Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Book-to-Film: Marvel's Dr. Strange Has Been Cast And You Are Going to Like It

From Page to Premiere:
Today - Season 62

Benedict Cumberbatch Joins The Marvel Cinematic Universe As ‘Doctor Strange’

"The rumors have been circulating for several months, but it’s finally official!  Marvel announced today that fangirl and fanboy favorite Benedict Cumberbatch will take on the role of Doctor Strange in the movie of the same name slated for release on November 4, 2016.
Doctor Strange will be part of Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe along with eight other films: Captain America: Civil War,Guardians of the Galaxy 2Thor: RagnarokBlack PantherAvengers: Infinity War Part ICaptain MarvelInhumans, and Avengers: Infinity War Part II.
According to Marvel, Doctor Strange will follow the story of neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a horrific car accident, discovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions."
Well I'm never sorry to see more Cumberbunny.  BRING IT ON, I SAY.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love."

Review: I am highly skeptical of books that claim to be "for book lovers."  That kind of marketing is kind of like putting a sign in the produce aisle of the grocery store stating "THIS SECTION IS GOOD FOR FRUIT AND VEGETABLE LOVERS."  It's just so glaringly obvious.  That they thought saying "this book is for book lovers" was the best thing they could say about it immediately made me hesitate.  So I probably wouldn't have read this book at all if a friend hadn't recommended it to me so highly.

So now I've read it, and I am here to tell you:  

This book is definitely for book lovers.

And it is lovely.  

The cast is filled with people who love the written word, and who devote much of their lives to reading.  They relate to the world around them through short stories.  They talk about books together, and make judgments about other people based on the books they read.  They can be snobby.  They can be romantic.  They are rarely bored.  As someone who loves to read, and has spent a large quantity of life doing so, I related A LOT to these characters.  (Actually, I think I might be a reincarnated A.J.  himself.  We're basically the same person.  Except he lives on an island and owns a bookshop.  Lucky jerk.)

It really isn't an adventurous story.  But it is every bit as heartbreaking, as funny, and as clever as other books I've read.  The book focused just a tad more on the romance than I wanted it to, but that's just me being the curmudgeon I am.  It was still a delightful read.  This book is like a warm blanket, and I loved cuddling into it.  Highly recommended!

Review in a GIF:
sigh animated GIF

Bottom Line: This book is so warm and funny and heartbreaking and witty... you will have a blast reading and be sorry when it ends.  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Weekly Words: Annonymous

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Bookish Christmas
To those who are celebrating and to those who are not, I wish you a happy and peaceful holiday.  May you spend at least a small part of this day in an exceptionally good book.  Cheers!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Book-to-Film: Into the Woods based on several tales from the Brothers Grimm

From Page to Premiere:
Into the Woods” is a modern twist on several of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy), all tied together by an original story involving a Baker and his Wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the Witch (Meryl Streep), who has put a curse on them. Rob Marshall, the acclaimed filmmaker behind the Academy Award®-winning musical “Chicago” and Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” directs the film, which is based on the Tony®-winning original musical by James Lapine, who also penned the screenplay, and legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, who provides the music and lyrics. Produced by John DeLuca, Marshall, “Wicked” producer Marc Platt and Callum McDougall, “Into the Woods” will be released in theaters December 25, 2014.

Not going to lie, I'm really excited about this one.  I love the music, and the trailer looks awesome.  Will you see it?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing

I'm participating in today's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's prompt is:

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing

I am pretty much delighted anytime anyone gives me a book, but here are a few that I badly want to own, but don't yet:

10. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson
I fell hard for this book.  I would like to own this series pronto.

9. A Path Appears by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
I love their book Half the Sky, and have badly wanted to read this one ever since it came out.

8. Dubliners by James Joyce
I like having a large collection of classics on my bookshelf.  Especially if their covers are as rad as this one.

It looks insightful, interesting, and inspiring, plus that cover is making me drool.

6. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott
I've wanted to read this from the moment I heard about it.  I feel like women's stories in history aren't told as widely as they should, so I jump at the chance to read them when I can.

5. Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
I just watched this miniseries and LOVED it.  WHY HAVE I NOT HEARD OF THIS BOOK BEFORE. 

4. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
I read library copies of all three released books, but I am enjoying this series so much that I know I'll want to reread it.  I'd like to own my own copy!

Believe it or not, I have more interests than reading.  This one captures another interest (art) with my reading interest, and looks absolutely lovely.

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
As one of four sisters myself, I'm partial to this story.  I haven't read it in some time, though, and have never owned a copy.  I would love to reread it!

1. My True Love Gave to Me by Various Authors
This book just looks cute.  What a fun way to celebrate the holiday season!

What books do you want from Santa this year?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Weekly Words: Morrissey

Friday, December 19, 2014

Feature Friday: Disney's Animal Sidekicks Personified

From Movie Pilot:
Ever wondered what your favorite Disney animals look like personified?
Well, Japanese illustrator Chaico's Ghibli-esque portraits of Disney animals imagined as people put an end to that thought, just by how perfectly she nails them.
Here are some of my favorites:

Donald and Daisy Duck:
Donald and Daisy

Simba, Pumbaa, and Timon (from The Lion King):
Timon, Pumbaa, and Simba

Sebastian (From The Little Mermaid):

Trusty and Jock (from Lady and the Tramp):
Trusty and Jock

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Rating: 4.25 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .

  A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?  

What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?

  Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?). 

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn't be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive."

Review: I have put off writing this review for ages, because there's just SO MUCH to talk about.  This book was immensely enjoyable.  It alternated between laugh-out-loud funny and deeply profound.  I found myself uncomfortable, infuriated, sympathetic, charmed, and, ultimately, grateful that I had read it. 

I feel like this book is, as the title suggests, both big and little. Superficially, it deals with the day-to-day lives of three very different women in a small town. But, really, this book is about the town itself, the faces we wear, and how reality differs from those façades. It reminded me a lot of Rowling's A Casual Vacancy with all the revelations of less-than-ideal circumstances among the town's tenants, but with less language. Also, a lot funnier. And strangely more hopeful, despite the fact that someone dies in the end. (Not a spoiler, you're told that in the opening pages.) Though the two books deal with many similar subjects, this one swallows much easier.

My favorite aspect was the mystery involved. You know someone dies, but you don't know who.  So the whole time you're debating who got killed and who their killer was. I loved that I had no clue up until that pivotal scene how it would shake out. This was a different kind of mystery then I usually read, much more character driven than plot driven. But it still worked.  The mystery definitely gets an A+.

While I love this book, I do have to admit that it kind of overwhelmed me.  There were so many issues it talked about.  So many problems and challenges.  No joke, ALL of these things are brought up and heavily discussed:

  • Bullying
  • Co-parenting with an ex-spouse
  • Stepparent/stepchild relationships
  • Stay-at-home moms vs. working moms
  • Domestic abuse
  • Helicopter parenting vs. Slacker parenting 
  • Marital fidelity
  • The judgements single parents face
  • Gossip
  • Lying to the police
  • Murder 
  • I repeat, MURDER (!!!)

Like I said, there is a lot to talk about.  And this book could easily have fallen flat on its face for biting off so much.  But, somehow, Moriarty pulls it off.  Because of that this book would be an excellent pick for a book club.  (With all those hot topics, there would certainly never be a dull moment.)  

My biggest takeaway was how harmful gossip can be, and how important it is to be kind to those around us.  You don't always know the motives behind others' actions.  You don't know what secret battles others are fighting.  Don't add to their burden.  Be gentle.  Be kind.  Give a courtesy laugh.  Pay for someone else's lunch.  Simple kindnesses do much to make the world a better place.  It's worth it to be nice.

Review in a GIF:
community animated GIF

Bottom Line: This book would be an excellent book club pick.  It's funny, deep, tackles many, many important issues, and it feels like it's half as long as it is.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Book-to-Film: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

From The MarySue:


"Y’all, I just don’t know anymore.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, ABC is teaming with Natascha McElhone (Californication) on a “limited series” modern adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women. The special event will [...] follow the lives of four sisters coming of age against the backdrop of a military scandal as their family loses their fortune and position finding themselves at odds with the conservative and traditional society in which they live.

Little Women‘s script commitment comes from the ABC “boutique division,” a unit tasked with developing “challenging” programming for the network. McElhone will star and executive produce alongside Simmone Overend and Alison Owen. Jordan Roberts (Big Hero 6, March of the Penguins) will adapt the script, and Julie Anne Robinson (Suburgatory) will direct.

