Monday, December 31, 2012

The 2013 TBR Pile Challenge

I have a lot of books. And I really need to get cracking on actually reading those books. So, Roofbeam Reader's  TBR Pile Challenge seems like the perfect challenge to get me to read my own books... You know in addition to not allowing myself to buy any new books.

The goal is to read 12 books that have been on your TBR list for over a year (therefore none can be published in the year 2012) within 12 months. Two alternate choices are allowed, just in case a couple of the 12 chosen turn out to be "Not For Me." And if you participate, you will be eligible to win a $50 giftcard to Amazon or The Book Depository.

Which I wouldn't even need until 2014 anyway so that works out.

This should be easy. I mean, I'm sitting on a gold mine of books I haven't read yet.

So here goes...


Bells' 2013 TBR Pile Challenge List

1. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende (Pub. Jan 1999)
     My mom has been on me for ages to read this.

2. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (Pub. Jul 1994)
     I've heard a lot about this book, especially from The Boyfriend and it's going to be a movie. It's time.

3. Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares (Pub. Jun 2006)
     I reread the first two books this year and I meant to get to this and the fourth one, but didn't. 

4. Forever in Blue by Ann Brashares (Pub. Apr 2008)
     Same as number 3.

5. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Pub. Jan 1813)
     Definitely not in 2012. And no, I've never read it. Shut up.

6. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (Pub. Mar 2009)
     Because I promised myself that if I finished P&P, I'd get to read P&P&Z. Plus Zombies vs Unicorns was published this year so I can't read that.

7. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (Pub. Mar 2011)
     Because I want to look more into what truly makes me happy in 2013. Scratch that: I want to find what brings me joy.

8. The Anti-9 to 5 Guide by Michelle Goodman (Pub. Jan 2007)
     I don't want to work in a cube or a fast food joint or a retail store for my whole life. I want to create. I guess I'd work in a cube if it meant I was working in publishing. Just not a shitty cube.

9. The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (Pub. Aug 2007)
     I really need to sophisticate my diet. I eat like a five year old and need to work on my relationship with food.

10. The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume I by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Pub. 1887-1927)
     I decided to figure out if I had a complete Sherlock Holmes set between the five Sherlock books I have. Turns out I do. I need to begin preparation for season 3 anyway.

11. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (Pub. Sep 2008)
     I refuse to see the movie without reading it first. But I really want to see the movie.

12. On Writing by Stephen King (Pub. Oct 2000)
     I can't believe a third of this list in non-fiction. But I have this burning desire to learn about things I actually want to learn about. (Not... Like... College...?)

Alternate Choices
I'm really glad there's alternate choices. I was having a hard time choosing my last couple, but I suddenly realized ALTERNATE CHOICESSSSSSS!!!!! and my mind exploded with happiness.

1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (Pub. Jan 1961)
     This is The Boyfriend's favorite book. I probably should read it. Alt choice because I already had two "classics" on the list.

2. The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks (Pub. Sep 2003)
     It is my ultimate life goal to be zombie-apocalypse prepared. I don't own this book, which made it an alternate, but I think The Boyfriend does so BORROW THE SHIZ OUT OF THAT.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [13]



Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself because that would be cruel and I want to solve these too! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!

As this is the last WWW of the year, and I've been posting only cryptograms, I am going to find a some other puzzles to incorporate. Though I love the cryptograms the most, I don't want things to get stale. However, don't worry, there will be more cryptograms!

How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms

X  QSXOJSXO  JBSJ  JBP  ZBCSVP  " S  FKON  ZKPQ " XV  VXQZFI  S

HKOJCSGXHJXKO  XO  JPCQV .

- PGNSC  SFFSO  ZKP




Last Week's Answer:
The only thing I regret about my past is the length of it. If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.
-Tallulah Bankhead

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [12]


Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself because that would be cruel and I want to solve these too! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!


How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms


VWG  SPQJ  VWKPZ  K  EGZEGV  YNSMV  IJ  CYTV  KT  VWG  QGPZVW  SH  KV .

