More books!

Here a few more books I’ve read so far this year. All descriptions are from Amazon.

(Btw, there are gaps in the numbering because I don’t write about everything I read. For the most part, I only write about the older titles [and post the write-ups on LibraryThing] as part of my effort to conquer the TBR pile. I am part of a group there that tracks older books read. If you’re interested in seeing the complete list of books I’ve read for the year, I catalogue pretty much everything on my LT profile. I’m on Goodreads, too, but I haven’t finished adding every book over there yet. Feel free to add me as a friend on either or both platform(s). :))

#4: Seven Deadly Sins: Settling the Argument Between Born Bad and Damaged Good, by Corey Taylor

seven-deadly-sins_small

For the first time, Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor speaks directly to his fans and shares his worldview about life as a sinner. And Taylor knows how to sin. As a small-town hero in the early ’90s, he threw himself into a hard-drinking, fierce-loving, live-for-the-moment life; when his music exploded, he found himself rich, wanted, and on the road. But soon his extreme lifestyle led him to question what it means to sin and whether it could—or should—be cast in a different light. After all, if sin makes us human how wrong can it be?

Now updated with a new Afterword by the author, Seven Deadly Sins is a brutally honest look “at a life that could have gone horribly wrong at any turn,” and the soul-searching and self-discovery it took to set it right.


Having read Corey’s second book last year, I sort of knew what to expect in terms of his writing style. It is rambling and at times completely incoherent, but he does throw in a lot of interesting and hilarious stories. If you’re a big fan (like I am), it’s worth the effort to push through this; otherwise, probably not. I liked his other book better, too – it made me laugh out loud more often :). But still, I’m glad I read this one as well. Corey divulges more about his personal background in this one than in the other, and the details were interesting, if often sad.

#7: Sweet Valley High #17: Love Letters

love-letters

Caroline Pearce has always been one of the least popular girls at Sweet Valley High. But when she invents a new out-of-town boyfriend, people finally start to pay attention to her. Brown-eyed, six foot Adam and his romantic love letters are the talk of the school.
Caroline has everyone fooled even clever Jessica Wakefield. But what begins as a bid for love and attention quickly becomes the worst jam of Caroline’s life, when her friends insist on meeting the boyfriend she’s been bragging about. Can Caroline keep the truth a secret, or will her lies be her downfall?


I’ve been working my way through all the SVH titles available from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library (for some reason, you can’t borrow #1 -#12, but I think the rest of them are there). So far, this one has been my favorite. I just thought it was really cute and I liked that Caroline learns a few lessons:  namely, that it’s never a good idea to lie in order to get attention, and that the best way to make friends is to try and learn how to be a good friend yourself.

PS – I love that cover :).

#8: Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon, by Keith R.A. DeCandido

supernatural-heart-of-the-dragon_small

A Supernatural novel that reveals a previously unseen adventure for the Winchester brothers, from the hit CW series!

When renegade angel Castiel alerts Sam and Dean to a series of particularly brutal killings in San Francisco’s Chinatown, they realise the Heart of the Dragon, an ancient evil of unspeakable power, is back! John Winchester faced the terrifying spirit 20 years ago, and the Campbell family fought it 20 years before that – can the boys succeed where their parents and grandparents failed?


I liked this story a lot. The fact that the demon comes back every twenty years means we get to see various members of the Winchester family fight it: first Mary (and her parents), and then John, and then finally Sam and Dean. I think this is the third of DeCandido’s Supernatural tie-ins that I’ve read and I really enjoy his no-nonsense writing style and the way he keeps the action moving. Also, this story sort of made me wish there were more books about Mary as a teen. She was cute and fun to read about :).

#9: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

war-of-art_small

Think of The War of Art as tough love… for yourself.

Since 2002, The War of Art has inspired people around the world to defeat “Resistance”; to recognize and knock down dream-blocking barriers and to silence the naysayers within us. Resistance kicks everyone’s butt, and the desire to defeat it is equally as universal. The War of Art identifies the enemy that every one of us must face, outlines a battle plan to conquer this internal foe, then pinpoints just how to achieve the greatest success. Though it was written for writers, it has been embraced by business entrepreneurs, actors, dancers, painters, photographers, filmmakers, military service members and thousands of others around the world.

Steven Pressfield is the author of the novels The Legend of Bagger Vance (made into the movie starring Matt Damon and Will Smith), Gates of Fire, Tides of War, Last of the Amazons, Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign, Killing Rommel, and The Profession. His nonfiction includes The War of Art, The Warrior Ethos, and the upcoming Turning Pro. His books are included in the curriculum at West Point and the Naval Academy, and are on the Commandant’s Reading List for the Marine Corps.


This was a short book (around 200 pages) and I read most of it in one sitting. It was very good; probably one of the best books I’ve read about writing. If anyone ever feels they need a good kick in the pants to get them started on a project (of any type) I will be sure and recommend this!

Sunshine

Seventieth book read this year:

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Description from Amazon:

A small-town baker uses her own magic to confront a post–vampire apocalypse world in this award-winning urban fantasy Neil Gaiman called “pretty much perfect.”

Although it had been mostly deserted since the Voodoo Wars, there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years. Rae Seddon, nicknamed Sunshine, head baker at her family’s busy and popular café in downtown New Arcadia, needed a place to get away from all the noise and confusion—of the clientele and her family. Just for a few hours. Just to be able to hear herself think.
 
She knew about the Others, of course. Everyone did. And several of her family’s best regular customers were from SOF—Special Other Forces—which had been created to deal with the threat and the danger of the Others.
 
She drove out to her family’s old lakeside cabin and sat on the porch, swinging her feet and enjoying the silence and the silver moonlight on the water.
 
She never heard them coming. Of course, you don’t when they’re vampires.


I thought this dragged in some places, but overall I really liked it. Looking at reviews and stuff, I see the book seems to get compared to “Buffy” a lot but I personally don’t think it’s anything like that, except that it is about a young (blonde?) girl and there are vampires in it. I’ve also seen that McKinley has stated she won’t write any sequels to Sunshine, which I find disappointing because the story left me very curious about what happens next to the characters! And the fantasy world she created for this is so complex and detailed, it seems ripe for more tales to be set in it…I’m still thinking about the story, even though I finished the book a while ago. Oh, well. In some ways, it’s cool there were so many possibilities left open at the end of the book, because it means I’m free to imagine whatever I want to happen next. Ha, ha. It’s also nice to read a book (particularly about vampires) that isn’t part of a series. One and done!

PS: I love all these covers, particularly the one with the coffee cup, which was the one included with my version of the e-book. The one with her in the red dress is really cool too, though.

The Shining

Sixty-ninth book read this year:

The Shining by Stephen King

Description from Amazon:

Terrible events occur at an isolated hotel in the off season, when a small boy with psychic powers struggles to hold his own against the forces of evil that are driving his father insane.


I had a paperback copy of this for a really long time, but since I never read it, I sold it. Then, a couple of years ago I saw the e-book on sale for $1.99 so I bought it again. Now I finally read it and I’m glad! It was quite good. I’d always heard it was different from the Kubrick movie and that King didn’t like that adaptation. Now I can see why. One write-up I read about it said that “while the film was a technical marvel… it lacked the heart and emotional complexities of the novel,” and I would have to agree. The book was heart-breaking to me in a way that the movie (which is one of my favorites) just has never been. I may have cried a little while finishing the book.

I’m interested in the sequel, Doctor Sleep, even though the excerpt included with The Shining made it seem depressing, too :(.

First cover image taken from Amazon (I believe), the rest from the following places: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Here’s the link for cover #4, with a warning that following it will expose you to spoilers for the novel because it is a side-by-side comparison of the book and Kubrick film.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven

Second book of the year:

A Funny Thing Happened

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven (or How I Made Peace with the Paranormal and Stigmatized Zealots and Cynics in the Process) by Corey Taylor

Description from Amazon:

In this book, Corey Taylor undertakes something never before attempted in the history of rock superstardom: he takes you with him as he journeys undercover through various ghostbusting groups who do their best to gather information and evidence about the existence of spirits. Some are more credible than others, and, frankly, some are completely insane, but all are observed with appropriate seriousness as Taylor attempts to better understand some of the spooky things that have happened to him in his life, especially that night at the Cold House.

But that’s not all, folks. Taylor once again gives you a behind-the-scenes tour of his crazy life and the many beyond-the-grave events he’s encountered. (You’ll be shocked how often Slipknot has been invaded by the supernatural.) Taylor also touches on his religious background and how it led him to believe in much more than the Man in the Sky.


I didn’t receive too many books for Christmas this year, but I got Amazon gift cards, so before 2015 was out I bought myself a few things off my wishlist. This was one of them.

