Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Cold = A very grumpy and lazy Jessica

Ahh folks let me tell you how NOT FUN it is to be sick.  Okay so I'm sure you are all fully aware of this fact but I feel like it has been so long since I have been sick that I forgot.  What's worse is it was just a really bad cold so I couldn't even claim something like the flu or H1N1 that was sure to draw sympathy.  I mean seriously...a cold...get over it Jess.  But let me tell you I was sucking!!

I fell asleep at work!  Shhh don't tell.  I work from home for a reading program and we are in the slow season right now where I am just answering customer service it was Saturday and I mean come on I'm sick on a Saturday and I have top work...from home, that's just a tease...the couch is right there.  I was just resting my eyes for a moment and it wasn't until the obnoxious buzzing that means I have a call coming in woke me up and I looked around trying to remember where I was that I realized I had fallen asleep!!  It was pitiful.

Moral of the story is I have been sick and anti anything that requires me to focus so my blogging and reading has fallen behind.  I think I finished one lonely chapter in a book and that took me about an hour because I kept forgetting what words meant, you know those big words like "the."

The good news is I was finally able to start thinking again today and even read a few more chapters in Lord of the Rings.  I'm almost done...which is good because the month is over so it is time for me to move on to the final book.  More on that tomorrow...or the next day...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays

Thank you MizB for hosting Teaser Tuesday.

-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share 2 teaser sentences from that page
-Make sure you don't include any spoilers

Check out Should Be Reading to read more Teaser Tuesdays.

Your peers when you're a teenage will always be the keepers of your embarrassment and regret. It was one of life's great injustices, that you can move on and be accomplished and happy, but the moment you see someone from high school you immediately become the person you were then, not the person you are now.

-page 102
The Girl Who Chased the Moon
by Sarah Addison Allen

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for putting on the weekly Mailbox Monday, a place where I discover so many wonderful new books.

Check out her blog and post all the new books you acquired last week.

The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw (ARC from Doubleday via Shelf Awareness)

From the author's website:

Marcella di Pavarese Atkinson has always longed for love, warmth, understanding. Seven years ago, she believed she had found it, although illicitly, with Cecil McClatchey–a married father of two, and a longtime summer acquaintance from Cape Cod. But on the night their romance abruptly ended, Cecil’s wife was found dead, and Cecil died soon after, an uncharged suspect. Now Marcella lives alone, divorced, estranged from her teenaged daughter, and hobbled by her grief and guilt.

Meanwhile, Cecil’s grown son, Jed, returns to the Cape for the summer for the first time in years, with his sister and her young children. One morning, in an upstairs closet, he finds a bathing suit he recognizes as Marcella’s–a relic, unbeknownst to him, of his father’s affair. A hunch, his years-long hunger for answers, and the memory of a teenaged crush send Jed looking for her. But when Marcella and Jed, to their deep surprise, fall into a passionate affair of their own, they must hide it from their families and also begin, reluctantly, to look more closely at the past. What they find is shocking, heartbreaking, and, perhaps, the beginning of healing; but as they confront their shared pain, a crisis is brewing in the present that will force them, and us, to think about the very nature of love.

Lyrical and sensuous, The Swimming Pool is about devotion in all its forms: between spouses, lovers, siblings and, especially, between parents and children. It is a story of how our most essential connections entwine, in the most surprising of ways, and how they endure.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Committed - Elizabeth Gilbert

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
By Elizabeth Gilbert

Faced with the possible deportation of her love, Filipe, Gilbert has come to the conclusion that she must again get married. This is something that neither she nor Felipe thought they would do again. Having gone through an awful divorce (as witnessed in Eat, Pray, Love) Gilbert is very skeptical of the institution of marriage.

I think this is the reason I love her. I can relate to her. Although I am married and haven’t personally gone thorough a divorce, I was definitely jaded by my parents divorce and decided early on it is much better to be happily divorced than unhappily married. Yes, I am married, but I made sure that nowhere in our vows did it say anything about “till death do us part” because I just don’t believe it. My husband is fully aware of my “issues” (both with marriage and otherwise). I have to admit part of me hoped that Committed would bring me some reassurance, and it kind of did. Gilbert seemed to jump into her research with a clear plan to “figure it all out.” One of my favorite lines is after she is talking to her mother about things given up for marriage as opposed to things gained.

Therefore, the tidy ultimate conclusion is…???
It was slowly becoming clear to me that perhaps there was never going to be any tidy ultimate conclusion here. My mother herself had probably given up long ago trying to draw tidy ultimate conclusions about her existence, having abandoned (as so many of us must do, after a certain age) the luxuriously innocent fantasy that one is entitled to have mixed feelings about one’s own life.