KH  K  WYU  VS  QKFG  IJ  QKHG  YZYKP , K ' U  IYOG  VGW  TYIG  IKTVYOGT , SPQJ

TSSPGE .

- VYQQMQYW  NYPOWGYU




Last Week's Answer:
You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try.
-Beverly Sills

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [11]


Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself because that would be cruel and I want to solve these too! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!


How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms

ZLN  IDZ  WV  QGTDSSLGACVQ  GJ  ZLN  JDGE , WNC  ZLN  DPV  QLLIVQ  GJ  ZLN

QLA ' C  CPZ .

- WVYVPEZ  TGEET



Last Week's Answer:
Sometimes it's necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly.
-Edward Albee

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [10]


Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself because that would be cruel and I want to solve these too! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!


How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms

WLCHOBCHW  BO ' W  MHPHWWSQJ  OL  FL S  ALMF  ZBWOSMPH  LKO  LU  ODH  VSJ

BM  LQZHQ  OL  PLCH  NSPX  S  WDLQO  ZBWOSMPH  PLQQHPOAJ .

- HZVSQZ SANHH




Last Week's Answer:
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
-Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [9]


Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself because that would be cruel and I want to solve these too! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!


How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms

MIKXCJ  KCC  WIM  OKM  ZLKMA  KAUIXZNLJ , SDL  NR  JGD  BKML  LG  LIZL  K

WKM ' Z  OTKXKOLIX , PNUI  TNW  VGBIX .

- KSXKTKW  CNMOGCM




Last Week's Answer:
I often have long conversations with myself, and I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word I am saying.
-Oscar Wilde

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Review: High Fidelity






High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Pages: 323
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Fiction/British/Male
Series: None
Movie: Yes! High Fidelity with John Cusack <3
Bought At/Borrowed From: Maui Friends of the Library

Finished: August 28th, 2012
Reading Competition: Book 13, 3632


Review: I was very excited to read this book. Rosalie showed me the movie version with the absolutely gorgeous and wonderful John Cusack (I don't know if my generation likes John Cusack, but I am in love with him. Mostly because of Martian Child.) and I was therefore definitely going to read the book. I've seen other Nick Hornby movies, like About a Boy with Hugh Grant, which is pretty decent, and so I figured, why wouldn't I like his books? Nick Hornby seems like a cool guy.
     At first, this seemed to be true. Rob is a very cool guy. He likes lists, I like lists--check. He has good taste in music and talks about it a lot, I have my good taste in music and listen to it a lot--check. He has had some traumatizing break-ups, I have had a traumatizing break-up--check. He seems to be stuck in a rut, unsure what his next move is, I am stuck in a rut and unsure what my next move is (though I'm fresh out of college and he's in his thirties)--check. [Obviously, I think I'm pretty cool if I say Rob's cool and then compare him to myself a lot. However...] The point is, I related to him quite a bit. I dog-eared some pages about why we fail in love and other ponderings on life's greatest matters. We were kindred spirits, Rob and I. Then he went a bit crazy.
     After he and his girlfriend of so many years, I've forgotten already, break up in the beginning of the novel, Rob is trying to sort himself out, looking at his love life, his "career" as an owner of a failing record shop, his friends, etc. Then he goes through the five girls he lists as his five greatest break-ups to find out what he does wrong or why their relationship went sour and it's all a bit melodramatic. But at least the plot was moving along. Then, I swear, nothing happens for like 100 pages. [That's a rough estimate because it felt like 1000, but I couldn't say 1000 because there's only 323 pages in the book.] At least nothing that stands out to me. It just was a bunch of complaining. I started this book at the very beginning of August and it took me a whole damn month to read because it just dragged on and on and on.
     Finally, something happens in the last approximately 50 pages, but it's such a cop-out ending. I don't necessarily mean Nick Hornby copped out, but Rob did [looked up the definition of cop-out to make sure I was using it right and the definition fits perfectly--to choose not to do something out of fear of failing]. It does end with a small promise of a new beginning for Rob, a way out of the rut he's dug so deeply into his life, but in essence, he is exactly where he was at the beginning of the novel. Basically, nothing happens at all and he just goes a bit insane over a break up, stalks his ex-girlfriends, sleeps with people, visits his parents, complains, and then it's over.

