along with, and I hope you can find it at the book store or the library (it has also been made into an audio book, so if you’re busy prepping for the holidays, this one will keep you entertained on your long drives). I’ll be honest – this book is short. I picked it for this week because I have three major essays due this week, and need to be able to spend my time focusing on my finals for my classes, rather than reading for pleasure. This one should be a good relief from the tension of finals week!

 

Dec. 8 – 14 – ‘Twas the Night After Christmas – Sabrina Jeffries

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I came across this one during a late night visit to Target with my husband. The store had put out their Christmas books, and I don’t think I’ve ever really paid attention before, but… there were shelves and shelves of trashy paperback Christmas books!! We had fun picking up the ones with the most ridiculous titles and reading excerpts aloud in the store, and we decided ‘Twas the Night After Christmas had the best potential to induce both giggles and blushing. I am not a huge fan of trashy paperback novels (oh, I’m sorry… “paperback romances”…) but I am doing this challenge to expand my horizons, and pick up books I never would have before. The cover alone was reason enough to know this was a winner (the most skin showing in Target’s aisles). I hope you can find it at the library or used book store – if not, you can get it on sale at Target or Walmart.

 

Dec. 15 – 21 – Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul – Arielle Ford

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Like I said before, I had a hard time finding books to represent other religions at this time of year, and this one was one way I could do that. This book takes short stories from people of all walks of life – different religions, backgrounds and countries – who have had experiences with angels, miracles and healings. I always find this time of year to be very magical, and I think a cup of hot chocolate is a great way to support our mystical souls during the holidays! This one might be a total dud, but it also might be enlightening and inspiring! I found it for $2.50 at the used book store, so … extra bonus!

 

Dec. 22 – 28 – A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

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Well, I couldn’t get through the holiday season without picking up this classic! I have never read it before – although I have seen about 100,000 movie adaptations (slight exaggeration). The week of Christmas is the best time to read this book, and I look forward to reading Dickens’s classic novel! I hope you’ll read along with me this week!

 

Dec. 29 – Jan. 4 – I Am Regina – Sally M. Keehn

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This one isn’t really holiday related, but I added it because, well, I am Regina! My birthday is December 31 and falls in the middle of this week, so I wanted to take the chance to read a book with my name in the title! This historical fiction novel is technically for children, but involves some pretty adult themes (a young girl’s family is killed by Native Americans, she is kidnapped and forced to live among them). I’m really looking forward to reading this one, and finishing out 2013 with a good book!

So there you have it – December’s “Month of Holidays” reading list! I hope you have time to get your books from the library or used book store (or download your ebook), and will join me for at least one book this month!

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Week 13 Reading: “The Sea Shall Embrace Them”

Hi everyone! Sorry for the late posting about this week’s reading. My family and I are busy visiting my in-laws in (not-so) sunny Arkansas. This morning, it rained ice. Not my idea of fun, but the setting is gorgeous, and it’s always nice to be around family!

This week we’re reaching the end of our November “Month of Travel” reading, and capping the month off with David W. Shaw’s The Sea Shall Embrace Them: The Tragic Story of the Steamship Arctic.

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This story brings us aboard the American steamship Arctic, and discusses a fateful collision with French steamship Vesta, which killed more than 400 people. The book comes recommended from my stepfather Grant (hi Grant!), and if he goes out of his way to recommend something, I know it’s going to be good! The book jacket comes with great write ups, calling the story “heart-wrenching,” “stunning,” and calls it a story of “anguish and horror, villainy and heroism of duty and death.” Sounds pretty excellent!

I have a feeling this will be another “up until 3am on Saturday morning finishing my book” kind of week, because I have to read an entire novel, and work on three essays for school this week – along with the familial duties of visiting with the in-laws! Wish me luck, and I hope you’re reading along!

 

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Book Review: “Gulliver’s Travels”

So, I’m running a little late with this book review (still Saturday, I guess). I’ve been scrounging to the the last 2/3 of the book done TODAY, first because I have homework due, and second because I needed to post this book review. My husband and I have spent the last two days (Thursday and Friday) on a road trip with our two kids from North Carolina to Arkansas, to visit my in-laws for the Thanksgiving holiday. While we really enjoyed the scenic drive, it didn’t leave much chance for reading (I get car sick). We also didn’t have a chance to get the audio book ordered, downloaded or borrowed from the library in the week before our trip – it was a very hectic week!

