Monday, May 30, 2011

When it rains, it POURS

I mean this title very literally right now. It has been pouring like you wouldn't believe. Both North Dakota and Montana are flooding like crazy. First, we had record snowfall at over 100 inches for the winter. Now, we have rain dumping into our rivers, which are already filled with excess snowfall runoff.

You would think that all of this crazy weather would encourage me to sit inside and curl up with a good book. But, unfortunately, it hasn't. And I am, again, without power (going on 30 hours now). Today, I'm at work on my day off to steal internet and heat. It is a sad, sad life I live up here in the Northern Plains...

I'll admit that I haven't done much reading. BUT what I have read is so heavy and valuable that I'm glad I let it soak in.

Here's what I've got:

Room by Emma Donoghue is a wonderful, captivating book. With that said, I want all you readers to go into it the same way I did: based solely on "amazing" reviews and without a clue as to what the storyline is. I purchased this as an audiobook because I heard its praises sung every which way I turned. I had no idea what the novel was about but trusted the word of those around me. Please do the same, friends--trust me. This book will consume your life until you've completed it. It's somewhat of a mystery novel (well, it was for me at least, since I hadn't read a summary). Run to the bookstore today and pick up two books today: Room and The Help.

To date, I have only purchased one novel in 2011. Impressive, no? This is one I just had to have. The reviews on it were nothing short of spectacular. I picked it up at Costco (they always have a surprisingly large, wonderful book collection) over Mother's Day weekend and just finished. I recommend allowing this novel to stretch over the course of a couple of weeks. I wanted to finish it right away because it was so great, but I'm now thankful that I let it absorb, day by day.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett examines three women in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s. Two are black maids; the other, a young 20-something white woman who wants nothing more in life than to write. Together, the three take on a challenging and controversial project that they know could change their lives forever. The relationship Stockett creates between readers and characters in the novel is unmatched. I was so impressed with it. I recommend it for everyone. And, now, there's a sense of urgency to read it: while at the movie theater yesterday, I discovered the movie version is coming out in August. MUST SEE! :)

Since Room was an audiobook, I don't count it in my page goals. I do, however, count it as a book I've read. Here are my stats on The Help:
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Rating: 5/5
Pages: 544
2011 Reading Goal: 4,356/12,500

This puts me at only 35% of my reading goal, and we're almost halfway through the year. Anyone wanna recommend a novel or two for my summer reading list? :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

April Blizzards Bring May...Reading?

It has been quite the month. I know I said I would post more often, but there's definitely been a lot going on. This past weekend I meant to blog, but this is what I woke up to Saturday morning:

Because of the blizzard (on April 30th, mind you, one day before MAY!), the power went out throughout the entire town. I don't mean it flickered on and off, or that it was out for an hour or an afternoon. It was out for 64 hours. Needless to say, I was unable to blog all weekend. On Monday, the college was closed so I didn't have to work. This would have been wonderful, except that I already had really bad cabin fever and the whole town was closed down. There was no escape! Talk about a nightmare...

The good news? I finished a book! If I had gone through the storm alone, I'm sure I could have finished six before I turned into a popsicle (oh yeah, did I mention I had no heat?). This brought my total up to two more books I haven't yet blogged about. Here you go, readers:

Montana 1948 by Larry Watson is a novel that captures a fictional experience in Northeastern Montana in 1948. Larry Watson is actually originally from Rugby, ND (known for being the geographical center of North America) and grew up in Bismarck, ND. He works at the University of Wisconsin--Stevens Point, where he teaches English. Now that I've given background on the author, I feel it's important to discuss how I came across the novel.

The college I attended in Oregon has an annual book sale, where the Women's Center on campus receives books via donations, and sells them by the inch. $1 an inch?!?!? You know I was the first one in line...
Anyway, I had like 20 inches already (that may or may not be an accurate representation) and saw this book. As you know, I love all things Montana. When I saw this book, I picked it up and read the description. It sounded alright, but I decided to add it to my stack. I recognized that it had been well-cared-for. There's even a light pen engraving in the inside front cover, "Lucy Terry", which is one of my favorite marks in used books. Don't judge. I was immediately attracted to the condition of the book and thought that, even if I didn't read it, I could give it away in a gift for someone who would like it.