In Committed, Gilbert bounces back and forth between her stories—including conversations with people she met while waiting for Felipe to be allowed back in the United States and her extensive research on the subject of marriage. I found it fascinating to learn about the various histories and different rituals in other cultures. Gilbert has an incredible talent for recreating her conversations and adventures and I enjoyed every minute of it.

**Source: Personal copy bought with personal money.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

LOTR Readalong - The Two Towers: Middle

Here we are with another check-in for the LOTR Readalong. Teresa at Shelf Love is hosting this month, check out her post for some discussion questions. I am through the first half of The Two Towers (also known as Book 3) and I think my love for it has gone to a whole new level. I am so addicted and I love it.

As I have mentioned before, I have seen the movies in pieces on TV, some parts multiple times, but I don't have a great memory of most of it. Sadly, I have a feeling that this book is going to ruin the movie for me. I know that this book differs the most from the movie and I am so in love with the book I am already appreciating what I remember of the movie less and less.

I knew I loved Merry and Pippin but I didn't realize how much I was going to miss them while they were with the Ents and we were with the rest of the company. I was so happy when they were finally reunited. I love the moment we find them guarding/sleeping/smoking. They are so chipper and in the loop. I love that they have information to share with the rest of their company.

Then there are the Ents. Oh how I love the Ents. Fangorn and all his Hrum Hooming is glorious. And his list of all the creatures he knew of that didn't include hobbits was priceless. I think that was one of my favorite parts in the book. I hope they find their Entwives because I don't know how that part of the story ends and I really want them to have some happy Ent lovin'.

I am sad that Book 3 is over and I am moving on from the Ents for a while but happy happy joy joy it's Gollum time!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for putting on the weekly Mailbox Monday, a place where I discover so many wonderful new books.

Check out her blog and post all the new books you acquired last week.

Mrs. Somebody Somebody: Stories by Tracy Winn (win from Library Thing's Early Reviewers)

From Amazon:

Winn's excellent debut collection centers on Lowell, Mass., as it evolves from a booming mid-century mill town to its scrappy contemporary incarnation. What remains constant are the characters, who cycle through the stories as they age, etched memorably by Winn, who nails a diverse swath of American life over some 60 years. In the title story, Stella Lewis navigates through often dicey situations at Hub Hosiery, a factory where she makes a close friend and learns the power of union allegiances. In Blue Tango, lovesick Dr. Charlie Burroughs, a Korean War vet, returns to his wife; in the following story, Glass Box, Winn portrays the marriage from Charlie's wife's perspective. Later, Winn checks in on the next generation of the Burroughs family, mired in frustration and longing. We also get to know factory workers and families affected by wars—from Korea to Iraq. Though Winn's prose sometimes gets away from her, her firm command of narrative and her ability to evoke emotion puts this high on the list of must-read story collections.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Favorite Reads - The Lovely Bones

Every week Alyce from At Home With Books posts My Favorite Reads, which allows us to share a favorite book from our past.

This week I picked The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I read The Lovely Bones shortly after it came out in 2002. It was my first year in college and I remember being overwhelmed with how powerful the story was and unable to put it down and enjoy living in the dorms until I had finished. Susie is raped and murdered but Sebold writes it in a way that isn't overly gruesome and therefore very readable. It is truly a beautiful story. Last weekend I finally saw that movie and loved it! As I said, it has been a long time since I read the book (I seriously need to reread it) but the movie brought it to life exactly the way I remember it. I would recommend reading the book and then seeing the movie. I think the fact that I read the book had a big impact on how much I loved the movie, my husband didn't love it like I did but even he said that he might read it! (P.S. Susan Sarandon in the movie is hilarious)

Publisher's Description:

When we first meet 14-year-old Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. This was before milk carton photos and public service announcements, she tells us; back in 1973, when Susie mysteriously disappeared, people still believed these things didn't happen. In the sweet, untroubled voice of a precocious teenage girl, Susie relates the awful events of her death and her own adjustment to the strange new place she finds herself. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets.

In case you missed the movie trailer, check it out:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Arcadia Falls - Carol Goodman

Arcadia Falls
By Carol Goodman

When Meg Rosenthal’s husband dies, she takes a job at an art school in small town Arcadia, bringing her resentful daughter, Sally, with her. Meg is quickly swept into the mysteries of the school and its haunting history and Sally is swept into a strange clique in the school.

I loved this book! I was captivated from the first page and want to gush over it but I don’t want to give anything away. It’s like Practical Magic meets Hansel and Gretel. Okay, that sounds weird but Lily and Vera, the founders of the school, wrote hauntingly real fairy tales and Goodman beautifully laces one in particular throughout the book, bringing to light the inspiration for the story.