But, I managed to finish the book today (literally minutes ago), and I am right on time for this review!

This week we read our third book for November’s “Month of Travel” theme, and finished the 12th book of our book challenge. Our reading was Jonathan Swift’s classic novel Gulliver’s Travels.

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I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read this book before this week, but I am glad I picked it up. Besides being able to kill two birds with one stone (this book was required reading for my “17th and 18th Century British Literature” course), I really enjoyed Swift’s satirical novel!

Honest assessment: this book is kind of tedious. It’s an exciting adventure story following Gulliver on his travels to magical lands, where he encounters people who are described as vastly different than those of his home of London, but which are, deep down, not much different than the land of Gulliver’s origins. Swift brilliantly uses satire to comment on human nature, pointing out how we all have desires (for wealth, for immortality, for intellect), but it is in our nature to be disappointed with whatever our situations are, even if we achieve all these things.

My favorite part of the novel was Gulliver’s visit to Lilliput, where he encounters a race no more than 6 inches tall, where Gulliver towers over even the buildings. Swift satirizes the state of English politics, poking fun at politicians by calling them “small,” and comparing politics to circus performances. The comedy is tongue-in-cheek, and Swift blatantly bashes politics (particularly the King, Queen and the Whig party, who Swift himself clashed with), hiding behind the guise of telling a silly story (because, of course, politics are pretty silly).

Taken simply for the story, Swift still tells an interesting tale, that has stood the test of time! Navigating the language barrier got better through practiced reading (it was actually the punctuation that got to me, and I found myself inserting periods to separate the various ideas that were in each paragraph-long sentence).

Did you read along? Did you love the story? Did you have trouble with the language? Which race of people were your favorites?

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Week 12 Reading: Gulliver’s Travels

Hey everyone! This week we start the third book of November (how fast is this month going?!), and in keeping with our “Month of Travel” theme, we are picking up Jonathan Swift’s classic Gulliver’s Travels.

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I’m a little embarrassed to say I’ve never picked this one up before, but am really excited to finally tackle it. The added bonus is that it’s this week’s required reading for my “17th and 18th Century British Literature” class for my BA in English. I swear I picked out this book well before opening the syllabus for this book (otherwise I wouldn’t have bought my own copy if I had known I was going to get it as part of my textbook), but I did schedule it for this week so I could kill two birds with one stone. Reading an entire novel in a week is daunting enough, but it’d have been even tougher to read this entire novel AND a novel for my class, so I’m looking forward to the little break in my reading schedule!

I hope you’ll read along this week. If you’ve already read this one, I hope you’ll participate in the book club/review at the end of the week!

Happy trails!

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Book Review: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”

This week we tackled the second of our November’s “Month of Travel” reading, and this week we picked up Douglas Adams’ sci-fi comedy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

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To my friends who have been recommending this book to me for years on end – my greatest apologies that it took a book challenge for me to believe you. What an amazingly funny book!!!! I have always been a fan of British humor (and a huge fan of British sci-fi… as in “Doctor Who”), so I don’t why it’s taken so long for me to give in and pick this one up. Adams writes with such dry humor and an overabundance of wit, and I found myself literally laughing out loud while reading this. My poor husband was subjected to totally out of context aloud readings of things he couldn’t possibly understand, while trying to decipher what I was saying through all the giggles.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy follows three main characters – Arthur Dent (England Native and Earthling), Ford Prefect (Galactic Hitchhiker and content editor of the book), and the book, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which contains tips and tricks for galactic hitchhikers wanting to see the galaxy while spending very little money. The guide makes appearances by offering hilarious entries about various locations around the galaxy, including Earth’s entry… “Mostly Harmless.” Ford Prefect has been stranded on Earth for 15 years, and at the moment of its destruction, grabs a pint at the pub, and rescues poor Arthur Dent. Arthur witnesses the destruction of his planet with little emotion, and joins Ford on a dangerous trip hitching rides across the galaxy.

