Friday, October 31, 2014

October Wrap-Up

Happy Halloween! I absolutely cannot believe that October is already over. Winter is coming (ha!), and with it comes colder weather, holidays, and GRADUATION. My goodness, how time flies.

October in One Word: Blogggggggging. And Puppy.

My Favorite Memories in October 2014:
  • Arthur the little brown puppy, and all of the fun we've had seeing him grow and come to love Addy
  • So many amazing days outside (the fall weather is here and beautiful!)
  • Back to work, back to work!
  • Celebrating Cagen Jon's 4th birthday with the dinosaurs
  • Blogging every. single. weekday. Success!
  • Seeing Gone Girl come to life in the theater (and being thoroughly creeped out by it)
  • Celebrating my dad and grandmother's birthdays with the family
Books I Read this Month: (Holy moly!)
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (Review)
  • Conversion by Katherine Howe (Review)
  • Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid (Review)
  • How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Review)
  • The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Review)
In Case You Missed It (Best Posts from October):
Favorite Posts from the Month:
New Obsessions:
  • Bustle. Feminism meets snark meets celebrities meets funny.
  • Organizational tools, like Wunderlist and Buffer
  • The Skimm - A daily newsletter with big news stories and interesting factoids... I'm loving starting my day off with this.
3 Things I'm Sad to See Go with October:
  • The beautiful fall weather turning into winter
  • Free time.. I'm back to working full time and I will definitely miss my off days
  • Daylight. I'm not looking forward to the time change!
    3 Things I'm Looking Forward to in November:
    • Jeromy finishing the CPA exam! (fingers crossed, fingers crossed)
    • Finishing with my capstone course
    • Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the holidays officially starting
    Favorite Quote from a Book I Read this Month:

    “To love someone is like moving into a house," Sonja used to say. "At first you fall in love in everything new, you wonder every morning that this is one's own, as if they are afraid that someone will suddenly come tumbling through the door and say that there has been a serious mistake and that it simply was not meant to would live so fine. But as the years go by, the facade worn, the wood cracks here and there, and you start to love this house not so much for all the ways it is perfect in that for all the ways it is not. You become familiar with all its nooks and crannies. How to avoid that the key gets stuck in the lock if it is cold outside. Which floorboards have some give when you step on them, and exactly how to open the doors for them not to creak. That's it, all the little secrets that make it your home. "
    - A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

    Thursday, October 30, 2014

    Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

    “People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was color. All the color he had.” 
    ― Fredrik BackmanA Man Called Ove

    Book Title: A Man Called Ove
    Author: Fredrik Backman
    Publication Date: 2012
    Genres: Adult Fiction
    Goodreads Rating: 4.31 Stars 
    My RatingStars!
    Recommended To: Anyone who is looking for a character to love

    In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

    Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

    Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

    A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

    1. This man is my new favorite character. Seriously, Ove is my homeboy. Maybe I've really taken to liking characters who are old men (see: Harold Fry), but this grumpy old dude had me giggling and sympathizing and shaking my head at those young hooligans (his words, not mine). I could sense Ove's sadness and strength of character in every move he made, and I felt a love for him like he was my grandpa.

    2. The Supporting Cast. The supporting characters in this novel really amped up the story and complimented Ove so well. Without these characters, Ove is simply an old grouch, but these characters really make him endearing and show a softer side of him. Or... a loving side of him. My two favorite characters (other than Ove) are the cat and Parvaneh, the pregnant woman who just moved in next door. Both of these characters bring out a loving side of Ove that makes him that much more endearing. Plus, his wife, while not actually in the novel because she passed away, is a lingering presence that gives a bit more humanity to Ove. You can see that through his hard exterior, he genuinely loved her. (PS. That first quote in the quotes section? One of my favorites of all time.)

    3. This book is LAUGH OUT LOUD funny. The sarcasm. The wit. Ove is one hilarious dude. I can't properly describe it, except for quotes like this:
    His insane neighbor begins to look threatening.
    "It's probably full of disgusting diseases and rabies and all sorts of things!"
    Ove looks at the cat. Looks at the Weed. Nods.
    "And so are you, most likely. But we don't throw stones at you because of it." 
    And this:
    Now, when it's gone quarter to six and Ove has got up, the cat is sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. It sports a disgruntled expression, as if Ove owes it money. Ove stares back at it with a suspicion normally reserved for a cat that has rung his doorbell with a Bible in its paws, like a Jehovah's Witness.
    (I understand that both of these quotes are about the cat, but, my goodness their interactions are wonderful.)

