Thursday, July 13, 2017

Bookish and Not So Bookish Thoughts

Hosted at Bookishly Boisterous!

1. I like dresses! This is not a sentence I would ever have imagined writing as a child or even a few years ago. I still believe that wearing or liking dresses has nothing inherently to do with being a woman, and the reason I like dresses now has nothing to do with gender identity (except, I'll admit, that it's socially acceptable for me to wear them). Instead, I like dresses now because 1) it's summer and they're cooler and 2) they're more flattering on the weight I've gained as an adult.

2. When I opened my Stitchfix, I was thrilled to see an A-line dress in a polka-dot pattern on top. Hence, dress-liking revelation. Also, specifically, I like A-line dresses with short sleeves, quirky patterns, and, most importantly, pockets!

3. I'm rereading Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before and Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I'm reading them slowly this time, and writing in my journal along the way. It's a weird combination of comfort reading and actual continued attempts at life improvement--which is funny considering that my life is the best it's ever been...but that's also the best place to launch "even better"!

4. I'm so grateful for my life. For space to call my own, for my dog, for my husband...these are things I didn't know if I would ever have. I'm very lucky.

5. I'm also reading, for the first time, Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity. I have it out of the library, but it's really helpful. I might buy it.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Best Books Read in 2017 So Far

1. A Practical Wedding Planner by Meg Keene










I read this first in 2016, but it was incredibly helpful planning my wedding, especially in the last couple days!

2. The Magician King by Lev Grossman










I appreciate so much more the riffing on and respect for some of my favorite children's fantasy novels, and the Magicians series are fantasy novels in their own right too. Currently finishing up the trilogy with The Magician's Land.

3. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer



Insightful about who your audience really is, when it really is okay to ask (something I've struggled with most of my life), and plenty of wild, heartwarming stories from Amanda's life.





4. Wedding Stories, Ed. Diana Secker Tesdell



Thematic and timely for me, and also a thorough range of classic and contemporary American authors, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Edwidge Danticat. Also starts off with an entertaining story from English author A. A. Milne.




5. The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski


The last in the Winner's Curse trilogy was my favorite. Besides being a compulsively readable trilogy, there's provocative commentary on the relationships between master/slave, oppressing/oppressed, and the series also moves beyond that in terms of Arin and Kestrel's relationship, plus just has some damn clever moves. I love having a female heroine who is probably an average fighter, but more importantly, a military genius, and recognized as such among allies and enemies alike.


6. The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

Helen Russell provides a personal and informative account of her year living in Denmark. I found her impressions of the Danish lifestyle interesting, especially since Denmark is apparently the happiest country in the world!






7. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren



Hope Jahren's memoir is less about being a woman in the sciences and more an idiosyncratic grant proposal/love letter to plants and her lab partner, Bill--but a fascinating read that well deserves its popularity.






8. The Scar by Marina and Sergey Dyachenko


Marina and Sergey Dyachenko create a quirky and magnetic fairytale about a scar that turns a warrior into a coward.






9. Small Changes by Marge Piercy

I loved this book, but have a hard time explaining why. I grokked it in a very visceral way since it touches on the lives of two women, one who happens to be named Miriam, and threads through Boston and the feminist movement in the 1970s. If any of those subjects grab you, read this.





10. Heartless by Marissa Meyer


Thoroughly engrossing imagined backstory of the Queen of Hearts, recommended to those who are already Marissa Meyer fans and anyone who hasn't yet experienced her brand of fairytale retellings.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning to Start But Haven't

Top Ten Tuesdays are over at the Broke and the Bookish.

I feel like I used to have a lot of these, but I'll give it a go...

Top Ten Series I've Been Meaning to Start But Haven't

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor










2. Dies the Fire by S.M. Stirling










3. Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde










4. The Broken Earth by N.K. Jemisin










5. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir










6. The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin










7. Defy by Sara B. Larson










8. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan










9.

10.

I'll see if I can remember more later!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts


Meme over at Bookishly Boisterous!

1. Especially towards the end of wedding planning, looking at wedding magazines made me sick and wedding advice columns made me sick with dread. It didn't stop me from reading, but what's surprising is that I've continued reading after the wedding--and I'm enjoying it! Ideas for weddings make me smile, conundrums inspire sympathy. The Practical Wedding column where the sister wears the white dress still leaves me flabbergasted--my sister/MOH wore an awesome gold jacket.

2. I have much more interest in wedding planning than I did before. Prior to mine, it was something I'd never thought about. Though it was stressful, afterward, it was kind of cool.  I'm not interested in planning a wedding or large party again, but I appreciate the experience because I have sympathy for my friends and relatives who are about to or may at some point go through it, and I like feeling like I could be of help to them

3. We got incredibly lucky. We had perfect guests--nobody's RSVPs were illegible, everyone replied who received their invitation (another story),and nobody brought a last-minute extra. We did have a few who replied yes and didn't make it, but they all let us know at least a few days ahead. Our families and bridal party were all phenomenal: they showed up, looked great, were extremely helpful. Like, one of my bridesmaids produced a sign in
Hobbiton Brushhand the morning of (Pro tip: if you're a bride having a daytime wedding, don't plan to do anything other than hair/makeup that morning). We got many comments on the warmth and love of the day, and we both felt loved and supported.

4. After we got back from the honeymoon, I reached a personal record and finished a journal I had for only three months (mostly, you guessed it, wedding stuff). In a desperate B&N run for a new blank journal, I also snatched up this Everyman Pocket edition of Wedding Stories that seemed like kismet, or, most likely, a cannily timed wedding season end table. I love the handsome hardcover with the built-in ribbon bookmark in and of itself, but I'm also enjoying every wedding story from A.A. Milne to Kelly Link. It's an apt post-wedding read, especially since I've got four more to attend this year, starting this weekend!

5. I'm super proud of myself for ordering photo books from Shutterfly less than a month after the wedding. They're the first Shutterfly photo books I've ever ordered, and while I'm happy, there are some things I would take back. For example, I regret all the one and two page spreads, which didn't end up looking good (fortunately, there were only a few). Also, Shutterfly warned me about putting too many photos on a page, but I honestly would have been okay with more photos on fewer pages. Anyway, we have awesome photo books!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Top Ten Fantasy Books I Recently Added to My TBR

Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Fantasy Books I Recently Added to My TBR

I haven't read any of these yet, but they're all books I've added to my TBR in the past six months or so. Most are recommendations from other bloggers.


1. Mangoverse series by Shira Glassman













2. Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton














3. Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton















4. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders













5. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman














6. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel














7. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi














8. Everfair by Nisi Shawl













9. The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim













10. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julia C. Dao


Sunday, May 28, 2017

On a Reading Roll

Post-wedding, I've been on a reading roll. Finished The Scar and The Magician King from Bookmooch, took out a ton of library books, and made some purchases at the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

I enjoyed The Magician King and look forward to finishing the trilogy with The Magician's Land. I better appreciate now Lev Grossman's  transmutation of fantasy tropes, not to mention his D&D references--he casually refers to characters using "cantrips" and "Magic Missile." The protagonist Quentin, a snarky teenager for most of the first book,  is truly becoming the hero he felt entitled to be. It was also interesting to see Julia's story, although the essence of it was given away in the first season of the TV show. There were some differences, and I wonder if the show will go where this book does with her story. We haven't finished the second season yet, so don't tell me!

I found some longtime TBR books at the library and have finished two already--Amanda Palmer's The Art of Asking and the audiobook of Lauren Graham's Talking As Fast As I Can. Neither were quite what I expected. Both are general memoirs more than they are about the topics I picked them up for--though I still enjoyed them. Palmer's memoir does coalesce around themes of asking, trust, and community. It clarified to me again that "your audience" typically isn't people you don't know, but rather your family and friends. Those are the people you are writing for, singing for, making art for. Those are the people who want to help you. Graham's memoir, while it does cover her time on Gilmore Girls and Gilmore Girls again,  dips more whimsically throughout her life as an actor. I'm glad I listened to the audiobook. It was a treat to listen to her voice, and although I love both characters, it's clear she has more Lorelei Gilmore in her than Sarah Braverman.

At the Gaithersburg Book Festival, I purchased Wangs vs. the World after attending a panel with the author Jade Chang as well as the author of All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg. I enjoyed the readings and repartee from both authors. That's probably next up on the list.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

1. We got married! It was beautiful and perfect and it's over :-)

2. We went on our honeymoon to Colonial Williamsburg, which was also pretty perfect, and I picked up Everlasting Syllabub and the Art of Carving by Hannah Glasse, an 18th century cookbook intended to be for the servants and thus not written in the "high polite style." Although I don't think I'll be attempting any of her recipes, it is a fascinating read.

3. While I was gone, a pair of books arrived from Bookmooch, The Magician King by Lev Grossman and The Scar by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko. I gave up on the former at the library, so now I've got two handsome hardcovers to call my own. I read The Scar first, and enjoyed it immensely. It's a fleshed out fairytale about an arrogant man from a militaristic culture, who receives a scar that turns him into a coward. It has strains of Beauty and the Beast, now that I think about it, and I liked it much better than A Court of Thorns and Roses. Plus, I love that it's a standalone fantasy novel. I will definitely be reading more from Sergey and Marina Dyachenko, a husband and wife team whose award-winning fantasy novels and stories have been translated from Russian to English.