     Even imagining the complaining in John Cusack's enchanting voice did nothing for me. And believe me, John Cusack's voice can cure quite a lot in my opinion.

     Ultimately, not a fan. And I still have one or two Nick Hornby books in my piles of books around my room/house/garage/kitchen/mom's room/etc, but they're probably going to get prioritized last at the moment. I just need a Nick Hornby break. I do want to see the movie again, however, to see if move-Rob is as whiny as his literary counterpart, but I'm not sure I want to get the two Robs swirled in my head. I don't want anything to spoil my John Cusack.

Memorable Line: "It seems to me if you place music (and books, probably, and films, and plays, and anything that makes you feel) at the center of your being, then you can't afford to sort out your love life, start to think of it as the finished product. You've got to pick at it, keep it alive and in turmoil, you've got to pick at it and unravel it until it all comes apart and you're compelled to start all over again. Maybe we all live life at too high a pitch, those of us who absorb emotional things all day, and as a consequence we can never feel merely content: we have to be unhappy, or ecstatically, head-over-heels happy, and those states are difficult to achieve within a stable, solid relationship." (169)


Rated: 4--I liked the beginning, the music, the lists, some of the life ponderings, the semi-interesting look into the male mind when it comes to females, but ultimately, I forgot everything that happened in the middle of the book already and I am ok with this.
Up Next: Fifth Avenue, 5 AM by Sam Wasson.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: YA Books I'd Recommend To Those Who Don't Read YA

This fantastic Top Ten Tuesday came from The Perpetual Page-Turner, a great book blog indeed. I like a good list and this one seemed like something I definitely needed to do! YA is kind of my obsession, of course, and if there's any goal I have in life, it's to bring my obsessions to other people!



I picked this picture because it included my favorite YA series!

10. The Lying Game series by Sara Shepard. It's fun in a silly, totally high school kind of way. If you love Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars (books or shows), you'll like The Lying Game.

9. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer. It took me a bit to get into, but I thought this book was kind of like the perfect cross between the Twilight and Hunger Games novels--paranormal romance in a dystopian society. I ended up really into it and I am desperate to get my hands on the next one, Wolfsbane.

8. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous. This book has almost everything that consists of the YA genre (except, you know, the supernatural stuff). Drugs, sex, depression, self-mutilation, utter tragedy. I'm not making light of any of it, I love that YA is one of the only genres that deals with these taboo issues in as realistic and encouraging way as possible. This true account of one teen's experience with all of it will leave you... with a new respect for YA and for the other young adults in your life.

7. The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. These are kind of also in the Gossip Girl territory but HISTORICAL. Maybe not 'historical' per se, but they take place in early 20th century and fantastically addictive.

6. It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini. The movie didn't give the book any sort of justice. Give the book a chance. So good.

5. How To Walk in High Heels by Camilla Morton. I completely helpless in all things hair, make-up, and fashion. However, Morton's book is a little more than that--it literally is 'the girl's guide to everything.' You'll find out how to grow a plant, keep your clothes ironed, figure out that new-fangled technological gadget or ask the cute engineering major for help, and, of course, walk in high heels. Not necessarily YA, but the 'girl's guide' may give it that connotation and frankly, even some older women I know could use it.

4. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. First of all, the name of the author alone should be enough. But if you take a look at this book in real life, it's so completely fascinating and intriguing. I actually spent real money on it and bought it at Barnes & Noble instead of waiting for it to be on sale (you know that means it was a must have!).  I love the intertwining of the old photographs and the novel. It's amazing. Don't understand what I'm talking about? Go read it!!

