Sunday, December 20, 2015

My 2015 Reading Challenge

My 2015 Reading Challenge

As of January 1, 2015 I gave myself a reading challenge for the year. I planned to read 25 books between January 1st and the stroke of midnight on December 31st. Now I am a self-proclaimed bookworm, reading, books they’re my favorite pastime. My favorite activity when I have nothing else to do. So twenty-five books that probably doesn’t sound like a lot in theory my challenge should be somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty or one hundred; several of my Goodreads friends challenged themselves with a number that far surpasses mine.

There are a few reasons why I didn’t give myself a higher goal, why I didn’t push myself to complete a greater challenge. First and foremost, life; as any bookworm knows as much as we’d all love to sit around all day engrossed in whatever novel currently has our attention every once and a while the novel must close for a little bit. There are other responsibilities that need to be attended to on a daily basis and not all of them can be done with one’s nose buried in a book. Look I love that sometimes when things are truly slow in my office I can spend a few minutes reading, but that doesn’t mean I get to shirk my actual job responsibilities just because an incredible plot twist demands my full attention! So as difficult as it is I must admit to being a grown up and focusing my attention on other tasks for a while and return to my book later.

And you know what? Some days, as much as I love reading, as much as it relaxes me and offers an escape, sometimes a nap just sounds a whole lot better!

Okay, so life has not gotten in the way and I can read whenever I want! (If only) I still want a variety of the novels that I read. Sure there’s nothing wrong with a little fluff every now and then, a book so easy I barely need to turn my brain on to understand the content but if that’s all I read I’d be bored out of my mind! I like something that will challenge me and makes me think, something that requires my full and undivided attention lest I miss a minute detail pivotal to the entire plot. I want the books with complicated characters with layers that I have to dissect to understand. Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood and Starlight took me almost three weeks to read because I took my time with it, gave it the attention it so rightfully deserved and required. But before I became engrossed in the Taylor’s world and followed Karou on her journey between our world and elsewhere I read a piece of fluff about a girl who thought it was the end of the world because she was a twenty-one year old virgin. (Spoiler Alert: she lived, there are worse things in life than being a virgin … imagine that!)

Of course with variety you get a hit and a miss, for example City of Heavenly Fire; probably one of my biggest disappointments on my challenge list. Took me over a month to finish it because I was lacking the motivation to continue with another page. I am no quitter though and continued on as if I were actually interested in the outcome. So I had the good, the bad, the in between and I did not give up on a single one of them. I finished every book I started during my challenge period.

I fell behind schedule and read furiously to catch up, only to end up ahead of schedule at some point by four whole books! So I set myself a twenty-five book challenge because I felt twenty-five was an appropriate number in which I could enjoy what I was reading. I didn’t feel I needed to sacrifice anything just for the sake of completing my challenge. Each book I read brought something new for me to enjoy, despise, pick apart and think about long after I had closed the final cover. I allowed myself to suffer from more than one book hangover in the last year and I enjoyed every minute of them (as horrible as they seemed at the time).

Twenty-five books! Next year I think I’ll my sights a little higher, not much, but maybe a little. Who knows what 2016 will bring for me?


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Work and Holidays and Showers … Oh my

I have been very remiss in posting my weekly blog posts! It’s been more than a month since my last post. I promise, promise, promise to get back into things ASAP!

But I think we can all relate to the stress of the holidays, Thanksgiving & Christmas, shopping like crazy! For me there are birthdays mixed in there. 

It's time to get back into my routine and get the ball rolling! Keep an eye out for a new post, surely of the literary variety which is always near and dear to my heart.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

50K or Bust

Happy NaNoWriMo!

It’s that time of year again! National Novel Writing Month!

Good luck to everyone that is participating this year!

50,000 words or bust!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Two Star Review

Barnes & Noble
Virgin by, Radhika Sanghani

Let me start off by saying I did read this book and it was not the right choice, for me! Others have read this book and thought it was amazing! However, I read this book with a lot of skepticism and the phrase “this is not real life” floating around in my head constantly.

I’m not usually one to outright bash a book, bash an author or shame anyone else for their choices in books. I’ve come to learn that reading is entirely subjective and what I enjoy is not necessarily what someone else would enjoy. I don’t like to shame others because I have been judged for my choices; choices I still stand by and will defend until my last breath!

Every once in a while comes along a novel that I won’t recommend because I can honestly say I did not enjoy it throughout. Virgin was one of those unfortunate anomalies.

As a book that was billed as laugh out loud funny and entertaining I can say it had it’s moments, but I was more disbelieving than entertained by the situations presented. I found myself having difficulty relating to the main character and even at times annoyed by her. She was too self-deprecating for my tastes and a bit of an alarmist.

I think it’s very important for the reader to relate to the protagonist in some way, you need to connect to the person telling the story. If I, as a reader, can’t connect with the protagonist it makes it very difficult for me to relate to their feelings, insecurities, anxieties.