...Little Women remains a classic partially because it features identifiable heroines that manage to defy the “strong female character” fallacy; Jo, for instance, is radically independent and ambitious for the time period, but Alcott also allowed her to be emotional and fallible.

Still, though, I’m kind of stuck on the “modern reboot” aspect of ABC’s adaptation. I mean, how do you find the modern equivalent for something like Pilgrim’s Progress without seeming gimmicky? What, in 2014, is analogous to giving a suitor one’s glove? (If Meg gives Mr.Brooke some underwear, I will die.) I’ve got a feeling we’re going to be treated to lots of narrating voice-over scenes of Jo typing, which just seems so much less charming than The Little Women I fell in love with. But I hope ABC surprises me!

What do you guys think?"

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten-ish Books I Read In 2014 By Genre

I'm participating in today's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's prompt is:

Top Ten-ish Books I Read In 2014 by Genre

Some books don't fit neatly into one genre, so I may have invented a few mash-up-genres... I couldn't help it, I had to shout out my favorite books of the year!!  

Favorite Adult Contemporary: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Rarely do I disagree with a book so strongly and yet love it with all my heart.

Favorite YA Contemporary: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This book touched me in a very real way.  Once I heard the news that Rowell is actually writing a Simon Snow fantasy novel coming in 2015, I BASICALLY DIED.

The spunk factor was just so wonderfully endearing.  I certainly felt like I was on an adventure.

THESE BOOKS.  OH, THESE BOOKS.  *hyperventilates*  I feel like 2014 has been The Year of the Fantasy Novel, with books of this caliber all over the genre within the past 12 months.

Favorite Science Fiction: Red Rising by Pierce Brown
This book blew me away.  I'm still recovering.

This book spurred some great discussion among friends and family, and I'm really glad I read it.

After reading this book, I was so overcome with feels that could barely form coherent sentences.  My review is basically me repeating over and over that you should probably read this book.

Favorite Historical(ish) Fiction: The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
I was talking to EVERYONE and their cat about this book after I read it.  Besides being a great discussion book, it also changed the way I look at history.  Which is kind of a big deal, to me anyway.

This book gave me a serious book hangover.  I couldn't read anything for days afterwards.

I loved this series SO HARD.  It was a fabulous and bittersweet ending.

I don't actually like the original Snow White story all that much, but, I have to admit, it has the greatest adaptations.  Like this one.

This was just the cutest, sweetest love story.

What are the best books you've read this year?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekly Words: Lemony Snicket

Friday, December 12, 2014

Feature Friday: Tolkien-esque Maps of Real Cities

This Etsy shop just made my entire day.  Context from AV Club:

Those who fancifully refer to their daily commute as “there and back again” will likely be excited to learn that Stentor Danielson, assistant geography professor by profession and whimsical cartographer at heart, has been creating maps of major American cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh in the style of fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien. In addition to his de riguer Etsy store, a seeming must for endeavors of this nature, Danielson also maintains a densely-illustrated Tumblr called Mapsburgh, where he showcases his own work as well as that of other fantasy-minded artists and creators of odd, impractical things. ...The artist, who describes his work as “delicate” (read: alarmingly fragile), also takes requests.

A few favorites:


Pittsburgh fantasy map poster

Washington DC
Fantasy map of Washington, DC - poster

My current hometown, Salt Lake City
Fantasy map of Salt Lake City - 8.5 x 11

It says he takes requests... do you think he would do Hogwarts??

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review: Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown

Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown
Rating: 4.25 stars
Source: Advanced Review Copy received via NetGalley (thanks!)
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones,debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation. Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within. A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices."

Review: I received an ARC copy a few days ago of this, the second book in the Red Rising trilogy, which naturally means I've avoided food and sleep and other basic necessities until I could finish.  Now that I have, I HAVE to talk about it.  In other words, I'm writing this review in a highly unstable, sleep deprived, and extremely hungry state.  You've been warned.

The first thing you should know about Golden Son is that it cannot be read without reading its predecessor, Red Rising.  So, if you haven't already, GO READ THAT BOOK FIRST.

The second thing you should know is that this book is not for the faint-hearted.  It is a violent, graphic, take-no-prisoners kind of book that will, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, either leave you breathless or with a nasty scar.  (Told you I was in an unstable state.)  I do not recommend this series to anyone queasy.

If you're up for it, though, this series has the potential to completely sweep you off your feet.  In those rare moments when I was doing trivial non-reading things (like buying groceries or, you know, showering) I still couldn't completely detach my head from this story.  I was thinking about it ALL THE TIME.  This series is absolutely engrossing.  If you want a smart, enthralling, complicated, and extremely addicting series, this is the one for you.  

The characters were really excellent once again, and, once again, the Telamanuses stole every scene they were in.  I adore that family.  A new character favorite is easily Ragnar.  I want more of him.  I LOVED when revelations came about certain characters.  I loved loved loved the scene with Darrow and another character and the oracles.  I was a basket case of NERVES as I contemplated who would stand by Darrow when he revealed his true identity, and who wouldn't.  I was gutted with each betrayal, and with each death.  And, multiple times I wondered, is this worth it?  Death begets death begets death.  Darrow is looking for freedom, not peace.  And, although I agree that some things are worth fighting for, even worth starting a war for, I wonder if Darrow is going about things in the right way.  But, no matter if his choices are the right ones or the wrong ones, I will devour every page of his story because I am so invested in the outcome.

The main theme that I got out of this book was actually a question: Can people change?  It's definitely a question that is worthy of the discussion this book provides.  Darrow, Mustang, Sevro, Roque, Augustus... can they change?  If so, would the new form they took be a positive change?  And, most importantly, is the price that it takes to make someone change really worth the cost?

I shaved off a star for two reasons:  one, I felt that some of the scenes weren't set up with quite enough information.  I can't give examples without giving spoilers, so I'll just say that that there were about a half-dozen moments where, half-way through the scene, something would happen that I didn't realize was possible because I wasn't given enough details about that scene.  Instead of feeling like a clever plot twist, I just felt like the rug got pulled out from under me, and left me scrambling and confused, rather than on an adrenaline-filled rush like I wanted.  I'd blame this on my tendency to read really (REALLY) fast when I'm excited, but the number of times it happened make me think it wasn't me.

The second reason I knocked off a star is a little more difficult to explain.  To put it badly, I am worried about this story being TOO complicated.  Don't get me wrong, I like complex stories.  But there are so many plots and layers on top of one another, I'm worried that it'll all fall down on top of itself in the final installment.  I'm worried that this is all building up to a finale like the TV show LOST, where only a handful of things were actually answered.  (This could be good news if you liked the LOST finale.  I didn't.)  Or, to use another metaphor, it's like when you're watching a movie with really shaky cinematography, and when the camera finally stills you realize that the shaky camera was hiding the fact that the scene itself wasn't all that exciting.  This may not actually happen, and it may not seem fair to critique this book because of something I fear will happen in another book.  I get that.  But there are a LOT of threads dangling here, and I have no idea how it's even possible to sew them all together.  So, based on the many unanswered questions I have, and based on the fact that I'm worried that they will never be answered at all, I knocked off a star.  

Still, this book is fascinating.  Pierce Brown is absolutely a talented writer (and is extremely nice to his fans on Twitter) who I am very happy to have discovered.  I loved reading this book, and will very possibly die if I don't get the next book soon.  (Is it inappropriate to bribe Mr. Brown with weekly delivered homemade chocolate chip cookies in exchange for his plot outlines for book 3?!??)

Review in a GIF:
 yes animated GIF

Bottom Line: This complex, exhilarating story continues full throttle with this second installment.  This book is intelligent and adrenaline filled, though the level of violence may be off-putting to some.

*** Golden Son is scheduled to be published on January 6, 2015***

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book-to-Film: "Forever, Interrupted" by Taylor Jenkins Reid


From Page to Premiere:

Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson will be adding another adaptation to her filmography as she joins Forever, Interrupted. In Taylor Jenkins Reid’s debut novel, Elsie Porter (Johnson) falls quickly for Ben Ross and the two wed within months of meeting. Their marriage ends just nine days later when Ben is killed in an accident. The novel weaves together the couple’s romance with Elsie’s relationship with her mother-in-law, who knew nothing of her before the accident, and the aftermath of their loss. Johnson will also serve as executive producer on the project.

I haven't read Forever, Interrupted yet, but I absolutely adored After I Do.  I'll definitely be reading the book first, but if it's half as good as After I Do then I'll be in line to see the midnight showing of this film on opening day.  Have you read it?  Will you see the film?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

I'm participating in today's Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's prompt is:

Top Ten New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2014

Oh gosh, there are so many.  Here are my favorites from this year:

10. Pierce Brown
In addition to Red Rising and Golden Son being spectacular books, Mr. Brown is also really, really nice to his fans on Twitter.  I recommend following him, if you aren't already.  

9. Adelle Waldman
The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is a book that I won't soon forget.  I'm definitely keeping Ms. Waldman on my radar.  She's earned auto-read status with just that one book.

8. Liane Moriarty
Big Little Lies was my first foray into Moriarty's writing, but it certainly won't be my last!  I hear What Alice Forgot is even better.

7. Mary E. Pearson
The Kiss of Deception was a surprisingly delightful fantasy adventure novel, and I am seriously dying because its sequel doesn't come out for about a million years.  (Read: July.)

6. Brandon Sanderson
I can't believe I didn't read this fantasy staple until 2014, but at least I now know that I have several books I'm practically guaranteed to love in my future.

5. Taylor Jenkins Reid
I was pushing After I Do onto everyone around me for weeks after finishing.  Such a wonderful and wonderfully written book.  I want to line about fifty of the library's bookshelves with copies of that book.

4. Benjamin Alire Saenz
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe was probably the most heartfelt book I read in 2014.  Saenz gave me a serious book hangover with that one, and I adore him for it.

3. Cassandra Rose Clarke
The Assassin's Curse and The Pirate's Wish were some of my favorite reads this year, purely because of the spunk those book hold.  I can't believe I haven't read The Wizard's Promise yet.

2. Julianne Donaldson
Though Blackmoore didn't do it for me, I am still in serious book love with Edenbrooke.  I will read anything Donaldson writes.

1. Rainbow Rowell
It started back in February with Fangirl, and my adoration for Rowell has only grown.  Though Fangirl is still my favorite, I consumed Attachments and Landline as if they were heroin-laced chocolate.  Now Rowell is on my auto-read list as well.

What new favorite authors have you discovered this year?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weekly Words: George R.R. Martin

Friday, December 5, 2014

Feature Friday: Favorite Bookish Stocking Stuffers

As far as gift-giving is concerned, you may have heard the phrase that it's best to get for others "something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read."  That phrase is something I like to keep in mind when selecting gifts for loved ones.  Particularly the "something to read" part.  

While I love giving books as gifts, there are many, many fabulous book-inspired things out there that could definitely work as stocking stuffers.  Do you have a bookish loved one?  Consider one of these gifts this holiday season:

Shakespearean Lip Balm Set
Both a conversation starter and a moisturizer.  Double win.

HOGWARTS HOUSE SET - Harry Potter bookmark range.
I seriously hope these are in my stocking this year.

I actually own this shirt in navy.  It's awesome.

Clever "Harry Potter" Golden Snitch 99 Problems Shirt for Potterheads
You simply can't go wrong with a Potter inspired shirt.

Striped Angle Geometry Bookend
For the more sophisticated bookish friend, marble.

If I were a librarian, I would wear this shirt Every. Single. Day.

Books can make even the longest of board games fun.

Jonah Wood Carved Whale Book Ends
Give this with a worn copy of Moby-Dick.

Soooo cuteeee, can someone make these for me??
These ornaments are killing me. Adorable.

word nerd canvas book tote bag
Lately I've been wishing I had a tote specifically for my library books to take back and forth from the library.  (Walking from the library to the car while balancing a diaper bag, a wiggly toddler, and a precariously stacked pile of freshly checked out library books gives me great amounts of stress on a weekly basis.)  This tote would do nicely, if I do say so myself. would this one...

Library Card: Natural
...or this one.  (That whole line up of bookish totes from Out Of Print is pretty awesome, actually.)

What would you add to my list?

Looking for actual books to give as gifts this holiday season?  Check out my book recommendations according to age:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Review: The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman
Rating: 4.75 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "Writer Nate Piven’s star is rising. After several lean and striving years, he has his pick of both magazine assignments and women: Juliet, the hotshot business reporter; Elisa, his gorgeous ex-girlfriend, now friend; and Hannah, “almost universally regarded as nice and smart, or smart and nice,” who holds her own in conversation with his friends. When one relationship grows more serious, Nate is forced to consider what it is he really wants.

In Nate’s 21st-century literary world, wit and conversation are not at all dead. Is romance? Novelist Adelle Waldman plunges into the psyche of a flawed, sometimes infuriating modern man—one who thinks of himself as beyond superficial judgment, yet constantly struggles with his own status anxiety, who is drawn to women, yet has a habit of letting them down in ways that may just make him an emblem of our times. With tough-minded intelligence and wry good humor The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. is an absorbing tale of one young man’s search for happiness—and an inside look at how he really thinks about women, sex and love."

Review:  I feel like both applauding and sighing.  This book has a lot going for it: it's smart, it's revealing, and it'll definitely make you react - either in a positive or a negative way.  It reads like a classic, in that by telling one person's story it tells the story of a whole generation.  (Many others seem to agree that it reads like a classic, since this book could drown itself a hundred times over in all the accolades it has received.)  It was also a very discouraging read, I thought.  But despite the discouragement, I found this book to be very, very insightful.  It made me think a great deal about how we judge our fellow human beings, and, even more, how we judge ourselves.  So while it didn't make me happy necessarily, I thought this book was very much worth the read.

Nate is a protagonist that I won't easily forget.  He suffers from the unfortunate malady of being able to see others' faults very vividly, and yet being unable to see his own. He is ivy-league educated and is very, very smart and socially suave.  This, in Nathaniel's case, makes him suffer from a pretty extreme belief in his own intellectual and social superiority. He doesn't think he is racist or misogynistic, but it's pretty obvious that he is. He thinks he's existential, but he's really just shallow.  His pretentious selfishness and frank shock when others succeed where he didn't is pretty repulsive. His self-centeredness renders him completely insensible to everything that falls outside the sphere of his own preoccupations.  Because he is so incapable of seeing things from anyone else's point of view, he is an extremely limited character, and it is extremely frustrating to be in his head.  And yet, right before you metaphorically break up with him, he says or does something caring. I alternated between pitying, loathing, and liking Nathaniel. Mostly pity, though.

I also pitied everyone who ever dated Nate: both those fictional characters who dated Nate in this book, and the many real people who have dated/are dating the real life Nates of the world.  Dating is an exhausting enterprise, and I've always believed that selfishness is the quickest poison in relationships.  Dating someone this selfish would not be easy.

But Nate's really not a bad guy.  (Which is probably why so many people stick with their Nate-like significant others.)  He has his virtues.  He's not a villain, he's not a hero. He's just a flawed person (who is also an astonishingly bad boyfriend) who just might be able to show you your own weaknesses, and then give you the opportunity to do more with that knowledge than he does.  Nathaniel's greatest love affair is with himself.  Who will your greatest love affair be with? 

This book is a really, really well written description of relationships amid my own generation.  Though it's more cynical than I believe my whole generation to be, we all know Nate.  We recognize others, and even ourselves, in these pages.  This book will frustrate you, and will probably offend you.  But it also might be the best book you read this year.  It's a pretty incredible book, despite (or maybe because) of how frustrating it is to read.  I recommend this book to those looking for something weighty, and to those who aren't bothered by language.

(Side note: This book also left me with a strong distaste for intellectualism. There is a strong likelihood that the next five books I read will be fluffy.)  

I'll close with one of my favorite quotes from the book: "Dating is probably the most fraught human interaction there is.  You're sizing people up to see if they're worth your time and attention, and they're doing the same to you.  It's meritocracy applied to personal life, but there's no accountability.  We submit ourselves to these intimate inspections and simultaneously inflict them on others and try to keep our psyches intact - to keep from becoming cold and callous - and we hope that at the end of it we wind up happier than our grandparents, who didn't spend this vast period of their lives, these prime years, so thoroughly alone, coldly and explicitly anatomized again and again.  But who cares, right?  It's just girl stuff" (79).

Review in a GIF:
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Bottom Line: This book is frustrating, amazing, overwhelming, infuriating, and occasionally brilliant.  It's guaranteed to get a strong reaction, one way or the other.  I recommend it to adults who have lower bars of sensitivity, as some scenes will be offensive to some.