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. One of the most beautiful books ever written. This book transcends genres and I think it gets a bad rap sitting next to all the vampire books on the YA shelves these days, but just pick it up. You'll be transformed.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I'm just recommending the first one because obviously once you read the first one, you're going to read all of them. Recently I had a dream where my brother and I were in the Hunger Games and it made me start thinking about the book all over again, remembering things I had forgotten during my super quick read of it. It made me want to read it again. You'll want to read it again. So just read it.

1. Sloppy Firsts series by Megan McCafferty. OK, I think by now we can assume this will be included in almost every single one of my Top Ten Lists (except ones like "Books I Would Let Be Destroyed By A Tornado If One Ever Happened In California"). I think I would mostly recommend this to people closest to me because I feel like these books are so personal. I have an almost obsessive connection to the lovely J. Darling and for someone to read them because I asked them to would mean a lot to me. And I know that that person is basically just my best friend. But everyone else really should read them.





P.S. Notice how I didn't recommend Twilight?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [8]


Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself because that would be cruel and I want to solve these too! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!


How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms

L  ENXVZ  POMV  UEZQ  BEZMVHGOXLEZG  ALXP  RTGVUN ,  OZJ  L  OR  GE  BUVMVH

XPOX  GERVXLRVG  L  JEZ ' X  YZJVHGXOZJ  O  GLZQUV  AEHJ  L  OR  GOTLZQ .

-  EGBOH  ALUJV




Last Week's Answer:
There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.
-Will Rogers

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay [7]

Wednesday's Weekly Wordplay is a weekly puzzle started here at Bells Beautiful Books so that I could share my love of word puzzles with you! I will never share one I haven't already done myself because that would be cruel and I want to solve these too! On the following Wednesday, the answer to the previous week's puzzle will be revealed. Please comment your answers and maybe somewhere along the way there will be prizes for those who answer them first! Enjoy!


How to Solve a Cryptogram:
"Cryptograms are quotations in a simple substitution code. Each letter of the quotation has been replaced by another letter. A letter is always represented by the same letter throughout the code. A letter will never stand for itself."
-Classic Cryptograms


MWUCU ' A  TB  MCRJD  MB  IURTN  F  WPZBCRAM  GWUT  XBP  WFKU  MWU  GWBHU  NBKUCTZUTM  GBCDRTN  EBC  XBP.
- GRHH  CBNUCA



Last Week's Answer:
We didn't all come over on the same ship, but we're all in the same boat.
-Bernard Baruch

Experimental Writing: Experiment One

This quarter, I am taking an experimental writing class as my last writing class to complete my major. It's with a writing professor I've never had before, but I'm really excited to have him. Today I had to complete my first writing experiment and I'm kind of proud of it for no reason in particular, except that it inspires me and I love it. It was taken from Hazel Smith's The Writing Experiment.

1A. Word Association-- I started it for inspiration for my novel and it evolved into something really personal.

a cut, a slice, a knife a heartache so profound an attack of pleasure pain all the same nicks and nooks and crannies books and words shoes and socks what have we got? nothing much I'm fine I'm fine reality television glows glow-in-the-dark stars closet brother DEX father figure gone alone abandoned phone calls calling caller empty tone alone again

1B. Phrase Manipulation-- I chose the phrase to start with and went from there. 'Wandering' is one of my favorite words.

simply wandering through the park
siply wandering away
wandering away through the park
through the park simply im wandering
away im wandering through the park
to simply get away

1C. Word Pool-- I found a website that would generate word lists and so I had it generate ten words and then I manipulated them to fit what I wanted to say

month comradeship episode moisture belongings market joviality interim hearing pleasure

for a month
comradeship
in the interim
moist belonging
hearing joviality in
episodic pleasure
now on the market

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Book Review: Alphabet Weekends




Alphabet Weekends by Elizabeth Noble
Pages: 425
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Fiction/British/Romance/Chick Lit
Series: None
Bought At/Borrowed From: Salvation Army, Chico, CA