The school is set in a wonderfully eerie forest with a dramatic waterfall that was the site of a death years earlier. Goodman creates a beautiful story about art and life and love. The love a mother has for her daughter, the passion an artist feels for her work, the connection between an artist and muse.

I want to live in Arcadia and experience the apple trees and the old, mysterious buildings. I felt so many connections to this book then, at the end when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Goodman mentions Phish Food. Seriously people, if you haven’t tried Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream you are not living.

This is a love story, a ghost story, a fairy tale, an amazing book. I can’t wait to read Goodman’s other books.

**Source: ARC for review from publisher, thanks Ballantine Books.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for putting on the weekly Mailbox Monday, a place where I discover so many wonderful new books.

Check out her blog and post all the new books you acquired last week.

The Life O'Reilly by Brian Cohen (I received this copy for review from the author, thanks Brian!)

From the author's website:

On the outside, Nick O’Reilly has it all: a high-flying legal career, as a partner of an elite Wall Street law firm, and financial security, with an apartment overlooking Central Park. Having grown up in a working-class family, as far back as Nick can remember this was his dream. But at the age of thirty-six, after several years of sacrificing his personal life for professional gain, Nick has started to ponder his future and consider the mark he wants to leave on society both professionally and personally—his legacy.

After being chastised in the press for turning a cold shoulder to the community, the firm calls upon Nick to help rehabilitate its image by handling its first pro bono case. Nick is asked to represent Dawn Nelson, a domestic violence victim who is fighting for custody of her young son, Jordan. A far cry from Nick’s specialty of defending the misdeeds of Corporate America, it is up to Nick to set Dawn and Jordan on a path to a better life. But Nick gets much more than he signed on for, as Dawn forces him to reassess his life choices and, ultimately, be true to himself. Only when Nick finally realizes what is truly important in life does he face his toughest—and possibly final—challenge: a battle for his own survival.

Exploring the flaws of being human and the importance of controlling one’s own destiny, The Life O’Reilly reminds us of how precious life is and how quickly and tragically it can change. Written with great empathy, The Life O’Reilly is an emotional and unforgettable tale that will challenge one’s expectations of the modern love story.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

LOTR Readalong - Fellowship: Ends - Two Towers: Begins

Awwe crap! February is over and that means we are on to the next book for the LOTR readalong and I just made a huge mistake. I went over to The Literary Omnivore to see what Claire had to say for her wrap-up, since she hosted February, and she had a video for the movie trailer, and I watched it. Big mistake, big, HUGE! Now I want to watch the movie soooo bad, but I can't. I'm going to wait until I have finished all the books to watch the movies again.

My husband actually asked if I wanted to watch the movie a couple weeks ago. Seriously hun? I'm in the middle of reading the book for the first time and you think I'm going to want to pause halfway through to watch the movie? Sadly, since then I can't get idea of watching the movies out of my head.

I'm kicking myself for not having a post-it handy (I don't mark-up books...except some non-fic) to throw in for one of my favorite moments on the book because now I can't find it. Frodo heard some pitter patter behind them or sensed someone near and of all the sudden I was like GOLLUM!!! Oh happy days how I love Gollum.

I'm completely typical and am in love with Aragorn so I don't think I need to go into that. I was surprised, though, at how much I enjoy Gimli. He is cute and quirky and yes when I read I imagine him in the movies but still...

I can't wait to continue with the next book because so far the story is awe-some!

The good thing about me being a few days late with this post is that both the the final post for The Fellowship of the Ring AND the introduction post for The Two Towers is up at Shelf Love. Teresa is hosting this month so lets get started.

I'm just starting The Two Towers for the first time and I am so excited to see the story move on. I enjoyed The Fellowship of the Ring but I feel like now we have all the introductions out of the way and can get into the good stuff. The story really started to pick up towards the end of the last book and I became more addicted than I thought I would. Now I just want to get with Gollum and hopefully see more of Aragorn and meet Arwen. After reading Teresa's rant over Faramir I can't wait to read more. My interest is peaked.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for putting on the weekly Mailbox Monday, a place where I discover so many wonderful new books.

Check out her blog and post all the new books you acquired last week.

I didn't receive any books in the mail last week but I did get something better. My contest win from Nely at All About {n} came in. A beautiful book cover from Shanna at Hide-a-Book.

I have to admit I am kind of obsessed with it. It is an adorable protector of all evil that tries to harm my books (that cute ribbon is the bookmark). Plus, when I go with my husband to his work gym I don't have to worry about all the Army guys judging the covers of my books. The only bad thing is now I am going to have to buy more and I want Christmas to come again so I can give them as gifts. Thanks so much Shanna and Nely.

The other thing that I am really excited about is that it is March 1 which means the deal I made with my husband about not buying books is over. The curse is broken!!!! I am going to the store later and buying The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham.