Monday, July 23, 2012

Melissa's Musings

So....I've decided that I'm far to witty and entertaining to limit myself to only posting about books. It is not nearly as satisfying to my soul as posting randomly is sure to be. Too often I think of something that is just TOO GOOD to not share with the world. I promise you that my musings, finds, ponderings and wonderings will be well worth it. Do not fret though- I won't forget the books. Ever.

On that note...I have several books that I've completed since my last update. One of which takes the place of one of my all time favorites. Like anyone who understands suspense, I could not possibly start out with that one. For that you'll have to read till the end. Ready? Saddle up.

Up first, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer. I never had an occasion to read this book in school. My SIL told me it was one of her favorites. Seeing as she has never steered me wrong, I wanted to give it a try. I enjoyed it. It was definitely a children's book and very fun to read. I can see how it could be a book that would stick in the heart and mind of a young reader. For sure something I will make sure my kids read at a much earlier age than 30.....three.

Side note- Lately I have had the worse trouble remembering how old I am. When someone asks me my age, I instinctively WANT to say 27, but feel like I should probably say 34. I am in fact 33. I think. You can see where I might have trouble.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I saw this on Barnes & Nobles website in their Staff Picks section. The story follows a young middle school girl who one day wakes up in a world in which it is found that the Earth has begun to slow its rotation. All of the scientific aspects are explored as well as the normal middle school angst kids face. Good book and interesting to think of changing environmental factors given all the discussion about global warming.

I am Number 4 by Pittacus Lore. Aliens from another planet come to Earth in an effort to eventually return to and save their home planet. 9 kids from the planet Lorian and their "trainers" were sent to Earth when their planet was destroyed. They are being hunted by another alien race and they can only be killed in the order of which they were magically numbered upon leaving their planet. Good story- teen literature (that seems to be my main theme lately). Looking forward to getting to read #2 in the series.

Finally. The book you have all been waiting for. I promise that this one will find its way into your soul. It will imprint itself on you and you will love it forever. I've read it twice and could read it much more often than once a year. The story is beautiful, the writing is phenomenal and the narrater, is death. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak takes place in Nazi Germany and follows a young girl throughout her unique journey. The Grim Reaper tells her story and you oddly come to love him. Such an amazing wonderful book. Please please read it. Do not miss the opportunity to love it like I do.

I am kind of sad that I didn't give the Book Thief its own post. It so deserves it, but you have to discover that for yourself. If you do happen to read it (and I hope you do) please drop me a note and let me know if you love it as much as I do!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Let's Pretend this never Happened

If you are not familiar with Jenny Lawson AKA The Bloggess- she is a funny, insightful, twisted, broken, bizarre, totally normal gal who gets something like 3 MILLION hits a month on her blog. She’s a blogging icon people.  She suffers from crippling depression and is honest and candid about it. She has unbelievable off the wall scenarios fall into her lap. Many self-induced some too crazy to make up. She has a totally disturbing love for taxidermied animals. Like Juanita the Weasel, a baby crocodile dressed like a pirate and some kind of mounted boar named James Garfield. She got her husband a SLOTH for their anniversary. She has an obsession with Will Wheaton collating paper, she loves the F word, she has insane conversations with her husband and she is kind of mostly always inappropriate. You will love her. Probably.  Run on over to her site:  and join the fun.

Jenny has  written a book called Let’s Pretend this Never Happened; A Mostly True Memoire. It debuted at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list and continues to ride waves of success. I was very excited when I finally got my hands on this book. In the beginning I loved it, in the end I loved it. the middle I was losing focus. Not because it’s not good- it really is, it was just too much for me all at once and it became too fantastical and over the top for me to enjoy. However, I was not going to give up on her. I kept thinking that I enjoy her blog posts so much that it would be a disservice to just stop reading and write a bad review (that she will likely never read, but could because random stuff happens) and have it come back to haunt me some day (in what way I have no clue but again- randomness seems to plague me). SO- I took a step back, took a couple of days off, and then read a chapter, took another couple of days and read two more etc. At that point it redeemed itself and then some. Her writing is creative and her stories too much. Too much bizarre, too much crazy and too much funny- in a very good way.

Go to her site, read her book and be prepared to be simultaneously entertained, offended, horrified, amazed and awed. She's pretty awesome.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


If you are anything like me,  when you finish a really good series you go through a mourning period. You spend so much time living in a book that when you read that last line you feel like a part of you died. There is a giant void that needs to be filled and you feel like nothing will live up to filling it. I get it. I’m going through it right now. The last time I had it this bad was when I finished The Hunger Games (which admittedly was not that long ago). If possible, this time I feel worse because what I just finished was BETTER than The Hunger Games. For real. BETTER.

I just finished book two of a series my SIL recommended and  you  must stop whatever you are doing and immediately get, order, check out Divergent by Veronica Roth. Read it. I promise you will not be disappointed.

The story is set in a dystopian future much like the Hunger Games (as apparently that is all the rage in teen-lit these days).  It has danger, hard choices, bravery, kindness, war, gain, loss and young love to name a few topics. It’s a potpourri of everything that makes a good book great. I thoroughly enjoyed the Hunger Games. That first book was explosive. However,  with the second and third I felt like the story slowed down and I found I was a little bored at times. With Divergent and the second book Insurgent I was on the edge of my seat and every page I turned was better than the last.

I HATE that I have to wait until 2013 for the final book  to come out. I feel myself teetering on the edge of a post-book depression. I only finished Insurgent in the last 14 hours so I’m still riding that high, but experience tells me this will not last for long . I need to quickly find something to read to banish the post book blues. Its times like these that I usually go to a relied upon favorite. I’m always afraid that the next thing I read will only disappoint me or that the book will be good but will suffer in the shadow of what I just read so these tried and true’s are usually just what I need.

UPDATE: In the midst of banging this post out I got an email from my library saying a book I quested more than a month ago (and completely forgot that I was waiting for) is in and ready for me to pick it up. How’s that for timing? I’ve been looking forward to reading this for some time so instead of wallowing in the blues- I’m excited to run to the library after work tomorrow!

Funny aside. Yesterday I was in Babies R US and at the front of the store they have some book shelves filled with (obviously) baby related topics. This is what was on the top shelf. If that is not genius marketing I don’t know what is. Well played Babies R Us. Well played.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Living Through Reading

My heart swells when I think of books and reading. I love reading like I love a person. Its weird but true. Books have always been there for me. Some may let me down, but they are always reliable and always there. I'm always allowed to escape into them. They open doors and ideas and lifestyles I'd never know of without them. I don't just read a book. I experience a book.

One thing I really love about reading is relating to and “becoming” a character. Either through self identification or just sheer amazing writing where you have no choice but to live in the pages. These books make me feel like I am actually living the story- not just flipping through physical pages. I often find myself picking up on mannerisms or accents or using the language style in my daily life when I’m reading a book like this. Pride and Prejudice one of my all time favorite novels for example causes me to spout random 19th century English- both in my head and out loud. Gone With the Wind brings a twang to my voice and I have to remind myself that I am not a Southern Belle. Language is enchanting and it can make all the difference.

Another thing I love is being transported. When a book is well written and characters well developed, I get lost. These are the books I can read for hours and feel like 15 minutes have passed. When everything else fades away and your mind creates landscapes and faces and color and being. I look up from these books at times and am truly surprised to find that I am not in fact at Hogwarts with Harry and the gang or observing Leisel Meminger with the Grimm Reaper in World War II Europe.  When I finally drag myself away from these books I long to be back in them with every fiber of my being.

Getting that feeling while reading a book is like true love. It sticks with you for all time. That is one of the reasons I feel sorry for people who do not read. They really don't know what they are missing.

Oh and I finished Fifty Shades of Grey. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. That's pretty much all I have to say about it that I haven't already said. :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fifty Shades Darker and 25 Shades Better

Second book in the Fifty Shades trilogy done and I’m happy to say the porn has a plot! No, seriously it does, I’m not just saying that. There is some new drama beyond the Ana/Christian constant fight-makeup-do it and repeat cycle. There is now an element of character depth and dynamic. I still feel as though its mostly…predictable is not the word, but not surprising. At every twist and turn I think- sure, that pretty much sounds right and is what I expected. Nothing that blew my socks off like Shutter Island did.

**Here’s a recommendation- read Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane. The movie was great- the book is amazing. For me the twist at the end was phenomenal and I absolutely did not see it coming**

Back to Fifty Shades- the ending of this did have a twist to it that I think will take the third book in a slightly different direction. Or maybe not. It might pan out exactly the same as the second one. Although I hope not.

I enjoyed it. I didn’t want to put it down which says more about the book than I can say here I suppose. Overall the story has picked up and I don’t feel like I’m reading a smutty novel to be read only under the cover of darkness or shielded by a paper bag book cover. I can’t decide if the fun times happened less often in this one or if it’s the fact that I didn’t read any of them that makes them fade into the background while I was reading it. Probably the latter. I did seem to skip over an awful lot of pages….

I’m looking forward to finishing it up and seeing how it ends. I just checked the library waiting list and I’m #12 of 78 for the third book. While I’m waiting for that to be available, I’m reading a series that is so far really very good. I’m excited to share this nugget when I’m done!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Book Through the Ages

Growing up I had very age appropriate and reading habits. Until I hit the age of 10 or 12 and then I took a turn for the dark side.

One of my first loves was Little House on the Prairie, which, I recently found out is NOT available for an electronic reader. *Sigh* My heart died a little the day I found that out. How could you not love the quaintness and mystery of life in the Big Woods with Ma, Pa, Laura and Mary? It seemed like such a foreign world to me back then. On a side note, if you watched this most recent season of Dancing with the Stars your memories of little Laura Ingalls was probably tarnished as mine was. I had no idea that Melissa Gilbert became a wild one post Laura Ingalls- she rebelled from the prairie and I was displeased.

Ramona Quimby Age 8, Charlottes Web, James and the Giant Peach, A Light in the Attic (all of which are still currently on my bookshelf), Super Fudge. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Amelia Bedelia. 

Remember the Babysitters Club? I had all the books and I'm pretty sure somewhere at my mom's house I still do. Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacey, Dawn and Mallory. They were so awesome.  I just looked up the titles to all of the books and had a nice little trip down memory lane. There were 131 different books and 15 Super Series in all. Holy cow! I never realized that. Looking through the titles there is not one that is not familiar to me...I am in the mood to read them again!  I remember I once wrote a letter to Ann M. Martin to tell her how amazing I thought she was. I earned my nerd badge that day- but elevated it several years later when I wrote a letter to Brenda and Dylan from 90210 to let them know what a great decision I thought they made to not sleep together. But I digress. She "wrote me back" in the form of a canned letter. I don't remember exactly what it said but that letter was a source of pride for me. Its probably stuck in the pages of one of those books still. 

R.L. Stein Fear Street Series, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, Christopher Pike, Nancy Drew Files, Anne of Green Gables and Gone with the Wind (which clearly do not fit into the trend of the books I was reading during this age but to this day they are on my top 10 list). 

V.C. Andrews. I devoured those twisted books. I mean, they were TWISTED. Brothers and sisters hooking up, death, mayhem, craziness.  I think every book had an incest slant to it. I've read them all. I would probably read the all again. What bizarre things to put into books for a teenager....

And then I moved on to True Crime Novels. Thats right. Ted Bundy, The Green River Killer, Jeffery Dahmer....I loved them. It could have been RL Stein or Nancy Drew that lead me down the dark path, but I blame my Grandpa. He was and still is an avid true crime reader. For some reason those twisted personalities intrigued me. I remember in 7th grade I wrote a book review about a book called Cruel Sacrifice by Aphrodite Jones. Its a true novel about 3 teenage girls who torture, and burn and murder another teenage girl with a homosexual motive thrown in. Yup. Other kids were reading heaven knows what. I was reading that. I cannot for the life of me remember the teachers name, but I can see her face plain as day in the back classroom in South Beal as she asked me about the books I read and tried to judge my maturity level. I was a teenager who clearly was working out my issues by funneling my problems into books about murderers. She just let me be.

Thinking back about all of these books makes me want to read them again. For me its like visiting an old friend. I might have to pull out Claudia and the Phantom Phone Call or Flowers in the Attic sometime soon and catch up.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fifty Shades...this book is about WHAT???

Confession time.

I've read Fifty Shades of Grey, or rather the first book and I kind of feel like I sold my sweet soul to the devil.

Funny side note. The first time I heard about this book, my husband and I were out to dinner with another married couple. One of them (I think she) asked if I/we had heard of this book. They mentioned it was on that show The Dr's and that the concept is how women really want men to take control and dominate them. I believe the bedroom was eluded to. What did I take from that description? That is was a SELF HELP book. Seriously. I mean, from the conversation we had about it and the fact that they saw it on the Dr' was not a giant leap of my imagination. For the record. Its most certainly not a self help book. Unless of course you prefer to be tied up and whipped in which case it could serve as an instruction manual.

Its much rauncher than anything I would normally allow myself to fall into, but curiosity got the better of me considering every housewife in America seems to be lusting over the likes of Christan Grey. I was so weirded out by the mere concept that I checked it out of the library on my Nook. No way was I walking around carrying the hard copy of that book. I feel like there is a club for those reading it. Like if I walked around with it, women would blush and cast their eyes down and men would wink at my husband knowing what he would be "in for" while I read it. Loins are waking up far and wide my friends.

What do I have to say about it? It is not the best written book. Then again, it is erotica, so its not like I expected the writing to jump into my soul. While it was intriguing to read of the concept of this submissive/dominate relationship and the contract and all it entails, it was also horrifying. So much so for me, that I kept thinking and at times saying aloud "REALLY? Forget it. Not in a million years". The "relations" between these two took place so often it quickly became mundane and I found myself skipping through that "stuff" to get to the character relationship that I found interesting. The character dynamic is JUST intriguing enough for me to want to read the second and third to see how it ends. But then again, once I finish a book, no matter how terrible, I typically make myself finish it because I hate to quit on a book. I will say I want to know what happens to the two of them in the end and I suppose that is the key to a good book series when you boil it down, right?

Second confession.

I have requested the other two books from the library. Its a long waiting list by the way.

I don't want to sound judgemental for people who are super into this book. I don't judge a person by the books they read (well, not usually- haha). I know and love many many people who are obsessed with Christian Grey. This book could be the ticket to an awakening that many women are in desperate need of. If you are used to reading romance novels then this will probably not be that much of a shock to your system. I on the other hand, am pretty prudish so that lends itself to my horror. This book is flying off shelves so obviously the woman who wrote it knows what women want and need. In a book....I'm not sure she really has the ticket to what they need and want in the bedroom.

 I hear the book is being made into a movie, as most well selling books are. My husband says its going to be the first book to movie that is going to go straight to DVD. He might be right. Haha.