Finished: January 10, 2012
Reading Competition: Book 1, 425 pages

Goodreads First Impression
Review: Alphabet Weekends was nice, simple, easy read that was perfect for the end of winter vacation/tumultuous beginning of a new school quarter. Overall, I enjoyed reading it, but it took me awhile to get into the shifting perspectives (so confusing in the beginning when you really don't know who anyone is, especially when most are related somehow) and to care about the characters' whose relationships make up the plot of the novel.
I almost immediately got into the story of Tom and Natalie, who are the main characters and those involved with the "alphabet weekends." The two are long-time friends, like since childhood, and somewhere along the line made a promise to marry one another if they weren't married by 35 or something like that. That time rolls around, just after Natalie's been dumped by the awful, arrogant, asshole Simon, and New Year's Eve. Tom proposes the idea of the alphabet weekends--26 weekends doing activities in alphabetical order (A is for abseiling--which I thought was like zip-lining the way it was described in the book, but apparently Google says it's not) after which Natalie will be desperately in love with Tom. Natalie doesn't agree and puts it to the test by agreeing to the crazy proposal. It's a typical chick lit book, so I'm assuming you can form an educated guess as to what happens. It does take a long time to get going--it is a 425 page book after all--but once it got going, I was into it. Once I finally understood all the shifting perspectives and who was related to who, I kind of enjoyed the shifting perspectives, especially when it came to Natalie and Tom. You would read Tom's thoughts about Natalie in a certain situation and then read hers in another and see how they both notice the same qualities in each other, but not in themselves. Or just getting both a guy and girl's perspective (though the guy's is written by a girl) was interesting.
I feel like I definitely have Natalie's initial view of relationships--you fall hard and fast and then you are a sucker for whoever it is you've deemed worthy of your affection, even if they aren't--and to see that change with her relationship with Tom gave me a bit of hope that I can change mine too, since it's something I've been working on.
Anna and Nicholas' relationship (the parents of Natalie for those of you easily confused by a large ensemble of characters) was hard to read, not because of the content, but just because of the way it was written. I didn't really care or catch on to their story until the middle of the book because not a ton happens in it. Anna is depressed and no one knows how to take care of her, including Nicholas even after half a century or two of marriage. I think for awhile though I got them confused because their stories were distinctly separate for a bit--it started with Nicholas' perspective but then mainly became Anna's until really neither of them got any chapters towards the end. I don't know. Their story definitely takes a backseat to the other two main stories of the novel, but I can't decide whether or not it is even poignant enough to matter. It was a little essential, combining a bit with Natalie and Tom's story during some crucial moments, but the moments could have happened without their own story at all. It's like there wasn't enough to make it count, but too much to completely ignore.
It was especially difficult for me to read about the Patrick-Lucy-Alec-Marianne foursome. I cannot ever imagine being in the situation that Lucy is in, but I think that's a big point to their story--you really can never know. This story is almost entirely separate from Natalie and Tom's and Anna and Nicholas'. Patrick is Tom's brother, so you see the two of them interact, and Natalie visits Lucy like once. However, Patrick and Lucy's story set an opposing side to Tom and Natalie's that are great in juxtaposition to each other.
What I liked most about this book was the realistic portrayal of relationships. I don't know if it's just because for the past few years many of the relationships I've read about include at least one supernatural being, but I thought Noble portrayed the three main relationships as relationships are, perfectly imperfect with all sorts of ups-and-downs and uncertainties but most of all a faith that gets you through them. Ok, so, maybe your best friend of thirty odd years won't say he'll marry you after 26 alphabetical activities, but it's their slow-burning, changing love that can happen. It's finding someone who will change your view of love and life. It's finding someone who could have been your best friend for thirty years. It's a take on what happens when you've spent your whole life with someone and your kids are gone and it's just the two of you again with your whole lives to look back on, and possibly regret. It's finding yourself in a relationship you don't want to be in anymore and taking a chance on a different one, even if you never expected it.
Overall, it's a decent read and I'm looking forward to trying out her other novels. I already have her The Reading Group ready for me at home!


Rated: 7-- Just enough to like, but not enough to put it in my all time favorites. Definitely an awesome beach/vacation read!
Up Next: The Lying Game by Sara Shepard