Thursday, January 1, 2015

The 2015 Veronica Reads Project

As I mentioned in my last post, it has been some serious time since I have actually been an active reader. And if you read the few posts right before that one, they are have the common factor of me bemoaning that same fact. Well, I can complain about it all I want, or I can shut up and do something about it.

As it is a bran new year and just the time for New Years Resolutions, I give you The 2015 Veronica Reads Project.

I am hoping that with a little more structure and a little more direct intention, things will slowly put themselves back to normal. And so I have made a list of all the books (both read and unread) that currently adorn my bookshelf. And in 2015, I'm going to read them. Or, to be more realistic, I'm going to start reading them but probably not finish in 2015. But starting and getting through some is really the goal.

To really keep myself in check - and to get myself back in the habit of regular blogging - I'm going to start a weekly check in. This, instead of just a review at the end, I think will force me to make sure I get something done, that way my weekly recaps aren't quite so pathetic.

I do realize that some of these are not great books. Some of them are books I began collecting back when I was in fourth or fifth grade (I'm looking at you, Ann Rinaldi), some were gateway books into bigger and better things, and some were books forced on me in college. But none of that really matters. Sometimes books that are too young or a little closer to the guilty pleasure side are just what a person needs. And a reminder of where you've come from is always appreciated.

So, here's the list:

  • Half of a Yellow Sun: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • The Winter Queen: Boris Akunin
  • The Divine Comedy: Dante Aligheri
  • Emma: Jane Austen
  • Mansfield Park: Jane Austen
  • Northanger Abbey: Jane Austen
  • Persuasion: Jane Austen
  • Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen
  • Sense and Sensibility: Jane Austen
  • Saul and Patsy: Charles Baxter
  • The Flavia de Luce Mysteries: Alan Bradley
  • Angels and Insects: AS Byatt
  • The Alienist: Caleb Carr
  • The Angel of Darkness: Caleb Carr
  • Wise Children: Angela Carter
  • The Greatest Knight: Elizabeth Chadwick
  • And Then There Were None: Agatha Christie
  • Little Bee: Chris Cleave
  • The Moonstone: Wilkie Collins
  • The Woman in White: Wilkie Collins
  • The Dr. Siri Paiboun Mysteries: Colin Cotterill
  • A Tale of Two Cities: Charles Dickens
  • The Brothers Karamazov: Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Sister Carrie: Theodore Driesler
  • Fried Green Tomatoes: Fannie Flagg
  • The Good Soldier: Ford Madux Ford
  • Memoirs of a Geisha: Arthur Golden
  • The Princess Bride: Willaim Goldman
  • Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen: Susan Gregg Gilmore
  • The Cousins War Series: Philippa Gregory
  • The Tudor Court Series: Philippa Gregory
  • The Earthly Joys Series: Philippa Gregory
  • A Long Way Down: Nick Hornby
  • Second Person Singular: Sayid Kashua
  • Beloved Bondage: Katherine Kincaid
  • The Hisotrian: Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Bloodletter’s Daughter: Linda Lafferty
  • Devil in the White City: Erik Larson
  • Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister: Gregory McGuire
  • Mirror Mirror: Gregory McGuire
  • A Company of Lairs: Karen Maitland
  • La Mort d’Arthur: Thomas Mallory
  • Dr. Faustus: Christopher Marlowe
  • Amsterdam: Ian McEwan
  • Atonement: Ian McEwan
  • Everlasting Love: Ian McEwan
  • Saturday: Ian McEwan
  • The Shape of Mercy: Susan Meissner
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet: David Mitchell
  • Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal: Christopher Moore
  • Madam Tussaud: Michelle Moran
  • The Book of Unholy Mischief: Elle Newmark
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel: Baroness Emmuska Orczy
  • When Christ and His Saints Slept: Sharon Kay Penman
  • The Brother Cadfael Chronicles: Ellis Peters
  • Out Stealing Horses: Per Petterson
  • The Song of the Lioness: Tamora Pierce
  • Confessions of Georgia Nicolson: Louise Rennison
  • My too large collection of Ann Rinaldi books that I think I started collecting in fourth grade
  • Harry Potter: JK Rowling
  • Scaramouche: Rafael Sabatini
  • Scaramouche the Kingmaker: Rafael Sabatini
  • Peony in Love: Lisa See
  • Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: Lisa See
  • Shanghai Girls: Lisa See
  • Dreams of Joy: Lisa See
  • Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: Rob Sheffield
  • Daughter of York: Anne Easter Smith
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: Muriel Spark
  • The Red and the Black: Stendhal
  • Miss Buncle's Book: DE Stevenson
  • Miss Buncle Married: DE Stevenson
  • Treasure Island: Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Merlin Quartet: Mary Stewart
  • Gulliver’s Travels: Jonathan Swift
  • Anna Karenina: Leo Tolstoy
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Mark Twain
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Mark Twain
  • Candide: Voltaire
  • Beautiful Ruins: Jess Walter
  • Innocent Traitor: Allison Weir
  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Patricia C Wrede
Wish me luck!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Testing the waters...

I haven't posted in this blog in close to two years. And to be completely honest, I've read next to nothing in that same time period. I don't know that that's changing any time soon. I want it to change, but I don't know if I will actually be able to do something about it. There are other things in my life that often times are more of a priority. Things like books and blogging get pushed to the wayside.

But I'm thinking about it. I've been thinking about it a lot. And this is the time to be thinking of these kinds of things, changes in the way we run our lives and the things that are important. This used to be something that was so important to me, something that brought me a lot of joy. And then, for no real reason, I just...stopped.

It's four days before the end of 2014. Maybe 2015 will bring about a resurgence in my life in books. Let's see...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Miss Buncle's Book - DE Stevenson

miss buncle's book
de stevenson
c. 1934
299 pages
completed 3/29/2013

read for: tbr list

*may contain spoilers*

One fine summer's morning the sun peeped over the hills an looked down upon the valley of Silverstream.

Miss Barbara Buncle is going through a hard time financially. In order to make ends meet, she decides to write a book. Because, as Barbara claims, she has little imagination, she writes what she knows. And what she knows are the people of Silverstream. Though her publisher Mr. Abbott thinks the book a great success, when the book hits the shelves the people of Silverstream are furious at their less than positive portrayals. As the town embarks on a witch hunt for the mysterious author John Smith, Barbara can do nothing but watch as her book takes hold of the town of Silverstream and turns it on its head.

Monday, April 1, 2013

By the end of April...

Okay, so I didn't get through much in March. That's okay. The fact that I got through anything is still pretty impressive for me.

My goal for next month (or at least for next month's goal post) is to not even mention that it's been slow going on the reading front. Like I'm actually going to just read and not complain about the fact that I haven't been lately. So get excited for this thread to end.

It was my birthday last month and I got quite a few new good looking books, so my to be read list has updated a bit from last month...

To be Read by the End of April
The Coroner's Lunch - Colin Cotterill
Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson
Shanghai Girls - Lisa See
Talking to Girls About Duran Duran - Rob Sheffield
The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley

Let's do this!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

By the end of March...

I feel like I should really label this post Veronica's Return: This Time She's Serious. Because I wrote a few things last year where I was all "I'm back! And I'm reading!" And that turned out to be a lie. But now, I have actually read something. Like for real, read a whole book. Finished it and everything. And I've even started another one. So we're being...cautiously optimistic that the clouds have broken and the storm is over.

I'm going to wade in slowly. No point in diving in and ending up drowning. Just going to set some nice easy goals. Get back in the swing of things. And take it from there.

To be Read by the End of March
Miss Buncle's Book - DE Stevenson
Out Stealing Horses - Per Petterson
Shanghai Girls - Lisa See
The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley

the sweetness at the bottom of the pie
alan bradley
c. 2010
347 pages
completed: 3/5/2013

read for: tbr pile

*may contain spoilers*

When Flavia de Luce finds a dying man in her cucumber patch early in the morning, she decides it's the most interesting thing to ever happen in her long eleven year old life. When that dead man is discovered to have old ties to her father, Flavia takes it upon herself to discover the truth. Could her father really be a murderer?

Until yesterday, I seriously hadn't finished a book since moving to Santa Barbara in September 2011. That's crazy. That's literally a year and a half! But now I can no longer say that's true and I'm so glad. I've tried a few times, claimed to be back, but I hope this time is really a true return to form.

Obviously I'm going to think any book that can pull me out of an 18 month slump is good. And to show my gratitude, I'm going to solely focus on the good in this review. Maybe that's not quite fair as there certainly were some aspects of the author's writing style that could use some improvement (such as a few passages that became a bit too expository when certain characters were recounting their history to Flavia), but I just don't care. There will be a chance for me to discuss that next time.

The subject matter the mystery revolved around are two hobbies I probably could not care less about: stamp collecting and magicians. But I was still kept engaged in the mystery. Enough information was given about each to understand their value and importance to the story, but I wasn't bogged down with useless knowledge that put me to sleep. Finding that balance can be difficult for authors writing for an audience that isn't going to be familiar with the subject.

Similarly, the audience wasn't inundated with irrelevant historical detail about the war. It was made clear that the effects of World War II were still felt in every day life in 1950s England, and the extent to which those effects shaped every aspect of Flavia's world was pressed upon us, but never was the audience subjected to a tangential history lecture. Instead, the atmosphere of Post War England and all that implied was delivered through Flavia herself: her voice, her values, her actions, and her relationships.

Flavia's voice was the best part of the book for me, and it's that above anything else that's compelling me to anticipate the rest of the series. She came alive on the page, just the mix of precocious, stubborn, and self important. She struggled with being the baby of the family, and the neglect and patronizing that came with it. She became quite indignant when she wasn't taken seriously or when under estimated. Yet at the same time, her childish qualities shone through and she could become quite the little beast when dealing with her sisters or the cook. I loved when Mrs. Mullet admitted to being quite aware of the de Luce's hatred for custard pie, and that she had been taking them home to her husband all these long years. All of a sudden Mrs. Mullet became a real person instead of just the dithering old lady Flavia had led us to believe her. Flavia's a bit unreliable in that way, so the reader has to be careful not to put all their faith in Miss de Luce.

Flavia's characterization often brought to mind the character of a young Briony Tallis from Ian McEwan's Atonement. She didn't remind me of Briony so much as she offered herself as a counterpoint (or perhaps in Miss de Luce's own vocabulary: an antidote). Briony is representative of a Pre War England. She is literature and poetry, romantic and idealistic. She is a child, an innocent, and is unable to grasp the gray in the world. Flavia, on the other hand, is England after the Blitz. She's been through the war and come out the other side. She is chemistry and poison, truth and rationality. Her eleven years old is more worldly than Miss Tallis could  have been. After her matter of fact discussion with Ned and Mary regarding Mary's brief attack in the bedroom, I'd be interested to see how Flavia would have reacted to all Briony witnessed. I've a sneaking suspicion life might have turned out quite differently for Cecilia and Robbie.

I feel I may have just gotten off topic...

I may be rating this just a tad high. It should probably only rate a 4, but I am going to be grateful for sometime to Alan Bradley and Miss Flavia de Luce for pulling me out of the book pit I had fallen in to. It's good to be back.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

By the end of May

I know May is already two thirds of the way over, but I'm making a monthly goal anyway. It's going to be nice and small, trying to ease my way back into reading and blogging. The blogging I've already started a little bit (I've started a tv blog: similar to this book blog, but about tv instead), but the reading has not come easy for me lately. I posted back in February about being back and motivated to start reading again and nothing really came of it. Now I'm fifty pages into a new book, so I'm cautiously optimistic that things are changing back to the way they used to be. Which is good. I enjoy reading and I enjoy blogging about the books I read and I enjoy the community of book blogging. So here's hoping this is a step in the right direction...

To be Read by the End of May
Lamb: the Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal - Christopher Moore
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley

Like I said, a nice and easy goal for the next eleven days. Not that I haven't crapped out on something this easy before...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Books Read in 2011

So, I normally do this post on the 1st of the year, but I guess it's better late than never...

1. Scaramouche - Rafael Sabatini 5/5
2. The Holy Thief - Ellis Peters 4/5
3. Full Dark House - Christopher Fowler 4/5
4. Of Love and Other Demons - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 4/5
5. An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro 4/5
6. Are You There, God? It's me, Margaret - Judy Blume 3/5
7. The Fourth Bear - Jasper Fforde 4/5
8. The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 1/5
9. Lady Chatterley's Lover - DH Lawrence 1/5
10. One Amazing Thing - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni 4/5
11. Slow Man - JM Coetzee 1/5
12. The Improper Life of Bezelia Grove - Susan Gregg Gilmore 4/5
13. Brother Cadfael's Penance - Ellis Peters 5/5
14. Dr. Faustus - Christopher Marlowe 3/5
15. Maurice - EM Forster 5/5
16. Theft: a Love Story - Peter Carey 1/5
17. The White Queen - Philippa Gregory 4/5
18. I Will Repay - Baroness Emmuska Orczy 4/5
19. Bombay Time - Thrity Umrigar 4/5
20. Amsterdam - Ian McEwan 4/5
21. Dragonwyck - Anya Seton 3/5

Favorite Fiction: Brother Cadfael's Penance
Least Favorite Fictions: Lady Chatterley's Lover

Aaaaaaaand, I'm back!


I seriously don't know what happened. Somehow, when I moved to Santa Barbara in September, something took over my person and I quit reading. Like for serious, I have not finished a book since September. I've barely attempted to START a book since September.

I blame part of it on the library system in Santa Barbara. I definitely don't have the money to BUY all the books I want to read, so instead I tend to be a library girl. But I don't like to BROWSE the library. I have neither the time nor the inclination, and have always enjoyed the ability to reserve the specific books I want to read at the moment. Except the Santa Barbara library charges a dollar per book. I've never belonged to a library that charged me for reserving books. I can maybe MAYBE see charging me a flat rate to use that service (though I don't really like that either, because isn't the point of the library to let me read books for free?), like a certain amount per month or year, but a dollar per book? Considering the amount of books I would put on hold, that's way too much money to spend. So instead of reading, I've been doing other things. Like working. And watching TV.

I do miss reading, though. And blogging. My TBR list is calling out to me, begging to be browsed through. And even if I'm still judging the Santa Barbara library, there are sad, unread books on my shelf that I could be starting on. I hope this post helps break the cycle I'm on and convinces me to pick up a book soon. We'll see.

Until then, my booky friends, know I miss you and I'm thinking of you while I'm off in TV land.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

By the end of September...

So I don't know what happened, but for some reason August got super productive. Which is crazy considering I graduated from college in August. You'd think I would have been a little too busy. So go me. Now in September (seriously in about a week) I'm moving down to Santa Barbara so again you'd think I'd be to busy to do too much reading, but I'm going to go ahead and make an attempt anyway.

To be Read by the End of September
Dragonwyck - Anya Seton
The Revolt of the Eaglets - Jean Plaidy
Le Mort d'Arthur - Thomas Malory
Enduring Love - Ian McEwan
Against Nature - Jori-Karl Huysmans
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco