Friday, June 27, 2014

on book 30 and the half way point.

i'm halfway done with my challenge and right on schedule, yo!

book 30 of 60: the death cure by james dashner
date started: 6.24.2014
date completed: 6.27.2014

thoughts:
y'all, i tried.  i really did.  i HATED the first book so much.  the second one was much better.  this one was somewhere in the middle.  

i don't think i'll move on to the prequel.  james dashner, i'm done.

probable next read: i have absolutely no idea. 

on book 29.

book 29 of 60: cartwheel by jennifer dubois

date started: 6.15.2014
date completed: 6.21.2014


thoughts:
i think i like this book.  it was engaging, and generally easy to read.  the fact that it was ripped off from inspired by the amanda knox case neither troubled or interested me--it was simply just a book.

similar to my experience with marisha pessl, though, the ending just kind of fizzled out for me.  there was so much build up about the main character's uniqueness and difference from those around her that the ending felt like a cheat.  instead of working through all the interesting parts of this girl, dubois just stops.  she gives you resolution, but noting feels resolved.  i did enjoy the fact that we never really find out what happened, especially since the details don't matter as much as the characters in this book.

but maybe the dissatisfaction is the point.  read the book and that sentence will make sense.

i don't know that i'd recommend this to anyone, but it certainly wasn't bad.

probable next read: the death cure by james dashner

Sunday, June 15, 2014

on books 25, 26, 27, and 28.

i'm a bit behind.  on the blog, that is.  i'm right on track with my reading goal, but since i'm teaching summer classes, i have VERY LITTLE time to do any writing of my own.  in fact, i should be grading and prepping classes for tomorrow as i type this very sentence, so this post will cover four books instead of one.

book 25 of 60: lost at sea: the jon ronson mysteries by jon ronson

date started: 5.24.2014
date completed: 6.9.2014




thoughts:
ugh...i have...trouble...with jon ronson.  i adored them: adventures with extremists, and was entertained by the men who stare at goats, but i've abhored everything else he's ever written.  

sidenote--his psychopath test is the book that taught me it was okay to cull--to just stop and put a book down in the middle if you aren't getting anything out of the read.

so i was doubtful when i picked this one up.  

it was fine. fine, not good, not bad--just fine.  the stories were quick, engaging, and varied.  i tolerated them and even found a few to be downright interesting/entertaining.
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book 26 of 60: four short stories by emile zola

date started: 6.3.2014
date completed: 6.8.2014



thoughts:
amazing, spectacular, peculiar, sad, and beautiful.  everything you would expect from the master that is zola. 

seriously, "the death of olivier becaille" might be the best piece of short fiction i've read in a very long time.
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book 27 of 60: percy jackson and the lightning thief by rick riordan

date started: 6.5.2014
date completed: 6.12.2014



thoughts:
while this book series tracks a bit younger on the YA spectrum, A LOT of my students love it, so i thought i would check it out.

it was fun, lighthearted, and a delight to read.  i'm a sucker for ancient mythology, so it was great fun to see how a contemporary writer could work figures like medusa into contemporary settings.  so much fun!

i plan on continuing in the series, when i get to it...
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book 27 of 60: confessions of a latter day virgin: a memoir by nicole hardy

date started: 6.12.2014
date completed: 6.15.2014



thoughts:
so i've had this memoir on my to be read for a long time, and some of my friends have read it and rated it highly, so i thought i would check it out.  plus, i've been craving a bit of narrative non-fiction, so this definitely fits the bill.

while this is a book very much about sex, and the writer's lack of it and quest for it, there is deeper, much more substantial material at work here.

hardy was, as the title implies, a mormon woman who chose, after suffering from an extreme case of cognitive dissonance, to leave the church.  the reasons for her split are multi-layered, only one of those layers dealing with sex.  she did not feel at home in her own society, being told that she had to be married, be a mother, and give up her career to be complete, accepted, and worthy of the eternal afterlife the LDS church touts. 

this book is uncomfortable.  while it kind of reads like an eat. pray. love. kind of tome (which is totally NOT my kind of read), ultimately it is timely (given all the press on the LDS community lately) and speaks to womens' rights. 

i'm not sure what, exactly, i think of this book, but i'm glad i read it.  i think there is always value in understanding that difference exists in the world and that we, as individuals, don't always fit where we imagine we should/will.

probable next read: cartwheel by jennifer dubois

Monday, June 2, 2014

on book 24.

book 24 of 60: the extraordinary adventures of alfred kropp by rick yancey

date started: 5.30.2014
date completed: 6.2.2014



thoughts:

this was an unplanned read.  a librarian friend of mine recommended it ages ago, and while it is a bit on the younger side of YA, it was a delightful, fun read.

about a boy who discovers he plays a part in a larger mythos, the narrator here is a bit slow at first, and, in my opinion, asks entirely too many questions.  but he is likeable and funny, so that kept me engaged.

i enjoyed the interwoven mythology, despite the fact that i have a rather notorious hatred of all things historical fiction (i'm looking at you, philipa gregory!).

all in all, this is a delightful book, and i look forward to reading the rest of the series. 

probable next read:  lost at sea: the jon ronson mysteries by jon ronson

Sunday, May 25, 2014

on book 23.

book 23 of 60: one fine potion: the literary magic of harry potter by greg garrett

date started: 5.7.2014
date completed: 5.23.2014


thoughts:
i'm currently developing a harry potter class grounded in narratology, so i picked this book up hoping for a good biblical allegorical interpretation.

i got that and more.

garrett approaches the harry potter series through a christian lens, yes, but he does so in a fair and honest way.  instead of the preachy-ness i feared i would find and have found to be the case in many books of this kind, i discovered a rational and refreshing argument.

in addition, garrett expounded on the texts through the four levels of interpretation found in thomas aquinas' summa theologica, one of my favorite texts.

while i did find his interpretation at the tropological level a bit weak, overall this is an interesting and compelling read.  it is well written and contains some really terrific ideas and sources.

probable next read:  lost at sea: the jon ronson mysteries by jon ronson (whom i REALLY don't enjoy over the course of an entire book, so we'll see how short articles strike me...we'll see)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

the adventures of flat kristy.

meet flat kristy.

flat kristy's 40th birthday is today, so she decided to take a trip to texas to visit with her family in the days leading up to the big 4-0.

after she arrived, flat kristy spent some time hanging out around the house with her family.  she watched some tele and smooched on some puppies.

later, she took a trip to lowes with her mom and sister to pick out some new plants for the garden.
 then it was time to garden (flat kristy's favorite!).  first she checked out this year's tomato crop:
then she helped trim some herbs:
just when she thought her gardening adventure was over, she met a new friend:
after she was done with her garden chores, flat kristy assisted her sister with dehydrating the herbs they picked.  she was thrilled with the result:
the next day, flat kristy accompanied her mom and sister to the grocery store, where she found her favorite soda:
then it was time for some fun.  first, she had dinner with a few friends at a local restaurant. because flat kristy can't get enough tex-mex, she chose cristina's mexican:

then it was off to the bookstore to see what they could find.  flat kristy was quite taken with the true crime section:
then, it was off to meet some more friends for a late showing of godzilla:
 before the movie started, though, flat kristy got into a raging argument with a friend about which is better, orcs or elfs.  flat kristy plainly lost (her elf argument was simply invalid):
the next day, she grabbed lunch with her sister at mesquite barbeque:
then flat kristy tried to help nick find a new house:
after an exhaustive search with no luck, flat kristy, her mom, sister, and nick had dinner at her favorite (and most missed restaurant), pappasitos.  flat kristy enjoyed the whole experience, from picking out what she wanted to eat:
 to snacking on chips and salsa:
to eating a delicious meal:
to enjoying a wonderful dessert and drink:
flat kristy may have gotten a bit too carried away with dessert, though:
but she pulled it together (despite being SO FULL!), and took a selfie with the family:
but, the highlight of the evening came later when flat kristy was serenaded by a mariachi band:
all in all, it was a wonderful few days.

happy birthday, flat kristy!

*nick said you will pay for this come july...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

on book 22.

book 22 of 60: it happened on the way to war: a marine's path to peace by rye barcott

date started: 5.6.2014
date completed: 5.17.201



thoughts:
this book was selected by the common book committee on my campus as our campus-wide common book for 2014-2015.  that means that professors throughout the campus will adopt it in their classes, structure assignments around it, and that special events will be held all year long in relation to the book and its content.

i was extremely skeptical about this book.

i'm not usually one for military-based narratives, so i wasn't initially thrilled with the selection, but i went ahead and adopted it and began reading.

while the writing isn't wonderful and can be a bit self-indulgent at times (the writer was in his 20s at the time, so, you know, kind of excusable i guess), the story is so compelling that it takes over.

about a man who, in the last year of his college career before heading into deployment as a marine, visited the kibera slum in kenya and founded a community development organization due to his experiences there, the book weaves the stories of kibera and the USMC together quite effectively.

the book delves into topics like ethnic conflict, war-time mentality, good v. evil, and personal growth and development.

this book contains a rich tapestry of life lessons, and i look forward to working it into my curriculum.


probable next read:  the death cure by james dashner