July 2014 archive

What I am Reading (WIAR)

What in the world, time? Where did you go?! I look up and realize I’ve been AWOL lately. So so sorry!

My life has been CRAZY lately with sick kids, working tons of overtime, and general summertime craziness. Oh! And I decided to start the process to become a certified yoga teacher! I’m pretty excited about this opportunity, but it has somewhat consumed my life.

So what am I reading? Right now I’m reading a few things: first I picked up Tao te Ching, but I’m reading it only in small doses. I’ve been hung up on (and obsessing over) chapter eight for about a week now. Talk about heavy!!

Another book I’m reading is Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar. This book is considered the modern and comprehensive manual to yoga, and it’s been suggested by everyone I come across. Iyengar is considered the greatest teacher of our time, and he does an excellent, thorough job of explaining the history of and reasons behind the practice. (Be forewarned though: he prefers the Sanskrit names of the poses!)

Lastly, I’ve got some required reading on my list: The Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi, The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz, and Inside the Yoga Sutras by Jaganeth Carrera. I’m waiting on the last two to arrive from Amazon (these aren’t exactly the kind of books I’m going to find at our local store!) but they’re part of my course material for my 200 hour teaching certification. I’m especially excited about starting The Power of Yoga, because it’s the first known translation and interpretation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras from a woman’s perspective. I’ll be reading it and the Carrera book simultaneously for my class.

So as you can tell, I’m currently on a spiritual and physical fitness path. It’s keeping me motivated, and I’m excited to learn more about it.

What are you reading now??

Review: Skippy Dies

Skippy Dies, by Paul Murray

Spoiler Alert, ya’ll (not really): Skippy does in fact die. In the first chapter. The rest of the book is the lead up and then response to Skippy’s death.

I never went to boarding school. I only know two people who actually went to boarding school, but oh man will I pick up a book about boarding school. Dorms full of kids that, in regular school, aren’t even trusted to walk down to the restroom when they have to pee, now living pretty much on their own? Hilarity and intrigue is bound to ensue.

And in Skippy Dies? Oh, the hilarity and intrigue is thick, my friends. Thick.

And at first, I was smitten. Chapters flew by, characters were loved, chuckles were… chucked? Anyway, I was in. But then, around midway, something happened. It just got tedious. And I was annoyed. Why put the brakes on? This was going so well! So I ventured over to Goodreads to see if anyone else had had the same issue and if it was ironed out (I rarely read reviews before I’ve read the book, but sometimes if I’m stuck in a book it helps to read a review that says, “Oh, this slowed down in the middle, but the payoff was worth it!” and to keep chugging OR to read one that says “Started strong, ended terribly” or whatever and I know it’s ok to ditch it.) and the first review was by an older guy who went to boarding school in the 60’s and commented that the defining characteristic of a boys’ boarding school is tedium and he wondered if Paul Murray would capture that.

Well, yeah, he totally did. After I got in my head that the author was slowing the pace down so we could feel how the rhythm of the boys’ life was, I kind of settled a bit more comfortably into the story and just let the author take me along for the ride. So glad that I did. If you have stumbled upon this review because you’re wondering if the payoff is worth it? It totally is.

More than that, there were several truly unforgettable moments here: the school dance that ends in an orgy, the secret room at the girls’ school that ends up being a…. KIDDING! Did you think I was going to tell you? No. Go read this.

And, for the record, this is one of those (now) rare books that is about teenagers but not necessarily written for teenagers. I found it in the adult section and there are a handful of adult characters that present a more…. ahem… adult focus, so don’t read this and go grab it for your favorite boarding school kid. Not that they don’t already have great ideas for how to get into serious trouble but if they haven’t thought of it yet, let’s not encourage them to say… steal Ritalin and sell it to girls as a weight loss drug. Just that kind of thing.

Review: The Chapel Wars

The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt

From Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there’s Grandpa’s letter. Not only is Holly running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money—fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family’s mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and… Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there’s a wedding chapel to save.

Jennie’s Thoughts: I’ve never been to Vegas, and honestly have never really had any desire to go. However, after reading this book, I kind of want to!

While this is a contemporary novel with a peppy title and cover, it’s also about grief and love and moving on. And living life. Especially that. Holly’s grief and her brother’s struggles are just as real on the pages as the Vegas drive-through weddings are. Maybe even more so, actually.

But, also…this story is funny and sweet. Dax and Holly…oh, a spin on the star-crossed lovers that’s new and hilarious. I loved these two, even when they were in separate getups to entice brides for theme weddings.

Read it. Okay? And then let me know how many times you cried and laughed. I lost track on my own stats, but I closed the book with a contented sigh and a smile!

Review: Anna and the French Kiss


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

From Goodreads:
Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris–until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all … including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss?

Jenny’s thoughts:
First, a couple interesting things about this series.

1. It’s part of a three-book series, but the main characters are only front and center in one book. This book is Anna’s story. The second book belongs to Lola (who works with Anna), and the third book is all about Isla (who went to school with Anna). We get to see more of Anna (and presumably Lola, once Isla and the Happily Ever After comes out – in mere weeks!), but this isn’t a full three-book series All About Anna.

2. The covers for Anna and Lola were both re-released last year. Here’s what my hardcover (and signed, thankyouverymuch) copy of Anna and the French Kiss looks like:

The main reason Stephanie Perkins gave for the redesign was to reach a wider audience. I can see that. The original covers were very flirty, very teen-romance-esque. Which, to be fair, this story is. However, it’s so, so much more, and the new, bold covers definitely do better justice.

2.5 Because of the redesign and the reasons behind it, I’ve wondered since if the books would be better off with new titles. I can’t lie – I totally stuck my nose up at this title when I first heard about it. It sounded very much like a Baby Sitters Club title, and UGH. As much as I loved me some BSC when I was young, I’m not itching to read about Stacey’s French Kiss. Do you know what I mean?

I feel like a total jerk writing the above paragraph, and I’ve typed and deleted the question several times for Stephanie on Twitter, but … I just can’t. Because what if I’m just a stuck-up jerk who judges books by their titles?

ANYHOW. I digress. This is another one of those books my book club friends shook in front of my face for entirely too long before I gave in and experienced the joy that is Anna and Étienne.

When I finally gave in, it was all, “Where has this been my whole life?”

Because, seriously, this book is amazing. Anna is smart and funny, and I connected with her in the first few pages, an introvert struggling to choke down homesick tears on her first night at boarding school (college, for me). She loves her home life, and she wants nothing to do with being in Paris. That would have been me had I been in her shoes, too.

Anna’s story is authentic, and the characters are genuine. There’s no trickery in characters – you like the likable people and dislike the ones you know would leave a bad taste in your mouth if you were to lick them.

The cast of characters would fit in perfectly on campus with Rory Gilmore – which is probably what really drew me into Anna’s world.

That, and Étienne. I’d love to tell you all about him but I just say no to spoilers!

(p.s. I listened to this on audiobook last year, and it was kind of no good, only because the voice the narrator used for Étienne was kind of no good. I just couldn’t believe it was Étienne. Audiobook fans, you know what I mean.)

Review: Midnight Crossroad

Midnight Crossroad (Midnight, Texas #1) by Charlaine Harris

From Goodreads: From Charlaine Harris, the bestselling author who created Sookie Stackhouse and her world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, comes a darker locale—populated by more strangers than friends. But then, that’s how the locals prefer it…

Welcome to Midnight, Texas, a town with many boarded-up windows and few full-time inhabitants, located at the crossing of Witch Light Road and Davy Road. It’s a pretty standard dried-up western town.

There’s a pawnshop (someone lives in the basement and is seen only at night). There’s a diner (people who are just passing through tend not to linger). And there’s new resident Manfred Bernardo, who thinks he’s found the perfect place to work in private (and who has secrets of his own).

Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal. Stay awhile, and learn the truth…

Jennie’s Thoughts: I am a huge Sookie Stackhouse fan, and have really enjoyed a few of this author’s other series, so of course I put this one on hold as soon as my library had it in the system.

It was…I’m not really sure. It didn’t captivate me quite the way Sookie’s books did, but I suspect that’s based on the lack of a huge romantic plot line in this book. I’m a sucker for romance, and this book had the romantic relationships on the back burner. The suspense and mystery was intriguing, keeping me reading even if I wasn’t sucked in exactly.

The town was a little bit unbelievable and a lot creepy. I did like the bad guy storylines that could develop in future installments of the series, but also the storylines that wrapped up in this book. This is a book with supernatural elements and characters, but I don’t get the feeling they’ll become so much of the world like in Sookie.

One issue that really bugged me about this book was the names. Manfred? Bobo? Lemuel? Really? Some of these characters spotlight in her other series, but to see them all in one book is a bit overwhelming.

Has anyone else read this? What did you think? I’ll read the next in this series, I’m sure, but I hope it has a little more draw than this one.

BIG EXCITING NEWS!!!

(No, I’m not pregnant.)

Y’all….I have big news. I’m so excited I can barely contain myself!

MY DAUGHTER IS READING!!!

Yep. My darling, sweet first born is reading. Independently. Voraciously. I came home last weekend with an armful of books I’d snagged from DibbleandDash on Instagram, and she dropped everything and immediately spread out her new books and didn’t move until she’d read them all. Two hour car trip? She packed TWELVE books.

She’s always been a big fan of books, but these past two weeks she’s really become obsessed with reading. She’s progressed from sounding words out to reading out loud confidently to reading silently to herself. I’m so thrilled with her progress and her interest! She reads to her baby brother and her younger cousin and anyone else she can get to sit still.

Of course, she’s always seen us reading, and we do read to her and her brother all the time. Books have always been a part of her life and her surroundings. But I have a confession: I had this crippling fear that she wouldn’t be interested in reading. She’s got a real head for numbers (something she definitely did NOT get from her parents!) and she’s always seemed to lean more towards science and math than reading. So I had a real fear that my child would not be a reader. But! She is! Yay!

Now I need to think about a library card. I’d always planned to make that a part of her 5th birthday, kind of a milestone gift, y’know? But that’s 6 months away and I’m kinda wondering if I should go ahead and let her have her own card. What do you think?

Were you an early reader? Has reading been a lifelong pursuit of yours, or are you a post-HS/college convert? If you have kids, is reading a big part of their lives? Do you hope it will be? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Review: Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a Half, by Allie Brosh

I have followed Allie’s blog for a long time so I had read some of these before. It didn’t matter in the slightest. I laughed until I was crying so hard I couldn’t read. I had previously picked this book up in the bookstore to flip through- laughed so hard that I peed my pants. On date night. It was very romantic.

So yeah, it’s hilarious. The dogs are so funny I cannot even deal and Little Girl Allie is my spirit animal and possibly my twin. But can I tell you something else? There is heart here. The two about depression are just spot on. I had PPD which was terrible, but have people in my life that suffer from long term, life ruining depression and I want to stuff this comic into every person’s hands who tells them to “just cheer up” or something else stupid.

So it’s funny and sweet and wonderful. I’m fully aware that I’m almost the last person on Earth to read this, but if you are indeed the last- go do it! The Earth is patiently waiting for you.

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