To avoid any spoilers, I’ll just say Ford and Arthur run into some very strange creatures, some familiar (to us Earthlings), and some impossible! Adams creates a great cast of comedic characters, from the flighty Ford, to the adaptable Arthur, a few alien races, and even the manic depressive robot, Marvin. Arthur experiences a very improbable few days throughout the book, one that promises to keep you entertained (and possibly exhausted, if you’re Arthur). This book is smartly written, full of laughs, and endlessly exciting!

This book was a much welcome break after the tedium of Letters From Amelia last week. The book kept me laughing, but I was a little disappointed at how abruptly it ended. I guess that’s why there’s four more stories, which possibly (?) follow Arthur and Ford, and the Guide, as they make their way across the galaxy. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to fit the second book into my reading challenge, but I might just need to play catch up next September when my challenge ends.

I hope you read along with me this week! I couldn’t stop laughing out loud, and had a hard time putting this one down. It’s tough not to move onto the next book, but I have both homework and housework to catch up on! What did you think about this book?!

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

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Throwback Thursday: Vintage Slang #3

Happy Thursday, friends! I always love Thursday, because it’s a sign of the impending weekend, and everyone on social media (well, you know… all the cool kids) participates in “Throwback Thursday.” I am a novice to Twitter, so I figured I’d catch onto the trend, and have Throwback Thursday right here on the blog.

How do you do a “throwback” on a blog? Well, I could write about old books, but I kind of already do that. Instead, I’ve been posting about an amazing set of cards loaned to be by my friend Anna (thanks, Anna), called Vintage Slang Flashcards.

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These cards are hilarious, and offer a dose of vintage slang dating back to the 18th century (not even joking). The funny part is they combine vintage words with modern pictures and situations. Take this week’s expression for an example: “off the cob”

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According to the back of the card, off the cob hails from 1935, and means “1. corny, over-the-top, maudlin” as in “I just saw an off-the-cob chick flick” with synonyms of “schmaltzy, twee, sappy, hokey, cornball” and; 2: unsophisticated or out of dates, esp. in a rural way” as in “Those overalls are so off the cob” with synonyms of “hickish, just off the boat, cornfed.” The pictures shows three girls on a couch, each on their own cell phone, with a quote of “I could cast a kitten, this text message is so off the cob.” Check it out:

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My challenge to you is to try to incorporate the expression “off the cob” into your vocabulary! Your friends will probably think you’re insane, but it’ll be a fun way to broaden your vocabulary and get in touch with former generations.

Check out my last Vintage Slang Flashcard post, Spizzerinctum (yup… it’s really a word).

Vintage Slang Flashcards are made by Knock Knock, and can be found at www.knockknockstuff.com … they’d make an excellent gift for the reader in your life… or someone who needs to expand their vocabulary (think about that while you’re doing your holiday shopping this year)!

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Happy Veteran’s Day!

Well, this might not have anything to do with books, but I wanted to send out a “Happy Veteran’s Day” shout out to all the veterans out there. If you read my “About” page, you’ll learn that I am a United States Marine Corps veteran, and happily married to an active duty US Marine. It takes a lot to be in the military, and a lot to be a military spouse, especially in a time of war, and I am exceptionally grateful to all those who have paved the way before me in both roles.

Yesterday – November 10th – was the 238th birthday of the US Marine Corps. Every year the Corps has a Birthday Ball, and every unit throughout the Corps, even the deployed ones, celebrate the history of our Corps. As a spouse this year (and no longer active duty), I was able to get glammed up and enjoy an evening of history and traditions. Here’s me and my handsome husband at the ball:

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We had a really great time celebrating the birth of the Marine Corps, and being in a room full of Marines in their dress blue uniform is never a bad thing! I just wanted to share because I’m exceptionally proud of my husband’s continued service, as well at my own time in the Marine Corps. Happy (belated) Birthday, Marines!

To all the Veterans out there – thank you all for your service. It is because of you all, and all the veterans of the past, that we Americans are able to live the lives we have, and take advantage of the many freedoms your service has assured us. I hope everyone out there will take the opportunity to thank a veteran or two today, buy them a drink, and let them know that you appreciate all the freedoms you have!

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