Friday, December 28, 2012

Book review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

I loved this book. I really did.

The story is told in letters between Juliet and her friends (and a few writers who aren't friends at all). Apparently the book was suuuper popular a couple years back, but I never heard of it. I think I just found it in my Goodreads recommendations.

Bad reviews on Goodreads say it is nice, cute, and hokey-ish. Some accuse the authors of not being good writers. I'll admit, it is the kind of story that (mostly) wraps up in the end with a nice pretty bow. And it's somewhat predictable.

But there were three things I really loved about this book:

ONE. Like The Book Thief, this book showed WWII from a perspective I'd never seen before. This one is after the war and in the homes of a country occupied by German soldiers. It showed how  people who weren't Jewish/homosexual/otherthingstheNazishated people. While we're all familiar(ish) with the story of concentration camps and hiding from the Nazis, I'm not so familiar with the everyday lives of those left behind. I loved learning about the occupation, about families sending their kids to the mainland to live with families where there was no occupation, about when an islander fell in love with a German soldier and what that meant for her. I want to/need to investigate the historical accuracy of some of the things mentioned, but if they really happened... wow.

TWO. This book had beautiful language and wonderful characters. I will have to reread it (and actually read it as opposed to listening to it) because there were some lovely phrases I'd like to have written down somewhere. The characters were endearing and funny and sweet and quirky and they were people I'd like to know in real life. I definitely wished for good things for the characters, and you know that means I connected with them.

THREE. It reminded me of old-school romances, like those of Jane Austen. But easier to read and perhaps more well done. All the characters were very proper and it was easy to imagine it took place in that time frame rather than after WWII.

All in all I gave it four stars. (initially it had five, but I'm trying to be more reserved with my five-star stamp of approval)

Have any of you read this book? What did you think of it? I could never remember the name of it to tell anyone what I was reading! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hope you all have full hearts this Christmas. 
I'm thankful for you all.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Secret Santa swap!

Hey friends! Double posting today. Just a quick second post to share what I got through a Secret Santa swap I participated in!

My Secret Santa was the lovely Jen from Dexter Morgan's Mama (who just celebrated her birthday! happy birthday!). And here's what she sent me...

Such a great present for me! Love the EOS lip balm and love love love the Holiday! I've also worn the slippers already a couple times. :) OH! AND a bunch of hot chocolate. Yum!

Thank you, Jen, and happy holidays to all. :)

Book review: Imaginary Girls

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

Real talk: I didn't like this book.

But I finished it.

Why did I do that?

I think, similar to The Maze Runner (reviewed here), the mystery of it hooked me.

There were a few things I liked. (And I hate giving an entirely negative review.)

ONE. The author does a great job with details. Really. The details create an eerie quality essential to the book. Things like the feel of the reservoir when it floods its banks, when Chloe discovers an inhuman talent of another character... It's surreal and creepy and gives the book a haunting mood that made me not want to give up.

TWO. There are some really great characters. I love Pete -- a guy hopelessly in love with Ruby even though she barely gives him the time of day, who you can relate to someone in your life. And just the lives of the young people -- London's friends mostly -- and the way they relate to each other seemed very realistic to me. Hanging out on the green or in a graveyard because where else are teenagers supposed to go to be free from parental inspection?

Things that bothered me included:

ONE. There is a HUGE mystery (which I'll not reveal here because maybe you still want to read it and maybe you'll love it because lots of people on Goodreads do). And one of the things that bothers me most is that Chloe, the main character, doesn't really seem to care. It doesn't bother her at all. She's content just going around buyin sunglasses and eatin popsicles as if something insane and impossible isn't happening.

TWO. Also: Ruby sucks. Chloe looks up to her and always talks about how Ruby is the only one who cares about her and would do anything for her. But from my point of view, Ruby only cares about herself, and the qualities Chloe admires are that Ruby can get people to do what she wants them to and that she's beautiful. So I didn't believe Chloe's admiration or gratefulness, and I wished the author would give us a little more to buy into.

THREE. Oh, and the Ruby is pretty and can get anyone to do anything she wants? Yeah, you really, really get beat over the head with that message. Apparently this is very important and the author did not want us to admit it. Which is ironic because...

FOUR. I needed the author to come out and tell me a lot of things that she just hinted at instead. I felt like I was missing parts of the book, or that I should know something I didn't. It was a very frustrating reading experience.

Once again, I don't know why I kept reading it, since I have no problem putting down most books if I don't enjoy them. I guess I hoped it would get less frustrating and I would get some answers. (Spoiler: I didn't.)

So I guess I'm not really recommending this book, but I am wondering if anyone out there has read it? Please don't reveal spoilers in the comments. But if you have read it, let me know because I'd love to hear your opinions!

Have any of you read this book? Or alternately, do you guys ever get sucked into books even if you hate yourself for it? 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Life lately

Lately, I've been to a few basketball games.

I'm kind of obsessed with Baby Jay

I got to go to Beauty and the Beast. (why didn't I take pictures with my friends?)

I made cookies with friends and learned decorating cookies is not my life's calling.

My sad blob snowman. Might have been cuter if I hadn't dropped the
knife on the floor. Oops.

Pat gave me some Christmas lights.

And we took fun pictures.

I dropped Pat off at the airport and mostly didn't cry and then came home to hang out with my puppies.

And today, I woke up to snow! Aaaaand I found out that I got a 4.0 this semester. :)

How's your life lately?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Literary junkie link up

I found a linkup and I'm jumping on this bandwagon. Mostly because if I don't, I won't post anything today. (Work holiday party + taking Pat to the airport + driving three hours home home).

By the Porchlight

1. What are you currently reading? Tell us about it.
I'm about 50ish pages into Reached by Ally Condie. It's the third installment of the Matched series. I loved the first book, liked the second book, and am having a hard time getting into the third, but I think it's because I've been so distractable. I'm hoping winter break will give me the perfect chance to really dig in!
The Matched trilogy is about Cassia, a girl who lives in a future society that controls citizens lives very much, from their jobs to whom they marry to how many children they can have. Typical dystopian. The first book, Matched, kicks off when Cassia is matched to be married to her lifelong bff Xander. But through a technological glitch, Cassia gets a glimpse at a different future the Society never had planned for her. And she starts to wonder, what if she pursues that alternate future?

And this might be the only time I'll ever answer this question with only one book because I finished my audiobook on the way to work and currently don't have one going on my phone.

2. If you could choose any author in the world to write a story based on your life, who would you choose to be the author? Why?
Well, my favorite author is Sarah Dessen. So maybe her. But I think it would be really, really fun to have Ellen Degeneres write my life story. Mostly because I might get to hang out with Ellen Degeneres.

3. Tell us about your favorite place to read.
Haha well lately I suppose my answer is in the car. Ya'll know I do a lot a lot of my reading via audiobooks. I discovered my love for audiobooks when I was commuting 40+ minutes each way to and from work, but I've kept it up even though now I only drive 15ish minutes to work because I missed it so much.

If I'm actually reading a physical book, my favorite place is probably my parents' house in front of the fireplace. :)

4. What books would you buy for lovers of a) suspense/mystery, b) chicklit, c) comedy, d) literary fiction, e)nonfiction, f) classics?
Well I don't actually read all of these categories. So, I'm not going to guarantee that any of these are the BEST of the genre. But here's some I like of some of these? That's the best I can do. :)


Review here


(what does that even mean? I'm going to combine this with classics... because I guess I don't know the difference?)

Review here

And of course, I'm adding a couple categories :)


Review here


Review here

Review here

Review here

I actually just today met my goal of reading 60 books this year! Woohoo! I know many people read more, but for a while I didn't think I'd make it to 60, so I'm excited. 

Are any of you literary junkies too? :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Home for the Holidays: Christmas traditions

I'm pretty sure I've been calling this linkup the wrong thing all week.


Hopefully Katie and Holly don't hate me now. :)

Today's prompt for the linkup is "Home for the Holidays," and involves sharing some decorations and traditions.

If you follow me on instagram, you may know that so far, my Christmas looks like this:

Pretty minimal. Nothing I bought myself. What can I say? I've been a poor college students for four out of the last five Christmases and I'm one again this year.

I'm thinking I'll go shopping during all the after-Christmas sales. My home-home usually is more decorated though, even if all that means is a full-sized tree. :)

Some traditions, I do have, though:

ONE. Every year, I rock out to Hanson's Christmas CD, Snowed In, sometimes as early as October.

TWO. My aunt says that every family has to have a Pajama Aunt in it, and she's happy to oblige. So almost every year, we get a package from my aunt with new Christmas pajamas. We're allowed to open them Christmas Eve so we can wear them to bed. :) I have snowflake pants, ornament pants, and Christmas tree pants. But I wear them year-round. Of course.

THREE. Of course, when we were younger, we had Santa pictures. Here's the infamous one:

I got better at sitting with Santa, but I never liked it. The rest of our pictures, I'm pouting. I don't think there's a single picture where I'm smiling.

FOUR. When we were little, we made Christmas ornaments for all of our teachers, and the last day before break we got to pick a friend to go with us and hand out all the ornaments to our teachers. It was so fun! We kept some for ourselves every year and let me tell you, they are high quality ornaments right there. The gym teacher we had second and third grade, Mr. Steel LOVED our ornaments (or at least told us he did). He said he didn't have a Christmas tree, but he put them on top of his TV. This is one I'd love to continue with my someday family. :)

Of course there are many, many more. What we eat Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, decorating the tree, listening to Aaron Neville because he's my parents' favorite. Anna used to sleep in my room because hers was downstairs and it let her listen for reindeer. :) But these are some of my favorites.

What traditions do you all have? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My favorite thing about home: Home for the Holidays linkup

Hey friends!

So after getting super cheesy on ya'll the past couple of posts, I thought I'd do something lighter for today.

(even though I think I've made it abundantly clear that my favorite thing about home is the people I share it with. duh.)

Linking with Katie and Holly!

This is The Wall.

When you win a card game at our house, you sign your score sheet and get to hang it on The Wall.

It's turned into a pretty big deal, at least among those of us who live here. I am currently tied for first with Sam with seven score cards up! Yes, I am beating Pat. :)

It's become a really fun tradition. Emily, my older sister, is due to make an appearance and try to get her name on The Wall. My friend Simone is on The Wall, even though she's only played once. Pat's dad is up there! And he lives in Oregon! We hope eventually the whole wall will be filled. :)

So that's my fun tidbit for today. :)

What's your favorite part about your home?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What home means to me -- Home for the Holidays link up

Hey friends!

So I totally meant to link up yesterday and show you where I live now.

That didn't happen.

So then I was going to do it today at lunch. But then I forgot my phone at home today and don't have the pictures I took...


I can definitely tell you what home means to me, which is today's topic. Linking with Katie and Holly!

This is what home means to me right now.

When I get home from work or class, I am usually exhausted. I climb the stairs up to my room, plop down all my stuff and see this friendly face. And the relief of being home, where I can be myself, where I can put on sweatpants and climb into my bed -- the relief is enormous.

Even when I still have to do homework, I don't have to have my gameface on anymore and worry about having the right answer or impressing the right person.

Home means being me. Home means laying in bed with Pat and watching football or Big Bang theory or reading about Higher Education while he plays video games.

Home means eating dinner early or late so we can eat together.

Home means playing cards almost once a week and the thrill of winning a game.

Home means grilling during football season and lots of blankets and hot chocolate in cold weather.

Home means brushing our teeth together every night before bed.

Home means getting to sleep next to the guy I love (almost) every night.

But I am also a girl with two homes.

Going home home a fire in the fireplace and a puppy on my lap.

My parents' home means seeing my little sister become a real adult person with talents and opinions and intelligence you wouldn't believe.

It means going for walks with Mom and Chewy. It means sitting on the front porch with Dad and watching Lucy run around.

My Missouri home means listening to Grandma tell the same story she told ten minutes ago. It means giving Grandma her night medicine and a glass of water, no ice. It means reminding Grandma who I am, and no Emily's not married, and yes, I graduated college.

It means a room full of high school memories, very close to how I left it, and a closet full of books, journals and prom dresses.

It means wearing my dad's hoodie because I never remember to pack mine.

It means spaghetti and garlic bread and feeding all my college friends as we pass through on a roadtrip. It means a safe place for friends, no matter what they look like, where they come from, or who they love.

It means lasagna and puzzles on snow days. It means opening homemade Disney stockings and presents on Christmas morning.

Home means being me with the people I love.

What does home mean to you?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Where I'm from (home for the holidays link up)

This is my home home. :) Where I'm from, the hometown I claim, although not the only home I've had.

Where I'm from...

At least half our inside pictures have our staircase, built by my dad, in the background.

Kitties and puppies enjoy the fireplace as much as the humans.

and we have fires outside in the fire pit I built with my dad.

We take dogs AND cats for walks. :)

And Captain Chewy Jack Sparrow runs the house. :)

My home-home is Republic, Missouri. It's a small town, but not tiny.

My dad built the staircase in our living room and the mantel around the fireplace. And the furniture under the stairs. And the beds in our bedrooms. And the coffeetable...

My grandma lives sort of with us, in her own apartment across the garages from us.

Where I'm from, we read and watch Seinfeld after dinner.

Where I'm from, we drink wine. A lot.

Where I'm from, it's ok to make mistakes.

I love going home. I love spending time with my family, my dogs, my cat and my bird. And I'm very excited to go home for Christmas!

Where are you from? Link up with Katie and Holly to tell us all about it!


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