Ellie Kolstakis, the protagonist, felt a little unbalanced to me. She was so obsessed with facet of her being it completely cancelled out all other aspects of her life. She billed herself to the reader as a busy college student a mere semester away from graduation, but we never saw that. In her mind nothing else mattered except the fact that she was a college senior and still a virgin. In my mind I’m just amazed she didn’t end up failing out of her university program because she had such severe tunnel vision and that tunnel was not leading her to graduation.

Follow me on Goodreads for a more in depth review of my two-star rating on this book. Like I said this book had its moments, but it just was not one of my favorite choices.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Anything can happen in Just One Day ...

Barnes & Noble
Just One Day
     By, Gayle Forman

Anything can happen in just one day …

Here’s why I love Gayle Forman so much, why I have yet to be disappointed in any of her books that I have read, her characters, their circumstances, their problems and their solutions are real! Although she is a fiction writer she chooses real life situations that could actually happen to someone on the street. She focuses on the choices people make day to day and the ways in which we as humans are shaped as individuals. If I Stay/Where She Went depicted how trauma can change you irrevocably, the way it will shape the person you were into almost someone new entirely.

Just One Day, and subsequently Just One Year, show us how happiness and spontaneity can change you. Allyson the ideal and dutiful daughter bound for Pre-Med at her father’s alma mater on a European adventure, which was anything but. Allyson had all the makings of living the typical white picket fence life of being complacent, not happy. I mean sure she’d tell herself she’s happy and that the choices she made were the right ones, but let’s face it she didn’t choose any of it! Her whole life up until the point she met Willem was decided for her by someone else, and even everything after.

Somewhere there is a girl, or even a boy, that will read this book and related so much to Allyson because their entire life has been steered for them by their parents. Every moment planned and not a second squandered, no place for free thinking or self-discovery. Willem is the unlikely catalyst in the change that Allyson so desperately needed in her life. That catalyst for the reader is hope; hope that they can take back control of their own lives, make their own decisions and find their own happiness. Willem didn’t do much he just made her an offer and it was an offer that Allyson had to decide to accept or reject on her own, sure Melanie was there telling her not to do it, but Melanie wasn’t the one being offered a day in Paris.

Okay so let’s face it, strange European boy offering unsuspecting American girl to spend the day in Paris together after meeting for all of an hour, I’ve seen Taken of course red flags go up! This has all the makings of disaster written all over it. But let’s talk realistically Allyson, practical, reliable she may have been sheltered her entire life, she may not have made many decisions like this one for herself but she’s got a gut instinct. Speaking as a reliably practical person, your gut instinct flares up in a big way screaming “DANGER, DANGER” if something is truly bad for you. Her gut said she could trust Willem and she could! Willem was not, it turns out, one of the bad guys that mothers warn their daughters about he was one of the genuine ones, one of the good ones.

Post-Willem: Yes I was upset when Allyson awoke the next morning and Willem was gone, I’d had higher hope for him. But deep down in my gut I knew there had to be more to the story than Willem just taking off and disappearing.

Now I have read the Twilight books and no I do not think any girl should fall apart just because a guy leaves her. But Allyson’s breakdown was somehow different than just being abandoned by a guy. Allyson’s depression didn’t feel to me like it was tied solely to Willem, though she may have believed that. Allyson’s depression was tied to the fact that Willem gave her a glimpse, showed her a life where she is in control and is making her own decisions. She is finding her own happiness without her mother, father, teacher, Melanie whispering in her ear steering her in another direction. He simply let her be.

So when Allyson starts fighting back, starts trying to take back control of her life of course there is push back from her parents. Her “best friend” disappears. But really that’s okay, because part of finding yourself if finding happiness for yourself. She may not have Melanie anymore but she’s made better friends in Dee and Wren. Allyson learned how to work and earn what she wants and thus it makes her appreciate it more. She found her niche.

She gets closure! I think that’s really what I was rooting for in the end, not so much that she gets back together with Willem but that she finds closure. She needed to make peace with the person she left behind and the one that Willem helped her become. Romantically linked or not he helped change her in a way she didn’t know she needed to change. He helped her grow up.

And the story is fiction, so we need a little faith, trust and pixie dust to get us there but in the end Allyson gets her closure. She finds what she is looking for. She takes charge of her own life. Now that is a character worth rooting for.

Because anything can happen in Just One Day.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

St. Jude Walk/Run to End Childhood Cancer

Team LIAC (L to R): Katie, Ashley, Chrissy, Tracey, Erica, Heather

Yesterday, along with the Long Island Alumnae Chapter of Delta Delta Delta, I walked in the 2015 St. Jude Walk/Run to end Childhood Cancer!

The walk was a terrific success and it was incredible to see the number of people that came out to support such a noble cause! For a hospital that runs primarily on donations fundraising opportunities like this one are so important.

So a big thank you to everyone that supported me, supported my team, donated to me and donated to my team.

Our team raised over $1,000 dollars to donate to the hospital! We were not the only Tri Deltas walking or the only ones with a team. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is a cause near and dear to every Delta’s heart between all the teams, in every walk across the country, Tri Delta continues to selflessly support St. Jude.

St. Jude will not stop until they end childhood cancer and Deltas will not stop until they reach their goal!

Brooklyn Bridge

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