Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading, Watching, Listening {March} & {April 2015}

No pictures this time because I am so behind to upload them all would mean I would never get it finished!

{Reading}

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

This book is about a teenage girl who had cancer and set out to accomplish several things on her bucket list (some of which included exacting revenge on popular kids in school), only to go into remission and have to live with the consequences of her actions. I had high hopes for this one as the premise was interesting, and I like reading about life after cancer, a topic very few authors focus on. However, I absolutely loathed the main character (and I am one who usually likes an unlikable character). She was selfish and nasty and undeserving of the wonderful people in her life, and it colored the whole book unenjoyable for me. 

2 stars

Out to Canaan by Jan Karon

This one was a reread. I love the Father Tim books -- they are comfortable and sweet and uplifting and I probably read about one a year. They are not necessarily exciting or earth-shattering, but reading one feels like curling up in a quilt, sipping hot cocoa, and passing a perfectly peaceful evening. 

4 stars

City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

I also read the first three books of the Mortal Instruments series, fantasy books set in modern day New York, about demon-killing, part-angel people. I have already read the prequel series to this one and loved it to pieces. I'm not quite as attached to the characters in this one, and did figure out most of the plot twists in the first 100 pages (these books usually clock in at over 500), but I still find them totally addictive and fun, which is what I've been needing lately as stress after stress seems to be piling on my head. I have the last three books in the series waiting on my shelf and I can't wait to get to them. 

4 stars each

The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore

This was definitely what some critics call "chick lit" -- the story of a unwed mother and a crotchety, childless crone, and their unlikely friendship, as well as the way the older woman's death affects the younger woman. It was interesting enough but not the type that stayed with me. 

3 stars

Great With Child: Letters to a Young Mother by Beth Ann Fennelly

This was easily the best thing I read in the last two months. Beth Ann Fennelly, a poet who also wrote the gorgeous Tender Hooks and mother of a two-year-old, writes letters to her pregnant former student and friend. She is so real and honest, and I loved both the descriptions of her two-year-old and her reminiscing on pregnancy and new motherhood. I feel that so few people are able to convey both the ugliness and beauty of those first traumatic weeks, and this book does perfectly. I want to read it again before this pregnancy is over. 

5 stars

The Irrational Season by Madeleine L'Engle

I love Madeleine L'Engle so, so much. This is the third of her Crosswicks journals, and so far my least favorite, although I did enjoy it. In it, she has a chapter for each season of the liturgical calendar, in which she discusses some of her doubts about the nature of God and how she lives with them. I don't know a lot about the liturgical calendar, so that in and of itself was interesting to me. I also appreciate when religious people are forthcoming about the parts of God that are confusing to them. I think most of us, when we search deeply, find some things that unsettle us -- if faith were easy, it wouldn't be faith. Reading this wise woman's experiences was uplifting as always, although I have preferred the more narrative style of her other Crosswicks journals. 

4 stars

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Another reread -- apparently my pregnant state of mind can mostly handle rereads and fluffy books these days. This book is one of my favorites, and I feel like anything I tell you about it can't do it justice. So just go read it and be prepared to have your heart squeezed and twisted and broken a little bit. 

5 stars

{Watching}

I'm still watching Friends, and have also been watching the new season of Call the Midwife. (I always tell people not to watch it when they're pregnant, and I have watched in both my pregnancies. Oh well). I've also been watching Wolf Hall -- it is THE BEST, you guys. Usually I say read the book first, but in this case the show may be the best way to go, although it has a few differences -- the book is written sort of oddly, and even though it works, I think being able to see the characters in a more condensed version might make reading the book more enjoyable. Definitely want to reread it now. 

{Listening}

:: Josh Groban came out with his new "Stages" album yesterday. It is all music from Broadway musicals and it is good stuff. Listening to "What I Did For Love" on repeat (and then going to the piano and warbling it out myself)

:: I realized that "Drops of Jupiter" by Train was officially supplanted as my Favorite Song Ever (since I was like, 11) by "Going to California" by Led Zeppelin. I feel so inconstant.

:: New songs on my "Current Faves" playlist on Spotify are "Budapest" by George Ezra, "Ghosts" by Laura Marling, and "Should Have Known Better" by Sufjan Stevens. 

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