    I will recommend this novel to anyone and everyone; it was light-hearted, poignant, and hilarious.

    “To love someone is like moving into a house," Sonja used to say. "At first you fall in love in everything new, you wonder every morning that this is one's own, as if they are afraid that someone will suddenly come tumbling through the door and say that there has been a serious mistake and that it simply was not meant to would live so fine. But as the years go by, the facade worn, the wood cracks here and there, and you start to love this house not so much for all the ways it is perfect in that for all the ways it is not. You become familiar with all its nooks and crannies. How to avoid that the key gets stuck in the lock if it is cold outside. Which floorboards have some give when you step on them, and exactly how to open the doors for them not to creak. That's it, all the little secrets that make it your home. " 

    “She just smiled, said that she loved books more than anything, and started telling him excitedly what each of the ones in her lap was about. And Ove realised that he wanted to hear her talking about the things she loved for the rest of his life.” 

    “Ove had never been asked how he lived before he met her. But if anyone had asked him, he would have answered that he didn’t.” 

    “And time is a curious thing. Most of us only live for the time that lies right ahead of us. A few days, weeks, years. One of the most painful moments in a person's life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead. And when time no longer lies ahead of one, other things have to be lived for. Memories, perhaps. Afternoons in the sun with someone's hand clutched in one's own. The fragrance of flower beds in fresh bloom. Sundays in a cafe. Grandchildren, perhaps.”

    “She laughed and laughed and laughed until the vowels were rolling across the walls and floors, as if they meant to do away with the laws of time and space.” 

    Wednesday, October 29, 2014

    Wordy Wednesday

    It seems that Wednesdays are a tough time for me to be blogging. I have class Monday and Tuesday nights (with finals next week.. Yikes!), and the middle of the week is just a drag. I usually do Top Ten Tuesdays and book reviews on Thursdays, so Wednesday just kind of gets the shaft.

    Today, I'm going to indulge a bit in a few favorite quotes from novels. Today's theme is perseverance, which seems to be the theme of October for me.

    Good luck tackling this hump day, and I hope you have smooth sailing for the rest of the week!

    Tuesday, October 28, 2014

    Winter Book Challenge

    Last week, I was flipping through a few blogger friends' posts when I stumbled across this post on Make It Count. Which then connected me to Semi-Charmed Kind of Life and her seasonal book challenges! Where has this been my whole life??

    So, this winter (November 1 - February 28), I will try to get all of the points available for this challenge! The rules are on the blog, but in summary, the novel must be at least 200 pages long, no doubling up books for different categories, and re-reads can only be used three times. 

    I am so so so excited about this!

    5 points: Freebie! Read any book that fits the general rules.
    I'll just choose one of the eight books I have checked out from the library. Ooooops.

    10 points: Read a book written by an author who has published at least 10 books. 
    Once upon a time, I spent a summer reading Jodi Picoult. I think this is the perfect time to revisit her novels! (I'm thinking House Rules.)

    10 points: Read a book of short stories.
    I want to use this as an excuse to read some short stories by more popular authors, like F. Scott Fitzgerald or Shirley Jackson (who wrote "The Lottery").

    10 points: Read a book with a food (not a drink!) in the title. 
    I think I'll use this as a re-read... I read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake in the middle of a semester that was crazy, and I wish I had more time to slow down and really absorb it.

    15 points: Read the first book in a series that is new to you (so no rereads for this one!). 
    I'll be checking out my Top 10 Series I Want to Start post from last Tuesday!  

    15 points:
     Read a book that was originally written in a language that is not your native language. 
    Natalie from Cosmos Mariners posted a few great recommendations on my Bookish Quotes post last Wednesday, so I'll be checking out The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon! (Originally written in Spanish!) (This one could count for bookish book and first in a series... but I figured it will be harder to find a translated book than the other ones.)

    15 points: Read a book written by a local author (either an author from your state if you live in the United States, or in your country if you live somewhere else). 
    I'm debating between rereading The Awakening by Kate Chopin (one of my favorite authors!) or checking out a novel by Ernest Gaines, who is featured with a whole section of our university's library!

    20 points: Read a "bookish book".
    I might reread Fahrenheit 451, because I can't get enough of that novel. If I'm feeling like reading something new, I might dive into a new series, like Inkheart or A Discovery of Witches.

    20 points: Read a book with a direction in the title (e.g. north, south, east, west or any combination of those). 
    I'm leaning towards North and South by Elizabeth Gaskill. I've heard great things about it, and it has excellent ratings on Goodreads!

    25 points: Read a book from a genre you don't usually read. 
    I think I will read Manic, which was recommended by Abby. I hardly ever read nonfiction, so this will definitely be a change.

    25 points: Read a book with a song lyric in the title. Be sure to tell us the song name and artist as well!
    I've heard great things about Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson, and now that I've equated it to Kelly Clarkson, I can't get the song out of my head!

    30 points: Read two books with a different meal in each title.
    I'll be checking out The Dinner by Herman Koch and Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote.

    What do you think? Will you be taking the challenge with me?!

    Monday, October 27, 2014

    Monday Funday

    This weekend, I slept a lot. When I wasn't sleeping, I was reading.

    Have you ever found a novel that you didn't want to end because you love the character so much? I found a new favorite character this weekend, and I literally hugged the book when I was done. 

    (PS. Said novel is NOT TFiOS, but I did hug that book too.)

    Can't wait to tell y'all all about this book on Thursday! In the meantime, I'm starting a new book challenge, which I'll talk about more tomorrow. All in all, it's Monday, I'm still managing to be exhausted, and I just want to spend all week curled up in yoga pants on the couch with all the books. 

    How was your weekend? Have you read any hug-worthy books lately?

    Friday, October 24, 2014

    Friday Inspirations: Giveaway Winner!

    Happy Friday to all!

    This week was my first week back at work after a stint of unemployment, and it was nice. Exhausting, exhilarating, and nice.

    This week was also a great week for reading! I finished Cinder, read The Memory Keeper's Daughter for book club, and started A Man Named Ove, which I can't wait to tell y'all more about. (Hint: Grumpy old men are my new favorite characters.)

    Also, I hosted my first giveaway for this blog.

    And the winner is.... (drumrolllllllll.....)

    Heather Smith! 

    (You should also check out Heather's super awesome blog, Woods of Bell Trees!)

    Thanks to everyone who participated and made this week a great one! Have a great weekend!

    Thursday, October 23, 2014

    Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

    “Soon, the whole world would be searching for her -Linh Cinder.
    A deformed cyborg with a missing foot.
    A Lunar with a stolen identity.
    A mechanic with no one to run to, nowhere to go.
    But they will be looking for a ghost.” 
    ― Marissa MeyerCinder

    Book Title: Cinder
    Author: Marissa Meyer
    Publication Date: 2012
    Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Utopian/Dystopian, SciFi
    Goodreads Rating: 4.11 Stars 
    My Rating: 3.0 Stars
    Recommended To: Anyone who likes SciFi; Anyone who likes fairytales with a twist

    Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 

    Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

    1. The sarcasm! Oh my goodness. I'm a sucker for some good sarcasm, and this book had plenty of it. The characters were all mildly hilarious and sassy, even when they were facing terrific hardships.

    2. Not enough explanation. I knew the gist of the novel (Cinderella spin on a SciFi novel) based on the back cover of the book. However, when the story opened, it was really hard to understand how the world worked. I mean, I know it's a foreign land and the author couldn't just come out and say "Hey this is how things work!", but I spent most of the first part of the book trying to figure out why being a cyborg was a big deal and how the rules of the land played out.... It was just distracting. So, because of this, it was hard for me to connect to the characters.

    3. I just... didn't believe it. So this could be my frame of mind, or maybe that I haven't read SciFi/Fantasy in a while, but I just couldn't believe it. The story felt a bit forced and a lot of events happened without a real reason. For example, Cinder's sister gets sick. However, we never find out how she contracted the disease and if Cinder had anything to do with it. There were just a lot of gaps that left me wanting more information.

    Despite all of the amazing reviews, this novel just wasn't one that stuck in my mind, and, while I didn't hate it, I don't think I'll be reading the rest of the series.

    “Vanity is a factor, but it is more a question of control. It is easier to trick others into perceiving you as beautiful if you can convince yourself you are beautiful. But mirrors have an uncanny way of telling the truth.” 

    “She briefly wished she did have some sort of magic so she could shoot a bolt of lightning through his head.” 

    “He was the fantasy of every girl in the country. He was so far out of realm, her world, that she should have stopped thinking about him the second the door had closed. Should stop thinking about him immediately. Should never think about him again, except maybe as a client - and her prince.
    And yet, the memory of his fingers against her skin refused to fade.” 

    “That you prefer to rule through fear rather than justice? So sorry, Your Majesty, I’m afraid I already knew that about you.” 