Corey Taylor, in case you don’t know, is the singer of Stone Sour and Slipknot. I’ve been on a bit of a HUGE Slipknot kick ever since S and I saw them play live back in September. They were amazing and I’ve just been really into obsessed with them ever since. When I found out Corey Taylor had written several books, I knew I had to give at least one of them a try. I decided to start with this one because the premise was just so strange and intriguing. Why would a rock star write a book about ghosts, of all things? Well, it turns out, because he is haunted. Ha, ha. Okay, so that’s not entirely precise, but…he does seem to have had an inordinate number of run-ins with the paranormal throughout his life (although, is there such a thing as an “ordinate” number of paranormal experiences? Probably not). Ghosts just seem to like him.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s not fantastically written. Frankly, parts of it are a mess. But it is interesting and thought-provoking and very, very funny. Or at least I thought it was funny. Maybe I just have a comparably juvenile/sick sense of humor to Taylor’s, but I laughed out loud so many times while reading this. I enjoyed all of his Star Trek and other sci-fi references, as I had not known he was One of Us, and I liked that he poked a lot of fun at himself because I appreciate it when famous people don’t take themselves too seriously. Honestly, he seems like one of those people that just has a million funny stories to tell you, and I came away with the feeling that he’d be a cool person to hang out and have a beer with. Although I don’t think he drinks anymore now that he’s sober. But you get what I’m saying.

I think this book may be most interesting to Taylor’s fans, and to people who like ghost stories.

But really, who doesn’t like a good creepy ghost story?

31 Days to Clean

So here’s the first book I’ve finished reading so far this year:

31 Days to Clean

31 Days to Clean – Having a Martha House the Mary Way, by Sarah Mae

This is a short little e-book that I bought almost a year ago. The edition I have seems to no longer exist :(. According to the author’s website, it’s been picked up by a traditional publisher and will be re-released in April. This is the Amazon description for that upcoming edition:

Get your home and your heart in order in just 31 days!
Sarah Mae wants to let you in on a little secret about being a good homemaker: It’s not about having a clean house. She’d never claim to be a natural, organized cleaner herself—yet, like you, she wants a beautiful space to call home, a place where people feel loved and at peace. Where people can really settle in with good food, comfy pillows, and wide-open hearts.

Is it possible to find a balance? To care for your heart—and your home—at the same time?

Journey with Sarah Mae on this easy, practical 31-day plan to get you moving and have your house looking and feeling fresh. But even more than that, you’ll gain a new vision for the home of your dreams, and how to make it a place of peace, comfort, and community. Originally published as the e-book 31 Days to Clean and now revised and expanded in print for the first time, Having a Martha Home the Mary Way will inspire you to find a happier, healthier . . . cleaner way to live.


I am one of those weird people who actually enjoys cleaning. Even the parts I dislike, I don’t mind very much. That’s part of why I like to read books about cleaning! I think this guide would probably be more helpful for people who are extremely reluctant cleaners, though, because it spends a lot of time on encouragement and motivation. But the fact that Sarah Mae focuses so much on the “why” of housecleaning rather than the “how” does make this a unique sort of book about cleaning.

I liked that she takes you through two different challenges each day, one for your heart/soul (a “Mary challenge” — a reference to the biblical story of Mary and Martha found in Luke 10) and one for actually cleaning part of your home (a “Martha challenge”). And I agree with her that when it comes to keeping house, motivations are important. It’s good to ask ourselves whether we are just trying to impress the people we live with and invite into our homes, or whether we are trying to create a loving, comfortable environment for them. Obviously it’s better to stay focused on the latter :).

 

City of Glass

On Tuesdays, I post a bit about what I’ve been reading lately.

City of Glass 1Last week, I finished City of Glass by Cassandra Clare.

To liven up my photo of the book, I decided to put it alongside two things that make me think of Texas (where I live):  potato chips from Schlotzsky’s and an HEB diet soda. In Lubbock (where I’m from) they do not have HEB (*gasp* — I know!) So I didn’t discover its fabulousness until after I got married and we moved to Houston. Now I am a huge fan, of course. And I have been drinking Diet Coke for years and I honestly think the HEB brand of diet soda tastes better. This is cool for me, considering how much less it costs than Diet Coke. And yes, I realize the cheapest (and healthiest) thing for me to do would be to quit drinking soda altogether, but…so far, I have not done that. So. Yeah. We all have our vices :).

As for the clothespin in the photo…I have this bad habit of not finishing my chips when I go to a sandwich restaurant. So I often bring them home and close the bag with a clothespin. Then I eat ’em later. And, uh, apparently I sometimes take a picture of it :).

Funny (by which I mean terrifying) story about this photo: I moved outside to take it because the lighting was better and only after I’d been out there for a while did I notice the wasp’s nest stuck to a chair, with all the wasps crawling all over it — not unlike the way my skin crawled when I saw that :(. I may have screamed. Just a little. But I took the picture anyway, grabbed up my stuff and then ran back inside! Ah, the joys of summer-time.

So…this post was not really about City of Glass after all, was it? But what can I say about a book almost everyone but me has already read, anyway? Y’all already know it’s good :)!

Happy reading (and snacking. And not being stung by wasps),

Elizabeth

Royal reading.

On Tuesdays I post a little about what I’ve been reading lately.Princess Diaries CollectionAmong other things, I have lately been catching up on Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series, which I started reading years ago but never finished (story of my life where series are concerned, it seems).

The above photo is of a collection of volumes I-III and volume IV, the the only volumes I have in physical format. I had gotten up to volume VI before I stopped. Within the past few weeks, I’ve bought the rest as e-books and have read almost all of them in anticipation of the 11th installment, Royal Wedding, coming out next month. To be honest, I am a little princess-ed out at this point. I should have spread the reading of these out a little more! But I am almost done now…and still looking forward to the new book :).

Happy reading,

Elizabeth

5 TBR (the impossible dream?)

On Tuesdays, I post a bit about what I have been reading lately.

I’ve mentioned before that I used to SO not be a minimalist, right? Well, here’s another example.

I used to work in a video store. This was back in the days when movies were released on VHS. I love movies (and I had a pretty good employee discount), so I used to buy TONS of tapes. One day I told one of my co-workers that I had bought so many VHS, I had stacks of them at home that I had never watched or even unwrapped. He was shocked. He said “When I buy a movie, I am always so stoked to watch it that I can’t wait. I take it home and watch it that night!”

So then, I was shocked, because…it made me wonder. Why was I buying so many tapes if I wasn’t excited enough to watch them, not just that very same night but in some cases, not ever? Basically, I was just hoarding. Something I used to do a lot of back then. Thankfully I (eventually) got over that sort of behavior. For the most part.

Recently, this little tid-bit of conversation with my co-worker re-surfaced in my memory while I was contemplating my TBR piles (both physical and digital). I counted and it seems S and I own roughly 178 books that I have never read :(. Granted, a lot of these are his, not things I bought for myself, but…some are mine and altogether, there are probably around 100 or more that I would like to read someday. I know this sounds crazy and it will likely take me a few years, but I would like to get that number down to…5.

Yes, 5 total!

Wouldn’t that be awesome? I can’t see myself reading more than 5 books at any one time anyway (I usually read 1 – 3, MAYBE 4), so 5 seems like a decent number to have in reserve at any given time.

In order to make this happen, I will obviously have to stop buying so many books. So I’ve implemented a new rule for myself. From now on, I can only buy things I will read immediately*. Things that I am “stoked” to read right away. Because if I’m not that excited about reading it NOW (or in the VERY near future), it can probably wait, hm? True, it may no longer be on sale later (this is where I get into trouble, with sales! Particularly of e-books), but…I think I’d rather pay more for it later than to have it sit on the shelf now, making me feel bad for who-knows-how-many months. Or years. Because I do. Feel bad. Even though digital books don’t take up physical space, they still tend to take up mental space. For me, anyway. I get anxious when I see how much stuff I’ve bought that I still haven’t gotten around to reading, and when I start to feel as though I will never catch up.

Anyway, we’ll see how this works out, but so far so good. In March, I bought ONE ebook and I read it right away. The TBR pile did not grow! Instead, it shrank by 5 books. In April, I bought 2 ebooks and 1 small paperback and I am currently in the process of reading all of them right away, too. Plus I read 4 books from the TBR pile, so yet again, it got smaller. I like this feeling, of using and enjoying things I already have instead of feeling like I am just hoarding new ones.

I will continue to report on how this little (okay, pretty big) goal of mine is progressing over the following months. In the meantime, here’s a book I finished over the weekend and can finally take off my TBR list (after having it sit on my shelf for almost 4 years)! Woo-hoo!

DSCF3466  Happy reading,

Elizabeth

*PS – An exception to this rule may occur at Christmas time, when I tend to get a lot of books as gifts. If I do get gifts, I won’t count them against myself, especially since I tend to be pretty good about reading those within a few months of receiving them :).

PPS – And may I also take this opportunity to brag on my husband, who does not seem to have this book-hoarding issue? He usually just reads as he buys. I look forward to the day I can do this, too. Honestly, I used to pretty much do that, too, but within the past two years or so, my e-book buying has escalated.

Beauty is terror.

On Tuesdays I write a bit about what I’ve been reading lately.

The Secret History

I’ve read a lot since my last book update, but I’m just going to skip ahead to the latest book I finished, which is The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

The pages beg to be turned…Tells you whodunit on the first page and makes you read on hungrily to discover the how and why. – People

I have read this book twice before, but not for about twenty years (and yes, it is crazy to me that I am now old enough to say things like that). I remembered loving it when I first picked it up. I was maybe 16. I still loved it this go-round, too, although I imagine it was for different reasons. Back then, I probably identified more strongly with the narrator, Richard. I was probably as dazzled as he was by the other characters, by how unapproachable and romantic they all seemed. Now I see everyone in the book differently, (perhaps more realistically and with a lot more sympathy), but I still enjoyed the story immensely. I’m glad I had forgotten most of it; it wound up feeling almost new to me.

Here is a post that lists 10 reasons to love this book and I’d have to agree with all of them, especially #10 (emphasis mine):

It lets you in on secrets. Tartt’s title is a cracker, not least because it is true to the appeal of the book. We, like Richard, are being given membership of a select group. One secret is given away at the book’s opening, only because we can be assured that others lie in store. Every one of the millions who have read The Secret History has the delicious illusion of being admitted to the most dangerous of confidences. It is as if her every reader is the first and only one to read it.

This is certainly how I felt the first time I read it, as if I had stumbled on something special that no one else knew about. Back then, the internet wasn’t what it is now (and I didn’t have a computer, anyway); I had no idea this story had such a huge following!

Here is a cool (spoiler-free) video review of the book I found on Youtube.

The copy the reviewer holds up at the beginning of this video looks just like the one I used to check out of the library all those years ago! It is so pretty (I’m sure that is why I picked it up in the first place), I sort of want to hunt down a first edition and buy it for my very own. But I am a minimalist these days; I probably don’t need any more things ;)…Right?

Here are a few other fun links I’ve found, too, for people who are obsessed with enjoyed this book:

The Book Drum profile, including “illustrated page-by-page notes, mapped settings, a glossary, a summary, an author biography and a review.”

A Tumblr dedicated to the book, with some amazing (fan-created?) artwork.

8 Great Books for Fans of The Secret History (darn it, now I want to read every one of these, too!)

Happy reading,

Elizabeth

Worth the wait

On Tuesdays, I post a bit about what I am currently reading.

It’s been weeks since I finished reading From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, but I just wanted to document how great I thought it was!

I think I’d mentioned before that I’d received this book as a Christmas gift a long time ago…back in 2008! I feel bad that I let it sit around that long before reading it, especially since I had specifically asked for it as a gift :(. I think I was mostly putting it off because:

  1. It’s long for a graphic novel (572 pages) and since it’s hardcover, this makes the book quite heavy and not easy to cart around while one is reading it.
  2. It’s in black and white.
  3. Some of the drawings are really tiny.
  4. The lettering is crooked and sort of hard to read.
  5. The characters all speak with accents.
  6. The story seemed dense (in other words, not like a quick, light read). This is fine, but I have to be in the mood.

Well, it turns out I was wrong about number 6. Yes, the story was complex and involved and deep (and dark, too, of course, since it’s about the Jack the Ripper murders) but…it felt quick and light. Once I got started reading this, it was like I no longer noticed how small and black and white the drawings were, or how crookedly-lettered the speech bubbles were. The characters’ accents presented no problem for me. I’ll admit I had a harder time forgetting the physical heaviness of the book, but even so…I didn’t want to put it down. I flew through it and totally loved it.

You know how when you finish a book you totally loved, you wish you could call up the author and ask them a million questions about it? That’s how I felt about this one. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered this appendix at the end:

DSCF3461Moore’s notes cover almost every single page in the book!

And while he didn’t answer every question I had, he covered a lot of ground and shared all sorts of insight. I loved reading all that extra material. It was like the next best thing to having a conversation with Moore about the story over coffee…or tea, I guess, as he is British.

DSCF3465Seriously, why don’t all (great) books have this?!

I have learned there is also a From Hell companion book available, so I’ve added it to my wishlist.

I’ve read several other books in the past few weeks, too, but I’ll maybe cover those in a different post. If anyone is really curious, I track almost everything I read over at LibraryThing. Feel free to add me if you want! I’ll add you back. And let me know what you are reading, too. Anything that you’ve loved?

Happy reading,

Elizabeth

PS – If you decide to read From Hell on my recommendation, please be forewarned that it is intended for, as the movie ratings board likes to call them, ‘mature audiences.’ It contains nudity and graphic violence.