It had been on my bookshelf for almost two years before I finally decided to take a break from Patterson novels and read a good mystery. This novel is told from the perspective of a 12-year old boy, whose father is a sheriff in his small town. He has a young Sioux housekeeper who passes away. Behind her death is a little bit of a mystery, but moreso an ethical dilemma. Someone abused their power, and now the boy's father, the town sheriff, has to determine whether he values loyalty to justice or loyalty to the family more.

I do recommend this novel for those of you interested in Jodi Picoult-type stories. Here are my numbers:
Montana 1948 by Larry Watson
Rating: 4/5
Pages: 175
2011 Reading Goal: 3,397/12,500

The other novel I read while freezing was Patricia Cornwell's Black Notice. This has been on my bookshelf since at least 2003 (how do I know this? I found a sheet confirming I could run on the cross country team for Fall 2003) and I just haven't had the time (or interest?) to read it.

Kay Scarpetta, formerly on of my favorite mystery novel crime-solving females, sets out to find how a decomposing body ended up in a Belgium cargo ship traveling to America. I remember that I used to really love Patricia Cornwell when I was in high school. I haven't decided if it's this book in particular that I don't care for, or if it's Cornwell's writing style. I felt like the book was all over the place; one day Scarpetta was in the workplace, then she's in France, then she's being attacked in her home. Every time I picked up the novel after putting it down I had to spend some time to leaf through and figure out where the hell I was at. Part of this could be because I read through the novel fairly quickly, since I'm a relatively fast reader. The story line itself was great. Still, I'm disappointed. I've decided I need to re-read one of the novels of hers I loved (Unnatural Exposure, if I remember right, was what really got me excited to follow Scarpetta in her adventures). Either way, this wasn't my favorite, and I'm not upset it sat on my bookshelf for so long. Here's what I've got on it:
Black Notice by Patricia Cornwell
Rating: 3/5
Pages: 415
2011 Reading Goal: 3,812/12,500

Historically, April is a really good reading month for me. It's when I tend to diversify my tastes and get really into enjoying a hot cup of coffee and curling up on the couch. This year was way different. Here's what I'm attributing the change to:
  • Time invested into housing: Although I was in the final stages of purchasing a home, the seller decided to accept a last-minute cash offer. Jerks. I put another offer in on a house yesterday, but the seller accepted another offer (which was, thank goodness, not cash).
  • A boy living with me: Matt doesn't read (awful, isn't it?), so we can't curl up in opposite corners of the couch and read. I can't read with a lot of background noise (ie: the tv or radio on), so my reading has been severely restricted. Thankfully, he works every other Saturday. Now I'll have the chance to binge read...2 times a month.
  • Cooking and eating meals: Now that I have a "roommate", we make dinner every night. I can no longer eat a cold can of corn and get lost in a good novel. Cooking and eating takes a lot of time out of the day! And, when food doesn't come out of an aluminum can, you have to do more dishes! Yuck!
  • Being a grown-up: Adjusting from the college-student lifestyle can be a bit of a challenge sometime. As a college student, there are lulls in coursework where you can catch up on personal reading. Now that I have a grown up job and work a lot, I don't have lulls that allow me to take off and read. Darn this grown-up life!
  • Moving: I'm trying to pack up my books to move...and hoping I have a house. But I can't pack up my books just yet because I love them too much. I've decided I'll leave a select 5 out, should I go on a book binge within the next two weeks. I've been procrastinating determining which books will be selected for this opportunity
  • Couponing: That's right, I've become one of those crazies. It's all I can think about sometimes. What's wrong with me!??!? I spend about 4-6 hours per week couponing....but I scold myself sometimes that I could be investing that time into another novel. Then I see the savings and forget about the joy of reading, at least temporarily.
So I need to cut this blog a little go couponing *blushes* I won't make any promises that I'll be back soon, but I can promise I'll keep reading and will update you on them eventually :)

Until then, enjoy the nice weather (unless you live in North Dakota, in which case: enjoy the nice blizzards)!