    “Lines drawn into his face suggested he had spent many years thinking very hard over very difficult problems.” 

    Wednesday, October 22, 2014

    Quotable Quotes: For the Love of Reading

    Occasionally, I read a book about a book lover. Authors love to create characters who love to read, and I find myself instantly connecting with characters who love reading as much as I do. Today, I've gathered a few quotes from books and characters who just GET what it's like to read a book that is life-changing.

    Don't forget to check out Monday's post and sign up for the book giveaway! Entries close Friday morning!

    Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    Top Ten Tuesday: Series I Want to Start

    Series are a big commitment for any reader. Seriously, when you start a novel that you know has a few follow-up novels, there's pressure! Do you want to commit to these characters for 2-5 more novels? (Don't even get me started on the commitment that is the Outlander series.) However, I love finding a great series that really pulls me in like Harry Potter, Divergent, or The Hunger Games. So, for today's Top Ten Tuesday, here are a few series that I've heard great things about and would love to consider committing to. (Click on the picture to view the books in Goodreads and get a plot summary!)

    I noticed the first book of this series on my cousin's floor a few days ago, and when I realized that she had the book I've been hearing about, I decided I should try out this series.

    Lauren Oliver wrote Panic, which was an amazing book and one that I still think about from time to time. I would love to find the time to read her series.

    I love love love this series (after much debating and reluctance, I did finally come to love it). I also spent too much money buying the entire series on my Nook. Now I need to read it.

    A dating reality show that is set in a dystopian world... I mean, how could you pass that up?

    I listened to the first novel on audiobook years ago when I was commuting to work. I don't remember much about it, but I do remember liking it, and I really want to get back into the series.

    I've had at least 12 people recommend this series to me, so how could I not include it on this list? Plus, those covers. How cool are those covers?

    A man who can write characters into existence... I love a novel that crosses fantasy book world with real life.

    I'm almost embarrassed that I haven't even attempted this series yet, but it's a pretty large commitment. However, with the new TV show coming out based on the series, I've added it to my TBR.

    What do you think? Any series that I missed? Which series should I start with?

    As always, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

    Monday, October 20, 2014

    Passing It On

    Today, I was supposed to review Caitlin Moran's How to Be a Woman, which I first heard about on A Practical Wedding when they did a whole book club about it. But then... I didn't finish the book on time. Which, as a book blogger, I know is awful. But then, as a real life person with a real life life, I figure it's ok. The weather was too beautiful to not be frolicking around in it.

    So, what am I to talk about now? Well, I'll tell you a bit of how the book came into my hands.

    A few months ago, I was scrolling through Instagram, passing time, when I happened across one of my friends from elementary school. She is now living states away, singing in a band and working at a local bookstore (yea, I'd say her life is pretty rad). She posted a picture of Caitlin Moran's novel, and I commented that I have been wanting to read that book. And what did she respond?

    "Hey Em, if you send me your address, I'll mail it to you when I'm done."

    Ummmmm. WHAT? Yes. Please.

    Can we all take a moment to acknowledge that getting a package in the mail is right up there with puppy noses and the smell of old books in terms of the best things ever?

    So last week, I was checking my mail, and BOOM. A book. A book I've wanted to read for a while. AND it had a sweet note in it. Handwritten. I'm typing in fragments because it made me that excited. Really.

    This novel about all the fun/crappy things about being a woman, from having to shave to deciding to have kids or not. It's also about the fundamentals of feminism, and if you think you aren't a feminist, this will be the novel to change your mind. Plus, it's hilarious. Like... truly laugh out loud funny.

    So I figured that instead of writing a full review of the book for you, I would pass it on! As much as I would like to keep this beauty for myself, I think that since I received it in the mail, it's only right that I mail it off for its next home. So, it's Little Infinities Inaugural Book Giveaway! All you have to do is like my Facebook page and put a comment below saying why you would like the book, and you're entered! Twice!

    Good luck, and happy Monday!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Friday, October 17, 2014

    Friday Inspirations: Puppies and Fear of Failing

    Happy Friday folks! It's been one busy week here in my household, full of interviews and meetings and other things that bring me hope for the future. Also, I've been up with the pup at 5:30 every morning (because he decided that is the optimal time to wake up), so the days have felt extra long. It's a good thing he's so cute.

    Earlier this week, a blogging friend mentioned that she needed guest posts for this week. When I went check out her website, Color Me Brave, I realized that I had the perfect topic just waiting to be released. Yesterday, my post "Do You Fear Failure?" went up, and I've been amazed at the support I have received from it. Go check it out and let me know what you think.

    I hope you all have a great weekend, full of beautiful weather, lots of football, and zero studying. (That will pretty much be the opposite of my weekend.)

    Thursday, October 16, 2014

    Book Review: Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

    “I'm just trying to tell you that your life will be very long with zigzags you can't imagine. You won't realize just how young you are until you aren't that young anymore.” 
    ― Taylor Jenkins ReidForever, Interrupted

    Book Title: Forever, Interrupted
    Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Publication Date: 2013
    Genres: Adult Fiction
    Goodreads Rating: 4.03 Stars 
    My Rating: 4.25 Stars
    Recommended To: Anyone who wants to read a wonderful love story; Anyone who likes Nicholas Sparks

    Elsie Porter is an average twentysomething and yet what happens to her is anything but ordinary. On a rainy New Year's Day, she heads out to pick up a pizza for one. She isn't expecting to see anyone else in the shop, much less the adorable and charming Ben Ross. Their chemistry is instant and electric. Ben cannot even wait twenty-four hours before asking to see her again. Within weeks, the two are head over heels in love. By May, they've eloped.

    Only nine days later, Ben is out riding his bike when he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. Elsie hears the sirens outside her apartment, but by the time she gets downstairs, he has already been whisked off to the emergency room. At the hospital, she must face Susan, the mother-in-law she has never met and who doesn't even know Elsie exists.

    Interweaving Elsie and Ben's charmed romance with Elsie and Susan's healing process, Forever, Interrupted will remind you that there's more than one way to find a happy ending.

    1. This book is unexpected. So I picked up this novel from the library, and it was a small little paperback. I figured it would be a quick and easy read without much thinking involved. And I was wrong. This novel starts with Elsie's husband dying. Then the novel plays out in a flashback, switching from past to present. You get to see how Elsie and Ben met, what their romance looked like, and struggles they faced before he died. You also get to see how Elsie (and Susan) cope with the loss of Ben. It was beautifully written and the back and forth only enhanced the novel.

    2. This is a love story worth remembering. Holy moly. Elsie and Ben's romance was a whirlwind that reminded me of my own relationship with Jeromy (minus the married within six months thing..). So while Ben's immediate death didn't hit me too hard, the flashbacks made me see the depth of Ben's love for Elsie, and there were a few times that when I saw how Elsie was coping with Ben's death, I teared up for them.

    3. This story was so simple, yet so complex. I know, that does nothing to help you decide to read this novel. The best part about this novel was it's simple, straightforward nature. There wasn't really a climax, but rather a slow turn of ups and downs as Elsie struggles to overcome this terrible ordeal she's been through, offset by the unfolding of Elsie and Ben's love life.

    This story was an amazing mix of love, loss, grief, and hope, and I was thoroughly impressed by the writing and simplicity of the plot.

    “My eyes are bloodshot. I look at my face and I think that I had someone who loved this face. And now he's gone. And now no one loves my face anymore.” 

    “For the first time since Ben died, I look like a widow. For the first time since I lost him, I feel like I recognize the person in the mirror. There I am, grief-stricken and un-whole. Widowed. It's such a relief to see myself this way. I have felt so insecure in my widowness that seeing myself look like a widow comforts me.”

    “He's never coming back. Whether you go or you don't go. So get in the car, because it's the last thing you can do with him.” 

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    Currently Crushing On: Mona Lisa Smile

    So I went on a Lifetime binge a couple of days ago, mostly because they were playing some great movies that I hadn't seen in a while. Among those was Mona Lisa Smile.

    Mona Lisa Smile was released in 2003, and is about a liberal art history teacher moving to teach at Wellesley, a conservative all-women's university in the 1950s. Far more than that, however, it is about a teacher who is strong and independent minded teaching students that there is more to life than getting married and having babies.

    The part of the movie that struck me the most was a memorable scene between Dr. Watson (played by Julia Roberts) and Joan Brandwyn (played by Julia Stiles). After finding out that Joan was accepted to Yale, Dr. Watson realizes Joan will turn down the law program to move with her boyfriend to Penn State.

    This scene really highlights to me the difference between old Feminism and new Feminism. While old Feminism would have scoffed and looked down on someone who was a housewife as "settling" and not achieving their dreams, new Feminism says that all women should have a choice to do whatever they choose to do without fear of being judged, even if that is staying home with the kids and not being a career woman or choosing not to marry and settle down.


    What do you think? Have you seen Mona Lisa Smile?