Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Summer Reading List

The votes came in (yay!) and it seems like you would like to hear about my summer reading list, so here goes!
P.S. I'm pretty sure I'm missing two, I just can't remember what they are... so maybe we'll have a reading list # 2 blog later on...

Catcher In The Rye
Amazing that I have never read this before now. I actually remember starting it a few years back but couldn't finish it. It's not at all what I expected, having heard about the conspiracies surrounding it. Once I realized that it is just a book-long rant from a teenage boy I was able to enjoy it for the classic it is. It was difficult for me to swallow the insane amounts of negativity about everything in the main character's life, until I realized that it was such an accurate and insightful look in to the average teenager's life. Don't you remember hating everything? Haha! I thought it was a brilliantly written, run-on sketch of the average teenager's rite of passage and journey into realizing that the world, just possibly, does not revolve around you.

Brave New World
Such an interesting story! 1984 is one of my top 5 for sure, so I figured I would enjoy this, and I did, but I was impressed at what a different story it is. Alex and I talked about this for weeks after I finished because I was SO intrigued at how the author took a seemingly complete dystopia and made all of it's inhabitants completely satisfied and HAPPY with their existence in it. Of course it looks like a dystopia to us, with choice few having complete control over every aspect of each individual's life, but to these people it was all they had known, and they loved it. Even the lower ranks of society were literally trained to WANT to be that way, and to despise the thought of ever being anyone else but who they were designed to be. So how could they know not be happy? And even when they were exposed to the so-called "savages" who live as they want (albeit, locked in a certain area of the world) the "civilized" do not want such a life, they like being prisoners of this dystopia. Would we all be this way if we were raised in such a society? Is the desire for freedom, for individuality an innate characteristic or is it learned?
Man... I could go on and on about this book. A must-read for sure.

I don't even remember why I chose this book to read, but I really liked it. It was a story about mistakes, betrayal, and spending a lifetime trying to atone for those. I loved the ending - it wasn't a happy one, but I love how it was written. I'm a sucker for the war-time periods, and this was a great sketch of WWII England. I don't want to give too much away, but I just loved the concept of writing your own story when reality is too much to take.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
I admit that I gave into the book club suggestions for this book at the beginning of the summer because I couldn't think of anything else to get, and I was feeling very novel-y. (New favorite word). I absolutely loved this book, from start to finish. I devoured the fantastic character development and was immediately deeply emotionally attached to all of them. I cried... a lot. The author superbly made me believe in the fictional training of the Sawtelle dogs and the human-like relationships between them and their owners. I found myself wishing I could get me a Sawtelle dog. At times I felt it was a little disconnected and at other times a bit too lengthy describing things that were not pertinent to the story, but overall I loved the writing because it kept me riveted the entire time. I could not wait to turn the page - on every page. And not because it was a thriller or a suspense novel, but because I loved the characters and was emotionally involved in what would happen to them next, even if it was just a romp out in the field to play with the dogs. And THAT is what qualifies Wroblewski as a superb author in my eyes. I can't wait for his next book.

Hunger Games Series
I was very wary of the third book as I had heard mostly bad reviews from it - mostly just that it was poorly written, bad ending, not as good as the other ones... etc. But I was not disappointed at all, and maybe it was thanks to my low expectations, but I'm glad either way. I got tired of how whiny Katniss was the whole time, but it was indeed realistic in that sense. She was only 17, and (refer to the first review) still believed the world to revolve around her. I did think the writing quality was lacking, but I think that is because this novel was different from the other two, and we had not seen Collins have to write a story without action every chapter. This was more of a deliberate, calculating time in the story, and Collins is not as brilliant at this as she is at writing an action-packed Hunger Games story. I liked how it ended a lot - I felt complete closure and I like that at the end of a series. Overall, a thrilling, exciting, albeit somewhat juvenile read.

Revolutionary Road
This was an extremely depressing but riveting story to me. Being newlywed it was fascinating to me to see this married couple's relationship disintegrate into nothingness. It was a pretty riveting study on how being selfish in your relationship makes everything suck.
I bawled like a little girl at the end. It was just plain depressing. Good read, though.

This book was recommended to me by Sara Staheli Hanks, who knows that I am very interested in midwifery and doula-ship-ness :) Hehe.
I totally loved the book, eating up all the "granola" characters. It is based in the south in the '80s and tells the story of a midwife who performs a c-section on a woman who, at the time, she is sure is dead. She is sued by the family, and of course the state gets involved, citing the pure evil of delivering babies at home. My blood was boiling more than once during this book, for sure. But really, the end of the book was the most infuriating. Honestly, it's been months since I've read this and I'm still not sure how I feel about it. You can't just take the reader, get them all attached and sure of the story, and then change it.
Someone else needs to read this so they can vent with me.

Peace Like a River
I read this book for a book club that Al and I are in with a couple friend of ours, and I LOVED it. Loved it. Alex couldn't get past the first 5 chapters. He hates slow-moving books, and this is definitely one of those. It has a little action in it, but it is more just a character study of some really awesome people who I feel are totally real. I loved all the characters in this book. More importantly, this man's writing... wow. Just, wow. There were COUNTLESS times when I found myself chuckling, smiling, crying at his incredible imagery. He paints a complete, vivid picture in just one sentence. This author is incredible at relating to his reader and communicating in a way that I don't think I've ever experienced through a book. Pure genius. And honestly, the book is not even that exciting. I just couldn't put it down because I wanted to turn the page and find the next little nugget of absolute genius in his writing. Not to go on and on about this book... but you HAVE to read it. Even if you speed read through the entire book, there is this one chapter towards the end that moved me in a way that a book never has before. This man is genius. I cried so freakin hard, it's not even funny. Ok, it was a little funny. But seriously, read it. Seriously.

Current read: One Second After
To put it in the words of my cousin, Nate, who saw me reading it at the family reunion: "That book scared the shit out of me." Hehe. I love him.
This tells the story of a small "up in the mountains" town after an EMP has hit the entire nation. I'll tell you what, Alex and I are thinking a lot more about getting food storage, getting some guns and learning how to refrigerate things in terra cotta pots. (Alex couldn't sleep last night, and that's what he learned to do during his insomnia. I love my husband.) Super interesting read that makes you think about all the things that you don't even think twice about having now.

Yay for reading!! I love, love reading and would love any and all suggestions on other books to read. I have a list on my computer from all the suggestions I've gotten and it's very helpful when I'm trying to choose what to read next.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lifey Life

Fail. Again.
I will try to do better, that's all I can say about that.

Life is A M A Z I N G.
Where can I begin? Over the last several weeks Alex and I have been able to hang out with awesome friends, buy new toys, play with family, connect with old friends, craft up a storm (okay, mostly me on that one) and love each other like crazy!

During the last week of August and into the first of September I was SO busy at work, I thought I might die. I was working 11-12 hour days continually and couldn't have been more grateful for Labor Day and the extra (paid!) day off work. We were able to have lunch with one of Alex's mission companions and his cute wife. Isn't re-connecting so much fun? I always come away from fun times with friends and family so grateful for relationships, and feeling so blessed at how we have the opportunity to nourish those relationships.

Over the next few weeks work slowed back down again for me (thankfully and discouragingly) and Alex continued on at the school, some of his kids getting a lot harder to handle. He is not enjoying his job as much this year and we have been considering other options at this point.

This last weekend was a super fun one! While Alex worked his tail off for the Census all summer long, we just let the money he was making pile up in an account because we didn't need it to pay bills. What a surprise to get to the end of the summer and realize how much extra money we had! So we thought and thought about something we could treat ourselves with and decided on a laptop, since the computer (that doesn't even belong to us) in our place is literally a dinosaur. Sometimes it sprouts claws and breathes fire when we try to run any sort of program. It doesn't even have Word. We have basically been living in the stone age: no computer, no IPod, no flashy cell phones with Internet, no big TV, and so on. We didn't mind at all, especially considering that Obama couldn't watch us from our 1990-something TV :) JK.
But seriously.
So anyway, we ordered this laptop online:

It is super cute and we added all the extra stuff to make it purely awesome.
This laptop is like a super sleek, fast and extra cool dinosaur that will probably mutilate our old computer for pure enjoyment.

The next day we went to Wal-Mart to get some food and walked out with a 42" TV. Hehe. We really are not impulse buyers, or people who squander all their money, but this was so much fun. We love our pretty tv!

We came home, set up our tv, re-arranged our whole house, and put up some Halloween decorations.
I am pretty much obsessed with Halloween (a new-found obsession this year, actually) and have been literally dreaming about all the crafts I want to make for weeks. I worked on a few over the weekend:

Mod-Podged block letters

And the second shot without the flash so you can see how eerily spooky they look with my awesome light shining from the bottom!

I love this because it was purely my idea - I didn't get it online like I do almost all my other crafts.

This is the Halloween tree that we did for craft night this last week.

Close-up of some of the ornaments. So fun!

I am shamelessly getting together with my cousin and sister tonight to do more Halloween crafts! I'm so glad I still have a whole month to do more.
(Yes, I may be a teensy bit insane).

Alex and I will be going to my Palmer family reunion this weekend and I'm super excited since a lot of my family haven't even met Alex. It will be satisfying to show him off :)

Please cast your votes on what blog should be next:
(Seriously, comment, or I might cry thinking about no one reading my blog...)
-Reviews on books I read over the summer
-Rant about Obama and current events
-Date nights with Alex
-My new credit card
Note: these last two may be combined together for a random-themed blog.
-Deep thoughts on life

Until next time! Which will hopefully be within a week instead of over a month...